Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wen's Friday Fiver

And Wen tagged me for this Fiver meme a while back:Five, Ten or Fifteen People you want to complete this:

Sorry, the Meme stops here.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Seven things about me (memed!)

As I have said before, I'm not big on memes, but I've been tagged for a couple lately, including by Linshaolin for the Seven Things About Me meme, so here goes:

  1. I like to wear Hawaiian shirts. A lot.

  2. I think the most beautiful word in the English language is "serendipity." I freely admit that the meaning of the word contributes to my perception.

  3. I don't know how to swim.

  4. I can't resist calendars with pictures of beautiful tropical places. And doesn't everyone need five or six calendars every year?

  5. I think South Beach in Miami qualifies as a "beautiful tropical place."

  6. There are a lot of awesome things to do in Manhattan, but I think the most awesome is to simply walk.

  7. And while we're speaking of "seven," in (Catholic) High School I had a math teacher who gave the class a speech on the first day of school, explaining that she loved the number seven because it affirmed her faith in God. She was a brand new teacher -- we were her first class. She didn't even last until Christmas.

As far as tagging someone else, goes, I don't go there. The meme, as the old saying goes, stops here.


Thursday, July 26, 2007


A telephone conversation:

Judi: Did you see Lindsay Lohan has been arrested again?

Me: I heard something about it on the radio. Was she wearing underwear this time?

Judi: I think so. At least, I didn't hear otherwise.

Me: You know, you never hear anything about her anymore except when she's in trouble. You never hear her... songs? ...anymore. (Pause.) She was a singer wasn't she? Or was she an actress.

Judi: I think she might have been an actress... maybe.

Moment of awkward silence.

Me: I don't remember what she used to do.

Another moment of awkward silence.

Judi: You know, it's saying something when the only claim someone has left to fame is that they're always getting arrested.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Girl Detective

Last week Judi's great-niece was visiting, and we took her to see the new Nancy Drew movie. As a rule, we aren't big on seeing movies, at least in theaters. Judi came with me to see Wallace and Grommit -- I gues that was about a year and a half ago. Before that, I think the last movie we saw together in a theater was the first Back to the Future movie, and that was when it was first released. Of course, next week we'll have to go back to see Underdog, since it stars a beagle, but you can see we don't do a lot of movies. But Judi wanted to see Nancy Drew. She was a huge fan of the Nancy Drew books when she was growing up, and, honestly, she hasn't finished growing up. Which is a good thing.

Anyway, this post isn't a review of Nancy Drew, just a commentary. Well, okay, I'll give you my review: I liked it. A lot. End of review. Also, there are absolutely no spoilers in this post, so you can read on and still see the movie and still be surprised, or disappointed, or whatever.

Okay, commentary:

For you Nancy Drew purists, be aware that the movie is different from the books, and the Nancy of the movie is even different from the Nancy of the books. In the books, over the many decades, Nancy keeps up with the trends and the times. She's always a modern girl, whatever that means at the time each book is written. In the movie, it's exactly the opposite: Nancy has been cast as a throwback to the 1950's, at least in her dress, her mores, and her moralitity -- she is very current in her technology: She has an iPod and a laptop (an Apple iBook), and uses the Internet to research clues (I think the browser is Safari, but I'm not sure). (And while we're on the subject of technology: Why an old, abandoned, run-down, perhaps-haunted house has wireless Internet access never explained in the movie, but, hey, it's a movie -- I can suspend a little disbelief.)

But getting back to the 1950's: The movie's opening sequence, set in River Heights, is almost painfully Ozzie and Harriet. You almost expect the town's Smokey-the-Bear-hat wearing police to break into coordinated song-and-dance at any moment. (Thankfully, they don't.) But "bear" with it (pun intended). It's my opinion that they deliberately made Nancy retro, because they are about to send her off to...


Pretty much the most non-retro place in the world.

And the contrast between the two, as well as the effect that L.A. has on Nancy, and that Nancy has on L.A., make for some great scenes.

I thought it was a clever bit of tongue-in-cheek irony that the making of movies plays a part in the plot of this movie, including a visit to a movie set where Bruce Willis is shooting a film. Willis's cameo is funny and winsome.

Nancy herself is such a serious girl -- at one point she tells another teenage girl "Anyone can learn advanced life-saving techniques" and does it with a perfectly straight face. And when someone says to her, "You're joking," she deadpans back with, "I never joke," and we realize she's right.

Nancy's mother gets a little bit bigger role in the movie than in the books: Twice Nancy is compared to her mother, and also twice Nancy tells someone that she isn't sure she remembers anything about her mother -- whether her memories are real or just imagined. Nancy makes her retro-style clothes by using her mother's old patterns... is that a clue that she's pining for her lost mother? And Nancy even makes a point of calling her mother "a mystery," which led me to the interesting idea that perhaps Nancy's compulsive "sleuthing" is driven by a desire to "solve" the mystery that is her mother.

Another movie departure from the books is Nancy's age: Nancy is not eighteen. In the books (which are still being written: Nancy Drew, Troubled Water was published this past April, and Nancy Drew, Murder on the Set was published in May, while Nancy Drew, Trail of Treachery is due out next month), Nancy remains forever eighteen. But the Nancy in the movie, with her bony legs and flat chest, while old enough to drive, still has some puberty to go through. I have a feeling I know why they did this, though: Emma Roberts, unlike the real Nancy, will not remain forever young, and since she's already signed on to appear in sequels, they need to leave her a little room to grow.

Finally, Andrea will be happy to hear that Danger Sidekicks have a role in Nancy Drew, albiet in the hands of the "bad girls."


Monday, July 23, 2007

Play nice

SkyeSkye walking on a little wall
Linshaolin has a keen eye and a droll way with words, and her recent post, High Noon at the Message Board, describes the flaming that breaks out on message boards and mailing lists in a very entertaining way. I recommend it.

Flaming is an interesting phenomenon. It's fascinating to watch people who you know are proper and polite in the "real" world morph into savage monsters online and behave in a way that, if they were children in school, would earn them a long sit in the corner. Or expulsion. How can they change so much when sitting at their keyboards? Joseph Conrad would feel vindicated, if he were alive and on some of these lists. Heart of Darkness indeed.

I'm on many, many boards and lists, but most are limited to narrow technical subjects, and the list moms keep them strictly on topic. Besides my techincal lists, I'm on a Reiki list, a list that discusses communicating with angels (yes, I know, and I am in fact an atheist), a couple of collectors lists, and a bunch of beagle lists. Most of these lists are civil, most of the time. Ironically, the beagle lists are the most prone to flaming. You'd think admirers of friendly, easygoing beagles would be friendly and easygoing themselves, but there are those with exposed nerves. If someone mentions a pet-store beagle, for example, the more radical anti-puppy-mill and dog-rescue members can be vicious. I've even heard of threats being sent off-list.

If beagles used the Internet, instead of people, it would be a much friendlier place.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

I, Robot

One of the conference rooms where I work was being reconfigured for some special event, and so several flip charts had been carried out and leaned against a wall. This one happened to be on top:


Now, for the record, the company where I work manufactures electronics for airplanes. While our products are expensive, they're also small and lightweight, as you would expect things that Go Up In Planes to be. We're not involved in, say, bomb disposal, or operating maximum security prisons. But even setting that aside, what would you think if you're company, whatever it does, had a team defining specifications for a robot that (a) can unplug from the wall, (b) is mobile, (c) can pass through all doorways, and (d) can weigh up to 300 pounds?

I don't know the exact answer, but I think that in general it would fall into the category of "nothing good."

I guess if it at least doesn't look like Arnold Schwarzen-ator, that will be a good sign....



Thursday, July 19, 2007

Florida Orange Meringue Pie

How to make a Florida Orange Meringue Pie

Who wants pie? Who wants pie?

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in 1-1/2 quart saucepan. Stir in orange and lemon juices gradually. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and bubbles. Stir in orange sections and boil for 3 to 4 minutes.

Mix 1/4 of hot orange mixture with slightly beaten egg yolks; then blend all back into orange mixture in saucepan. Continue to boil and stir for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange and lemon rind.

Pour into baked pie shell. Top with meringue.

Meringue: Beat the four egg whites until foamy. Then add 1/2 cup sugar slowly, by tablespoons, until beaten stiff and glossy. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Spread the meringue so it covers the orange filling. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes until the meringue is a delicate brown. Cool and eat.

-- Harvey's Groves postcard

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


We up here in Vermont are so excited we can barely stand it. This is even better than watching maple sap boil. After a well publicized nationwide poll little ole Springfield Vermont won out as the town that will premire the Simpsons movie (Yes, that other thing that is coming out this weekend.) They won out over much bigger Springfields across the nation, and I must point out to my dear bro that Springfield Florida came in last in the polling. This is being spun up this way to mean that Springfield VT is the home of the Simpsons, which explains a lot. I have always enjoyed the series and although it may not always portray Springfield in the most positive light, it does seem to be a resilient little city full of (mostly) good folks. Just like our Springfield - which is about 20 miles from where I am sitting now.

One of the more interesting aspects of this is that our Spfld (as it is known, pronounced Spifld, BTW). Only has 9,000 people. It is a struggling rust belt community that saw its hey day about 70 years ago. It only has one theatre and that only has about 100 seats. Their solution? The movie will be playing continuously on Saturday, starting at about 1pm. I kid you not, the papers up here are saying that Spfld hasn't seen anything this big since Lindbergh came to town.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Of course

Judi and I were trying to remember the names of the Seven Dwarfs:

Judi: And Doc.

Me: And just what did Doc get his PhD in, anyhow?

Judi: Mine Engineering, of course. What else?

What else, indeed. So now I know.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Catching up... and not

As Microsquish's new Internet Explorer 7 Web browser gets into more hands, I'm finding myself more and more frequently having this same conversation:

Inane Person: I like IE 7. I especially love the new tabbed browsing.

Me: Tabbed browsing isn't really new. Browsers like Opera and Mozilla and Firefox and Safari have had tabbed browsing for years. Microsoft is just catching up, years behind everyone else.

IP (blank look upon face): No, tabbed browsing is new.

Me: Only in Internet Explorer. Other, better browsers have had it for years.

IP (looking even blanker): I never noticed tabs before.

Me: That's because you've used Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Microsoft just introduced tabs with IE 7, but other browsers have had tabs for years.

IP (voice drifting off): I don't know why I never noticed them before....

Me: Aargh!


Monday, July 09, 2007


Last night I had a dream in which I was practicing the Box Step.

This is either (a) good, or (b) bad. But then, so is pretty much everything else in life.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Not that I would know anything about this, or anything...

I doubt that any of you, my five loyal readers, work in the restaurant business, so this advice will probably be for naught, but, just in case:

If you are a waiter or waitress...

...and if you are serving a table of two...

...and if, upon bringing the food out, you discover that one of the customer's dishes has not been prepared correctly...

...and if you must send this dish back to be done over...


...for goodness sake take both persons' dishes back and have them both done over. Even the one that was prepared correctly the first time.

Because if you don't do this, you leave the customers in an awkward place:

The customer with his or her food is faced with the choice of either eating in front of his or her companion, who has no food, or waiting for the companion's food to come back out, by which time his or hers will be cold.

The customer waiting for food is faced with either watching his or her companion eat, while he or she sits, and then later will eat while said companion sits. Or feel guilty because said companion waited to eat, and his or her food grew cold.

Either way, it makes for an unpleasant customer experience.

Both customers deserved to be served together, even if it means a perfectly good dish has to be cooked again. The customers came to your restaurant together. They sat down together. And while it should go without saying, that's because they wanted to eat together.

Don't ask me how I know this. Or how often I know it.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Invitation to the Dance

I know nothing about dancing. I have never had a dance lesson. Never. Nada. But now, despite my advanced age and my deteriorating leg, I've decided to learn. Wen, who is a professional dance teacher (among other estimable things), was kind enough to recommend some instructional dance videos. These are ordered and in hand, and so my journey begins. I'm sure it will provide amusing fodder for many blog posts to come.

I'm starting with the waltz. When you first get to see "under the hood" of something you've only ever known as an outsider, it can be strange and startling. Take the waltz, for example: In my mind, the word "waltz" has always conjured an image of couples whirling and spinning and twirling and circling across the floor, the skirts of the ladies' colorful gowns billowing out behind. Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned that the basic waltz step actually travels in a rectangle, facing the same direction the entire time, and ending in exactly the same spot where it began. Nary a whirl, spin, twirl, or circle in sight. It was not what I expected.

I imagine I will be whirling and spinning soon. In fact, I think the very next lesson has something to do with turning. But for now I'm patiently trying to master the so-aptly named Box Step.

One two three, one two three.


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