Thursday, December 2, 2010

What's going on over at CBS?

I just caught a special report on the CBS Evening News about the deficit. Important topic. Kudos for Katie and her team for taking it on. But why are the only people interviewed on camera news reporters? Last time I checked the job of the reporter was to find experts to interview, not to appear on camera. Here, judge for yourself:

Now you tell me. Did that make any sense? Why were all their correspondents on parade? Is this some sort of shift in news philosophy at CBS?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Do you hear what I hear?

...It's the sound of my heart breaking. Why you ask? Well, I took a tour of NBC studios at Rockefeller Center in NYC today and learned that my favorite NBC show, 30 Rock, is in fact not filmed at 30 Rock. Not anywhere near 30 Rock. It's filmed in Astoria, Queens, which let's be honest, might as well be North Dakota.

When the page (yes, they have pages give tours just like on the aforementioned show) told me that neither Tina Fey nor Alec Baldwin ever grace the hallways that we were walking as Liz Lemon or Jack Donaghy, I felt my heart shatter. Now, as I've had time to reflect, I can understand why they don't shoot the show there. The fact is that 30 Rock (the building) was never meant to be a TV studio and couldn't accommodate 30 Rock (the show). The space is limited to say the least and, along with all New York real estate, is incredibly over priced. So, I can forgive Tina Fey for moving her show out of town. But it does take the fun out of watching a little bit, right? I figured since my heart was broken I'd break all your hearts too.

So, you're probably wondering where all the photos are. Unfortunately they don't let you take photos during the tour. Something about copyright (they should ask the editor at Cooks Source for advice on how to get around that). This photo of one of the entrances to the building will have to suffice:

I can tell you that yes, it's true, TV studios really are much smaller than they look on TV. The biggest studio we saw was actually Dr. Oz's, which is kind of messed up, since his show is TERRIBLE. I was expecting that they'd give out free colorectal exams in his studio, but that wasn't the case. I guess they save those freebies for the actual audience (You get an exam and you get an exam and you...!!!).

The highlight of the tour was definitely the set for Saturday Night Live, which is very impressive. I could picture the night's host coming out of center stage to deliver the monologue and Chris Farley crashing through a backdrop. Our tour guide told us that the studio has near perfect acoustics, so perfect that big time singers like Sinatra used to come there to rehearse before their performances on the main stage at Radio City. She also told us that if your favorite band sounds terrible on SNL it's probably a sign that they're awful since the acoustics are so good in that studio. Sorry Ashlee Simpson.

Okay, wrapping up here... Before we went to tour the NBC studios, we took a quick spin through the American Girl store, where they have these bizarre doll holders in the bathroom stalls, right above the toiler paper holder:
Isn't there something disturbing about hanging your lifelike doll beside you on the wall as you go to the bathroom? What's doubly bizarre is the fact that this contraption included an inscription that read, "Patent Pending." Really? You need to patent that? Like there are so many people out there itching to copy that idea, have it cheaply produced in China, and sell it at the mall? I don't think so. But it's true. I looked it up. There is a patent pending on behalf of American Girl LLC for the "ornamental design" of a doll holder. Go figure.

What does deserve a patent is the Dyson hand dryer that was also in the bathroom. My mother kindly demonstrates the technology below. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest inventions of our lifetime. Congratulations creepy guy who does the Dyson vacuum cleaner TV commercials.

This is Part I of my NYC blog post. Check back for my report on the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Hotcha!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Square plates, round tables

Dear Restaurant Owner,

I have to admit I thought square or rectangular plates were pretty cool when they first became popular a couple of years ago. But I'm over them. They may look edgy and modern, but they're just not practical. They don't fit properly on the table and you can't balance your utensils on them. The oblong rectangular ones take up so much room, you can't even rest your wrists on the table. I feel bad for the wait staff who have to try to balance them as they make their way to the table from the kitchen.

I know you're trying to be different, but it's just not working. Please throw away your rectangular plates and return to round plates.

Thank you,

Friday, November 12, 2010

My take on the Wired cover

There's been a tiny Internet storm over the November cover of Wired, which features an up-close image of a pair of digitally enhanced breasts.

One of the critics, which got the attention of Wired's editor Chris Anderson, is Cindy Royal, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University. She announced on her blog that she was "breaking up" with Wired over the Double Ds and proceeded to point out how the monthly magazine has consistently failed to give women leaders in technology the cover treatment. She listed a variety of women who have been on the cover, but pointed out that most were "jokey" and not true leaders in the tech industry.

Anderson responded respectfully on Royal's blog with an "I know but...," explaining that it's impossible to find a female to put on the cover that will sell on the newsstands. He also points out that it's nearly impossible to put people on the cover period, since few execs in the tech industry are household names. If only Julia Roberts had created the iPhone!

The article attached to the cover in question is basically a profile of a company called Cytori Therapheutics that hopes to use stem cell technology to produce any number of things, including breasts. Interestingly, the reporter on the story was a woman, Sharon Begley, whose name is prominently featured on the cover a few inches below where the sternum branches off from the clavicle. I wonder if the editors somehow felt better about their cover choice given that it featured a woman's name, if not a high-powered female tech executive.

Once you get past the cover to read the article, the boob photos don't let up. There's also an illustration of how one grows (artificially) a pair of breasts. Sounds tasteful, right?

I first saw the article after a friend on Facebook (a woman) linked to it. The link came along with a tiny thumbnail of the cover photo, but in that size and context it didn't really faze me. After all, you can see a lot more cleavage in some profile photos.

But when the actual issue landed on my breakfast nook (yes, I'm a subscriber; and yes, I have a table in my kitchen that I call my breakfast nook) I was a little annoyed. My immediate reaction was that the Wired team had gotten a little lazy. Perhaps they had another celebrity or concept cover in mind but that story fell through. And they were left scrambling. And what could be easier than digging up some clip art of a well-endowed chest and placing the Wired logo over it?

I can sympathize with the folks at Wired. Coming up with creative covers month after month is no doubt challenging. But this boob cover really made them look like boobs. I get that the majority of Wired readers are men. But I'm pretty sure if those men (or ladies) are looking for some titillation (pun intended), there are other better magazines (or websites) out there for that. People (men and women) look to Wired for the latest in technology. God knows there's enough happening in that space to fill a daily publication, never mind a monthly. So the tissue engineering cover story ends up coming across as gimmicky - certainly not thought-provoking as Wired often aspires to be.

So, am I "breaking up" with Wired? No. But I'll be expecting better next month.

I completely acknowledge the irony of the fact that I am giving Wired free publicity through this blog post. I've made my peace with that.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

This one is probably going to get me in trouble

First, let me say that I don't begrudge the photographers. They're just trying to make a living, and it's their job to make you buy stuff that you don't need. That's how our capitalist system works.

But I really can't forgive the couples who think they are so cool, so SASSY, so hip, that they need to spend three hours wandering around a farm or old mental hospital to get TOTALLY AWESOME engagement photos... Or trash-the-dress photos... Or look-at-me,-I'm-pregnant photos... Or see-how-small-and-tiny-my-three-hour-hold-baby-is?-Let-me-put-him-under-hot-lights-for-a-few-hours photos...

If you're on Facebook, you've seen these photos. And you've probably clicked through more than a few. And maybe at first, you thought, "Gee that's kinda cool." But I ask you to really take a moment and reflect on the statement that these photos make about the couple, or the mother, or the baby. Why do we, as human beings, feel that we need this stuff? We need to eat. We need to drink, and we need something to occupy our time. But do we really need to lounge half-naked in dim light for a guy with a telephoto lens to record the blue veins of our exposed pregnant bellies?

And what do you do with these photos? Create a shrine? I'm sure there are people who will read this post who have indulged in such a photo extravaganza who say, "Christina, you've got me all wrong. The photos of me and my fiancé taken at the run down steel mill are sitting in a box gathering dust. I'm not self-absorbed. I just got a little carried away."

Just because you store away these photos doesn't mean you aren't self-absorbed. Because, be honest, you know the photos are there. And on rainy days, when you're feeling a little glum, and you glance down at your middle-aged paunch, I can guarantee you're rummaging through the attic looking for those 21st Century Glamor Shots as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

But what of the people who actually frame and hang these photos around their house? Have you ever visited someone who had these photos on their walls? A full-on collage of Barbie and Ken and their love, frolicking in Abercrombie & Fitch wear through a hay stack? Could you hide your snicker as you wandered past them? I mean, come on. Who does that? Who thinks, I am so cool, I just want to stare at my cool self all day long? If you're going to post these photos, you might as well go all the way and create an Andy-Warhol-esque wallpaper of your mug and hang it along an entire section of your basement. At least that would make an artistic statement.

And don't get me started on the whole trash the dress phenomenon. Just because you are standing near a pile of dirt does not mean you are trashing the dress. And if you spent four hours in hair and makeup before the trashy photo shoot, it is by definition, not trashy. If some woman decides to wear her wedding gown whilst standing in a vat of pig's blood, then that is, in fact, a trash the dress moment. And it might even be art. But donning your gown and walking on tippy toes through a horse barn does not qualify as such.

Here's the thing: Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you have to. True, no one is being hurt by a high-end photo shoot where the woman is rocking an astonishingly bright engagement ring. And I probably sound like a completely judgmental... Well you fill in the blank. But I do think it says something about our society and our priorities that we feel compelled to celebritize (I might have made up that word) every major milestone. It just feels like we're all a bit desperate. Like we can't be happy with what we have and we have to aspire to more and then show people how hard we tried to get there.

Notice I said we, because if I'm being totally honest, there's a part of me that looks with jealousy at those glitzy photos. Who doesn't want to feel like a model and have the photos to prove it? But that's just my point: We shouldn't have to feel bad that we aren't models. We are people, with cellulite and bags under our eyes and less than perfect hair. We don't need hours in a salon and hours in front of lens to feel good about ourselves. And we don't need to look like Brad and Angelina to feel fulfilled. In fact, if you asked Brad and Angelina, they'd probably tell you that being a celebrity isn't as TOTALLY AWESOME as it looks.

Being who we are should be enough.

Did this just turn into an episode of Oprah? It's probably time for me to stop typing now...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Giving credit where credit is due

I write a column for the Worcester Business Journal called Digital Diva, which focuses on new technology and how businesses can use it to make money. In my most recent contribution to the world of sparkling prose, I wrote about "chiclets," which is a term for all those tiny icons that appear on websites to link you to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. I got this column idea from Harry Gold, owner of a marketing firm called Overdrive Interactive, who spoke in Worcester about social media marketing.

Anyway, I was remiss in not mentioning in my column that one of my father's favorite words is chiclets. He uses it to describe anything that comes in a large, plentiful number. It's a fairly apt description given how chiclets are often delivered by the handful. For example, in my father's vernacular, he might describe the number of candidates for governor as being "like chiclets." Same goes for the number of Law & Order spinoffs on TV or the number of Dunkin' Donuts locations in New England.

So, it's true, my Dad invented the use of the word chiclets to refer to anything that comes in large volume. And it's also true, Dad, that everyone steals all your best ideas.

People who come into contact with my dad for the first time are often perplexed by his vocabulary. His use of idiosyncratic phrasing is unique to say the least. I've been threatening for quite some time to put together a dictionary of all my dad's favorite bizarre sayings and there's no time like the present. Here's the beginning of the Jim Hall Dictionary (please note that all phrases should be said with a strong New York accent):

Hoople - Someone who is lazy; often broadly used to describe anyone and everything.

Slew foot - Similar definition as hoople.

Matte black is flat black - Used to say that two things of different names are basically the same, so stop worrying about it.

Get it into your head - Used to imply that the listener is in fact not listening and is being resistant to an idea that is obviously correct. Common variations include "Get it into your barantasorus" and "Get it into your barantasorus rex." Origins of the latter are unclear.

I'd take a hot stove - Another of way of saying "I'm really, really hungry."

Brown shirt - A phrase used to describe people who do basic tasks, like maintenance, waiting tables, etc.

Brain damaged - This one is fairly self-explanatory. It is used in any situation where someone (including the speaker) does something stupid. Often used as an exclamation.

Fasalines - Another word for money.

Cosmoline - A filler word used when you can't think of the correct word. "Hand me the cosmoline." Origin: The brand name of a rust preventative.

Ten-cent head give changes - A phrase used to describe someone who is not that bright. Sometimes shortened to just "Ten-cent head" or just "He gives change."

Wouldn't pay a dime for an earthquake - A phrase used to describe someone who is very cheap.

Smoking in the shower - A phrase used to deride someone for being stupid. Typical construction is, "What are you smoking in the shower?!"

Here's a dime, call someone who cares - A phrase used to minimize the importance of something. Often shortened to just "Here's a dime."

Zips - See brown shirt.

If it were easy, women and children would be doing it - This one's pretty self-explanatory.

We're going to feed you peanut butter and put in the closet - A threat used against a child stemming from the recommendation of a child psychologist popular in the 70s who claimed peanut butter and low light could calm overactive children (please note that my parents never locked me in a closet).

You'll have to live with Barnaby - Also a threat used against children referring to the movie "Babes in Toyland," in which there was an evil character called Barnaby (please note that my parents never made me live with Barnaby, although they did threaten it).

Get his money - To fire someone for incompetence.

Shit sandwich - A phrase used to describe the human condition, i.e. "Life's a shit sandwich and every day you take another bite."

Tiger meat wrapped in barb wire - A phrase used to describe a model human physique, especially that of Jim Hall Sr.

Your arms are too short to box with God - A phrase that implies that you are too small and too weak to stand up to the powerful forces around you. See shit sandwich.

Prowling the world seeking the ruin of souls - A biblical phrase used to describe the travels of a modern women who goes shopping on a Saturday afternoon.

Crying and gnashing of teeth - A biblical phrase used to describe discomfort.

Magpie - A woman who talks too much.

Tainer - A container of coffee, usually purchased and digested between 10 and 11 a.m.

Touch-it attack - A compulsion to fiddle with things that you know you should not be fiddling with.

Burnt out - Someone who is old and heart lazy (see below).

Heart lazy - A phrase to describe someone, usually the speaker, who is truly at their very core extraordinarily lazy.

Gather up ye rosebuds - A phrase often used as one is leaving the house to remind people to take their stuff with them. Sometimes is shortened to just "rosebuds," meaning "stuff."

This week's winner - When someone is a loose look-a-like.

86 - A fanny pack often employed by tourists in beach locales.

The com - The remote control device used to flip channels on a television set.

Badabing - Definition unknown.

Rattatatat - Definition unknown.

Enthalpy - A scientific term used in common speech to describe the sensation of cool air on the forehead when one props up their baseball cap allowing circulation.

-----------Newly added----------------------------------------------------

Hangers-on - Poor people that ride your coat tails.

Dishes cups bowls labashe - A phrase often called out in advance of loading the dishwasher.

It's like eating a broken cookie - Translation: Stop complaining you spoiled little brat.

It was those hot dogs you ate at Hudson Park - If you complain of an upset stomach.

Was the ground cold when you got up this morning? - When someone looks like something the cat dragged in.

Did you walk to school or take your lunch? - A test to see if someone is paying attention.

Did your mother have any kids that lived? - See above.

Pretty good Po-T-Ay - A phrase used when someone does something stupid.

Greetin' Willy - A child that's always whiney (courtesy of Grandma Hall).

Oooo-fa - Said every time one plays golf. No clear meaning, but indicates a level of fatigue.

I'm shot - Usually followed by "I'm tired."

Don't feed the Verrini
- Don't get someone all jacked up.

Jacked up - Overly excited.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I'd like to meet the person that...

I was flipping through all the TV shows now available for streaming on Netflix and noticed that you can watch seasons 1, 2, 3 AND 4 of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."

Really? Really? I can understand if you're bored, eating ice cream in front the TV, and you stumble upon Bruce Jenner's surgically destroyed face and you think, "All right, I'll watch this. It's not Nova, but whatever." But who is the person who actively seeks out previous seasons of this show? Who thinks, "I really have great nostalgia for season one, when Kim and Kholoe had that fight at the store and Mommy Jenner had to have a mini-Camp David to create peace in the Kardashian home?"

The only acceptable way to watch the abomination that is "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" is The Soup. Here's a classic clip:

Is it me, or is Kim looking a little dead behind the eyes?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Time-lapse video

So, I've been looking for an excuse to create a video from time-lapse photography and I found it at the business expo in Worcester.

We set the camera to take a photo every 1 minute. The camera would only take the photos over the course of 100 minutes, so I had to reset it a few times, which is why you see the camera kind of move. Also, we didn't use anything professional like a tripod - just some packing tape to secure it to the top of our booth installation. Low budget, but it worked!

You can see the back of my head during some parts. I was very conscious that the camera was on me, but I had a hard time getting people to move once they were comfortable standing in the corner.

One fun thing to watch for is the table that fills with food. There was an after-hours networking event that included a lot of food, and people kept dumping their garbage on the table in front of our booth. Thankfully the team at the DCU Center were on it and got the table cleaned up.

I downloaded the music off the Internet. It's royalty free, and I think it adds a little bit of fun to the video. Without the music, I don't think it would have been half as interesting.

Now I just have to find my next time-lapse opportunity...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Inspiration really does come from pain

Things I learned while traveling...

Hotels are dumb. When will hotels figure out that they need to put a giant sign up by the front door that give the details on wireless access? For some reason, wireless passcodes are always treated as top secret. Every conference I go to begins with people whispering over their shoulders asking, "Do you have it?" "Nah, man I don't got anything." "Who should we ask about it?" It's like we're all crack addicts jonesing for a fix. We all want it. Just charge us some ridiculous amount and move on.

Hotels are really dumb. For some reason the Affinia hotel in Chicago opted for the type of shampoo pictured to the right. Not only was the bottle impossible to open, the label disintegrated when it got wet. FAIL.

The drunk girl who talks too loud will most definitely be sitting next to you on the airplane. That's a given. Just prepare yourself.

Room service is always worth it. And for some reason, a tuna melt is great when you're on the road.

Ignore the news. Otherwise you get completely panicked over weather and the so-called Chiclone when it turns out to be no big deal at all. From now on I will have a self-imposed Twitter ban within 24 hours of entering an airport. I'm pretty sure blissful ignorance is a better strategy.

Cabbies are the coolest. I had two very interesting cab drivers on my way to and firm O'Hare. The first was a Nigerian immigrant who was quick to point out that his homeland is a difficult country thanks to all the shady guys trying to steal your money via email. We got to talking about politics and he was quick to criticize Chicago's hometown hero for not doing more on healthcare. In fact, he said he didn't have health insurance, that it was too expensive and the only reason to go to Cook County Hospital is to die. But he's still a big fan of Obama, saying that election night was an emotional one for him.

My second cabbie was a Romanian man, who not only owns a cab with his wife, but also runs a construction business, which has, not surprisingly suffered during the down economy. We talking Transylvanian vampires, Romanian gymnasts and babies- his wife is having trouble getting (and more importantly staying) pregnant.

I always asks immigrant cab drivers how they ended up in their chosen cities. I want to hear about how as children they dreamed of their chosen city after seeing it featured in some Hollywood feature. Sadly it's never a romantic story like that. It's invariably the brother-in-law of a neighbor's sister lived here, so that's why I'm here. Not very inspiring, but I suppose real life rarely is. And let's face it. Most of our life decisions are made because someone we know is already doing it. Picking a place to live because you read about it in book or saw it on TV only happens to people who, well, are in books or on TV.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Two for one

Definitely check this video out. Amazing!

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

The bike ride

This is a little late, but oh well.

I rode in a 25-mile bike race in Ashford a few weekends ago. It was part of a fundraiser for the town's park and rec department. There were about 200 cyclists registered, biking several different routes (100 miles, 65 miles, 25 miles and 10 miles).

I had never biked more than 12 miles, so this was a bit of a leap of faith for me. But it turned out well. I managed to pedal all 25 miles with a brief break at the Buell's Orchard. It was a beautiful morning, relatively cool, and the leaves were just starting to change. The route traveled through Ashford, Eastford and Woodstock. Lucky for me, I scoped out the route the day before by car with my mom. If I hadn't have done that, I probably would have gotten lost.
Apparently I was a bit of rebel riding my mountain bike. Most everyone else had fancy road bikes and fancier day-glo outfits. I was a little out of place, but hey, I finished, didn't I?

Good times. We're lucky to live in such a beautiful corner of the world where you can ride your bike for hours and see more horses than cars!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Got nothing to say

Sorry. Nothing. I'll try to have some experiences to share soon...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lessons from Project Runway

You're either in or you're out.

I love Project Runway, even though Heidi Klum is looking more and more like Brigette Nielsen with every episode. Here's what we learned from the latest round, where the contestants were tasked with creating a modern-day piece of American sportswear inspired by Jackie Kennedy:

MC Hammer pants are making a comeback... Again...

We'll soon be playing Where's Jackie?

Michael Kors doesn't dig the skirts you find at Anthroplogie.

Dish towels are hot for Spring 2011.

Do a zigzagy neckline if you want praise from the judges.

And the best quote of the show? "So what are you, a grande couturier? I mean, come on!" It's practically iambic pentameter. You rock my world, Michael Kors (even though it looked like you were wearing stone washed mom jeans in this episode).

P.S. You don't wear pants. You wear "a pant."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Two fun videos

Don't have the energy to write something thoughtful, so I thought I shared two videos that made me laugh today.

#1 Song from Cee Lo. It has bad language, but I figure we're all adults here. And if you can get past the F-word, I think you'll enjoy it. There's also a text-only version of the video that really drives home to whole swearing thing...

And here's one with no controversy. Just NPR folks lip-synching to Lady Gaga. What fun.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Boy in the bubble

Bobby organized a ragtag team for a soccer league in Tolland. I was the videographer of the game and managed to capture Bobby's goal:

Sweet! I also made hazelnut cookies for the guys on the team, which seemed go over well. What didn't go over so well? The final score: 10-2 bad guys. Oh well. Get 'em next time!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I'm just talking about Smuggs

Bobby and I went camping at Smugglers Notch State Park in Stowe, Vt. We climbed to the top of Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in the Green Mountain State. This was our third attempt at reaching the top, and this time we succeeded. We took the Hell Brook Trail up, which apparently is the most difficult way to get up the mountain. At the time we were really excited that we were so fit that we could complete such a difficult climb. Today, with our sore muscles, we realize we were just dummies.

Here's a photo slideshow of our adventures (before the muscle cramps set in). It took us about six hours round trip.

I have just one question: Why do hikers carry those stupid walking sticks? They are completely useless and cost a lot of money. I am going to start a movement to ban those from state parks in New England. You just look like Yuppies people!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Want to feel old?

If you want to wallow in your ancientness, show up on a college campus around 9:50 a.m. You are guaranteed to be overwhelmed by 13-year-old-looking college kids as they switch classes. That's what happened to me today when I visited the College of the Holy Cross to interview an economics professor. I was immediately transported back to freshmen year at UConn when I was completely nervous, lost and confused. Except this time I was also old on top of it.

Better yet, just avoid college campuses altogether. Or stick to online learning.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Who's better?

I have long asserted that Wings is by far superior to Steve Miller Band. But now I've created a survey to see what the world thinks. Share your view and quiet Erin O'Donnell Rinehart once and for all.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Back from vacay

And here's a photo slideshow to prove it. All photos are by me, except for the ones that are by Bobby and the one that was stolen from a video Gene shot of Becky and Summer in the pool:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Can't eat fish either

I heard this interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross and it turns out that we can't eat fish without feeling guilty either... Basically, we're killing all the wild fish and any fish that's farmed probably is pretty bad for us.

Kind of a bummer right? You wish you didn't know that, right? That's the way I felt, too.


Brusha, brusha, brusha

I can't stand buying toothpaste.

When I get to that aisle, I'm immediately overwhelmed by all the choices. I can never remember if I want Colgate or Crest... Their names are too similar.

And then I can't remember if I want paste or gel. I know I hate the pop-top toothpaste because that always gets that awful glob of dried toothpaste at the top, but I can't tell from the box whether it's a pop top or a twist top. So, the only way to tell is to open the box, which is unseemly and time consuming.

Once I've resigned myself to the pop-top crap shoot, I stare blindly at the prices. There's always five or six different sales. Buy one get one free. Buy one get half off. Buy two and get a rebate for half the cost. You need to understand calculus in order to figure out the best deal... Oh, excuse me sir for blocking your way. I'm preoccupied with entering all these price variables in my graphing calculator...

I'm hoping someone will hear my plea and open up a medium market that has fewer brands. That would make my life a lot easier.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My New York Times debut

Amazing! I have officially made it in the New York Times! I answered David Pogue's (@pogue) call on Twitter for app ideas a few days ago. And sure enough, my brilliant idea made it into his latest tech column. You have to click through to the second page, but it's there.

Now, I should also point out that my idea was slightly edited. I originally wrote:

"A grocery store app that tells you the aisle of the item you are looking for... No more searching for capers!"

And the copy editors at the Times changed it to "An grocery-story app..." The "an" sounds awkward to me, but perhaps there is some archaic grammar rule they are trying to follow. Whatever! I'm in the New York Times!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The great outdoors

I've become a fan of recording audio on the iPhone. I combined sounds from our camping trip at Housatonic Meadows State Park in Sharon, Conn., with some photos. Check out the result:

A birdwatcher on the trail said the distinctive, chime-like bird call was a Veery. But when I listened to that bird call online, I didn't think it sounded the same at all. I'll let you be the judge.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hometown pride

Check out the unveiling of Bobby's new sneakers... Unfortunately, they arrived when Bobby was in Maryland, so I decided to record opening the box for his benefit:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Your new helper

So, today at a Worcester Xtra Mart the cashier was quite a character. He was covered in tattoos. More specifically, he was completely bald with a spider web tattoo covering his skull. And then he had blue ink tattoos on the skin above his eyelids.

Welcome to Worcester!

Monday, May 17, 2010

This one's for Peter...

So, we recently made a trip south to Savannah, Ga., and I proved myself to be an ugly New Englander.

Bobby and I were at a restaurant on a slow night. There were only a handful of people and we were sitting on top of another couple. Well, it turns out I talk too loud (surprise). We had this strange waiter who was easily 6-foot-2. He had a different accent every time he came back to our table. At one point he sounded French, next he sounded Italian, and finally he threw in a y'all for good measure.

I had noticed while in Savannah that practically everyone uses y'all even if they have no business using it. The town is filled with college students that are clearly from the Northeast, yet they feel obliged to say y'all after nearly every sentence.

So, I commented (a bit too loudly) to Bobby something to this effect:
"Everyone in this city is so fake. They all use Southern accents even though they aren't from here."

After the couple next to us left Bobby informed me that the woman sitting next to me was not happy with my comment and said so to her dining companion.

In my defense: Could you ever imagine a college student in Boston taking on the local accent just for show? Of course not. But for some reason in Savannah, everyone wants to have a drawl.

It's just weird.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What about the dancing?

God bless Adam Shankman, producer of the Oscars, for bringing back the dance number to the nation's most-watched awards show.

It was a fabulous number with what looked like 40 dancers up on stage at once. Truly amazing. So You Think You Can Dance has nothing on this number.

I can't find the actual performance online yet. But here's a behind the scenes clip from auditions:

You'll notice several SYTYCD alums in the clip!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

That's so 'meta'

I for one never really knew what the word "meta" meant, even though I've used it on more than one occasion. Here's a nice definition from the Columbia Journalism Review.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hey, little girl...

I found this song on iTunes. I know I've heard it before. I did a little research and it's a Burt Bacharach/Hal David number. It was originally recorded in 1963 by Jack Jones (that's who's singing the version below), but was later covered by both male and female singers including Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. Give it a listen:

If I were more talented, I'd do a mash-up of this song and "Single Ladies" by Beyonce. Wouldn't that be cool?

Of course, I have to laugh at these lyrics, but according to my mom, when this song came out, it was completely serious. Not sarcastic at all. Which is pretty outrageous, until you think about some of the popular songs of today. I was going to embed one here, but most of what I found was so disgusting, I couldn't bring myself to post it.

The quaint notion of prettying up for your man before he comes home doesn't seem so bad when you listen to some of the popular rap music out there today. That's kind of sad.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Better haiku of the day

Had my meter wrong
Peter told me like it is
I stand corrected

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Haiku of the day

This one was inspired by my work-from-home day yesterday. When you are looking out your sliding glass door, you can't help but get inspired:

Little black cat in back yard
Torturing Wee One
Soft paws leave marks in the snow

Top that Maya Angelou!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Why our health care system sucks...

So, I got a firsthand view of why there is so much waste in our health care system. Here goes:

I am very near-sighted and I wear contacts most of the time. Now, you can order your contacts online very easily, but there's a caveat. In most states (due to the powerful optometrist lobby) you have to get your eyes checked before you can reorder your contact prescription.

That means that I have to go to the eye doctor every year even though my eyesight has not changed. My optometrist tells me that it's unlikely that my vision will change through my 30s, yet I still have to go, sit there for 30 minutes, sweat through the stupid "Better like this, better like this" torture and then be told, "Hey, your prescription hasn't changed."

Of course, wasting 30 minutes of my precious time may not seem like a big deal. But what is a big deal is the cost of all this sitting around in a dark room making small talk... My insurer only pays for an eye exam every TWO years. But I can't order my contacts for two years... I can only order an annual supply. That means on the off year (like this year) I have to pay out of pocket for the exam. And my insurance only pays for the regular eye exam, not the "contact lens" exam or fitting, whatever that means. So, I had to pay $110 today to be told that my sight has not changed (something I already knew).

Another layer:
Last year I finally caved to the recommendation of my optometrist to go see an opthamologist (more expensive version of an optometrist with fancier machines) because my eye pressure was on the very edge of being "high." High eye pressure can be an indication of glaucoma, but it's VERY uncommon in people my age. A high eye pressure reading can also be caused by a thick cornea.

So, one would think that a doctor that sees someone my age with NO symptoms of glaucoma and use common sense and say, "This person probably has thick corneas." But noooo..... Every time I go to an eye exam I get a furrowed brow from the examiner and a concerned, "You know your eye pressure is high... You should probably have that looked at."

Like I said, I finally caved to this pressure and went to the over-priced opthamologist and sat through the two-hour process of having my pupils dilated only to be told at the end that - Surprise! - "Your eye pressure is fine. You just have thick corneas."
Funny. I didn't have to go to medical school to figure that out. And I didn't need a million-test to tell me that.

I don't remember what I spent on that visit, but I do know that I missed a full day of work and my husband had to drive me to and from the appointment.

This is one of the clearest examples of waste that I can think of in our health care system. Because of stupid state laws, I can't reorder my contacts. Because an optometrist is trying to protect his business, I have to get an unneeded exam. Because an optometrist is afraid I might sue if I ended up with glaucoma and he didn't recommend a specialized test, I had to miss an entire day of work.

Our health care system sucks. It doesn't have anything to do with the "uninsured" or illegal immigrants in our emergency rooms. It has everything to do with a system that's been allowed to grow to massive proportions and go completely unchecked.

We need less paranoia and more common sense in our doctors' offices.