Monthly Archives: January 2010

Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Part III

About three months ago I started a series (well, it’s NOW a series since we’re into part III) of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” posts. I described the Blog World which I reside in a few hours a day as a wonderful new neighborhood where I get to pick and choose my neighbors. And then more neighbors moved in. I’ve had this post sitting in my draft queue for some time, hesitating to hit publish.  Because, in the mean time, someone else used the same title for a wonderful meme introducing us to new blogs. A great idea. And I didn’t want to step on toes. Or have any confusion.

So this post has been sitting, gathering dust in my queue because I was trying to think of another name or another way to re-introduce what I started in early November. But I can’t. Or I won’t. (I can’t decide.) We both borrowed from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. And I like it. And since we’re both piggy backing off of Mr. Roger’s success I’ve decided to keep the name. Just please don’t confuse it with the fun new meme of the same name that appears on Fridays. And to help avoid confusion – I’ll never post this thread on a Friday. Ok? Ok.

Some new neighbors have moved in and I want you to meet them!

Angelcel at AC’sScrapbook - Sparkling conversation is what drew me in while walking my dog to the park. She invited me to sit on her porch and we talked for hours. She shared with me her love of photography, music, cooking, the list went on and on. The pictures in her “home” are beautiful. She captures moments in amazing ways. Her porch is so welcoming and is decorated with her own creations. The wicker chairs outfitted with comfy pillows. The side table always has a fresh pitcher of tea. And I always meet a new and interesting neighbor while I’m there.

ck at Bad Mommy Moments - I love her “motto” – She “celebrates the days of motherhood that SUCK. Because it’s often after our worst moments that we realize just how lucky we really are.” Well said, ck. Rising from the ashes – that’s how I feel most days. I met ck at the playground and immediately was drawn to her. Her sense of humor, her view on life – how she is always able to see the rainbow at the end of the storm. And an amazing story-teller. I get lost in them, nodding with mouth agape. On my bad days, she helps me to see that I’m not alone. On my good days, she helps me to appreciate all that I have that much more. Thank goodness she’s only a few blocks away.

Aidan at Ivy League Insecurities - I believe I met Aidan at a social event here in the neighborhood. She was interesting, kind, articulate and whimsically philosophical. I loved what she had to say and I had to hear more. So we met for coffee one afternoon and became friends. She takes a simple, pure event and turns it into a compelling, delightful inquiry. She invites discussion. Her dining room table turns into a round-table with all of us laughing, crying, sharing and most of all, enjoying each other’s company.

Unabridged Girl - Wise beyond her years she is a lovely young woman. I probably met her at book club. She is a lover of books, words, conversation and life. Her home is filled with books, diet coke (I bring my own Classic Coke), and fun friends. We all poke fun, playfully argue and always agree that visits with her are never dull. She is curious and refreshing. She shakes the cobwebs off my 40-some-yr-old mind.

There you have it. More wonderful new neighbors to meet, if you haven’t met them already. Make sure you tell them I said hello!

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Common Computer Passwords Even a 5 Year-Old Can Figure Out

My son was playing with an old relic from my husband’s childhood. The Playskool castle. He said, “All the people are in the dungeon. And guess what? The girl in the dungeon? She figured out the code to get out. You see, the knight (he’s holding the knight in his hand showing him to me) he made up the code. And the girl figured it out. It was 1-2-3. What a dumb code! Who couldn’t figure that out?!”

Even my 5-year-old son knows that’s a stupid code.

But apparently, many of us use some of the worst passwords for our computer, our atm card, iphones. Here are the top 21 worst passwords according to TVNZ:

1) 123456
2) password
3) 12345678
4) 1234
5) pussy
6) 12345
7) dragon
8) qwerty
9) 696969
10) mustang
11) letmein
12) baseball
13) master
14) michael
15) football
16) shadow
17) monkey
18) abc123
19) pass
20) f***me
21) 6969

I was going to stop at the top 10. But then I saw #11, letmein. Letmein? I actually snorted a little on that one.

So I was going to stop at the top 11 but then I saw number 20. Number 20 reminded me a little of some of my bloggy friends out there (you know who you are!) and I started to wonder…with how often I see that phrase on your blogs I wondered if any of you use it as a password?

But I couldn’t stop at 20 once I saw #21 (totally missing #9 for some reason). 6969. Ahhhh, it takes me back to my teaching days. I taught both high school math and english (I know. I’m one of those strange anomalies – neither right-brained nor left-brained. What can I say?). Especially in math class. If I said, “Turn to page 69.” Snickers. Or, “Do problems 1 – 69 odd.” Giggles. And then there was always, “George, what is the answer to 18?” Well. If the answer was 69? He could barely get a word out, turning red, holding back a laugh, the rest of the class cracking up with one person completely oblivious saying, “What’s so funny? Why is 71 funny?”

So? Did you see YOUR password up there?

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If You Loved The Guernsay Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society Don’t Read Any Further. I’m About To Ruin It For You.

Everyone has been agog over the debut novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I’ve noticed many of you in Blog World have read it and loved it. I have friends (and a sister) who have recommended it. I finally picked it up.

And I hate it.

Oh. It is a lovely story. It has lovely writing. It’s just that I’ve read it before.

Has anyone out there read 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff? No? A charming, engaging, wonderful novel first published in 1970. It was then re-created for stage and film, starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. (But don’t see the film. As wonderful as it is, as wonderful as Bancroft and Hopkins are – the book is so much better.)

The similarities between these two novels is jarring. Distracting, even. So much so, that I’m beginning to resent Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows for borrowing so much from a book so loved. A book published a mere 40 years ago. (Did I just say ‘mere’? Oh, man, am I old!)

Similar plots. Universal themes. I totally get that authors borrow from the classics. But they borrow the “boy meets girl, girl plays hard to get, boy wins girl in the end” kinds of plots. Or the universal themes of love conquering all or good beating out evil. The general idea. Not specifics.

Here. I’ll show you what I mean.

84 Charing Cross Road - post World War II, focuses on a time period of lacking, wanting and re-building, a main character who is an outspoken, female accomplished writer, a protagonist who is so inspired by the people on the other end of the postal line that her life is changed forever, written in correspondence style between (mainly) a woman and a man with an underlying hint that they feel a bit more than a platonic kinship, they are brought together based on their love of books, they share the difficulties of their lives, they try to help each other, they attempt to meet.

 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - post World War II, focuses on a time period of lacking, wanting and re-building, a main character who is an outspoken, female accomplished writer, a protagonist who is so inspired by the people on the other end of the postal line that her life is changed forever, written in correspondence style between (mainly) a woman and a man with an underlying hint that they feel a bit more than a platonic kinship, they are brought together based on their love of books, they share the difficulties of their lives, they try to help each other, they attempt to meet. (embarrassing note: I did not think to copy and paste. I actually re-typed the entire description. What an idiot I am. Maybe you shouldn’t listen to me, after all.)

See any similarities?

Oh, sure. There are differences. But not enough to keep me reading. I’m so annoyed at the flagrant plagiarism of a style/content/idea – I just can’t. And I am surprised that I’m the only one to think so.

Ahhhh, but I’m not.

“But most distressing of all, it borrows heavily from the truly original style and humor of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff.” Amazon review.

And there are many other reviews out there that point to this similarity (just not quite as negatively as I do): “with an obvious wink to the classic 84 Charing Cross Road“, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is going to be this year’s 84, Charing Cross Road” (gag me), “marvelous debut…. Reminiscent of Helene Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road” (gag me with spoon, reminiscent?!), “Told in epistolary form this book is comparable to 84 Charing Cross Road“, “Comparisons to 84, Charing Cross Road are common and also well-deserved” – You get the point.

If you haven’t read 84 Charing Cross Road and you never will, then The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will be a wonderful book. But if you’ve read TGLAPPPS and now you’re intrigued and want to read 84 Charing Cross Road? I’m afraid you may be disappointed. And that is sad. Because 84 Charing Cross Road was here first.

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Filed under Books

Loose Lips Sink Ships For American Idol Hopeful

I read  yesterday that a contestant on American Idol, Michael Lynche (“Big Mike”) has been cut from the show. A confidentiality breech. All contestants sign an agreement that they and their families will keep quiet until after results are broadcasted. Evidently, Michael made it to the top 24 and his proud father told the local newspaper. The local newspaper printed this news.

This is sad on so many levels.

  1. Michael can’t trust and share wonderful news with his family for fear that someone will spill the beans.
  2. A father, in excitement and pride, messes up and slips in an interview – ruining (a step) in his son’s career.
  3. A newspaper, that is probably well aware of the consequences to the contestant, actually prints the news – thus ultimately ruining (a step) in this young man’s career.

The father should have kept quiet.

The newspaper knew better and REALLY should have kept quiet.

And Michael is the one that suffers.

So not fair!

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Tunes for Tuesday Confessional

I was raised Catholic. I’m not the church-goer I used to be but I find comfort in going to mass once in a while. And I don’t have to go to mass. I can visit a Methodist church, synagogue, Unitarian, Buddhist - it doesn’t matter to me. As long as I am moved spiritually and encouraged to think and grow as a spiritual being I don’t care where I go to church. And that frustrates my church going friends. I live in America’s Bible Belt. I have friends that want me to visit their church. One of the third or fourth questions you’re asked when you meet someone new is, “Where do you go to church?” I always give an answer (usually where ever I went last) - and then mentally file away the information not to discuss religion with that person.

And I’ve been fairly careful here not to discuss religion. I don’t like to discuss it, frankly. I have such a broad view that I offend people. Seriously. How could I possibly offend people if I have a broad view, you ask? It seems everyone wants me to narrow my view. Be more rigid in my beliefs. But I believe “One mountain, many paths.” I think I can get something from a whole host of religions out there. I’m open enough to visit them. Read their books. I’m careful. I stay away from anything “cultish.”

Quite honestly, I think man has tainted what God intended.

Last week, I posted my top 20 songs on my iPod. The playlist is really 25. And I very conveniently left off 5 songs. Five songs that might tag me as a “bible thumper,” “holy roller, ” “religious nut.” I’ve promised good, honest writing here on my blog. I wasn’t very honest last week. I’m fixing that now.

The Five Songs Left Off My Playlist

5. …And I Pray – Matt Perrone – I love this song. It reminds me that there is something bigger than me. Bigger than I’ll ever comprehend. And that prayer, even when it doesn’t seem to work, is necessary – for me, anyway. Prayer keeps me grounded.

4. Hallelujah – Rufus Wainwright – Not exactly a religious song. Not really. But I thought the title might throw you – especially sharing company with the other four songs on this list.

3. Holy Lamb – Yes – A hopeful, loving, beautiful song celebrating life, nature, children, love. So hopeful. I adore this song.

2. Heaven – Live – I love the message in this song. “I don’t need no one to tell me about heaven/I look at my daughter and I believe/I don’t need no proof when it comes to God and truth/I can see the sunset and I perceive”

and the number one song (that actually hold the #4 place on my list)……

1. When the Saints – Sara Groves – This song keeps me on track. It reminds me to do right. No matter what the cost. I can handle whatever life throws me. And I have the strength to take the tougher road. Because, “when the saints go marching in, I want to be one of them.”

O.K. So, there you have it. The whole truth. Please absolve me of my sin. I’ve confessed to leaving out a part of me because I was afraid of criticism. I was afraid of offending someone. But the complete list is a part of me. Every song. Not just the secular ones. Not just the safe ones. Last week I was experiencing a moment of weakness that I’m trying to rectify.  

Deep breath.

 Throw your stones or roses – I’m ready.

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Hey, That Reminds Me!

I read so many of your posts out there and you’ll stir a memory or remind me of something else I’ve heard. It happens so often I’m thinking of starting a meme (If it hasn’t been done already! Jeez, it seems every time I come up with a great idea it’s already been thought of. And if you’re here to take my great idea remember, you heard it here first and I’ve got proof – note the time and date stamp of this post!) but I’m too technologically-challenged to create a button for you to “grab.” But I digress…

Julia, over at Brainella the Librarian, reminded me of a wonderful game my dad and I used to play with one another – in my teens and early twenties. It stopped because it made my mother jealous but that’s for another post. And before your dirty, Freudian minds get away from you let me explain….

My dad traveled a lot for work. During lay-overs or at tacky diners, he’s browse the gift shops. He bring home the tackiest gift he could find. An Elvis souvenir comb from Memphis. An ashtray (I didn’t smoke) with Jimmy Carter’s face in the bottom (I’m not kidding about this one. I wish I could find it to show you!). The “All I Got Was This T-Shirt” t-shirt. Refrigerator magnets. Hats. Pens that glowed in the dark. Silly mugs and other beverage containers. Sunglasses. You get the picture. We had so much fun trying to top each other with our gifts.

It was a wonderful way to connect. To be thinking of each other when we didn’t see each other so much anymore. When I was in high school I spent the summer in Germany. I remember I brought my dad home a teeny, tiny beer stein – it couldn’t hold more than 2 sips. In my twenties, I went to Paris. I found a pair of toenail trimmers with the Eifel Tower on it. I scooped it up. Later in the trip, one of my fellow travellers got a hangnail. She had to use the nail clippers. So, my dad received an even tackier gift that year – it was a pair of used nail trimmers with the Eifel Tower emblazoned on it.

It’s a great memory for me from a comfortable time in my relationship with my father. It’s one that I want to carry on with my children when I begin to travel away from them, when they’re at an age to understand the silliness and fun. Just another way to add fun to an adventure!

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Aspiring To Higher Things

I just read an article about Grant Desme, a 23-year-old minor leaguer for the Oakland A’s. Evidently, he’s a pretty promising player. He was named MVP for the Arizona Fall League and is  “ranked the A’s eighth-best prospect by Baseball America.”

 But he’s decided to leave the game. He’s leaving baseball to join the Catholic priesthood.

Baseball is stunned.

Now, I have my own issues with requirements for priests, the hierarchy, the Catholic church in general. But that’s not what impressed me. What struck me was Grant’s explanation. He was doing really well in baseball but he felt he had to figure out what was best for him and what his purpose was. It just took him awhile to figure it out. And then he said…

“I love the game, but I’m going to aspire to higher things.”

Higher things.

At an age when sports cars, shiny watches, lots of money in the bank and fame are so alluring he’s aspiring to a world of caring, service and sacrifice. And that’s higher to him.

What an amazing young man.

I wish I had his faith.

19 Comments

Filed under Observations, People

I’m Back! And You Can Put Your Mind At Ease. I Wasn’t Abducted By Aliens.

Whew! That was close. If you read my post yesterday about spam comments you probably know that I had a bit of a scare. (What? You didn’t read that far? Then what are you doing back here today? Trust me. It’s just more of the same.)

But I found this very handy website. eHow. Have you heard of it? Ask it anything. (And apparently, I DO mean anything.) And it has the answer. So I looked up “How To Identify an Alien Abduction” and this is what I found….

Bruises on your body. Nope. Unexplained bright lights in your bedroom. Nope. Actual aliens in your bedroom. (Now wait. If I saw an actual alien in my bedroom why would I be here asking questions?) Also, nope.

I kept reading because it had a checklist. And I love lists!

“Examine your body for unidentifiable scratches or scoop marks, sometimes in the shape of a triangle. Scratches and bruises on the inner thighs are common.” – Scoop marks? What’s a scoop mark? And scratches and bruises on the inner thigh? Ok. Wait. Randy aliens? This is getting a little creepy.

“Remember if your clothing or anything else in your house is ever in disarray for no apparent reason. It is common to awaken naked, clothes on backward and windows open after an alien abduction.” – Things in my house in disarray for no apparent reason? Clothes on backward? Are you kidding me? I have children.

“Contemplate if you are unaccountable for a period of time, say, an hour or more. Missing time is common among alien abductees.” If I’m unaccountable for an hour or more? Shhhhhh. Keep quiet and don’t tell my husband or kids. I’m probably just hiding in my closet with a glass of wine and a good book.

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was NOT abducted by aliens. False alarm. Nothing to see here. Everyone go back to what you were doing. Unless, of course, you’re interested in what else I found.

Oh, I knew I could get you to read further.

They had an article on How To Prevent Alien Abductions. You are to lock your windows and doors. Sleep with the lights on. Place crystals around your room. Build a screen hat (?!?) to prevent telepathic abductions. And pray. (Honestly, they tell you to pray. To God or Allah or the spirits. I suppose at this point it doesn’t matter who you pray to.) Beyond that. There’s not that much else you can do.

How to Visit Alien Abduction Sites. Seriously? People that spend time researching alien abductions don’t know how to use Google? Oh, wait. I see. Actual places that alien abductions occurred. Like Grovetown, NH. Snowflake, AZ. Even the Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan. I thought they meant websites. Oops.

How To Get Alien Abduction Insurance. I’m not kidding. I’d never kid a kidder. A Florida company has a $10 million policy for you “to ensure your loved ones on Earth aren’t forgotten while you are out touring the galaxy.” I couldn’t make this stuff up.

How To Write Credible Alien Abduction Stories. Ok, the jig is up. I’m blowin’ the whistle on all you fake-ers out there. This article is a step-by-step recipe for creating fake alien abduction experiences designed to fool Joe and Jane Public. And I am outraged! Offended! Highly agitated! You see, I sport a Blog With Integrity badge. I cannot stand for outright lies.

I am on the warpath!

And I’m putting all you fake alien abduction writers on notice!

20 Comments

Filed under funny

Spam Sent By Aliens! News At 11!

I’ve been saving my spam lately. No, not SPAM. (Which Hormel Foods, incidentally, has requested that you not use their trademark “all caps design” to refer to email/internet spam. You have been warned!)

I’m referring to the spam comments that appear in your comment box, waiting to be approved or deleted permanently. Usually, I just delete them. Quickly. I like a clean site. I’m all tidy that way. But lately I’ve been saving them. Why, you ask? Let me show you.

“I cannot believe this will work!” – This comment was for my Adoption Triangle of Love  post. Of course “it works!” I just spent an entire post singing the praises of this wonderfully positive adoption symbol. On the other hand, maybe you’re criticizing my very personal and positive experience with adoption. And if that’s the case, put out your dukes, buddy! You’re in for the fight of your life.

“This brings me to an idea:…” – And? Yes? You were saying? I’m waiting. Please, please, please share. Because this comment was for my But Pee Is Sterile. Right? post. And from the amount of legit comments I received on that post I’m not the only one waiting for a solution to all the little errant pee-ers out there.

“An sich ne gute Sache, ich frag mich nur, ob das auch dauerhaft brauchbar bleibt.” – Frankly, I’m afraid to translate this. It was left for my The Word Parent Is Also A Verb post. I’m not very good at accepting criticisim. Constructive or in foreign languages.

“Sometimes it’s really that simple, isn’t it? I feel a little stupid for not thinking of this myself/earlier, though. – Really? Seriously? Are you kidding me? I just got done complaining in my Beware The Attack Of The Joy Suckers post.  I didn’t offer any sage advice. There was no typical positive spin. It was just a rant. (Sorry if I disappointed any of you out there that day.) I was crabby. I wrote about it. I guess there’s simplicity in that. Hmmmm. Maybe I was wrong about this bit of spam.

“Good Article. I love your site, I’ll be back for your next article” – Left for my Blast From The Past post. For Wordless Wednesday. Yep, you guessed it. Just a picture of my adorable children. No article for miles.

“Hey I love the blog. I’ve been looking for more information on Cranial Salt Lake and I was wondering if you have any good tips or pointers? I’m getting ready to move and I need all the information I can get. Thanks!” – Huh? Cranial what? You thought I might be able to help you? Where is Cranial Salt Lake? You’re moving there? Sounds absolutely cerebral. Wait, is that next to Phrenic Heights? I think I know someone who lives on Analytic Ave. I heard you have to be pretty astute to live there. Or maybe you were asking The Kitchen Witch? Because this comment was left for my Trading Spaces With One Of My Neighbors post when TKW stopped in to share. Maybe I should ask her if she can help.

“Impressive site. My friends and I were just discussing this the other evening. Also your site looks nice on my old sidekick. And thats rare. Nice work.” – Found on my post Flummoxed Doesn’t Even Begin To Describe – And Neither Does Eliminate, Apparently . Interesting, that you and your friends would be discussing this very same thing. Do you know my friend? Do I know you? And what is a sidekick? But it’s rare that a site would look nice there? And mine does? Oh – flattery will get you everywhere! (I think I’m blushing!)

“imbTgW pxlldpqtudqv, [url=http://rllbdbdvbngx.com/]rllbdbdvbngx[/url], [link=http://ankluhryhgfc.com/]ankluhryhgfc[/link], http://quytvadkklea.com/” – And this was left for my Tag! You’re It! post. I can’t even decifer this comment. Is it in code? Maybe some computer nerds are fans! Do you think it might be alien? OMG. Do you think aliens are reading my blog? Wait. I have been a little jumpy lately with difficulty concentrating and increased sleep disturbances. All signs of an alien abduction! Do you think I was abducted?

I’m sorry. I’m going to have to stop here.

I think I’ve been abducted.

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Filed under funny, Observations

Shoes – One For One

If you haven’t heard about TOMS shoes I’m helping to spread the word. Suzicate first enlightened me with her post about her first pair of TOMS. She loves them! Her enthusiasm was catchy. I went to check them out myself. Yes. The shoes are cute. They look comfortable and I’m all about comfort. But then I clicked on the “Our Movement” tab and I was mesmerized.

One man. Blake Mycoskie. On vacation in Argentina. To play polo. He saw women and men wearing a style of shoe he thought interesting. It was the fashionable new thing. But then, literally right next door, he saw villagers without shoes on their feet. He spent the rest of his vacation volunteering at a local village. Fresh water was 2 miles away and walking with the children they had to stop every 5 minutes or so because their feet hurt. He took a closer look. Thick callouses. Cuts. Scrapes. Painful sores. He met grown children who had never worn a shoe a day in their life. Adults who had only owned a few pairs in a lifetime. Amputations because of deadly infections. He wanted to do something.

On the plane ride home he got an idea.

Blake Mycoskie was not a modern-day cobbler. He knew nothing about the shoe business. What he did know is that children around the world, in impoverished countries, were suffering because they lacked something most of us take for granted. What if he duplicated the “fashionable” shoe he saw on the polo field spectators? What if for every pair of shoes he sold he provided a pair for children in need? One for One.

So that’s exactly what he did. TOMS, Shoes for Tomorrow, was born in 2006. I love that this is a company that was started with the sole purpose of helping others. It wasn’t a shoe company that decided to do something good. It was one man, who wanted to help children around the world and he came up with a way to do it.

For some of us, the shoes are a little pricey. On the website they start around $40. Of course, they go up from there. If you’re the type that needs to see them live I googled it and Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom carry them, too.

I know many of us are focused on Haiti right now. And some of you may be saying, “Why can’t I just donate to some organization directly instead of having to buy something?” But if you like the shoes, if you’re going to buy shoes anyway – why not purchase them from a company with a primary mission to help others?

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