Judging You By Your Cover

I'm sure that by now many of you have heard Amazon's announcement last week that ebooks are now outselling traditional books. While this is one giant step forward for technology, (and I love technology!) this recent Slate article did bring up an interesting point: In a soon-to-be world where everyone is using a Kindle or Nook, how are we possibly going to be able to judge each other by our covers?

I don't mean that in a bad way, either. It's just that back when books had actual covers, it was a lot easier to glance over at the person on the train or the treadmill or at the table next to you and peek at what they were reading. I'll admit it. I do it all the time. I'm interested to know what other people are reading, and if it looks enticing enough, I'll make a note to put it on my own reading list. I've found some great books that way.

Plus, if eyes are the windows to the soul, books are the windows to the personality. What better way to get a feel for someone you just met than to take a peek at their bookshelves? Is this potential new acquaintance a fan of popular who-done-its or Ancient German Philosophers? Sci-fi or poetry? Seven habits or chic-lit? (Or all of the above?) Books make great conversation starters. ("I see you have a copy of X over there on the coffee table. What did you think of the main character?") Bookshelves can tell you how someone feels about something, and what you have in common, and is still less intrusive than peeking in the medicine cabinet.

I suppose we'll find other ways to connect over books though. I'm a member of a website that allows me to keep a virtual bookshelf of books I've read (and want to read). The site allows me to rank how much I like a book, and even have discussions and join special online reading groups of other people with similar tastes. (Although to be completely honest, I don't really do much discussing there...I use it mainly to keep track of what I've already read so I don't make the mistake of trying to read something that I already read a year ago. I do follow other people's recommendations though, and it's a fabulous way to discover new authors).

So I guess "Hey! You're reading that? I read that! What do you think of it?" will always live on in some way...we'll just do it with booklover914 from Sydney rather than the woman on her lunch break at the table next to us.

A Room Divided...Keeps Paint Off Paws

You want to see my weekend project? (I know it isn't the weekend anymore, but I just finished it, so I guess it's a weekend+1 project). Anyway, here's the thing: We have a basement/workroom downstairs where I do my painting. The washer and dryer are also down there, and the cats used to get their dinner down there right up until the time I came home and found paint paw-prints across one of my wet canvases and all over the window sill. (Now I keep the door to the workroom closed and the cats eat at the bottom of the stairs). Only it's a huge hassle to keep that door closed all the time. For one thing, trying to open and shut a door while carrying 50 loads of laundry is nearly impossible, and second, every cat knows that a closed door means that they're being deprived of something fabulous, which makes them only more determined to break into the room. If I could just block off my paint section from the rest of the room somehow, then I could leave the door open downstairs.

So I made one of those room dividing screens.

Now I know I could have just purchased one, but the longest one I could find was only about 4' long, and I needed it to stretch 8'. Plus they're either all oriental-themed, or really plain and boring. Besides, they're so easy to make. It was basically just mitering some frames and stretching canvas like I do anyway, only 6' high by 2' wide, and 4 of them instead of one. Then just hinge them together and call it a day.So if you need a room divider (or just a decorative screen), I encourage you to build your own, because concept is absurdly simple. It's basically a frame on the front (like I said, mine is 6' high by 2' wide, made out of furring strips, cut with a miter saw and painted black), some thin canvas material stapled on, and another frame on the back to hide the staples and make the whole thing a little sturdier. Then just multiply by 4 (or however many panels you like), hinge them together and viola! Instant room divider.Here's the front frames with canvas stretched over them. And see? Already doing a good job of hiding the dirty dishes in the sink.
Of course, plain ol canvas is boooooring, so I decided to paint a simple little tree on mine. It hints at oriental with the cherry blossoms, but it's contemporary enough to match the rest of my house should it ever need to divide another room. Trees are good because they're hard to mess up...uneven areas and thicker "branches" just add authenticity, and I like to think that metaphorically, the birds are me and Tony, hanging out together in our quirky curly tree.
The canvas makes it super lightweight to move around, but still really sturdy so I know it isn't going to come crashing down if it ends up being ground zero for a cat chase. I know it isn't a Monet or Van Gogh, but I like it and it will serve its purpose, which is all I'm asking for something that will live in my basement.

A Little Random Trivia

Here's a bit of useless trivia for you, courtesy of random information I keep rattling around in my brain:

In the early 1940's, doctors would routinely cut a patient open for heart surgery and liberally sprinkle a powder over the offending organ. The powder in question? A lovely little substance known as asbestos.

Not surprisingly, fatalities were high.

The doctors, concerned at their dismal batting average, tried to figure out how to save more patients. So the most educated minds of the era got together to figure out a solution...

They decided that they should be using more asbestos.

Something to think about next time you see your doctor.

TV, Music, Movies, and One Sticky Wicket

You know what we haven't done in a while? A 10 on Tuesday. And look! It's a Tuesday! It's like the universe is telling me to string random thoughts together with bullet points!

  • Tony's parents and sister can to stay with us this weekend. We made them eat and go to a minor league baseball game (that ended up lasting 14 grueling innings) and eat and box each other on the wii and eat and hike trails at the nature center and eat. Needless to say, a lot of food was consumed. I like seeing them, but my metabolism isn't what it used to be. It takes forever to recover from these weekends. I shudder at the gym time this is going to take.
  • There's a Criminal Minds marathon on, and after about 12 episodes, it has dawned on me that every single victim was a young woman. Never any men. Never any old people. (One child abduction, but again, a young woman). Do they only take cases where women are victims? Do they not care about men, children and the elderly? Or are those people just not grievously butchered in the writers' world? Sometimes 4 or 5 women are killed in a single episode. They better be careful or there's going to be a serious shortage of young women if they're all busy being murdered by serial killers. Injudicious thinning of a specific demographic of society will have serious long-term anthropological effects.
  • Speaking of songs I like, you know that song Dog Days Are Over by Florence and the Machine? I LOVE that song! I added it to my playlist a couple of months ago, but since then I've heard it everywhere! (The preview for that USA show about the woman CIA agent, and the new trailer for the Julia Roberts Eat, Pray, Love movie both feature it). It is wicked catchy.
  • Speaking of Eat, Pray, Love, I'm not sure how I feel about it being turned into a movie. I loved the book, but it just doesn't seem like the kind of story that could transfer to the big screen. I mean sure, they could show her traveling through Italy and India and Bali, but the real journey is an inner journey; a spiritual pilgrimage if you will. I love Julia Roberts, but I'm not sure how she can relay spiritual awakening on a movie screen. I'm afraid that they're just going to make a shell movie of the real story. Or worse, just change the story completely. I just don't trust movies based on books. They always feel like they cheapen the story for me. What do you think? Did anyone else read the book? How do you feel about the movie?

  • Actually, since we're talking about Eat, Pray, Love, I'm going to go ahead and say that I liked the second book, Committed, much better. It kinda picks up where the first one left off, only instead of being a spiritual journey, it's a journey of matrimony. I highly recommend it. Elizabeth Gilbert makes me laugh and cry and snort and sigh and look at things in a whole new light.
  • In other news, apparently my house hates me. First the light in my bedroom broke (well, not so much broke as the bulbs get "surface of the sun" hot and keep burning themselves out and threatening to set things on fire), and then the shower head in the guest bathroom went totally cuckoo for cocoa puffs and started spraying water everywhere, and now the front porch light is on the fritz. (I thought it was just a burned out bulb but I've come to find out that no, the whole thing is shot and the house apparently just hates me). These are all fairly easy fixes, but by ganging up on me at once, it pretty much guarantees that I'll have to spend an entire day trying to play Bob Vila.
  • I've been watching episodes of The IT crowd on Netflix recently. It's a British comedy about a woman who claims to know a lot more about computers than she actually does and ends up hired as the head of an IT department. The two guys who work for her are your classic computer nerds (but with British accents!) and the whole thing devolves into crazy hi-jinks and hilarity. There's three seasons that you can watch instantly on Netflix if crazy British sitcoms are you thing.
  • Speaking of British television, (or the "telly" as it were) I've decided to incorporate more English phrases into my everyday speaking. Not the accent, mind you, but just the phrases. For example, at least once a day, I will try to work in the phrase "Well, this is a bit of a sticky wicket now, isn't it?" (Why? No idea. I just like the way "sticky wicket" rolls off the tongue. Plus if nothing else, it will be a new way to make people crazy). I also like, "Oh, bother" as an alternative. It reminds me of Paddington bear.
  • You know the phrase that I do say more than any other? I mean far more than any other? Like 50 times, every single day? (No, no, it's not "Unbelievable!" for those who watched the whale video, although good guess). It's "It's not time to eat yet". I say this to the cats, and I say it roughly a thousand times a day. They get dinner at 5:00 every evening, but they seem to think that if they go tearing off to their food bowls every time I shift position, they'll get fed earlier. Hence the phrase. Now, how sad is it that this is the sentence I say the most, and how much sadder is it that the majority of my daily conversation takes place with cats? If only I could work "sticky wicket" in somewhere.

Edited to add: The Seester has just texted me the following: "Watching Criminal Minds. 3 white guys aged 25-35 were just strangled in Miami over one month. Happy now?" To which I say, Yes. Yes I am.

Watermelon. "Gift" Indeed...

So my bloggy buddy Danielle makes a good point about watermelon over on her site, Wonju Wife. So good in fact, that I just had to share. It's hilarious. And true. And hilarious because it's true:

When someone gives you a watermelon, sure, your first thoughts are, "How thoughtful! How lovely! How heavy." And then it's basically all downhill from there. Watermelon is a lot of responsibility. First, it's a hassle to get into. And second, where are you supposed to put it?

I am as excited about watermelon in the summer as the next person, but good grief don't give me one. The gift of a watermelon is really someone saying, "I think it's time you rearrange and clean out your fridge." If you...
Read the whole spot-on discourse at Wonju Wife. If you don't find yourself nodding along in total agreement and randomly saying things like, "Yeah!" and "That's true!", then honestly, I don't know what's wrong with you.

Psssst! You Asleep?

I spent the evening catching up with my old friend insomnia last night, so I'm a bit tired today. That means that today's resulting post-o-pointlessness is going to be one of the old or random bulleted list. And since I secretly enjoy reading other people's meme answers, I'm going to go with meme. Feel free to answer along. The best part is when I realize that I'm not the only one who does [insert bizarre action here]. Then we laugh about it together, and a bond is formed. See how that works?

Anyway, my favorite are the themed memes as opposed to the ones that just ask random questions like "What's the closest thing to you that is red?", so I did a little digging and came up with one that actually ties into last night's insomnia: the Sleep Meme. (You see how I did that? Tied in the part about insomnia above and the meme? That's talent, my friends. They don't let you on the Internet unless you can do that.)

Anywho, everybody ready? Pencils sharpened? Then here we go:

The Sleep Meme

1) Are you a heavy sleeper?
I'm going to start with some ambiguity right out of the gate and go with "I'm not sure". I guess it depends on what is going on around me. Like, Tony can get up, take a shower, get ready and go to work, and I'll never hear a thing. But one cat can make the slightest hair-ball hack and I'm instantly alert.

2) Do you fall asleep quickly?
Heavens no. I wish I did. Tony can fall asleep before his head hits the pillow, but it usually takes me hours to quiet my brain enough to fall asleep. It's really annoying actually, especially when I know I'm supposed to get up early. I just lay there, watching the clock, going, "Any time now, brain". I usually trick myself into sleep by making up elaborate stories in my head. Eventually the stories segue into dreams, and then I'm off to the races.

3) Do you walk or talk in your sleep?
I talk. hoo-boy, do I talk. Sometimes I remember them the next day, and sometimes I don't. (Tony told me the other day that I had woken him up to tell him that the rice was burning. We hadn't cooked any rice that night, but I kept going on about it until he told me that he took it off the stove. I don't recall this AT ALL, but apparently I quieted right down after that). I also remember a time when I fell asleep at the end of a date with a boyfriend. We were having a discussion about something, and I was arguing a point that I wanted to make. He finally conceded that maybe I was right, and then I said, "Besides, it'll never fit under your cape." That's about the time he realized that I was asleep and talking (and winning a debate!), so he took me home. (Never let it be said that I'm not an exciting date). So talking, yes. Walking? Not so much.

(PS-I also occasionally do the hypnagogic hallucinations, i.e. waking dreams, but I've mostly figured out when those are happening, so I don't bother anybody with them).

4) What size bed?
Queen. Every now and again Tony will say something about wishing we had a bigger bed. But I'm a snuggler, so it doesn't really matter what size we have, I'm never going to stay on my side. Plus the headboard fits a queen, and I'm not about to try to hunt up new bedroom furniture.

5) What kind of sheets?
I told you about the satin, right? Well, about two weeks after that, I broke down and bought some more plain cotton sheets. In addition to being less slippery, they breathe a lot better for summer sleeping, so we're currently on the cotton. Maybe we'll go back to the satin for the winter, but for now? Cotton sheets. Also of note: We only use a fitted sheet, not the top sheet. I've never used a top sheet (I tend to get tangled up in it during the night), and neither does Tony. Just one more of those odd little things that we realized we had in common when we met. We sleep directly under the duvet, and that's all.

6) Do you wear pjs?
This is probably going to fall under the category of too much information, but the answer to that is...sometimes. If I'm visiting someone else, or someone is visiting us, I do. Otherwise, I get tangled up in pj's during the night, so I tend to avoid them. (Apparently, I toss and turn a lot). Even at night, clothing will find a way to annoy me.

7) Do you sleep alone?
Nope. I share my bed with Tony and 5 cats. It sounds crowded, but the cats tend to rotate in and out throughout the night, and with the exception of Dixon, they all like to sleep on Tony's side anyway. (Dixon sleeps on his own pillow next to me).

8) What time do you usually go to bed?
I try to make it to bed between 2 and 3am. Sometimes (like last night), it's later, but usually between 2 and 3. Any earlier than that and I'm definitely not going to sleep. The joys of being a night person, I suppose.

9) How many hours of sleep do you get?
Ohhhh. Here's the benefit of being your own boss and working out of the home. I usually sleep until 10 or 11am. (I have an alarm that goes off at 11). Usually I'll wake up before it though. So 8 or 9 hours a night, with it stretching into 10 or 11 on weekends (just because I can).

10) Do you remember your dreams?
Yes. I'm a very vivid dreamer, and can control the majority of them. (Although usually I like to just sit back and watch where they dream stories are often much better than the stories I made up for myself to get there in the first place). I dream best in the mornings, and will deliberately try to stay in them for as long as possible. (For me, dreaming is like being in a cloud bank. Sometimes you can hang onto it for a while before the mist dissipates and you're back to reality). Dreaming is the best part of being asleep for me.

11) Do you snore?
Don't think so. No one has ever mentioned it. (Although I'm sure that if I did, they would be very cute little lady-like snores).

12) Do you have a night light/leave a light on somewhere?
Nope. I like it as dark as possible when I sleep. It's hard enough for me to get to sleep without having some light distract me.

13) How many pillows?
When actually sleeping? One for me, One for Tony, One for Dixon (although to be fair, Dixon's pillow is really just my second pillow...he just appropriated it). During the day we add five decorative pillows on top of those three.

14) Do you read/watch tv to go to sleep?
Yes...kinda. I know you aren't supposed to do that in bed because it confuses your body as to what the bed is for, but if I didn't read or watch TV in bed, I'd never spend any time in it. I don't use the tv or books to fall asleep though. Unlike virtually everyone else in the world, I cannot get sleepy when reading or watching tv. (My parents are masters at this...the tv goes on, and they both go out. I, meanwhile, cannot seem to disengage from a plot line, no matter how stupid it is. I have to finish the book or the show out to the very end. Turning it off mid-story would keep me up and wondering for the rest of the night. You would not believe how many late night fishing show reruns I've been stuck with because of this).

15) Do you have a ritual before bed?
I'm assuming this question means a standard bedtime routine as opposed to draining the blood out of chickens or something. I guess my ritual is read/watch tv/play on the computer until the natural ending of the book/show/blog reader falls sometimes between 2 and 3. Then I'd go to the bathroom, put a night moisturizer on my face, get into bed and tell myself stories until I fall asleep. I used to use a white noise machine to play sounds of the ocean, or rain, or crickets (the crickets made Tony crazy) when I went to bed, but the noise machine only had a 90 minute timer and it takes me longer than 90 minutes to go to sleep. So I'd be allllllmost asleep when suddenly the room would go silent, and then I'd be all alert again. Turned out it was more trouble re-relaxing than it was worth. I'm not really into the warm milk thing though, if that's what you're asking.

So. What do you think? Do any of my answers match yours? Is there anything you do that's different? Is either one of us crazy insane? (Maybe don't answer that last one). Let me know. These memes are only fun if you share your answers too.

Edited to add- The spellchecker jumped all over hypnagogic (as expected), but the only alternate suggestion it could come up with was "spongecake". I was like, "Oh spellcheck. Epic fail on that one".

Looking Wonder-ful

Okay, what I'm about to say is going to expose me as a geek of the highest magnitude, but I can't just sit idly by and listen to one of the coolest women ever get ruefully disparaged by the fashion police. If anyone embodies the ideal that it's your heart and mind and spirit that count...that you are more than the sum of your accessories, it's her, and she doesn't deserve to be brutally attacked by those fashion fascists.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, Wonder Woman, I got your back sister.

In case you missed it, Wonder Woman has updated her look. Gone are the days of red go-go boots and star spangled Daisy Dukes. Say goodbye to the bosom-heaving bustier with the gold eagle on the front. Instead, Wonder Woman has updated to some tasteful black pants (!!!), amazonian-insired accessories, fitted red top, and-get this-even a shoulder covering motorcycle jacket (I know!!). She actually looks a little rock star...or like she's ready to go clubbing in New York. Or at least normal enough that people wouldn't snicker as she walked down the street. And I say good for her. She deserves some new threads. Besides, that old look was so World War II, and dare I say it, more than a little tarty.

Wonder Woman in her old outfit (l) and now sporting a fetching blue, red and yellow number (r). Photograph: DC Comics

You know it's a man's world when even the super-est of women get dressed as pin-up girl of the month, July 4th edition. Sure, the look screamed patriotism, but it also screamed super-floozie, and it always concerned me that Wonder Woman, most powerful woman in the world and heroine to little girls everywhere, would portray herself as a star-spangled hooker. But the times, as they say, are a-changin', and nothing says the equality of women like being able to wear something tasteful and non-flesh baring and still be considered powerful.

And why not? Batman updated his 'do. Gone are the days of him running around in tights with his underwear on the outside...he's got that fancy all black rubber suit deal now that emphasizes his abs. Spiderman went from red and blue to black and then back again, and Wolverine went through several colors of spandex (and an eye patch) before ditching his uniform altogether and just wearing normal clothes. If the guys can update, why not Wonder Woman? Heaven knows that after 69 years of enduring a blue-and-white starred wedgie, she deserves it.

I know the traditionalists are mad. They can get over it. Everything changes. Everything evolves. I know the comic geeks hate the fact that she's wearing, you know, actual clothes, and not a skin-bearing, breast-bouncing, vacuum-sealed tight outfit. But it's time they started respecting women for being women and not just leather-donned sex objects. Nobody takes a woman in hot pants and a bustier seriously. More, I think the move says something to little girls today, who more than anything need to hear the message that you don't have to dress like a tramp to be popular. (And judging from what I see the 7 year-olds walking around in these days, I say the message can't come soon enough).

This could end up being a great step forward for women-kind. First Wonder Woman, then maybe Catwoman, or the X-men women, or that chick from the Fantastic 4. Then maybe cheerleaders, whom I've always felt got the short end of the stick with the mid-riff bearing tops and tiny skirts for a sport that is played outside during the winter season. Then dance teams, who not only employ spandex but tend to spend most of their time writhing around on the floor in suggestive moves for the enjoyment of leering men during half-time shows. It's time we remembered that young girls are watching also.

So bravo Wonder Woman! Way to step into the present. Way to turn away from leather body suits and leotards and lead the way into seeing woman for powers they possess on the inside and not just as sex objects. I applaud the new look. I applaud DC Comics for doing it.

Wonder Woman, you've come a long way, baby.

Foot Loose

So I'm currently typing this with one foot all bandaged and hiked up on the desk beside me because two days ago I fell getting out of the car. (Yes Interpeeps. I am a complete and total klutz. 30 years and I still have not mastered the art of walking).

I'm not really sure what happened other than we had just pulled into the driveway, having completed the 7 hour drive back from Savannah, and (unbeknownst to me) somewhere along I-75 my foot had fallen asleep. Only it wasn't the whole pins and needles tingly asleep, it was the "numb from mid-calf down and possesses no feeling (and therefore no stability) whatsoever" asleep. The foot version of a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale.

Which, if you're wondering, doesn't hold up very well when you're trying to walk.

I made it approximately one and a half steps when my ankle rolled, and I suddenly found myself walking on the top of my foot, which contains all those pesky little bones and tendons and whatnot that hold your toes on but are not really designed to support a hundred and cough cough pounds of weight. So naturally, my foot lodged an official complaint with the body parts union and dumped my butt on the ground.

Which is where Tony found me a few minutes later, sprawled out in a heap in the driveway with my purse and travel neck pillow and the leftover bag of trash from the Hardees we stopped at somewhere around Dalton, screaming not-nice words at the top of my lungs and trying not to cry in front of the neighbors.

Grace under pressure, that's me.

Eventually Tony had to carry me inside piggy back style (not as sexy as the two arm cradle, mind you, but better than the over-the-shoulder fireman's carry) because traitorous said foot no longer felt it necessary to support my weight, which makes walking slightly impossible. He wanted to go to the doctor to get it looked at, but I didn't think it was broken, so I was all for skipping the going to the doctor part. (Then again, I'm always for skipping the going to the doctor part, and we all know how well that's worked out for me in the past). I had him convinced that it wasn't worth the doctor's time right up until he caught me crawling to the bathroom that evening, foot dragging uselessly behind. Then he decided that maybe we should maybe get an x-ray or two:

Doctor: What happened?
Me: Ninja attack.
Doctor: ...
Me: Vicious ones.
Doctor: ...
Me: About 50 of them.
Doctor: Nurse! I'm going to need to see a brain scan done too!

(I tell you, some people in the medical field have no sense of humor. What ever happened to the whole "laughter is the best medicine" thing?)

Ninjas aside, x-rays revealed that it's just a really bad sprain of the ankle and the tendons that hold the bones on the top of my foot together. Unfortunately, there's not really much you can do for a sprain other than ice it and keep it elevated and try to dull the pain while you wait for traitorous foot to (literally) start pulling its weight again. But the good news?

* Nothing broke, so no hobbling around for 6 weeks in a walking boot (the height of fashion)
* The pain pills that the doctor gave me, while not exactly on the level of singing pink elephants, are enough to make me be all, "Foot? What foot?"
* I had just had a fresh pedi so at least my toenails were looking their best for the radiologist.

Silver lining, my friends. It's all you can hope for. So to recap: The foot and I are still not on speaking terms with each other, I have perfected a very complex limp-crawl-drag that I predict will very soon become the latest dance craze, and in the future, when ruthlessly dispatching angry roving gangs of vicious ninjas, remember to protect your feet.

Fourth of July

Happy 4th of July Interpeeps! Hope your holiday was filled with friends and grilled meat and managing to keep all of your fingers from being blown away when you went to inspect that Roman Candle that didn't go off like it was supposed to.

I spent mine down with the extended fam in Savannah.

Tony and I went down to see a cousin get married on Saturday, and then stayed for the festivities through Monday. The wedding was lovely, the reception afterward was fun, and the food was plentiful. What more can you really ask for, right?

On Sunday, the whole family got together for a pool party/cookout/extreme croquet tourny. Mom pushed Tony in the pool with all his clothes on, I ate my body weight in boiled peanuts (a Southern staple!), everyone managed to keep their croquet balls out of the dog poo and fire-ant hazards (told you it was extreme) and a generally good time was had by all.

I guess that's really what the 4th of July is all about, right? The freedom to get married, eat burgers, and whack your cousin's ball as far away from the wicket as possible. To take turns seeing who can make the biggest splash off the diving board, listen to uncles tell ridiculous stories about growing up with your dad, and eat that second (or third, or twelfth) red, white and blue sprinkled cookie.

I know our country isn't perfect. Heaven knows we make all kinds of mistakes, but at least they are ours to make. We chose it, for better or worse, protected it in blood and lives lost, and try our best to remember those values that the founding fathers wanted us to live by. Liberty, justice, and okay, maybe one more of those sugar cookies.

God bless America.

Please Stand By

You know that annoying high pitched screeching noise that comes with emergency broadcasting tests? Yeah, please make that noise to yourself. We're having some technical difficulties over here at the House of Quirk.

Don't worry, I'll be back as soon as I can give the hamsters that power the Internets a good whack.