Archive for August, 2006

Strike 2 for Plumgood

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

I got home from work, excited to tear into the crates from Plumgood with all the (hopefully) yummy produce and other stuff… only to find my empty totes from last week still at the back door and no new totes anywhere in sight.

I emailed customer service and let them know that I can only conclude that the driver didn’t follow my instructions to deliver to the back door, and that the new totes were stolen.

Grr.

And as a private “fuck you” to whoever stole the totes, I’m snickering at the fact that they got a bunch of tofu and produce rather than meat and fun junk food. Not that I can prove that people who steal prefer meat, but that’s the way my imagination prefers it as some sort of consolation.

Grr again.

Edit: It’s not as bad as all that, actually. The Plumgood driver just delivered our totes to our neighbors’ house. The customer service person who called me was apologetic and refunded the delivery charge. I still don’t know if we’ll use the service again, but we probably should — now we’ve gotten the kinks worked out!

Quote Whore

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

No, I’m not talking about me and my predilection for collecting famous quotations. (They make great songwriting fodder!) Not this time, anyway. This time, there are bigger quote whores than myself out there.

I’m talking about Paul Fischer, who is called out in this LAist blog entry for giving positive reviews to what is obviously a piece of Hollywood garbage intended for an adolescent audience.

One of the facets they take issue with at LAist is that, well,

The problem that we saw was that typically in a big time movie trailer, the quotes come from different sources. And when they quote those sources there really is a column or a review attached to those raves. The problem with Mr. Fischer’s quotes (”Total Triumph”, “Raucously Funny”, “Deliciously Subversive”, “One of the Best films of the Summer”) is that they’re advertised as being from a review from DarkHorizons.com — but Dark Horizons, while showcasing some of Fischer’s work, doesn’t have this review, nor does Rotten Tomatoes, which also hosts many of his reviews, most of which, you guessed it, were swooningly positive.

Now, when I worked at that online DVD rental place, heads were known to roll if a studio used a review blurb written by one of our affiliated writers (like a certain Movie Crazy fella) in a film’s promo pieces and we didn’t have the review up on the site. This happened one morning when the aforementioned movie critic was blurbed in a movie ad in the LA Times and attributed to our then-reasonably-obscure start-up web site. Our site traffic spiked but no one knew why for an hour or two. Once we figured it out, an onlooker might have thought Cuba was about to invade and we were responsible for putting up the protective forcefields — such was the rush to get the review pushed out to the live site. (What, you didn’t know we have protective forcefields? The truth, she is out there.)

Anyway, my point is: Dark Horizons would surely have felt the same urgency to get the review all linked up and working once they knew the blurbs were being used in a TV trailer. Something definitely smells rotten about this arrangement.

Like they say at LAist, it’s not like I take issue with someone wanting to make a quick buck. Movie criticism ain’t exactly foreign affairs journalism, know what I mean? (If it were, you’d have known about the protective forcefields.) But there’s still a certain amount of faith placed in movie critics by the moviegoing public. It seems, I don’t know, sleazy to mislead people that way. I mean, I compared it to prostitution, but that’s not even the same. People pay prostitutes for sexual favors; getting the prostitute to declare publicly that your sexual performance is “a total triumph” is not part of the usual deal.

But is it really wrong? I guess not. I don’t think prostitution is wrong, either. Most of the time, I just find it distasteful. So maybe it’s not such a bad comparison.

I’m in kitchen heaven!

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

You may know this already, but one of the great undocumented features on Amazon.com is the ability to track the price fluctuation on items you “save for later” in your Shopping Cart. Nearly every day, I hit Amazon and click on “Cart” to see what messages appear to let me know if an item’s price has increased or decreased (and they only appear the first time you access your cart, so don’t miss them!).

One of the items I’ve been tracking for a while is this Cuisinart 14-cup stainless steel food processor. Its retail price is $400, but the average Amazon price over the past few months or so has been about $180-190. Once or twice, it’s dropped to about $170, and I was sorely tempted to spring for it. But I always held off hoping it might go even lower one of these days.

Today it’s down to $149.99. Moreover, Amazon is having a promotion for $25 off when you buy $125 or more in their Kitchen & Housewares department.

Needless to say, I sprang.

(Clearly lots of other people are springing too. As I write this, this item is the #2 seller in Kitchen & Housewares.)

All told, I spent $126.95, and that’s including one-day shipping (only $3.99 with Amazon Prime) so I can get it tomorrow and play with it over the weekend. Whee!

Now I’m eyeing the KitchenAid Stand Mixer Attachment Pack set which is down to $89.99 when the lowest I’ve ever seen it drop before today was to about $120. I don’t know if I’ll really need most of those attachments when I’ll already have a really good food processor, and I’d have to put in some extra hours to cover my spending spree. But I’m wondering if it’d be worth having.

So… feminists don’t sew?

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

Quote from female coworker who stepped into my office just now:

I’m going to ask you a question, and don’t get all feminist on me — do you have a sewing kit?

Unfortunately, I didn’t have one. But I would have loved to have been able to say I’m still a feminist even if I have a damn sewing kit.

Why he loves Nashville

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

Pull up a chair: Dr. Funkenswine of Mothership BBQ has a story to tell.

Take the good (veggies) with the bad (veggies)

Monday, August 14th, 2006

You know how I was talking about ordering that CSA basket from Plumgood Food? Well, it showed up Thursday and it was a bounty of vegetables. Something like 20-25 tomatoes, 20-25 okra, 8 ears of corn, 3 cucumbers, 3 leeks, 1 zucchini, 1 crookneck squash, 1 red bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper, 1 head of cabbage, 1 eggplant, and 1 cantaloupe. It barely fit into the fridge. And then I got overwhelmed by the idea of how to cook it all up and not waste any, so over the weekend we only ended up using, like, 2 ears of corn, 2 tomatoes, and the cantaloupe. I planned to make a big pot of ratatouille but it was always too much to think about.

Eggplant stir-fry
Well, I’m home sick today but I had a little energy, so while I was taking a break from writing use cases, I started chopping some vegetables. And once I had the eggplant, peppers, zucchini, and okra chopped, I didn’t feel like going any farther. So I tossed them gradually into my big frying pan and sauteed them. The outcome is this:

I don’t think the picture does it justice. I tasted it a few times as I was finishing it up, and it’s amazing. I hardly added anything to it — just a healthy dollop of safflower oil at the beginning to get the juices goin’. It’s all veggie-flavor-power from there, baby.

And the bad news? After that little victory, I started to attack the tomatoes and found out they’re nearly all bad. Well, all the ones that the cats hadn’t already eaten since Thursday, that is.

Oh well. I have delicious eggplant stir-fry to enjoy for lunch for the next several days, and I’m happy.

Windows Live Writer

Monday, August 14th, 2006

So I’m testing out Windows Live Writer. Has anyone else tried it? It’s basically a lightweight FrontPage with knowledge of blog protocols, but I still like the idea of it.

You can insert pictures or even Microsoft maps. Here’s a map of Germantown Cafe:

And I guess we’ll see how it looks when I publish it. Let’s give it a whirl, shall we?

And… we’re back! And… we slack.

Thursday, August 10th, 2006

The weekly email with calls for songs arrived a few minutes ago — and I’ve already pitched a song in response to one listing. Man, it’s been a while since there’ve been any opportunities listed that match material we have demo’ed. It’s nice to be back in the game. The waiting game. That part I don’t so much love, but I guess it’s all part of the deal.

Speaking of waiting, I’ve been totally slacking about writing anything new since I started the new job. It’s always that way until I get my bearings in a new job, but I think I’ve let myself dawdle long enough. I’ve been working this week on tightening up my schedule so I have enough time to run in the mornings before work; the next step is to make enough time in the evenings for writing. I remember now that the way I did this when I started at HCA was to actually schedule blocks of time in my calendar when I was supposed to be writing. I hardly ever stuck to it exactly, but I did end up making more time to write because the reminder was there. I guess I can try that approach again.

When you have to make adjustments to your routines, what works for you? How do you get yourself to adopt new, good habits (or re-adopt old, good habits you’ve dropped)?

And you say I only hear what I want to

Thursday, August 10th, 2006

Ever since I got these new funky glasses, I’ve started getting a lot of comments about how much I look like Lisa Loeb. Someone said it again last night at Cabana. The burgundy-brunette hair probably adds to the similarity, but still, I just think it’s funny how one little accessory can create such a strong visual link.

Did you know that, with the song “Stay (I Missed You),” Lisa Loeb was the first and only unsigned artist ever to hit #1 on the American charts? So sayeth Wikipedia. I love that song, and I’ve always thought of it as one of the best uses of repetition of the first line(s) of a song. A lot of songs use that technique, but without adding any meaning to the story. In “Stay,” the use of the first line (which is the title of this post, in case you don’t know the song) at the end of the song gives the line a twist and packs a sassy punch to the “singee” of the song. It takes a little extra work for the songwriter to set up that kind of payoff, but it’s really rewarding, don’t you think?

Giving new double-meaning to the term “buzz”

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

I love this: Showtime is using a marijuana scent-strip to promote the show “Weeds” in Rolling Stone magazine. Oddly, despite not having a TV, I’ve actually seen several episodes of this show, and I thought it was pretty good. But even if I hated it, I’d love this gimmick. One source says the scent is more like patchouli than marijuana. I’m going to have to set up a reminder to check out the August 24th issue of Rolling Stone.

Bringing Syriana home

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

We watched Syriana last night. I was profoundly moved. It was a little complicated to follow, but reading the movie’s Wikipedia entry just now helped immensely. Even so, unlike some of the critics who found it too cluttered or overly ambitious, I wouldn’t change it a bit: the chaos makes it all the more realistic, and drives home how complex and interwoven the issues surrounding U.S. dependence on foreign oil are. That it fell short of achieving all that it set out to achieve as a film does nothing to diminish what it does achieve: a gripping, nearly overwhelming story about addiction and the lengths to which addicts will go to protect their stash.

Some of the reviews I’ve read criticize the film for not concluding with a specific call to action, but I didn’t feel that lacking. I think most of us know what we can do; it’s the doing that’s a challenge. Beyond the inconveniences of consumer oil awareness, real dramatic change is unlikely. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t push for support of alternative fuels and higher standards for fuel efficiency, or that we shouldn’t care about provisions on the local and regional level for alternative means of transportation, bike lanes, and such; that should all happen. But we probably shouldn’t be surprised when there’s significant push-back from corporations and government. The momentum of the oil machine will be difficult if not impossible to stop.

Still, here’s one small change I made today: I signed up to have an organic Community Supported Agriculture package from Plumgood Food delivered tomorrow. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. (If it’s not immediately clear how this plays into oil dependence, try reading this, this, or this.)

Next step? Karsten and I have been talking for a while about test-driving some hybrids. I plan to play around in Quicken tonight to see if we can afford the payments, and maybe we’ll get around to at least one test-drive this weekend.

After that, I’m not sure. One of the most frustrating limitations is the lack of a safe way to ride my bike to work. Maybe Karsten and I can do some research this weekend — check out a few possible routes. Otherwise, I suspect we’ll make improvements in bits and pieces, mostly.

I’d be interested to hear from others: what you thought of Syriana (if you’ve seen it), what you thought of An Inconvenient Truth (if you’ve seen it), whether you’re currently making any efforts to cut down on oil consumption, and if so, what those efforts are, etc.

Home again!

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

And a post about our travel ordeals is on Metroblogging Nashville.

Since what I wrote there was mostly trip complaints, here are some of the trip highlights:

  • Getting to see our friend D, who was a colleague on the infamous Indy gig.
  • Getting to see J & H, who were colleagues at the (infamous?) healthcare gig but have since moved to the Minneapolis area.
  • Getting to see brandismarie91, whom I haven’t seen in something like 10 years.
  • Eating at Chatterbox pub for Friday dinner and drinks.
  • Eating at French Meadow for Saturday dinner.
  • Eating at The Egg & I for Sunday breakfast/brunch.
  • Eating at Chiang Mai Thai for Sunday dinner.
  • Exploring and eating at several places in the Global Market.
  • While D was playing a league game of soccer, Karsten and I took the light rail to IKEA, which meant passing through the Mall of America. I’d seen the mall before and knew its enormity, but Karsten, I think, was unprepared. He was stunned.
  • Going to the Minnesota Zoo.
  • Seeing a white-cheeked gibbon show off how well he was able to swing from one end of his habitat to the other. He made it look as effortless as a marathon runner crossing the street.
  • Checking out the Loft, a cool writers’ center with a nice little cafe and the most wickedly cool staircase I have ever seen — it’s designed to be reminiscent of a book, with frosted plexiglass sheets that look like pages winding around the railing all the way up. I took pictures, but I don’t have them up yet and I don’t really think they do it justice. Here’s a small one on the Loft web site.
  • Checking out Wedge, a grocery co-op.
  • Checking out various other local coffee shops and bars.
  • Petting D’s two cats, Bea & Greta.

But at this point, I’m just happy to be back home. I’m even happy to be back at work!

Walking in the Night Out Against Crime, 8/1/2006

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006

It was miserably hot, but we walked through almost every street in Salemtown and threw in a few in Germantown for good measure.

Germantown had planned a cookout for the Night Out Against Crime, but it had to be cancelled. Instead, Germantown neighbors were invited to the walk organized by Salemtown neighbors organized.

Which was fine by me because we did the cookout last year — and sure, it was nice to meet neighbors and be sociable and all — but every Germantown neighborhood event is like that. And it doesn’t really pertain specifically to the theme other than the idea that knowing your neighbors is a great way to reduce crime — which is a hard idea to argue with.

But still, there’s definitely more going on in both of these neighborhoods than can be handled by just being friendly with your neighbors. Confronting the issues in a “we’re taking back the streets” manner seems to me more sincere and more direct.

On the other hand, did I mention it was hot? Really, really hot. And did I mention we walked a really long way? Yeah, OK, I did, but by the time Karsten and I dropped out as the walk passed our house (which surely had to have been near the end of the walk anyway), we were sweaty and starving, having waited until after the walk for dinner.

Still, it was great to mingle with the Salemtown crew, and to chat with our friends from up the street. Folks from the Salemtown neighborhood association were giving out informational flyers to neighbors who were looking on from their homes, and several of the walkers were giving out candy and balloons to neighborhood kids. Also, John H of Salem’s Lots pointed out that we have something like 5 bloggers living within 3 blocks on the same street (including perhaps North Nashville’s best-known blogger, S-townMike of Enclave), but I added that if you take in a few of the side streets, I know that number climbs quickly.

If only blogging could prevent bird feeders from getting stolen. It probably can’t. But walking with neighbors to make the streets safer — now that stands a chance of making a difference.

Update: More posts about the walk! John H on Salem’s Lots, and S-townMike on Enclave.

Our new meerkat painting!

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

Our new meerkat painting!
Our new meerkat painting!,
originally uploaded by Kate O’.

Sorry, I’ve been meaning to post an update on the animal art auction and have been too swamped. Or lazy. But swamped makes me sound more important, I think, so I’ve been swamped.

Anyway, we won a painting! And not just any painting: a meerkat painting!

Karsten loves meerkats. All along, I was hoping we’d find a good painting done by meerkats. But the first few we saw were kind of disappointing. Cute, of course — it’s impossible to imagine meerkats painting without being nearly cuted to death — but each of the surfaces had very little pigment on it, so there wasn’t much to be cuted by.

But then we saw this one, and we both agreed it was wonderful. And the colors in it even complement the shabby chic aesthetic we’re going for in the bedroom. So we bid on it and guarded it throughout the evening, and we won it! For a lean $52 (the auction sheet stated its value at $90ish, and just for the frame and matte I’d say that’s about right).

So if you click through to the rest of the pictures on flickr, you’ll be able to see more of the animal art that was up for auction. It was really a fun evening. If it happens again and you’re local, you don’t want to miss it.

Marty O’Neill memorial at Silver Lake Country Club in Maryland

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

I got email from my mom today. Apparently, some former colleagues of my dad’s planted a tree and staked a plaque at the tree in memory of my dad. The site was a golf course where he’d organized a bunch of golf outings for the organization. The email included this forwarded message from a former colleague of my dad’s:

“John, Bert and Amy Coghill from Silver Lake Country Club have planted a tree as a memorial to Marty. Kop-Flex and AIST have placed a plaque at the base of the tree to commemorate Marty‚Äôs long career with Kop-Flex and his dedication to the AIST organization. The tree is a Red Horse Chestnut and is located on the number 1 hole on the south course about half way down the left hand side of the fairway. We as a group felt that since Marty has planned so many wonderful golf outings for us over the years that he should have a place to watch over the outing for many years to come. The Coghill family welcomes you and your family to come and see the tree and plaque anytime you wish.”

My mom was clearly very moved, and I am, too. It was a lovely thing to do. But wow, seeing his name and dates of birth and death on the photo of the plaque really stung me.