Saturday, October 31, 2009

Boots For Abigail

(The following is the story of people looking at pictures of shoes on the internet. If this is not something that sounds interesting to you, I would advise that you skip this post, because you will be bored.)

This is Abigail:

*Cat sold separately.

Abigail lives in the DC area, due to an unfortunate clerical error that located the National Standards Bureau* there, an agency that apparently is in the business of abducting innocent Californians and giving them postdoctoral positions. Anyway, they seem to have some sort of winter thing, involving cold weather coming to you, instead of you going to visit in the mountains like a civilized person, so she is in need of some boots.

So she sent out a call for help, with a list of a few of her favorite options, and Mary** and I weighed in with our own ideas.

Because I know that nothing helps a person who is faced with too many things to chose from than more options, I came back these***, these and, of course, these:

While Mary offered her slightly-more-helpful selections from Abigail's list, topped by these:

Though she did mention some concerns about something called "snow" and "ice." Not sure what that was about.

As it stands, I do not yet know what, if any boots have been selected. I would say I would keep you updated, but I'm pretty sure that no one except Abigail has read to this point, and I expect she would already know.

P.S. The Moral of this Story? I really want some Frye short Engineer boots, though I remain neither an engineer nor a badass.

*Apparently, we have standards. Who knew?
**This is Mary:

***I subsequently fell in love with these myself, leading to my being quoted on the Lucky Magazine blog about my concerns of worthiness, due to lack of badassery.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Free Music Friday

I am a big fan of the free music downloads offered by iTunes and Amazon. They've sort of taken the place of the samplers I used to get from the now-departed, much-missed Hear Music. (Yes, I know it persists as Starbucks' in-house music label. I think that's all I need to say about that.) So I thought I would offer them a little "thank you," in the form of a regular blog feature that will, um, feature some of the ones I find particularly good. Like would-actually-for-them good.

Today's offering: Not one but two songs by Desoto Jones, a band I know nothing about but whose album I should probably buy, seeing as how I like their music so much.

Both of these came from Amazon, on Deep Elm Sampler No. 8 "Bonfire of Trust" which, sadly, is no longer free. (You can subscribe to their download newsletter if you want to know what's on offer each week.)

Giant Magnets


The interesting thing, to me anyway, is that I rated these songs separately, and only later noticed that they were by the same band. Make of that what you will.

: A link to all the free music currently on offer on Amazon.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Craziest Use of a Regular Polygon You Will See All Day

(Hat tip @BillCorbett, via the Twitwire)


This is a post about perfume. Sort of.

A couple of years ago I adopted, as my regular perfume, Daisy by Marc Jacobs, on the principle that if someone makes a perfume specifically for you, it would simply be rude not to wear it. As it happens, Daisy smells exactly like the sort of perfume I would wear, and it's in a bottle that looks just like the sort of thing I would own.

So it all works out very well. But now I have a conundrum.

You see, Marc Jacobs has come out with a new perfume, Lola:

Lola is not my name. But I wonder, if I wear Daisy, and I am Daisy, then if I wear Lola, will I become Lola? And what kind of Lola would I be? Personally, for a preference, it would be this one:

I'm not totally sure who she is, exactly, but I bet she wears some absolutely killer boots.

On the other hand, if I become a tall transvestite or the center of a fatal love triangle, well, that could be cause for some concern. I'll keep you updated.

Besides, I always said that one day I would buy some perfume strictly on the basis of a cool bottle.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Real Athletic Event I Am Totally Not Making Up

The International Yoga Asana Championship*

2009 International Yoga Asana Championship from Mike McInnis on Vimeo.

(Warning: Prolonged exposure to the accompanying music may cause brain damage. And the reggae is kind of a surprise.)

I wonder, what is the smack-talking like at a yoga championship?
"You call that meditation?"
"My grandmother could align her chakras better than that!"
"Hey, nice mat!"
"You really think you're gonna achieve liberation from all worldly suffering and the cycle of birth and death with toe positions like that? Please."

Further questions:

Do the kids competing in the youth championships have hypercompetitive yoga parents living through them in the wings?

Why has no one come up with high-tech specialized clothing for this event? Is there a marketing opportunity here?

Is there an app for this?

*Yes, I did tweet this. But then Karen pointed out that there was video, and it was clear that this needed a more in-depth treatment. But I went with this blog post instead.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shoesday: Birthday Shoes (Previous)

The Story:
As some of you may know, I recently had a Birthday, at which I turned an Age. (I will not mention what this age is, only that it is the last power of two I am going to be seeing for a while.) But turning old didn't turn out to be so bad, because I received a truly awesome pair of shoes as a birthday present from my dear, if currently somewhat far away, boyfriend. Neither of these shoes, fantastic as they are in their own ways, are them, though. I actually don't have a picture of the new shoes yet, because Cameron took my camera and went to Germany*, so that will have to wait.

These shoes were given to me last year, by people who care for me enough to want to make me happy, though the phrase "coals to Newcastle" may be bandied about a little more than I find entirely appropriate. And last year it was particularly appreciated, as I was in the throes of the buying freeze that would eventually bring down the world economy. (What? I said I was sorry.) I had even blogged about the first pair, as an example of the essential unfairness of the universe.

Which is probably exactly the kind of loss of perspective that drove Mom to give me them, and Cameron to buy me the wedges off my wish list.*** They may not entirely grasp why someone who might be considered to have a sufficient supply of shoes would want to buy more, but they know a cry for help when they hear one.

*He's coming back.**
**I'm pretty sure.
***FYI, Amazon lets you make a list with things from anywhere on the web, not just the stuff they sell. It can come in handy for general shopping ideas, irregardless of whether you want anyone else to get them for you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gloworm and Pilot Squirrel: A Parable For Our Times

Here, by popular demand* are pictures of the famous Gloworm and the squirrel that was in his head:

As you can sort of see, the squirrel is dressed as a pilot of some sort, hence his name: Fred.

No, really, we've been calling him Pilot Squirrel, anything else seems kind of excessive.

Both of the flaps on his hat and one of his feet appear to have been chewed off, possibly indicating that one or more of the Bateman boys was not getting enough plastic in his diet.

To me, Pilot Squirrel is a symbol of hope. His message is that, no matter how bad things get, even if your hat-flaps and foot have been chewed off and you have been stuck in a Gloworm's head for twenty years, someday, someone might just come along and pull you out.

And I think those are words we can all live by, don't you?

*Okay, so only Karen asked. But she's very popular.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Introducing: Shoesday!

The Story:
New month, new day, new format!* What, you didn't think I only had thirty pairs of shoes, did you? Silly rabbit.

I bought these on a sensible whim two years ago, to wear to the going-away parties of what seems like about half of my friends. (Not that it bothers me or anything. I am a tough and independent individual who could care less if half of her friends callously go away and leave her for little things like "jobs" and "fiancés.") A whim because, well, they are zebra-print Kate Spade peep-toe heels. But sensible because whose life wouldn't be improved by zebra-print Kate Spade peep-toe heels? Plus, they were on sale. And I have to say, they have proved to be surprisingly versatile, useful for those occasions when I want to give off the impression of being a stylish person but am to lazy, or late, to actually change my clothes.

Zebra: It's like leopard print, without the whiff of desperation.

*I decided that it wasn't that interesting to know what the shoes were made of or whether I would wear them to work.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Claw Box

The Box That Claws People!

(See here for reference.) (Language warning.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What I Have Done Since the Last Time I Posted

Spilled water on my computer, killing it (yes, again).
Visited a Civil War battlefield and narrowly survived a coordinated assault by bugs.
Took forty minutes to travel 1.5 miles on the Beltway.
Decided I would like to hit all Washington drivers with a stick.
Traveled to New York.
Was given a most awesome birthday gift of shoes from Cameron.
Saw a Broadway play, chosen largely at random.
Shopped again.
Saw the Latin American Pre-(Anti?-)Columbus Day parade.
Survived a night of drinking/eating/karaoke/drinking.
May or may not have survived the day after.

All in all, it was quite a weekend.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Capital Shlepps

Or, Why You Should Not Excuse Every Indulgence With "I'm on Vacation!" and Why Pepto Bismol is the Unrestrained Traveler's Best Friend

Today's big event was my visit with Abigail, who lives here in DC, having left the Only Place Worth Living (California) due to some bizarre need for "gainful employment" and "career advancement." I only get to see her a couple of times a year now, so I've been looking forward to this as one of the highlights of the trip, which is why it is particularly unfortunate that my digestive system took today as its opportunity to explode.

I will not get into details, because this is not that kind of blog; I will only say that I ignored the signs and brought it upon myself, and when one has been eating rich foods for a week straight (coming off a normal diet consisting of reasonable portions of whole grains, lean proteins and lots of vegetables) starts feeling a little delicate, one should not decide to deal with the situation by "only" having a small barbecue chicken pizza for dinner. That may have been my downfall.

I didn't skip the day, of course, that would be unthinkable, but I did abandon poor Abigail at regular intervals, in places like bookstores and restaurants, and took her on a brief detour through a CVS to stock up on the magic pink tablets (now in Cherry Flavor!). Also, I declared that I wanted Japanese food for dinner, so I could have miso soup and grilled fish, which isn't the most considerate choice when the other person isn't crazy about seafood.

But, despite all that, we ended up having a pretty good time, and we saw Betsey Johnson in person (from across the street), which I have to admit is more celebrity sightings than I typically get in California. (She's tiny, by the way. Seems very nice, from a distance.)

And next time, next time, I really am going to learn to pace myself.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What Did We Do Today?

1. Slept in.
2. Washed clothes.
3. Hung out with Cameron's mom.
4. Said goodbye to Cameron's brother.
5. Went through US Customs. In Canada. (I know it's normal; it just seems weird.)
6. Flew on a Dash8.
7. Got a gas-guzzling car rental upgrade.
8. Learned to use a GPS. (Turns out it's pretty easy.)
9. Tried to watch baseball on the surprisingly small TV in the hotel bar. View occasionally blocked by the gathering of Hasidic Jews checking their email.
10. Remembered that my phone was still off from the plane.
11. Called Abigail and woke her up, in order to plan tomorrow's activities.
12. Paid an inordinate amount to access the internet, in order to bring you this vital information.

Toronto: Didn't Make It to the Shoe Museum

Meant to, of course. But what with the giant bookstore, and the underground corridors, and seeing where Cameron used to live, and the big open-air market, and Chinatown, and the French restaurant with the really excellent fish soup where the chef/waiter upbraided a patron for ignoring his dinner in favor of his Blackberry, I'm afraid we just didn't have the time. Next trip, maybe.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Canadian Thanksgiving

1) Very much like American Thanksgiving (turkey, three kinds of carbohydrates, nominal vegetables, pumpkin pie), only held in October and in Canada.

2) Not actually supposed to occur until next week, but observed last night by Cameron's family in honor of our visit.

3) Leftover pie still eaten for breakfast.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Gloworm and the Squirrelbotomy

We took the train from Montreal to Toronto yesterday, which was nice because I got to see the trees that had all changed colors, which apparently is something they do here. Then we took a local commuter train from Toronto to Burlington, where Cameron's mother and brother live and his aunt and uncle are visiting.

During dinner, the subject of toys came up. Specifically, Cameron's regret at not buying a Millennium Falcon model he saw once in the window of a comic book store, to replace the one he had had as a kid.

"But it's still here," his brother Ben said. "It's down in the toy room. I'm not sure what kind of shape it's in, though."

We went down to the toy room.

It was a closet under the stairs, with that same dusty-sweet smell that every basement room everywhere seems to have, The Millennium Falcon was not immediately visible, so Cameron started searching. Ben and I peered in behind him.

"Is that a Gloworm?" I said. "I always wanted a Gloworm*."

"Here." Cameron handed it to me an the head fell off. It turns out that a three-boy household can be kind of hard on the toy population.

I got the head back on without too much trouble, but the inner workings were long gone. We had it out on the kitchen table, trying to figure it out, and Cameron's Aunt Donna was peering into the head.

"There's something in here," she said. "I'm going to pull it out."

So she reached in, the head having been re-detached for this purpose, tugged for a couple seconds and yanked out: A stuffed squirrel. Wearing a little pilot's suit.

I'm not sure if this was actually the funniest thing I have ever seen, or if that was just the wine, but it is definitely in the top ten.

The Millennium Falcon was eventually located (along with a slightly gnawed-on X-Wing and two wings from a Tie-Fighter), dusty and with a significant number of pieces missing. I believe the restoration process is now underway. As for Gloworm, he is resting comfortably on top of my suitcase, free from his head-squirrel for the first time in probably twenty years. I think he looks relieved, myself.

*Also a Lite Brite**, but that is not relevant to this story.
**I did have a LOT of My Little Ponies.

The Gold Floor

While in Montreal, we stayed at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, a fine and luxurious hotel that unfortunately was built in 1958 and therefore has the exterior appearance of a municipal parking garage. But inside it is beautiful, and made even more so if you have paid the extra money to stay on the "Gold Floor."

People who stay on the Gold Floor don't have to check in with everyone else. They get their own glass-walled elevator that takes them straight up to their own check in/concierge desk, which is attached to a lounge, which serves breakfast in the morning, hors d'oeuvres* in the evening and free cokes** all day. And, if they have mad hotel-booking skills, they don't even have to pay all that much for all this luxury.

I am so good at this.

*And I'm not just talking about a Costco cheese platter and some vegetables. There was baked brie, little meat pies, yogurt parfaits, duck rillette and a really fancy cheese platter, among other things. The breakfast spread was equally impressive.
**And other sodas, and juices, if you want to concern yourself with the unimportant details. Also there was alcohol, which was not free, but was done on the honor system. No word on what happens if the BOC*** has to get involved.
***Caltech joke.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


Poutine (noun): Traditional Canadian dish of french fries topped with cheese curds, topped with gravy. Served in a bowl large enough that you can eat it steadily for the better part of half an hour and people will make fun of you because it appears that you have barely touched it. Sometimes served with Montreal smoked meat.

Montreal Smoked Meat: Seasoned brisket, closely related to the pastrami. Can be ordered in varieties ranging from "extra lean" to "extra fat." Medium is recommended.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Nous Sommes Arrivés!

Greetings from Montreal, which is a lot like Canada, only Frencher. The redeye to get here was exactly as much fun as a cross-country redeye is, with bonus customs procedures and a free spilling of orange juice down my front. We managed to get ourselves some brunch at an imitation 50s diner, but I think that is the extent of the activities today until we get some sleep.

There will be poutine.

Thursday, October 01, 2009