Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sarah with pictures

Sarah came to visit the other night. She's finished her PhD and we had a lot of chit chat about various people in the field that I found fascinating but was maybe a little boring for Julie. We also talked about the whole parenting while teaching phenomenon and how difficult it is and how underappreciated it tends to be among hiring committees.

Anyway, Sarah looks terrific, and is expecting another boy this summer.

A few months ago she had sent me a neat link to her online photo albums. The neat thing is that there's an album of our wedding on there and it was a different perspective that I hadn't seen before.

Here Julie runs over before I have a chance to defile a pair of sheep. See? New perspective.

I'm sure she wouldn't mind, either, if you checked out the pictures of Jacob and Cisco.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Not Filene's

And to offset the item on Filene's, Baldwin sent me an article from the SF Chronicle on a group that has vowed not to buy anything new in 2006.

They call themselves the Compact. They have a blog, a Yahoo group and monthly meetings to reaffirm their commitment to the rule, which is to never buy anything new. "I didn't buy a pair of shoes today," said Compacter Shawn Rosenmoss, an engineer and a San Francisco resident of the Bernal Heights neighborhood. "They were basically a $300 pair of clodhoppers. But they were really nice and really comfortable, and I haven't bought new shoes for a while. But I didn't buy them. That's a big part of the Compact -- we show that we're not powerless over our purchasing."
They are free to buy as much as they want off of eBay, thrift stores and the like, however.

Baldwin also pointed out this Internet system of recycling called Freecycle.

I'd like to think we live like this most of the time. Certainly, when it comes to the kids' clothes and toys we're big on swapping and yard sales. But we do indulge every once in a while.

A recent indulgence came when Austin saw a Star Wars book called Galactic Crisis that looked nice. It was for early readers, but more importantly, I recognized the author so I bought it for him. Yes, it was written by Ryder Windham! Ryder and Ann are still in Providence and I went to a party at their house recently. They're still looking and doing great!

BTW, I have to admit to some confusion over what actually happened in the three Star Wars prequels and Galactic Crisis helped sort that out for me. Thanks, Ryder.


Filene's, the quintessential Boston department store is closing.

In the wrap up articles I've read, I was surprised to learn the origin of the name. The original owner was a man by the name of "Katz" and so he inverted the vowels in the word "Felines" for the name of his store.

Anyway, for anyone in Boston or near a Filene's, there's a feeding frenzy going on. I just bought a pair of Levi's jeans for $20 and a pair of Rockport shoes for under $50. Julie got a dress for $9.

The Chestnut Hill Mall store is picked pretty clean, but as of Saturday morning, the South Shore Mall store still had quite a large selection of clothes.

As Julie said, Filene's looks like Filene's Basement.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Go Bananas!

Here and Now, an NPR program originating from WBUR in Boston just aired an interview with John Soluri. It's here in Real Audio (scroll down, last item on today's program).

John is my brother-in-law, but more importantly, his book is all about bananas! Here are some random banana facts I find worth dropping into conversation:

- Bananas are the most consumed fresh fruit in the USA

- Bananas are the most eated imported food in America

- Virtually no one ate bananas in the US before the 20th century

- the average American eats 5 bananas a week

John's book, Banana Cultures, also looks at the environmental issues that came up when countries like Honduras shifted their agricultural resources to a single cash crop and how they were basically screwed by United Fruit Company (now known as Chiquita).

Listen to the interview!

Buy the book!

(I want to also point out that I suggested this media outlet for John. If you have an academic book coming out [hey, Liz], let me know and I will brainstorm up some publicity for you, too. But then you have to send me a copy of your book.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Recent pics

Austin working on his new puzzle from Da Gugu. He loves it and can name all the monsters: "Harpies -- they take your food," "Medusa -- if you look at her you turn to stone," "Cerberus -- he's a dog with three heads that eats bad people." I think it can be truthfully said that he has done the puzzle at least once every day since his birthday.

Here's Mari in costume for the pre-K production of Mamma Mia. She likes the costume but is not crazy about her props.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

Book Review: Carry On, Jeeves

by P.G. Wodehouse
A few years ago, looking for something both substantial and light to read on a dig, I found a used copy of a P.G. Wodehouse collection at Avenue Victor Hugo bookstore (R.I.P. AVH). It was big, but after reading an appreciation of Wodehouse by Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, I gambled on it.

I loved it. Also, it was a big hit on the dig and got passed around quite a bit -- the book of the season, I might venture.

I had seen the BBC series Jeeves and Wooster with Fry and Laurie and particularly liked those stories so I recently bought Carry On, Jeeves. I understood this to be the first Jeeves collection (originally published 1925) but for the anally compiled chronological list, go Wiki.

In any case, the stories are substantially the same: a friend of Bertie Wooster's is in trouble, often involving impending matrimony and they come to him for help. As always, it is Jeeves who arranges a solution, often through a deus ex machina of a cousin in teh employ of the intended or some other lucky break. But the plot doesn't matter, the language is delicious. Individual sentences are hilarious. Phrases make you laugh out loud. They need to be read.

I intend to read all of them and as I do, I'll post little descriptions of them here with significant notes. For example, this collection includes the first meeting of Jeeves and Wooster "Jeeves Takes Charge" as well as a tale narrated by Jeeves (! not sure I liked it) "Bertie Changes His Mind."

Next up: The Inimitable Jeeves

Some Wodehouse links:

Hugh Laurie on Wodehouse

Which Wooster character are you?

Searchable Online texts of Wodehouse

Pretty complete site on Wodehouse and a good place to start or end

David Sedaris

I just finished reading James McManus' Positively Fifth Street, an account of his amazing run at the World Series of Poker (having entered using his advance for a magazine article on the event). McManus is clearly a smart guy and the book goes off in a hundred directions with literary figures and random facts thrown in. (Here's my review.)

One such fact is that one great poker player is Melissa Hayden, a book designer (and from here on I'm referencing pages 175-7). One of her works is Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. And McManus describes Sedaris as one of his former students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Apparently Sedaris originally enrolled to be a painter.

For a bookmaking class, Sedaris had to put together some text. Here's McManus:

The first book he worked on with me was Do You Know What Time It Is?, a wicked send-up of Raymond Carver... "Two miles outside of Selma, North Carolina," it began, "a ballpoint pen broke in Ted's mouth." Later, Ted dials 411 from his motel room to find out the time; his lover has been gone for a while.
"Sir," the woman said, "this is information. If you want the time I'll be happy to give you the number."
"I'm blind," Ted said.
"I said I'm blind and tired so could you please just tell me the time, I'd like to get this taken care of all in one call." He heard the woman ask someone the time. Ted had no idea what brought him to tell such a boldfaced lie. It was sort of exciting. The woman came back on the line and told him in a sympathetic way that it was 12:30.
"Is that at night or in the day?" Ted asked.
"AM. It's half past midnight, dear. It's dark outside."

Other Sedaris note: how weird is it that people are giving bad Amazon reviews to the French translation of "Me Talk Pretty" (Je Parler Francais) primarily because they didn't know it was in French? I believe this is the situation for which the word "doy" was invented. (Is there a french equivalent of "doy"? Perhaps "d'oy"?)


I just heard on NPR that Harry Wittington is getting better and is sorry for all the trouble that he caused Cheney and his family. He's sorry?

When is the government going to get its act together and torture an Iraqi insurgent into apologizing for the trouble he's caused America? Now that's the apology we're waiting for.

Really busted

Well, just got back from Millennium Park where a Boston cop -- not Animal Control -- gave me a $25 ticket for Boo being off leash.

I understand that the law is the law and it's true she was off leash, but I have never met anyone at Millennium Park in the mornings who didn't have a dog (except for this cop). In fact, Boo was off leash for two minutes, to get out of the car and into the park and poo and then I put her on leash, picked up her poo and this guy came over and gave me the ticket.

So I spent the next twenty minutes walking around the park warning other dog owners.

The other stupid thing is I heard on the radio that Mayor Menino is instituting a crackdown on minor violations to cut down on major crime. What kind of minor violations? Jaywalking. Jaywalking? Because you know that people who can't wait for the light are on their way to rob a bank.

This is the kind of fascistic randomness that affects mayors who have been in office too long. This is why most of New York hated Rudy Giuliani on September 10, 2001 -- enforcement of jaywalking laws and all.

But at least New York has dog runs! Where are dogs supposed to go in Boston?

One lady I talked to this morning said she heard that Roche Bros. is going to make a fenced in dog park from the skaiting rink down to Rte 109. If so, Roche Bros. would once again become my favorite supermarket.

Free Boo!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Free! and Busted!

We removed the gates from our house! We'll see how long that lasts, but so far no problems. The weird thing is that I still pause before going up the stairs and pause on the last step, expecting to have to move the gate.


I was out on Billings Field with Boo and the chuck-it and she was being very good when a guy came walking up to us. I had my suspicions, but I decided to play a little dumb and a little cool.

Sure enough, he said he was from Animal Control and that Boo had to be on a leash. But Boo was rubbing against him and he was petting her and being nice about it.

I leashed her and asked about the horse prints (!) on the field and he noticed them too and wasn't sure where they came from. He kept saying, "She's a good dog," and then we parted ways.

Phew. Gotta get her license renewal in the mail.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Here's a drawing by Mari:

Not bad, right? She's only 16 months old.

Here are some recent drawings by Austin, he's going to be three next week:

Now, I'm no PhD in Art History but I think these are pretty darn good!

Hey wait, I AM a PhD in Art History. I guess that means I'm right.

I take no credit, though -- Jenny at daycare is so good at teaching them language, manners, and skills like this. We really lucked out. Thanks, Jenny!


Here's a couple articles today about parenting by credit card:

This one says that parents are sometimes sublimating their anxiety by buying junk which is not that earth shattering but you really need to read some of the quotes. Disgusting. What's with the single 25 year old obsessed with baby stuff?

This one I quite like, about trying to have a birthday party without accumulating big plastic stuff. The solution? Book swap!