Saturday, April 26, 2008

Poop: The Ultimate Recycling

At the Go Green Expo this afternoon, there was paper made from elephant dung and plant food made from worm casings. Both of these things had no odor.

There was a lot of other crap there, too.

There was a Hummer that runs on recycled french fry grease. I had no idea how that smelled, because it wasn't running.

There was jewelry made from recycled magazines. The beads looked as if they'd be heavy, but were very light. Also, fake "ivory" made from dried plants. I don't know what happens if you're wearing it when you get caught in the rain; do you end up wearing a rhododendron and a phone book around your neck?

There were a lot of vendors that had to stretch to fill the concept of green. If I'd known that, I would have taken one myself and held an apartment sale. "Help make my home sustainable!"

I may be able to clear out enough stuff around here to be able to live, uncomfortably, in the remaining two-thirds of my apartment as they recycle my living room floor. I've been weighing all of my options since yesterday, and it may be the least stressful choice.

The work is supposed to begin on May 12th.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cat Boarding

That's not a new sport; I have to find a place to board my cats for a few days, probably in mid-May.

The building management sent over a contractor this morning to estimate the work that needs to be done to my floor. The estimate is "Enough work to make your apartment unlivable for about four days."

I can find me a number of boarding options for four days, but the cats are more problematic in their choice of living arrangements. Most kennels board dogs. And I had a lot of reservations about this place when it looked as if I'd need it a couple of years ago.

More on this as it progresses.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Stupid Pod Tricks

My iPod experienced what I'd thought was terminal click-itis on Tuesday morning. I kept pressing everything on the wheel to turn it on and nothing happened.

I went to the Apple Store after work and found that their next available appointment at the iPod section of the Genius Bar was going to be four hours later. I made one for Wednesday after work instead.

So I got there yesterday afternoon about twenty minutes early, and checked in with the concierge--a guy walking around the Genius Bar carrying one of those really thin Mac Books--and then waited for my name to come up on the great big monitors behind the Genius Bar.

I passed the time by reading the helpful iPod tips, tricks and interesting facts that came up on the monitors. Hey, did you know that with an 80-gigabyte iPod Classic, you could drive back and forth from New York to San Francisco 25 times and never hear the same song twice? Did you know you can make playlists on the go? Did you know that if your iPod was jammed, you can un-jam it yourself by pressing the "Menu" button and the "Select" button at the same time and holding them for 10 seconds?

Oh, no.

But I'd better try it, because if I get up there and they ask me if I've tried it, I'm going to look like an idiot.

Okay...Onetwothreefourfivesixseveneight...don't go on don't go on...

It went on.

Having decided that fifteen minutes was too short a time to run downtown, check my house for any other malfunctioning Apple equipment and then run back just to be able to use my appointment, I told the concierge to take my name off the list and left.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

LBJ & the Helium Filled Astronaut

I'm always interested in stuff about the space program in the '60s, so when a commenter on Althouse mentioned this item on NPR's Web site, I had to check it out.

It's a telephone call between LBJ and Commander Scott Carpenter, who had just returned from 30 days under the ocean in SeaLab. He's in a decompression chamber breathing air in which all of the nitrogen's been replaced by helium and he sounds like a cartoon character.

The voice of the NPR commentator cracks me up, too, because I can't hear NPR commentators without thinking of this sketch.

"In The Name of Christian Justice Somebody Should Cut Your Head Off"*

I'm always interested in stuff about the Helter Skelter murders from the '60s, and I found a Web site about the Manson Trial. It has actual transcripts with the testimony of the witnesses. 

I found it through a customer review of this DVD from The History Channel. If the Donnell Library doesn't have it, I may actually buy it.

*I don't know if that quote is in the transcripts; it's just my favorite Manson quote.

P.S. My husband always used to tell me, "I think it's only fair to tell you, there's something about Manson on."

P.P.S. I used to look like Susan Atkins, but she probably looks different now, too.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Small and Cool

Apartment Therapy is in the middle of their "Smallest, Coolest" contest. This one is my favorite so far. It's even smaller and cooler than mine. I actually got ideas from looking at this space.

I feel like an overprivileged brat with my two windows. Oh, and there's a little bitty one in the bathroom. So that's three windows. Spoiled.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This Is What I Told People in 2004

But nobody listened to me, sniff sniff, and then Bush won and everybody cried. So maybe they'll listen to Slate:

When I went back there, and visited similar small towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, one thing I heard over and over—from registered Democrats!—was that their national party leaders were elitists who couldn't seem to relate to their struggles. Again and again, they brought up Kerry's windsurfing and polyglot wife and Hollywood friends and brand spanking new hunting attire as proof positive of the kind of elitism that was turning them into Republicans. Perhaps worst of all in their eyes was his habit of mocking Bush's intelligence; every time Kerry laughed about how dumb the president supposedly was, they assumed he thought the same of them. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Here's how a high-school teacher in Fairfield, Ill., put it: "I used to be a Democrat, and I'm still very much independent. I voted for Clinton [in '92 and '96]. I'm religious but not a fanatic; I see a lot of gray. My mother has Alzheimer's, so I'm for stem-cell research, and I'm not against people's right to an abortion.'' But Kerry "just struck me as arrogant,'' while Bush inspired "the feeling that this was a more open person who would not be "I'm important and you're not.' '' And yes, Fox News exists to whip up such sentiments, but it only works when Democrats foolishly hand them fresh material. I don't for a second doubt that Obama genuinely cares about the people he just put down -- or question whether it's his party's policies that would help low-income Americans more. Which makes this Democratic penchant for cultural condescension all the more baffling and inexcusable.

I had a feeling about a month before the election that Kerry was going to lose. Why? Because Letterman didn't like him. Oh sure, maybe it's the way I still see everything in stand-up comedian terms, but I think I was on to something else.

At the end of September 2004, Kerry appeared on Late Night, and I could feel my attention drifting, even though I was no fan of Dubya and fully intending to vote Democrat that year even if they ran my cat Chico at the top of the ticket. I chalked up my inattentiveness to my worries over my husband being in the hospital getting radiation to his brain, my job concerns, and the fact that I got a grade of "C" in "Listens Attentively" back in fifth grade.

But the next night as Dave went to his desk, he remarked to his band leader, "Paul, we had Senator Kerry here last night...What the hell was that about?"

Uh-oh, I thought. Uh-oh.

See, Letterman may be smart-ass and snarky, but he knows what people like, and candidates that Dave hasn't liked have not won the popular vote. When Bush was a guest during his 2000 run, I got the distinct feeling that the host thought he was an obnoxious frat kid making a ham-fisted attempt to be charming and funny by wiping his eyeglasses on the make-up lady's shirt as the interview went to commercial break. And Bush did not win the popular vote, and then there was that business in Florida, which Dave has never stopped making jokes about.

So Letterman didn't like Kerry, and if I, a temporarily Yellow Dog (or Orange Cat) Democrat, felt my mind wandering when the man spoke, what the hell would people think who were on the fence, or wary of the Democrats, or already thought that the candidate was talking down to them? That's when I knew the Democrats were going to lose the election.

Many people took Bush's (re)election as a sign that Americans were stupid, or that we were turning into a theocracy. But the uncomfortable fact was that it wasn't the idiots and holy rollers that decided that election, it was the swing voters. And it'll be the swing voters again this year. I didn't swing that year, but this year, with a couple of iffy Democrats and a Republican that doesn't look that bad compared to the one we've got now, there's still a chance that I--and many other left-leaning moderates--could swing as ring-a-ding-ding as Sinatra...and Frank was a Republican, baby.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Every Year At This Time, the Trees Blossom

And every year at this time, I go, "Oh look! The trees blossomed."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Thank God I'm Getting Enough Niacin

I took that RealAge thing last week, having followed a link from CatAge. I found out that:

Thursday night I was on the "12 Items Or Less" line at Trader Joe's, and it snaked through the vitamin aisle. I had plenty of time to read all the labels. I said to myself, "Aw, that's a waste of money and space and you don't need them if you're eating right."

And then I answered myself, "But first of all, you don't eat right. And second of all, they weren't a waste of space and money when you bought them for terminally ill pets and people to cadge another five minutes of good-quality life out of them. You used to get up at six to crush a third of a glucosamine between two spoons because Pongo had arthritic knees, but when it comes to yourself, you feed you Mintz's Blintzes."

So I picked up one bottle each of Trader Darwin's ("Survival of the Fittest!") Multi-Vitamins with Anti-Oxidants, Joint Supplement, and Super-B Complex. When I got home, I found a give-away pill organizer that I'd brought home for the pets or Jim or some other non-me being, and portioned out all of the supplements I'd need at breakfast, along with a couple of prescription medications.

The next morning I washed them down one by one, then ate my usual meal and sat with my coffee enjoying NY1. Suddenly, I noticed my face was getting tight and itchy. I chalked it up to the dryness of the steam heat, or the sample of moisturizer I'd tried the night before. Then I felt my face getting hot. Hot flashes? I've had them. They don't itch. Then the feeling spread to parts of me that I was sure I had not moisturized.

I got up and ran to the bathroom mirror. My face was beet red, and the color was spreading to my neck and arms. Omigod, I'm having a terrible allergic reaction to something and I'm going to die, and I won't be able to go to work. I put a cold washcloth against my face. My heartbeat and respiration seemed normal, so apparently I wasn't going into anaphylactic shock. After about twenty minutes, the rash went away completely.

For the next two days, I couldn't imagine what had set this off. I was at the tail end of a course of antibiotics. Did I put two antibiotics in the pill organizer thinking that one was a vitamin? Did I accidentally OD on prescription medications like some kind of vitamin-enriched Heath Ledger?

Then it happened again this morning, with no antibiotics. And I Google'd "allergic reaction to Trader Joe's vitamins" and the first site I got was the blog of comic Kris Kimmel, who had had an identical experience to mine a week ago. The doc at the emergency room told her it was a Niacin flush from the B-complex.

I looked up more info on Niacin flushes and apparently they're a fairly common thing, and the way people usually find out what they are is when they get one and think they're getting some deadly allergic reaction. But they're actually supposed to be a Good Thing; it means your capillaries are expanding and making your circulation work better.

Also, you supposedly don't get them if you're a schizophrenic. So that's good; I know I'm not a schizophrenic.

Supposedly, the flush isn't as intense if you take the B after a meal instead of on an empty stomach.

Also, the next person who Googles "Niacin flush" will get my blog.

So I'll keep taking the vitamins, and starting tomorrow, I will start eating the cats' food. It's working for them, and soon my eyes will be bright and my fur will be shiny and I will jump to the top of the refrigerator.

Update, Thursday morning: I took the vitamins after breakfast instead of before, and didn't get the flush. So that's it. Or I'm a schizophrenic.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Kitty Ears

Here's Ashley hiding on top of the wardrobe cabinet, because I have to start giving her ear drops again. She thinks I'm trying to eat her.

She has a weapon, though. It's not biting and it's not scratching; it's peeing. No matter how recently she's christened the box, she always seems to come up with great sopping puddles of the stuff whenever the medicine comes out. So once again, I have to spend the next ten days chasing a micturating feline all over the house and trying to keep her off anything upholstered or electronic until she calms down.

Oh well. I was looking for a good excuse to get up off my ass and give the house a thorough mop-up. And last Sunday, the Housing Preservation people were there to examine the pothole in my living room floor. So things are getting better all the time.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

If People Love Your Product, Then By All Means Discontinue It

My beloved SONY "Turbo Bass" headphones were showing signs of wear. I went to J&R, Best Buy and Circuit City looking for a new pair, only to find out they were no longer being made. I Googled "SONY MDR_A34 headphones" and came up with a few dozen hits; and all of them people who had loved the headphones lamenting that they were no longer being made. And now I've just added mine to the list, so the next time somebody Googles the headphones they will get me.

I finally found a guy in Canada selling two new pairs on eBay for a "Buy It Now" price of US $21.00, with shipping. By the time they wear out, maybe there will be a suitable replacement on the market, for the many of us who can't keep those little white earbuds from falling out of our ears.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Yo, so you know how I love Richard Price's novels, right?

So you know that I'm seriously in awe and totally jealous of Sam Anderson's review of Price's Lush Life in New York Magazine. It's done as a parody of Price's police procedural and it's brilliant:
“What do we like here, gentlemen?”

Sanchez spoke up first. “Pretty much everything, boss. Best writer of dialogue since Plato. Slang you never even heard of. Keep expecting the page to stand up and wander off somewheres, make a pass at your wife, order a bacon
sandwich. I mean—yeah, no, the guy can screenwrite, sure, little and big screen both. But what I didn’t know? What you forget every time ’cause he blows three-four years between books writing shit like Shaft and the talking parts of Michael Jackson videos? Pure literature, baby. The fucking merits. Does this full-on virtuoso Zola spiel, nineteenth-century-style social-realist novelist-as-reporter thing, X-ray of the city: sleeping arrangements of illegal Chinese immigrants, inventory of a teenage girl’s room in the projects, every object in a Lower East Side post-murder sidewalk shrine. Dude could look you up and down for three seconds, tell you everything you got in your pockets—everything you ever had in your pockets, everything your kids got in their pockets. Everything you wish you had in your pockets instead.”
In fact, it was so great that Price responded in the Comments:

thanks for the funny flattering take-off. but i dont hate hipsters i am a hipster. my grandfather was a hipster my kids are hipsters, my kids kids [when they have them] will be hipsters.

So now, every time I go to write dialog, I'll be intimidated not only by the king of American urban fiction, but also by the parody of the king of American urban fiction.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool Posts Across the Internet

Or at least the parts that I read.

On Apartment Therapy:

NY Scavenger: Eames Lounger and Ottoman for $100

On The Consumerist:

Dear Reader,
Hi! I'm Chad Steelgate from Haberdasher Communications and I'm really excited to announce that our team has purchased The Consumerist from Gawker Media Network. You may notice a few changes around here, just some minor tweaks I assure you, but for the most part, it's the same blog you know and love. For starters, one small alteration, the blog will now be called The
Chad Steelgate

My favorite prank so far has been offline. One of my co-workers announced, "You know what I just heard? We just got an extra week of vacation." As half-a-dozen cynical, jaded employees suddenly looked up like hungry baby birds, she announced, "April Fool!"

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