Friday, October 31, 2008

Black cat, Halloween

In my back yard as we speak.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Smurf Colorforms

Here's something else I had as a kid: Smurf Colorforms.

(Both pictures courtesy of

I was big into the Smurfs. Stuffed Smurf dolls, Smurf food tray, both of which my mom won in Seaside, Smurf Colecovision game (which was pretty lame but I still have the theme song stuck in my head to this day), even a Smurf sleeping bag.

I wouldn't buy used Colorforms though, knowing how I would lick the backs of them to stick them on the board. Ew.

Don't Tip the Waiter

No, I'm not siding with Mr. Pink and suggesting that you never leave a tip for your waiter or waitress, I'm talking about one of the games from my childhood by Ideal:

I remember it would descend into Lord of the Flies chaos at the end - we would get tired of the game and throw the little discs at each other.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

100th Anniversary of the Merkle Game

The 1908 baseball season, the last time the Cubs won the World Series, was a lulu. The American League had a four-way pennant race: Tigers (featuring Ty Cobb), Cleveland Naps, White Sox, and St. Louis Browns. The Tigers won their pennant on the last possible day of the regular season.

The National League had a three-way race: Cubs, Giants, and Pirates (led by Honus Wagner). The Cubs got their break when, in a game against the Giants, one of the Giant's rookies named Fred Merkle made a rookie mistake, which enabled the Cub's Johnny Evers (you know, Evers to Tinkers to Chance) to take advantage of a fan melee on the field causing the Cubs to win the "Merkle Game", which created a tie between the Giants and Cubs at the end of the season, which cost the Giants the pennant when they replayed the Merkle Game and lost to the Cubs.

From How Stuff Works:

The score was tied 1-1 and the sun was setting over the Polo Grounds in New York. Fred Merkle, a rookie substitute, was standing on first and Moose McCormick occupied third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, when Giants shortstop Al Bridwell singled to center.

Thinking the game was won, and with a crowd of happy fans swarming the infield, Merkle bypassed second base and made for the New York clubhouse. But Chicago second baseman Johnny Evers got the attention of the umpire who, after seeing Evers tag second base with a ball (there was some dispute over whether it was actually the game ball), declared Merkle forced out at second, nullifying the winning run.

The two tight pennant races would have been enough to guarantee the 1908 season a special place in history, let alone the Merkle Game. But the season was also full of dirty baseball (not just by Ty Cobb, but he certainly helped), double-dealings, and an attack by a swarm of gnats (just like the attack on game two of the 2007 American League Division Series featuring the Yankees and Indians).

I learned all I know about the 1908 season from Crazy '08 by Cait Murphy.

More reading:

Here's a reprint of a Keith Olbermann article about the Merkle Game. Olbermann writes about the game every year in hopes to clear Merkle's reputation.

Here's another article about it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Do they *have* to report from the hurricane?

Is it really necessary to have these reporters standing outside in the middle of a hurricane? Does it really add to our understanding or help us in any way? I'm finding it more and more ridiculous every year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

First plant shipment

The violet Dancing Geishas arrived from Park Seeds today. Hmm, I don't remember ordering them. They're not in my garden plan, either. Oh the best laid plans!

I think I'll plant them underneath our rose bushes out front.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Morrissey's selling the NFL

Could someone tell the NFL that using Morrissey's "Every Day is Like Sunday" ["every day is cloudy and gray"] is the worst use of a pop song since Phillips used the Beatles' "It's Getting Better All the Time" ["it can't get no worse"]? Not that I don't want Morrissey to make money.


I spent a marathon session yesterday looking for plants for our garden. We decided that what we have is just too messy for us to maintain and we don't know what the previous owners intended, so we're going to dig some stuff up and plant what we want. I see why people hire garden designers to do the work for them - it took me a long time to find plants suitable for our zone, soil, and the amount of sun that the places where wanted to put the plants get.

So far I've ordered seeds or bareroot plants for purple coneflower (echinacea), shasta daisies, black-eyed susans, large yellow hyacinths for the front yard, cosmos, forget-me-nots, and blazing star, bearded irises, and a dwarf nandina firepower shrub to replace those that were eaten by the local groundhog or the voles.

In the spring, I'm going to buy astilbe, salvia, a Moon Madonna daylily, and Physostegia virginiana.

We have a lot of clearing out and weeding to do in the next three months...

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Steve and I just stumbled upon Glen Jones's show on NJ classic rock station 105.7. Whoa.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


When I was in college, some of my friends on the school newspaper would use my (maiden) name in songs. They'd sing my name to the tune of the Mission Impossible theme, etc. I told this to another friend of mine, who said they should use "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" by Looking Glass as a song for me instead.

Fast forward 10 years and I marry a guy with the last name of Brandi.

Not only that, but Looking Glass was formed at Rutgers, where my husband went to college, and is considered part of the Jersey Shore sound, where I sort of lived (about 20 minutes away from the beach) as a kid and where we sort of live now.
Watchmen Watchmen by Alan Moore

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
== Sort of a spoiler alert == Lots of intertwining story arcs and themes to sink your teeth into. One I'm currently mulling over is the morality of Rorschach vs. that of Ozymandias. Rorschach thinks what Ozymandias did is criminal and that Ozymandias must be punished for it, but really, is what Ozymandias did so different than what Rorschach did throughout his stint as masked adventurer? Sure, Rorschach killed less people than Ozymandias, but both had the same motives: to save mankind. If we think of this in term of Dr. Manhattan's conclusion that every human being is a miracle given the immense odds against each one of us coming into being, then killing just one person, let alone more than one (but less than a hundred, though we don't really know) as Rorschach did, for the good of the many is just as bad as killing millions.

View all my reviews.

The sprinkler system

We had some guys install a sprinkler system today. Wow, what a headache. It only took about 3 1/2 hours but there were guys everywhere all at once digging holes and pulling up part of our brick garden borders. I couldn't bear to watch. Shielding my eyes from it didn't save me though as they used a ditch witch to do most of their digging; it was obnoxiously loud and I cringed whenever I heard grinding noises. So I buried myself into The Watchmen until I was finished with the book.

I should have been watching TV instead, I suppose, since the sprinkler guys cut our cable line and I didn't realize it until about a half hour before they were to leave. Our utilities are buried, which improves the aesthetic appeal of our neighborhood, but is a pain in the ass to deal with sometimes. The guys insisted that where anything was marked - gas, electric, cable - they dug by hand and slipped the sprinkler hoses underneath the existing lines. And it's true that part of the cable line wasn't marked properly. A cut we found, where a since-removed tree had I, I presume, moved the cable line a bit and where you can clearly see a cable poking through the grass (and about which I forgot to tell them) was about two feet from the marking. But, un uh, they're not in the clear; the cable guy who temporarily put us back into cable said there was at least one more cut in the cable line.

By temporarily putting us back into cable, I mean that there's a coax cable running from where the cable comes in from the street, across our yard, across the top of our driveway, over to our house's cable hookup on the side of the house. Reminds me of a John Fogerty video. The cable company's going to have to run a new line - the guy said within 10 days.

Plus, even though I told the sprinkler guy who came to give us an estimate, and who wasn't on the job today, that we only wanted our grass watered, not the garden because we'd rather use our drip-hose system to save water, today's guys installed heads that water the garden anyway. It's not that big of a deal because the heads that water the garden are on separate areas than those that water the lawn, and it didn't cost us more than if we hadn't gotten the extra heads installed, but still...

Lessons learned:

  • Don't assume that what you told the guy who gave you the estimate will pass that on to the guys who will actually do the work.

  • If you know of any quirks in your utility hook ups, don't forget to tell your contractors.

  • Don't be surprised if they cut your cable line even if you do tell them about the quirks.

  • Don't get too stressed out about it. In my case, the problem was temporarily fixed by 2:30 in the afternoon.

  • Take aspirin or something before the work starts to ward off your inevitable headache.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I saw a headline on Google news saying that the CEO of Bear Stearns said his company would have been saved if the Fed bailed them out sooner.

Oh yeah? Well maybe he could have saved his company himself if he put a stop to the hedge fund shell game.

Robert Reich on tonight's News Hours with Jim Lehrer pretty much said that it would have been nice if Bear Stearns ponied up some collateral in exchange for the bailout money. Yes, that would have been nice, but this is par for the course. No one was required to put down much collateral during the bubble.

Things won't change until someone up at the top sets a good example.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Starting the garden

Steve and I have a garden that goes all the way around our house. It's mostly a border garden and mostly flowers. I wanted some vegetables, so we're going to clear out some of the old plants and make room for tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, and who knows what else.

We're starting from seed, and we don't have wide window ledges, so we needed a grow light. As usual, we procrastinated and didn't have time to order one, so Steve drove around the county looking for one, but no luck. So he bought an under the counter fluorescent light and installed it under the shelf of a low bookcase I didn't know what else to do with:

So far, three of the Romas, a pepper or two, and a Big Boy tomato have sprouted. Pretty cool.

Monday, March 10, 2008


I realize now that I like Bob Fosse. When I was a kid, I thought his choreography was weird; when I was a teen and in my twenties, I thought it was dumb, passe, and what Kent calls "Entertainment" (air quotes included). But my mom, sister, and I went to see Chicago this Saturday, and seeing Fosse's work live changed my mind.

The moves suit the music (snappy homages to Vaudeville) well and I really like how Fosse uses the dancer's breathing or yelps as punctuation to the dance.

Now starring sexy TV icon John Schneider

John Schneider was good: he has a nice voice and was a believable cad/Ziegfeld headliner. He needs a haircut though; his almost-mullet doesn't suit the character. And Michelle DeJean as Roxie was far superior to Renee Zellweger.

We three were in the front row and most of the actresses made eye contact, especially Mama with the women, and Roxie threw me a rose at the end. Schneider didn't make eye contact at all; he's probably not used to performing on-stage and breaking the fourth wall would probably have made him break character.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Walking away

Is it any wonder that people are walking away from their homes when they can't afford the payments, what with crooked CEOs and other white collar criminals behaving as bad examples? If the can ruin a company by making risky but legal gambles and still walk away with 10s of millions in a golden parachute, then why can't the average person?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ordering bbq by the pound

A couple of the guys at work are going to India for a few weeks to work with our off-shore co-workers. They think they won't be able to get much meat while they're there, so they're ordering a huge amount of bbq for lunch today. For 6 people, they're ordering about 4 pounds of beef, 2 pounds of chicken, and a few sides. I hope they get their work done for the day before their lunch arrives, because they're not gonna get much done after.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Age of American Unreason

Today's Salon has a good review by Laura Miller about Susan Jacoby's book, The Age of American Unreason. The book has some flaws, according to Miller, one of which is that Jacoby doesn't seem to care about why people like unreasonable ways of thinking:
The missing factor in Jacoby's formula is just that: In addition to being capable of rationality, we also have to want to be rational.
It's hard to imagine what could be more central to Jacoby's subject than the motivations of those Americans who chose what she describes as "willed ignorance" over reason. Isn't it likely that the recent resurgence of that ignorance arises from similar needs and desires? If there were some other way to address those needs (or fears), perhaps fundamentalism would be less appealing, and perhaps reason could be made more so. However, that would require admitting that people who are capable of reason will nevertheless sometimes pick an irrational course of action or belief. Rational people do this all the time, of course -- even intellectuals. But rationality has its own ideology, and one of its tenets is the conviction that, if given a fair chance, reason must always carry the day.
This makes me think about Transcendentalism, which was a counterargument to the Age of Enlightenment. Wouldn't it be nice if today's counterargument to reason (I wish I could say "our contemporary age of reason" because we never had one) had the same substance, a more thoughtful contemplation of spirituality and nature through poetry? Or is that passé?

I know peer pressure has a lot to do with some people not wanting to act smart, which supposedly makes others feel inferior, but I also think that the way in which we're taught at school should take some of the blame for people not wanting to think. Rote learning is good for some things, but it really drains all the fun out of learning; which is, curiosity, discovery, and that little tingle and light bulb that turns on in your head when you "get it".

Monday, February 11, 2008

out-of-print music on MP3

Here's a blurb about a Wired article about Anthology Recordings ("the first all-digital reissues label") from one of my co-workers:

Looks purty good!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Who runs the elections?

One of my friends lives in New Zealand and expressed frustration at the media's discrepancies in the delegate totals of each candidate. She included one of her Kiwi friends on the email and he asked, "Who runs the elections in the U.S.?" Quite frankly, I didn't know, so I did some research and here's what I replied:

Ok, so each state decides how its voting or caucus process works. Some vote for delegates, some vote for specific candidates, and some caucus for a candidate or remain uncommitted. Each political party decides how delegates are allocated. In addition to delegates, both parties have superdelegates - people who are selected in ways other than by the voters (Democrats have much more than Republicans).

Here's an ask Yahoo answer about it:


Why there's a discrepancy with the delegate counts in the news:

"The delegate counts are not really 'counts.' They're really delegate estimates," the director of surveys for CBS News, Kathy Frankovic, said yesterday. She said a key reason for the largest discrepancies is the different standards news organizations have about when to add delegates to the total.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

"That's because you're a threat to them."

"I'm not a threat. I'm a promise."

Mocha latte and brownie for lunch...

...because I'm not allowed to drink at work.

The Chocolate Bar

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Where am I?

I was in a meeting in one of the rooms overlooking the Hudson and Hoboken, as well as a huge Emporio Armani billboard. As I was looking at the billboard, I thought about the pervasive air of wealth and luxe in this area (for those who can and can't afford it but buy into it anyway) and for a second or two, I really felt like I was in a foreign city. It was almost like an hallucination. I've been feeling like I don't belong in central/northern Jersey or New York City anymore because I feel like people look down on you if you don't own the most up-to-the-minute fashion, drive an SUV, or dress up to go to the mall, but I didn't think I felt it that deeply.