Tuesday, June 30, 2009

7 Things: Keeping Cool

So, I hear the United Kingdom is suffering a blistering heatwave with temperatures possibly hitting 90 degrees (Fahrenheit).
Yes, that is a heat wave up there.
And yes, I do understand that most people don't have AC, and even I, with my heat and humidity acclimated self become pretty cranky when it's ninety. But, instead of (just) poking fun, I thought I'd share some handy tips for dealing with the heat.
1. I'm sure all the media are reminding you, but staying hydrated helps greatly. Seriously, hot and tired is one thing, but hot, tired and dizzy is eminently worse.
2. You may have an office that has AC. Lucky you. However, this probably means your office feels like the North Pole which creates some severe challenges when deciding what to wear. Answer - layers.
3. When you get sick of sucking down water (see #1) try to keep to hydrating liquids, be they iced tea or lemonade. (I know lemonade in the UK is a different thing. I went to Paris with two Scots friends who raved to me about this delicious Parisian concoction - Citron Presse*. I explained that yes, in the States we call it lemonade.) Here is a recipe.
4. Don't spend all your time sitting in front of a fan. Fans help a lot, but sometimes acclimating will help you more in the long run.
5. However, in desperate times a towel with a few ice cubes around your neck can seem lovely.
6. Don't take cold showers. Cold showers will close up your pores, and then after you have to wait for your pores to open back up so they can sweat well, and it's just bad.
7. Also, be kind to your feet. In hotter weather your feet sweat more increasing the risk of blisters. In a pinch, anti-perspirant on your feet can help out with that.
*ETA Citron Presse, since I finally remembered the French name for it.

This Needs a Better Name or an Acronym

Once there was a TV reporter who spoke of TiNo, all those shows stacking up on your DVR that you want to watch and yet keep skipping over until you face the icon that tells you the show(s) are in danger of being deleted and you face that for whatever reason, you don't really want watch these shows. You just wish you did.
Well now we have the Shelf of Constant Reproach. I don't have (m)any classics on mine because I have made peace with those I read and am okay with those I skipped. I usually have non-fiction sitting and staring at me, in part because non-fiction takes me longer to get through and so I usually reason that I make a larger dent in the TBR pile by tacking the fiction. (Yes, it is a bit circular.)
Lately I've been sticking stuff that's stayed on the shelf awhile on PBS, figuring if someone else requests it before I read it, then they can have it. (See, I'm being altruistic here.)
Some samples:
The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley
Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald
Past Perfect by Susan Isaacs
Now my plan is to get around to all of these. I just keep waiting for the right mood. (And okay, the Great Deluge is big and doesn't travel well.) But, yeah, they are kinda staring at me.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The World Likes Cranky Doctors

Or something like that. I remember hearing years ago that "Baywatch" was the USA's most exported item. Now, I watched the entire first season and a smidgen of the second season, but really out of all the TV shows the US was making in the 1990's this still struck me as a bit sad. But it made sense, let's face it, the show did not require a lot of translation. So, I find it fascinating that the top show for the aughts (or this year at least) is currently "House".

Thursday, June 25, 2009

King of Pop

I often say that I am going to put together a folder of cute pictures of myself for use after my death in any news stories, death notices or funeral programs. I recognize that I won't be here for it, but I worry that they will use my driver's license photo or something.
So, all of this is a roundabout way to say that I bought a picto-record (the record came in a clear case, because the album cover was imprinted on the record) of "Thriller" at, of all places, Toys R Us. My parents resisted cable growing up, so my sister and I rented the "Thriller" music videos from the video store.
A babysitter bought me a biography of Michael Jackson (although he was still a young man at that point, so clearly it was early chapters) so I had a little information about the tough childhood the Jackson kids had.
But the Michael Jackson who I saw moonwalking and doing "Thriller" and even the one who proclaimed he was "Bad" are the ones I choose to remember today.

Spoiler Alert

You probably won't enjoy this as much as I did if you are a big fan of the sparkly vamps, but kudos to the Buffy/Edward mash-up found here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mt. P

We Love DC has been spotlighting neighborhoods in DC, and has gotten to mine - Mount Pleasant. This gives me an excuse to link once again to link to Tuscadero playing Mount Pleasant.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Popcorn Bust

There was a summer where my sister, her friend and I watched "Real Genius" incessantly. We were working together at a summer camp offering us additional opportunities to quote it to each other. ("This is ice. This is what happens to water when it gets to cold.")
I watched it again recently and discovered that the special effects for the climactic lasered popcorn house scene, were not as impressive as I remembered. But the important bits were still there and still funny.
Well, apparently a recent "Mythbusters" recreated that scene and determined while you can use a laser to pop popcorn, it will not make the house explode. That's okay, it's probably because they didn't have all those geniuses building the special laser and setting it off from space. I'm sure that's it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

For Real

It's a rap. About Arlington.

Hat Tip to the Raveler who first provided this link.
And just for a complete contrast. The above may be the first rap about Arlington, but it is not the first song.
Emmett Swimming also has one*.
In the interest of completeness, there appear to be a number of songs titled Arlington. But most of them appear to not really be about the city itself.
*Sorry, embedding is disabled on this one.
Edited to add, I only just realized that DCist posted very similar links. I swear I came to this other ways, but great minds and all that.

Monday, June 15, 2009

You Look Just Like...

I have a sister. We are close in age and for a while we went to a school with a uniform. People would occasionally ask us if we were related. I figured it was becuase we were together and wearing similar clothes, because I look just like my mom, and my sister looks a lot like my dad's side of the family. (People do not seem to ask us this when we are not dressed alike.)
At one point two separate people (in different countries even) told me I looked just like that girl on "Blossom".
But recently I have a friend, and the two of us get asked constantly if we are sisters. It's funny, because I don't think we look terribly alike, and in fact could give you a longer list of things I thought were different (such as our heights, body types, hair color, eye color...), but enough people have asked over several years, so there must something there. My friend is actually getting a bit annoyed. It's especially funny because people seem a little disbelieving and ask if we are maybe cousins or something.
But this weekend I was at a (different) friend's party and someone asked if we were related, and while we are not, we both looked at each other and agreed that the question didn't seem surprising. Now, I probably don't look that much more like the second friend, but for some reason, that makes more sense to me that people would think we might be related. Which just goes to show, as highly developed as human facial recognition is, it's still all very subjective.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


A discussion a bit ago led to reminisce about Bruce Variety. Now, the place still exists, but it was such a staple of my childhood. Located in the same center as a hardware store and a gift store it was good for combination trips (especially once I needed good stickers and paint pens from the gift store).
Bruce Variety was a novelty to me as a child before giant discount chains got into the everything under one roof idea, this was a general store in the heart of Bethesda, a place that had nothing else like it that I knew.
They have buttons and fabric and ribbon and thread, and since my mother made blankets and Halloween costumes for many years, this was great for that. They have school supplies and party supplies and hair doodads and an impressive array of backpacks. They also have toys and kitchen gadgets and paper. It is small enough that my mother didn't worry too much if we wandered over another aisle or so.
When I was beading more, they were a great stop for jump rings, or wire or basic beads. And when I wanted to hunt down a spool knitter I called them.
The lovely woman who answered the phone had never heard of such a thing. I was pretty much ready to end the call, but she put me on hold and came back to tell me that they did have one, and she gave me the price and the location where it was displayed so I could find it when I came in. You can bet they were my first stop on my way home from work that day.
I discovered that interestingly it was profiled a few years ago (on different years) in both the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Also, the reviews on Yelp are very true.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Things Change

I can hardly decide if this is sign of my age, the times or just so surreal as to seem fictional. (I'll let y'all decide.) Once upon a time, as a relatively fresh out of college person, I took a job as a trainer for a small company in downtown DC. The company provided non-government IDs, passport photos (since they were down near the passport office), and printing services (especially menu printing). They had taken a sub-contract from a company that was providing ID card programs (which was new technology at the time) to a local school system. The guy the contract company sent had apparently budgeted two days to to the setup and installation at all 22 high schools and quickly realized the error of his ways.
I took on this position, and inspired, the company sold the program (along with my training services) to a few more folks locally and along the East Coast. They didn't really have office space for a trainer they were sending other places, so I became a telecommuter* before I even knew the word for it.
Fast forward years (and jobs) later. A few friends and I gather for dinner. A newish bar is hosting a happy hour/fundraiser and we decide to check this out afterwords since it's not much of a walk. As we get closer I mention, that hey, this little office I used to work at was right down here. (I would come in to use the automated postage machine and to submit invoices and such.) And so, guess where this bar turned out to be. It's the exact address of my old office. I knew the company had been sold right around the time I left, the passport office had moved to Dupont, but yes, my old office is now Tattoo Bar (Warning: link plays loud music and is not stealthy at all).

*One teen I worked with asked if telecommuting meant I commuted telepathically, which I still find hilarious.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Yarn Finds a Home

(Not mine. That's would be a different story.) No, this is a story of a knitter getting custom yarn to commemorate an event. (I take no responsibility for this leading you down a whole new path in ways to commemorate stuff. I will, however, accept thanks.)

H/T to the Yarnista.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Problems with Deadlines

One of the reasons the concept of Netflix so intrigued me was, that, while I love movies, I had calculated that by the time I returned a movie, and paid the late fees, I could have bought it. (Yes, I could work on that, but it was simpler to just stop renting movies.)
Well, while I knew I was not alone, I have to say that I feel quite certain that I have not (yet) had anything overdue for 31 years. However, one women has, but she has now returned the book and for a while, the library in Arlington County will be displaying it. But, kudos to Ms. McKee for returning it, and paying the fine. I hope she enjoyed the book.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Need a Friend?

Apparently, the Pope is now on Facebook.* Well, I guess since Jesus is on MySpace , it makes sense.

*Technically it is a Facebook application, so you cannot poke or hug the Pope via Facebook.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

There Goes That Idea

I did once, possibly even more than once, say that if a writer seemed to be slacking off in getting the next book in the series for me, that I should be able to stalk them and ask about it. Now, in some of my variations of this plan, I was going to offer to chat with them, if there were any roadblocks that a sounding board could assist with, or offer to help with chores and such, if that's what was keeping them from writing. (If, you could see my apartment, you would find that even funnier. Although other people's mess can sometimes be easier to deal with.)
Well, Neil Gaiman is here to set me straight. Writers are not the reader's monkeys. (Gaiman may have used a different word.) Reader's pay for a book, they get a book. the next one is not a contract until the reader buys it.
So, I'm sorry - although hopefully I get credit for, you know, not actually carrying out my plans. Although, series writer's I would suggest that, while clearly you can't wrap everything up, maybe don't end on a cliffhanger.*

Hat tip to a number of people, since I ran into this link a few times, including Abriendo Puertas and on Marjorie M. Liu's blog.
*I read one book that ended with one character asking a question, and I have to say, I was so annoyed I decided never to read another of that series. So perhaps that problem takes care of itself.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Ysolda Teague's Ishbel was a fun knit. I used a skein of Araucania Ranco Multy (that's how they spell it) and followed the directions for the small for the stockinette portion and the large for the lace portion. I had a spare skein on standby, but ended up not needing it at all.
Ishbel on 2
(Apologies, I did not notice the bra strap until later.)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Birdbrains Remember You

Clearly animals have memory. My cat remembers my sister, and knows, the few times she sees her, that my sister's chair is the prime one for sitting next to during dinner. Well, apparently, studies revealed that mockingbirds remembered those who had poked their nests and screeched and dive-bombed those people (leaving others alone) even though the nest-pokers used different routes and wore different clothes. So, be careful. (Although pigeons apparently take a little longer to learn to identify people.)

Teen Curfews (Governmental Not Parental)

I confess, I was not a teen who was out so much that a teen curfew would likely have impacted me outside of prom. I also don't remember one being in place in DC until I was outside the age where it would apply. However, it still bugs me, especially now that they are considering making it earlier.
In part, it concerns me because I think it is intentionally targeting a group simply because they cannot vote. I have seen no evidence that teens commit more crime or cause more problems than any other age group, and yet, when crime spikes in the summer, everyone seems to blame teens.
I also find it really hard to believe, that if teens really were responsible for such a large part of the summer crime wave, that they wouldn't be able to find away to commit all these crimes in daylight. I also fine the idea hilarious that a teenager who was thinking of committing a crime would turn to his or her friend and say, "Well, we'll have to do this tomorrow because the curfew starts soon."
In most cases, the various articles I scanned, most people in favor of the curfew seemed to be sure it worked because youth crime reduced. (We'll get back to that in a bit.)
Now first, studies have shown that perception of youth crime is incorrect. As this article points out, people often think teenagers are responsible for a larger percentage of crime because of media coverage. In fact media coverage of teens relates to crime more often than any other issue.
So far as I can tell (with my google powers) no one has ever proved that teen curfews help anything. (In fact, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice indicates that most studies show that youth offenses occur between 3 and 6 pm.) So, they simply serve the purpose of allowing the public to believe steps are being taken by marginalizing a potion of the non-voting population.
Also, and perhaps I am off-base here, but it seems like in a crime wave, perhaps police officers should be focused on other things rather than sending (or sentencing*) teens for being out late.
In fact, one study found that in the nineties**, the most common crime teens were arrested for was curfew violation - far in excess of any other crime. (Another study, found that counties with curfews had similar youth crime increases and decreases than those without. And, in fact - according to FBI statistics - youth crime has decreased at a higher rate than other crime when broken out by age.)
Now you might be asking, what's the harm? Well, there have been incidents (in other cities with curfews) where teens were harassed by police officers seeking to send them home. One incident that got a lot of airplay was the teen (who perhaps confused about why she was being arrested, considering she cries both for her mom and for help in the video) ended up pepper sprayed and punched by the arresting officer***. Now certainly she was in violation, and you could argue that she should simply have complied. However, I think the greater risk here is that now she, and one imagines her friend and a number of other teens who saw the video and heard the story, believe that police officers assume the worst about teens and will be more likely to arrest them than assist them. And that, I think, would be the real tragedy.

*Community service is the usual punishment, in many states. However, some require the teen(s) to be arrested and charged first.
**If it seems like most of my data is old, you're right. No one has studied this in the present decade.
***Also, the officer spotted her on his way to responding to a 911 call, so it certainly seems to help no one that he stopped to arrest her. However, to me, the issue is that it appears she was wandering the street because her grandmother had kicked her out. And then, she got arrested for being out.