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Dec 29, 2006

Books for Ike, Part I

Blank_book_1 For my godson Ike, the first of several titles I'd like to write for him:

Lessons Learned the Hard Way (Many by Me) -- a catalog of mistakes made by grownups. 

excerpt --

"In life, you will have at least one friend who is always running late and who never thinks to call and who never apologizes.  Maybe it's stupidity, ADD, or a lack of general courtesy --  who knows what lousy reason -- but they're never on time, no matter how much you beg.

But just remember this for the day they push you over the edge: DO NOT START YELLING AT THEM THE INSTANT THEY SHOW UP.  Because the day you do will be the day they just got fired, or their cat died -- or the day they finally tried to call but couldn't reach you because you forgot to turn your cell phone on."

Ike is ~10, now, so I have a few years to write this particular book of advice for new adults.  But there is at least one other title I wish I had for him now -- a sensible book on courtesy, manners, and etiquette.  More on that in another blog.

12:01 AM in Things I'd Like to See or Do | Permalink | Comments (2)

Dec 26, 2006

Double Dog Durham Magazine

What I want to see -- a Durham city magazine that focuses on:

  • living & arts (not news)
  • things to do, see, or eat that any middle-income individual would consider affordable, with special  emphasis on things that have zero or nominal cost
  • people and institutions that those things come true, in both eastern and western Durham.

While excluding:

  • articles about "aspirational" activities (e.g., a new polo club!) or purchases (e.g., "inside Durham's   million-dollar homes, with the realtors who sell them")
  • ads for strictly luxury items (e.g., $x,000 jewelry, $50,000 cars)
  • profiles about celebrities (or their wives: e.g., the fifteen501 magazine cover that features wives/SOs of the Carolina Hurricanes.)

I'd like this magazine to launch online and in print, and I'd like the online edition to have exceptionally comprehensive calendar/venue listings (but with brief entries per each).  And I'd like the publisher to make one vicious trespass into editorial territory: any use of the word "prestigious" in connection with an award or membership, etc. will be grounds for immediate dismissal.

03:48 AM in Things I'd Like to See or Do | Permalink | Comments (1)

Dec 25, 2006

Twelve Lyrics of Christmas

Rave2 Do you remember… back in ~’96 when someone made a quiz of ‘80s songs that you had to identify by recognizing a few words snipped from the lyrics? Yeah, well, if you don’t, go here.

But for today, a variation with just Christmas songs, most of which are not considered “traditional” unless you’re Jerry and friends.

     Have Yourself a Quizzy Little Christmas

  1. Woof, woof! Woof-woof-woof!

  2. Hangovers!

  3. Sister Suzie sitting on a thistle 

  4. …Light blue

  5. Not too shabby! 

  6. Just the thing I need, how nice!

  7. Four pounds of back bacon.

  8. And...dig this, man...he did it all in one night, man

  9. But now Vixen's in therapy and Donner's still nervous
    And the elves all got jobs working for the postal service

  10. He threw the breaker and the lights came on
    And we sang Silent Night

  11. But when I got home I bugged, cause under the tree
    Was a letter from Santa and the dough's for me

  12. Ten voices harmonizing
    …Eight angels watching
    …Four mighty missionaries
    …Three praying preachers
    And He gave me the victory, victory

Unless you're Jerry, feel free to provide answers/guesses in the Comments section. Provided, of course, that you make some effort to add your own.  And Jerry, please feel to augment to your heart's content.

Bonus points to whomever recognizes/significantizes today's illustration.

12:03 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (18)

Dec 24, 2006

MakeItRight, Inc.

Light_bulb How's this for an idea:  MakeItRight, Inc. -- a company that would, for hire, anonymously do the work of making amends for things you've done poorly or wrongly.  Think of it as a third-party confidential version of "My Name is Earl".  Por ejemplo:

Remember when you stole $2 from your 6th grade best friend? MakeItRight will find that long-lost buddy and send him a $50, with an anonymously vague note.  Fee: $250.

How about when you lied at work and ruthlessly trashed another colleague's career while blazing your own way to executive row?  MakeItRight will find a way to re-launch that poor sucker's career into some new stratospheric orbit, without him ever knowing what happened.  Fee: $750,000 (Hey, I said you made it to the top, right?)

So what's the deal with this new "Things I'd Like to See or Do" category?  It's my little spot for airing out my ideas and yens for businesses, gizmos, or general changes to the world that I'd be happy to see but have no plans to actually try (even if they do look feasible.)

In some ways, this category is a way to feed my ADD appetites -- a place to get rid of recurring ideas that require some kind of acknolwedgement before they'll leave me alone.  Enjoy!  (And feel free to volunteer guest blogs.)

12:14 AM in Things I'd Like to See or Do | Permalink | Comments (3)

Dec 21, 2006

Pasta with Goat Cheese Pink Sauce

Pastawithgoatcheesepink Here's something easy, good, and distinctive:

Pasta with Goat Cheese Pink Sauce

Per serving:

~1/2 cup tomato sauce
~1 oz. soft goat cheese
~1 tsp. honey

+ grated parmesan, salt, pepper to taste.

I have enjoyed with both fusilli and farfalle

The version pictured here is something I made last week in San Francisco (aka land of ingredients and ideas) with a "let's see what's in the kitchen" recipe.  In the kitchen that day: some goat cheese, leftover tomato sauce, leftover sun-dried tomatoes in oil, fresh tomatoes, and olive oil.

The version I made last night with K was much simpler (and better, actually), with a can of organic tomato sauce and a round of local goat cheese* both from the Durham Food Coop.  I made the sauce with just those two ingredients, but thought that the sauce seemed a little tart. 

K suggested something sweet to smooth out the tart and to add a little "fullness".  We drizzled on a little bit of honey after the food was already on the plate, but it would probably make more sense to cook it in.  Sugar, of course, is another option.  And if you try a little molasses, I'd love to hear about it.


*Black River Farmestead, Ivanhoe NC.  910-669-3340.  Very nice.

10:11 PM in Recipes | Permalink | Comments (4)

Dec 20, 2006

Memory, 2006

My God, where did the year go?  And what did I do with it?

I distinctly remember that parts of 2006 were really lousy -- with some parts labeled "this is a time of transition" and other parts labeled "this just sucks."  But to save my life, I cannot remember the details.

I wonder about that lack of facility in remembering unpleasant history.  I do remember that some things happened, but I don't remember exactly what.  This seems to be my nature.  I wonder how much of this is a good thing and how much a bad?  And how much of this nature was acquired on purpose and how much just happened to be there.  And I wonder if this is a little bit odd for a Scorpio(!)

"Doomed to repeat it"?  How about you?

12:35 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (4)

Dec 19, 2006

Filipino Labor -- Farther Away

OcwRecent studies indicate that on any given day, 8.1 million Filipino adults (~23 percent of the Filipino labor force) is employed outside the Philippines.  The three teachers who recently moved to Durham are but one small example.  Better-known work arenas include health care workers in the US (nurses, in particular) and household help in middle-eastern or Asian nations (e.g., maids and nannies in Saudi Arabia or Singapore).

Twenty-three percent!!!  And at last count, the money they send back home ($11.6 billion in 2004) represents 13.5 percent of the Philippines national income!

My guess is that these figures do not include former Filipino nationals who have become residents or citizens of other countries, but if you add those folks in, you get an even larger sense of the lost Filipino adult presence.  Notwithstanding the money they send home, think of all the roles they aren't fulfilling within the communities they were born to.


Note: This blog entry pulls data from The Effect of Filipino Overseas Migration on the Non-Migrant Spouse's Market Participation and Labor Supply Behavior by Emily Cabegin (Aug 2006).  Wired magazine did an earlier article (One Nation: Overseas) in 2002.  Cabegin's sources indicate that overseas labor migration has been accelerating in the years since the Wired article.

Related: a US military commander in Iraq recently said that "job opportunities" is one of the most important missing ingredients for a stable Iraq.  (And anyone who wants to help with the verb/number/punctuation challenge of that sentence, speak up!)


illustration "Overseas Contract Worker" from Diong at Objects and Pixels -- much impressive stuff in acrylics and other media.

11:29 PM in Destination Durham, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (3)

Dec 18, 2006

On Perspective

Sometimes, like when I'm floating on my back in the ocean, it's like -- "I. Am. So. Smallll."
And other times, like when I'm out on the sidewalk or just walking down the road, it's like -- "Oh my God I am standing on top of the WHOLE. WORLD!"

-- some dude at a party when I was in college.  He might have been baked.  Or not.

01:09 AM in Quotables | Permalink | Comments (3)

Dec 15, 2006

*** ISO clothing and household items for visiting school teachers ***

A team of Filipino science/math teachers have just arrived for a three-year teaching gig at a Durham County High School.*  They’ve come via a contract service, so money is both slow-flowing and small, and of course they have just about NOTHING.  Given the great luck I had with last month's guitar solicitation, I'm hoping that the local Archer Pelican readers might come through again(!)

The Teachers Two women (~5’ each, petite but not slim, shoes sizes ~4 and ~6/7, both medium or wide) and one man (~5’7”, waist 33”).  Bonus is that all three of the teachers have sewing/tailoring skills to alter whatever gets donated.  See pic for the two teachers plus my dad who is 5'6" plus their very empty living room.


Women's clothing:  Petite but not slim – to fit two women ~5’ tall.  Shoe sizes ~4-6 med/wide. Work and casual clothing are both needed.  And maybe one or two coats (one nice, one everyday).

Men's clothing: ~40 regular, shoe size ~9 med/wide.  Work and casual clothing.

Linens/Towels: comforters, sheets, etc. for twin or full-sized beds, towels of any sort.

Large furnishings:  Sofa, loveseat, easy chair, dining table, living room tables, small desks, color TV.

Small furnishings:  Lamps, side tables, artwork, vacuum cleaner.

Washing Machine!:  an item so important that it gets its own heading (and an exclamation point!).  In theory they have a dryer coming so they don't need one of those unless you're dying to get rid of yours.  At the moment, they don't have a car so they're doing all their wash by hand.  You can imagine how much fun that is.

So…. anything you can do to help these teachers (who, we hope, will help educate some of our  students in the things they need to learn) would  be really frickin’ cool.*

I can do a pickup of any items this weekend.  If it turns out that I get (or you have) more than they need, I can find other homes via Urban Ministries of Durham or elsewise.  Just let me know your preference.  (I feel a song title in the making: "That's why they call me the Van Man!")


Side note -- it occurred to me after I started this solicitation that my Mom was in a similar position when she arrived in the US, and she was similarly helped.

*Second note -- it occurred to me (fairly late, I'm embarrassed to say! -- oh, and THANKS, Charles, for belatedly and inadvertently tipping me off!) that this blog is particularly in need of some privacy screening.  Thus, I've zotzed the photo and dropped the school name.  Where's my pre-press editor when I need one?!


12:52 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (7)

Dec 14, 2006

Work in Progress


The aforementioned work in progress.

Charles, do not spill the beans!

12:01 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dec 13, 2006

Dave the Marketing Expert/Cynic

Driving to the airport, reading the billboards:

"Sprint -- No One Has a More Powerful Network in San Francisco" = "Everybody's network has the same amount of power in San Francisco."

"Cingular -- fewest dropped calls of any network in San Francisco" = "Cingular -- most 'network busy, try again' errors of any network in San Francisco."

More or less related, do folks recall the LIAR (Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous References) system for providing liability-free references that sound good but really aren't?

"I cannot recommend him highly enough"

"I am pleased to say this candidate is a former colleague of mine."

See below for longer list:

LIAR = Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous References. 
          -- Robert Thornton

LIAR:  A man like him is hard to find.

LIAR:  For the services he has given our firm over the years, we are
deeply indebted.

LIAR:  He could not have done a better job for us if he had tried.

LIAR:  He will do nothing which will lower your high regard for him.

LIAR:  He's a difficult man to replace.

LIAR:  He's definitely a young man to watch.

LIAR:  He's nobody's fool.

LIAR:  He's only 30, but he has the mental faculties of a man three times
his age.

LIAR:  His job requires few skills which he lacks.

LIAR:  His research is on the cutting edge.

LIAR:  I am pleased to say this candidate is a former colleague of mine.

LIAR:  I cannot recommend him highly enough.

LIAR:  I honestly don't think he could have done a better job for us if
he had tried.

LIAR:  I most enthusiastically recommend this man with no qualifications

LIAR:  It was a pleasure working under her.

LIAR:  It won't take her long to get up to speed.

LIAR:  No amount of praise would suffice for the amount of work he has
done for us.

LIAR:  No salary will be too much for her.

LIAR:  One usually comes away from him with a good feeling.

LIAR:  She just may be the best accountant your firm will ever hire.

LIAR:  She was always high in my opinion.

LIAR:  There's no mistaking this man's potential.

LIAR:  There's nothing you can teach a man like him.

LIAR:  We always knew he would forge a name for himself.

LIAR:  We wish we had 10 employees like him.

LIAR:  We would love to have a portrait of her hanging in the office.

LIAR:  You won't find many people like her.

LIAR:  You'll be very fortunate to get him to work for you.

11:19 AM in Quotables | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dec 12, 2006

Me and My Shadow

Sfo_1206029_319x480 Pal Dave took up painting several years ago, and I decided to try my hand while visiting last week in SFO.

At left, that's me, with Baker down below.  You may recognize him from here.

I got halfway through one painting before the trip ended.  Next stop, A.C. Moore or Michael's.

Oh but wait! 

Are there any readers with neglected painting gear? 

Wish list:

an easel,
brushes (medium or high-quality)
acrylic paints
books on technique.

Just let me know, eh?  I promise to put them to good use or else to return them.

11:45 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dec 11, 2006

Pet Peeves for Pinky

Pet_peeve_04_by_grammar_nazi_club Not coincidoddly inspired by Pinky's recent comment, here's a fine topic for Monday -- Pet Peeves.

Most of mine don't occur to me except as they happen, but here some that come to mind:

  • hypercorrection ("The waiter served water to Jim and I")
  • spelling errors (though I'm getting less sensitive)
  • presumably progressive people using an over-broad brush in criticizing conservatives and/or stupid people
  • people who repeatedly complain about something without doing anything to fix/avoid it
  • people tossing cigarette butts onto the street or sidewalk
  • people biking against the traffic
  • public restrooms with hard-to-use (or empty) soap dispensers
  • public restrooms with the newfangled "tornado" (or something like that) 120 dB paperless hand dryers
  • blog illustrations yoinked without attribution
  • overcooked steak.

No longer on my pet peeve list (or at least, no longer as painful):

  • the use of "nauseous" as a synonym for "nauseated."  I've accepted that it can now mean just that, as well as meaning "causing nausea".
  • the use of "them" (or "they") as a gender and number-neutral prononoun ("I will always tip a waiter at least 15%, even if they forget to serve water to Jim and me.")
  • my mom's inability to understand that a rising peso-to-dollar exchange rate is meaningless unless she also considers inflation of peso-denominated prices, not to mention the cost/effort of carrying things halfway around the world
  • incorrect use of apostrophe's
  • lack of parallel structure in blog entries
  • "excessive" or "inappropriate" use of quotation marks.

What you got?  Feel free to use your own definition of "pet peeve".  Some people would exclude serious and/or large things (like US foreign policy), or things that just annoy through no particular person's fault (stickiness, in general -- but not, say, tabletop stickiness as a result of negligent wait staff).  I'm easy.


image yoinked from the very funny Demonic Redemption at deviantart.com. 

09:38 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (26)

Dec 08, 2006

Deborah Tannen's Biggest Mistake

Tannen_1 “The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation -- or a relationship.”

--Deborah Tannen

Have you read Tannen's You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation?  I think I've given away at least four copies to friends.  Each time, I re-open the book to remember what Tannen says.  Each time, I go through the same, "damn, that's useful!"  In the spirit of community (and not status), may I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest? :-)

04:16 PM in Quotables | Permalink | Comments (6)

Dec 07, 2006

Chiropractor Steve Tolen on Golf

Logo_tiu I once asked my chiropractor, Steve Tolen, what he thought about my plan to take up golf.  What with all the awkward body positions and muscle demands, I wondered if he'd advise against. For sure, his response was clear:

"Oh, man.  Don't do it.  Just don't do it. 

Because when you play golf, you'll go through a bunch of holes with nothing but bad shots and you'll wonder why you're playing such a frustrating game. 

But just before you toss all your clubs in the garbage you will hit a perfect shot. The stroke will just flow and you'll feel nothing when you hit the ball -- but you'll hear a nice little "thwack" and the ball will just sail through the air and land right where you want it.  Then you'll think, "this is the most wonderful thing", I want to do that again. And then you'll go right back to another twelve holes of slices, shanks, and bad ideas."

In any case, I never took up the hobby in earnest.  In fact, my fast screen for all new hobbies/sports is this: "does this activity require (a) a lot of equipment and/or (b) a lot of money?"  If so, then no.  Scuba, anyone?


Photo yoinked from Pennsylvania Chiropractic ECF.  Shout out to Lorraine for reminding me of this conversation.  Apologies to Steve for my creative license in the paraphrase.  His message and tone were the same, but he used fewer words.

03:43 AM in Quotables | Permalink | Comments (3)

Dec 06, 2006

Who Does That Guy Think He is, Jack Nicklaus?*

You scored as Jesus Christ. You are Jesus Christ!  You are the Son of the One and Only God!  The holiest of holies, which does make you a big sloppy pussy unfortunately.  Although many people will devote their lives to researching yours and artifacts surrounding it, you have a higher chance of people trying to find the blanket thrown over you after death then attempting to find some of your finer carpentry products. Unfortunately, the cranked up tales written by a bunch of junked up zealots in the middle of the desert will give you the status of a Divine prophet and/or saviour, and your craftmanship in life will be altogether overlooked.  You will die on the same material you lived by (I.E. your trade).


Dante Alighieri


Hugh Hefner


Jesus Christ


O.J. Simpson


Mother Teresa


C.G. Jung


Stephen Hawking


Friedrich Nietzsche


Adolf Hitler


Sigmund Freud


Elvis Presley


Charles Manson


Steven Morrissey


Miyamoto Musashi


What Pseudo Historical Figure Best Suits You?
created with QuizFarm.com

Shout out to Celeste for this one.  (See you at church on Sunday, Celeste <grin>)

FYI, I had to answer a "tie-breaker" question with three choices.  The other two near-outcomes were Hugh Hefner and Dante Alighieri.  And this makes perfect sense to me.


*I just remembered that not everyone will recognize this blog's title/punchline, so here's the whole joke, as told by my friend Dominic back ~6th grade.

One afternoon Jesus is playing golf with Moses as his caddy.  All is fine until they come to the twelfth hole -- a long par four with a water hazard that would require most amateurs to lay up on the near side of the water before shooting for the green.  But for some reason, Jesus is feeling the power and says to Moses,  "You know what, I'm going to be just like Jack Nicklaus and send it over the lake straight off the tee."

So he goes for it. 

Crack!  whishhhh.... Splunk.

Straight into the water. 

"Dang," says Christ.  "Moses, go get that ball, wouldja?"

So off Moses goes, trudging into the water and digging for the ball.  Soon enough he finds it and brings it back to the tee for Christ's second shot.

"Sorry about that," says Christ, "but this time I'm really going to be like Jack Nicklaus and hit the ball over that lake."

And... once more:  Crack!   whishhhh.... Splunk.

"Not to be rude, sir," says Moses, "but would you mind maybe getting this one yourself?"

"Well, I guess you're right," says Christ.  And off he goes, walking across the water to get to his ball.

Meanwhile, another golfer shows up at the tee and is of course surprised at the sight of a man walking on water.

"Hey," he says to Moses, "who does that guy think he is, Jesus Christ?!"

"Naw," Moses replies, "he thinks he's Jack Nicklaus".

01:47 AM in Links of Note | Permalink | Comments (6)

Dec 05, 2006

Winston, Without Compromise

You can't tell me what to do! I ain't gotta do nothing but be white and die!!!

--Winston B.

Marginally related: are you familiar with the term "black tax"?  Regardless, I'm sure you're familiar with Ben Franklin's bit about "death and taxes."  I think that my pal Winston has accidentally blended the two.  Which is odd, since he's white.  If you see him, please feel free to point it out. :-)

12:48 AM in Quotables | Permalink | Comments (4)

Dec 04, 2006

Stephen Carter on the Railroad and Civility

"Carter_stephen The railroad is a remarkable thing in America in the 19th century, because it's true that Europeans always looked at us as a very ill-mannered nation. But here was something new. The railroad, we tend to forget today, was the first time in history that it was possible for human beings to travel faster than on horseback, faster than something natural, and everybody wanted to travel.

"Everybody had some place to go, but the interesting thing about the railroad trains is in the old days especially the way you traveled was you were all stuffed together like sardines on a little bench. And what happened and historians note this with some surprise, was the people behaved extraordinarily well. There were codes of conduct for things you don't do on the railroad, like talking in a loud voice, or singing or spitting, things that would annoy other passengers. There was an explosion of etiquette books. Everyone suddenly wanted to know how to behave, because somehow being pushed together with strangers like that for the first time created in people a need to figure out how to get along with these strangers."

-- Stephen Carter, interviewed by David Gergen on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, 5 Aug 1998. 

Of note from my recent train trip across Canada.  The loudest people were always the tour groups -- no matter what age (middle or retired) or what country (US or UK).  It seems that Carter's theory about getting along with strangers also works in a sort-of-reverse.  When you're with many non-strangers (as tour members quickly become), it's easy to get loud and boisterous while forgetting about the other people on the train who, strangers remain.  In any case, I don't mean to complain out of proportion.  The loudness was only occasional and rarely annoying.  Just noticeable.  Tomorrow I'm hopping a transcontinental jet to SFO.  I'll update you on the civility index.

10:31 AM in Quotables | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dec 02, 2006


When I'm at the keyboard, it's easy to make up things.  And sometimes I end up using them.

Here, a catalog of old and recent wordisms, just for the record.  (As in, "Cite this, WordSpy!" (or Rich Hall)


Friendsterize -- To enlist another person to become a friend on Friendster. 

This word came to mind in the early days of Friendster, and I posted mini-articles about it on alt.music.chapel-hill, on a few listservs, and several other places I could easily get to in those pre-blog days.  I hoped and hoped that I'd own the first Google-indexed mention of the word, but that went to some dude at lacunae.net (or was it .com?)  Soon, though, my entry showed up and became the No. 1 listing on Google.  This was a big deal to me at the time.  Not so much anymore, especially since I've discovered how irrelevant the process can be when I'm not writing about something that will actually generate money.

Intellihotsia -- really sexy people who make a living off their brains.


Oddcidentally -- By odd coincidence.  To use where many would want to say "ironically", as in "Ironically, Oddcidentally, we had a bunch of customers asking to buy cotton gloves about three weeks after we quit selling them because no one ever bought any."  Not to be confused with Coincidoddly.

Unfortudentally -- Oddicdentally, but with a big downside.  "Unfortudentally, the cop that nailed Jim for doing 60 in a 45 zone was Jim's girlfriend's ex, who got turned into an ex right around the time that Jim showed up."


Email closings:

XO^n (with n = something big) or XO^many -- a math-geek variation on XO (hugs and kisses), raised to some high power.  Cute, huhn?

Xmooches -- XO mushed together with smooches.  Mushy, huhn?

XOP -- XO + Peace.  Invented for writing to my friend Kristyn,

That'll do, pig.

12:22 AM in Quotables | Permalink | Comments (8)

Dec 01, 2006

Trust Not, Want Not

"Trust Not, Want Not"

Which is to say, if you've sent an important email, make a phone call while you're at it to make sure your recipient knows its coming, because you never know -- it might get lost in the ether.

And if you've left an important voice mail, send an email whiel you're at it to make sure your recipient knows its coming, because you never know -- it might get lost in the ether.

Note: I think I came up with this aphorism in ~1989 or 1990, still under the influence of Reagan's speechmaking ("doveryai no proverai" anyone?).  But unlike the Reagan quote of the Russian proverb, I don't suspect bad intentions -- just bad execution.  Presumably.

12:09 PM in Quotables | Permalink | Comments (1)