Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Letter to a Former Employer

Once again, a hat tip to ALOTT5MA for the link to this one.  (Yes, I'll just convert this to a tumblr in a sec.*) So, we've all had bosses.  (Okay,  some people have avoided bosses so far, but let's move on from that.) And sometimes you leave on good terms and sometimes they are less than good. Sometimes you just got an opportunity you couldn't pass up and sometimes you were secretly praying as you left each day that you wouldn't have to go back in. 
But many of us understand the importance of not burning bridges.  You may fantasize about making a Jerry Maguire-like speech as you head out the door, but you also know that you can never tell which are the folks that your life will circle back around too, so it is best to remain professional.  This applies even when you hear from a former employer who wishes to lure you back for what sounds like the same opportunity you left in the first place.  So, I point you towards Letters of Note, where there is the response from a former slave who was offered his old job back by his former master.

*Kidding! Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cats are Good For Your Bones

...at least that's the theory.  Apparently there is some reason to believe that the cat purring helps keeps cats bones healthy even though they are often giant couch potatoes (and bed potatoes, and floor potatoes, and windowsill potatoes). The subtle body vibration may help increase bone density.  And since astronauts experience bone density loss due to the difference (or lack) of gravity in space, they have been experimenting with ways (in addition to post-space rehab) to try to adjust for that.  And, as this article suggests, maybe a cat purr is called for here.

h/t to the tweeple who pointed me to this link.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's Not the Nice That's the Problem

I confess it has been years since I watched "American Idol", but certainly I absorb enough pop culture that I was aware of the changes to the judging panel.  I read this article about the loss of the mean judge and I see it's point, but I don't think it's the nice that's the problem.  On "Project Runway" Tim Gunn is nice, but he also is able to ask critical questions.  He makes a point to focus on things that are changeable, and certainly, he is not one of the judges, so there are times when the things he says are not things the judges take issue with, but nonetheless he offers useful critique.
If we restrict ourselves to the singing side of things, "The Sing-Off", the a capella reality show had three judges this year who all offered useful critique, talking about things like song interpretations, arrangements and use of dynamics, all things that the group could choose to change or work on or not.  Now they also focused on things that each group did well, so sometimes it seemed like a whole batch of nice, but certainly there are going to be some performances where you go, aw, all I remember is yay.  And that's fine too. 
But, as has been pointed out, if all you get is nice all the time, it's kind of defeats the purpose of placing these things in competition, if everything is awesome, then why are we trying to pick the best, clearly everything is the best. 
And certainly "Top Chef" recently had an episode where the judges told everyone it was a great meal overall, so they were going to have to nitpick to send someone home, and some days that's what happens.  But when it happens everyday, it starts to feel like you've wandered into a bad parody of a car dealership, where everything is the best, safest, coolest and fastest car available.

h/t to the NPR MonkeySee blog for the link

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Any Given Sunday

...your heart can be broken. Or filled with joy.  That's the beauty of sport, and well, so many other things, but I believe I have recovered enough to talk a moment about football. 
So, I recognize that I am terribly unforgiving about receivers who, you know fail to receive (yes, I have been known to say that's your whole job dude, even though I know that there are many factors involved in catching, and that despite their job title it isn't entirely their whole job, just, you know, a really big portion of it and no, I am clearly not still over that year we had that supposedly lauded receiver who could not catch) and yet I often feel really bad about kickers.  Partly it's just the nature of the thing, any game that is hanging on the outcome of one final field goal has already had a few ups and downs and some missed scoring chances by all those other folks wearing the same color, and yet, the kicker gets picked on.  And look, I am not suggesting that kicking isn't, you know, a really big part of being a kicker, because it absolutely is, I just feel like we expect a ridiculously high amount of accuracy from kickers compared to other players on the field.  (And death threats, people.  Really?  Even in jest, that's not funny.)
Interestingly enough, the folks at Grantland have an interesting note on how icing the kicker never works, but people do it because it's a low risk/possible high reward situation. And the folks at Deadspin have a nice analysis of how rushing a kicker might result in over-rotation like some folks watching this weekend might have seen.
Now, I want to point out, that while I certainly haven't read all the coverage of the games, it is my understanding that the folks who made the last errors in each game that sent their team home to rest up for next year were all apologetic, didn't try to pass the blame to anyone and said they were sorry they couldn't do better for their team.  So, gracious.
Perhaps the training they may or may not have had (I personally think everyone should watch that scene in "Bull Durham", but that's just me) would have been well spent on some of the players from one of the winning teams. Of course, this is not to imply that I am for dishonesty, but I think if you don't see anything wrong with saying we just figured he was so concussed all it would take was another hit or two and he'd be done, well, hopefully someone will sit you down and explain that. 
And don't get me wrong, if the player in question was in fact concussed, then he should not have been playing.  But, as the folks at ALOTT5MA helpfully pointed out, that doesn't mean you want to be the guy who tries to sweep the leg.  Given football's ongoing concerns with the long term results of brain injury, one would hope people wouldn't be attempting to concuss their fellow players.  I have a cousin who suffered a mild concussion banging his head getting out of a car, and I am certainly not advocating that the car was at fault here.  Sometimes things happen.  Football is a contact sport.  But, there is a critical difference between people being injured as a result of play and people being injured as a result of their fellow players attempting injury. 
Now it's possible, that we're over-interpreting what the players meant.  They might have meant, he got up slow, so we figured, he was hurting and another tackle or two and he'd be out.  And certainly, I understand that any play in football where you have the ball, makes you a target.  (And no, I haven't forgotten the linemen either.) But man, does it break my heart to hear players using past incidences of concussions to try and psych themselves into tackling another player. It's stuff like that that makes it hard to justify the entertainment value exceeds the risk of long term injury to the players. Football is already at risk of losing future generations as more and more parents dissuade their kids from participating in the sport until the concussion issue can be better addressed.  Players hoping to bang the brain of a fellow player one more time, will do nothing to assist this.

h/t to ALOTT5MA for the links

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Feel Your Pain, Dude

I have often lamented that while I have injured myself a time or three, my stories about such are usually dull, lacking a certain level of interest.  For example, the first time my knee dislocated I was standing next to a water fountain.  No, I wasn't even drinking from the water fountain, I was talking to the person using the fountain when bam, I was suddenly on the floor. My mother suggested I tell people I was also chewing gum.  (This injury, by the way, resulted in six weeks wearing an ankle to hip cast, followed by several months of physical therapy.) 
I was also standing the next two times my knee dislocated.  So, my big injury stories are basically, I was standing then I fell.
Most of the doctors and nurses said, "Oh what sport were you playing?"  So, I can only imagine that if I was, say, a hockey player and came in with a back injury, most people would assume some sort of aggressive check or fall would be the cause.  In the case of a Kings player, the answer (this time, at least) is eating pancakes.  Now, I would personally argue that eating pancakes is marginally better than I was standing, and I fell, but it's probably worse because people then want to know what kind of pancakes, and were you eating them funny, or perhaps eating them while standing at center ice.  (Answers: vegetarian*, no and no.)
But to give Mr. Penner credit, he is now hosting a charity pancake breakfast, where folks can come and watch him eat pancakes.

*Yes, I am aware most pancakes are vegetarian, but that was his answer.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012: Category Romance

I have a weird relationship with category romance.  I purchase a lot and then it lingers.  They are such quick reads when they are good, and such terrible slogs when they are bad.  (I realize this is true of most anything.)  They use tropes like secret babies and marriages of convenience and sometimes they do it so well and sometimes I want to yell at the book. 
So, I picked the late Sandra Hyatt's Lessons in Seduction which was excellent and really should have had a warning label since I started late on a Friday night and next thing I knew it was quite late/quite early and I needed to sleep but I wanted to keep reading.  I polished it off for breakfast the next morning.  Adam is prince and heir apparent in [fictional principality] and Danni is the daughter of one of the royal drivers so has known Adam since she was five. 

Digression: I tend to love the boy/prince next door type stories when done right (which this one was, IMO) but have grown wary because there is a sub-set of these where there is some special night when the two characters are sixteen and talked (or, um, did not talk) under the stars and then ten years later they cross paths and because of this one night forgive each other ridiculous behavior. Like kidnapping.

So, Danni works for the Grand Prixe but sometimes subs for her dad as a driver in a pinch.  A few years ago, Adam spilled his drink while she was driving and he fired her.  But her dad was feeling under the weather so she takes over a shift one night while Adam is on a date and can't stop herself from making a comment about his technique (or lack thereof).  Adam is amused because as prince people mostly don't talk to or about him like that so asks her to please give him some pointers since he has reached that point where it is time to do the royal duty and get himself a wife.  Danni accepts, and, as you might suspect, in such proximity they find themselves fighting an attraction to one another (which they have decent reasons for fighting). 

(The blurb, which I read later, implies that it is Danni's "commoner" status holding them back.  The discussion about their reasons for not dating happens late enough in the book that I don't want to reveal it, but that is not the case.)

This book just came out last year, so it wasn't really lingering in the TBR pile too long, but it was a lovely trip nonetheless.

Monday, January 16, 2012

That Phrase, It Bugs

So, here's the thing.  The phrase "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride" annoys the crippety crap out of me.  I understand what it is meant to entail, but if you really think about it, it's annoying.  The intention behind the phrase is that as a bridesmaid you are standing by your friend who is getting married, rather than getting married yourself.  Totally putting to the side the gender politics, in practice it is often used to reference folks who get second (or third or fourth) place.  And that's what bugs me.  Because being a bride - while lovely and wonderful - is not winning (not even like that guy means).  It certainly demonstrates an important life event, don't get me wrong, but unless you were a contestant on a reality dating show one imagines you did not get to the [altar or courthouse or other place of reverence for you and your intended] by passing a number of tests or completing specific feats of skills.  (Unless you and your beloved are into that.)
And, being a bridesmaid is not a consolation prize.  It's not like being second runner up (unless, again, you were in the aforementioned dating show, in which case it might be).  If the bride is unable to fulfill her duties you do not get to just swoop in.  You might be already married or even related by blood to the groom.  I realize I am way overthinking this phrase, but seriously, can't we come up with something better?  Always a silver medalist, for example, is just as easy to say. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Perhaps if I Had a Garden, I Could Find Things

We all misplace things from time to time, and honestly, the only thing more annoying that finding something right where you looked the first three times, is finding it somewhere it had no business being.  (The finding part is great, it's the things disappearing part that I still find a bit rude.) 
So, imagine how frustrating it would be to lose something as precious as a wedding ring.  (Actually, my dad lost his wedding ring in my parents first year of marriage.  Fortunately for him and their marriage, he lost it doing a little cliff diving at Waimea while my mom watched.  Although I believe this did help her case that jumping off a cliff was not a great pastime.)
A woman in Sweden lost her wedding ring after removing it to do some baking with the family. They searched all over, even going so far as to take up floorboards to see if it had rolled under.  Then they discovered it sixteen years later on a carrot.  They think it must have fallen into the sink and been scooped up with the potato peels they then composted and sprinkled over the garden. Amusingly, they also feed the compost to the sheep, and then use the sheep dung as fertilizer, so it's possible it detoured that way too. 
But the important thing, is now they've found it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Got No Game

A few people linked to this video on Twitter, entitled "How to Hit on an Asian Girl".  (It should probably be called how not to, but anyway.)  Now, I am not Asian looking enough to get most of this, but having lived in quite a few neighborhoods where street harassment is the norm, I work on the assumption that the street harassment portion is almost like burping, not in that it is natural (because really, cultural heritage aside, I think we should be working on evolving past this) but that people do it reflexively and don't truly expect that "Me love you long time" or "I've never been with a redhead" (which I get now, but trust me when I did not have red hair, I did not experience less harassment) is actually supposed to lead to a relationship or even a date.  (Perhaps I am wrong.  If you out there thought this produced dates, I suggest you re-evaluate. And spend some quality time over at Collective Action (formerly Holla Back DC) and read what the people you are harassing really think.)
But what's horrifying, in the oh-my-god-trainwreck sense, are the longer bits demonstrated in the second portion of the video.  Now part of this is excellent acting, but a lot of this is that it's clear that the male (and all the harassers and flirtation outreachers featured in this video are male) thinks that this is him being culturally aware as he suggests that the lady in question might wish to make him food or discuss what country she emigrated from or the current political situation in Asia and instead is coming across as if he assumes that Asian people only eat or make Asian food (and, in one scenario, only of the kind that they are genetically connected to) and spend a lot of time pondering the politics of places they may be several generations removed from. 

Monday, January 09, 2012

Dead Things Decompose

From the water is wet files, a few news outlets and such have mentioned the ongoing case where a man states that he discovered a mouse in his soda can and is suing.  Now, as you may know, there has been an urban legend for a while about such a thing. 
The thing that has been drawing the attention is that contained within the list of reasons that the soda company gave for how this is simply not credible, they stated that a mouse left in a container of soda would have decomposed.  This has led to people swearing off that kind of soda or all soda.
And here's the thing, I won't promise you that soda is good for you.  But I do know that if I wanted to preserve a mouse carcass, or even, for that matter keep a mouse alive, I would not place the mouse in a container of liquid.  (Well, okay, probably formaldehyde would work on a dead mouse.  And yes, I do recommend drinking formaldehyde.)
There were also some emails that circulated once upon a time about teeth dissolving if you left them sitting in soda. Soda contains acid.  Given time acids dissolve things.  (Actually, that's kinda how your stomach works. Also, please follow this Snopes link for the hilarious story of testing leaving a fly in a cup of soda and a cup of drain cleaner. Lesson, flies should not drink drain cleaner.)
So, given enough time, leaving anything in a cup of acidic liquid will start to dissolve. 
And also included in this filing by the soda company was that based on a can provided, this can was sealed at the factory in August.  The can was purchased for drinking in November.  This is not overnight, we are talking.  This is three months.  So yes, I absolutely recommend not soaking your teeth, your fingers, your stomach or your pets in soda for about three months. 
The mouse the guy claims was in his soda was two to four weeks old.  Which means this mouse was not even born at the time the soda was sealed. So, the far more interesting thing is to me, not that the mouse would be decomposed after being submerged in soda for three months, but that someone found, took or otherwise procured a dead mouse (since the mouse autopsy apparently indicates the mouse did not drown, so was dead when it went in the soda) and then tried to sue a soda company.  But, YMMV. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Where Did Friday Go?

This happened a few days ago (depending on how you count) but is too fascinating for me to let go by.  So, apparently, in the 1800's, the some US traders convinced the Samoans that it would be really helpful if the Samoans were in the same timezone as American Samoa so the Samoans switched their timezone.  But, of course, times change, and nowadays Samoa trades with New Zealand and Australia as much as American territories, plus, one imagines in this increasingly global world, we are a little more accustomed to accounting for such things, and it was kind of weird for Samoa to basically be operating in the incorrect timezone (I mean, yes, the timezones are essentially false constructs anyway, but you know what I mean) so, they decided in 2012 to embrace the local timezone
However, the "local" timezone was on the other side of the dateline, so basically, Samoans this year went from Thursday the 29th straight into Saturday the 31st and rang in 2012 with their newly aligned timezone.  Hopefully this will have a positive impact, because everyone who lost a workday is getting paid for it.  (Also, that seems like that takes the sting out of losing a Friday.)
The ALOTT5MA comments have some interesting links about what this means for those who lost a sabbath, or will see it shift as a result.

h/t to ALOTT5MA for the link.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

2011 Reading Tally

2011 was good reading year.  Still not quite up to 2007 standards, but I'm starting to view that as the year I just was so excellent and move on.  (I follow someone on Twitter who posts triple my reading amounts, so I know these things are possible, but perhaps not for me.  It's all good.)  And, my current TBR pile, is still less than two years reading, no matter which year I use as reference, so there's that too.  Still going to work on the TBR pile, because some of those things, especially a few I'm halfway through and just groan at the thought of finishing should just be finished or retired once and for all. 
I did count novellas because my old rule was that anything that I could buy separately counts as a book (and therefore anthologies count as one book, although the number of those I read was pretty low this year) and while epublishing has made this less of a standard, I don't care, they all count.
So, grand total: 129
Number of those that were novellas - 16.
84 different authors* represented, which is strangely similar to previous years.  December was my rocking month with 22 and February apparently ate my brain because I have 1 finish that month. Author I read the most was Jill Shalvis at 6.  I also tried out 38 new to me authors.  Series junkie status remains high with 71 of those books being part of a series. And most common type was romance again with 79, although YA is a strong second there with 30.  And there were a banner (for me) 8 non-fictions in there this year, thanks to some really funny people writing memoirs or essay type things I wanted to read.  And in sub-categories, contemporary reined supreme with 70, compared to 14 historical and 36 paranormal/futuristic/dystopian/steampunk. 71 of these books were published in 2011, so I am still a new release junkie also.

And I hate doing top ten lists because I invariably feel like so many things were good - I really do enjoy a lot of books.  None of the things I didn't finish are on the above list. So instead of a top some random number, I shall use the somewhat random books I remember talking to people about (outside of book club, since, well, you know):
-The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis which I still maintain was secretly written for me even if that is a secret to the author herself.
-13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson managed to encapsulate so much of what backpacking through Europe was like I wondered if she had found my travel journal.
-Beauty Queens by Libba Bray is about a plane full of pageant contestants who crash onto a deserted island Lord of the Flies style.  Honestly, that's all I had to know to click buy, so I have trouble properly explaining to to people because I just say that, and go, awesome, right?  (And technically this was also a book club book, but trust me, I have talked about this to quite a few people.)
-Welcome to Last Chance by Hope Ramsay who is my lovely chapter mate, but, seriously her description of this had me checking her name tag so I could go get this on my wishlist. 
-Wishes and Stitches by Rachael Herron - I've enjoyed this whole series but this one just grabbed me and made me write a fangirly email.
-When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James is another one I have trouble describing because I go it's a retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" with Dr. House as the beast, and really, if Eloisa James hadn't already been on my auto-buy list, this would have been enough to have me snapping it up.  (Actually, since she was, I didn't even know this since I don't read back cover copy, so I just gasped as I was reading.)
-In the Dark of Dreams by Marjorie M. Liu is about a woman who finally meets (or re-meets) the merman she keeps dreaming about.  It just gripped me, as has much of the series.
-Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison was just such an enjoyable read. 
-Forget You by Jennifer Echols is another one I have trouble describing because I picked it out of the pile to read with dinner and next thing I knew it was ten p.m. so I kind of just think people should trust me, but it is about a girl who was in a car accident on her way home from a party and doesn't quite remember what happened at the party, but doesn't want anyone to know she doesn't remember, even though, clearly, things have changed. 
(Hey look, that's seven.  I didn't even plan that!)

*I counted authors rather than pen names. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

So, That Zookeeper

As we ease into the new year (and for those of us who only get major holidays, the bleak months of no official holidays), it seems some amusement is in order.  So, if one gave a touchscreen tablet (yes, I am avoiding the specific word, no need to alert the spambots) to some orangutans, what things might they do.  Would they write Shakespeare, learn to play angry birds or discover kitten videos on the internet? 
Well, one group wanted to find out (and they are apparently pretty good with some games) but next, they want to see how the orangutans react to being able to video chat with each other

h/t to the Tweeple for the link