Monday, November 29, 2010

A Case of the Cyber-Mondays

It's the Monday after Thanksgiving.* You're back at your desk, bleary-eyed and wondering what it is you actually do for a living and if it is really possible for a person to eat her own weight in turkey, when you happen to open your email. Immediately, your eyeballs slam to the back of your head, battered by the force of the sheer number of messages with "cyber Monday" in the subject line. You want to participate, you think it wouldn't be a bad idea to start your Christmas shopping sometime before December 23rd, and you don't really feel like doing any work today, but you just don't know where to start. That's where I come in.

Bloomingdale's: $50 off if you spend $250, sales on boots, jackets, sweaters.
Only good if you were planning to drop some fairly serious cash here, but if there's a big ticket item you had in mind, now's the moment. (A moment, anyway.) And, as gifts of clothing go, a coat is a relatively safe one, given the flexibility of the sizing. Faux fur is kind of having a moment right now, as is leopard-print, so if you have someone on your gift-list who can handle it, this jacket might be just the thing. Or you might think I'm insane, which would be nothing new. In that case, you might want to go with something a little simpler.

Ann Taylor: 40% off everything with the code "MONDAY" today only.
Not so much a gift place, but if you need a dress for an office party you could do a lot worse than this. Throw on a flashy necklace and some heels and you're good to go. And nothing says, "Here, I got you a gift" like a scarf.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Pre-Thanksgiving Whole Foods Run Checklist

Labwork: Finished
Grocery List: Composed
Loins: Girded
Shoes: Sturdy
Eyes: On the prize
Dates: Consumed
Medjools: Preferred to these deglets
Live and: Learn
Where was I?: Oh, right.
Fire: In belly
Song: In heart
Elbows: Sharp

Okay boys and girls, let's do this thing.

Shoesday of Thanks

Since it seems to be the moment for such behavior, I thought I'd use this time to mention a few things I am thankful for. (I suppose, in the true tradition of the holiday, I should find some Indians to thank for providing my with food, and then send them to live in South Dakota, but I don't know any of the right kind and I think Archana and Hema would just be confused.) Right? Here we go: Good health, a steady job, a steady job with good health insurance, a loving family, a wonderful boyfriend who only gets a little upset when I jab him in the eye first thing in the morning, a car that finally works, chickpeas (my new favorite legumes), a stylist who is capable of giving me a reliably decent haircut for a price that comes in under 'a fortune,' Trader Joes' frozen lunches, red wine, white wine, pretty much any kind of wine except white zin, which is really just alcoholic Kool-Aid, and you can make that yourself much cheaper, the fact that most of the annoying people have been eliminated on Amazing Race, and these shoes. I saw them about a year ago and wanted them SO MUCH, but I wasn't able to pull the trigger in time and they got away. And I thought they were gone for good, until I was browsing Editor's Closet the other day, large as life with one pair left, in my size.* It was a Thanksgiving miracle, just like when the pilgrims thought they didn't have enough turkey for everyone, because Goodwife Hawkins showed up with seven of her nephews and the pilgrims had to scramble to find the extra leaf for the table and borrow some chairs from the Indians. But everyone would filled up on millet bread, and there was even leftover stuffing, which is what made it a miracle.

*Okay, so technically they are slightly smaller than my size, but this is not important. They fit because they have to fit.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Like My Version Better

Recently, I mentioned to Cameron that really I liked the song "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz. It's fun and upbeat, the sort of thing that would make good workout music, and it had a lyric I particularly enjoyed, about getting ready to go to a club "wearing on my favorite pants." Unfortunately, on a further listening, Cameron pointed out that the line is actually, "wearing all my favorite brands," which is clearly correct (and better grammar), but not nearly as fun. I mean, who can't relate to the feeling of getting ready to head out for the evening, favorite pants on and ready to party?

Other songs I do my own lyrics to:
The Colors of the Wind by Vanessa Williams ("The herring and the otter are my friends")
Bad Romance by Lady Gaga (I've managed to get it stuck in my head with the corrected grammar.)
Kyrie by Mr. Mister
This one isn't even mine; a guy called into a radio show where they were talking about misheard lyrics and shared it, and I liked it so much I adopted it.


Carrying a laser down the road that I must travel
Carrying a laser through the darkness of the night
Carrying a laser where I'm going will you follow
Carrying a laser on the highway in the light

(@Abigail: possible theme song for your lab?)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thurscheese: By The Book

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I got an iPad* for my birthday. (I did? Well, you might have forgotten.) And the first thing I did, after holding it up over my head and dancing around with it like Clara at the beginning of The Nutcracker, was to install the Books app and get to downloading.

Because I am cheap, one of the first things I did was to check out what was available for free, because who doesn't like things that are free? And, along with some surprise bonus Agatha Christies and obvious essentials like Sherlock Holmes and Winnie the Pooh, I came across the book that may change my life forever.

By Robert Carlton Brown, The Complete Book of Cheese really is just that. Written in 1955, it covers every aspect of the world of cheeses, from culture** to history to tasting notes on the complete range of products, domestic and international, to recipes. For it to be any more complete, we'd have to invent new kinds of cheese.

Obviously, this is going to be a great reference for this blog, especially when my cheese-of-the-month-club shipments start arriving.*** And I will get to the meat of the book later, but as an introduction I would like to share a few highlights of cheese poetry, of which there seems to be a surprising amount.


Someone over at the fine mystery-writers' blog The Ladykillers must have suffered at least a minor  head injury recently, because they asked me to stop by today and blog about the weather. Naturally, I made it about shoes. And gave it a weird title. Please stop by to offer your comments and condolences, and talk about your favorite wet-day footwear.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Nidiface of My Own

As it happens, I'm a big fan of words. (Pause for Cameron to say, "Really?" in a deeply sarcastic tone of voice.) Big words, little words, words I don't know how to pronounce because I've only ever seen them written. Which is why this project appeals to me so much. It's an attempt being made by the makers of the Oxford English Dictionary to save words that are in danger of being lost to the English language forever, by having people adopt and use them.

I was only going to take "nidiface," which means "nest," but then I saw "Ichthyarchy*" and I knew I had to have that too. Look for these to turn up regularly in my blog posts and twitter, until they either reenter normal usage or everyone stops talking to me.

(If you adopt a word of your own, please share it in the comments, and we can try and come up with sentences for them.)

(Thanks to the Fug Girls for the tip.)

*Kingdom of fishes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shoesday: Nature Girl

(I'm sorry the picture is so terrible. My camera has been dying a slow and painful death, and will be put out of its  misery as soon as the new one I ordered from Amazon arrives. My pictures will still be bad, but at least they will be well-lit and in focus.)

I am not, perhaps, the world's most dedicated environmentalist. True, I wrote a column on the subject in high school, cribbing most of my  material from "50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth," but I didn't actually do any of those things. Also, it may have been the only environmental column to ever feature a defense of logging. Anyway, suffice it to say that concern for our shared planet drives very few of the decisions I make in my life, which is why I am feeling so smug about liking these shoes so much. They're from Timberland's new Earthkeepers line, made with non-specifically ecologically sound techniques and materials and rated on a completely meaningless scale of Earthy goodness. But they are also really comfortable and completely on-trend with the whole oxfords-for-women thing, and I love them. And now I really want these too, to wear with woolly tights and this skirt if the weather ever actually gets cold enough.

After all, the planet isn't going to save itself.

Monday, November 15, 2010

To Die, To Sleep No More On My Supremely Comfortable Sealy Posturepedic Mattress

Lately, I've been trying to come up with a way to make a lot of money without doing any work (because, frankly, the other way around hasn't been doing it for me). But rigging the lottery would take too long, and hassling people for spare change outside of Draeger's requires too much human interaction, so I was at a loss. Until I read this post about the hilariously blatant product placement in the soap "Days of Our Lives" and this review of a book in which the author replaces the names of characters in Chekhov's stories with those of current celebrities* and suddenly, my destiny was clear: I am going to rewrite public-domain classics to include paid references to everyone's favorite brands in the text.

I know! Don't you just hate yourself for not having thought of it first?

Obviously, I'll have to work with my customers to determine exactly what books are the best fit for their brands (and budget), but here are a few examples that should give you a sense of the tremendous marketing potential of this new and innovative concept.**

First, something accessible for your mass-market product:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bonus Content)

Jim said if we had the canoe hid in a good place, and had all the traps in the cavern, we could rush there if anybody was to come to the island, and they would never find us without dogs.  And, besides, he said them little birds had said it was going to rain, and did I want the things to get wet?
So we went back and got the canoe, and paddled up abreast the cavern, and lugged all the traps up there.  Then we hunted up a place close by to hide the canoe in, amongst the thick willows.  We took some fish off of the lines and set them again, and begun to get ready for dinner. We was lucky enough to have a whole case of cool, refreshing Coca-Cola Classic with us in the canoe, which Jim said was powerfully refreshing and just what a body wanted after a long day of being an escaped slave.

Sometimes, the text itself presents the perfect opportunity for a promotional partnership:

Ulysses: Enhanced Edition

Buck Mulligan's gay voice went on.
—My name is absurd too: Malachi Mulligan, two dactyls. But it has a Hellenic ring, hasn't it? Tripping and sunny like the buck himself. We must go to Athens. Will you come if I can get the aunt to fork out twenty quid?
He laid the brush aside and, laughing with delight, cried:
—Will he come? The jejune jesuit!
Ceasing, he began to shave with care. He slid his Philips Norelco 7310XL across his cheek, exulting in patented Reflex Action System that automatically adjusted to the contours of his face and neck.
—Tell me, Mulligan, Stephen said quietly.
—Yes, my love?
—How long is Haines going to stay in this tower?

And, of course, everyone knows that if you really want to make money, you need an assist from Jane Austen:

Pride and Prejudice (Extended Author's Cut)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a responsible financial adviser from Merrill Lynch, the most trusted name in wealth management.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be over here shopping for my first private island. How many helipads do you think I'm going to need?

*This took what, about an hour on TMZ and twenty minutes of find and replace? And now he has a book deal? That guy is a genius.
**Like that? It's totally going in my sales materials.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Am Not Making This Up

You thought I was exaggerating about my cubicle neighbor's insanely sycophantic conversation style? Well, I have here a transcript of the majority of the things she said in about two minutes of conversation that proves that I wasn't:

"Yes, exactly"
"That's interesting"

Can I start screaming now?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Why Does Country Music Always Know?

This song captures my week so perfectly, I can't even tell you*.

Maybe not in the specifics, but definitely in the general sentiment.

*No, really; I'd get in some serious trouble.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Shoesday: We Can Dance If We Want To*. . .

. . .As long as we file a Dance Requisition Form with the HR department, complete four hours of training and can demonstrate that the dance could not be provided by an approved minority-owned business.

Recently, the small biotech company I had been working for was acquired by a much, much larger company, which will remain nameless because I'm not that stupid. There are a lot of benefits of working for a major multinational, such as the benefits, and the potential for job mobility, and the greatly reduced chance that I will show up at work one day and be told we've run out of money. So it' got that going for it, which is nice.

But it also has a lot of bureaucracy, and a lot of lawyers, and where you have both bureaucracy and lawyers you have rules. A lot of rules. And since I work in a lab,** we have special lab rules. Like not being allowed to walk through the lab without full protective gear (gloves, glasses, labcoat), and that we can't use 70% ethanol anymore because it's dangerous (I wish someone had told me that at about ten-thirty, three Saturdays ago). And, most critically for me, no fabric shoes are allowed.

Which is where these come in. I mean, forget leather, what can be more safety-conscious than shoes made entirely of plastic? They even have three straps, for extra security! Okay, so breathability is kind of a problem, and the Vivienne Westwood aspect may make them slightly inappropriate. But whatever; nobody's told me any rules about wearing sexy shoes in the lab.


*It's a safety dance!
**Most dangerous thing I deal with regularly: deionized water.***
***Okay, sometimes hydrochloric acid. But not that much.****
****And I guess the e. coli would be bad for me if I actually ate a bunch of it, but I'm not exactly inclined to do that.

The Scientific Process, Explained in Four Parts

Part 1: Perform groundbreaking research in a vital but technically complex field.

Part 2: Compose a press release and distribute it to the media.

Part 3: Observe as said media declares your discovery the "cure for the common cold."

Part 4: Drink.

[Full story here.]