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Signs of the apocalypse

1)  Why We Banned Legos.

The saddest sentences in the article:   'In preparation for bringing Legos back, we held several meetings with the children to generate a set of key principles for Lego play. We met with small groups of children over snack or as we walked to and from the park, posing questions like "If you were going to play with Legos, what would be important to you?"

2) Driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, we saw several toll-booth operators wearing those rubber gloves that food-service workers usually wear.  (How soon before children will be required to put on rubber gloves before they enter into collaborative Lego play?)

Tucking in

I don't often tuck Gwen into bed anymore.  She's almost fifteen, and her room is a shrine to non-bourgeois aesthetics.  I actually admire this. I tend to line things up into Catholic-looking piles, with a big thing in the middle and two smaller wings flanking it, but I am proud to have produced a more Bosch-like daughter who lets entropy take its course in her room.  Whenever I'm in there I start folding things, so I've been banished for a long time.  But last night she asked me to tuck her in. 

She still goes to bed with the blanket she came home with as an infant.  It's a quilt, handmade by one of her aunts in Oklahoma, with little cross-stitched boys and girls holding hands on the front.  When she was little the cross-stitch people always had to be placed so that their heads were pointing in the same direction as her head.   It wasn't OK for their feet to be facing her.  

For a school essay, she wrote that the three items that are always in her refrigerator are lettuce, milk, and vodka.  This is true, except that the vodka is technically in the freezer. 

While I was tucking her in, she said, "I feel like I need to cry, but I don't have anything to cry about." 

Impersonating an early-riser

Over-generalization: late-risers as a group are depressive, over- or under-weight, cynical, "creative," anti-authoritarian, bohemian, disorganized, and dependent on caffeine, nicotine, sugar or alcohol. The night tribe in general lacks for politicians, religious fundamentalists, hardcore yoga enthusiasts, athletes and dog-people.   Apparently there's a genetic component to a late-rising circadian rhythm -- and if it's genetic, there must be a good reason for it, right?  It's good for humanity to have a balance of types, interesting that the types seem to line up along sleep patterns. 

I've been a late-riser since I was a little kid.  I *like* the late-riser type, but I still think my life would improve if I became a morning person.  So I've been reading up on how to turn yourself into an early riser. 

Lots of people want to do this -- a Google search for "become a morning person" brings up dozens of articles with advice for switching to an early-riser sleep pattern.  Nobody wants to go the other way: a search for "how to become a night-owl" offers dozens of articles with advice for how to stop being a night owl.  Insidious.

The most common advice -- usually from people who are already morning-types -- is totally unhelpful: "Go to bed earlier, set your alarm early and force yourself to get out of bed the instant it goes off."   Um, duh.  If it was that simple I'd be doing it already.  Is this the kind of creative thinking common to early risers?  "Just do it."  Jesus.

I dug around and found some advice that seems actually useful from people who used to be night-owls and made the switch. 

Memoirs of Casanova

Rustling behind the veil

Friday:  Post-work happy hour at Mardi Gras.  Great bar for low-key or elderly boozers who don't care to mask their drinking with karaoke or the roar of televised sport.  Strong drinks, good music.  Later: met the Tantric Master's trainee femme fatale. I don't think she's brave enough to do any lasting harm, but she is toying with the TM and I find it painful to watch that shit.  After the trainee's hasty exit, I could have saved Tantric Master a trip by giving Tonto a ride home.  Not sure why I didn't.  I wasn't thinking straight. 

Saturday:  We went to the Shimmy show at the Free Library in Carnegie -- a bellydance expo where we saw a resoundingly kickass performance in the style of Moulin Rouge.  The dancers wore Victorian-slash-Wild-West costumes in mixed hues of red and black, complete with hats, corsets, and actual bustles (bustles! holy shit!).  The choreography, to a song by Beirut, had dancers transitioning from Egyptian line-steps to Flamenco and back over to Arabic, Greek, Turkish, Indian, and a little dash of ballet.  Stunning. 

Blonde Experiment

Tonight my Gwen dyed her gorgeous thick chestnut hair a greasy shade of yellow.   She was going for white-blonde like Marylin Monroe, but apparently crayon-yellow is what happens when you put Manic Panic Flashlightning on ten or fifteen pounds of very thick, very long, very tangly brown hair.  It looks "cool," I guess, but I think we'd both feel better if it didn't look so much like the thatching from a medieval cottage.  And if the bottom wasn't still kind of mostly brown.  Any advice?


Review: Dozen Cupcakes

Short version:  1) A single cupcake at Dozen(tm) costs $2.50;  2) The Dozen Cupcakes enterprise is vaguely sinister in a Disney-slash-porno way;  3) You can get the same or better cupcake experience by whipping a stick of butter with granulated sugar and eating it with a spoon while looking at the pictures on the Dozen Cupcakes website.

Use every part of the salad...

I spent six bucks on a pre-packaged Asian Chicken Salad from Wholefoods.  It's a huge salad, but after I've hoovered all the chicken and cashews off the top, I'm left with what seems to be a common theme among store-bought and restaurant salads lately -- Easter Basket Syndrome.  A ton of dry shredded cabbage, carrots, radishes and other vegetables that don't seem so glamorous anymore.  I used the leftovers to make filling for Thai-ish lettuce wraps.  It turned out pretty good so I'm sharing the recipe.  The whole thing took about half an hour (including thaw-time for the chicken).*  Bonus: if you use tofu (and cabbage that was never part of a chicken salad), this recipe is vegan. 

Gender Genie and You!

I've seen this thing before and it always gives me the creeps.

"[T]he Gender Genie uses a simplified version of an algorithm developed by Moshe Koppel, Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Shlomo Argamon, Illinois Institute of Technology, to predict the gender of an author. Read more at nature.com."

I tested some of the LJ entries in my friendlist -- three women and three men, including myself.  I chose substantive entries (at least three paragraphs long, often much longer, though a few of the posts didn't hit the recommended 500 word mark). I chose entries that used complete, grammatical sentences (not lists, fragments or poetry).  All of the male writers I tested are programmers.  One of the women is a programmer; the other two are HCI/designer types.  I tested nine entries from each writer. 

House of Holiday Slack: Report #2

Day #3:  Woke early, around noon.  Ventured outside to throw away trashbags piling up in back hallway.  The air outdoors was delicious; considered abandoning quest for slack in favor of long walk in park.  Compromised by doing laundry.  Called landlord to let her know that kitchen and bathroom sinks are now both backed up.  Blackened tomorrow's slack-calendar with plumbing appointment.  Continued to not wash dishes. 

2pm, discovered that house was barren of all sources of caffeine. Staggered to coffee shop; ran into friend there but couldn't answer her question about "how was my holiday?" due to serious physical symptoms of caffeine withdrawal (plus I've not spoken aloud to another person for three days, except to talk to self).  Saw words in head ("I'm spending the whole week slacking!") but couldn't get them to mouth.  Back to "old self" minutes after taking a double espresso -- like when you put one of those "instant dinosaur" pills in a glass of water.  Felt brain fluffing up, synapses crackling.  Hard to believe that shit is legal. 

High on caffeine, against better judgment, agreed to meet friend tomorrow for long walk in park.  Another precious slack-spot marred with commitments!  Back home, tried to watch The Simpsons while eating Wholefoods takeout with the only remaining clean utensil in the house -- a single chopstick.  Phone rang; answered it (d'oh!); agreed to help Livvie drop off her car downtown and drive her back home.  During drive, somehow agreed to join in potluck dinner tomorrow night with members of the Zany Umbrella Circus.  Dilemma: impress circus-folk with homemade spanakopita (prep-time: 2 hours), or honor my commitment to slack and get takeout muglai korma from People's?  Either way, tomorrow is an anti-slack trifecta.

Finished bottle of Chianti.  Let empty bottle drop to floor by couch and stay there.