Friday, November 30, 2007

A little holiday cheer

Well, November is over; time to gear up for Christmas. I finally put up my tree tonight. (Boy, you really cannot get a good photo of a Christmas tree, can you?)


See how unnaturally triangular it is? That's why I'm thinking about getting a new one. Maybe I'll check the after-Christmas sales. I'm also using my mom's old multi-colored lights, and I think I would prefer all white. Something to consider for next year.

If you're wondering about those critters under the tree, here you go: They wish you a merry Christmas.

video

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Broadcast news

Fresh from a three-day PIO training focused heavily on media relations, today I put my learning to use. A bunch of "concerned citizens" met tonight at the VFW to plan some kind of resistance to the smoking ban. So a reporter from Channel 12 came calling, hoping to get reaction from City Hall.

Before she arrived, I tried to prep my boss on what points to make and how to use "bridging" techniques. If you don't like the reporter's question, just go back to the points you do want to make. "What we really want to focus on is..." "I think the important thing to remember is..." "Let me answer you by saying that..."

And he did well. He did what I told him. There was only one deer-in-the-headlights moment. (The reporter asked him how it made him feel that the citizens were rallying. He stared blankly at her for a while and then said, "I'm the city manager. How I feel is irrelevant." But eventually he was able to pull through.) I'll have to wait until 10 before I see how they decided to edit his comments, but I feel pretty good that I helped him not to completely crash and burn.

***

UPDATE: Ugh! They didn't use the interview at all! Oh well, at least it was good practice.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sarcasm Inc.

Some people in my office have the annoying habit of using sarcasm to point out that I'm quiet at work and indifferent to much of what goes on around there:

"Hey, could you keep it down in here? We're trying to get some work done."

"Hey, calm down. You don't have to get so excited about it."

And I guess I'm expected to laugh at these remarks. I'm not sure what the intention is. The comments certainly don't encourage me to change my attitude or behavior.

I would never say that kind of thing to someone at work. Possibly because I'm the quiet, indifferent type. But how would they like it if I started popping my head into their offices?

"Hey, could you quit being so considerate of those around you?"

"Hey, could you spread gossip and backstab everyone a little more?"

"Hey, could you complain some more about your pathetic life?"

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dried out

Products I'm thankful for as the seasons change:

L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream
Rich, creamy, not oily or greasy, and smells heavenly. It's a splurge for the winter months.

Olay Night of Olay Firming Cream
I can't really tell whether I'm getting any firmer, but I wanted a night cream that was really thick and moisturizing. This fits the bill.

Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
I'm a connoisseur of lip balms, and this is my favorite. Not everyone loves the peppermint oil. Ben says it burns, and my mom insists it has menthol in it and it's making her chapped lips worse. But I love the cool, tingly feeling.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Another stitching update

This my latest stitching project. I think it’s going to wind up being a bell pull for my mom, possibly for Christmas if I get it done in time.

I did finally finish the Cinderella shirt. I’ll try to get a picture of the little princess wearing it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Where I live

Three years ago, I moved back to my hometown and became a homeowner for the first time. We bought this 1910 bungalow in a historic neighborhood close to downtown.

It’s not fancy, and it still needs some work, but I love this house. Here are a few things I love about it:

The doors

The door knobs

The dining room corner shelf

The heat registers

The cut-glass windows

The crown molding

The living room

The open staircase

The kitchen windows

My bedroom

The bathroom (This striped wallpaper, by the way, will soon be on its way out.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turn, turn, turn

Two of the first signs of winter have arrived: the first snowfall and my first head cold.

Last winter was just a blur of coughing and sneezing for me, so I am really lamenting this first virus of the year. My immune system really let me down last year, but I'm hoping maybe this year will be better. If anyone has any health advice, I'm all ears. Actually, I'm all throbbing sinus, but I'll still take the advice.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Unconventional Thanksgiving

It was a successful holiday for my family. Lots of food and conversation, no tears or emotional outbursts. We did the Rec Center Thanksgiving again this year, which I’m beginning to think is a good idea. It’s a neutral location. And the kids get to swim after lunch, which is a highlight for everybody.

My nephews Nick and Derek beating each other senseless

My niece Valerie

My niece Maddie and sister Terri

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A sweet fall

The weather has been crazy here lately. Sunny, highs in the 70s. Then, at 4 p.m. today, boom! It was 45 degrees, windy and dark. And it felt overwhelmingly like fall.

One great thing about the holidays is that it puts me in the mood to bake. It’s something I always enjoy, but I just don’t take the time to do it on a regular basis.

I generally bring dessert items to our holiday get-togethers. Other females in the family seem to have the other courses covered. And you can never have too many desserts.

Here are a couple of recipes I’m considering for Thanksgiving:

Pumpkin Cream Sandwiches
from Real Simple

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream

Heat oven to 375° F.

Beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and egg and beat until combined.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar and butter and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated. Spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture 2 inches apart onto parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets. Bake until puffed and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Clean the mixer, then, as the cookies bake, beat the cream cheese, heavy cream, and confectioners sugar until smooth and spreadable. Spread the flat sides of half the cooled cookies with the cream mixture. Top with the remaining cookies.

Tip: The cookies can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept in an airtight container. Whip the filling and assemble the sandwiches no more than 2 hours before serving.

Citrus-Cranberry Pound Cake
from inmamaskitchen.com

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 cups sugar, divided
6 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
2 (8-ounce) packages fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed

Orange glaze
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice

Orange icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons orange juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10- x 3 1/2-inch bundt pan. Turn pan over, and tap around the edges so there is no excess flour.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Working with an electric mixer set on medium-high, cream together butter, orange zest, and 1 3/4 cups sugar until mixture if light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 2 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add vanilla, and beat, again just until blended.

Set mixer speed on low and add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with sour cream. Start and end with flour mixture. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, with mixer set on high, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Fold one-third of the egg whites into cake batter. Fold in remaining egg whites until almost incorporated; fold in cranberries.

Transfer batter to prepared bundt pan. Bake in preheated oven 350°F (325°F if using a dark pan) for 55 to 65 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes.

Turn cake out onto a wire rack, and place over a baking sheet. Brush cake with warm glaze. Allow glazed cake to cool completely then spoon icing over cake, allowing icing to drip down the sides. Allow icing to set before serving cake.

GLAZE: Combine sugar and orange juice in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until sugar completely dissolves.

ICING: Whisk together orange juice and powdered sugar. The icing should be thick but fluid.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My friend the online auction

My first eBay purchase was in 1997, when I bought a vintage "Welcome Back, Kotter" notebook. Unfortunately, rather than framing it or something, I used it at school until it fell apart. I loved it too much not to use it.

I've made a lot of eBay purchases since then. (And lost quite a few items I was furiously bidding on.) Here is a sample of some of my more recent auction wins:

Vintage tea set and some Fiesta pieces

Vintage Fenton ruffle bowl, compote, candleholder

19th-century German botanical print

Strange palm-leaf bookends

1940s Redoute botanical prints

Sterling silver green onyx pendant

Print made from antique KU flag

1940s postcard from my hometown. I bought several different ones and framed them in my office.

I also once bought a 1936 WPA poster from a barbershop concert in New York for Ben and an 1877 French botanical orchid print for KC.

eBay is thrilling to me just because of the incredible variety of stuff available. It's fascinating, really. And bargains! I don't think I paid more than $20 for any of this stuff.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

KC interviews me

What is the first book you loved with all your heart?
“A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving. I read it first in high school and absolutely adored it. I loved the characters, the themes of fate and faith, the emotional climax. It’s the only book I’ve ever read more than twice.

In what way are you most like your mom? Your dad?
In common with my mom: optimistic, forthright, neat, practical, tenacious

In common with my dad: logical, detail-oriented, technically savvy, lazy, procrastinator, moody

What’s a trait that your mom and dad have that you don’t but would like to?
They’re both outgoing. They could never understand how they got such a shy kid. I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to try to give me lessons on being more friendly, etc. It never worked. I don’t make friends easily, and I’m uncomfortable in a lot of social situations. The total opposite of my parents.

Name a painting you really adore. It doesn’t have to be your “favorite,” just one you adore.

“Soul of the Rose” by J.W. Waterhouse

If your house were a huge mess and your mom said she was coming over in 10 minutes, what would you spend that 10 minutes doing?
Cleaning up the stuff she would see first. Definitely the kitchen and dining room. Putting dishes away, wiping the counter, throwing stuff in the closet and shutting the door.

In which setting do you think you’d be most likely to have a religious experience: a Medieval convent in the Alps; an ashram in Calcutta; a monastery in Tibet, a fundamentalist retreat in West Virginia.
Ashram in Calcutta

When was the first time you realized that adults were full of shit?
Probably when my parents were divorcing. That’s when I realized how easy they were to manipulate, and also that what they said was not always how they really felt. I remember once telling them, when they were in the middle of an argument, “I think you’re both ridiculous.”

Name five things in your kitchen that you never use.
1. Egg separator
2. Stand mixer my grandma gave me four years ago
3. Bundt cake pan
4. Knorks
5. Kitchen table

Have you ever had an experience that you would describe as “supernatural”?
No. That’s a boring answer, but I really can’t think of one.

Name one country on each of these continents that you’d most like to visit, with a one-sentence explanation why: Asia, Africa, South America, Europe.
Asia: Japan. The history, the culture, the art. I would say China, but I just couldn’t stomach giving my tourism dollars to that country.

Africa: Egypt. The history, culture, ancient civilization, the desert, the Nile. Canary Islands are also very appealing.

South America: A tough one. I’m very attracted to the southern countries, especially Chile. Maybe because of its long, narrow geography. Also the mountains, the coastline, the glaciers, Easter Island. Brazil has rainforests, though, which is awesome.

Europe: Greece. The history, culture, art, the Mediterranean, the Greek Isles. Runners-up: Naples, Scotland

What do you think is the most common misconception people have about you?
That I’m really nice, that I don’t curse, that I go to church, that I’m a pushover.

What ancient civilization most fascinates you?
China. I love the dynastic history. (I’m fascinated by all the ancient civilizations, though, just so you know.)

Name a food you have never tried but would like to.
Wow, I really can’t think of one. Generally I try things if I want to. Maybe you should suggest something.

What separates the women from the girls?
Common sense.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Five things I’m thinking about

1. Can’t we just skip Thanksgiving this year? There’s been so much turmoil in my family this year, it’s ridiculous. I’m honestly thinking about not attending the get-together, but it would be so much less messy if the whole country could just forgo Turkey Day this year. That way I wouldn't have to see my family but I also wouldn't look like a jerk.

2. Christmas, though, is fine. Christmas shopping, anyway. I’m going to have to be careful this year because I’m already going nuts for Christmas shopping. I love buying presents. Have I mentioned how I love shopping?

3. I can’t get enough Brussels sprouts. I filled up on them for dinner, but I can’t stop thinking about the leftovers sitting in the fridge right now.

4. One of my co-workers was anonymously insulted on the newspaper’s online forum today. He spent much of the day trying to figure out who might have done it. It could have been anyone. It was obviously someone familiar with him. We spent much of the day trying not to laugh as he went around asking, “Do I make people mad? Do people not like me?”

5. This is a new low. As if last weekend’s meme weren’t enough, I’ve now written a “random thoughts” post. I can’t believe it. There is a downside to NaBloPoMo.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sellout

Apparently I’ve become a Young Professional. I don’t know how it happened. And I’m really not that thrilled about it. I mean, do a Google image search for “young professionals.” I don’t want to be one of those people.

But here I am, a member of the steering committee for the new Young Professionals Group. I got roped into it, basically, by the Chamber of Commerce staff. It’s the kind of thing I would ordinarily hate. For one thing, it involves a lot of “networking,” which is a type of shallow social interaction that I generally try to avoid at all costs.

But there I was at 5 p.m. today, pulling into the Sports Grill & Bar parking lot for an after-hours mixer.

And something bizarre happened when I went in. I talked to several people. And I dominated the conversations. I even wondered as I left whether I’d talked too much. And I hadn’t even had a drink!

So, maybe I’ve sold out and become one of them. But I want you all to launch some kind of intervention if I start using the business and management jargon. Phrases to watch out for: “think outside the box,” “what you bring to the table,” “take it to the next level,” “visioning.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Clear the air

This is only tangentially related to food, but it's timely.

After much equivocating and bickering over details, the City Commission finally passed a smoking ban tonight. In the end, they passed a total ban, no exceptions. Hurrah.

Toward the end of the discussion, the VFW crowd in the audience started calling the commissioners dictators. The commissioners stared at them in silence for a moment, and then my brother-in-law said, "I move for the adoption of the Clean Air Ordinance."

It's a good day for my hometown.

Old fart peeve of the day
Have you noticed how all the young people now are saying def instead of definitely? As in, "I am def going to that concert next weekend" or "I will def be sorry tomorrow." Oh, how I hate this.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo

I'd thought I'd deviate a bit from the schedule and do a cross stitching update.

I'm doing this Cinderella for my niece Maddie's 3rd birthday. She has a real Cinderella fixation right now. You should hear her sing "Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale." It's unbelievable.

I've been really slow lately, though, and Cinderella is not quite ready for the ball, so I have to get a move on. Once again this year -- even after I thought I had planned way ahead -- I am not going to get my Christmas gift projects done. Oh well. Maybe I will just do them anyway and make them random gifts. It's frustrating to me to have a stack of projects I want to do. They take so freakin' long. I wish I had a fairy godmother.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A clean slate

Last week, there was a house here.

It was a big, old house. Over 2,000 square feet, built in 1900. It had been abused for most of its lifetime, I think. In its final years, it had missing windows, exposed interior walls, gaping holes patched with various inadequate materials. A couple of walls were noticeably tilting, giving the impression that it was ready to fall down at any moment.

It did fall down, last week, with the help of bulldozers and cranes. When the owners were faced with impending condemnation from the city, they sold the property to the next-door neighbor, and a month later, the land is clear. The new owner said he intended to maintain the lot as green space.

This is two blocks from where I live. We used to walk by the dilapidated house whenever we walked the dogs. It was depressing. Now, seeing the fresh soil on the cleared lot, I feel refreshed. It's beautiful. I can feel the whole neighborhood breathing a sigh of relief.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

100 things about me that will tell you nothing about me

My apologies. I'm blanking on Self-portrait Saturday, and I'm a bit short on time. I generally hate these blog meme things, but I thought this one had a few interesting elements.

1. Are you an innie or an outie? Innie.
2. Have you ever worn bell-bottoms? I believe they're called "flares" these days, and yes, I've worn them. But I've never felt completely comfortable in them.
3. Have you ever written a song? No, that's totally beyond me. When I was about 10, I tried to write a novel in the style of "Sweet Valley High." That didn't work out either.
4. Can you make change for a dollar right now? Absolutely.
5. Have you ever been in the opposite sex's public toilet? Yes. Let's leave it at that.
6. Have you ever smelled your own feet? On occasion.
7. Do you like ketchup on or beside your French fries? On the side, for sure. No soggy fry for me.
8. Can you touch your tongue to your nose? Sure.
9. Have you ever been a boy/girl scout? No, my mom wouldn't let me. She advised that I would hate being a Brownie, and I took her word for it.
10. Have you ever broken a mirror? I don’t recall.
11. Have you ever put your tongue on a frozen pole? No, the thought is still kind of terrifying to me.
12. What is your biggest pet peeve? Wow. This could be a whole post. I'm not sure I could pick a "biggest." Various kinds of bad grammar, micro-managing, people who drive enormous cars for no reason, people who put two spaces after periods.
13. Do you slurp your drink after it's gone? You mean with a straw? Sometimes, if it's super delicious and it won't be conspicuous. I also have a tendency to slurp when I'm drinking pop from a can. I don't know why. I've drawn stares at work.
14. Have you ever blown bubbles in your milk? No, I hate bubbles in my milk. I try to avoid them.
15. Would you rather eat a Big Mac or a Whopper? Bleh.
16. Have you ever gone skinny-dipping? No, but I'd love to!
17. When you are at the grocery store, do you ask for paper or plastic? Plastic, if I can't remember to bring my canvas bags, and I often can't.
18. True or False: You would rather eat steak than pizza. Depends on the steak, depends on the pizza.
19. Did you have a baby blanket? Not a security blanket that I dragged around. I had my trusty thumb for security. (Sucked it until first grade.)
20. Have you ever tried to cut your own hair? I used to cut my own bangs, back when I had bangs.
21. Have you ever sleepwalked? Not exactly. There have been a couple of times when I got out of bed because I was sure there was a giant spider on the wall that I needed to kill or because I thought something was wrong with the dogs. Then I wake up and realize I was dreaming it and get back in bed.
22. Have you ever had a birthday party at McDonalds? I think I did once. Other venues included Dairy Queen, the skating rink and the bowling alley.
23. Can you flip your eye-lids up? Why would I do that?
24. Are you double jointed? I'm not clear on what this means. I can rotate my elbows in a way that others have said is unusual.
25. If you could be any age, what age would you be? Doesn't make much difference to me. No younger than I am, though.
26. Have you ever gotten gum stuck in your hair? Not that I recall.
27. Have you ever thrown-up after a roller coaster ride? No, but I had to stop a Tilt-a-Whirl once. I knew I was going to puke, so I screamed until the operator turned it off so I could get out.
28. What is your dream car? I don't much dream about cars anymore. I'd like something small and reliable that gets good gas mileage.
29. What is your favorite cartoon of all time? School House Rock!
30. Would you go swimming in shallow waters where, one year earlier, a shark had attacked a child? Maybe, but I'm a little scared of the ocean.
31. How many cavities do you have? A few, I'm not sure.
32. Have you ever eaten a dog biscuit? Yes. It didn't taste like much.
33. If you were in a car sinking in a lake, what would you do first? Take off my seat belt.
34. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance? Only once, when I was doing a ride-along with the fire/EMS guys. I felt rather awkward sitting back there with the injured people.
35. Can you pick something up with your toes? Ha! I could fold laundry with my toes.
36. How many remote controls do you have in your house? Five.
37. Have you ever fallen asleep in school? I nodded off a time or two.
38. How many times have you flown in an airplane in the last year? Six total.
39. How many foreign countries have you visited? None, unfortunately.
40. If you were out of shape, would you compete in a triathlon if you were somehow guaranteed to win a big, gaudy medal? If I were out of shape? Hehe. No, I don't need no stinkin' medals.
41. Would you rather be rich and unhappy, or poor and happy? How silly. Happy, of course.
42. If you fell into quicksand, would you try to swim or try to float? Float, right? Stuggling makes it worse?
44. Do you ask for directions when you are lost? Only if I can't figure it out on my own.
45. Have you ever had a Mexican jumping bean? No, what are those anyway?
46. Are you more like Cinderella or Alice in Wonderland? Cinderella, I guess. I'm not much for curiosity.
47. Would you rather have an ant farm with no ants or a box of crayons with broken points? Crayons, for sure. I could watch ants for a few minutes, but I could color all day.
48. Do you prefer light or dark bread? Does this mean white or wheat? Whole wheat, preferrably.
49. Do you prefer scrambled or fried eggs? Fried, usually.
50. Have you ever been in a car that ran out of gas? I once ran out on my way home from work in 100-degree heat. Too bad the car couldn't run on my sweat.
51. Do you talk in your sleep? I've been told that I do. Nothing that can be understood. My college roommate said I mostly spoke French in my sleep.
52. Would you rather shovel snow or mow the lawn? Mow the lawn. I despise shoveling snow.
53. Would you rather be bitten by a poisonous snake or constricted by a python? What lovely options. Bitten, I guess.
54. Have you ever played in the rain? I don't think so. I have a thing about rain touching my face.
55. Which do you think is more dangerous: an angry bear or a hungry white shark? Bear.
56. Would you climb a very high tree to save a kitten? Maybe. Do fire departments do that kind of thing anymore?
57. Can you tell the difference between a crocodile and an alligator? Only if I had pictures of them side by side.
58. Do you drink Pepsi or Coke? Pepsi.
59. What’s your favorite number? Three. It's a magic number.
60. If you were a car, would you be an SUV or a sports car? I'd be a Prius or something.
61. Have you ever accidentally taken something from a hotel? Accidentally? No.
62. Would you blow your nose at the dinner table? Yuck, no.
63. Have you ever slipped in the bathtub? I've stumbled and bobbed but never gone down.
64. Do you use regular or deodorant soap? Regular, I think.
65. Have you ever locked yourself out of the house? No, but I've locked myself out of my car a couple of times. That was fun.
66. Would you rather make your living as a singing cowboy or as one of the Simpsons’ voices? Simpsons voice might be one of the best jobs ever.
67. If you could invite any celebrity to your home for dinner, who would it be? Rosie O'Donnell.
68. Have you ever gotten a truck driver to honk his horn? When I was a kid.
69. Which would you rather live with: a huge nose or crossed eyes? Big nose. A great nose indicates a great man -- genial, courteous, intellectual, virile, courageous -- as I am.
70. Would you hang out with someone your best friend didn't like? Depends on why she didn't like them.
71. Would you hang out with someone your best friend liked, but you didn't like? If she wanted me to.
72. Have you ever returned a gift? Not that I recall.
73. Would you give someone else a gift that had been given to you? Sure, if it were better suited to them than to me.
74. If you could attend an Olympic Event, what would it be? Short-track speed skating.
75. How many pairs of shoes do you own? 25.
76. If your grandmother gave you a gift that you already have, would you tell her? No, definitely not.
77. Do you sing in the car? Of course. Loudly.
78. Would you rather jump into a Dumpster or into a vat of honey? Dumpster.
79. What is your favorite breed of dog? I love them all! I guess I especially enjoy dachshunds, corgis, English bulldogs, chow chows, cairn terriers, scotties, westies...
80. Would you donate money to feed starving animals in the winter? What starving animals? I would donate money to animal shelters (and have).
81. If you were a bicycle, would you be a Sting-Ray or a mountain bike? Probably a Sting-Ray. I'm not very rugged.
82. What is your least favorite fruit? I don't know. I really like fruit.
83. What kind of fruit have you never had? Those things with all the spikes.
84. If you won a $5,000 shopping spree to any store, which store would you pick? Nebraska Furniture Mart.
85. What brand sports apparel do you wear the most? Hehe. I don't wear "sports apparel."
86. Are/were you a good student? Very.
87. Among your friends, who could you arm wrestle and beat? Hmmm ... maybe my mom.
88. If you had to choose, what branch of the military would you be in? Marine Corps. Semper Fi.
89. Would you ever parachute out of a plane? Sure, if someone else were paying for it.
90. What do you think is your best feature? My ebullient personality.
91. If you were to win a grammy, what kind of music would it be for? Maybe jazz.
92. What is your favorite season? Early autumn, before it gets too cold.
93. How many members do you have in your immediate family? Eight (mom, dad, siblings).
94. Which of the five senses is most important to you? Sight.
95. Would you be a more successful painter or singer? Toss up. I'd most likely suck at either.
97. How many years will/did you end up going to college? Three and a half.
98. Have you ever had surgery? Only if you count having my wisdom teeth removed.
99. Would you rather be a professional figure skater or professional football player? Skater. I like skating. And I'm pretty scared of being tackled.
100. What do you like to collect? I have a modest collection of Fenton art glass. Also I seem to collect lipstick that looks terrible on me and necklaces I'll never wear.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Five tips on customer service

toothpaste for dinner
toothpastefordinner.com

1. If you say you’re going to call me back, please do. If you have no intention of calling me back, don’t tell me you will. Your lies only make me hate you more later.

2. Don’t talk to me like I'm stupid. It’s your job to memorize your company policies, not mine.

3. When something is your fault, admit it. At least pretend to be sorry that you screwed up my order/made me wait/didn’t solve my problem. I prefer a fake apology to sincere indifference.

4. Don’t pass me off to some flunky. I called you for a reason. The flunky doesn’t know what I want. You might think you’re too busy or important to deal with me, but you’re not.

5. Don’t ignore me while you chat with your co-workers. Especially don’t do it if I can see you. I will stare at you from the other side of the counter with growing contempt for you and everyone you know.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The cafe

I discovered Cafe Press several years ago. It seemed to be mostly a collection of weird T-shirts that no one but their creators would ever want to buy. My, how times have changed.

Cafe Press is huge now. They have everything. And some people have made full-time jobs out of their Cafe Press shops.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the site, anyone can upload a graphic or photo and market it on T-shirts, mugs, buttons, notecards, stickers, hats, magnets, aprons, thongs ... etc. You can then purchase your creations or just put them out there for the general public.

You can find some pretty neat stuff. Last year I bought this magnet for my favorite copy chief:

And I got this T-shirt for my favorite coonhound:

It’s fascinating to see the designs people have uploaded. Some of it is really creative and thoughtful and hilarious and touching. And some of it is stupid and offensive and pornographic. And some of it is misspelled.

I also find it fascinating to see what the best-selling designs are. This is the overall top-seller right now:

The top-selling dog T-shirt:

The top-selling kids T-shirt:

The top-selling adult T-shirt:

The top-selling button:

The top-selling sticker:

The top-selling mug:

And the top-selling hat:

I guess Ron Paul fans don’t wear hats.

I’m happy to see that people are becoming more civic-minded as the election year approaches. The best-selling designs were much sketchier a few months ago. Seriously, does the world really need 2,000 milf shirts?