Jon & Kate Plus 8 ... Backlash?

WOW on this post. I love watching the show and never thought Kate was at all abusive. And her explanations for keeping the kids as clean as possible are legitimate. A mess times one or two is one thing, but times EIGHT? They'd never have clean clothes, would have to buy new things all the time, etc. because there's just not enough time in a day to keep it clean. But maybe the producers of the show could get some help, i.e. someone to do the laundry straight away if they were concerned the kids don't get dirty enough.

There's a lot more to say about this, but TEAM KATE! And bah to the haters.


Ad Age: Skinny Women Better for Bottom Line - Advertising Age - News

Right, we knew it all along. Skinny women sell. Even Lane Bryant catalogs show relatively svelte models (maybe size 8, which in fashion standards is super-plus size). Sales drop when you show things on fat people. Depressing? Maybe. But I'm not broken up about it. ~Mari.

Study: Skinny Women Better for Bottom Line - Advertising Age - News

Social Media Event & Subway Trials


I honestly am such a doofus. I had an easy time getting to my event in Times Square this morning - no worries. The event itself was OK - nothing earth shattering, and what I noticed MOST was people twiddling on their mobile phones more than anything else (probably tweeting the event, who knows).

BUT on the way back, such a dumb move, I got on an "N" train. The N runs local on the weekends (the only time I'm regularly on the subway) but it's EXPRESS on weekdays. I'm sure that happens to people, but I didn't realize it until Canal Street, past my stop. SO I was able to get on an uptown Express N, and I hopped off at 14th St Union Square. Genius that I am, I just crossed the platform and hopped on a local R, which was, of course, going UPTOWN and I now needed to go downtown. I rode to 23rd St (should have gone onto 34th) and had to get out of the subway hole (an Owen-Max-ism) and cross the street to go back DOWNTOWN. Finally I got to 8th St/NYU and hobbled my way home (a lot of walking in these feet that aren't used to heels).

Came to the computer to the usual flurry of hair-on-fire stuff, and I'm about caught up with the goodness of it all and can get back into my groove of usual work. Looking forward to the weekend though...


How I Process Blogs and What I Do With All That Info

I make my way through hundreds of blog entries each day. I read everything through my Google Reader plunked on my iGoogle page, which to my knowledge doesn't have a keyboard shortcut for directly sharing to "Shared Items."

I subscribe to 91 blogs so far in my "Firefox" Google reader (basically my personal reader that I keep open in Firefox daily). Many are design related, focused on NYC or non-profit blogging tips.

I subscribe to 16 health and policy related blogs in my "Explorer" Google reader (my work reader kept open in IE daily). I am trying to expand the RA reach and conversation by getting our name out there and commenting on others' posts that are relevant to some of our public opinion polls or the YCYH initiatives. This is relatively new for me - I've only been given the green-light for this type of outreach for a few weeks.

However, my personal blog reading dates back a loooong time. As an undergraduate I started being a part of a personal diary community, where I still write and comment fairly anonymously. After moving to New York, I've added to the glut of blogs I read ... partly because of the ease with which Google feeds me this info and partly because of the plethora of information being generated about NYC and things I'm interested in.

I rarely read a post word-for-word, and I certainly don't even devote most of my time to this - I have website changes, traffic reports, e-mail, newsletter, annual report and other daily chores (not to mention meetings/conference calls). But I do manage to read and share a bit each day.

So for my personal reading, I don't really do anything with the information other than feel more informed and entertained. I do share a few things on my "Shared Items" Google page (see right column), but otherwise my blogging intake is limited to myself.

For work, it's more of a task-oriented job. I'm looking for places to comment AS a representative of our org and learning a LOT along the way about what's going on in the world of health and policy. It's good, and I could spend lots more time on it and do more with information gleaned from it, but only so much time in the day.

Edit: I rarely comment on blogs, so that saves time.

Post idea from

We Sell Sea Shells by the Sea Shore

Owen at the Sea Shore
Sweet little Owen Max, looking out to the sea shore.

We had a lovely weekend in Connecticut. First we took a taxi (Taxi, Taxi, Riding in the Backseat) to Grand Central, then a Metro North train to New Haven. Then we got a rental car, drove around New Haven, seeing Yale and all the places Shawn lived during his two years there. (It was only two places, in his defense.) We saw the overlook, and then drove to Branford, CT, where our motel was. We checked in, went to a local diner for dinner and then drove around, trying to catch a glimpse of the sea shore! We spotted a Kohl's instead and indulged in a little suburban retail therapy (I got a purple stripey oversized sweater, a purple dress and a new wallet for less than twenty bucks!). There was a bit of a scuffle when Owen really wanted a toy... but with Shawn's help I managed to not plunk down $10 for an overpriced, under-fun set of little cars. Owen was happy with gum we picked up at Walgreen's near our motel...

Saturday morning, after a nice rest in separate rooms (which felt weird after a week of close quarters in the studio apartment), we stopped at Walgreen's again to buy beach towels (75% off ... and I still don't know where all of my beach towels are...wouldn't think you could lose so much in so little space, but I have magical powers I'm afraid). We got a couple chairs for $2.50 each and water to last us through the day. Then it was off to Hammonasset State Park. We parked and set up shop between life guards and in front of bathrooms - very convenient for an almost-4-year-old, and even for this 27-yr-old!

The weather wasn't too bad, and there was sand, water and Owen was in heaven. We stayed far too long - lunch from a nearby food stand and in-and-out of the water. I did my best to keep out of the sun and continued to spray on sunscreen, SPF 50. We lathered Owen up MANY times, and his bathing suit comes with a cute swim top as well as shorts (can't be too careful with his fair, fair skin). Owen didn't get any suburn (except one small, weird patch under his right eye), but Shawn got the worst of it - his chest, back and backs of his knees. Beth had a few random sunburned spots, and Mama and I tied for weirdest burns - the tops of both of our knees, the inside of my mom's arms, my left elbow and ankle (?!) and who knows what else.

Owen & Beth on the TrolleyAfter a relaxing stay on the sea side, we packed up and went to the Nature Center in the park, did a look around at some of the things they had there, and then drove to the Trolley Museum in Short Beach, CT (there are signs for it along I-95, and once we said it, Owen was dying to go there). Of course we get there at 5 pm, and the stupid museum closes at 4:30 BUT they have a sunset tour, and we can come back and ride the trolley/see the sunset over some marshes if we come back at 7. So we go to a restaurant, have a leisurely dinner and come back to wait for the trolley. Owen is beside himself with excitement. And it really was fun. Weather was cool - our sunburns hadn't REALLY set in yet, and the trolley car was a restored one from New Orleans, complete with adjusting seats (they can face either way) and replica ads from the 1940s, when the car was first built and running. We got to look in the museum a little while we waited, much to Owen's delight, but the shop was closed, much to our shopping enthusiasts' chagrin.

After the trolley ride (at the end of which Owen was asked to clang the bell and open the door for all the passengers - all 10 of us), we talked Uncle Shawn into taking us to Wal-Mart for aloe and other sundries. I was salivating over the cheap prices of general goods - razors, cereal, etc. My mom got us a giant box of Honey Nut Cheerios (one of Shawn's faves), and then it was back to the motel for baths and coating ourselves with aloe. GEEZ!

On Sunday morning, we had breakfast and headed into New Haven after check out to see the Eli Whitney museum. There's also a water works there, and a waterfall captured Owen's attention. Plus a covered bridge made for fun photo ops, or at least TRYING to get good shots. In looking for a bathroom (seems like our time was constantly divided between looking for bathrooms), Shawn opened a door, and a few minutes later an alarm was going off - apparently a delay... We found a bathroom in the other building and skee-daddled off to the Yale Bookstore.

Of course we were thirty minutes EARLY for this store's opening, so we wandered around campus until we could go in and buy things. I didn't buy anything Yale, or anything I couldn't have bought here in the city. Also the prices were the same, since it is a Barnes & Noble, but my mom did find some good souveniers for her pals back in I-town.

Finally it was lunch at a Yale landmark (beats me what it's called), and then a search for a gas station that included a giant loop around New Haven. Shawn dropped us (and our 14 bags) off at the train station, returned the car and met us back in the lobby (which had neat model trains under glass for Owen to look at and jump around about). We caught our train back to NYC and were at Grand Central before 5 pm. There's an outpost of the Brooklyn-based Transit museum in GCT, so we were able to get some subway memorabilia, including an A-line subway car that will work with Owen's current Thomas the Tank Engine railway cars and engines.

Then we took one more taxi home, left Shawn to rest and headed down Broadway to SoHo to shop at Pearl River, home of all things Chinese - silk purses and journals, fans and even plastic toys. Owen talked me into getting him a $1 helicoptor, and I got him some Thomas candies with Chinese writing on the box (too funny). I got myself a little coin purse that has a girl swinging and the tagline "Mood Swing" - approps, no? On the way to Pearl River we found a vendor of bags on the street - something my mom had wanted to do for a true NYC experience. We didn't talk her down too much, but my mom did get a gorgeous purple handbag for a very reasonable price. Jealous much? I'll have to start paying more attention to those vendors and carrying bits of cash to try to get a deal!

Finally it was time for supper. After all the eating out we'd been doing, a restaurant wasn't the tops on anyone's list, but none of us were up for cooking either, so to Cozy's we went. Shawn and I typically go there after church on Sundays, so we were later than usual and it was quieter/more empty. We had a nice, semi-light supper then headed back to the apartment for much needed rest and packing.

This morning it was up at the crack of dawn for the Dial 7 driver to pick up my sweet, sweet family, and they made their way to LGA. The first flight was delayed, but they were still able to make their connection in Memphis. Now they should be in the Big I, with Beth making her way back to her new apartment in L-town.

It was a fantastic, exhausting trip ... and not just the Connecticut jaunt, but the whole thing. I wouldn't change anything (except maybe to not be working and able to spend the entire 10 days with them), and I felt like we got so much done and they were able to see so many things.

The first day after a visit is always the hardest - seeing Owen's left over juice boxes in the fridge, or Noggin' coming on when turning on the TV this evening after work... My heart is so full of love for that kid, for my mom and my wonderful sister. Even though I was stressed out at times and not the nicest Mari, I hope they know how much I love them - and appreciate the effort and cost and time they took to come visit me and give me a little more home in this big, cold (well hot) city...where it's so easy to be lonely in a place with over 8 million people. I am so lucky and blessed. And home is always with me, even when those I love are not... I just have to keep remembering that.


I'm Crazy 'Bout a Mercury

Originally uploaded by silvermari
SO... here is the rental car from this recent trip - it's a 2008 Mercury Sable, and we quite enjoyed the cushy ride and new car smell. It was a good feeling to be "silvermari" proper for a while, even though I couldn't drive it (Shawn was the driver for the weekend).

More pics coming up.

Book Meme - not tagged, but doing it on my own

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma - Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

the grind

my family just left, and it's back to the grind.

Dial 7 Car Service is PHENOMENAL. We had a great experience from the airport when they arrived (including having to change the reservation from LGA to JFK just a few hours before they arrived - talk about stupid re-routing), and then the car and driver were waiting for us downstairs well ahead of schedule. I hope it all works out for them on the trip home and that it's less stressful/long/drawn out than getting here.

i am sad because the apartment is quiet, there is no noggin' on the TV and everything is a mess. there are juice boxes left and a few toy box remnants (mostly packaging)... i am a sucker when he asks me to buy something. i have to do my expense report for the trip and make sure everything balances out.

i just want to crawl in bed and sob a little. but instead i'm "at" work - going through emails and getting things done... such is life.


ps more posts later about the weekend/other activities we did, plus railing against a few things...including Northwest airlines.

i need to change my blog template...

photos from the week... off to connecticut, tour of yale and the beach. huzzah.

Behind the Name

Find out what your name means and how many others there are in the US with your exact name. I tried all of my name combinations (maiden, nickname and legal). Good times! - Mari Walker

One more thing I don't understand but that I stumbled across in an effort to be more socially online...


Weekend in The City

Friday night our weekend started with a Broadway play, The Country Girl, starring Morgan Freeman, Frances McDormand and Peter Gallagher. It wasn't so great - a boring story and barely interesting characters. BUT it was too cool to hear Morgan Freeman's voice live and in person. And at one point his hands ... the way he held them ... reminded me so much of Grandpa Max. It just flooded me with emotion. While we were leaving the theater we saw Stockard Channing. She was in the audience too! Funny.

On the way back to the subway we stopped at Duane Reed to get some water for the ride home. I was zooming along, and I stepped wrong in a crevice in the sidewalk. UGH. I fell straight forward and was pretty much 90 degrees out in the air. Because it's Times Square, there were loads and loads of people, and my head fell right into the backsides of girls walking in front of us. It was SO embarrassing, and my back, foot and head were killing me afterward.

Then as we went into Duane Reed there was something crazy going on with a couple people. I just ignored it ... and didn't really see what happened. Apparently there was a fight going on and a guy pushed a girl down the escalator. She was OK and then the police were there. We paid for our purchases and got on the hot oven of a subway. Blugh.

Owen stayed home with Uncle Shawn on Friday night and had a good time. We had bought Owen some puzzles - 3D toys made of wood that are in a million pieces that fit together without glue or nails. So they put together the train one... There's still the digger one to put together. They played some games and didn't watch any TV. Owen was asleep when we got home - what a sweet little boy.

Shawn left for Chicago on Saturday morning - REALLY early - but not before killing a roach and spilling some water all over my desk. Charming. :) We got up and were out the door by about 10:30 on our way to the City Sights NY tour. (HALF the price of the Grey Line and so much better, imho).

We exchanged our tickets for boarding passes and got on the bus for the downtown loop. We got off the bus at South Street Seaport, where we shopped at The Strand Outlet (which is closing and was having MAJAH sales). Then we ate lunch at the Heartland Brewery - easy, yummy and convenient. Also the place where Shawn and I ate with Susan, Lisa and their British family: Leila, Rick, Eleanor and Thomas. Then we hopped back on the bus and finished the downtown loop. Owen fell asleep on this part.

We got off the bus in Times Square and made a special stop at the largest Toys R Us in the world. We made a bee-line for the Thomas section of the store, and along the way came across some Thomas/NYC-themed clothing items. Owen got a new Thomas hat that has a "Big Apple" on it, so cute. Owen played and played on the amazing Thomas set up in the store. But finally it was time to get back on the bus. (There is a 60-foot Ferris wheel inside the store, and it's $4 each to ride a really long line, so we opted out of that fun thing.)

The stop for the uptown tour wasn't very far away, but by the time we got there (almost 5 pm) we had missed the last uptown bus. The guys said we could catch it on its loop up, about five blocks away. So off we went, trucking as fast as we could go. I threw Owen on my shoulders and took off at a VERY fast walk. Mama and Beth brought up the rear and were cracking up at how fast we were going. We JUST made the uptown tour bus, and we got to see Harlem, the Upper East and West sides, Central park edges, Columbus Circle and Museum Mile. Our tour guide was great - Leonardo. And had fun information for us.

Back in Times Square, we got in a "subway hole" and made our way back home. We had dinner at the apartment (bacon cheesy pasta delight for the girls and round meat (bologna) for Owen). As we're starting to take our baths to wash off the filth of the city, I realize no hot water ... as in, no water at all coming out of the hot tap. I'm so dirty I still take a shower in the freezing cold water, washing as best I can. I heated up some water on the stove to give Owen a bath. And then as soon as we were done the hot water comes back one - which was good for Mama and Beth! But weirdly the hot water in the kitchen came out brown - really looking like mud. That lasted through today (Monday) but eventually it seems to have cleared out the pipe. DIS-GUST-ING!

After a good rest, we got up and went to church on Sunday morning. This church isn't air conditioned, meaning you sweat through the service. ICKY STICKY. It was unbelievably hot (Shawn's explanation is that it is to give you a taste of hell so you'll straighten up and fly right...either way it's awful!), and Owen didn't really enjoy it. But he made it and so did we. After being stood up by Lisa for church and brunch, we decided to catch the 1 pm boat tour to the Statue of Liberty. (Good idea in theory but not so much for our food intake!)

We took the subway to Grand Central Station and grabbed an M42 bus to the 42nd Street Pier (#83), exchanged the tickets we had for the boat for boarding passes, stood in an interminable line and got on the boat FINALLY. The 75-minute cruise was pretty relaxing, for the most part, and fun. We got up close to the Statue of Liberty, and we saw the island of Manhattan from the south - a stunning view of the skyline.

After the boat, we hopped on the M42 going back toward midtown and got off at 5th Ave - to see the lions at the library. A few quick pictures (and Owen was sleeping again)...and then we headed in search of nutritional sustenance. What we found and settled on was Chipotle. Not exciting, but cheap, filling and semi-quick. I was also able to get wireless internet access on my iPod, so we checked the hours of the Central Park Zoo, our next stop.

A Happy Meal for Owen, another city bus ride (I think it was a Q3 or something) and we were on our way to the zoo. We had about an hour until closing, but that was plenty of time, since the animals were all hang-dog from the heat and not really exciting. We got to use a clean bathroom and see a "big, big bridge" (as per Owen) as well as a couple polar bears (!) playing in the water. I felt so sorry for them ... so out of their habitat. Ugh. We also bought a few things at the "Zootique" - some T-shirts and an animal train (very cool).

After a rest on a bench, we hopped in another "subway hole" to get back to Times Square. We stopped at the M&M store (where I thought of my friend Carolyn and her gifts to her brother-in-law), and Owen picked up some blue M&M's ... Beth said they have purple ones too, so maybe another trip to Times Square is in my future. We didn't think the night tour would leave until 7 pm (as per the website), but when we made it over to The Roxy deli, we were able to quickly get on a bus and get started.

Once we got out of midtown, the breezes were cooling and we were having a nice time (including going thorugh out neighborhood and seeing all of our local "haunts"). Once we got to the Bowery, just before the Manhattan Bridge, our bus broke down. It was about 7:25, and a replacement bus didn't show up until almost 8:30. An HOUR of sitting, looking at a grungy street. NO FUN. Finally we got onto a new bus and completed the tour. We were out of water though, Owen was thirsty and it was a hard time. There were gorgeous skyline views and it was pretty cool, temperature wise. We also learned a lot of fun historical facts about the city and had another great tour guide.

Finally, one more subway hole ride back to the apartment, showers (with hot water!) and bed. Exhausting. Whew!

Lisa is here now, and Owen will probably talk her into a trip to the playground at Washington Square Park ... he's also begging to go back to Toys R Us. What a silly goose.

More later, as well as photographs.


Owen Has Landed

Owen surveys the scene in Washington Square Park - lunchtime on Friday.

What's That Count Down in Union Square?

Why, it's a clock that tells the time - the numbers on the left are a 24 hour clock, and the numbers on the right count down to midnight. At midnight, for just a second, all the numbers are zero. This information courtesy of our weirdo tour bus guide, James.

On the Night Loop - Saturday 7/12

Strollerderby: Parental Lies

14 Lies Parents Need to Stop Telling Their Kids (Part 1) - Strollerderby

In my blog reading throughout the days I come across a lot of great stuff that mostly just makes me happy/adds to my own personal edification and knowledge banks... This, however, spurs something inside me ... my mom never told me the Santa lie, or any other lie for that matter.

So, no, kids. Mari never believed in Santa Claus. And, as my former classmates can attest, I made sure no one else in my Kindergarten class believed in him either! While that was just a facet of my bratty/know-it-all attitude (have I lost any of that fervor? probably not), I am grateful that my mom didn't fleece me. Most of her reasoning was about the true meaning of Christmas and not clouding the Christmas story of the Holy Family.

But she was an older sister - her sisters were born several years after her - so her parents' lie about Santa lasted longer than necessary and continued even when she started questioning the story. So when she found out that no, there isn't a Santa Claus, she freaked out a little and started questioning what else the grown-ups were lying about.

In FACT, I'm fairly certain there's a South Park episode about this type of freak out. I can't easily find it on YouTube and don't really want to watch random clips of SP - but if someone finds it I'll post it. It would be a perfect illustration of this.

So, I don't intend to tell my kids (oh, how I pray we'll be blessed with children someday! feel free to pray for that too!) about Santa beyond a straight up truth - that this is what people believe/it's a nice story. BUT I will also be cautioning my kids NOT to spill the beans to their classmates and to respect others' wishes to believe in Santa Claus...

This is ridiculous and Christmas-in-July. But there you go.


Walletpop: Letters Vanishing?

Top 25 things vanishing from America: #9 -- Hand-written letters - Walletpop

Bah! Not as long as I have anything to say about it. I write letters weekly to people - my Gran, Aunt Norma Lee, etc. I would write to more people, but it's hard to have a one-sided dialogue (well I guess that's just impossible) and almost everyone's chosen medium is e-mail (including mine in most cases)! Regardless, I have joined the Letter Writers Alliance, which is a group trying to keep the handwritten letter alive. I love stationery too much to give it up!


Photo: Revenge
Originally uploaded by Lumase

EL stupido

So I've been using an iGoogle gadget "Walk for Good" ... and um, suddenly it didn't have my information in it. I kept refreshing, logged in and logged out, and then got frustrated and deleted it... Apparently that was a stupid move:

The FAQ says this about lost data Anonymous - Jul 3, 2008 - Report this comment

Try the following. (1) Refresh your iGoogle page by pressing the F5 key to see if that takes care of the problem. (2) Make sure cookies are enabled in your browser. (3) If the above did not resolve the problem, it's possible that our database is temporarily unavailable. We don't expect this to happen very often, but if it does, your data is not lost. If you experience this, please leave the gadget on your page and check back later. A NOTE OF CAUTION: Do NOT remove the gadget and add it again. Do NOT add a second copy of the gadget to your page. These things will cause your data to be lost.

Whatever - I'd walked for two weeks, and I could recreate it on paper (it won't let you go back in time in the computer program)... I'm not even sure if it's worth it. Why oh why did I need to check it? This is just depressing. I need to switch gyms, but that's a totally separate *itch session.



Design for Mankind, a stunning and inspiring blog, has just started publishing Mankind Mag, which I discovered ... via another blog that I read, uncertain which! Anyway, the mag includes 101 ideas to have a creative July. Some were doable (I moo'ed) and some were not (I don't have a way to walk through an attic in July!)... But the one I got out my notebook and wrote down was "Journal 83 things you love about July, and 83 things you hate about it." (those were two separate things) ... try as I might, I can't come up with 83 things I love about this sticky month... but here's as many as i could muster:
  1. My sister's birthday!!!
  2. swimming pools
  3. frigid air conditioning
  4. painted toe nails
  5. ice cream
  6. movie theaters - relief from the heat
  7. ice cold diet coke
  8. fireworks, generally
  9. BBQs/general 4th of July celebrations
  10. patriotic crochet
  11. watermelon
  12. seed spitting contests
  13. the hum of lawn mowers (not that i hear that here!)
  14. warm sand
  15. whir of the AC
  16. shade trees
  17. sunglasses - big like Jackie O
  18. sparklers, specifically
  19. soft, fluffy beach towels
  20. summer white sales!
  21. cute clothes -- on others :)
  22. more time to read
  23. more time to blog
  24. shorter haircuts
  25. ponytails seem appropriate
  26. hawaiian shaved ices
  27. with cream!
  28. street festivals in NYC
  29. summer reading club! (wait that's june, but i think it's july here in NYC)
  30. visits from family - Owen takes Manhattan!
  31. concerts in the park
  32. popsicles
  33. Broadway play discounts from NYU
  34. outdoor cafes
  35. flowers on display in bodegas - temptation!!!
  36. funnel cakes at street festivals
  37. kids playing in the parks - they're so happy
  38. sprinklers and slip-n-slides (back in the day at least)
  39. thunderstorms - the louder the better
  40. making lists of fun things to do in Manhattan with the fam
  41. going to the gym to work out in a/c'ed rooms
  42. the number seven in the seventh month!
  43. New York State joined the Union July 26, 1788
  44. Pi Approximation Day is the same day as Beth's B'day (22/7 is approximately equal to π)
  45. Ice Cold Water - guzzle guzzle
  46. iced coffee
  47. a trip to the beach
  48. the rolling waves, that i can actually hear on this trip
The things I dislike/hate about July could go on forever... But I won't.


What We're Seeing Next Week!

The Country Girl - Review - Theater - New York Times
Mike Nichols returns to Broadway this spring to direct Morgan Freeman, Frances McDormand and Peter Gallagher in Clifford Odets's The Country Girl. The production will play a limited engagement on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th Street) beginning Thursday, April 3 and open on Sunday, April 27.
We got the NYU discount - my husband working for NYU and all... I'm so excited! Less than a week until my family is here!!! Owen J Takes on New York... Can you feel it???


PS The week after next is New York's Restaurant Week, so we're having a special birthday dinner for my sweet sweet sister (who is moving into her new apartment this weekend!) at North Square.

Learning to be Nice

Real Simple (via HuffPo) has a whole "Happiness" section, and part of how to be happy is to be nice... So, RS has a list of 48 ways to be nice:
Subtly alert people when they have food in their teeth, an undone zipper, or toilet paper stuck to a shoe. They’ll be far less mortified than if they find out two hours later.
When I was getting off the Amtrak train on Tuesday my dress was caught up in the back. I don't think it was exposing anything (I had shorts on under the dress) - but this southern gentleman sidled up to me and said "Ma'am, your dress is caught up in your underwear." I said thank you, pulled the dress down (again feeling that it wasn't entirely up) and just wanted to crumble. Because the train was late and I had an appointment I had to soldier on, but I really did feel like crying. SO DUMB.
When someone looks lost, stop and ask him if he needs directions. “I’ll never forget the people who have helped me when I was traveling,” says Real Simple staffer Melinda Page. “One man in Italy saw me looking at a map in confusion, asked if he could help, then walked five minutes out of his way to show me the place I was looking for, because it was hard to explain.”
So I get to Dupont Circle - a place I should be familiar with. I worked there for an entire summer - but for some reason (mostly the heat and my general sense of being) I was confused and turned around. I had my iPod touch with me, but no access to internet (plus the stupid screen is invisible in noon-time sun). A very nice lady helped me - she had a map, and we had both been on the train together and then ridden on the subway (without speaking to each other). She was Scottish I think, from the accent. We both were dragging rolly suitcases - and she saved my life and got me to the right place on time. In hindsight I should have taxi'ed it to the meeting, but then I wouldn't have had the pleasure of her help.

purple shoes

Look at these! I've been looking for them forever, and I didn't find them on - but I walked today - to several stores and I got them! They were relatively cheap (as opposed to custom making shoes on the site for $60 plus shipping). And I'm so happy! Purple shoes make me happy, and my black chucks were about to bite the dust. I only wish I had bought these for the wedding... Many other things make me happy -- and I'm rocking new kicks!

green-eyed girl

Continuing our social-filled weekend, Shawn and I went to a part given by his colleague and the colleague's girlfriend (Frank and Beth). We went to her apartment, which her parents bought for her, on the Upper West Side, across the street from Central Park, right near The Dakota. Apparently Conan lives in her building. (Beth is in residency at a hospital in the city - so no one can say she doesn't work hard!)

It was amazing to be invited to this place - it was so inviting and comfortable (and climate controlled)! And meeting her friends, many of whom are also in residency or at some stage of med school, was wonderful. Meeting new people is key.

We ordered Thai with them, hung around and talked for a while. It was just good to catch up - we've known Frank for a while (he actually lives in our building and he and Shawn help each other with their work). And Shawn's office-mate and colleague Christel was there too -- so it was also fun to catch up with her and her life (she also has lots of weddings going on this year - two down, one to go for her; for me it's one down and two to go!)...

I just got a comment from someone random - just a spammer of lotto numbers, but instead of a nonsense spam comment it was a flame - "your blog is boring" or whatever. which is fine, i write this almost exclusively for myself and a few key people who actually know me and therefore might be interested in my mundane musings. but i thought that was an interesting way to get me to click on his spam link.

three entries in succession in one day. and there's still plenty to say. i have a big week ahead of me, with a work trip and days full of meetings. i'm exhausted thinking about it, but i think i'll put on my walking shoes and go for a spin southward - maybe check out some shops on canal street just for kicks.



So this video doesn't necessarily show the vantage point from which Shawn and I saw our first NYC fireworks show, and it doesn't necessarily show the parts that I thought were most spectacular and breathtaking - the hanging lights, where some of the sparkles were hung on balloons that floated down while still lit, and the fireworks that made CUBE forms instead of the lion head starburst. We also couldn't hear any music - just the popping and screeching of the fireworks themselves.

We walked just over a mile to the East River Park, so we were well below the barges from which the fireworks were shot off, but we had an easy walk home (no scrunching among others on public transport) and it looked amazing from where we were. All I know was I was SO glad we came, so glad the world had invented these things AND thinking/wondering if I could figure out how much the US spends on fireworks displays each year and compare that to health research funding... Maybe my job seeps into my thoughts a little too much, but if you come across that fact (how much $$ spent on fireworks) let me know!


For a Good Cause...

NEW YORK, July 5, 2008--Shawn and I went to the Park Avenue Christian Church, answering a call for volunteers from my church (Park Avenue United Methodist) -- for a lunch ministry program. Because of the holiday weekend, the organizers of the program were predicting a lower turnout of volunteers. So, since we don't really have people here in NYC and have been looking for ways to get active and out, we signed up.

We showed up at 1:30 (lunch began being served at 2), and were milling about, not sure how to get in the building. (There was a line of hungry people already.) Finally we got in, but it would have been VERY helpful to have more detailed instructions (i.e. enter through the Park Ave. entrance). So we got there and introduced ourselves, and were told there were too many volunteers so they didn't have a job for us BUT they would like us to stay and be "runners." As a one-summer waitress, I am familiar with the idea, and we were up for the task.

I was the "runner of the salad" and Shawn was the "runner of the chicken/tuna salad." There were others there who were in charge of running chips and cookies and bread. Unfortunately, they also ran the salad for me (and dumped salad out of one bowl into the next, letting the outside of the bowl touch the previous bowl's lettuce -- a really bad food violation, imho, ESPECIALLY when it was right in front of those being served...but no one flinched but me).

I did a few other things, racking and rolling extra silverware in napkins (really unorganized and mixed silverware). And we were a HUGE help cleaning up/breaking down tables and chairs. Many of the people eating were very clearly able bodied people, and instead of helping clean up or even just moving their chairs closer to the racks where we were stacking them, they watched me and some very small Asian women do heavy work. It was strange and struck me. However, the physical labor was nice, rhythmic and soothing.

But before the clean up, the salad was running low before they started allowing seconds. They were also running out of tuna salad (the chicken salad ran out first thing). And so the servers asked me to go make another bowl of salad. As I go back and start that, with the help of other excess servers, the chip/cookie runners practically jump down our throats and say no more salad -- they don't want to only have salad left/want the tuna salad and green salad to end at the same time. So we chop up the one head of lettuce we had washed and put the other three heads back in the giant fridge. Of course, after the line of seconds gets started and they run out of tuna salad, there are still hungry people who are wanting to eat green salad. But that's gone too (but not before I am asked why I didn't make more salad by the which I explained that others in charge (I thought they were in charge at least?) told me not to)... by that time the WEIRDEST thing happened -- the woman who seemed almost in charge of the operation had handed out the three heads of lettuce (which could have quickly been washed and chopped and added to the salad bowl to feed the rest of the seconds line) -- she handed whole, unwashed heads of lettuce to homeless people.

Shawn cracked up when I was telling him this (he didn't notice - but he's not a detail observant kind of guy)... because the thought of a homeless person being able to eat an entire head of lettuce before it went bad was slim to none - and seriously after just having a big lunch would they just munch on the lettuce whole? We didn't get it. And it was probably horrible of us, but it just struck me as funny.

When I was being asked for the millionth time about the salad - I told the server about the in-charge lady giving away heads of lettuce. The look on her face was PRICELESS and cracked Shawn and me up - so if nothing else we had a lot of good laughs that day! But we don't plan to go back. If I were going to volunteer in this capacity again, I would want it to be something a little more organized and clear about who is doing what, etc.

But for what it was worth, it was good. Hungry people were fed, and I held my tongue. :)


Rental History

On this blog that I read thru my feeder, the author did the math to figure out how much she pays per DVD rented with her Netflix account. She asks for "takers" but there's no comment field on her blog that I can see...but I realized that after I did my own math. Anyway.

With our Blockbuster, $8.99/month, 1-DVD-at a time plan, we have paid an average of $1.56 per rental since we started renting in late February.

TMI? Perhaps. Irrelevant? DEFINITELY.


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