Ya'll, I just finished Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, and I must tell you, it was riveting. Riveting. I was, well, riveted. It's all about the new science of neuromarketing, which is basically doing brain scans on people while they look at pictures of products and logos and slogans to see what they really think about them. I know I have a tendency to lean towards marketing books, but this one was written with the lay-person in mind, and it's really really cool.

For instance, did you know that our brains have something called mirror neurons, which allow us to see ourselves as we see others? (That's why we flinch when we see someone else get hurt, or why our mouths water when we see someone else eating a steak...we instinctively imagine what it would be like to be that person). Marketers have figured this out though, and have actually put it to use without you even really being aware of it. For instance, in large urban stores, Abercrombie & Fitch hires young beautiful models to hang out in front of the store in groups, laughing and chatting and looking cool and popular and attired head to toe in (surprise, surprise) A&F clothing. And you don't even realize it, but your mirror neurons kick in and go, "Gee, wouldn't it be fun to be cool and popular and have fun like those people?" And even if you never consciously even thought about their clothes, you wander into the store because you want to be like those models. And when you actually buy the clothes? You get hit with a fabulous rush of dopamine, which makes you feel happy and socially connected. (Yes, there is such a thing as retail therapy, and you can thank your frontal cortex for it).

The whole book is full of things like that. It was written by Martin Lindstrom who, I don't have to tell you, is a FREAKING GENIUS! (Okay, maybe I do have to tell you. He's a total brand guru and was just named one of the world's 100 most influential people. FREAKING GENIUS!)

And maybe a teeny bit of hero worship going on there.

Anyway. Long story short, fabulous book. Highly recommended. You'll never look at branding the same way again.

Lord Stanley Declines His Invitation To Chicago, But We Certainly Had a Blast

So I know you're all dying to know how our impromptu trip to Chicago went, and I must tell you that despite the Blackhawks totally forgetting how to skate and pass the puck and you know, score, we had a really awesome time. The Seester and her husband Patto were fabulous hosts, not only with the feeding us and providing a decent place to sleep, but also with the incredibly touristy things like making faces in the reflection of the giant bean and taking us to breakfast at a place that served the most awesome banana bread french toast EVER (admittedly at the ungodly hour of 8am, but I forgive them for that because ya'll, I am not kidding about the awesomeness of that french toast). We even got to pal around with one of the seester's lawyer buddies, which at first sounds like the opposite of fun, (even for such social junkies like us), but it turns out that he was a pretty funny guy, even if he did seem to have an obsessive compulsion to collect all the Star Trek figurines in the kid's meals at Burger King. (Apparently he was collecting them for his girlfriend as part of some bizarre mid-western courting ritual. I know. I don't get it either, but there you go).

We also got a chance to catch up with Tony's brother, which was fun. (We don't get to see him very often, so it was good to see him too). Short of K-town, Chicago seems to have the greatest population of family on both my and Tony's side, so the trip wasn't only a hockey pilgrimage, but also a mini-family reunion of sorts.

Speaking of hockey, the game itself was gruesome to watch due to the above-mentioned failure to skate and shoot and score, but being in the crowd was fun, and the ever more-inventive taunts against Detroit ("UAW sucks!" and "We hate GM!") were interesting. Naturally, it would have been awesome had the Hawks won, but as it was, it was still a great thing to just experience.

Of course, the whole trip has redoubled Tony's campaign to have us move to Chicago so that we can see the Seester and go to hockey games and have dinner with his brother and eat banana bread french toast and make faces in the Bean and generally have a grand old time whenever we want, but I'm not 100% sold. I still have vivid memories of the minus 30 degree weather and snow drifts that come up to my neck. I am, however, considering a summer home there.

Right next to the french toast place, of course.

I'm Off To Pound A Little Plexiglass


Tony was able to wrangle some last-minute tickets to see a Detroit/Chicago playoff game, so we're pulling on our spontaneity pants and heading to Chi-town to catch a game in person. Even better, we're dragging the Seester and her hubby along so that they too can get hooked on hockey excitement.

(Can you believe that the Seester has never seen a hockey game in person? I, so, sad. You tell yourself that it can't happen to those you love, yet here she is, woefully ignorant of the most awesome game in the world. Good thing I am flying in to remedy that immediately).

She asked me on the phone the other day how it was that I ended up being such a hockey fan. I guess you just have to see it to understand. I caught it on TV one night in high school when there wasn't anything else on, and I was totally hooked. It's like Nascar and football and boxing and speed skating and lacrosse and the cool parts of golf all rolled into one. (And I'm not even Canadian. How crazy is that?)

Of course, I'd like to point out that I'm not always this...fervored. This is just because the Hawks are in the playoffs, and are (at the moment) managing to hold their own against the reigning Stanley Cup Champions (booooo Redwings! Eat dirt and die!) I'll calm down once the season is over.

In the mean time, look for me on TV because now I'm off to Chicago to witness the wonder that is the playoffs in person.

And hopefully convert the Seester to the joys that is hockey while I'm at it.

Are You Paying Attention To This, Lord Stanley?

I don't know if the rest of you are following the Stanley Cup playoffs, or any hockey in general, but tonight's game?


Of course, we were a teeny bit worried because Detroit totally wiped Chicago's rear the first game, and then again with a heartbreaking loss in overtime for the second game (during which Tony actually jumped off the couch and yelled, "SHOOT IT CAMPBELL! QUIT SKATING AROUND IN CIRCLES LIKE A PRETTY PRETTY BALLERINA!", which of course struck me as hilarious because nobody- NOBODY is mistaking a 6'0, 200lb defenceman for a pretty pretty ballerina, even if he does skate in circles). So game three tonight was a total nail biter, especially when Havlat got bulldozed against the boards, lost consciousness, and then endured both teams square-dancing all over his lifeless body as they battled.

(Dude is going to have a major headache tomorrow).

(Man I love this game!)

Still, once we figured out that Havlat wasn't dead (he's fine except for the fact that he's under the impression that he's the Queen of England), we settled into a comfortable 3-0 lead.

Which they then managed to blow in a matter of minutes.


(If Tony had hair, he so would have pulled it out).

(I might be short a little hair as it is).

I actually had to get up and leave the room for the first part of the third period because I couldn't stand the suspense. (Don't worry...I came back. I just needed a minute to chillax so that my heart rate could drop below 700...we really get into these games). And despite my little sanity break right there at the beginning, I was totally there to see Sharp's winning goal in overtime, which totally makes up for blowing the lead.

(Pause for a minute for my excessive celebration)

Whew! How could anybody not love this sport? It has it all- the speed, the crashes, the battles, the photo finishes, the hairpin turnarounds, and last but not least...

200lb. pretty pretty ballerinas.

Some Random Stuff on Tuesday

Just so you know up front, this isn't going to be an exciting or brilliantly witty post. There just hasn't been anything good to write about lately. As a matter of fact, I feel a bullet-point attack coming on, so you know that not only is it going to be boring, but completely unrelated to anything else.

Consider yourself warned.

  • I'm having a good hair day today. It was just one of those rare days where I got up and ran a brush through it, and it just magically fell into place, all by itself. No curling, no gel, and no need for a ponytail restraining order. I have no idea what caused it to be in such a good mood, and I probably couldn't deliberately reproduce the effects if I tried, but I'll take it. Good hair days are a gift, and need to be treated as such. Of course, I had absolutely nowhere to go except for a routine doctor's visit, so no one who would be impressed would see my fab hair.'s hair forecast is sunny.

  • Like I said, it was my annual trip to the lady doctor today. You'd think that the chances for bloggy hilarity would be foolproof there, what with the paper gowns and a doctor shoulder deep in one's hoo-ha, but fortunately or not, it was a completely unexceptional visit. I like my lady doctor (well, as much as one can like a doctor anyway...and one holding a speculum at that), and she's pretty good about weeding through my gripes about bloating and hormonally-caused acne to see through to any real concerns that I might have (mostly that I'm a big whiny baby).

  • Oh, wait! There was one other bright spot in the doctor visit. The scale in their office weighed me a whopping 10 lbs LESS than the one at the gym did last time I bothered to check. I was shocked. And thrilled, but mostly shocked. I know that the gym workouts are supposed to do that and all, but with their scales permanently hovering around the exact same number for the past year, I had pretty much accepted that that was just how much I weighed. Not that the new number is anything more than just that-a number, but it makes me feel good to know that if there was ever any reason that someone would have to carry me anywhere, I'd have 10 less pounds to fatigue them.

  • I kicking around the idea of getting a jean skirt. I haven't had one since I was 12 or so, but I saw them in the store the other day, and I've been thinking about them. What are the guidelines for jean skirts? I don't want to look like I'm trying to be 14, but I don't want to look like a Jehovah's Witness either. Thoughts?

  • I found my Pure 80's CD in the back of a closet on Saturday, and I've had it playing for the past few days. I forgot how much fun 80's music is. At this very moment, I'm howling along with Video Killed the Radio Star. The cats are cowering under the bed. (No musical appreciation there at all).

T-Mobile Dance Party

Have you seen the T-mobile commercial where everyone is dancing in the train station? I love it! I'd sooo be one of the onlookers dancing right along. (Note to self: Hang out in more train stations...they are apparently more fun than they look).

Since I watch everything on DVR now, I skip 99.9% of commercials. I am the bane of every ad agency's existence. But good for you T-mobile for catching my attention enough to not only stop and watch the commercial, but to rewind and watch it again.

Don't you just love the little old couple who get into it by waving their canes in the air? They crack me up every time.

What the Doobie Brothers Have in Common With My Carpet

So I've rented a Rug Doctor and I'm shampooing the carpets today. It's our turn to host Tony's poker buddies Saturday night, and the carpets were due for a good washing anyway. (Not that Tony's poker buddies, being of the male persuasion and all, would notice if we had dirty carpet...shoot, they'd be lucky to notice that we had carpet period. But I, being the good southern hostess that I am, would rather walk on hot coals than invite people over to the house with less than perfect carpet. So here we are). Now normally Tony does the actual shampooing since I'm lazy he's so wonderful, but since I now seem to have all the free time in the world on my hands, I decided that I would take it on this go around.

We shampoo the carpets about every six months or so anyway, so you wouldn't think that it would be that big of a deal. Plus, Roomba vacuums daily (well, upstairs and downstairs on alternating days), so the carpet shouldn't be that dirty, right?


It is a universal law that every person since the dawn of time (or at least at the invention of carpet shampooers), no matter how much of a neat-freak they are, and no matter how clean they think their floors are, will be completely and totally disgusted by the filthy black water that comes out of that carpet machine. There is just no way to avoid it.

Personally, I think that this is a trick of the machine itself. Somewhere, between the spraying and the sucking and shampooing, it has a tiny cartridge that shoots black ink into the dirty water reservoir so that when you pull it out to empty it, you go, "Blech! Look at this water! I better wash my carpets more often!" and then you either go out and buy the machine yourself or you keep renting it on a weekly basis, and THAT, my friends, is where they get you.

(Actually, this is just what I'm telling myself because I don't want to believe that our carpets are really this dirty. I mean, I lay on these carpets! I may have to go take another shower right now). Lest you think that we're some sort of disgusting couple who has a really filthy house though, let me assure you that Martha approves of my cleaning routine.

And who dares to disagree with Martha, right?

So here I am, shampooing away and singing the Doobie Brothers ("Oh black water, keep on rollin"... it seemed appropriate) as I carry each back-breaking bucket of dirty water to the tub to wash down the drain. Then, of course, I'll clean the tub.

These poker buddies better fall to their knees and weep in awe when they see my sparkly clean carpet.

Assuming, of course, that their knees are clean.


HAWKS WIN! HAWKS WIN! Oh my goodness, what a game! What a series! Tony and I almost fell off the couch in all of tonight's game excitement! And Kane's hat trick? Mucho awesomeo. You know that that's the first Blackhawks postseason hat trick in 15 years, right? I know! I'm too emotionally drained to do anything else now. Playing all that hockey has exhausted me. :-)

The Turtle

My roses certainly seem to be attracting the wildlife lately. First the cardinal, and now this:
Yes, my friends, a box turtle has decided to stop by to visit.

At first I thought he was a rock. I was out in the yard, making my rounds and checking to make sure that I didn't need to spray the roses for aphids again, when I glanced down and thought "Who put that weird looking rock right there next to my planter?" And then he moved, and I yelled something like, "AIIIIEEEE!" and he yelled something like "AIIIIEEEE!" and I jumped back and he ducked into his shell. And I said, "Geez turtle! You about gave me a heart attack!" and he said, "Yeah well, right back atcha lady!" And then we stood there for a second, feeling a bit awkward.

And then to break the silence, I said something like, "Soooo, nice day, huh?" and kinda rolled his eyes like he couldn't believe that we were actually discussing the weather, but he sighed and said, "Yeah, nice day". And then I said, "Just out for a stroll?" and he said, "Something like that". And then there was another awkward pause.

And then finally I said, "Look, I hope this won't come across as being forward, but do you mind if I take a picture of you for my blog?" And he kinda cocked his head and said, "Slow news day, huh?" and I was like, "Yeah", and he sighed again and was like, "Okay. But you should really consider getting a life." And I was like, "Don't I know it, turtle".

Sounds Like An Episode of CSI Miami

Ya'll, I think I have the swine flu.

Or allergies.

Or maybe both. The point is, the pressure in my head is killing me. I've had a headache for three days straight.

And to make matters worse, I was laying on the bed, bemoaning my impending death by swine flu/allergies, and Tony totally just hauled off and smacked me in the nose. Not that he meant to (he says). He claims he was trying to pat my hand, but he ended up accidentally socking me in the face instead.

Yeah, I'm not buying it either.

So to sum up, I'm probably the only person in the world to kick the bucket due to complications of swine flu, allergies, and domestic abuse, all in the same night. I could use a little pity right now.

Gifts From The Garden

I thought you might want to see my roses. These are my climbing Queen Elizabeth's, and they are absolutely faaaaaabulous right now.
Here's the full trellis.


Even closer.

And here's a special surprise! This is the momma cardinal that makes a nest here each year. She's almost completely hidden, and more than once has surprised me by rocketing out of the foliage and making me stumble backwards.

The picture is a little blurry because I was trying to take it without being close enough to spook her. But eventually she left and I snuck over to get a shot of the three blue speckled eggs.

Imagine my surprise when I peaked into the nest and saw no eggs. Instead, there were tiny little pinkish-brown blobs with black fuzzy down on their heads. They must have just hatched because when I checked on them two days ago, they were still in their packaging. Again, sorry for the blurry pic. I was trying to take the picture from a respectable distance while keeping one eye on a ticked off momma bird.