Thursday, June 30, 2011

Things the Puppy Learned While I Was Out of Town

  1. Spooky is a mean, mean cat
  2. Not all toys squeak alike
  3. To bark like a Big Boy
  4. Runrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrun
  5. Thunderstorms don't bother me:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Reflections on SHRM

If you are looking for an intelligent review of this conference, please go here.  Now that's out of the way..
I don't like Vegas.  But this was the first time I had the time and the budget to attend SHRM.  Also, this was the first city-wide conference I've attended that was not produced by my employer, so I was fascinated to see how it ran.  Which leads to my first tangent:

At my employer's conference, I coordinate the shuttle bus transportation between the hotels and the convention center.  This is my job because my predecessor (and first boss) had the job.  He had the job because he asked, "What's the assignment at this conference that no one wants?"

A few years ago, I was at my desk on a random day when I got a call from one of my people.  Matt was at the ASTD conference, another city-wide.  He said something like:

"I just want you to know that I have seen what bad shuttle bus coordination looks like, so I know how good a job you do.  Thank you."

So besides making my year, Matt taught me that if I ever attended a city-wide conference myself, Rule #1 was Stay in Walking Distance of the Convention Center.  So we stayed at the Springhill Suites which had three added bonuses:

  1. Mini refrigerators for the unbelievable amount of bottled water I purchased.
  2. Free breakfast that did not suck.
  3. There was no casino in the lobby.
I understand there is also a pool on the roof, but I haven't gone to look for it.   I have been seriously exhausted at the end of each day. 

Sessions started at 7am on Monday and Tuesday.  This was fine, but it meant keeping my body on Central time if I wanted to function.  Last sessions broke at 5pm.  I don't know how people went out and partied at night.  Seriously, people.  I am old.

I barely made it around the Expo - it was enormous.  I found the booth, which was disappointing because they couldn't tell me much about the workplace giving program they were launching.  It seems they were trying to get people to sign up as individuals in advance. However, they did give me a card worth $5.00 in donations so I was happy.  I found a couple of other vendors I wanted to see and otherwise skipped the swag.  But here is what I learned:

The trick is to scan your registration card, so they get an automatic upload of your contact information.  I really felt like none of the vendors wanted to talk about the products - they just wanted to scan the card.  Every other booth was raffling off an iPad 2 if they could scan your card.  It was a bit of a joke.

The General Sessions were great.  Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington (who gave a shout out to, Tony Hseih and Michael J. Fox.  I was interested to see how many people bailed out of the session to get into the lines for speaker book signings.  Other interesting sightings:

  • An attendee wearing fishnet stockings and gladiator sandals. (Joy actually saw a bare midriff.)
  • The Starbucks line was never less than two dozen people long.
  • Outside the Keith Urban concert (we skipped it): Guy is wearing a t-shirt and shorts.  Girl is dressed to the nines.
  • Star Wars Droid Hunt slot machine (no, I didn't play it).
Flying home tomorrow to clean off my desk and go back on Puppy Duty.  It was a good week.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thunderstruck, by Erik Larson

Book 33
Thunderstruck has been on my shelf for awhile, I have read two previous books by Erik Larsen and loved them. Then I saw the library had a "Plaway" audio copy. It is an MP3 player that has one audio book loaded on it. The borrower has to come up with a AAA battery and the headphones. So that was worth a try.

I liked that I could tak the audio book anywhere, as opposed to the CDs that I play on my computer or CD player. However. The MP3 player does not tell you how far along you are in the book, which made me crazy. And the device lost my bookmarking really easily. I wasted a lot of time fooling around trying to find my place again. I also may have fallen asleep a non zero number of times while playing it. Not the fault of the book. I always fall asleep on planes and trains.  

Like Devil in the White City, Larson bounces between two stories. In this case, it followed Marconi, the guy that produced, if not actually invented, wireless technology in the form of ship-to-shore cables. Also Harvey Crippen a nice guy that may or may not have murdered his wife who was a horrible, horrible person.

I spent the entire book wondered what the heck these two stories have in common. And perhaps being embarrassed that I was way more interested in the salacious story of the bad marriage than in the dude winning the Nobel Prize for Physics. The stories weren't even running on the same timeline.

You find out very near the end that (SPOILERS)

the wireless technology that Crippen didn't know existed allowed Scotland Yard to apprehend him fleeing to America.

This is not my favorite Larson book. But I don't know if it was the stories or the delivery that made it less satisfying for me.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Shakespeare's MacBeth

My friend, John Wilson, is finishing up a run in Roundhouse Productions' MacBeth.  As I type, so my blogging about it will be of no use to him.

The most interesting thing about this interpretation is the use of green screen technology to add some layers.  I don't think I am a purist exactly, but I found it more of a distraction.  It might be that the tech operator was a couple of beats off. But it also drew my eye away from the action, when there was action.  Points for trying something new, because it was rather cool.  But not necessary.

Another creative bit was adding "combat witches" to the cast.   They held the actual swords, creating the sound effects, while the actors mimed the action.  The director talks about it here, with more symbolism than I had pegged it.  But it also makes very effective use of space.  In a small theater, men wielding swords in various directions can be treacherous.  I appreciated that.

Overall, I really enjoyed this show.  I'd go back and see them again.  If it isn't Point Break.

Product: Big Sexy Hair Dry Shampoo

Yesterday, I had the day off of work.  I was on puppy training duty and had several errands to run before I went out that evening.  And I had an appointment for a facial.  While the aestheticians try not to get soap and oil and stuff in the hair, it doesn't always work.  On the average day, I don't much care. But again, I was going out that night and wouldn't have time to shower again.

In a bag of samples from somewhere, I had a small bottle of bigsexyhair dry shampoo.  Seemed as good a day as any to try it.

The instructions are to spray it at the roots, wait two minutes and brush it through.

Now, I didn't have big expectations.  I didn't try to do my hair for real after using it.  But for what I needed, which was to take the oily look out and freshen it up, it was great.  The scent was rather strong, such that I wouldn't ever use it and then walk right out the door.  But since I was going outside with the puppy regularly, by the time I left for the night I was in great shape.

Blankets 27 and 28

I have several posts churning in my head, but little time to post them, so for now, you are stuck with another blanket post.

With the fleece blankets, there are three ways to fancy them up:

  1. Awesome print
  2. Creative stitching
  3. Interesting yarn
As creative stitching is not an option for me, I generally go for a great print:

I've bought four of these for Project Linus and managed to snag this one back in the "prepared fleece swap".  Loops & Threads yarn from Michael's - leftover from a previous project.  Three rows of single crochet.

Then I found some solid color pieces of fleece in my pile.  So I broke my rule and bought yarn just for a fleece blanket.

This is from Red Heart Yarn's Kids line.  I think "Kids Line" is just another way to charge more for yarn, but I had 40% off, so whatever.  This was called "Dandy Candy".

I think the end justified the means here.

Due to the Puppy Schedule, I will be taking a day off on what happens to be a Project Linus Fleece Doctoring Day, so I will be able to see how it is all done.  If not be of any practical use.

Another thing I recently learned is that Joann Fabrics, takes competitor coupons.  I have been spending way more money there lately than at Michael's.  

I am going to take some more yarn on the road and see what I can get done.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blanket 26

This was supposed to be my first "scrap" blanket: using yarn leftover from other projects.  Then several colors in Bernat's satin line went on clearance, so it is a Scrap and Clearance yarn blanket:

I did circles rather than rows because I have no concept of how far any given amount of yarn will go.  My mother says it looks like a baby throw rug.   But it is soft and colorful and I am sure there is a kid out there that will appreciate it.

The colors Meadow and Cyan were new yarns, Lavender and Sage were leftovers and Banana was both.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Back to Juggling

I've been thinking lately about revamping the blog.  It was created, you might remember, early in my graduate program as a class assignment.  I was rather worried about how I was going to get it all done and still manage to be an active volunteer.

Then I finished school, folded in the 50 Book Challenge stuff I'd been doing on LiveJournal and talked a lot about traveling for work and getting my finances together.

Not the theme of the blog.  Last night, though, I had a moment.

Sigmund, my Foster Grey, has spent a few days with another volunteer (more on that later).  It didn't go very well and she and I agreed that she would bring him back to my house in the morning.  After we hung up, Kay said:

"Why don't you just go get him now.  It's still early."

My answer was:

"Because I tomorrow night, I am going to the Refuge to pick up Joker.  Wednesday, I am going to the Refuge for my regular night.  Thursday, I am going to the close down the Refuge and go to the Library.  I have two meetings on Saturday and am leaving town on Sunday.  I would like to just sit here. "

And make a Project Linus blanket, but whatever.

But that is when it hit me - I have a lot of balls in the air right now.   And I am managing them.  But seriously, there is nothing like a puppy to make you look at everything and feel tired.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Too Much Yarn

The Project Linus people, and my own mother, will tell you that there is no such thing as too much yarn. 'Cause we're going to use it all, right?

Just like I am going to read all of these books "sometime".

Yarn is overflowing from its designated storage area in my house.  I have officially implemented a double-discount purchasing rule - I will only buy yarn when it is on sale and I have some other discount on top of that.  My first "scrap yarn" blanket has become a "scrap and clearance yarn" blanket.  It is going to be much prettier, anyway.

However, since I've been buying all of this yarn I have spent rather less money in other places.  Such as:

  1. I have not purchased a single handbag in all of 2011.
  2. I quit buying DVDs (although I really want to pick up True Blood Season 3 right now).
  3. I haven't been in a bookstore in over three weeks.
  4. I even blew off the last book sale at the Arlington Heights Library (although I did go to the Borders clearances a non-zero number of times, so this one probably doesn't count).
  5. I've stopped the random toy shopping for the nieces and nephew.  They have enough stuff.
Thank you for indulging my self-rationalization.  Perhaps I can return to the daily puppycast tomorrow.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Adopting the Puppy

As I mentioned, we went nine days without a dog before we cracked.

As a rescue volunteer (albeit with exotic parrots), I am committed to pet adoption. I also understand that my home is not the best for every dog. What with the cat and an African Grey parrot. Not every dog can manage with other pets.

There is also a question of adopting a puppy or an adult dog. There are pros and cons with both. We just went through end-of-life with a senior dog, so I hope you won’t judge me for wanting a younger dog, but I have also had great experiences with adopting an adult that was already housetrained and could adapt quickly to my home environment.

I went to the Internet. is a great website that pulls together information on adoptable animals from shelters across the country. It allows searches by type of animal (cat, dog, bird, etc.), size, approximate age and even breed. There are profiles on the available pets including any information the rescue has gathered (like whether a dog is known to be good with kids) and pictures. Most also have links to the rescue’s website.

I talked with two different rescues about different dogs and decided to go with Wright Way Rescue, which has an adoption center in Niles. Wright Way rescues dogs and cats from downstate shelters with very high euthanasia rates, including an awful lot of puppies.

The process was interesting. I put in my online application right away. Many rescues, including the one where I volunteer, ask people to complete the application before meeting the animal. This is particularly prevalent in rescues where pets are primarily in foster care, or don’t have open hours for the public to visit. I know it turns off some people, but I also understand why it is a good idea for some rescues.
In Wright Way’s case, the dogs are driven to Niles from downstate, so they look for some reasonable reassurance that a family is serious before putting the animal through the trip. However, the benefit offered in exchange is that Wright Way offers the option to “reserve” a dog or cat – meaning they will hold the pet for you while you are waiting for an appointment to meet. In my case, I reserved a puppy a week ago that wasn’t yet available because he was too young.

On the day of the appointment, Wright Way asks for a good 60-90 minutes of your time in order to meet the pet and go through their orientation video, with time for questions. In my case, the questions were about crate training, which I have never done before. They also have a supply shop onsite, with proceeds going to support rescue efforts. It is worth noting that Wright Way has lost the lease on their building in Niles and is raising funds to purchase a permanent facility.

At the end of the appointment, I had adopted the puppy.

There are lots and lots of rescues out there doing great work. There is a huge need for volunteers, fundraisers and foster homes. And I hope you will consider pet adoption as your first option.

Adapted Post for

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spooky and the Puppy

(I know, I owe you the adoption story, but this is important.  Ish.)

Last night, I brought Gibbs upstairs at bedtime.  I placed him on a blanket on the floor.  Spooky the Cat, age 20 (who sleeps in my bedroom), saw him for the first time.

If a cat can roll his eyes, that was the reaction.  Spooky sauntered to the edge of the bed for a better look. "Disdainful and imperious" were my words for it yesterday.

Then I put the puppy into the crate and the nightmare began.  Every combination of crying, yelping, howling and flat out barking.  Spooky came and went several times during the night, as he is just too old for crying puppies.

I have no idea where that cat has spent the day, and I had no idea where he was when I came upstairs tonight and put Gibbs back in the crate.  He cried for about 10 minutes and settled down.  He was lying down quietly when Spooky came out from under my bed.

I don't know how long he was under there.  He approached the crate and the puppy started to growl.

If I hadn't been thinking, "Oh, how cute," I might have intervened.  But I am glad that I didn't since I generally feel that as long as neither animal can get hurt, I should let them work stuff out among themselves.

Do you know what  that cat did?

He.  Sat.  Down.

Right in front of the crate.  Right in front of that little growling puppy's face.  Just long enough to make his point before jumping up on my bed and sitting down next to me.

Cats, man.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Introducing Gibbs

I will have stuff to say about the adoption experience soon, but now I am tired.  Because I have a puppy.  Kiwi the Grey seems pleased.  Spooky the cat is looking imperious and disdainful.  Sigmund the Foster Grey doesn't understand what the fuss is about.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

France Since 1871

France Since 1871 is a course at Yale taught by John Merriman.  The lectures are posted on Academic Earth, and I just finished them.  

I chose this one because:
  1. I like history classes.
  2. Everything I know about France is through the lens of American (or perhaps British) history.
Merriman starts by saying the most intriguing thing.  It was something like:

The key to understanding the French character is to understand that after WWI, France, in victory, was left a weaker country than Germany was in defeat.

Of the 24 lectures, almost five were about The Great War.  But there was lots of other stuff.  For example:

  • In France, the suburbs are where "unwanted" people live.
  • All roads lead to Paris, which is kind of a pain in the butt.
  • Regional identities, including other dialects, have disappeared at an alarming rate.  As Paris has taken over the French universe.
Merriman goes off on tangents, which I think were great fun.  He talks a lot about living in France and uses the language in his lectures to illustrate points.  He often says that he never felt that people were looking down on him as an American.

I was less impressed with his guest lecturers.

He has at least one more course on Academic Earth and I will absolutely be going through it.  

Blankets 24 & 25

I managed to do these in DC while watching the rest of that course on Academic Earth.  Finally.

When I came home, the newsletter from my chapter of Project Linus was waiting for me.  It had a note that we donated 50 blankets to kids in Joplin, Missouri.  I appreciated that.

Both the fleece and the yarn for these blankets were from Penny's stash.  The yarn was K-Mart's house brand, which had to have been ancient, but worked really well.  I forget what the color was called.  I did three rows around the purple one and two around the blue and white.  I was afraid I would run out of yarn before finishing a third round.

But that reminds me:  Penny also had a note in the newsletter that the stitcher-type ladies made, collected or finished 70 blankets at last month's Starbucks Night.  Normally, there are about 30 - so that rocks, too.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Something I Have Never Seen in Washington Before

I've mentioned that every time I am in Washington, I try to notice more.  Not always easy when my purpose is work and I always stay in the same hotel.  But I made my pilgrimage to President Lincoln and look at what I saw:

No, Dude.  Not the Washington Monument.  Lower.  That is the reflecting pool.  With no water in it.  I have certainly never seen the reflecting pool with no water.  And there is some kind of construction equipment in there, but I didn't really check it out. 

I also saw a rat on my way back from the Metro the other night, but that wasn't exactly new and I didn't take a picture.  It was a lovely day for such a hike, I am going home tomorrow and there is a puppy in my future.  I am happy. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Totally Unpaid Product Endorsement

Band Aid created these awesome bandages specifically for blisters.
My feet were pretty torn up after Day 1 at Disney last week.  I used one of these on my little toe and walked over 24,000 steps the next day with no pain.  The fair warning is that I hadn't properly covered the entire toe, so the blister expanded in a direction I didn't expect.  But I felt no pain.

These are meant to last several days.  I don't like to go more than two.  By the time you get through Shower #2, the bandage gets a bit funky.

So here I am in Washington DC, the only city in the U.S. where one is I am likely to do more walking than Orlando.  And my toe is just fine.

If only I could do something about my work shoes.

Note:  I am still using these Amazon Associates boxes, even though Amazon has killed its contract with Illinois bloggers.  They don't want to mess with the Internet tax laws established by the state.  I will not be receiving any compensation if you make a purchase with these links.  I just like them because they are easy access to pictures of whatever I am talking about at any given moment.  You don't really want my cell phone pictures of Band Aids, do you?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Book 32
This was a book that my mother kept telling me to read.  Then she lent her copy to someone else and never got it back.  Good thing the library had an audio copy.

Seriously, because I am not a fan of the novel-told-in-letters genre.  (Is that a genre?  Maybe it's a "form".  Whatever.)  But the audiobook had different voices for each of the many characters and that helped a lot.

So.  England, right after WWII.  Juliet is on a book tour promoting a compilation of articles she wrote during the war when she receives a letter from a man on the island of Guernsey.  He purchased a second-hand book about Charles Lamb that had her name in it as the previous owner and wanted...something.   Another book rec?  I forget.  Whatever.  Correspondence ensues.

Juliet wants to hear all of the stories of the people on Guernsey, which was occupied by the Germans.  Eventually, she thinks there is a new book in it and goes to visit them.

Nothing that happens in the plot of this book is remotely surprising.  But the characters are beyond charming and they have a lot to say about surviving Bad Stuff and finding some peace.

So yeah.  This one is a winner.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blankets 22 & 23

I did these during designated nap times at Disney.  I doubt I will be so productive this week in Washington:

Fleece from Penny's stash.  Lion Brand Pound of Love yarn in White.  Three rows of single crochet.

Blanket 21

I learned something important with this Project Linus blanket:

The "patterns" don't work the same way with different yarns.  Thus I have a blanket that is far longer than it is wide.  It will be decent decent for wrapping around a kid's shoulders, though.

Red Heart Baby Steps yarn in Baby Blue, Baby Green and Puppy Print (no kidding).  

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Home and Online

I was at Disney World with my brother, Scott, and his family.  This is the way I will remember it:

Alex and his daddy on the runaway train.  This was his second trip - I took him the first time and he was so thrilled that I told my brother not to miss out.  I don't know what Alex is pointing out to him, and I don't think it even matters.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Answer is Nine Days

The question is:

"How long can we live in a house with no dog before we start to twitch?"

The search begins.  And it starts with Petfinder.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Eyebrow Thing

In a funny twist, after I wrote about botching an eyebrow wax, my friend Fluffycat asked me to post about home waxing.  I do not want anyone to learn technique from me.  However, I am happy to talk about product, so as to save some time and money.

When I first started, I bought one of those roll-on waxers.  It seemed to me that something with an applicator would be easier to use than freehand with the popsicle sticks.  I thought I would be able to control the amount of wax better.

Wrong. I could not control the flow of the wax.  And, as Marilyn reminds me all the time, you either have to keep the head of the roll on really, really clean - or replace it after each use.  So I went to the next level.

Still not convinced that I wanted to invest in the whole shebang, I bought Gigi's microwavable creme wax kit.  (I still have the box because I keep my cut muslin strips and popsicle sticks in there, as it fits really nicely on my medicine cabinet shelf):

This kit includes everything one needs to get get started and worked just fine. It retails at Sally Beauty Supply for $18.99 Once I was confident with the tools, I bought the full sized stuff:

Obviously, one isn't required to use all of the products in the line.  In fact, most people just use astringent to cleanse their faces, baby powder to prep and baby oil to clean up the skin.  and Marilyn isn't all that impressed with the Gigi wax - she prefers Satin Smooth products.  But I am satisfied with this stuff, particularly because I shop at Sally and it is all right there.

Here are my tips:
  1. Go conservative.  The reason I have been making mistakes lately is that I've become lazy about taking the time with tweezers to clean up loose hairs in the brow line.  Don't be lazy.
  2. Keep everything clean.  Use the collar on the wax warmer.  Use the cover when not in use.  Keep the applicator sticks and muslin strips clean and dry.  If bacteria starts to grow on supplies and equipment, the very least that will happen is that your skin will start to break out.
  3. Don't get fancy.  One reason I decided I could do this at home is that I am not interested in the artistic shaping.  I want my brows to be symmetrical, with clean lines and just a bit thinner. 
  4. You are not committed until you tear off the strip.  If you applied the wax badly, or even if you just have a bad feeling about it, you can use the oil-based stuff to remove it and start over.  It's better than botching it.
  5. Have the appropriate cosmetics handy in case you botch it.
Because I refuse to make a video of myself, I spent a good hour on YouTube looking for the best demo.  (You would not believe some of the people they have demonstrating this.  Teenagers.  Ugh.)  This is the best one I saw in that the demonstrator, Ms. Judith, is so conservative with her wax that she literally cuts the strips in such a way to minimize mistakes.  Her technique is way better than mine.

The first year or two, I would do two or three waxes at home and then go to the salon once just to get another perspective.  It wasn't really necessary, but it made me feel better.

That ought to get you started.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Girl Thing Redux

We interrupt this program for a totally unpaid product endorsement:

I believe I have mentioned that I wax my own eyebrows, as opposed to having them done in the salon. There are two major benefits:

1. Not having to pay $12 - $15, plus tip, every time I have it done.
2. Being able to do it any time I want to, because sometimes, it seriously has to be done right now.

Marilyn, my aesthetician who is so good that people hire her to teach classes on the subject, added a third: I know just exactly how sanitary (or not) my stuff is.

 You can’t trust every random place that does waxing.

There is, of course, a major downside:

I am not a professional and sometimes screw up. Hence the point of the story.

A couple of weeks ago, I accidentally waxed too much. A loose drop right in the middle of my eyebrow. I have had minor accidents in the past, but this was major. There was no way to even it out so as to look natural.


However, I prepared for this contingency. Bare Minerals has an eyebrow powder that is absolutely fabulous. It comes with a sealer in a mascara tube to make it look less powdery and, theoretically, set it. I didn’t think it would hold up the way I needed it to hold up. So I tried using the powder with the Weather Everything eyeliner sealer, about which I have raved before.

You have to be careful, because the stuff is strong and rather sticky until it dries. But it worked like a charm. Worked so well that I started to understand the women that permanently rid themselves of eyebrows and pencil (or tattoo) them in.

Not that I’m going there.

P.S. My natural brows have (half) recovered now, so don’t bother staring at me.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Einstein: His Life and Universe, by Walter Isaacson

Book 31

This biography of Albert Einstein was an odd pick for me, inasmuch as I don't know the first thing about physics. And hardly care. I was interested in Einstein's personal history as a German Jewish intellectual in the time that Germany was coming apart.

Isaacson gave me what I wanted. And the science, too.

Here's what I found interesting: Einstein renounced his German citizenship as a young man, when he went to Switzerland. His first wife was...Serbian, if I remember correctly..and apparently, they had a daughter before they were married that somehow disappeared from history. The predominant theory is the child died in the care of a family friend before the Einsteins could reclaim her. The theory continues that the first wife never quite forgave him. After several years and two more children, and a return to Germany, they separated. Thus ends the tabloid-y part.

So why did Einstein go back to Germany? It sounds to me like it was partly money, but also that Germany was where the action was in the scientific community at the time. At least among physicists. And when the Nazis came to power, they were reviled and bailed out - many to the U.S. Einstein was here when he heard that Hitler had been elected.

Toward the end, there are many anecdotes about Einstein's FBI file and communist ties and McCarthy. I like that for all his iconoclastic behavior, Einstein maintained that his questions of authority were consistent with the very spirit on the U.S. Constitution. I have often heard that foreign-born Americans "get it" better than many native-born. The privilege and responsibility of the Freedom of Expression. He also reserved the right to change his mind, upon the entrance of new evidence.

Toward the end, Isaacson makes a really cool observation:

Einstein was convinced that the U.S. was heading down the path of the fascists in the early 1950s. By the end, though, he had figured us out, "...somehow they manage to return to normality. Everything - even lunacy - is mass produced here. But everything goes out of fashion very quickly."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Packing Up

About a week ago my dog, Shadow, died. It was not an epic tragedy, but if you are interested in the details, you can find them here. We haven’t decided if or when we might look for another dog, so I packed up the perishable stuff, thinking I would take it to a friend with dogs.

Except it was a lot of stuff. I filled the first box and knew it was too much for a couple of little dogs.

Bags and bags of treats, some opened and some brand new. Extra doses of Frontline, Heartgard, glucosamine. Different types of canned food. So I loaded up the car and took it to Heartland Animal Shelter, in Northbrook, along with a pile of old newspapers.

I walked in the front door and was greeted by two ladies, thrilled that I was bringing things for the dogs. I wasn’t sure if they would want it all, particularly the open boxes and bags of treats. They sure did – particularly all of the things we’d tried for Shadow’s sensitive stomach. Which made me think about the rest of the kibble – I’d left it in the pantry at home. They were happy to have that, too.
Just like the parrots at the Refuge, where I volunteer, dogs and cats have different likes and different needs and it is not always easy for a non-profit to come up with them. Factor in an allergy or a sensitive stomach, and you might start to worry about getting a dog to eat at all.

So, those treats that your dog doesn’t like? Those vitamins my cat refuses to take? The toys they never touched? Those blankets and towels you were ready to throw away? Think of Heartland, or any other local animal shelter.

Shadow was also a shelter dog, and I can’t tell you how much easier it was to pack up his stuff, knowing it was going to help out other animals. You can find Heartland’s wish list here.

Reposted to the Glenview Patch.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

BTT: Book Reviews

This week's Booking Through Thursday question was:

Do you read book reviews? Whose do you trust? Do they affect your reading habits? Your buying habits?
I do read book reviews – generally from whatever source is reviewing a book that catches my eye. If a headline pops up in an online periodical, like the Chicago Tribune or USA Today, I will probably read it. I have the New Yorker’s Book Review in my Favorites, but I don’t read it religiously.

My new habit, and it isn’t a good one, is to look up the book on Librarything and check out the collection of reviews garnered from members. This can be really dangerous in that there have been several popular fiction books that I have read and actively disliked – The Time Traveler’s Wife is a good example.

But in general, Librarything reviews balance each other out until I can get a reasonable idea of whether I will enjoy something.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kids are Heroes

The more time I spend in the Land of Charitable Institutions, the more I see about kids - children - rocking their causes.  Conor O'Phelan, of, has been doing the "donate a daily tweet" to Kids are Heroes.  While I am not committing to tweeting this every day, I do think you should check out this video on what they are all doing:

Doing the Shakespeare

My awesome friend John did me a good turn by going to the Bird Walk with me on Monday.  In the 90 degree heat.  The joke was that my mother pledged $25 if I didn't walk more than three miles.  So that was my excuse.  We don't have a final number for the fundraising, but I know that Erica's project on Crowdrise is showing $780 right now, my employer is in for $20 more, and most of the donations weren't even recorded there.

Anyway.  The least I can do is plug John's show.  He is performing in New Rock Theater's production of MacBeth.  The Reader has reviewed it, and it seems to be great.  And the comments on the review were snarky right out of the gate, so that might be worth a click.  If you are into that kind of thing.

This is the coolest playbill I have ever seen:

It is running on weekends through June 25.  You can get tickets here.  Which I still haven't done yet.  But I will!

Edit:  And another review is here.