Monday, December 25, 2006

Faux pas at Trader Joe's

I went to Trader Joe's last night to pick out a few small Christmas gifts for my family. While waiting in line to check out, I overheard the clerk talking with her current customer about the evils of Starbucks. Apparently, Starbucks is buying out Coffee People, which is a great blow to fans of independent businesses. She and the customer went on and on about what a tragedy it was.

When it was my turn, the first thing the checker said to me was that she liked my shirt. It was more than just a casual compliment - I could tell she was really being sincere. Before she could ask, I decided to tell her where I got it, just to see what her reaction was.

So I told her I bought it at Costco. She kind of did a double-take and then started talking about how it looked vintage and there's this one store where you can buy vintage clothes and books by the pound and how people buy books there and then resell them for a profit. I think she was trying to change the subject. And I felt wicked for having bought a shirt at an Establishment Store. You don't admit to sins like that when you're at Trader Joe's. And maybe I should be a more militant consumer, but honestly, the only store my principles forbid me from shopping at is Wal*Mart.

So it may have been a faux pas, but at least it was intentional.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The wisdom of a child

We were having dinner at my brother's house with his wife and two kids. The vegetable on offer was edamame (soybeans). My nephew, age 3, loves them, and so does Miriam. But my niece, age 5, hates them. But she was served a few of them anyway, even as she protested.

As we ate, my niece piped up and said:

"Mom, there are two reasons I don't like these [the edamame].

"The first one is that when I pop them out, they go on my shirt and make a mess."

I thought that was an interesting reason not to like them, but we all offered sympathy anyway.

Then, she said:

"And the second reason is because they're gross."

Who can argue with that?

Monday, December 18, 2006


Jeremy and I have succumbed to the addiction that is Lost, Season 1.

A friend of ours lent us the DVD set one week ago. We were skeptical at first, but decided to give it a try and watch the first episode. When it ended, we were physically unable to restrain ourselves from watching the second episode. And so on, until before we knew it we'd watched a few hours' worth of episodes in one sitting.

The thing is, we are not TV watchers. We don't have cable and the two or three channels that we get via our old-fashioned bunny ears my dad rigged up remain unwatched except for the Olympics or other special events. So I was surprised to find that we, non-TV-watchers, really enjoyed Lost. According to the friend who lent us the DVDs, that is a common sentiment. Those who don't really get into TV are fans of the show, while those who are big TV-watchers don't really like it.

Perhaps that's because each episode of Lost is basically the opposite of an episode of any given normal TV show. Each episode creates more mystery and suspense, and only resolves previous questions insofar as the answer raises more questions.

The only thing that bothers me, and I am just now getting to be able to look past it, is that the actor who plays Sayid (an Iraqi character on the show) is Indian. Did they think we just wouldn't notice? Because we do.

We're holding off on acquiring (through any means necessary) Season 2 because there are actually things we would like to accomplish this Christmas break. And then we'll need to wait for Season 3 to be released on DVD, because there is no way we can handle the commercials and waiting weeks or months between episodes. No way.

And that's how I know we're addicted.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I'm sorry

It seems I owe Tucson an apology.

We took Miriam to the park the other day on the way to bringing back some library books. After all was said and done, we were missing a library DVD. The only thing that could have happened was that it fell out of the car at some point while we were loading or unloading Miriam at the park.

I spent a few days mourning the loss of the DVD (and the money we'd have to pay to replace it), and then finally went in to the library to make restitution. Briefly, I had entertained the idea that some honest soul might have found the DVD and returned it to the library, but honestly, I was convinced that the average Tucson resident would probably sell the DVD on craigslist or ebay.

So imagine my surprise when I got to the library and told my tale, only to have the librarian tell me that the DVD had been returned! Happy, happy day - the less money spent on replacing "Baby Santa's Musical Box," the better.

I'm sorry, Tucson. It was only my past experiences with you - the theft of Jeremy's bike and the bikes, some of them more than one, of almost all of our acquaintances - that led me to believe that the lost DVD would not find its way back to the library. Thanks for proving me wrong on this one.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Here comes the sun! Oh no!

You know, for living in Tucson, little Miriam Damascus sure does hate the sun a lot. She cannot stand to have the sun in her eyes for even one instant. I think I know where it all began:

The occasion was her blessing (christening, you might call it). We had her all decked out in her blessing dress and decided to go outside to take some pictures. It was November 13, 2005, a beautifully mild, sunny day. But this is the face she made as soon as we got outside. To me, this expression is saying, "All right, who is the IDIOT who decided to have me face the sun??? I will never get over this as long as I live!"

And she hasn't. We really need to get some of those suction-cup pull-down shades for our car windows because if the sun passes in her line of vision for even a moment, she loses it for the rest of the car ride. It's ridiculous. She could be in a perfectly good mood, happily playing, and then I make a left turn and the glare of the sun passes across her face briefly. That's it. She is an angry crying toddler for the rest of the car ride.

It's even worse in the jogging stroller because she can't decide what she wants. If I pull down the sun canopy so the sun isn't in her eyes, she fusses because I've blocked out her view. If I put it up, she's upset because the sun is shining in her face. Sigh. Posted by Picasa

Special delivery

Amazon, or UPS, or whoever, really needs to work on their package-delivering skills.

Jeremy was at home alone last night - Miriam and I were at a church activity. Suddenly, the doorbell rang, followed by a loud thump on the doorstep. He wasn't expecting any visitors, and so he ran to the door to check out the situation. As he approached, worried, he looked out the window and saw nothing, but could only hear the screech of tires and roar of an engine as a large vehicle sped away down our street.

For all he knew, it could have been some crazed murderer dumping a dead body on our doorstep (and then ringing the doorbell to alert us to its presence).

Turns out, a package had been delivered. A large package that made a loud thump when the delivery guy threw it (or set it down roughly) at our door. At eight o'clock at night.

I'm just glad Jeremy had the sense not to open it. It was his Christmas present!

Next time, I hope Amazon/UPS/USPS sticks to delivering packages in broad daylight, and maybe sticking around until we open the door so we know what's going on.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The things you hear...

I was at Fry's on Thursday to fill a prescription for my strep throat. I ended up walking there with Miriam in the stroller since Jeremy had the car at a soccer game he was refereeing. Note to self: never walk to the store when you have strep throat. Especially not when Tucson is experiencing near-record cold temperatures.

We had to wait in the pharmacy waiting area for quite a while. When I first showed up, there were three women already seated, chatting with each other. I could tell they were not previously acquainted, but I couldn't quite figure out the subject of their conversation. One woman was talking about lotion and needles and rashes and all kinds of weird stuff. Finally, she lifted up her pantleg to reveal a large tattoo on her calf. She pointed at various parts of it as she continued her tale and I realized that they were conversing about tattoos.

The conversation continued for a while and during the course of it, all three women lifted up their pant legs and showed off their tattoos. One of the women had extensive tattooing all over her leg as far as the eye could decently see. They were all quite animated on the subject. The only thing I could add was during the part where they were talking about a product called Aquaphor. The first woman mentioned that she put Aquaphor on her infected tattoo (eww!) and that it's the same stuff you can use on babies' bums. They all looked at me, since I had Miriam right there with me, and I was able to confirm that yes, in fact, Aquaphor is used on babies' bums. That was where my tattoo-related expertise came to an end.

Their prescriptions came up and one by one, they left the waiting area. But more interesting people showed up to take their places, including an extremely large, obese man wearing a long, black, leather raincoat and Coke-bottle eyeglasses. There was also an extremely nervous young man on who spoke loudly on a cell phone almost the whole time he was there. From what I could hear of his conversation, he was talking with the police and wanted to be removed from his home. He was wondering if a policeman could pick him up, take him to his house, gather his things, and then take him...somewhere.

After a truly bizarre 45 minutes spent in the waiting room, Jeremy came to pick us up on the way home from refereeing. So at least I didn't have to walk home in the cold.

Alien transcript

This morning I turned on the computer and connected it to the printer. There must have been a print job from last night waiting to be completed, because it printed out a piece of paper without receiving any command from me. The picture above is what it printed.

I have no idea what it is. Either it's a bizaare mistake made by the printer's internal workings (and the printer has gone insane), or Jeremy has a lot of explaining to do. For starters, where did he take these classes???
 Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 01, 2006

An open letter to Baby Einstein

Dear Baby Einstein,

My recent convalescence has forced me to rely on a selection of your DVDs to entertain my daughter while I lie on the couch, feverish and in almost constant pain. As such, I now consider myself to be a minor authority on your video products and I thought I could offer you some feedback, mostly the helpful kind, but also some of the ranting kind.

1. First, allow me to thank you for making your products available at the local library for free. The cost of each individual DVD at an actual store is around $15, a little over $10 if you buy the massive, 21-DVD set at Costco. Charging customers the same amount for a 30-minute DVD featuring mainly toys and the children of your founder (both of which, I assume, worked for free) as a major Hollywood, big-budget release seems a little pretentious. But I can only assume that you do so because people will still buy it, so good on you.

2. Is it really necessary to disallow the viewer to skip to the menu upon insertion of the disc? Must we sit through the stupid caterpillar intro and anti-piracy message every single time we watch the DVD? The anti-piracy message, maybe, I can understand. Maybe. But the caterpillar intro has got to go, especially since it repeats itself when you select Play Movie. Maybe I'm being petty and impatient, but when I've got my toddler and her minuscule attention span all situated and ready to go, the last thing I need is an additional 60 seconds of waiting time. Every single time I put the DVD in.

3. On a related note, the voice-over done by your founder, Julie Clark, that plays over the anti-piracy announcement AND over the second caterpillar intro comes across as being smarmy. Especially when she says, "Enjoy the show!" Just so you know.

4. Please, please move your constant promotions for the new "Little Einstein" program to the Special Features menu under a heading like "Shameless Little Einstein plug." It does not belong at both the beginning and end of the main feature. Or, if it does belong, it is only at the end.

5. You're lying to everyone, including yourselves, when you say that Baby Einstein DVDs offer "boundless opportunities for you and your little one to interact with each other!" Deep down, we all know that we put in these DVDs so that we can get a 30-minute BREAK from interacting with our little one so we can go to the bathroom or get a drink or brush our teeth or whatever else we've been unable to do all day long.

6. On the back of the DVD case, you point out that each video is "set to music specially reorchestrated for little ears." I admire your efforts, but I wish you would just leave the music in its original format. The synthesized versions grate on the ears and have an uncanny ability to get stuck in one's head. I think my toddler can handle the sound of real violins and pianos, thank you very much.

7. Finally, and this is totally irrational, but it bothers me that your founder uses her own kids in these videos. I know it's her right and everything, having started the company and all, but for some reason that I can't explain, this is upsetting to me.

Thanks for letting me get these things off my chest. They've been building up over the past few days as I've been forced to watch your DVDs from my sickbed on the couch. To end on a positive note, I will tell you that if I had to choose a favorite DVD, it would probably be Baby MacDonald: A Day on the Farm. I think that's Miriam's favorite, too. The other ones, she is only mildly interested in. But Baby MacDonald usually holds her attention for almost the entire DVD. For those 30 minutes of freedom, I thank you.




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