Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stand Up or Shut Down?

Let's say that you're in high school and there's a bully who steals your lunch money and threatens to beat you up every day after school. So you avoid the bully and do your best to go on with your life, protecting yourself from the bully as best you can.

Let's say, at the same time, that there's a cafe owned by family friends who take you in when you need something. They offer to help you out. They help you believe that bullies never win and that you can feel safe and protected because they're on your side.

One day, you find out that the owners of the cafe have been inviting your bully over for free meals. You've been terrorized by this bully and his cronies for ages, and suddenly you find that your friends are supporting the bully who has made your life so difficult.

Do you ignore it and pretend the world is safe and secure and not worth worrying about? Do you stop being friends with your friends? Do you find a new cafe to go to to call your own? Do you talk about it with your friends and hope that they'll see your point and stop helping out the bully?

In the past few weeks - as the news has come out that usually very gay-friendly Target Corp and Best Buy (and a few others) have been donating money to a Political Action Committee (PAC) which backs a candidate who aligns himself with people who have gone on record as wanting to "kill all the gays" - I've had to try to figure out what to do about the bully.

On the one hand, Target and Best Buy sponsor a lot of GLBT events and donate to a lot of causes. They're incredibly vocal about their openness in hiring and offering benefits to same-sex partners. And, honestly, they employ a decent number of my friends. They say that they were simply donating to the PAC because it is in favor of programs to help businesses in the state of Minnesota to get ahead. And that they didn't realize that the PAC's favorite candidate was so vehemently anti-gay.

But I have a hard time believing that. Especially when the CEO of Target is a vocal (and fiscal) supporter of some massively right-wing politicians, himself. Politicians who fit right in with the bully-du-jour.

I don't profess to know all of what is going on in this situation, but I do know that a corporation really ought to know what its donations are going to fund. And that no one should be able to say one thing and do the opposite without being called out for it.

So I've posted my complaint on one of Target's message boards (I'd post something at Best Buy, but, honestly, I never shop there, anyway), and I'm going to stay out of their stores for a while, hoping that if enough of us take our money elsewhere they might get the point. And, hopefully, the bully in question will be defeated in the primaries in a couple of weeks and all of this will simply slide away as a lesson learned for Target. And I'll be able to go back to shopping among friends, again.

Otherwise, until I hear a really good apology, I guess I'll be spending a lot of time and money in non-Target establishments.

**For a starting point on reading up on this issue, if you're so inclined, you might start here:

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Alyssa Milano Factor

So, I apparently tossed one in from left field on Thursday when I include Alyssa Milano in my Dinner with Strangers guestlist (you can see the whole posting here). I'm guessing that, since at least one reader asked about that reference, maybe others of you were also wondering about it.

Here's the thing, I realize that many of the people on the list seemed like no-brainers. I mean... talking to Samantha Brown about her travels sounds like a great time - especially since she's smart and funny. Lauren Graham is another one in the smart and funny category - if you've ever seen her on a talkshow, she seems like someone who would be great at a dinner party.

John Barrowman and Scott Gill - well - you can page through the postings labelled "John Barrowman" for info on that. Tyler Florence is one of the few FoodTV personalities who I think would be fun to have over to dinner - and I don't think I'd spend the entire time worrying about what I made.

Carrie Fischer and Debbie Reynolds are fairly new to my list of dinner invitees. But I've always enjoyed both of them and - having seen Carrie Fischer's one-woman show last year - I think they'd be fun to have over.

There are a bunch of other people I invite to these fantasy dinner parties from time to time. Angela Lansbury would probably be great fun. Recently, I've started thinking that Catherine Zeta-Jones might also be fun to have over for dinner. The two, together, might be a good pairing since they've done Broadway together (rather splendidly, I might add - or I would add if I had seen that... umm... yeah... that's what I meant... because I didn't see them because I was home sick from work that day, and not in NYC...). But I don't think I'd invite them to the same dinner party as Sam and Lauren and the rest, because they just don't seem like they'd gel as a group.

I'm sure that pretty much all of those people I've mentioned seem to - in one way or another - kind of make sense if you know me.

And then there's the Alyssa Milano factor.

Sure. There's the part of me that was growing up in the 80s and watched her on "Who's the Boss?" and I watched her in "Charmed," too. And even in the sitcom she had for a short time earlier this year (no news on that, but I'm guessing it's long gone). But what I really enjoy is seeing how she is - or isn't - in the press and in the tabloids. Two of the major things she's been in the news for in the past few years have been her wedding and the fact that she is pushing major sports teams to design a line of clothing that is made for women - and not just all logo football jerseys.

Considering she's been in the public eye for literally decades, she survived adolescence and has made it into adulthood and still seems to be famous, as opposed to infamous, I think she'd probably make for an interesting dinner guest.

There would probably be stories to tell and details to ask about, but mainly I just think she seems like someone who would be pleasant to hang out with, would make good mostly-polite dinner conversation, and would be able to hold her own with the rest of the crowd if things got too boisterous.

And, well, those are the three qualities I look for in most of my dinner guests. (You've all been forewarned.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Morning

We're dogsitting this weekend, which is part of why I haven't posted in a couple of days. We're also entertaining a friend of mine from college (who got in late on Thursday night). And, yesterday, we were at Christopher's parents' place to help celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

So, yeah, it's been a little busy the past few days. But I have to say that they've also been really great days. Christopher made an amazing dinner on Friday night (spicy lemon chicken with spiced jasmine rice and a Kouing Amman for dessert) that had us sitting at the table and talking for hours. And the anniversary party yesterday was great fun - with glorious weather.

This morning, after getting to bed around a quarter to one after hanging out and talking with the college friend, I was awakened by the pup we're dogsitting at about ten to six. So we went for a quick walk and now, when it's not even 7am, I'm sitting and watching the news and about to read the newspaper.

Part of me really wants to whine about the lack of sleep. And part of me realizes that the whining is probably being brought on by the lack of sleep. Which, of course, makes it all a bit of vicious cycle.

But nothing can be vicious on a morning like this. The sun is out, and it's only about 68 degrees outside. After walking the dog, I opened up the house and put some fans in the windows.

We've usually got the house battened down against the hot weather with the air conditioner on and the house fan running, but this soft summer morning is simply too nice to ignore.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dinner With Strangers, Sorta

I've just gotten done watching a show on BBC America called "Come Dine With Me." The premise of the show is that four strangers are put together to "compete" by hosting four dinner parties in a row. They score each other on the overall evening each of them produces.

It's an interesting show. And it's the kind of thing that makes you both interested ("Oooh... What did she just serve?") and disgusted ("How can he say that about someone he's just met?"). But, overall, it was an interesting show, much more civil than a lot of reality shows.

Earlier today, while I was listening to the radio on my drive home, the DJs were asking about what celebrity people would pay $250,000 to have come hang out with them for two hours.

Frankly, if I had $250,000 to pay to have someone come hang out, I'd spend it on airfares for friends of mine from all over the world to meet up somewhere and hang out with no worries and no cares. (See also Tuesday's blog posting - even though I didn't mean to bring that up.)

But... Okay... To my point. I am on a mailing list for updates on Samantha Brown's latest Travel Channel shows. Although they send them to me all the time, I keep missing the shows for one reason or another. But here's the thing - I actually feel kind of guilty about missing it. It's like I'm standing up an old friend.

You see, Sam is one of the celebrities on my "fantasy dinner party" guest list. (Haven't we talked about this, before?) She's there with Lauren Graham, John Barrowman and his partner Scott Gill, Carrie Fischer and Debbie Reynolds, Tyler Florence, Alyssa Milano, and a rotating group of other fine folks. (Of course, the actual guest list for a fantasy dinner would entirely depend on the location, the seating capacity, and what I was planning to cook.)

Well, this past Monday I caught "Samantha Brown's Asia" and she was in Hong Kong and Macau. It felt like I was catching up with an old friend. She's still travelling the way I'd want to travel: slightly unstructured, with a few splurges along the way - at the same time practical and whimsical. And she's not averse to saying "ewww" when eating something strange or "Ohhh" when she's watching something amazing.

As I'm sitting here, tonight, waiting for a longtime friend to show up (her flight was delayed), I just watched a preview of next Monday's episode where Sam gets a pedicure - of sorts - in Cambodia. She laughed at it. She seemed to enjoy it. She reminded me why I like watching her.

Now I just have to figure out how to get my TiVo to record her so I don't have to feel guilty next week.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Having a Poopy Day?

Do you ever have those days when each time things start to go just right, something goes wrong?

You know, those days when you're at work and you've cleared out all but five emails from your inbox, then you leave your desk for 10 minutes and come back to find you now have 30 emails.

Or when you've spent a day weeding the yard, only to see your next door neighbor's yard abloom in dandelions.

Or you put together the perfect menu and have it mostly cooked, only to find out that the last ingredient you need has gone past its expiration date.

Or maybe, just maybe, as you're walking to your car celebrating the fact that you've made it through three out of five days of the week, and - just steps from the door to the garage where your car is - you feel something hit the back of your head. Just a quick something. So you reach back to see what it is and find your hand gets a little damp. You look at your hand and it's... well... purple. Yes. Purple. So you turn to the person next to you and say "Is there something on my shirt?" even though you already know exactly what it is. You know that it's bird poop. Bright purple bird poop. Which will probably stain your shirt, and which is now all over your hand.

Yeah. I had one of those days today.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Travel (Destination) Tuesday

I'm sure I had something to write about, earlier today.

It was one of those workdays where things just keep going not quite right, and I kept thinking "this week has to get better - after all it's Wednesday." And then I'd be reminded that it was only Tuesday.

A good friend of mine from college is coming into town this week from Idaho. She's going to be in town for a conference, and is going to use our place as her basecamp. I'm really looking forward to it - although she and Christopher have never met, and we might not see that much of each other.

Someone at work commented, today, that we have a lot of people coming to stay with us. My response was that that is what happens - if you're lucky - when most of your friends live in other parts of the country and/or world.

I've always kind of imagined that I would have a big house in some kind of travel destination as I got older, where people could come to visit. This isn't exactly the house I imagined (and I never thought it would be in the middle of a city), but it's great having people come and stay with Christopher and me. It's definitely a start.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Two Down!

Okay, so it may not have been the most restful of weekends, but I am happy to say that I finished not one, but two, edits in the past 48 hours.

Oddly enough, after finally making it to the end of the really really bad one, the second edit (a piece of "beach read" fiction) wasn't bad at all. It even tugged at the heartstrings a little - AND it meant to.

I wrapped up the weekend just a little bit ago with a tall glass of chocolate milk.

If only the new work week was more than 10 hours and 18 minutes away...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tweaking My Touchpad

I have just written, in a note to various people, the following sentence:

Today I tweaked my touchpad, and now things keep popping up at inopportune moments.

Oddly enough, that's not a euphemism. It's a MacBook thing.

And, even more oddly, I know what it means.

Christopher is so proud.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Customer is Always...

I know what you're thinking. It's been ingrained in all of us forever. The old adage that, if you want to have good customer service, you have to believe that "The customer is always right."

But here's the thing. The customer ISN'T always right. In fact, quite honestly, some times the customer isn't even in the ballpark of right. The only thing the customer always is is, well, the customer.

Have I mentioned that I grew up in customer service in my parents' small-town drug store? This is the kind of small town where customer service means driving a delivery to someone's house on your way home - even if it's not even remotely on your way. Where you get phonecalls at 6am on Christmas morning asking you to open the store so a frantic caller can buy batteries... or film... and then actually doing it.

It is, however, also the kind of town where - if the customer is way off base - the store owner (or clerk) has the right to tell him so. In fact, it's more than a right. It's kind of an educational duty. Think of it as a really polite version of a New Yorker telling you that you're out of your ever-loving mind if you say that LA is more culturally-grounded than NYC. Direct, firm, maybe ever-so-slightly apologetic, but unswervingly committed.

This week at work one of my co-workers was lectured on the phone because, while answering the caller's questions about our services, the caller felt that she wasn't providing clear enough answers. When she pointed out that he was mis-interpreting the webpage he was reading, he went into the "Don't you know that the customer is always right?" speech. At which point, she had to explain that - while she appreciated his argument, he was - in fact - not right. You can imagine where the conversation went from there.

I've been poking a lot of fun at the manuscript I've been reading, lately. (And, okay, it's given me a LOT of reason to do so.) But one thing the author made mention of is that a lot of Americans, today, feel entitled to get everything they want when they want it and how they want it. Working in customer service I've noticed this become more and more prevalent over time. And that, to me, is a trend that needs some re-thinking.

Although, I'm not sure what bothers me more: the shift in that social dynamic, or the fact that the author actually did make one good point.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"What the...?" Wednesday

As many of you know, I've been doing freelance editing for a while, now. Although there are some pretty good pieces that I come across at work, there are more than a few pieces of... well... crap.

In the past couple of days, I've encountered some pretty amazingly awful pieces of writing. And, of course, I have to share them.

Let me stress, in advance, that these were not written as jokes. These are not spoofs. These are the actual pieces of writing which authors are working on publishing. Some are being edited, some are beyond that stage and are what the author is actually sending to print.

(I just realized that the intro to this post is going to be longer than the post, itself.)

Here you go:

I believe that issues such as this should be placed on the ballet every two years. (I don't know about you, but I feel sorry for the dancers who have to carry around these issues while also doing their pas de deux and grands jetees.)

For those of you who have already heard about some of the gems in that piece of... umm... writing, you may also have already heard of these:

"divide and concur" (Apparently, once we're apart from each other, we're more agreeable.)

"the rise in the National Dept" (I believe that the National Dept has been moved from the 1st floor at Macy's up to the 4th floor, right next to the International Department.)

"We must stop barrowing money from our children's futures." (Now, aside from the fact that I don't have children, I also don't have enough money to need to move it in a wheelbarrow. Do you?)

And, finally, the quote - from a completely different work-related source - which everyone seems to love:

"Life has a funny way of knocking you down, just when you think things couldn’t be better, they get worst. Can she survive it’s raft?" (Yeah. Really. I have no idea what to do with that.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Ms

The grocery store, tonight, was a quest for things starting with the letter M.

Milk was top on the list. I doubled my M quota by finding a jug of Milk with a Joe Mauer picture on it.

When I mentioned to Christopher that I was going to buy Margarine, he immediately asked if I was going to baking for someone soon. But not this time. Today's Margarine shopping was actually for a tub of Margarine for making sandwiches.

Looking for something to be a third M, I wandered around a little bit. Masa was an option. Marshmallows came up. Mushrooms didn't make the possibles list because of Christopher's allergies. And then I found Malted Milk Balls. I was set. Milk, Margarine, and Malted Milk Balls.

But then I found Malt cups in the freezer. You know, the weird little frozen "Malt" stuff that comes with its own wooden "spoon." Even as a kid, those were never all that good. They were just something interesting and different. And Christopher and I had just been talking about them earlier.

So my grocery bag when I came home was filled with "Mauer Milk," Margarine, Malted Milk Balls, and Chocolate Malt cups.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Thank You, Harper Lee

I was reminded, this morning, that today is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee's groundbreaking novel of prejudice and tolerance "To Kill a Mockingbird."

It's amazing, really, to think that I probably haven't read it since high school, since so much of the story of Scout and Jem and Boo and Atticus is still vividly imprinted on my brain. Of course, part of that is probably caused by seeing the movie version starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch - the movie solidified so many of the images from the novel, making them even more unforgettable.

I grew up in a small town in South Dakota. To say that it was "primarily white" at the time would be an understatement. When we talked about diversity, the discussion focused on which of the seven churches in town we all went to. An "outsider" was anyone who couldn't find relatives in any of the local cemeteries. The idea of racial injustice or intolerance was pretty much unheard of.

But we still read "To Kill a Mockingbird" and watched the movie in our English classes. And all of us kids spent time talking about how horrible the outcome of Boo Radley's trial was - and how important Atticus's stand for justice was. Something in the text of the book allowed us to understand these situations which were so far removed from us. There was an ease to the storytelling, and that simplicity may have been what made the story even more immediate - even to those of us who couldn't have imagined any of it on our own.

I saw, in a news story on "CBS News Sunday Morning," today, that Harper Lee never wrote another novel after "To Kill a Mockingbird" because she didn't feel she could ever do as well, and could only go down. Thank god she had the nerve to write the one that she did write.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Food (For Thought)

I have just been invited out to lunch (tomorrow) by a friend from college. A friend from college whom I have not seen since... umm... I think it was after I got back from Paris. Maybe I was in grad school at the time...? That makes it at least one (okay, almost two) decades ago.

I'm supposed to be spending the weekend editing. I'm supposed to be editing right now. I'm supposed to be trying to make sense of a manuscript filled with jargon, yet missing simple words in the middle of sentences.

It has statements in it like "We have to stop barrowing money from our children's future." Obviously, I run in the wrong circles. Not only did I not know that I had children, but I have never had enough money to need to put it into a wheelbarrow. My wallet usually suffices.

It obviously needs a lot of work. And I have been spending a LOT of time this week working on it while Christopher has been gone. I've put in at least a little time 3 out of 5 nights this week (I didn't do any on Monday night, simply out of principle). I actually had to curtail a couple of phonecalls this week so that I could get back to my "work time." And that really sucked.

But, all week, I've been planning to use tomorrow as my power-editing day. My day to kick this manuscript's proverbial ass. My day to show it who was boss and come out the other side triumphant.

And then I got the lunch invitation. For lunch at some as-yet-undetermined location about an hour from home. Which means that I'm easily going to lose about 3 prime freelancing hours. I probably ought to feel a little guilty about that. But... nah...

Screw the editing. I'm going to leave the barrowing behind and see what re-connecting after nearly 20 years feels like, instead.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Friends

I was driving home from work, today, and as I came into our neighborhood I saw a bunch of kids on the sidewalk.

There were a few kids on bikes, and the rest were on foot. I think there were three girls and five boys. My guess is they were somewhere between twelve and sixteen years old (that set of ages can vary so much).

They didn't look like a matched set, but they looked like they were comfortable with each other. They were just moving along the sidewalk obviously (even to me in my car) talking and joking and having a good time.

I fully admit that I know nothing about any of them. But, in my mind, they were a bunch of kids who were thrown together by proximity. Friends simply because they all live in the same neighborhood, the way friendships form when you're pre-learner's permit.

As I drove past them, I hated that my first thought was that they will probably never see each other again as a group after the summer is over. They'll be back in school and in different grades, and they'll be back to friends from other neighborhoods.

Even so, I hope they truly enjoy this summer of theirs. May it be one they remember long beyond next fall.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Catalog Travel

Christopher and I have landed ourselves on a bunch of different catalog mailing lists, as well as a bunch of travel company mailing lists.

We spend a decent amount of time imagining what our house could look like. We spend even more time imagining what our lives could be like if we were able to take some of the vacations we are taunted and teased by on a daily basis.

A couple of days ago, I was introduced to a new "blog" (you'll understand why that's in quotes in a moment or two), which kind of combines everything you (or at least I) have ever contemplated while looking at those home catalogs.

It answers many of the questions that come up when I'm questioning what the heck the stylists were thinking. Having worked a number of years in retail, I often had these same questions when "styling" displays that were designed by someone in the home office.

You know, questions like "Why is that table covered in starfish?" and "Who puts a life preserver in the entryway?" and "How the hell many pillows do you really need?"

So, now that your curiosity is piqued (hopefully), I offer you the "blog" in question: Catalog Living.

Enjoy. And, after you travel there, come back tomorrow and we'll see where we can go together.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

I'm currently sitting at home watching fireworks on TV and listening to fireworks which are being shot off just south of here. (Unfortunately, I can't actually see the fireworks being shot off south of here...)

I've spent some time, today, trying to figure out what to write on here. My initial thought was pretty easy. I thought I'd pull up the text of the Declaration of Independence and post it, here. But... ya know... the Declaration is kinda long. (You can find the full text on the National Archives website, here.)

Okay, yes, for what it did, it's really pretty short and to the point. After all, within the text of one piece of parchment, the Founding Fathers, representing their thirteen colonies, basically said that they weren't going to put up with England's rule any more.

Have you ever thought about the fact that we celebrate the day when we declared our independence, but not the day we actually gained it? I mean... That document basically simply fanned the flames of a war which had been started in the previous year.

The Declaration of Independence didn't create a new government. It didn't create a new country. It didn't even say that the thirteen colonies would stick together for the long haul. It simply said "We won't put up with what's going on."

As such, the part of the Declaration we all seem to remember is this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And, well, there's good reason for that. After all, that's kind of a massive number of "beliefs" to hold all in one sentence.

If you go on to read the entire Declaration, it's pretty eye-opening. (Remember, it's here.) There are a lot of lines in it which seem to still resonate with the current state of the world. And, yes, there are a few that really probably ought to be forgotten. (Although not in the current "Let's rewrite the history books" way that Texas is currently using to modify their history books.)

But, as with so many people, I'm drawn to that one stand-out sentence, and its promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." That was pretty major 234 years ago. Heck. As we've discussed recently, that's still a pretty contentious point for a lot of people in 2010. There's a lot of people who don't think everyone deserves an equal shot at pursuing happiness.

For today, though, I think I'm going to listen to the rumble of the fireworks and be happy that, more than two centuries ago, a group of people stood up, spoke up, and declared their intentions. Here's hoping that, someday soon, we can finally make their dreams come true.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tiz List #3

Back in March, I wrote the first of my "Tiz Lists" - fifteen random factoids about me and my life. A few weeks later, I wrote my second. (You can see both of the earlier ones, here.) Miz Tiz over at the "Tiz and Ass" blog just posted one of her lists this week, and I was reminded that it's way past time for me to write my third installment. That said, here we go.

1) I am, at this moment, living the bachelor life for the next 7 days and 23 hours. Not that I'm counting down or anything.

2) I don't mind living the bachelor life from time to time, but I do certainly enjoy when Christopher gets home from wherever he's gone.

3) When Christopher is gone, I tend to turn off as many of the background noises as I can in the house. This includes all of the fans which we usually have on for air circulation. There's something really nice about the silence - and about hearing the natural noises that exist beyond the white noise.

4) I feel kind of the same way about the internet, from time to time. I so much prefer getting "real" mail in my mailbox, instead of all of the noisy stuff online. And an in-person visit... well... that just caps it all, doesn't it?

5) There are some people I actually do prefer simply bumping into online, instead of seeing in person. It's just so much less stressful that way.

6) Lately, I think I've been developing stress-related ulcers.

7) I should probably look into that with an actual medical-type person, instead of the white-noise-filled internet, as my guide.

8) Even though I know I promised to kind of lay bare my soul in these lists on this blog, there are some things I probably won't ever share. (I just deleted the original number 8.)

9) A couple of days ago, all of the little red dots on my "where are my readers from?" map went away. Apparently they get cleared once per year, even though the number of visitors is archived. So I'm now back to 11 visitors, instead of 2,400+, and they're all from the United States, so far. Thank you to the 11 of you who have already started repopulating my map. (Let's see how many the map can get in the next 360 days!)

10) I sometimes forget that most people shave every day, and that my 3 or 4 days between trimming of my scruff is not the norm.

11) I surprised one of my coworkers a couple of weeks ago by actually bursting forth in a full-out rolling laugh at work.

12) Apparently I don't usually do that at work, considering we've worked together for 10 months and she hadn't heard it before.

13) One of my summer goals is to check out one of the "EasyRideMN" bikes (from the "rental" stand near my office) over lunch one day and take it for a ride by the river.

14) I really wish we had a dishwasher - as well as about twice as much overall kitchen space.

15) I am honestly really happy when I hear of retail establishments being closed for the Fourth of July. I think that national holidays ought to be national holidays.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Four-day

Yes, that's right, today was the first day of a four-day weekend for me. This meant that, instead of my usual morning routine, I started my morning with a nice walk and some hydro-therapy.

Most people would probably say that I went out and put fertilizer down on our yard, and then came in and did dishes. But, since this is a vacation day, the other way sounds so much better. Doesn't it?

** Friday Food sidenote ** No. I didn't forget that it was Friday Food-day! Christopher and I checked out Vinaigrette just south of 50th Street on Xerxes Avenue this evening. We'd been told about it by some friends, and finally made it there. Vinaigrette has a whole bunch of olive oils and vinegars to sample and buy - a WHOLE bunch. They have amazing infused oils and vinegars - including fruit and herb infusions. We brought two small bottles of vinegar home with us, and I'm sure we'll be going back for more. ** End Friday Food sidenote **

But, anyway, back to the rest of my vacation day story modifications.

So... Anyway... After the nice walk and the hydro-therapy, I then spent the whole afternoon reading an interesting and unique book about the state of the country and the economy. And, yes, that's the vacation version of the story.

I actually spent 3 or 4 hours this afternoon (it depends whether you factor in email breaks) editing about 40 pages of a convoluted, narcissistic politically charged rant. It's a fun one. If it were on paper, I'd probably have emptied an entire red pen in the first 704 pages. It's not only got massive leaps of logic and topics, but it has interesting spelling, like a reference to "Okolona City" (it's in that state between "Techzis" and "Knasas," I believe). And I still have 210 pages to go...

Happily, as I was wrapping up the day (I decided to end the day around 5:30, since that way I was wrapping up about the same time as I would on a regular day), I was reminded of the Muppets Studio channel on YouTube. So, in honor of that, I offer you the Muppet version of "Stars and Stripes Forever." (Sorry. Still haven't learned how to embed a video in here, so you 'll have to click through that to get it on YouTube.)

Happy Fourth of July weekend!