Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Is It Me, Or Is It SkyMall?

Tonight, my friends, I am tired. I am so very, very tired. It’s a good kind of tired. A pleasant tired. An I-made-dinner-for-my-mom-for-her-birthday-and-she-loved-it tired. An I-had-a-lovely-glass-of-wine (or two) and-then-I-had-brownies-and-milk tired. Yum.

Because I’m so pleasantly tired, today’s post won’t be about anything serious. Tonight, I’m not going to take on the gay marriage naysayers (by the way, way to go NY!), Casey Anthony, Canada geese versus Canadian geese, the whole black toenail polish rage or any of the silliness or awfulness going on out there in the world.

Okay, one exception. I do have one serious comment to make. I have a couple of friends who will not be named who did not like the movie “Super 8.” To them I have one thing to say, and I say it with love: Haters.

Now that that’s off my chest… tonight is dedicated to a few SkyMall listings. Are you familiar with SkyMall?  If not, go fly away somewhere. No, I’m not telling you to bug off. SkyMall is a fabulous – absolutely wonderful – catalogue of items and wares that you didn’t know you needed or wanted until you opened the pages. Once you have seen them, however, you know that you absolutely have to have that glowy lamp or massage chair or your very own Easter Island monolith statue (seriously, you can’t make this stuff up). This wonderful catalogue can be found in the back pocket of just about every airline seat in America… and beyond.

When I was on my horrid flight to Phoenix, I spent much of my pre-Cooking Light time trying to distract myself by reading SkyMall. I don’t know if it was because I was on the brink of a breakdown thanks to aisle seat neighbor, but I found myself giggling out loud while perusing the pages.

Before I continue, let me state unequivocally that I adore SkyMall and would love to own pretty much everything in it. And while the rest of this post may seem like I’m poking fun, the humor I found in SkyMall that fateful afternoon helped save my sanity. If you can call me sane. Which may be doubtful.

Here are the highlights of my SkyMall observations from last week. Enjoy, and be sure to send me your Hanukkah/Christmas list by late August to allow ample shipping time:

This, my friends, should be named Terror-On-A-Tree-Stump. Its sole purpose clearly is to teach children fear of all things natural and woodsy. However, the best part of this is the description to the left of the photo. Do you see it? It states that this icon of horror is "brimming with whimsical personality." I'm curious about the copywriter's definition of "whimsical." 

Insecure about your physique? Why, just attach these inflatable arm and chest muscles! Wow the ladies! Intimidate your rivals! For added bulk, include the optional neck and knee pads. (These are, of course, hot/cold wraps intended for physical therapy... in theory.) 

"Sweetheart, time-outs don't really seem to be helping you much. So here's the deal: Next time you misbehave, we're sending you here."

I don't know what you see, but I see a cat sticking its head out of a webcam.

Girl on LEFT -- Pushing on flexible door screen, intended to prevent injury and screen breakage. Woman on RIGHT -- Walking through hanging "screen door" that attaches in the middle with magnets, which essentially just opens for you as you walk through. VERY IMPORTANT: Do not put the wrong one on the wrong door.

And finally...

I couldn't end this post without showing you the Easter Island "Ahu Akivi Moai" Monolith Statue. Curbside Delivery Available.

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Flying with a Sucker

People who have known me for a long time will tell you, sometimes with evil glee, that I have eating issues. No, I don’t have an eating disorder, unless you consider mild addiction to pizza and Nestle Tollhouse Cookies an eating disorder (she says as she single-handedly finishes off a small pizza). Speaking of which, have you seen this DiGiorno and Toll House Cookie combo frozen dinner?? My friends brought it to my attention, and they are now only to be referred to as “The Enablers.”

Anyway, I have an unhealthy sensitivity to others’ eating behaviors. Open mouth chewing makes me uncomfortable. I flinch at gum popping or snicking. Noisy eating – loud smacking, chomping, talking with mouths full – make me feel outright nauseous.

No, this post is not about my issues with food. It’s simply the back story you need to know to appreciate fully the experience I will share with you now.

Yesterday, I flew from Atlanta to Phoenix. Those of you who have flown in the last few years know that the airlines perform an exercise at least once a year during which they sort out how to squeeze just a few more seats into the limited cabin space available. I’m convinced that soon they will require us to share seat room – literally – with our rowmates by crossing each other’s legs in a complex fashion, or maybe just by snuggling.

On my cross-country flight, I was squeezed into the middle seat between two very nice people who struck that lovely balance between friendly and non-invasive. Until just before take-off, it seemed as if this would be a snug but pleasant flight. I even found myself slightly taken with aisle-seat neighbor’s very fancy painted fingernails with their hot pink background bedazzled with silver and gray starburst patterns.

Then… the sandwich came out. Actually, I’m not sure that the term “sandwich” does justice to the odoriferous, insanely greasy meal-in-bread-in-a-long-paper-pocket-thing that aisle-seat neighbor extracted. We hadn’t even left the ground yet, and the entire cheap-seats cabin was imbued with a scent that can only be described as bordering on nostril-cauterizing. Several rows away, heads turned with noses squinched up, faces bearing confused expressions that clearly communicated, “What IS that? Is something decomposing in the air conditioning system?”

Just after aisle-seat neighbor extracted this loveliness, the plane started to taxi toward take-off. Aisle-seat neighbor reached across me and window-seat neighbor to open both window blinds, declaring, “Sorry, but I need to be able to look out during take-off. Otherwise, I get motion sick.” Good. She-who-must-eat-pungent-food-this-moment had just revealed to me her alternate identity: she-who-may-regurgitate-pungent-food-onto-my-lap. Super.

Once we were airborne, aisle-seat neighbor obliviously proceeded to slowly, very slowly, ingest her sandwich imposter thing, reaching her bedazzled, beclawed fingers into the long paper pocket to pinch off lump after squishy lump of swamp sludge to ingest. When she was mostly finished, she turned to her friend across the aisle and asked, “Do you have the napkins? I could swear I brought napkins. Didn’t I bring napkins? I know I had napkins.” Etc etc etc. She said the word “napkins” at least 35 times, then proceeded to clean her fingers by sucking on them.

Lest you think at this point that I’m exaggerating the ickiness and greasiness of this sandwich, I will share with you now that aisle-seat neighbor’s next move was to locate a stain stick in her purse. She proceeded to stain stick several spots on her clothing (including one on her ankle??).

THEN (yes, there’s a “then”), aisle-seat neighbor extracted one of those single-use tooth floss things and proceeded to start loudly, rapidly flossing her teeth. *snick* *snick* *snick* *snick*  

Aim Single-Use Floss Pick

I don’t want to know where food particles lodged in her teeth ended up. What I do know is that her flossing didn’t entirely satisfy her, as she spent the remainder of the flight loudly sucking her teeth about once every minute. And picking her teeth with her fancy fingernails. Oh, and she flossed again at some point during the flight. *snick* *snick* *snick*  Then she went right back to sucking and picking.

About midway between Atlanta and Phoenix, however, window-seat neighbor revealed himself to be either my Guardian Angel or perhaps my Fairy Godneighbor. Without a word spoken between us, he put one hand on my shoulder and with the other knowingly handed me his brand new, subscription copy of Cooking Light Magazine. I love Cooking Light Magazine, and my own July issue had not arrived before I left for this trip. It was new to me, and oh so appreciated. Reading it cover-to-cover kept my mind mostly occupied for about 45 minutes, leaving me defenseless against the sucking and the picking only for the time it took us to descend into Phoenix. Long enough, my friends. Long enough.

Do you have any food issues or horror stories you'd like to share?

*By the way, I recommend Googling the phrase “single floss” if you have a moment. Odd results.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Cougar in Connecticut

A fascinating thing happened last week in Connecticut: people started reporting spotting a mountain lion – also known as a cougar – wandering the state’s southwestern towns. A couple of guys driving an ambulance saw him jump out in front of their vehicle. A homeowner called in a sighting. The cougar even made an appearance near a fancy schmancy private school in Greenwich, hearth and haven to the wealthy and fabulous who still sport cravats and speak in that oh-so-Mr.-Howell Connecticut Lockjaw accent.
To give you an idea of how unlikely this all was, consider for a moment that the eastern cougar was declared extinct earlier this year. And though officials remained skeptical even as the reports continued coming in, by Saturday all speculation had ceased. The poor cougar allegedly was hit by a car and killed, and the evidence of his presence in the Ralph Lauren State was finally there for all to see.
Observant reader, I expect that you noticed my use of the word “allegedly” in that last sentence. You see, I’m not so sure that this cougar lost his life because of a car accident. I’m from Connecticut, and while drivers there are as prone as other staters to hitting animals that jump in front of their vehicles unannounced, I suspect a more sinister plot at hand. I suspect… wait for it… that this poor cougar was shunned to death.

“What??” you say. “That’s impossible!” If you believe this, you have never lived in Connecticut. The official state motto is “He Who Transplanted Still Sustains,”* but the unofficial motto, passed down from generation to generation of Connecticutians and immortalized by The Far Side, is “Dress Nice.” And this, I believe, is what ultimately sealed the fate of our friend, Mr. Cougar.

Connecticut-folk can be real sticklers for standards of propriety and tradition; they would not appreciate me referring to them as “folk,” for one. They are a steely, assertively preppy bunch, ready to pit their plaid against your plaid and to give you a hefty once-over to see if maybe, just maybe, you purchased your Nieman Marcus off the sale rack (as if). And they know. Do not doubt it for a moment.
It is my theory that the fine citizens of the C and the T noticed that the poor cougar in their midst was not only not appropriately attired – not attired at all, if you can stand it, the nudist hippy – but also very likely had allowed his coif to become just a bit too ruffled and unkempt to be tolerated. It’s possible he didn’t even color his grays. He also had the audacity to wander hither and thither without any respect for boundaries or real estate investment tax shelters or ancestral property customs. Seriously. He was making a mockery of the state, throwing tradition to the wind. If he had been a descendant of one of the Founding Families, a bona fide member of the Mayflower Society, perhaps the good people of Connecticut could have overlooked his antics. But he was not. Thus, he needed to be stopped. Permanently. And oh, he was.

But Connecticutians have a special manner of doing away with those they deem unfit to stroll their neighborhoods. They shun you. They walk right by and don’t look at you. But it’s not that simple. They all learn at a wee young age how to erase your very presence with their non-acknowledgement. It’s awe-inspiring and frightening to behold. In other areas of the world, when you walk by someone who doesn’t notice you, it feels like walking by another human being who, well, doesn’t notice you. But when you walk by a Connecticut person who is actively not acknowledging you, actively shunning you… well… you know the Dementors in the Harry Potter series? It’s kind of like that. Or more specifically, it’s like they psychically tear off a piece of your soul and tap dance on it, all while never looking at you. That is what I think they did to the cougar. I think they collectively shunned it. Perhaps they found it in a field or by a little creek or perusing the window of a Gap store, and en masse, they began walking by it again and again, actively not acknowledging it until its little cougar soul was mush under their psychic feet. Then they made up the trite story about it being hit by a car, and the world fell for it.
If you are one of the Connecticut friends of my youth, you may outwardly scoff at this theory. You may shake your head and laugh and say to your non-Connecticut acquaintances in as non-lockjaw an accent as you can muster, “She’s insane to believe this. Who would kill a cougar intentionally over poor fashion sense? And with a Hyundai SUV? Who in Connecticut would want it in the news that they even set foot in one of those? Puh-lease.” But I know, people. I once lived among you, and I know.

* Other fun Connecticut facts (you seriously can’t make this stuff up):
·         State Song: Yankee Doodle
·         State Animal: Sperm Whale
·         State Folk Dance: Square Dance
·         State Fossil: Eubrontes Giganteus (yes, CT has a state fossil)
·         State Heroine: Prudence Crandall (the name is so apropos, but if you have a chance, read her Wikipedia entry… I think CT got it right officially naming her a heroine)

** For the record, let me state that I drive a Hyundai SUV and absolutely love it.

*** UPDATE: A friend of mine read this and emailed me that he agrees there is foul play afoot, though he credits the evildoings of "those 'professionals' who declared the beast extinct. 'You're extinct NOW motherfucker!!' I can hear them shouting at its carcass."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Haiku Death Match Challenge: The Battle

As promised, below are the submissions for the Haiku Death Match Challenge! If I don't win, I will send The Winner something. Something cheap, most likely. But Jeff or Shawna will receive... something.

 Once again, the topics for the three haikus were:

·         Perfluorohexane
·         Chiggers
·         Infected Blisters

Please leave your vote for the winner in the Comments section below. I will tally the votes on Friday night and will announce the winner here and on the About The Same Facebook page (so be sure to visit it and Like it!).

And with that brief introduction, enjoy:

It is a flourocarbon.
What the hell is that?

Chiggers are like ticks.
They're cousins and they both suck.
Literally, suck.

Here's something that's gross:
Infected blisters. Oh yeah.
They fester and smell.

Chem was never my forte

Chiggers and ‘squeeters
How do I spell relief? Umm
Deep Woods O.F.F.

Infected blisters
Impede my running almost
As much as vacay

You can breathe submerged in it.
Could save burn victims.

Ravenous chiggers
Burrow and consume your flesh.
Ouch! Such itchy welts.

Blisters on smooth skin.
Friction pain, then infection.
Pop! Ooze. Ahh. Relief.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Help Me! Haiku Death Match Challenge

I am addicted to haikus. Absolutely addicted. I’m starting to think in the form of haiku. I sense 5-7-5 rhythm in just about everything I hear. When I hear a turn of phrase that doesn’t conform to this pattern, my brain starts working on how what was said could be rephrased to fit haiku form.
It is a sickness.
I even deliberately follow two exceptional haiku-focused Tweeps: @haikupedia and @suburbanhaiku. If you enjoy haikus, I strongly recommend you check them out.
Anyway, rather than try to cure myself, I’d like to see just how extreme this can become. Will you help me?
By Sunday night (June 12), I’m looking for the wackiest theme you can think of for me to try to work into a haiku. I’ll choose the toughest, oddest three and will work up haikus – if I can – that I will post on Monday morning. (I know this isn’t exactly an America’s Got Talent dream experience, but help a girl out!)
Give me your worst!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I'm Divorced

I’m a divorcee. Sure, I’m happily remarried and all, but I did go through a divorce. I’m just putting that out there. Because, you know, if you ever decide to vote for me – as if I’d ever run for public office – or consider hiring or promoting me into a management-level role, I want to make it clear that I’m not necessarily an “A player” when it comes to personal relationships.

I made a vow of “forever” several years ago that I didn’t ultimately honor, and therefore, according to the citizenry of our country, I may not qualify for leadership. True, I didn’t cheat on my ex-husband, but I’ll admit that there were a few boyfriends in my lifetime to whom I may have been less than faithful (if you are an ex-boyfriend and are reading this, I swear that you’re not one of the ones I cheated on, darling). But still, I failed at a theoretically permanent, commited relationship. So apparently my business acumen must be wanting.

Think about it for a moment. I mean, seriously, what better reflects my business ethics – my tendency (or lack thereof, in hypothetical world) to keep my opposite-sex relationships appropriate or, say, a few instances during my lengthy career of standing up to what I considered to be unethical practices, at the risk of retaliation? Should I be judged by my ability to grasp my clients’ needs and determine successful solutions for them or by my ability (or lack thereof, in hypothetical world) to remain faithful to my husband? On the flip side of this, the last time you learned of a friend or colleague cheating on a significant other, was your first instinct to doubt his or her professional capabilities, or perhaps was it more along the lines of, "I guess I'm kind of glad right now that he and I never got involved."

Before I drive the point not only into the ground but deep down into the core of poor mother earth, I’ll stop with the silliness. Or maybe we should all stop with the silliness. Do we elect officials to represent and fight for our interests as citizens – businesses, taxpayers, countrymen – or to be bastions of moralistic purity? Isn’t that what the clergy is for – to keep us on the path of morality and watch out for our souls? Is it really our place to act as watchdogs in the bedrooms of our elected officials? Really?

And by the way, before you pepper me with questions about "how can you say that about what this one did" or "what about the level of awful committed by that one," of course there are different heights of terrible which some of these folks have achieved. But before you go down the road of "well, if you say this for one of them, you have to say it for all of them," I have two words for you: Zero Tolerance. It's not appropriate for schools, and it's not appropriate for assessing people's relationship blunders, in my opinion.

At the end of the day, frankly, if we want the government to stay out of our bedrooms, shouldn’t we stay out of theirs? I’m just sayin’…

If you're (1) an elected official, (2) of the male persuasion and (3) still unconvinced that these shenanigans should be avoided, at least CLICK HERE for some solid advice from last night's Daily Show.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

We Got An Atari, Ya'll!

My in-laws came through town the other night on their way from Ohio to Florida, and they arrived bearing a box of SWAG. If you aren’t aware, SWAG is an acronym for “Stuff We All Get,” which in this case is an accurate description since the majority of items in the box are fabulous and hugely appreciated hand-me-down books and toys from our niece and nephew to our kids.

There was one special item in the box, however, that my husband immediately adopted as his very own: his old Atari 2600. He’s been cunning (sneaky?) about it, too. That thing did not see the light of day until the kids’ naptime today, so he could reacquaint himself with it and adore it without tiny person intervention.

This photo only includes my husband's hand and not the full glory of all of him enjoying his new/old toy because he threatened to sue me if I post his image without his written consent, which he refused to give. Darn laws.

As I type this, my husband is in the process of playing every single game that came with the Atari, which is a pretty good handful. He’s quite entertained, though not as amused as I am listening to his running commentary. A few nuggets:  
·         No, wait, stop! How many lives do I get?
·         How did I ever make sense of this game before?
·         There’s, like, this difficulty button at the top of the box, labeled A and B. What did that do exactly? Make the controller not work very well?
·         I think I’m going to have some difficulty getting replacement parts for this.
·         I thought this would be more fun.
·         This one [controller] still has the scars of our rabbits trying to eat them. [I refuse to even ask…]

Some things get old after a while. Not this.

UPDATE: Both kids love the Atari. Noah refers to it as "Daddy's Wii," which really doesn't sound great if you don't know to what he's referring. Zoe, on the other hand, had to be taught how to use the joystick. Thanks to the Wii controller, she thought she could just swing the Atari controller around in the air to manipulate the Atari characters. I love this thing.
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