Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Visibily Enhanced

Why can't I make a lasting contribution to the world like this? Oh, yeah, I'm surfing the web all day goofing off. I knew it was something.

TOKYO (AFP) – First came see-through frogs. Now Japanese researchers have succeeded in producing goldfish whose beating hearts can be seen through translucent scales and skin.

Wow. When I was a kid I was impressed by the Visible Woman when I should have been breeding goldfish. That would have been right up my alley, always liked genetic research. Hmm... a clear cat. Someone would pay millions...

Ten Most Blasphemous Fauxarris

It's the end of the year and top ten lists are popping up everywhere, but do take a moment to check out Jalopnik's compilation of the Ferrari masquerade ball. As much as I covet a Daytona Spyder, I've never had the urge to convert my Vette over to a Miami Vice kit. My favorite feature of this article is the Enzo Ferrari Anger Level.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Turtles! They hurt turtles!!! Oh, it's illegal to kill cats or dogs, but not farm animals? I can't imagine the outcry if they killed some horses. Turtles should be a felony. Where are our heroes on the half-shell when you need them for a little revenge? Does Philly* have a signal for Gamera?

*Is it any wonder Michael Vick found a home here??

Everything I Needed to Know About Marriage...

I learned on summer break from Junior High....

Well, specifically, from all the game shows I used to watch on TV.
It was the era of the game show, and my BFF and I could watch them all day. There were tons to choose from and if it got too rainy or hot to be outside, there were all these wonderful friends we could spend time with... Match Game, Password, Twenty Thousand Dollar Pyramid, Jeopardy... the list goes on.

Little did I realize how these skills could help me later in
life when dealing with Al:

The Dating Game

Every question you ask will get a smart-alec reply designed to make you wonder what was so hard about the question in the first place that it can't be replied to in a straightforward manner .

The Newlywed Game

Just answer every problem with 'make whoopie'. It's the only thing written on any of his cards.

Say what you mean, already. Your clue has not been accepted by my authority.

Beat the Clock
Face it. Your deadlines and his never occur in the same epoch. Get over it.

$20,000 Pyramid

Every answer is "Things that Tick Me Off". Stop them.

Wheel of Fortune

This may be the only way to get Al to
do anything - make it into a puzzle: Cl--n Th G-r-g- Oh, buy a vowel already.


Phrasing what I just said in the form of a question is a waste of time. No, I did NOT say you were not going to take out the garbage. I just want it done now, without the commentary.

Hollywood Squares

Whatever you just suggested, I'm going for the block

Let's Make a Deal

The only way anything ever gets done.

The Price is Right

The only way Al will ever see name-brand food in the house.

Family Feud

If if involves family, there's gonna be a feud.

Gong Show If only you could gong your spouse...

Give Me Some Credit Here

Do you bother to read those 'change in credit card terms' statements? The multiple page ones that are in the itty-bitty print authorizing the company to charge 33% interest per month and to only accept payments on odd Tuesdays? Me neither. I just tossed them aside, or if feeling really ambitious, filed them away for reference. Reference that never seemed to materialize.

For some reason, I decided to actually read the one from Victoria's Secret the other day. Ahhh... her secret new revenue source is a one-dollar fee for every paper statement issued. How I caught this was a miracle, but I did. I guess they were banking on the perception that most bimbos can't read, but I'm much more super shopper than super model, so having someone else pay my lingerie bills was not going to happen. Thank goodness this frugal fashionista caught on, since I've now received a second notice with the same fee from another firm.

Be warned! Not going to paperless statements is going to cost you!

Cash-mere Mist Adventures

I guess I now know why it's called Ulta 3 - it took me ultimately three tries to get my Christmas shopping done there.

The task sounded simple - buy Mom perfume for Christmas. She was kind enough to tear out a magazine page with the ad. Now it was up to me to somehow get it 'on sale' or 'at a discount'. Rather than see what a major department store offered, I headed over to Ulta with my coupon for $5 off. I handed the ad to an employee who immediately produced th perfume and confirmed I would also get a free robe with purchase. Fuzzy!

At the checkout I was told the coupon was not good on fragrances. What? Free robe is not good enough - can I have those slippers to go with it? No, that's another gift set for $35. I don't think so. Won't any coupon work? Only these, says the girl, holding up a coupon I have never seen before offering even more off the item I am trying to purchase. Why didn't I get one of those? Oh, that's only for customers who spend over a certain amount. Miffed, I take a pink robe and fragrance anyway.

Drive all the way home to - you guessed it! A coupon that arrived in the mail that day. I need to have a little chat with the local postmaster as to why my coupons are always so late. Reading the fine print reveals it is 'not good on prior purchases'. So that means I need to return what I have.

Return the items in one store and have to 'wait for the manager' for authorization. What? Perhaps I'm not the only irate customer this season. I'd ask her to repurchase it right then with the coupon, but I don't feel like pushing my luck.

I wait another day and try another store. Score! They accept the 20% off your purchase coupon and give out a robe. Whew! Saving $10 is hard work. Got ripped off by about 40 cents as the two towns have different tax rates (7.75 is just ridiculous. These suburbs can't wait push into the double digits and be like Chicago and its other wanna-bes.)

Moral: Wait for your coupon.

There Go My Dreams

...of being a Kirkus Reviewer.

Everyone harbors some little secret dream job, or the fall-back plan B if the day job doesn't work out. What better for me than the feared Kirkus, arbiter of smack-down snark for the publishing industry?

I've long thought Publisher's Weekly just a cheerleader for book sales and several others of just phoning it in; quite possibly as a reaction to the struggles of the book business. But not Kirkus.

I've met authors that are absolutely terrified that a bad review from them will impede sales. Did they have that much power? Doubtful. If other review sources saw merit it a work, I don't think it would have that much impact in the grand scheme of things. I've never spoken to anyone who said they were solely guided by Kirkus, and thus, they have gone by the wayside. How sad.

Where else will I get witty rebukes of calling a 400-page slog an 'insult to trees' or the encapsulation of someone's inner journey set to paper as 'better left unexplored'? Or the simply dismissive 'wretched drivel'?

I for one, applauded Kirkus for their contrarian stance in an era of participation trophies. Meghan Daum said it much better than I ever could here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Can the Economy Get any Worse?

Apparently, not much.

OSWIECIM, Poland - Thieves stole the notorious sign bearing the cynical Nazi slogan Arbeit Macht Frei - German for Work Sets You Free - from the entrance to the former Auschwitz death camp, cutting through rows of barbed wire and metal bars early yesterday before escaping through the snow.


Uh, how much money was spent on this research?

According to the W.A.T.C.H. - "World Against Toys Causing Harm" -
top ten most dangerous toys of 2009 list,
the X-MEN ORIGINS SLASHIN' ACTION WOLVERINE figurine is unsafe. Wow, who would have guessed?

W.A.T.C.H. OUT! The Wolverine action figure, sold for children as young as four years old, is marketed as an “indestructible combat machine” with a “[s]lashing [u]ppercut!” Wolverine has rigid, pointed plastic claws sporting three 1 1/2” protrusions on both fists. The right “pop-out” claw retracts upon impact, whereas the left claw remains rigid and unforgiving upon contact. Incredibly, there are no warnings on either the box or the toy itself.

Another dangerous toy: The Stick. I'm just sayin.

Why Pets Bite Us

Sunday, December 13, 2009

But We're Good Now, Right?

The phrase "Too Little, Too Late" doesn't even begin to cover this one:

NEW YORK – Members of one of America's oldest Protestant churches officially apologized Friday — for the first time — for massacring and displacing Native Americans 400 years ago.

"We consumed your resources, dehumanized your people and disregarded your culture, along with your dreams, hopes and great love for this land," the Rev. Robert Chase told descendants from both sides. "With pain, we the Collegiate Church, remember our part in these events."

The rite was held in front of the Museum of the American Indian in lower Manhattan, where Dutch colonizers had built their fort near an Indian trail now called Broadway, just steps away from Wall Street.

Hmmm. Who got the last laugh?

Wish I'd Said That!

We're not saying President Barack Obama's Nobel Prize was undeserved, but would it really have surprised you to see Kanye West rush the stage?
Chicago Tribune

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Now and Then

Thanksgiving at the Skilling household


Jeff: Mom! Dad! I hope you don't mind, but I had to park the helicopter on your back deck. You know I wouldn't miss Mom's pie for the world. Can't stay long though, I have to look at an island I'm thinking of purchasing, and then there's the Harvard Alumni night later this week. Hey, there Tommy! (snicker) Still going to that loser liberal school with your weather geeks? Tell me, is it going to be too windy to take off tomorrow morning? Looks like your hair is starting to blow off, har!

Tom: Not funny, Jeffie.

Jeff: Oooh. Somebody is feeling stormy. Thanks, Mom. These potatoes are great. MMM. Hey, did you see that? That sedan. The black one, it went by twice. No, they are not looking for a house. They are looking for me. I know it. It's the FBI. They're following me.

Tom: You wish you were that important.

Jeff: Shut up Tom. Isn't there a hail storm you should be out in? Call me when you're the CEO of weather.


Tom: Hey, Jeff. Good to see you. Bet there's quite a feast planned for tonight. Maybe they'll use the good tin. I would have brought you some pie but that big guard with the glass eye took it first. Got any boyfriends yet?

Jeff: Shut up, dweeb.

Tom: Hey, I predict tomorrow in the yard will be partly cloudy with a sixty percent of shanking. Bwha ha ha!

Dear Macy's

In an earlier post, I pointed out the fact that I could easily have decorated State Street store windows in a more entertaining and original fashion. Allow me to elaborate: I'd do a Home for the Holidays theme. Each window would encapsulate a horrible moment of family togetherness. I'd call up Augustin Burroughs and David Sedaris for help. There could be little windows of telling your family you're gay, drunk uncles and inappropriate aunts. The last one will be me not getting a Lite Brite for Christmas... again.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Some Fear

...Because if you don't have some fear, you're not driving fast enough.

Check out Jalopnik's:

Top Ten Cars That Scare The Crap Outa Us

Going Postal

Not just the name of one of my favorite books of all time, it's how I feel every time I have the misfortune to use the United States Postal Service.

As you may recall...

I have had nothing but arguments with these people. It took forever to get an insured eBay product reimbursement when a Greek vase arrived in twenty thousand little pieces. "The Postmaster has to sign off on it," I was told. If I didn't suspect that they just accumulated junk in a store room for months until the Grand Poobah of Post signs off on it without ever inspecting anything, I'd have put a rattlesnake in a box and claim the rattle was defective and I wanted my money back from Viper Specialties, Inc. When I did get my refund (which included securing a signature and affidavit from the shipper) it was slightly less than I paid for the item and I vowed never to buy anything fragile on eBay again.

Then there was the big fat lady who drove up my driveway to hand me my poster from Art.com and was too lazy to get up and actually take the item out of her box of mail - causing the poster to be all squishy and wrinkled. To their credit, Art.com sent me a new one right away - in the same soft mailer - but this one was fine as it was shipped Fed Ex. Hmmm.

Don't get me started on the whole passport fiasco. I still don't have a passport due to those idiots. My photo was rejected as 'not having a white background'. Great. Fifty thousand Government workers who don't give a shit and I get the only old bitty that can actually identify Ecru.

All I wanted to do was share a good book. Is that too much to ask? Wrapped my book up and wanted to send it off to Texas. Simple, right? Noooooo.

Walk up to the window (There's always a line. How can this joint be crying poverty? They aren't spending it on friendly, fast, and efficient staff, that's for sure.) and present my package. Neatly wrapped in brown paper. Legibly addressed. Cute stickers adorning the corners.

"I can't accept that," says the cranky Gestampo agent, sliding a pink finger under the paper edge and pulling at the still-secure Scotch Tape that holds fast. "It has Scotch Tape. You need Packing Tape. This might come off in transit."

What? Your failure to use due diligence is suddenly my burden to make the package indestructible? Are you nuts?

"Um... Don't you have any I could use?" I stammer, looking over her left shoulder at a huge tape dispenser bulging with tape.

"No. You can purchase some over there." She points to a kiosk of mailers and envelopes.

For $3.99 an inch? I think not. I storm out. I hope the security cameras got that. My hair looks much better today than the day I stormed out over the passport.

In the parking lot, I do the only sensible thing. I call someone who works for the Post Office. I explain to her that I was rejected on grounds of skimpy tape. I assure her it was name brand tape from the 3M company. Although sympathetic, she can't really help. She's not at work and has no tape in her car. But she does agree they do have it on the premises and should have given me a tiny bit. She suggests I go to the store next door and buy the tape. Certainly a solution, I concede. But I have tons at home, and I would have used it if I thought it was needed.

I describe the Gestampo Agent as best I can. "Do you know which car is hers?" I ask. "Because if anything is getting sealed tight with that packing tape, it's the doors of her car."

Maxximum Ride: The Credit Experiment


I haven't even worn my new down coat (thank goodness it's been way too warm) and here's a bill in the mail already detailing all those purchases at TJ Maxx. Maxximum Revenue Stream, I'd say. Barely got to wear the two new sweaters and here's a big fat bill. Sheesh. Can't I be in denial a little longer? With Thanksgiving approaching, I'm spending too much at the grocery store. Can't even contemplate what Lofty amounts I owe a certain other company. Think I'll buy a Lotto ticket tomorrow.

*(where's the interrobang when you need one?)

Dear Macys

I saw your idea of a window display at the formerly beautiful and iconic Marshall Field's flagship store in downtown Chicago. It sucks. Again.
Letters to Santa? Uh, what kid isn't texting his list in? Or a least putting some snarky comments about the fat man on Twitter? Most kids today would be miffed if Santa didn't friend them on facebook, not sit down and put a stamp on snail mail. It was supposed to be retro? Vintage? Well, you failed miserably. Should have done a theme of Christmas in the Dustbowl circa 1929, if you were looking for relevance.

I could do better with a bag of pipe cleaners and recalcitrant lizard.

Oh, wait. I have.

Hell Hath No Fury

Well it took me exactly a year, but I think I've finally gotten even with JC Pennypinchers. As you may recall, I have had issues with the company over the minuscule amount of merchandise that qualifies for their coupons. But this has to be one of my 'most redeeming' stories ever....

A friend at work noted she received a JCP coupon for $10 off anything $10 or more. What? Where was my coupon? Grrr.

About three days later, my coupon(s) arrived. One was in my name, one in Al's. I had forgotten that Al had a credit card from them many years ago, and most likely this account was out there somewhere still. I took both and headed over to the nearest store, determined to optimize my savings.

First, I was shocked at how the store layout had changed since my last visit, some, well, month ago. The must have actually read my 'shoppers survey' about how they needed more petite sizes and I would spend more there. It was much larger and more prominently placed. There were tons of pants to choose from. Except for the fact they didn't have the colors I was seeking and I seemed to hover somewhere in the mist between sizes, I would have bought all kinds of dress pants. Even the jeans were a no-go.

Sighing, I decided I was going to work those coupons. I formulated a plan. First, I found a cute shirt with snowflakes on it for $9.99. Hmm. Bet they argue the penny. The didn't seem to sell gum, so I needed a second, cheap item of clothing. Aha! I nice white T-Shirt for the health club. I'll put a Corvette iron-on patch on it and be good to go. On clearance for $2.37.

Wait in the line (real theme with this store, too) and approach the register with Al's coupon. Girl rings me up and the grand total with tax is: $2.54. I say, "That's so low, let me give you cash." Heh, heh, heh. Can't trace that coupon back to me.

Fly out the door and throw the shirts in my trunk. Run back in. Find Isotoner mittens. Soooo soft and cuddly. And on sale! Approach register, hoping last sales clerk is now on break. Uh, oh. She's coming back to open a register again. Whew! Diverted to a young man on the end.

Hand over my coupon & charge card. $24 mittens after coupon and sale: $4.71 with tax. Whoo Hoo! I win, JCP, I WIN!!!!

I Came, I Saw, I Couponed

The Couponed Caped* Crusader is back to save the economy with a single income! In less than 30 days I've gone from prudent and responsible to the poor house. (Thank goodness I have that luxurious new down coat and snazzy cranberry snow boots to keep me warm as I winter living in a Corvette parked in an closed-for-the-season RV park somewhere...)

Did a day of shopping on Randall Road (motto: Didn't See that Economic Downturn Coming) and wondered why is there still so much traffic during a depression. I had a husband, a fistful of coupons and part of a Saturday to use up, so I best get to work. After wandering through some furniture stores with no inspiration, it was time to start using the coupons.

First up was the Ulta store - I had a frequent shopper coupon for a level one gift. Those are pretty paltry freebies, and I can't understand how I fail to earn the big free-miums, but whatever. I also had a $3.50 off your purchase coupon from the newspaper, not to mention their holiday promotion was going on: buy any fragrance of $30 or more and get free candle holders. Dazzled by the implications of free, I pushed Al towards the Men's Fragrance section and told him to pick something while I quizzed the sales clerk as to which coupons I could redeem. I found a cute little Halloween package of lip gloss on clearance for $1 and met Al up at the register with his $35 Polo selection.

I handed over the coupons and received a free package of cotton squares, two huge and heavy hurricane candle holders and checked out for $35.02. Yay me!!

Then it was over to DSW to spend the $10 off coupon. Spent hours trying on every shoe only to be disappointed the ones I wanted weren't in my size. Saw some nice summer shoes on clearance, but wasn't in a summer mood. Picked the fluffy cream-and-cranberry snow boots with a higher but very comfy heel for $25 after coupon and bought some $60 sneakers for Al. He has no concept of shoe shopping. First, he would have left without any, had I not offered to purchase them. Secondly, he only went with one pair, and his are so worn out, I wish he would have looked at some dress shoes for work as well. Sigh. Can't count on men to save the garment industry, that's for sure.

Over at the Loft, I really splurged on a Civil War type jacket I've been seeking forever, but the problem is, this one is white. I wanted navy blue. Would have settled for grey. But white? It looked too good to pass up, so I went for it. I'll figure something out. Al and I discussed my history with white garments, and agreed the coat had a lifespan of about two wearings ahead of it before being soiled forever by some strange food substance that would magically adhere when I wasn't looking. I decide if that happens, I'll just dye the jacket navy blue. Problem solved. Also bought a white blouse.

Unfortunately, I left more behind than I purchased. There's a Maria Von Trap jacket with my name on it - as soon as I can find some pants to go with it. The pants didn't come in "stumpy", er petite, so I took a pass. Hope they send me another coupon. Hmmm... only about a bazillion children's books have been written about outgrown, unloved, lost or forgotten toys awaiting a new child to love them. What about garments? Bet they sit there hoping to go to a big ball or something. Great idea! Note to self: Re-work story of Cinderella from the ball gown's POV. Get Vera Wang to sign on for promotional tie ins.

Went to Victoria's Secret and received my Free Cotton Panty. I have to give them credit, they hand you a fancy bag with your wrapped purchase and there's no obligation to do anything but stand in their insane lines to redeem the coupon. I want to open one of these franchises. I have yet to shop there and not wait in line for half an hour. What are they doing right? Their product is not cheap. Quality is good, advertising and image high, coupon promotions adequate. I wonder if they just have the same five hundred customers in front of me purchasing less in the recession? But wouldn't the lines move faster then?

Ended at the TJ Maxx where I would have Maxxed out my shiny new credit card from them, but apparently the employees want to go home at 9:30 p.m. On a Saturday night? Near Christmas? What kind of retailer is this? One that won't be in business long, that's for sure.

I have exactly 15 minutes to buy a down jacket. I find several excellent candidates and ask Al if the long puffy one makes me look too much like the Michelin Man. He assures me there's a reason you spend more for those tires, and if the coat gets the job done (keeping a reptilian like myself warm in a Midwest winter)who cares what it looks like? I do!!! I need to be stylish. Warm, yes, but could I look good too? Must be another unicorn like the fashionable shoe you can walk all day in. As they start shutting the lights off (pushy crew!) I grab the cream concoction with with the removable fur hood and head for the checkout. This too will have a short lifespan due to color, despite the tag claiming machine washable. I've had down coats before, in darker colors than this, and there's no getting out motor oil. My Acura is pretty new, so hopefully no poking at the motor will be needed. Hmmm. New battery might be on the horizon. Don't think about it. Just buy.

* a very fashionable cape. Think more Nanny 911 than Supergirl.

Am I the Only One?

...Who thinks that moments after Joe Perry
about Aerosmith replacing Steven Tyler
he was besiged by texts and tweets from
David Lee Roth looking for a job?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Am I The Only One?

Who thinks maybe the water (or curriculum) at Virgina Tech needs a little scrutiny?

I love how his "disturbing blog posts" have been cited as a warning sign. Nothing to see here, folks, keep moving. Just move along. That's it. Surf on over to cuteoverload.com. Much better.

Authorities are trying to piece together the puzzle by interviewing aquaintences and rummaging through his belongings. Finding clues? Or planting them? Investigating? Or creating a backstory?


Horse of the Year!!


Forty Days and Forty Nights...

Well, maybe not that many, but for me it was a no-shop of Biblical proportions. Poor Al got stuck in a TJ Maxx for over two hours watching a shopaholic fall off the wagon with a thunderous bump.

I'm now the proud owner of a credit card from them, and I'm hoping they will start sending me some coupons. Left with two sweaters and pair of Capri pants. All all threw into the mix was a pair of socks. I asked him if he wanted anything else and he said he maybe needed more socks. Men.

Do I need to spell out it is OK to buy more than one of something? Per trip? Helloooo.... I can't count the times I've spent an hour and a half watching him try on shoes to buy only one pair. Maybe two. Then that's it. For the year. What's up with that?


Dear GetALife,

Your detailed November 4, 2009 Kohl's Charge statement for the account ending in xxxxxx is now available.

To access the statement, access Kohl's and click the "My Kohl's Charge" link at the top of the page.

A statement summary has been included for your convenience:

New Balance: $0.00
Minimum Due: $0.00
Due Date: December 1, 2009

In a related story, Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, commented that despite the chain being up 1.4% in October as a whole, he was very concerned about a few under-performing stores in the southern Wisconsin-northern Illinois area and has promised share holders he will 'get to the bottom' of this perplexing problem.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Drought Continues

Bringin' Shoppin' Back!!

Still haven't shopped, but I've been thinking about it. Makin' a list. Checkin' it twice... Gathering up the coupons.

DSW - $10 off any purchase $10 or more. Now to be effective, I'd have to find a pair of shoes $20 or less. But seeing as how I haven't bought any in... well... month... I might just go wild and have that only cover the sales tax.

Victoria's Secret - free panty. Worth driving fifty miles to the nearest store for "free"? You bet!

Might even check eBay for the Corvette again.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Newspaper Ad

Psychic Readings

"Full Life Reading - $25 off with this ad"

So.... how much for a Get A Life reading???

Tick Tickety Tock

No, it's not the Mayan Doom Calendar, it's the countdown to shop!!

I've done a much better job than imagined with my 'giving up shopping' experiment. Oh, sure, we've got enough groceries to last us to February 16th, but hey, there were no clothes or shoes bought. Or makeup. (there was the facial cleanser, with the $5 off coupon, a minor purchase to be sure). A few visits to the dollar store, but those were strictly food item purchases. Cashew pieces, anyone?

Thank God for the Internet. The online shopping can begin at 12:01. Hmmmm.... does the time change count? I recall hearing something about 2 a.m. being the official change over time or something. Oooh! An extra hour to shop. Hold on, United States economy, I'm coming to your rescue!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's up With Gas Prices??

I mean, way up! Like twenty cents since last week. Some undeclared war I haven't caught whiff of yet? Some punishment for my lack of shopping? Which is going quite well, by the way, thanks for asking. I still haven't bought anything other than groceries and a pair of glasses. That was totally tied to the eye doctor appointment date, I'll have you know.

Still planning on using the $5 Ulta coupon, but there's a whole pile of others slowly expiring over to my right. Let's see... Kohl's 15% off. Yawn. No biggie. Express $20 off a $60 purchase. Naw. Not interested. DSW 30% off a single full priced item. Is anything in there full price? Nothing I've ever purchased, that's for sure. Looks like a trick. No thanks. More alarming, however, is the fact that I have earned 0 bonus points this quarter. Wow. They'll be in Chapter 9 West soon.

Happy Reptile Awareness Day, Everyone!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Symbol All is Not Lost?

Seems ol' Dan Brown can take a deep breath now - his publisher may not be asking for that obscene advance back after all. The Lost Symbol posted sales of about two million print copies in the first few weeks, and may have boosted other books along with it.

Personally, I was surprised that the reviews on the book were not as horrible as I expected. I felt Da Vinci Code was a page-turner, but not great literature. Awaiting scathing reviews, I was a bit disappointed. Then I cracked the code!

Publishing has been in such a downslide that really bad reviews could have meant several forests had died in vain - the book had a supposed five million press run; which frequently is an inflated figure designed to convey the importance of a title, but still!

Obviously it might be a bit much to expect reviews to kill a title; sometimes public opinion runs counter to any expert assessment, but I truly think the industry didn't want to take any chances. Journals assigned 'softball' reviewers to the title, ones that would give it a positive spin, thereby helping sales in whatever way they could. I don't mean to imply these places were paid off by the publishers, but rather did it to help the industry overall. (One reviewer went so far as to list some faults, then quickly dismiss them as the 'book's guilty pleasures'.)

Most reviews I read seemed to stress the adventure aspect as worth any literary shortcomings and were anxious to acknowledge their opinion wouldn't mean anything, the book would sell anyway, no matter what.

I love books, and I hope publishing rebounds from the recession renewed and ready to reach new heights. I wish they'd stop throwing money at illiterates with soapboxes and publish some of my incisive work, but that's another story.

I certainly do plan on reading Lost Symbol so I can reach my own conclusions. It's just that there's a lot of drug-addled celebrities competing for my attention.

Bean Better

U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean was supposed to make an appearance in Hoffman Estates yesterday morning to stress the prevention of H1N1 swine flu -- but had to cancel* because her daughter got sick with...

wait for it...

swine flu.

(Which leads me to wonder why male lawmakers never cancel their pro-life speeches on days their mistresses are getting abortions. You know it happens.)


Global Warming and the Dinosaurs: Fossil Discoveries at the Poles

Dinosaurs are usually pictured in warm, tropical environments, but fossils found at the poles are filling in the gap of knowledge about how and where these creatures lived. Evidence from bones and teeth to trackways and skin impressions raises important questions: How did dinosaurs cope with three months of total darkness in winter? What plants grew in the polar regions? How cold was it? What are the implications for today, as glaciers retreat, ice shelves melt, and permafrost thaws? The polar regions are a unique "library" of the past, and Caroline Arnold introduces readers to the gigantic prehistoric creatures that inhabited them.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For Whom the Mall Tolls

Still haven't shopped. Few groceries here and there, but even that category has lessened. Not getting much support from Al. Seems he is not impressed by the time frame. Only a month? Like what, he thought I was going to swear off shopping FOREVER???? Does he not think total economic ruin is on the horizon by November 15th if I don't break the streak? Let's see now, I'm a little over a third through the challenge and doing better than expected. Turned down a few 'free shipping' offers online today. Still sitting on the $5 off Ulta coupon. Will definitely make an exception for that, just need to do so judiciously. Hope to get that credit card bill down this month, that's for sure.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Shopping Exception #943

Worth being shopertunistic.

Does it count as shopping if you return it in 59 days??

Frustrated that many shoppers won't even consider its cars, General Motors says starting Monday, buyers of new GM models can bring them back within 60 days, no questions asked, and get back the price of the car.*

*Something tells me there's a hefty "restocking fee". I can't be the only one thinking about driving a Grand Sport for two months free.

But Who's Playing the Horse????

A movie about Secretariat, the thoroughbred who won the Triple Crown in 1973, has begun filming in Kentucky. Diane Lane is portraying Secretariat owner Penny Chenery, and John Malkovich is trainer Lucien Laurin. Randall Wallace, who directed "We Were Soldiers," is directing. A fall 2010 release is expected.


Day Ten

Numbness in extremities from not toting heavy packages, glassy eyes unaccustomed to not being asked to read the fine print on coupons, feet that haven’t tried on new footwear in over a fortnight… still, I soldier on.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Edgar Allen Post

Check out Answer Girl's post about the 160th anniversary of the death of Edgar Allen Poe.
Nevermore shall I be so ignorant.

Reasons Why

October 7, 2009 -- It is well known that driving a cab is a dangerous thing to do. But a new study says it ranks in the top 10 hazardous occupations in the country, and in Chicago, more than a fifth of all drivers have been physically attacked.

Day Seven

No ill effects to report at this time. The month is young.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Successful (Anti) Shopping Soirée

Popped in to the local Evil Mart after work and did a wonderful job of staying on task and almost exclusively on list. I only went down the food aisles and didn’t even buy and junk food. In fact, the only impulse buy was a pound of frozen salmon. I resisted the urge to purchase a celebrity mag on the way out and was able to pay cash for my paltry purchases.

My next mission is to visit the health club should the urge arise to shop again this week.

Of course, I’ve thought of another category of allowable purchases. I like to call it the Law of Scarcity.

Emergency Shopping Scenario #4

Me: Um, how much is that?

Leprechaun: Why, it’s your lucky day! Crystal here is only seven magic beans.

Me: Well, I’m really not in the market this month…

Leprechaun: She’s a wonderfully tame Unicorn, broke for riding. Make a nice conversation piece out grazing on your lawn.

Me: I’m pretty sure I could wait…

Leprechaun: Today only I’ll throw in a Pegasus free!

Me: Sold!!

Happens all the time. In fairy tales.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

I Still Have a Chance!!

At bargain basement prices, too!

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AFP) – A 66-million-old Tyrannosaurus Rex named Samson failed to sell at a Las Vegas auction after the top bid of 3.6 million dollars fell way below the minimum price.

... Samson, which is a little less well preserved, was one of 17 dinosaur and fossil items which failed to sell Saturday, in a sign of the depressed economy.

Day Four

No problem today. Too busy with other mundane matters to even consider shopping. I will need to grocery shop tomorrow, and that could potentially be a minefield, as I enjoy the mega-mart stores that offer clothes, tires, cosmetics, etc. in addition to food. Am I even allowed to enjoy food shopping? Perhaps I should just buy stuff I hate. Like vegetables.

I’ve thought up another ‘exception’ to the shopping rule. A shopping trip instigated by a girlfriend I haven’t seen in a while. Or maybe, never even met…

Emergency Shopping Situation #3

Telephone: Ring! Ring!

Me: Hello?

Voice: Please hold for the First Lady of the United States.

Me: Wha?

Michelle: Good Morning, this is Michelle Obama calling. I just wanted to invite you to a shopping trip down the Magnificent Mile with me this weekend. The girls and I are going to be in town visiting some relatives and we thought you would be just the person to accompany us to look for some holiday outfits to wear for the annual White House Christmas special. Oh, I do hope you’ll be free.

Me: Um, well, see…

Michelle: Did I mention Carla Bruni is flying in too? She’d love to meet you. You’re one of her fashion idols, you know.

Like I should pass that up.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Just a Teeny Bit Challenging

Day two passed without notice, but Day Three has been a little harder. Besieged by coupons and distracted by a Lucky magazine, I struggle slightly to stay the course. Most offers can be deleted without a second thought, or tossed right into the trash with other junk mail. But wait, Ulta decides to play dirty. No less than four days after redeeming a “$3.50 off any purchase $10 or more” coupon there (a transaction in which I did a spectacular job of barely meeting the minimum in order to maximize the discount as close to the allowable 35% as possible, I might add) here comes an even better offer! This one promises $5 off a ten dollar purchase. Hmmm. NO WAY can I pass that up. I look at the expiration date: October 24. Hmmm. I tuck it away. That’s late in the challenge. And facial cleanser is a necessity. Can’t walk around with a dirty face. I decide to delay a decision until another day. I tuck it in my coupon folder. I should clean it out, but that just might lead to some forgotten little gem about to expire. As aforementioned, you never know when a Defcon 4 ESS could arise…

Emergency Shopping Scenario #2

Robber with Gun: Hands in the air! This is a hold-up!

Me: I’ll say.

Robber: Quick! Open that register and give me all your

Clerk: I-I-I-I can’t! It’s locked. You have to have a
transaction to open the till.

Me: Do I have to do everything here?
(heavy sigh) Ok, here’s my $10 off any shoe purchase.

I’d like to see those, those, and those in a size six. And I fully expect double points for averting a disaster.

Entirely possible.

I’ve decided to start a list of the things I would like to buy. Perhaps that will allow some time for introspection and allow for a cooler head to prevail. Plus, I really like making lists. At the top of my list is a military jacket. I see Banana Republic is advertising one for $170. This is at least four times what I would normally spend, but I may find at the end of the month I have surplus cash equaling the GNP of Chad, so I’m not ruling anything out. Or, perhaps I won’t even feel the urge to buy any more clothes. I can save up for meaningful, lasting things like a new Corvette, or a dinosaur.

So what do you think? Will I emerge having taken the Master Card off my back? Or will it be one huge Coupon Carnival when it’s all over?

Feathers! Half-off.

I Don't Get No Respect

Actual Conversation

Me: I’ve decided to give up gratuitous shopping for one month.

Mom: Why only one month? There are people going to bed hungry every night.

Me: That’s my problem?

Mom: You were always like that. You always thought ‘share’ was a singer.

Me: Very funny. I know darn well it’s a Ukrainian word meaning ‘less for me’.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The NOtober Challenge

My name is Getalife and I am a shopaholic. I am powerless over the sway of a sale or the temptation of designer knock-offs sold out of a van. Consumerism is my religion, and I worship the Goddess BOGO at the altar of Clearance. I never met a coupon I didn’t like. I have had to leave many a mall by running at the dropping metal gate and rolling under burdened with bulging bags before being separated from my vehicle until the next morning. Shoes are a sacrament. Semi-Annual sales are spiritual. I have been to the Mall of America because it is a haj. I face Woodfield three times a day and give thanks that I live within easy commute of the largest square footage of retail on the planet.

Like most belief systems, my Consumerism needs a time of atonement. Reflection. Sacrifice of the self for the betterment of the soul.* Many religions require fasting, prayer, or the ‘giving up’ of some little worldly delight to strengthen one’s resolve and deepen one’s faith. I, my friends, intend to give up recreational shopping.

Swear off shopping?! Can I do it? If so, for how long? Minutes? Hours? What qualifies? What doesn’t? These questions and more need to be explored over the next month as I attempt to curb the consumerism.

First off, why a month with 31 days? Wouldn’t February be the natural choice? Short, crappy weather… Several reasons. Obviously, I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time, so procrastinating more months is really a lame excuse. Secondly, I have no idea how long I could realistically go with out blowing it anyways, so if I’m only going to make it two days, it might as well be the next two vs. February first and second. Thirdly, let’s not go all crazy and miss birthday coupons, now shall we?? (Although the resulting “March Madness” would suddenly have a meaning I could embrace.)

I’ve attempted this exercise in various permutations before, usually by just limiting certain categories. Example: no clothes purchases. Accessories and shoes are fine, just no outerwear or lingerie. This method has worked, and I have made it for one month. This time I’ll try to limit all categories, and see where I fail. This could help me do break out months; i.e. no jewelry July, no make-up May… oh, we’d be looking at a sad Shoeless-tember.

Right now, I see the biggest obstacle as Coupon Cold Turkey. In my world, letting a coupon expire is a misdemeanor. Not something to be taken lightly. Can common sense triumph over cents off? Do I not secretly harbor a dark desire to flush a killer coupon out with this method? One that was so incredibly fantastic that it would be a sin not to redeem it??

A.A. advises their adherents to remove all alcohol from their houses. Destroy temptation. Make a clean start. This would most likely be the best course of action. I should throw away every offer and coupon I receive (and, oh, do I get them. Retailers are not dumb.) immediately. Don’t even read them. That way, I won’t know what I’m missing out on. Or not . What if I really, really needed one? It wouldn’t hurt to have them with me, as I always do. I just wouldn’t act on them. But what if?

I mean a true ESS – Emergency Shopping Situation could arise…

Terrified Woman: Is there a doctor in the house? My husband is bleeding to death!

GAL: I just happen to have a coupon for a free tourniquet with lip gloss purchase…

Terrified Woman: Please! Yes, please, for the love of God, I need the tourniquet.

GAL: Well, I guess it’s an emergency. I really should break my vow.

Terrified Woman: Now! Now!

GAL: Hang on. Hang on. Now which is better against my skin, the Pucker Up Peach or Shiny Strawberry?

It could happen.

* Ok, in my case, that’s spelled sole

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

An Economy Down at the Heels?

Stock tip of the Day: Sell Your Argentinian Leather Futures!

Dear U.S. Economy,

I wanted to help you out. Really, I did. But for the first time in since never, I really haven't seen THE fall boot I can't live without. Sure, my closet is stuffed full of thousands of ankle and knee high choices, but lusting after a new boot is a right of the Autumnal Solstice. Is the peep-toe booty the best you can do? Does it come in Python? I'd like something over the knee in a Snow Leopard print. Could you do that much for me, retailers of America?

Thank You,

Consummate Consumer

Monday, September 28, 2009

What Gets Dug Up in the Dakotas...

Never stays in the Dakotas.

Museums and high-rolling natural history buffs will get a crack at buying a fossilized Tyrannosaurus rex next month at a Las Vegas Strip auction.


I need a winning lottery ticket!

I missed out on Sue, and I don't' want to miss Samson. My foyer needs a conversation piece.

Experts say the 170 bones discovered about 17 years ago in South Dakota represent more than half the skeleton of a 40-foot-long, 7.5 ton dinosaur that lived 66 million years ago. Discovered? Poached? Appropriated? Stolen by the U.S. Government? Can't wait to find out.

Auctioneer Bonhams & Butterfields is hoping that bids for the T. rex dubbed "Samson" will top
$6 million when it is sold Oct. 3 at the Venetian in Las Vegas.
A similar T. rex fossil sold in 1997 for $8.3 million and is now housed at the Field Museum in Chicago. That dinosaur, named "Sue," is 42 feet long and has more than 200 fossilized bones.
Tom Lindgren, a natural history specialist for Bonhams & Butterfields, said "Samson" is the third most complete T. rex skeleton ever discovered, and one of only 42 specimens discovered in the last 100 years with more than 10 percent of the bones.

"This represents the pinnacle of paleontology," Lindgren told The Associated Press on Friday.
"Most of the major museums in the world have casts of T. rexes," as opposed to the real thing, he said. "Bidding on this T. rex is not going to be a gamble, it's going to be the opportunity of a lifetime to whoever gets it."
And will look great in my living room!

The female dinosaur's lower jaw was found by the son of a rancher in 1987 and the rest of its bones were excavated in 1992, Lindgren said. It was sold twice to private owners, and is now owned by an American whom Lindgren wouldn't name. Sam Zell? Donald Trump? Bernie Madoff? Bill Gates? No, he's still solvent.

Lindgren said most of the dinosaur's bones have been stored in a warehouse and have never been on exhibit privately or publicly. He would not say how much its current owner invested in it, but said it is more than the $6 million to $8 million he estimates it will sell for. Their loss is my gain. Didn't even have to get cold or dusty digging it up. Win-Win!

Lindgren said the estimate is conservative, in part because it is already mounted on a custom steel frame designed for museum display and scientific study. Or placement in a private residence. Party ready!

"Sue" was sold unmounted in 1997, he said. The Field Museum put it on display in 2000.
Lindgren said factors that could drive down the price include the economy. He also said the owner who wants to sell the dinosaur as soon as possible, leaving potential bidders scrambling to quickly come up with the money.
If only...

Lindgren said private bidders are welcome, but he and its owners want to see "Samson" end up at a museum or scientific institution, studied further and put on public display. After my death.

The T. rex is being sold along with 41 other lots of museum-ready pieces, including a 28-foot duck-billed dinosaur skeleton and a 7-foot fossil shark. The collection will be on public preview for two weeks before the auction. Fossil shark? Sounds nice for the rec room.

Along with the T. rex skeleton's mounted bones, hundreds of bone fragments in plastic bags and bins could help scientists piece together more of "Samson" -- if they are willing to invest potentially thousands of hours. No problem. I have several friends who love jigsaw puzzles and natural history.

"If a museum buys this, they can afford to sit there and over a period of time, put the pieces together," Lindgren said. "It could take years to put the rest of the bone fragments together."

Wish I'd Said That!

"I'm a Jehovah's Bystander.
I think there might be a God, but I don't wan to get involved."
Kinky Friedman

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Gosh, honey, of course I wanted to call you, but did you really want me to take the chance of putting my i out?

Can't wait till they are banned from aircraft as explosive devices. Detonate! Yes, there's an app for that!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Post With a Porpoise

Caution: objects in photo more vindictive than they appear

Allecyn Edwards sued the Chicago Zoological Society and the zoo because she claims they "recklessly and willfully trained and encouraged the dolphins to throw water at the spectators in the stands making the floor wet and slippery," "failed to provide warnings of the slippery floor" and "failed to provide mats ... when the staff knew the floor would get wet and slippery," among other negligent acts, according to the complaint.

On Aug. 20, 2008, Edwards was walking along the floor near bleachers at the dolphin exhibit and fell, the suit says. The injuries from the fall caused her to lose wages, incur medical expenses and experience physical and mental suffering, the suit says.

(enjoy comments here)

Allecyn: (Sobbing) It was horrible, your honor. The dolphin was just laughing at me! Eeeeeh! Eeeeh! Eheee! With that big smirk!!

Judge Judy: And what were you doing right before the fall?

Allecyn: Texting my boyfriend.

Judge Judy: I'm sorry, but I find for the defendant. There's not enough proof they did it on porpoise.

Allecyn: I knew it! I just knew you'd believe those lyin' Belugas. All those fish are in on the conspiracy!

Judge Judy: Actually, they're Marine Mammals.

Allecyn: Oh, so now they're veterans?

What if the zoo loses? Do they serve the offending dolphin in the food court? Lose a bunch of penguins? Fill the tank with sand for a safety-grip surface? Bottom Line: the only one making a splash is the law firm of Munday & Nathan.