30 December 2008

Blame it on Bonaduce

I was relaxing in my 9th floor hotel room when I thought "Why does my room smell like a Top Sirloin?"

Now, many people might be delighted to inhale the fragrance of slabs of meat grilling over a wood fire, but not Little Miss Sensitive "All the Baby Calves Must Be Saved" Vegetarian. I walked over to my window and looked out:
The smoke vent

Right below my window, a big square vent coughed out clouds of smoke. I called the front desk and explained the problem. The woman at the desk was skeptical.

Suebob: There seems to be some sort of smoke vent right below my room.
Desk Lady: Smoke vent?
Suebob: Yes, is there some kind of steak house downstairs?
Desk Lady: Not that I am aware of.

I finally conveyed the message that I was not willing to stay in a room in a 100% non-smoking hotel where I would be breathing smoke all night. Or so I thought. Jason, the nice bellman, came up to help me.

Jason: We're moving you to 602, which is just 3 floors down.
Suebob: Is it on the other side of the hotel?
Jason: No, it is right below this room.
Suebob: Come here.

I made him look out the window and showed him the vent and explained that, if I was objecting to breathing smoke from the vent, maybe moving CLOSER would not solve my particular problem.

He got the picture and after about 10 minutes on the phone with the desk, they understood too. We headed 10 floors up to the other side of the hotel, and walked into a room that reeked of cigarette smoke.

"Uh oh," said Jason, and got on the phone. He said to the desk clerk, "This room totally smells like smoke even worse than the other one. Yeah, I know. Yeah. It was him all right."

"Isn't this a non-smoking hotel?" I said. "What happened?"

"Danny Bonaduce," said Jason. Apparently either the notorious Mr. B had spent the night in the room before, smoking his butt off, or else they just blame him for everything that goes wrong at the hotel, which is wise.

I mean, if I called to complain that the plumbing was backed up and they said "Oh, Danny Bonaduce spent the night in that room last night," I would totally believe them, wouldn't you? That will be my new life motto, I think: if something is messed up - blame it on Bonaduce!

We finally struck it rich with room #3. Same nice room, no smoke smell.

I walked over to the window, looked out and saw this:
Fire near 13th and K Streets, Sacramento Dec 30, 2008

A building about 2 blocks away was fully engulfed in flames. Fortunately it was only a block from the fire station, so trucks were on the scene within minutes and it was out quickly.

Still, what are the chances? I guess the moon phase must be in "combustion."

27 December 2008

I Dismember Mommy

They appear as regularly as report cards. About every three months or so, some newspaper columnist pulls their head out of whatever dark crevice they have been dwelling in, takes a look at Teh Intarwebz and observes the Brand! New! Phenomenon! of MommyBlogging.

They read a diaper-heavy post or two and, before you can say "Stuff on Chuck's Nose," they have come to the same inevitable conclusion: These wimmins must be stopped! Because they can't say that stuff! Some of them aren't even really great writers! And holy cats - they are telling the truth about motherhood! Quick, someone call the Pixel Police!

Everyone who reads this blog knows that I have trashed mommybloggers time and time again. But not because of their subject matter or writing skills (or lack thereof) - but because of their ad revenue. I am jealous, plain and simple. I want my slice of that sweet, sweet mommyblogging pie, despite my childf*ee status (sorry, I can't type the real word lest the childfr*e loons invade my comments section).

I find these regular denouncements of mommyblogging rather tedious for several reasons. First, their unoriginality. You might think that someone writing a column for a major daily might take a look around and see if this subject has been beaten to death like a rabid raccoon, but no.

Second, I wonder why the target is always the same. There are crap political bloggers, crap religion bloggers, crap weight loss bloggers - the internet is a big place that is armpit-deep in bad blogs. So why always pick on mommybloggers?

Is it because mothers are just silly, trite creatures, writing about foolish topics like raising the next generation of humans to be decent, caring people (and cleaning up poop)? Hm?

Here's a suggestion: next time you feel like putting mommyblogging down, take a quick read over at Her Bad Mother and then sit down and drink your STFU juice. Because some of these mommybloggers can out-think you, out-write you, outsmart you and make you pretty well irrelevant.

What if everyone quit reading newspapers and started reading these terrible blogs? Oops, too late, my bad! That has already happened! Will you lock up if you're the last one leaving the building? Thanks.

25 December 2008

Merry Christmas from the darkside

I have been sitting down to write this post and then standing right back up again. If, by "standing right back up again" I mean sitting here shoving some Christmas cookies in my mouth.

Stress = food in Suebobland. Or, more closely stress = carbs, because, really, only carbs will do.

I don't have a reason for real stress. All is well here. I just have the stress of disappointing myself so severely that I am all spun out and discombobulated.

Confused yet? Let me 'splain.

Last night we had our Christmas eve service at church. I wasn't in the mood to start with. It was cold and the wind was blowing hard and I wanted to do nothing more than to stay home with the dog and be warm and cozy. But my folks had asked me to pick up some steak dinners for them for their Christmas eve meal, so I had to go out anyway, and decided to go do the church thing while I was out of my PJs.

The place looked gorgeous and everyone was dressed in festive colors and the string quartet was beautiful.

Then I heard a snorfling noise behind me. I looked back and someone whom I like was sitting right back in the next row, wiping her nose. I took one look at her and realized she had a bad cold.

I am not really germ phobic. I never use antibacterial soap and I grab washroom door handles without a paper towel and generally don't worry much about the filth of the world.

But this thing - this going out in public with a cold when it is absolutely unnecessary and especially when people are confined together in an enclosed place - it has become a huge source of anger for me.

I sat there just feeling this woman - who is, again, someone I really like - breathing her cold germs over all of us. I was trapped with her for an hour, stuck and miserable, absolutely unaffected by the baby Jesus story or the beautiful carols because all I could think about was HOW DARE SHE!

I wanted to leave but I couldn't bring myself to stand up in front of the whole congregation at Christmas eve and march out. I remained, boiling and squirming.

After the service, she hugged my friends and said "Merry Christmas." She leaned toward me and I hissed "Do you have a cold?" I didn't even hide my contempt.

"Yes," she admitted, kind of sheepishly. "Can I just shake your hand?"

"No!" I said, in the tone of a 13-year-old when asked if he wants to hang around with his parents at the mall.

I backed up and left the hall as quickly as possible.

That's right. Less than 15 minutes after hearing the story of Jesus and the manger and the Light of the World, I was snarling at a fellow church member and was in a towering rage.

I couldn't shake it. I wanted to punch something. I was not just a little angry. I was very, very mad at this person for ruining my Christmas eve and for trying to infect me with her germs.

Let me be clear: I know it was me that ruined my Christmas eve. And I know she was not trying to infect me purposely. I am taking this issue way too personally. I am feeling like people who go out in public when they are sick are saying "I don't care about you. I really don't give a thought to anyone but myself."

I am trying to get my brain into a better place, because I am spending too much time being angry and resentful about this. I don't want to have this stupid thing in my heart and in my mind.

But I still want to yell at sick people who do stupid stuff like going to church or museums or amusement parks. Because? GAH.

21 December 2008

Dear Family,

One year I worked at a print and copy shop at Christmas. That was back before home printers (and before home computers!) so everyone brought their Christmas letters in to be copied.

As I stood at the cranky old copier, trying to feed holly-bordered paper so that the print was centered properly, I started to notice something about the letters.

Most of them didn't focus on the Bright Side of Life. They were so uniformly depressing that they started to be kind of funny in their commitment to the grim and terrible.

I began saving them until I had a whole tray full of awful, horrifying family news that was long on post-surgical infections and short on holiday cheer.

20-something years later, I can only remember the one that began:
Dear Friends,
Mother is still with us, though quite frail.
Can you IMAGINE? That was the FIRST line. Believe me, it did not get much better after that cheery start. They made it seem like they were a little disappointed by Mother's refusal to get on with dying in a timely manner.

At this late in the game, December 21, I have realized that I am unlikely to actually address and mail a holiday letter, much less the cute polar bear cards I bought off of the 50% discount table at Barnes & Noble the other day, so I will post my letter about all the wonderful things I did that should make you terribly, terribly jealous because of my fabulosity here for all to see.

Dear family and friends,

Todd, the children and I have had a marvelous year. You didn't know about Todd and the kids?

Oh, right, it's kind of a blog thing. You didn't know I had a blog? Uhmmmm er, well forget I mentioned it. Really. It's better for everyone that way.

The year started off with about 5 pounds of cheese and almost as much chocolate consumed in a little over 5 hours at the Fancy Food Show in San Diego. THAT is my idea of a good time. Please do not tell my dietitian.

While I was down south, I also had a spiritual experience with a statue at the San Diego Museum of Art.

I'm sure that happens to you all the time, right? No? Ok, let's move along, then.

In a much more normal vein, I joined the rest of the world and got a Blackberry, from which I call my friend Steve about once a week without meaning to. For some reason, my phone calls Steve and only Steve when it is in the bottom of my purse or Farmer's Market bag. Or maybe I call everyone else too, but they are so busy laughing at me that they just don't tell me about it.

Let's face it, I should not be allowed to own anything more technologically advanced than a toaster oven.

I am pretty good at keeping friends, but this year I lost one when I called him on his constant sales pitches. This time, he was trying to sell me a water purification system by claiming it was helping his breast cancer survivor wife stay cancer-free. Suzanne called him "Cunty McCunterson" and I can't find a reason to argue with that assessment. Feh on him. That is something up with which I shall not put.

In April, not much happened, except, oh, hai, the freaking president-elect-to-be answered a question I asked him. No big. SQUEEEEE! I kind of wish I was going to have grandkids so I could tell them about my brush with history.

May was fun because I got to travel for the first time to Washington DC and THE WEATHER WAS ACTUALLY NICE. I hear this is a rare occurrence in that fine city. While I was there, I sobbed my eyes out at the Bill of Rights and...the moon rock. Never let it be said that I am mentally stable.
People touching the moon rock.

In June, my friends and I spent a couple weekends driving around and learning about labyrinths. My friends? Are as normal as I am.

You can find a labyrinth near you with the Labyrinth Locator. I am not making this up.

July? I went to this little thing called BlogHer. Have you ever heard of it? It was okay, I guess, if you like that sort of thing.

Nothing happened in August. Does it ever?

In September, my dad got an eye infection that had us going to the doctor every single day for hours. It's not true that I am a good daughter. I just wanted to watch that video about lazy eye that shows in the waiting room over and over and over.
His eye still looks like the "before" picture. Ew.

In October, I took to the streets for gay rights. This was actually one of the things I did this year that I can say I am utterly, completely proud of.

Yay, me. And yay for the hundreds of other sign-waving lunatics out there. We did not prevail yet, but we will. Oh, yes, we will.

What happened in November...hm, I seem to remember something. Oh, yeah, BARACK HUSSEIN O-FREAKING-BAMA WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT, THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! Not that I was excited or anything. (Lying. I still get chills every time I hear "President Elect Obama." I am just so thrilled to have a president who can put a whole sentence together and who knows what the three branches of government do.)

In December, I suddenly found myself with a husband and kids. How weird is that? The weirdest part is that even I don't know how many kids I have or what their names are (I am thinking Pandora, Xochitl and Ron). All I know is that THEY ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY and the only thing that may help is a free trip to DisneyWorld. Maybe sometime in the new year?

Which brings us to now, Yule, the end of the year. I wish you all holidays that are happy, healthy and bright and a new year that is largely free of mythical hobbits and such.

Yours with love and laughter,

Holly graphic courtesy of Graphics by Lisa

19 December 2008

We have a winner

It is time to call the holiday sweater contest. Amanda of KissMyAster won out, powered by the extra momentum of Sheer Husband Humiliation.

I mean, look at the poor man. Does he LOOK like has the holiday spirit?

No, he does not. He looks as happy as my cats did whenever I had to give them flea baths. Instead of Holiday Spirit, he has the Holiday Misery. I am sure many of you can relate, as the Holiday Misery seems to be as common a phenomenon as the Holiday Spirit. Misery may even have the edge - what do you think?

Congratulations, Amanda, well done. I will email you to find out what kind of gift card you want.

16 December 2008

The Very Modest Holiday Sweater Contest

After several weeks of begging, cajoling and extending the deadline, I got a total of THREE entries for the holiday sweater contest. With $50 on the line, I had hoped to bring a bigger crowd, but obviously no one likes me.

Without further ado, bring on the sweaters!

1. Sheri lights up the holiday with this impressive entry:

2. VDog brings the adorable little man with the nutcracker sweater:

3. And Amanda of KissMyAster shows team spirit with this duo entry

And as a non-voting entry, Mayberry Mom wanted to show off her Dad's traditional holiday pants, which are so spectacular that you may only glimpse part of them, lest you be blinded by Bright Holiday Spirit"

Thanks to all the entrants!

Please vote according to your conscience - is it good, bad, or just filled with holiday spirit? You decide who you want to win. One vote per person, please. Voting closes when I say it does.

15 December 2008

Can't a girl get some love?

I must say I am disappointed. I have had my new tag line "My kids are driving me crazy" up there in my header for a whole week and no one has offered me any free stuff.

I got the idea because my mommyblogger friends are always whining on Twitter about how many "pitches" they get from PR people who want to give them free swag for a mention on their blogs, all because they managed to contribute to the overpopulation problem, yet no one ever offers me, the responsible birth control-taking type ANYTHING.

Honest to pete, these bitches are all "OMG, they offered me a free trip to Disney World and it was only for three days! Can you imagine how much that sucks?" I would LOVE to imagine how much that sucks! Bring on the suckage, suckas!

So my new blogging life plan is to gradually develop a family. The tagline was my first foray into fake mommyblogging. Next, I will introduce my husband and family. Slowly, so no one notices. Well, okay, YOU, my faithful readers, may notice, but PR people are notoriously short attention-spanned, so I don't expect them to notice that after three years of single childless blogging, I suddenly developed a husband and kids.

With that, I bring you my husband, Todd (thank you google images. This man's name is actually "Clive." I kid you not.)

Now I have to make up some amusing anecdote about Todd.

Oh, gosh, Todd has been driving me nuts with his fishing! I have said before how he loves to go out on the sport fishing boats, and of course December is prime sea bass time. Well, Todd went out yesterday and came back with three giant sea bass. And what did he do with them? He left them in the kitchen sink for me to find. OMG - it totally surprised me - three giant sea bass! He knows I hate to find his big old fish in the sink and I have told him time and time again, but there they were! So I got him back. I put them in his favorite suit pants. How long do you think it will take him to notice? I hope he doesn't wear them to work that way!

Ha ha, that's life here with me and my cute hubby, Todd. How is the fishing where you are?

Disneyland, here I come! Todd is excited, too!

14 December 2008

What did you do this weekend?

I was all over the place!

I went to the mall...boy was it crowded!

I flirted with some construction workers. They seemed impressed with me.

Hung out with my new BFF. OMG my peeps, she is SO HOT!

And went to the theater. It was a really, really interesting show - to me, at least. May not be everyone's cup of tea.

Thanks, Photofunia. There are many other cool effects over there. Fun for the whole family!

13 December 2008

Watch out for flying erasers

Sally Quinn was one of my favorite all-time teachers, even though she taught chemistry, a subject that was not among my Top 100 Preferred Topics. Botany, sure, biology, yeah, even plant pathology was more interesting (Hey, Dr. Yoshimura! I have some phytophthera with your name on it!).

But Sally Quinn made chemistry fun through her sheer force of will. She loved the subject and her self-described mission was to turn students into chemistry majors. She brought every kilowatt of her considerable energy to teaching. Being in the room with her was like being in the audience of a Tom Jones show - you knew you were witnessing someone who really loved their work.

She showed up and she expected you to show up with the same attention she did. She assigned homework, lots of it, and when you came to class, you had better have done the work because she would quiz you aloud and hold a blackboard eraser in her hand. The more you fumbled about for an answer, the further her arm would cock back until *bango* you suffered the indignity of a chalky eraser blow to the noggin. She was a good shot, too.

Her other deal was that she did not take late work. She explained how simple and relaxing this made life.

"If you're not going to do it, quit worrying about it," she said. "You don't have to think up and excuse or calculate how many points you have lost, because you CANNOT turn work in late, ever."

She would let you miss an exam however. There was one simple requirement: a note from your doctor. Stating that you were in the hospital at test time. That's all. Otherwise, no flood, fire, or earthquake was supposed to keep you from chemistry.

Even back then, as a dissolute community college student, I admired how seriously she took her work. She showed her respect for us by coming to class fired up and ready to teach. Her toughness did not come from being mean. It came from a determination to teach us chemistry and to not let us wiggle out of it with our usual stupid excuses.

It really affected me. Sally Quinn made me a better student and a better person. I wish there were more like her.

11 December 2008

High from the highest tree

Dang me, that was a cranky ass post yesterday.
My family when I was a baby

I blame the menopause. Srsly, mah people, it is kicking me up one street and down the other.

First I had three months without a period. I did not have a moment of mourning for my lost menstruation. My one thought was "YAY!"

Then last month I had a normal period. Boo.

And now this month, I have had a period that has lasted...12 days so far. An extra-special SuperPeriod.

Uncle, I cry. Uncle. I give up. Can I just have my regular old 5 day period back? I'd settle for that.

10 December 2008


I belong to a group that I will call Club Dumbass. They have never had a membership roster, so I offered to put one together for them at last month's meeting. They passed around a sheet and put down their info. I compiled an Excel sheet and emailed it to everyone for correction.

Woman 1: Thanks for emailing me the roster
Guy 1: I didn't get a roster emailed to me.
Women 2, 3 and 4, in a shocked and dismayed fashion: Neither did we!

Guy 1 had given me the wrong email address. Women 2,3, and 4 were not at the last meeting. So they wouldn't be on the roster, now, would they? COULD THEY HAVE PUZZLED THAT OUT FOR THEMSELVES?

Ok, I am passing a new roster sheet for those of you who weren't at the last meeting. I already have everyone else's information.

So Club Dumbass passes the sheet and 15 out of 20 people sign it, including 12 people who had already signed it at the last meeting and both halves of a husband and wife team who have the same exact contact info. IS NO ONE CAPABLE OF FIGURING THIS STUFF OUT BUT ME?



Unloading groceries at the market for my weekly Mom & Dad shopping adventure. There are so many items that they fill up the whole rotating belt thingy. I get Dad's carton of Budweiser out from under the cart and put it at the very end, on the metal piece at the back end of the belt.

I have to move my cart up and begin fotzing with coupons and Club Cards. The checker checks groceries.

Suddenly, from behind me, the woman next in line points to the beer, which has been left by itself at the end of the belt.

"Do you want this beer, or not?"

Hm. Let me see. I clearly took the beer out from under my cart and put it at the end of the belt following $178 worth of other groceries. What are the chances that I DO NOT WANT THE FREAKING BEER AND JUST PUT IT ON THE VERY END OF THE BELT FOR THE HECK OF IT? HM?

"Oh, yes, please," I say politely. I suck.


Tell me your stupid human story.

09 December 2008


Tuesday caught me perving on him tonight.

Pretty much ever since I have been taking an aqua aerobics class three times a week at the gym, there has been a cute guy who shows up on Tuesday night to lift weights. But on Tuesday and only on Tuesday, thus his nickname.

There are four big windows that separate the pool area from the weight room and Tuesday always begins his workout by doing some bench presses. A lot of bench presses, really, maybe 10 sets, and the bench is right outside window #3.

I noticed him because he's just like I like them. Probably 35, with curly dark hair, dark skin, muscular but not bulky, thin...ok, he's a little short to be perfect - almost a foot short, really, since he is about 5'8" and nothing sets off my hormonal alarms like a man over 6 foot 5...but still, he's definitely the best thing going on the weight room floor on a Tuesday night.

So for the past year and a half, I have been watching him work out and I must say it passes the time quite nicely - breathlessly, even - while I bounce around in the pool in my raspberry colored tank suit and lime green water shoes like a total dorkass.

And for the past year and a half, he has stuck to his workout and never looked out at the pool.

But for some reason tonight he looked, and I was, as usual, staring. At him.

He turned back to his workout. Came back to the window. I was still staring. I couldn't help it. That's what I always do on Tuesday nights, but usually it is at his back.

And again he looked out. Um, I was still trying not to gaze, but I was totally caught in the act. Crap. I couldn't help the smile that was creeping around my face by then.

He came back a fourth time, just to make sure what he thought was going on, was going on. Yes, it sure was.

Our class ended, I showered and packed up my stuff. When I went out across the weight room floor, he had moved on to one of the ab benches. I put my head down, grinning like a fool, and dashed out into the cold black night, feeling my wet hair against the back of my hot neck.

07 December 2008

Just fairer than death

Announcement: The Holiday Sweater Photo Contest deadline has been extended. There is still time to send your photos, new or old, to me at suebobdavis at gmail. Thank you!
When I was back visiting my sister Laura in Illinois the summer I turned 14, she gave me a book by William Goldman. Well, it said it was edited by William Goldman, but it was actually written by someone named "S. Morganstern."

The book did not thrill me. It took me a long time to get around to reading. She kept asking me about it but I put it off and put it off. Then, suddenly, one day I started reading and could not stop.

That book was "The Princess Bride" and, as the opening says "This is my favorite book in the whole world..."

I have read it so many times that, even though I haven't read it again for 15 years or so, I can probably name every character in it. Much of the phrasing of sentences that I hear in my head comes from that book. It has become woven into my DNA (another reason to not reproduce).

Oh, the movie is great, probably the best movie adaptation of a book ever. Goldman wrote the screenplay and did it perfectly, keeping everything that needed to be kept, removing all the bits that would not translate to the screen. Sheer genius. Should have won Best Picture.

He had a bit of experience doing screenplays - you might remember some of his work like "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "All the President's Men," "Marathon Man" (also wrote the novel) and "The Stepford Wives" (the first one, the one that did not suck).

But the Princess Bride book - you really oughta read the book. In addition to wonderful back-stories for Inigo Montoya and Fezzik the Giant, it has some of the wisest life advice I have ever read.

Want to hear it? Are you sure? It isn't easy to handle.

Ok, here it is:

Life is not fair. It is just fairer than death, that's all.

Ah. At 15, that hit me like a freight train. And at 47, sometimes it still does. That advice has saved me from so much despair, truly.

Life is not fair. Meditate on that for a while. How much of our misery comes from thinking life should be fair?

I used to work with someone who spent most of her energy trying to make sure everything was fair, mostly to her. If a co-worker got another filing cabinet drawer, she wanted one, even if she had nothing to put in it. To be fair. She spent most of her time enraged at just how unfair everything was.

It is not fair. The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. Really nice people get hurt and sick and lose their homes and families and dignity while jackasses get penthouse apartments and drink fine champagne.

And do you know why? No? Neither do I. Because that is the way it is. You can get used to it and do what you can to help out, or you can make yourself miserable worrying about it. Your choice. But you should probably realize that no matter WHAT you do, life still is not going to be fair.

I have saved you from reading the whole book by giving you the very best part, but I think you should still go out and get it, or else you will miss out on snow sand and the Duchess de Guiche and Miss Roginski. Go, buy, read. Thank me later.

06 December 2008

Starchy Traveler

It was a Carbs in the Car kind of day in more ways than one.

YOU know Carbs in the Car, don't you? One of those busy days where you have to run around doing so many errands that you end up grabbing food wherever you can, and not good food, either, but the kind of food that would make Dr. Atkins put you in handcuffs and drag you off for a protein-style In-n-Out burger?

Carbs. Bready, lovely carbs. They are perfect for the car because they don't drip or squish or spill.

My carb-loaded day began with a Morning Glory muffin at Peets after swimming and ended 14 hours later with a Jalapeño-Cheese bagel (I KNOW a jalapeño-cheese bagel is a shondeh, shut up) when I picked up a bottle of Tanqueray (do NOT have a drinking problem, shut up again) at the grocery store on the way home from a Christmas party.

And if a pre-diabetic diet wasn't bad enough for my insides, I had to spread the love to my outer world as well.

I made a giant crock pot of chili for the party and was driving over there while it was still piping hot. I put the lid on the crockpot and put the whole thing in a bag and do you know what is coming?

OMG SUDDEN STOP! Tilty crockpot splashing happens, and suddenly there are beans up one side and down the other, and I have a feeling my car is going to have a lovely cumin and chipotle smell for a long, long time.

That's me, baby. Graceful AND talented. Why couldn't I just be smart like that other person and bring mini cans of Pringles to the potluck? (Not complaining! Just totally jealous that I didn't think of it).

Carbs in the car, carbs on the car. It's a lifestyle that few can pull off with the aplomb that I do. Sorry, world. I'm just special that way.

02 December 2008

The Very First Bad Holiday Sweater Contest

**Updated to be more ecumenical and inclusive!**

This is the most wonderful time of the year for awful fashion choices. Yes, you know what I'm talking about: the terrible Holiday sweater.
Christmas sweater spirit

To get into the Holiday spirit, I want to do a Holiday sweater contest. Email me your photo of you or a family member (suebobdavisATgmail) in a spectacular holiday sweater and I will post them for the world to see. Historical family photos especially appreciated. Let's make the photo deadline Dec. 15. Then we can have a couple days of voting.

To make it worth your time to dig up and scan dusty old photos or to dig out that sweater in the back of the closet, the winner will get either a $50 Peets, Starbucks or Target gift card, your choice, and, of course, glory.

30 November 2008


One of the charming things about living in modern America is that we don't have to worry about what happens to our trash. People just come and pick it up.

It isn't somewhere primitive like Naples, for goodness sake.

At least that is what probably happens in your neighborhood. In my little nutty corner of California, trash is more of an interactive sport than waste disposal.

We have three cans: trash, recyclables and green waste. Simple. Except that the recyclable cans, with their treasure trove of bottles and cans, have become revenue sources for scavengers. Starting about 4:30 a.m. on trash day, you can hear people rooting around in the recycling bins.

I'm not putting these people down, far from it. People who get up before dawn to scavenge through sharp-edged tin cans in search of bottles with a 5 cent redemption value have nothing but my respect. One of these scavengers is in a wheelchair and has a complicated cart divided into three sections by pieces of chicken wire. God bless him. Obviously a man with no health insurance, a great work ethic and creativity to boot. It sucks that he isn't on the city council instead of pushing his wheelchair from house to house, searching for aluminum cans.

The early risers are so efficient that I want to tell the people I see when I leave the house at 6:30 a.m. "What is wrong with you? Don't you know the good stuff is gone by 5?"

On the flip side are the scofflaws. I don't know who the hell they are, but if I catch them, there is going to be hell to pay. These are the people who don't want to pay for trash collection, but instead drive around as soon as the trash truck has come by, stuffing their garbage in recently emptied cans.

Last week my trash can was 75% full within 3 hours of the truck coming by. This I do not appreciate.

The good thing about living here is that you can leave pretty much anything out by the curb and it will disappear. So far I have rid myself of a 2-year-old living Christmas tree that was badly potbound, a used shower chair for the handicapped, a terribly thin large tamale pot, and a clothes washer that had a sign in 2 languages "Works but leaks a lot of water," all by putting them out near the street.

It is interesting, seeing the little ecosystem that has developed around my trash cans. I no longer thing of my trash as waste, but rather a work in progress.

28 November 2008

Six Things

I saw the "Six Weird Things About Me" over on someone else's blog and noticed that there were a bunch of rules attached...tag people, link back, yada yada yada...what a butt-ache.

But I'm pretty much a Sahara desert of posting ideas (hey, nothing draws readers in like telling them that you are a boring ass!) so you get Six Things Apropos of Nothing:

1. I refuse to shop at Costco because I live in earthquake country. I do not wish to be killed by a falling pallet of baby wipes. No amount of savings is worth that obituary.

2. I am superstitious. I HATE it when people say stupid things like "Hey, traffic is light today" when we are heading into Los Angeles. Anger the Traffic Gods on your own time, buddy.

3. I hate football with a hatey hatey hatred. It takes me back to those long weekends where dad would clutch the one remote to our one TV in his sweaty paw all weekend long, watching game after game after game. He would fall asleep with the remote in his hand, but if you tried to slide it out so you could watch something OTHER than football, he would instantly awake.

4. I think a proper dog has short hair for 2 reasons: dogs with wet fur around their mouths make me feel queasy and 2, I want a dog whose butt I never have to wipe. I am mean that way. Schnauzers. Eech.

5. Despite being a huge carb fanatic, donuts and pie hold no charm for me. I can easily skip either one. I would waaaay rather eat a bagel than a donut, if I am going for carbs with a hole in the center. And pie - who invented the obnoxiousness that is pie crust? It is like a zillion calories of doughy greasy boredom. Ugh. Who needs it?

6. One movie ending that is sure to make me hate the movie: the couple kisses while people stand around clapping or cheering. According to Hollywood, no one has ever had a first kiss in private. The best (worst) was in Titanic, when GHOSTS stood around cheering. Come ON, people.

26 November 2008


My minister's brother, Chris Norman, died of ALS last week at age 51. He left behind this video about what he had learned. I can't think of anything better to post for Thanksgiving.

And an old gospel favorite I used to hear on "The Old Ship of Zion" radio show on KCBX in San Luis Obispo on Sunday mornings - "I'm Blessed."

23 November 2008

UPDATE!!! I got the Santa Barbara ad in my sidebar! Woo hoo! You should really go there! It is the most beautiful place on earth. La Super Rica is my favorite restaurant...or maybe the Palace Cafe...and you must go to the Botanic Garden, the Museum of Art, and the Courthouse.

It's a crazy blogging life, isn't it?

I think the first time I heard of Fluid Pudding it was when Dooce mentioned a hilarious post she had written about taking a drink of something and then immediately forgetting what it was and wondering what was in her mouth...and I thought "Wow. There are other blogs besides Dooce?"

Fast forward three years to BlogHer08 where the one and only Angela from Fluid Pudding was my roommate. And thus I can tell you a secret about her: she is a perfectly quiet sleeper. Unlike SOME people who snort and snarf and fling the covers about while tossing and turning (namely me), you would not even know she was there.

Not only was she my roommate, but she brought Gooey Butter Cake for me, a confection that is so decadent that it is illegal in 14 states and 7 foreign countries.

Because we are very, very bad BlogHers, we skipped one of the morning keynote hooplas and went shopping instead. We went to a yarn store, where Angela was totally in her element and I was enamored by so many different yarns that had to hold myself back from buying them, even though I neither knit or crochet (I imagined myself sitting at home, fondling my very expensive hanks of handspun yarn).

This is Angela with some really beautiful orange yarn she bought. Right next to it, there is some fabulous purple yarn made of the same thing - I think it is silk and alpaca. She bought some of the purple yarn...for me!

Then we went and had fish tacos. God, I love hanging out with that woman.

Yesterday I got a package in the mail:
Scarf from Fluid Pudding
A soft lovely handmade scarf of the most beautiful yarn in the world (It's darker purple than the photo shows. A nice amethyst!)

I love this crazy blogging world. It feels like I belong here.

21 November 2008

Know Your Audience

Healthful Eating Tip: Start a "Salad Club" for lunch at work. Each member brings a different ingredient and everyone has a big tossed salad full of tasty veggies!

Suebobian Modification: Hey, we could totally do that with Nachos!

20 November 2008

The American Riviera (whatevah)

All over the blogosphere, I see ads for "Santa Barbara, the American Riviera." But not on my blog. Noooo. I get ads about drunk driving and mental illness (oh, shut UP!)

But not for Santa Barbara. Even though I was born in Cottage Hospital and so was my mom. And oh yeah, my grandmother worked at Cottage in 1925 when the big quake struck. But I guess we're NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU NOW, eh, Santa Barbara?

My mother grew up next door to Baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Matthews on the Santa Barbara mesa, but who cares about that?

I have strolled the jasmine-scented streets, danced at the County Bowl, watched the fireworks on 4th of July from a 62-foot yacht in the harbor.

I could tell people how lovely Santa Barbara is when the sun sets over the water and the mountains turn pink. I could mention the clouds of blue and white California lilacs that bloom at the Botanic Gardens in the spring. I might even make a list of my favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara, but I guess I will skip it and tell you not to drive drunk. Because that is the kind of blogger I am.

19 November 2008

Talking to old people

Not making this up. If it doesn't make sense to you, don't hurt your brain trying to follow along. It doesn't follow - which is what I get to deal with every single day.

Sb: That Four Seasons Westlake is really nice. I went there today.
Mom: Yes?
Sb: Yeah, it has a huge water feature - a fountain that is about 30 feet high and maybe 200 feet wide, like a huge rock wall.
Dad: There is another fountain over there in Westlake, or there was one about 1970. It is a guy on a horse, a Western one.
Mom: Did you go for a boat ride?
Sb: Huh?
Mom: In the lake.
Sb: There isn't a lake. The fountain just ends in a pond, it isn't big enough for a boat.
Dad: I don't know if the horse fountain had water. I never saw it. Some guys told me about it.
Mom: We drove by that Westlake on the way from Uncle Bob's and there were boats all over it.
Sb: The Four Seasons isn't on Westlake. It is in Westlake Village.
Dad: That lake is pretty big. I don't know if I could call it a pond.
Sb: Yes, Westlake is pretty big. But I wasn't at Westlake. I was at the Four Seasons.
Mom: I thought you said Westlake.
Sb: Westlake Village.
Mom: You should have taken a boat ride. That would have been nice. Maybe next time you can go on a boat.
Dad: I guess they took that horse statue out when they put that waterfall in.

18 November 2008

Now with extra Bershon

My gynie doc is the greatest. She is the woman that you can just tell was the smartest AND prettiest in her high school class. Two words: blonde ringlets. That's what I am talking about.

We were discussing the menopause situation. Crap.

Sb: I went three months without a period and then I had one.
Cute Doc: Was it a normal period?
Sb: Yeah.
Cute Doc: Do you have hot flashes and night sweats?
Sb: Yeah, some. Not so bad.
Cute Doc: Do you feel like you have PMS all the time?
Sb: CHA! Totally.
I sounded like a 14-year old. She laughed.
Cute Doc: You're the first person who has been honest about that all week!
Sb: Why lie? I feel like killing people all the time. It has become standard practice to save emails for 10 minutes before I send them out so I don't say something stupid and wreck my career.
Cute Doc: That's brilliant.
Sb: I know, I know. I'll send you my bill.


I don't like people like Ari Gold. I don't want to be around them. I don't want to live in a world where people act like Ari Gold. Ari Gold is pretty much the antithesis of what I think people should be like.

Why, then, do I love to watch him so much? (WARNING: Swearing. Sexism. Ethnic stereotypes. Crude sexuality. Everything your mother warned you about. Etc.)

Who is your best worst character?

12 November 2008


I missed my 3rd blogiversary. But only by 3 days, so not that bad, really. Especially considering I have never, ever mailed a birthday card fewer than 2 days after someone's birthday.

I looked back at my first posts, some of which were never published, but only saved as drafts. Man, I was MAD back then. Whoo. I was on the verge of moving out from the house where I had lived with the exMr Stapler for almost 4 years and I was not a happy girl. Back then, it was all his fault.

Three years later, things are less clear and assigning blame seems much less important. I will also be eternally grateful to him for supporting me financially while I went back to college. That made it possible for me to achieve the lush lifestyle I have now (I can support me AND my dog! Eat crackers AND cheese!) which I certainly never could have done in this expensive town before. So.

Occasionally I think I should try to make my blogging life less complicated. Pare my feed reader down from 150 blogs to the 20 or so I really, really love. But removing a blog from my reader is always a Sophie's Choice and inevitable ends up with me running into that blogger shortly thereafter and being totally embarrassed I haven't been reading their blog and wondering why I ever took it off my reader to boot.

I just love you all too much. Three years later it still amazes me that how, whenever we get together in person, that we are "real" friends, that conversation flows easily and that laughs come often. I appreciate it so.

It doesn't seem like three years. It seems like a lifetime, but in a good way. Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for being there when I need you. Ok, time for me to get the kleenex out.

07 November 2008


The woman at the pharmacy was beyond a hot mess. She was more like a nuclear-meltdown mess.

If you had offered to bet me that she was there to pick up a forged prescription for OxyContin, I would not have taken your bet because I really, really hate to lose.

She was thin, tanned, tattooed, twitchy. Her hair was falling down around her face from a messy pile on her head, a style that might have been put up a few days ago and slept on ever since.

Or not slept. She had scary eyes that were simultaneously glassy, sleepy-lidded and yet still too bright and active.

She was wearing black bikini panties, which I can state for certain because her loose pants were so low that they fell somewhat below her crotch. She was standing in the busy pharmacy with underwear on full display, seemingly not bothered by that detail.

And there was a baby. Yes, of course, a baby. The man who was with her held the darling little brown-haired, blue-eyed boy as the woman danced to some internal music and tapped her hands on the counter.

She squatted down and clapped her hands as one might clap for a dog.

"Zander! Come here, Zander!"

The man put the baby down on the pharmacy floor. The little guy looked to be maybe seven or eight months old. He began to crawl around as the woman continued to clap and call.

When the baby didn't come to her, the woman said, irritated "What are you, a DUMB baby?"

My heart froze. Shattered. Fell into chunks around my feet. My ears began to pound and my vision went a little blurry.

A dumb baby. With that one horrible word, the danger that this child was in opened like a crevasse in my mind, black, yawning.

I knew before she said that that the woman was probably not Parent of the Year. But to call a tiny little guy, a crawler, DUMB with such disdain meant to me that she had no idea what the baby was capable of, what his needs were.

I didn't say anything. I didn't do anything. What could I do? I think even the gentlest of suggestions would have been rebuffed, and I was really too shocked to do anything but try and keep a horrified expression off my face.

I hope I am projecting too much, that I am terribly wrong, but I am afraid I'm not. I will keep those people in my prayers, because that is all I know to do.

05 November 2008

Nov. 5 2008

I sure hope Obama wins this election. That would be so great.


I couldn't handle watching the returns, so I went to the swimming pool. When I got back to Mom & Dad's, McCain was already ready to concede. I was amazed it went so fast, but I gotta say that the folks are THE WORST people to watch election returns with (or with whom to watch election returns if you are a grammar freak).

They were cranky. I am pretty sure Mom voted Dem and Dad voted Republican, but neither were rejoicing. They were In A Mood.

Dad flipped the channel to CBS.
"Ooh, I hate that Katie Couric," my mom said. In that respect, the apple does not fall far from the tree. If you ever hear me say the words "Katie Couric," they will most likely be preceded by the title "Evil Viper."
Dad ignored her.
"Can you please change the channel to something else?" Mom said.
Dad shut off the TV and sat there silent.
"Well, that's that," he said. "You don't want to watch, we don't have to."
"Oh, cripes," Mom said.
"Dad, can you turn the TV back on to another station?" I asked.
"Why?" Dad said. "She said she doesn't want to watch."
"Dad, can you just do it?"
"He doesn't know how," Mom said.
He flipped the TV back on. Fumbled with the remote. Changed the channel.

Dad went on sitting there silently while Mom complained about random things. As they showed the jubilant crowds in Grant Park, I broke out.

"I gotta go!" I announced. Ran out with Goldie. Stopped at the grocery, where I found the champagne shelf almost empty. Bought some Domaine Chandon, high-fived the boxboy who had written "OBAMA" on his nametag and went to CC's house, where we watched the acceptance speech, drank champagne, cried, hugged, and let Goldie sleep on the couch as a reward for being a good Democrat dog.


Earlier in the day, I had gone to 4 polling places to interview voters for the newspaper. The people I talked to were all great in their own way, but Manuel stood out in my mind. 79 years old, he had immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico in 1947.

"I come from Mexico and I never seen prejudice like that before," he said. "They way these black people were treated, they couldn't go to a restaurant, they got treated so bad. I was in the Army and they had a different barracks for black guys, even their, you know, their clothes on the beds were different. You would get in trouble with your platoon for talking to someone who was black. It was bad being a Mexican but man, those guys had it so much worse."

He voted for Obama, proudly. He said he thought the world belonged to young people and that they could understand Obama's message of hope. He got tears in his eyes. He was so sweet, and so proud.


I finally went to bed about midnight after seeing that Prop 8, outlawing gay marriage, was winning. If you can call it that. Seems like losing to me.


I shot up bolt awake at about 3 a.m., sure that I knew the Republican plan. The sight of the massive crowd in Grant Park came to me, and I suddenly KNEW that sometime soon, before or after the inauguration, "they" - the Bush-Cheney crowd - were going to assassinate Obama and wait for the inevitable riots, then declare martial law, something like Argentina during the Dirty War. Then dissent would be over, people would be locked up and tortured for speaking their minds, and the Bush-Cheney crowd could take power again.

I have paranoid thoughts like this at 3 a.m. so often that, when I awake worrying, I check the clock and say to myself, "Oh, it is just 3 a.m. worrying time," and then I can dismiss myself and get back to sleep.


This morning was rough. I thought I would be so happy, but Prop 8's passing hurt my heart so badly. I drove to work sobbing. I got to my desk and held it together til my married lesbian co-worker came into my cubicle, where I choked out, "I'm so, so sorry," and began howling in grief and shame.


This afternoon was better. Back on a more even keel. I hope Obama uses his community organizing skills to organize US. The country is fairly well screwed. We are ALL going to need to pitch in in some way to secure a better future. I, for one, look forward to the challenge.

03 November 2008

Grandparents save lives

I was lucky enough to have good parents, but so many people don't, and for them, a good grandparent is often a lifeline, an adult who provides sanity and stability and love when no one else is doing it. God bless good grandparents.

In memory of Barack Obama's grandmother, Helen Philpot is collecting good grandma memories. If you are so inclined, go and contribute yours.

My grandmother Janie (we called her Gramie) was born in 1906 and was one hell of a woman. After her manic-depressive stepfather screamed at her when she was 14, she told him she would never spend the night under the same roof as him, and she never did.

She moved out and got a job at Woolworth's in Santa Barbara. She met my grandfather and married him and raised two children during the Great Depression, living in a big house with other relatives and no indoor plumbing to get by.

Later on in life, she got an entrepreneurial itch and opened a dress shop, Janie's in Morgan Hill, that provided the majority of the family income. She was known for her great, thoughtful customer service. As a little girl, many of my best outfits came from Janie's.

She was so saucy, too. She had a funny sense of humor and loved a joke. As a kid, I was fascinated because she owned drinking glasses that, when filled with cold liquid, would cause the swimsuits on the pinup models pictured on the glasses to disappear, leaving NAKED LADIES! Oooh risque!

One of her projects was to try and befriend her crabby mailman. Every day she worked on him, cheerfully greeting him though he showed no signs of responding. Finally, after literally years, he cracked. I think it was one of her proudest accomplishments that she got the postman to consider her a friend.

Gramie and her friend

She was a smartie, a good employer, a good businesswoman, a helluva bass fisherwoman and a good friend. I hope I am one-half the woman she was. God bless you, Gramie. I miss you!

02 November 2008

Don't be afraid, gringo

I read a great book back in the late 80s or maybe early 90s called Don't Be Afraid, Gringo.

It was the story of a Honduran woman who was fighting against poverty and corruption in her native country.

Whenever I hear people talk about how "scary" Barack Obama is, I think of that title. To me, Obama has been labeled "scary" by white people because they see him as different, as something other than "us." I want to tell them "Don't be afraid, gringo" (and I mean that in the nicest possible way).

I made a whole list of the names Obama has been called and posted it over at Linkateria with all the links.

Looking at it all together, it gets pretty ridiculous. The man is, after all, a United States Senator, a Harvard law school grad and a former member of the University of Chicago faculty, not some wide-eyed Fidel Castro clone.

I keep seeing news clips of white people saying how they don't think a black man can represent "us." They wonder how anyone can believe in him. I think that the people who believe in him are tired of "us" versus "them." We are ready to work shoulder to shoulder with other Americans, Americans that we don't see as a collection of demographic traits but as people who want the best for this country and who believe that, working together, we can do anything.

Ok, I'll shut up now. Watch:

01 November 2008

I love the blogosphere

Today I got a wonderful surprise in the mail - look:
Mar sent me this! LOL

Mar at Room for Thought sent it. How cool is that? I'm just tearing open envelopes and this wonderful thing shows up. I have the best readers.

31 October 2008

Quoth the Raven

Crazy crow
Just in time for Halloween, this crow flew up to the windowsill at work and began pounding on the window with his beak and screaming. He stayed about 2 minutes before flying off.

Hope you have a nice Halloween. I'm a bit worried. I am trying to figure out how to incorporate a football helmet into my sexy schoolgirl outfit. I have to protect my head from pecking!

28 October 2008

No on 8!

Tonight I was minding my own business, getting ready to go to the swimming pool for my thrice-weekly hour of jumping around in the water like a lunatic at aqua aerobics when I saw a tweet pop up on my computer screen.

"Saw Yes on 8 protesters at Mills & Main" wrote Luna-X, one of my hometown twitterers. She is someone I have never met, but know as a kindred spirit from her tweets.

Proposition 8 on the California ballot seeks to make gay marriage, which is now legal in our fine state, illegal AGAIN. I would be crushed to see it pass.

"I have markers and cardboard - you wanna go?" I tweeted back.

And just like that, a counter protest was born. I put on my cute dress (might as well look nice if you are going to be standing on a street corner) and my Superhero necklace (for love and power!), made a "No on H8TE" sign and headed out.

I got to the very wide, very busy street corner before Luna-X and there were only two sign-wavers, standing back from the street a bit. I could not see their signs, but I thought I would alert them to my presence.

I stuck my fingers in my mouth and whistled. I can whistle LOUD. To my great surprise, the protesters smiled and waved and then shook their signs "No on 8"!

Turns out the Yes on 8 people had been there and gone already. Luna-X showed up and we did the happy hugging of internet friends who have never met before. Soon, about 6 more of our people showed up, then one confused looking lady with a tiny Yes on 8 bumper sticker.

I greeted her warmly and we chatted for a minute. I told her the scoop that her pals had come and gone, and she said she would probably leave. She seemed pretty nice. We agreed that we were proud to be Americans and that there was no reason to hate.

"What group are you with?" she asked.

"We aren't organized," I said. "Somebody saw the Yes people and put the word out. It is the power of the internet." Ah, crap, giving secrets away. Now those people will know about the Internet!

Then two of her fellow believers showed up with signs and they all stood in one group, with the No on 8 people spread out a little more. Our signs were definitely better because theirs were printed on flimsy plastic and crumpled up and were hard to see.

Both sides got their share of honks, with us getting about 90 percent to their 10 percent. But they were a smaller group, and some of our supporters went round and round the block. Our favorite honk came from a city bus. Either that or a little girl of about nine who leaned out the window and did a full-on, fist pumping cheer.

One of the cute lesbians talked with the Yes people quite a bit. The two ladies were cool, but there was one pinch-faced unhappy looking middle aged guy who was determined to be cranky. Sarah, the lesbian, had grown up in the church and had wanted to be a missionary, so she could speak the Christian lingo and she said they had a good conversation.

Sarah is in the middle - her sign says "Yes on 8 = Hate"

As darkness fell and it began to get cold, the Yes people left, with the nicest lady wishing us "Good luck" as she went.

I stayed a bit more and then headed off to the gym. All in all, a good day in democracy.

26 October 2008

Meet the readers

What are your obsessions? I have several things that fascinate me beyond reason:

1. Megacryometeors
2. MRSA, which might make sense because staph came close to killing me when I was 16.
3. Aung San Suu Kyi, who is a heroine

What are yours?

25 October 2008

Dog things

Diego the Xoloitzcuintli

When I go out to do my little freelance stories on weekends, I enjoy getting to get out of my cubicle and talk to people, but I have to admit that, even more than that, I enjoy meeting new dogs.

Today, I met a Mexican hairless dog, Diego, and his owner. She told me she got a hairless dog because her previous dog was an Afghan hound and that she got so tired of combing and combing its hair.

"With Diego, I just kind of wipe him off," she said.

I found that hilarious for some reason, picturing her with a damp sponge...counters, table, and oh, yes, let me take a swipe at the dog.


If you need a nice meditative dog fix, go see what the Shiba Inu puppies are doing on the puppy cam. Let's all say it together: "Awwwwww."

24 October 2008

A great idea from Chuck Westbrook's Blog

How You Can Help End the Problem of Blogs With Great Content and No Readers

by Chuck on October 23, 2008

There is a simple way to discover under-appreciated blogs and help them reach the audience they deserve. In fact, with no special effort and in one fell swoop, you can now find these sites and reward the creator in a powerful way.

Here are the problems:

1. Great Content but No Audience
There are a ton of brilliant blogs that are being read by almost no one. Some authors give up for lack of readers. Others continue to produce clever, insightful pieces that remain hopelessly buried and forever unappreciated.
2. An Audience Hunting for Great Content to Read
If the blogs with the best content always rose to the top, readers wouldn’t have any trouble finding them. But that doesn’t happen, so instead, it takes either luck or a lot of work to discover good new blogs.

Seems like it’d be easy to fix; they want to be connected to one another. Right now, though, there’s not a great way to make that happen. Unless…
**THE BIG IDEA**: Ending the Tragedy of Under-Appreciated Blogs

This is a problem we can do something about without too much trouble. Here’s what I’m thinking.

1. Gather some nice bloggers who believe in helping good content rise. The more the merrier. This becomes our group for the project.
2. A good, lesser-known blog is chosen. Everyone in the group will read that blog for two weeks.
3. At the end of the two weeks, the group moves to another blog to read.

With scores of bloggers focused on a particular blog, the author should see many nice things happen over those two weeks, especially if the blog really is a hidden gem. This includes discussions, traffic, constructive criticism, encouragement, and connecting to some of the bloggers in the group. That author then joins the group and we move along and do it again.
Crazy Big Potential

Picture what success might look like. What if we get hundreds of bloggers playing along? What if bloggers like Seth or Dooce or other iconic bloggers join in?

Imagine how it would feel to have those numbers and those people looking at your blog after it’s been frustratingly quiet for months. It would be tremendous. That blogger would be permanently bolstered, and it would all be because of the strength of their content, and anything that allows bloggers that focus fully on content to succeed is great for the medium.
It Begins Here

How well this takes off will hinge on how well I’ve explained the idea and whether you decide to play along. Participating is so easy and the benefit to bloggers and readers could be tremendous–you really can’t lose.

All you’d have to do is:

1. Comment on Chuck's Blog to express your interest in participating.
2. Be willing to add only one new blog’s worth of reading to your life. This will be a different blog every two weeks.

With so little required and such great possibilities, why not try? Instead of analyzing and getting everything right up front, let’s just take the first few steps and see where that takes us.

Again, there’s no risk here. There’s no angle. It’s just a promising idea.

Let’s Get Started

I’m not going to load this with links. If the idea is good, help me spread it. That’s the spirit of this whole project anyway.

We’ll try to get a bit of momentum gathered while the final details are set up, and then I’ll reach out again.


I want to nominate Belgian Waffle to be one of the blogs. The woman is brilliant and I love her British humour (when it is British humor, you have to call it "humour.")

21 October 2008

My kind of journalism

One of my favorite parts of the local newspaper is the kids' page. I know I try to make out like I hate kids. So sue me. They aren't so bad in print. If I could have had book-children instead of physical children, I might have done it.

Some of their little stories and letter are so wise.

One little girl wrote a short story - I mean a kid short story, not like some Updike thing - about 5 lines. It was about a good little girl and I will never forget the last two lines.

"She was a good little girl.
She kept everything in order."

Wow. What a wise kid. Even at her young age, she knew one of the deepest human desires - to keep everything in order. Or to at least look like we are.

That's it, isn't it? We walk around in this world, hoping, praying, that somehow on this day, at this time, we will manage to keep everything in order for ourselves and for our loved ones.

So much of what we do is to keep the disorder at bay, to stop the scary thing from happening.

And our levels of order are different. Some people feel the world is all wrong if they don't have a 5,000 square foot house on the golf course and a thousand employees, while others settle for much, much less.

Today I was walking in the park and there was a guy kind of camped out there. He had his bike and a bunch of stuff, a sleeping bag, and he was just sitting at a picnic table with his back against it, his head on his chest, his arms crossed in front of him, dozing.

I wondered about him, how he had ended up there. Some people are so hurt and broken that a small bit of order is all they can put together at one time - to hang onto the bike and sleeping bag, but not a home or job or family.

Or maybe that's all the order he wanted. Maybe he felt free there, snoozing in the breeze while I had to rush back to work.

17 October 2008

Dad Report

Dad is healing better than anyone could have expected. Strike that - better than the doctor could have expected. Those of us who know Dad are aware that he is made of stronger stuff than most, some combination of baling wire and beef jerky and duct tape, most likely, with PVC pipe (Dad's favorite building material) thrown in for good measure.

His eye infection is gone and his corneal ulcer is almost healed. He is still 90% blind, but there is hope that steroids may clear his cornea enough to see a bit, or else a new cornea transplant is on the horizon. That would be a daunting thought for most 90-year-olds but Dad is already prodding the doctor about setting a timeline.

I think he hates being blind mostly because he can't see his watch anymore. Despite being retired since the mid 1980s, he isn't going to let himself sleep in past 6.

In fact, he asked me to call him when I get up at 5:30 because that it when he likes to get up. I had to cite the fact that mom doesn't really want to be awakened then to tell him "No."

I did find him a talking watch keychain thingy. God bless Amazon.com for that. It should be here tomorrow or Monday, so he doesn't have to suffer timelessness much longer.

Since we have had several hours of waiting room time a week, I am getting filled in on all the World War II stories. Or at least a couple of stories, repeated quite often.

This is his favorite: when he was heading off to war in late 1944, he traveled on the USS West Point from the United States to England.

He said that he and a fellow soldier were guarding the back of the ship one night before midnight when they saw a faint light behind them. The ship's skipper was walking around and asked them how everything was going, and they told him what they had seen, not thinking it was a big deal since they assumed they were traveling in a convoy.

The captain wasn't so calm. He got on the phone and began barking orders. The ship went full steam ahead, making a sharp turn.

The light behind them was a German U-Boat, and but for Dad's watchful eye, the lives of 7,678 troops could have been lost at sea.

At least that's his story. As with many of Dad's stories, his mileage may vary and facts may change from telling to telling. In fact, today the ship held 12,000 soldiers!

14 October 2008



I have known this little person for the past few months, while she was poking and elbowing her way in her mom's womb. Her mom is my boss and we used to sit in meetings, watching baby Natalie as she kicked her mom's tummy from the inside.

Now she is out in the world. What a miracle. What a fun, fun miracle. 6 lbs, 5 oz of cute little baby.

12 October 2008

An open letter to the toilet paper manufacturers of America

Look, it isn't that hard. Just make me some reasonably soft butt paper, wrap it up in plastic, and put it on the shelf.

But noooo...look
Of course this will become a blog post.

First there were rolls. Then there was extra strong double thick. Then there were double rolls. Now, behold the Mega Roll that is MORE than the double roll. Now 12 rolls = 32 rolls, which I guess means each roll is 2.5x the size of a regular roll.

But I don't believe you. I'm not going to unwind the freaking thing to find out, but I didn't believe you on the double roll. I'm sure it lasts longer than the single roll, but how much longer?

I dunno. I haven't been OCD enough to keep a log (in a manner of speaking) of how much toilet paper I use vs. the time the roll lasts. So in my usual suspicious consumer manner, I simply choose to believe that you, Buttwipe Mfrs of America, are lying to me. I mean, why wouldn't you? You KNOW I'm not going to check.

I could probably check the square inches per roll and calculate the price per square foot but you know what? I hate math and I am certainly not going to do it while standing in the TP aisle.

In this baffling and often perverse world, I just don't need this aggravation. I have a life! (Apparently not enough of a life to stop writing posts like this, but still).

Just call them rolls and stop tormenting me, okay? It's the least you can do for a poor beleagured consumer, especially since I just spent $3.99 on a freaking loaf of bread.

11 October 2008


Fire in relation to my house

Yeah, this afternoon has been kind of wack. There's a fire about 3 blocks away in the riverbottom where homeless people camp, fortunately across a highway. The wind is blowing super hard in my direction and I kind of hemmed and hawed about what to do.

I packed some essentials in the car (laptop! HELLO!) and Goldie and I went up the hill by the park with the rest of the west end's population to take a look and shoot photos.

After determining we were in no great danger, we bought some Mexican popsicles (paletas) and returned home. We got pecan and rice pudding flavors. I must say paletas flavors rule all over American popsicles. Rum raisin, anyone?

Warily keeping an eye on the County Fire web page and the California Highway Patrol page. The worst part is that the 2 helicopters on scene keep setting off all the car alarms in the area, which makes it sound like something terrible is happening.

Updated to add: The fire was contained by 3:30. At about 5:30, Goldie and I went down to wave goodbye to the firefighters and yell "Thank you!" It is a fine California fire-season tradition.

Sabado Tarde

Who woulda thunk my own sister would be busting my chops on my own blog about voting for Obama? What a world, what a world. Like there is anything on this earth that would make me vote for McCain.

If something truly horrifying came out about Obama - say, that he encouraged shooting wolves from airplanes, I would vote for Nader. Again.

But not John McCain. No way. For one, his font choice is just so 1985. Look, I'm an old friend of Optima and Palatino, but come on - don't you think their time has passed? The Obama campaign obviously has a much better handle on modernity, rocking the Gill Sans and Centennial like nobody's business. Very 21st century.

(No, it isn't my ONLY reason. Or even a real reason. If you dare think it is, STFU and go away, because there is something so wrong with your brain that I don't even want you resting your eyeballs on my pixels. I just love to talk typography).

Yes, I'm a typestyle geek. I blame my former boss, Brian.

I bet you could suss out who is voting for whom 95% of the time just by asking them which campaign's fonts they prefer.

If I were running for office, my signs would be in Franklin Gothic and Americana. Would you vote for me?

Tell me there are other font geeks out there.

09 October 2008

Shining my light

This post is for Queen of Spain who asks us to shine our light in advance of the election.

The front page of www.barackobama.com says "I'm asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington…I’m asking you to believe in yours."

Punctuation aside, that is why I am supporting Barack Obama. Because he says it isn't about HIM. It is about US.

And Barack Obama has inspired me, just by asking, to get up off my butt and do something. Crazy that a politican could make me do this, but since he was brave enough to say that he believed in our power to make positive changes, I decided to take the ball and run with it in my own little way.

Here's my program: Do something to make change happen on a personal, local, national and international level.

Personally, I joined Toastmasters. I want to improve my public speaking skills so I can be a more effective communicator, no matter what else I do.

Locally, I called up the city to see how I could support a long-term public works project that is close to my heart – building a community swimming facility on my side of town. I will attend advisory meetings and volunteer to do what I can to help. This is something that may take 10 to 20 years, but I am willing to commit for the long haul.

I serve on my church board. I have talked about that here before.

I also do beach clean-up every time I go to the beach. I take a plastic shopping bag and fill it with bits of trash I find. I figure over the course of a year, I can pick up almost half a ton of trash.

On the national and international level, I have become active in Amnesty International again to support human rights in the U.S. and everywhere. And I sponsor a woman in Nigeria through Women for Women International, so that she can learn to read, gain business skills and better support her family.

That’s my plan. Here’s my challenge – if you believe in America, if you believe we all need to work to make this a better place, develop a plan of your own for yourself and your family. Something that fits your beliefs and your lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be huge, it doesn’t have to be hard, but I think we should all do something.

Quit cursing the darkness. Spread the light.

Anyone up for it?

Things that make you say "Of Course"

Of course the only people in front of me in the Target return line were not returning one item. Or two. Or even less than a dozen.

And of course they were not returning more than one of the same thing. Or things they had bought at THAT Target. Or even things that particular Target carried.

No, the only people in front of me were two ladies who did not look particularly bad off, but they were returning about 20 grocery items, many of which were of less than $1 in value.

It would have gone faster, but the cashier had to try and scan every single item two or three times

Scan ****BEEEP***** Scan
Scan ****BEEEP***** Scan
Scan ****BEEEP***** Scan
Scan ****BEEEP***** Scan

and so on before she typed in the 43-digit barcode, because, as she explained cheerfully and at length, this Target was one of the few left that did not carry many grocery items and while there were plans to carry more groceries in the future and the whole staff hoped that groceries would soon be carried at this location as they were at so many other Target locations including the one just up the street, THIS Target did not yet carry groceries, thus she had to try and scan each item repeatedly but the scanner did not work and so then she had to type in the bar code.

They returned bags of sunflower seeds. They returned Mac n Cheese. They returned dish soap. WHO RETURNS DISH SOAP?

But I was good. I did not sigh nor roll my eyes, even though I was secretly thinking that this might be a good time to be struck by lightning because it would save me from listening to this woman yammer on for hours while she refunded $26.81 worth of groceries.

When I finally got up there with my one rather expensive, non-working item (an electric tea kettle by Black and Decker, by the way - it shut off the second the water reached a boil, which may be a safety feature, but one thing I count on for a kettle to do is BOIL WATER and keep it hot) for which I had carefully preserved every single piece of packaging including all the tiny cardboards that protect each part, her manner turned abruptly.

"What is wrong with it?" she snapped, not in a friendly conversational way, but in a "You better tell me there is something wrong with it or I might not process this return for you," kind of way.

"Um, doesn't boil water?" I peeped.

"It will go back on your card," she said, so I produced my debit card.

"I don't NEED your card," she snapped, glaring.

"Oh," I whispered, backing slowly away. I don't know what I did wrong. Maybe I should have returned some dish soap instead.

08 October 2008

The modern version of spinach in your teeth

Audience questions:

When you call someone's voice mail and their outgoing message is from a long time ago ("Hi, this is Jamie and I'll be out of the office from August 10th to the 15th...") do you tell them?

And if someone has spinach in their teeth, do you tell them? Why or why not?

06 October 2008

I know, I know

The great cartoonist B. Kliban (famous for his Cats) had a piece titled "The Shock of Recognition." It was just a scruffy guy looking at himself in the mirror first thing in the morning.

I love that. You wake up feeling ok, and then you see your reflection. The Shock of Recognition.

These past few weeks have caused me to be jolted into recognition in some awful and scary ways.

I hate to say it, but I see myself in Sarah Palin's cute-lil'-bunny act. The woman who is over the hill and no one dares say it to her, so she keeps popping off with these little inappropriate cutenesses.

Oh gah. Now every time I wink or shimmy, I see myself in her at the VP debate and it makes me kind of nauseous. Here we are, in middle age with our broad middle-aged butts, still thinking we can get away with acting like giggly teens.

"Can I call ya Joe?" she chirped as I cringed. There are times and places you can "Work it, girl" but a vice-presidential debate is probably not one of those.

We forget, as we age, that we are aging. In our heads, we think we are still young. My sister Laura told me about a time in her late thirties when someone asked her how old she was. She said "Eighteen" without hesitating, because, in her mind, she WAS 18. It wasn't until they snorted that she was brought up short.

Like the protagonist in Milan Kundera's novel Immortality, I fear that Ms. Palin and I are trapped in a picture of ourselves that no longer exists.

Please forgive me if I ever appear pathetic as I navigate these perilous waters of midlife womanhood. And if you see Sarah Palin, tell her I understand.

05 October 2008

A philosophical question

I have been wondering this for some time and I have never gotten a good answer, so I will throw it out there to you, my wonderful readers (even though I know many of you are godless heathens): Is it possible to be a Christian and not need the Bible?

I wonder because I hear people talking about their "personal relationship with Christ" and that they talk to Jesus in prayer and that Jesus or God answers them.

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus, can't you just ask HIM what you need to know, instead of reading a book? Relying on the Bible instead of talking to Jesus seems kind of like looking up the wikipedia entry on physics when Einstein lives upstairs.

Do you ever come to a point where you are done with the Bible?

Please help a sister out.
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