Monday, April 27, 2009

Search Me

I always find it fascinating to see how readers come to find my blog. And thanks to my handy, dandy site meter, not only can I see not where people come from, but what they searched for before clicking on to my site.

There are days when a number of people search for Sporticus and come here. Then, there are those who search for LOL Cats and come here. And lately, many have searched for a picture of Violet Beauregard and so they've landed here, which is kinda funny because there's an extra step to actually see her picture. I can't determine whether or not the searchers stay and read or just bail after finding whatever it was they were looking for, but I'm amazed by the amount of people searching for the same, random thing. I'd be less impressed if I had blogged about, say, lyrics, which, according to Google Insights, seems to be one of the most popular searches within the last 30 days.

And while I'm on the subject of popular searches, here's a little bit of trivia, in case you're interested in seeing who's looking for what:

In the "books" category, Dan Brown's name has been a popular search term, particularly in Ohio, followed by Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York. Dan Brown? Ugh!

The most popular search term in the "Beauty and Personal Care" category is hair. Even more interesting are the rising subcategories: hairstyles for prom; prom hairstyles 2009; and Taya Parker (oh, my, I just Googled her, since I'd never heard of her before. Shows you how behind I am!)

Interestingly enough, the number one search term within the "Computer and Electronics" category ISN'T i-Phone or's Windows. However, among the rising searches within this category are about the "cornficker virus".

So there you go, fellow netizens. If you've come here searching for Dan Brown, Prom Hairsyles for 2009, Windows and the Cornficker Virus, or Taya Parker, you've come to the wrong place.

Thanks for surfin' by!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Ears Are Always the First to Go

Though Easter was a few weeks ago, our dining room table is still cluttered with Easter baskets, boxes of stale Peeps, and plastic eggs.

We're not big on religion. In fact, we celebrate more for the candy than anything else. It also gives us an excuse to dress up in our best pastels.

I never really questioned the correlation between Easter and rabbits. I just took for granted they always lived hand in hand, until I came across some information about the ritual's origins. Turns out, we have the Germans to thank for importing the Easter Bunny into American folklore. He first appeared on the scene during the 16th century, when it was written than if little boys and girls made nests out of their caps and bonnets, the Easter Bunny would fill them with colored eggs.

The word, Easter, comes from the term Ostara, which is the name of the Spring equinox, and it's been documented, too, by the Venerable Bede that Easter comes from Eostre--the Germanic goddess of Spring.

This little lesson reminds me of one of the funniest essays I'd ever read by David Sedaris in his book Me Talk Pretty One Day. The essay is written about taking a French language class in Paris with students from various parts of the world. When it's time to explain Easter, each student, save for the Moroccan, who'd never heard of the holiday, jumps in to provide details. What makes this essay so pee-in-your-pants funny is the way in which Sedaris translates their awful attempt at French into English:

The Italian nanny was attempting to answer the teacher's latest question when the Moroccan student interrupted, shouting, "Excuse me, but what's an Easter?"

It would seem that despite having grown up in a Muslim country, she would have heard it mentioned once or twice, but no. "I mean it," she said. "I have no idea what you people are talking about."

The teacher called on the rest of us to explain.

The Poles led the charge to the best of their ability. "It is," said one, "a party for the little boy of God who call his self Jesus...oh shit." She faltered and her fellow country-man came to her aid.

"He call his self Jesus and then he be die one day on two...morsels of...lumber."

The rest of the class jumped in, offering bits of information that would have given the pope an aneurysm.

"He die one day and then he go above of my head to live with your father."

"He weared of himself the long hair and after he die, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples."

"He nice, the Jesus."

"He make the good things, and on the Easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today."

Part of the problem had to do with vocabulary. Simple nouns such as cross and resurrection were beyond our grasp, let alone such a complicated refexive phrases as "to give of yourself your only begotten son." Faced with the challenge of explaining the cornerstone of Christianity, we did what any self-respecting group of people might do. We talked about food instead.

"Easter is a party for to eat of the lamb," the Italian nanny explained. "One too may eat of the chocolate."

The essay goes on further about explaining who brings said chocolate. But when a dispute between the American version of a rabbit delivering the candy versus the French version of a bell flying in from Rome, it raises the question of why would the French have a bell? And further, why would it fly in from Rome when it would be so much easier to use a bell from Paris?

Curiosity got the better of me and so I looked up the origin of the Bell Theory. Turns out, the bell has a little more Christianity tied to it than our American counterpart. According to legend, all bells cease to ring on the Thursday before Good Friday, to mark the death of Christ. On Easter Sunday, the bells ring again to mark his resurrection. Apparently one of the bells goes to visit the Pope in Rome, who gives him (him?) a bunch of colored eggs to take back with him. So the bell returns to France and scatters the eggs everywhere for people to find.

Personally, I'm siding with Sedaris who argues that the Easter Bunny is, at least, a character, where a bell "has all the personality of a cast-iron skillet."

Without the Easter Bunny, there'd be no chocolate rabbits; and without chocolate rabbits, there'd be no rabbit ears; and everyone knows, that's the best part.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Breaking up is hard to do

I've been going to the same hairdresser now for 12 years and while I only see her (I shall call her "Dee") every eight weeks for 2.5 hours at a time, I consider Dee to be one of my dearest friends. Those 2.5 hours are spent kvetching about dogs, kids, people, name it.

We've been through a lot of changes together, too. From marriages to divorces to trying to get pregnant to adopting children, I'd say our relationship has run the gamut of every life event imaginable, except for maybe death. Unless you count the death of pets--then, yeah, it's pretty much everything.

Aside from our friendship, Dee does a wonderful job with my hair. I've gone through the short and sassy phase to the long and straight--and everything in between, and no matter how many different ways she does my hair, I've never had a problem with how it looked and have always gotten out of her chair feeling like a million bucks.

Since I live in Seattle, my natural blond has become a thing of the past--but only Dee knows my true color. Ten years ago, I attempted to bleach it on my own, royally screwing up my hair. Dee was there to give me shit and then she fixed it. She still gives me shit to this day--and I don't mind because she's masterful with color and I am not. With Renoir-esque strokes, she brightens my clouded-over locks, and blends the ever-present, encroaching gray hair I've seemed to sprout.

Dee has had her share of personal ups and downs, particularly in the relationship department. But a little less than a year ago, all of that changed and she found her true life partner. The good news is that he makes her happy. The bad news is that he lives in Utah, and so Dee has announced that she will soon be leaving Seattle, and me.

I try not to take it personally, but this is clearly one of the worst break-ups I've ever experienced. I know there are many hairdressers here in Seattle, but I'll never find another Dee.

Sniff, sniff...excuse me while I go cry in my Bumble and Bumble.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

It Ain't Easy Being Green

On March 30, the City of Seattle added a mandatory food waste program to their weekly trash collection service. This means that all food scraps cannot be placed into a garbage can. Instead, food items must be thrown into a yard waste can, where it commingles with grass clippings and leaves. Before, our trash collectors picked up yard waste every other week, but with the new program, yard/food waste is collected weekly.

I think Seattle has always had one of the best recycling programs in the nation, and as far as I know, it's one of the most aggressive. Coupled with the new food waste program, our recycling no longer needs to be separated out between glass and paper and plastic. So long as everything is rinsed out, all recyclables can be placed into the same bin.

The launch of the new food waste program, however, has been a little difficult to adopt in our household. It's not that we're complaining about placing our food scraps into a compost bin, it's just one of those things that requires a little more thought beyond remembering not to throw egg shells and tea bags in our kitchen trashcan.

Last weekend, Pa bought a small compost bin that fits on top of our kitchen counter. To keep down the smell, the stainless steel bin has a charcoal filter on the lid, and there are small holes to help dry out the food scraps and keep them from generating a lot of icky-smelling bacteria. The only thing I have to remember is empty out the refrigerator once a week of those leftovers that never made it to repeat meals. I figure since they stay in airtight containers, it's better to dump them straight in the yard waste bin the night before our trash pick up.

So far, we've been really good at tossing our scraps into the compost bin; and surprisingly, the bin only needs to be taken outside and dumped into our yard waste can about once or twice a week. But yesterday, as I brought Lady La home from her first day of Pre-preschool, I noticed this underlying smell in our kitchen. It smelled like something was not full-blown rotting, just sorta, kinda rotting. I checked the handy-dandy compost bin, but as far as I could tell, it didn't seem to be the source. Then I checked around the pantry to see if I had any mushy onions or bananas--but again, nothing.

Then I stepped outside onto the back porch and noticed that the smell was coming from the yard waste can 10-15 feet away. Now, keep in mind, it's only springtime. With exception of a few 70 degree days, the average temperature here is still under 60. If the yard waste can is generating that much of a smell now, I can only imagine what our block will smell like come August! I'm thinking something close to Elizabeth, New Jersey on the smell register.
Thankfully, I bought some violets and impatiens from the store that I wanted to plant into a pot on the porch that was filled with lots of dead stuff, so I was able to dump a lot of that out into the yard waste can which seemed to absorb some of the odor.

So, you see, our new citywide trash collection service is now forcing me to grow a green thumb, and do more gardening, weeding, and mowing so the green stuff can hang with the food stuff and neutralize the smell. Personally, I think the new program is really an evil plot to keep our postage-stamp sized properties looking neat and trim, and free from dandelions.

I wonder when we'll have to separate out the dog poop and disposable diapers?

Thursday, April 02, 2009


I'm not much of a fan of TV these days. I mean, there are some shows I absolutely must watch, like Lost, Mad Men, Greys Anatomy (don't laugh), Dexter, The Tudors, 30 Rock, and Weeds; but everything else, I can live without, except, maybe Jon Stewart. I love watching The Daily Show but if I let it accumulate on my DVR, I just delete it because it's old news. But I digress. I'm quite happy with my Netflix subscription, and trusty DVR. Besides, if I make it through one show in the evening, after a day of parenting, I'm lucky. So my choices are limited by what little free time I have without being unconscious.

We curb our kids' TV time, too. It's easy for Lady La because she barely watches TV at all, except for a couple of Baby Einstein videos. Mr. Na, though, has become a TV junkie, and in order for him to watch any TV at all, he has to earn credits by doing his chores, homework, piano, and reading. We've banned him from watching Sponge Bob because his last two consecutive report cards said that he talked too much in class, and he won't be getting Sponge Bob back until that's rectified.

We have Direct TV, which is kind of silly, given our minimal viewing habits, but Pa watches soccer and I like having Noggin and Sprout for the kids, so we've been happy with it. We've also had a DVR over the last ten years or so, which I think has helped us cut down our viewing time tremendously. We rarely surf channels to find something entertaining.

Yesterday, I was at the gym (yes, I caved), and there was a bank of three television screens in front of me as I ran on the treadmill. I was listening to music on my phone, but I couldn't help but look up to scan the screens every so often. One TV was tuned to CNN, the other to our local ABC affiliate, and the third was on "E!"

Since CNN was on right in front of me, I gazed up at that TV more than the others, and I was immediately struck by how much CNN, nowadays, is tooled for those with severe attention deficit disorders. There was nothing earth-shattering happening in the world, and yet every piece was "BREAKING NEWS". I'm talking about tidbits like what Michelle Obama wore during the spouses' dinner next door to the G20 Summit dinner in London; or the protesters in the streets of London, smashing windows and carrying signs that read "EAT THE BANKERS!" The next news piece I saw was about a man's "DREAMS REALIZED, THEN SHATTERED!" Evidentally, UC San Diego erroneously sent a batch of acceptance letters. And while I think that's a huge bummer, I didn't realize that, too, was BREAKING NEWS. It hardly seemed on par with previous "BREAKING NEWS" pieces like, say, the day Reagan was shot or three airplanes were high-jacked, two of which slammed into the World Trade Center towers. Yet there it was, splashed across the bottom of the screen.

The middle TV was the one airing our local ABC affiliate. Prior to our Seattle newscast (BREAKING NEWS: SNOW ON APRIL 1! NO BIG SURPRISE GIVEN THAT IT SNOWED ON APRIL 18 AND 19 LAST YEAR AND IT WAS 79 DEGREES THE WEEK BEFORE), there was some sort of show which looked like it featured a panel of doctors discussing various ailments and treatments. Other than the BREAKING NEWScast, it rarely caught my attention.

Over on the far right TV, "E!" was on. Now, I'm not gonna lie to you and tell you I don't follow celebrity gossip. I subscribe to Defamer, Pajiba, E! Online on Bloglines and I get my daily dose of media celebri-snacking. But the one trend I've noticed in television, is the use of multiple personalities (i.e. "experts") who comment on shows like "TOP 100 CELEBRITY OOPS!" or "100 BEST EVER ANYTHING ENTERTAINING OR WHATEVER" One such show was on "E!" and after seeing photos of Gwyneth Paltrow and one of her kids, followed by a picture of a green apple, followed by some...person nodding her head, gesticulating with her hands and smirking, I surmised this particular segment was about "100 OF THE WORST BABY NAMES CHOSEN BY CELEBRITIES". I couldn't help but wonder who in the world was on there, as an "expert," weighing in her...expertise. I'd never seen her before, and I was certain the snark came from the fact that Gweyneth has the natural beauty this heavily made-up person lacks. Since when did nobodies become "experts"? Moreover, who the hell watches this stuff?

In any event, it reminded me of how much I loathe TV--or, at least 99.999% percent of it. Oddly enough, though, when our trusty TiVo died last month, and we had to wait several weeks before Direct TV provided us with a new DVR, we had this crazy notion that maybe we should do away with TV altogether. But, who are we kidding? Pa and I were both raised on television and, despite the crap, it's just something we can't live without. Kinda like our land line--there's just something eerie about not having one. I can't stand it, rarely ever answer it, but won't get rid of it because it's been a staple in my household since before I was born.