December 01, 2004
Make Trade Fair
Make Trade Fair appears to be an organization advocating more balanced international trade between rich and poor, developing nations. Their current campaign offers up some famous people and tries to illustrate through photographs a visual sense of what it's like for poor countries to get unwanted goods dumped on them by wealthier nations.
Oh who am I kidding. I've hit the photo lottery because they've got images of the Finn Brothers surrounded by coffee beans and Colin Firth drenched in coffee. And yes, Colin's wearing a white shirt or two. There are some other big names, Michael Stipe (REM), Chris Martin (Coldplay), Alanis Morrisette, Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Antonio Banderas, and others. But I only have eyes for Neil. And Tim. And oh yes, Colin.
December 04, 2004
Moving Notice & Other Pronouncements
I'm going to deactivate comments temporarily, for several reasons:
1. Fucking Comment Spam. I wish MT had a better interface for deleting comments. I wish MT had a button that let you zap and electrocute the asses that do this for a living.
2. Moving This Weekend (12/3-12/4). I will most likely move the site THIS weekend, meaning that the URL www.ladycrumpet.com may not seem to work for a heart-clutching 24-48 hours to possibly longer (lord, I hope not). So DO NOT PANIC, dear handful of regulars. I shall return. You can find me at www.ladycrumpet.ORG while we all wait for the .COM address to finish propagating. Of course this notice might have been more helpful a few days ago.
2a. Still MT for Now. No, I don't want to hear about why I should move to a different platform. I've installed and re-installed Movable Type too many times in the past ten days to contemplate something else at this point, even though it would probably mean the restoration of my sanity. But I have gone from knowing squat about MySQL to setting up databases, dumping and importing them, and also using SSH to work basic Unix commands, including removing whole directories with stuff still in them. *gasp* Those of you with real computer skills can just quit laughing now. Pretty please. I find that it helps to work in small chunks of time on discrete tasks. That sometimes one needs to step away in order for the simpler solution or idea to present itself.
2b. All By Myself, If I Do Say So...Myself. I did this practically on my own, without much input from certain people who promised to help and then jilted me once I joined their recommended host and ran off with their referral bounty, leaving me, after ugly bouts of self-pity, to SUCK IT and DO IT MYSELF. That's ok - I found the anonymous love through the support forums at DreamHost and Movable Type. This time I have a binder, with tabs, containing manuals and copious notes. This time I haven't rushed anything. Well, when I did, I made mistakes and had to figure them out and fix them. It didn't kill me, so I am stronger, I guess.
2b. Favorite New Phrase: "Suck it" - thanks to LTR for sharing this most useful sordid expression - and for not directing it at me. Sort of a variation on "suck it up" but slightly more crude and potent, which so appeals to my inner cretin.
2c. Bad Form. If I'm overdosing on the ALL CAPS and swearing a bit too freely, it's because I'm a little loopy being up so early, being unable to sleep. Also I've been reading John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, whose title character speaks in ALL CAPS, ALL THE DAMN TIME. I'm trying to decide if I want to bother finishing the book. I am just not that excited about it, and it's not like I don't have things I want to read, like returning to Jonathan Strange.
3. Oh Well. There was going to be another point, but I forgot what. Maybe it was one of the above.
December 05, 2004
Quicker Than I Thought
If you're reading this, welcome! Hopefully the moving of the Armoire was completely uneventful for you.
I just transferred my domain name to the new host, literally minutes ago. I can't explain how it works, but it appears that I did the things I was supposed to do, so ladycrumpet.com now points to the new host server. There will be some back-end stuff to do to reflect the change, but I won't go into the boring details. I will also have to re-import some entries of the last few days to reflect more recent versions which contain comments and other edits. [Update: DONE.]
However, I'd like to apologize for some of what I wrote in yesterday's post. In my own mind, I knew that I was being over the top in bitching and moaning about moving my site. What I didn't realize, until I got some of your comments, was that I had gone too far in trying to be flip and funny for the sake of an otherwise technical, dull post. In pretending to be a jerk, I became one instead.
I feel horrible - this is exactly the kind of thing that gets me into trouble with people. I can't just say what's on my mind, I have to try and be funny about it. Usually I'm brutal at my own expense, which is ok. But then I apply that same level of sarcasm at others, and it bombs, because being on the receiving end when you don't know where I'm coming from isn't fun. Moreover, even knowing I meant to be funny doesn't always mean that what I said or wrote still wasn't mean or hurtful to say, especially at someone else's expense. Maybe I'm even fooling myself, telling myself I'm being funny, but using that as an excuse to say things I would never say with a straight face - to someone's face. Really, I should know better, especially here, of all places!
I immediately apologized to my friend, mrw, for saying these things. He said I only had had to ask for his help, instead of blowing a misunderstanding out of proportion. Yeah, I was frustrated at having to move the site, at having to do the work of installing MT. Ultimately the experience was worth the aggravation because now I know more about the innards and can do more to maintain the site myself. I should know how to do these things, instead of imposing on others. But my being frustrated and obsessed wasn't an excuse for taking it out on my friend. (Yes, fortunately, he still thinks I'm worth his time.)
This is a lot of self-flagellation for what is ultimately a molehill situation. But it's become increasingly clear that I could save myself a lot of grief if I could learn to speak more openly with others, instead of always being ready to make a quip, regardless of the situation. Instead of connecting, I'm using humor as a wall between myself and others. In trying to be likable, by being entertaining (at attempting to be, at any rate), I end up alienating people. Why do I have to perform? Why can't I just be a nice person? Why can't I just be myself?
I Am A...
This is for sale at fredflare. Their description: Librarians are totally the new "It" girls! Whether you're a real librarian or just play one on TV, you'll look zainy brainy with this sweet red pin. Shhh! About 2"
Tonight's the premiere of The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, starring Noah Wyle. Pretty silly, what I saw of it. (I fell asleep.) I thought the description was a joke at first - Wyle plays Flynn Carsen, a brilliant 30-something who has 22 degrees and finally gets kicked out so he can gain life experience as opposed to living as perpetual college student. Why he just didn't become a professor, I don't know. Carsen is a hapless Indiana Jones, accompanied by a fellow member of the Library staff - a beyond cool-and-icy blonde, a Lara Croft type. Bob Newhart appears in the film early on - his scenes were funny.
This is probably closer to the life of a librarian, at least in public libraries.
December 06, 2004
An unexpected package was sitting on the porch when I came home tonight. It contained The Runes of the Earth, the newest Thomas Covenant novel from Stephen R. Donaldson. It's one of the items on my Amazon wishlist. There was a packing slip with a name and address but no message.
Are we acquainted, kind Sir? Are you a fellow blogger, perhaps a random visitor, or even a regular reader? I'm merely curious as to whom I owe my pleasure and gratitude for such a lovely gift. A proper note will be posted to you soon, but I simply had to share this pleasant surprise here. Thank you!
December 07, 2004
Yeah, yeah, it's been well over a year since I moved back to Atlanta from New York. I still get the NYT on the weekends. I still don't follow much in the way of local news, which would be infinitely more useful for me. One of the features I love best about the New York Times is their Monday feature, Metropolitan Diary. Yeah, I still read it. Here's one that made me laugh:
With my 10-month-old son, Emmett, in a back carrier, I stood on tiptoe at Central Park West and West 66th Street and watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Although not able to see much of the bands and clowns, we enjoyed the balloons and bigger floats.
When the building-size SpongeBob SquarePants balloon appeared, the crowd went wild. Everyone was cheering and clapping except for the man standing next to me. He was silent. Looking perplexed, he turned to me and asked, with a strong French accent, "Who is this famous and large cheese?"
So now I'm running around saying "Who is this large and famous cheese?" for no good reason except that it tickles my insides.
December 09, 2004
Hi, My Name Is...
I'm going to a college reunion of sorts tonight. It's for people who attended one of the college's study abroad programs, so there will be people from different terms, most of whom I won't know.
As for those I do? I remember faces, but not all the names. Good thing there will be name tags. I'm actually nervous - what else is new? It's been ten years, and I haven't really kept in touch with anybody. I was totally amazed when my professor left me a message a few weeks ago at home. She says she still has a poem I wrote around that time, having been inspired by the experience (and needing to turn something in for writing class). It's not a bad poem really, but I hadn't thought of it in years. Thinking about it, my cheeks still burn with a mix of embarrassment and pleasure.
I wonder how we'll look to each other. I wonder if we'll have enough to talk about. (I wonder how many of us have blogs???) I wonder if we'll simply meet again and fade away back to our own lives. I hope not, but it will be nice to see old friends again and see what happens.
There better be something stiff to drink. Lady Crumpet is always merrier with a bit of spiritual assistance. ;)
December 10, 2004
I signed in, slapped on my name tag, and then I heard a familiar voice. I whirled around, and my professor and I were all smiles and hugs and "I-can't-believe-how-long-it's-been!" I was then introduced to one of the program administrators, and then began what was an unintentional running joke - to my great chagrin.
"Dr. So-and-So, this is Lady Crumpet. She wrote this brilliant sonnet about her crush on Dr. What-his-name...." To which I tried to demur - but my professor has always been most generous and praiseworthy to her students, almost to the point of myth-making.
Later, I ran into one of my professor's former grad assistants. She introduced me to her husband. "Oh, this is Lady Crumpet, brilliant student, just brilliant. Oh! You're the one who wrote that poem...."
For all that I make myself sound like a lush, I'm just a social drinker. A glass or two of something and that's it. Still, I felt more secure, armed with a glass of red wine while I navigated these friendly channels. Between my genuine excitement and nervous energy I managed to wend my way and found one of my classmates. We filled each other in on our lives. I got to see pictures of people's children. We talked freely and easily, as though the interim of a decade had never been. To my great delight I learned that one of my friends, whom I'd always regarded as the older sister I never had, also has a passion for Jane Austen and for Colin Firth and for seeing movies. A girls' night is definitely in order!
Then all too soon, it was time to leave. We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and talked about digging up our old photos for the program's archives. My professor's parting words for me: "We'll get you back into literature yet!" I don't know, though, seeing as I've squandered my brain here on the blog. Besides, I don't see how I can ever surpass the brilliance of that poem.
December 13, 2004
"Cooking" With My Sisters
As in, I hang out with them and they tell me to "sprinkle the sugar" or "I need two tablespoons of butter" or "If you keep eating those you won't have enough to give out to people." My sisters are so much more at ease with cooking than I am. Then again, our parents had them doing prep work and helping out in the kitchen since they were younger. What was I doing? I probably hid out with my nose in a book.
Over the weekend we made a variety of treats to be packaged up as food gifts for friends and coworkers. Peppermint bark, chocolate truffles, candied nuts, and pumpkin rolls. We met at one sister's apartment. We were pretty ambitious for starting late in the day, but it was nice to hang out and actually enjoy each other's company.
Everything but the pumpkin rolls turned out well. You really have to work on them one at a time. You really need to use regular cream chesse, not the fat-free. You really have to spray the sheet pan with Pam really, really well. Oh, and it helps to not let the cake burn either. The rolls were still quite tasty - they just weren't good enough to give out as gifts. Guess who got to take home four rolls? Whether a certain someone deliberately jeopardized the cooking process in order to get some baked goods of her own, we'll never know.
Besides, the coworkers will still get their candied nuts.
December 14, 2004
The Tiny and the Huge
This is what http://ladycrumpet.com looks like:
Addendum: Out of curiosity, I pasted in the HugeURL into TinyURL. It generated a link, but it didn't work.
December 16, 2004
Jane Austen was born today in 1775.
December 19, 2004
Buying Blue (or even Green)
BuyBlue.org is a fairly new organization whose goal is to inform progressively-minded consumers which companies are more "blue" in their practices - the idea being that we can direct our consumer spending accordingly. At the moment, the criteria for BuyBlue's lists of Blue and Red companies is what political contributions were made during the most recent election cycle. Eventually the group will expand its criteria to take into account other factors. From their FAQ:
Are political contributions the right way to go?The group's first goal was to generate an initial list in time for holiday purchases - not surprisingly, a lot of the big box stores are quite red. Still, I wasn't thrilled to see that Target and Amazon.com were on the red side.
We get asked this question often. Most of the time someone is writing us to say that corporation X is classified as blue/red and because of their actions with labor, the environment, minorities and other issues they really should be on the other side.
We realize that basing our Blue Christmas list on political contributions alone is a flawed approach. Our future vision is to provide you with a comprehensive picture of a corporation which will include things like environmental policy, labor policy, minority issues, gender issues, etc. However, we wanted to get something out to you in time for Christmas and political information is far easier to come by than some of the aforementioned items. Look at it as a first step we are taking towards corporate transparency in order to arm you with good information to make your purchases.
Of course the issue isn't just which retailers to frequent with one's business. It's which companies to support through buying their products. Ultimately, it goes beyond simply becoming better-informed; it's about becoming a better consumer. What I need and what I want are separate concerns; simply because I can buy something doesn't mean that I should. I am surrounded by an overabundance of things; paring down would be far better for my peace of mind (and my budget) than acquiring more.
This isn't going to be an overnight process for me. (We are talking about a girl who has a ridiculously long wishlist at a certain online vendor, after all.) But now I have a starting place: how and where to wield my wallet.
December 21, 2004
Springtime with the Finn Brothers
I love my friends. Within moments of finding out that the Finns would be returning to the States for a scaled-down tour through lesser-traveled towns, I was able to rally up a road trip to Nashville. With just a little bit of arm-twisting, I was convinced to come see the brothers in New York - both in the city and in the Hamptons (ooh la la - actually, more like, ouch, with those ticket prices).
Now I really have to quit mucking around and start packing my lunch.
December 23, 2004
Where's Your Ribbon?
Those magnetic ribbons are everywhere, the yellow or red, white & blue ones with phrases like "Support Our Troops" or "God Bless America." These often strike me as empty gestures, especially when it's a big yellow ribbon on a giant SUV. (Honestly, who needs a tricked-out Hummer on the streets of Atlanta, let alone anywhere?)
The prankster in me wants to move the ribbon to another spot on the car. The wicked me wants to trace the outline of the ribbon with a Sharpie, maybe write some counter-phrase within the outline - and then replace the magnetic ribbon. Well maybe not a Sharpie - a grease pencil or something. I wouldn't want to steal one - that's just mean.
At PoMo Sideshow, you can order custom magnetic ribbons with alternative phrases such as "More Patriotic Than You," "God Bless Jingoist Ribbons," "Where is Your Ribbon?" and others. You can also provide your own phrase for your ribbon. I guess if I were to pick one, I'd go with something more serious than snarky, like "Demand Open Source Voting" or "Real Patriots Question Bush." Of course, then I'd worry about someone stealing my ribbon, because it's just so darn cool. ;) But they offer different ribbon sizes and you can specify whether you want an indoor magnet or one that would be used outdoors, like on your car.
December 24, 2004
On Blackened Alligator at Six Feet Under
Lady C: This tastes like pork, doesn't it? Oh wait...
LTR (who is Jewish): Uh...I wouldn't know.
Over Three Kinds of Dessert at Murphy's
Lady C: I didn't know it was possible to love both Kylie Minogue...
LTR: ...and Jesus.
December 25, 2004
Originally my sisters and I planned to meet for dim sum in order to spend Christmas together. Our mother had said that she didn't want to do anything for the holiday. I didn't realize how sad that had made me until I got a call from one sister saying that our parents wanted to meet for lunch on Christmas Day after all. The other sister couldn't make it to the house until later, having made prior plans, but to our great relief that wasn't a source of discord. (Never mind who's in the right, my family is quick to get bent out of shape for its own sake.)
Bites of homemade sushi and steamed shumai (sp.?) dumplings that left us quite full and sleepy. I had made a batch of Loving Cupcakes, because Daddy loves all things chocolate. For Mama, I brought a dozen orange-red roses I'd found at the farmer's market. We exchanged a few presents and then vegged in front of the television for a while. It was a nice, quiet day and everyone was in a good mood. It was an unremarkable afternoon - which was absolutely wonderful.
Later, we met up with the LTR for a screening of The Aviator. An epic movie spectacle. Leonardo was quite good; Cate Blanchett was striking as Katherine Hepburn. And yes, if you keep your eyes peeled, that is Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation) who has a small part but in a pivotal scene.
December 26, 2004
Typical. I decided practically at the last minute to try my hand at brunch for a few
guinea pigs friends. Hopefully the sister I didn't see yesterday will come over (and supervise my cooking). This is the original menu, which will probably be edited as we see how the cooking goes. If this fails miserably, we can always pop over to the Flying Biscuit, where they expect to see us practically every weekend.
French Toast sandwiches (cream cheese and raspberry jam filling, coated with chopped pistachios)
spicy Italian chicken sausage
apple sage chicken sausage
Guess I better start preparing, so I will look amazing and effortless once my guests arrive.
[Click on the images for larger versions.]
Thanks to our guests, Marco and the LTR, for bringing the rosemary, the champagne, providing general kitchen assistance, and being good company. I am particularly grateful for their patience and healthy appetites!
December 28, 2004
Blogs Provide Raw Details From Scene of the Disaster [NYT 12/28] "The so-called blogosphere, with its personal journals published on the Web, has become best known as a forum for bruising political discussion and media criticism. But the technology proved a ready medium for instant news of the tsunami disaster and for collaboration over ways to help."
Your Blog or Mine? [NYT Mag, 12/19] Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University, explores the issue of privacy and blogging:
As Web logs proliferate -- Technorati, which tracks 5 million blogs, estimates that 15,000 are added each day -- the boundaries between public and private are being transformed. Unconstrained by journalistic conventions, bloggers are blurring the lines between public events and ordinary social interactions and changing the way we date, work, teach and live. And as blogs continue to proliferate, citizens will have to develop new understandings about what parts of our lives are on and off the record.Features appearances by Smitten (I think we met once), her fiance Alex (a former blogger, it seems), and in an uncredited role, the great Paul Frankenstein. A minor point of disagreement with Deb's remark about Washingtonienne, though. Jessica Cutler wasn't good at keeping herself anonymous. By failing to do that, to preserve her own privacy, she risked exposure of herself and the people she wrote about. Ultimately she was exposed, and maybe there are people in the Beltway who know who the others are. So far though, she appears to be the only one suffering for her stupidity and carelessness, only to be "rewarded" with a book deal and an appearance in Playboy. But that's another issue.
A Remote Connection
I've been reading the news reports of the tsunami. I mean, just yesterday the death toll was at an already shocking 20,000 - today, the papers are saying it's 44,000. And it could become higher, as more people are found or become sick because they don't have access to basic necessities, like clean water.
I have extended family in Thailand. I wasn't worried about them, not really, because most live in Bangkok, which is towards the middle of the country, or further to the north. I figured I'd probably get a call from one of my sisters if there was something to be worried about.
So I called anyway, to find out if our family had heard anything. Turns out my dad called his cousin in San Francisco. The cousin's sister owns a resort in Phuket, one of the areas hit by the tsunami. He hasn't been able to get through to her, which could mean anything - hopefully not the worst. I hope for his sake that his sister and her family are ok.
Some Tsunami Links
TsunamiHelp The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami blog. "The SEA-EAT blog for short. News and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts."
2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake - A Wikipedia entry has been set up. An ever-changing real-time resource.
CNN is posting messages requesting information about missing loved ones. I couldn't read more than a few without my throat becoming thick.
It seems that money is the best assistance for the relief effort. I've decided to give something to Doctors Without Borders. It's a drop in the bucket, but maybe all of our drops in the bucket (wherever we choose to donate) can do something. It's better than sitting here feeling absolutely powerless.
December 29, 2004
Red Cross Sets Up FamilyLinks Resource
FamilyLinks (http://www.familylinks.icrc.org/) is a website that has gone live as of today. It's been set up by the International Committee of the Red Cross to serve as a resource for people trying to locate their loved ones in the wake of the tsunami.
So my dad's cousin got in touch with his sister. She was away on business in Vietnam and her husband was in their house further inland from the resort. But their family and extended family - many relatives lived and worked at the resort. Some of their bodies have been found, others are still unaccounted for.
I didn't know them. I didn't know all those other people either. Regardless, it's all very sad and tragic, and my heart is heavy for all the families and friends who loved these people. I hope that the world can be generous in helping the survivors.
December 30, 2004
Foreign Aid - It's All How You Measure It
Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S. Programs and Policy [Order Code 98-916, dated 4/15/04] From a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service, a division under the Library of Congress:
"The United States is the largest international economic aid donor in dollar terms but is the smallest contributor among major donor governments when calculated as a percent of gross national income."
Are We Stingy? Yes [NYT] If Americans are offended by Jan Egeland's criticism about the West - as in wealthy industrialized nations, not just the United States - that rich nations are "stingy" for not donating even 1% of their GNP for humanitarian/foreign aid purposes, then maybe we should examine why we're so quick to take offense. And hey, let's make a horrific disaster on the other side of the world all about US and OUR hurt feelings. (This calls to mind that scene in Dr. Strangelove when the President calls Russia to explain that a nuclear bomb is accidentally heading to Moscow and the President whines "Well, how do you think I feel?") Good thing individuals are willing to dig in their pockets, because we're not exactly getting a rousing call to action from the Man Who'd Rather Be Clearing Brush than Leading the World By Example. For instance, Amazon's tally of donations to the Red Cross - encouraging people simply by setting up a link - is now at $5,734,758.29, based on 91,095 donations.
Aid Grows Amid Remarks About President's Absence [Washington Post] And let's not ignore the opportunity take political cheap shots during times of tragedy. Josh Marshall aptly notes about this same article: "President's latest response to the tsunami tragedy: badmouth Bill Clinton."
December 31, 2004
This is my other cat, Ginger, enjoying her new toy. The woman I bought this from fills her cat toys with Canadian catnip - some pretty strong stuff!