Thursday, January 29, 2009

Don't Have a Cow, It's Just a Name

On the very first inside page of the Express paper yesterday, I read that boys with names like Ernest or Ivan are more likely to commit crimes, while those who are named David or Michael far less likely to become criminals.

Then a few pages later, I read that cows with names like Daisy, Gertrude or Buttercup produce milk that cows with no names.

Is there any correlation? If you name your son Gertrude will he be more productive? Is a cow named Ivan more likely to kick over a bucket of freshly-squeezed milk?

These studies are all well and good, but they look for patterns that may or may not exist. It is likely that cows with names like being called by these names and maybe treated more affectionately, so they produce more.

The name article about humans concluded that it is not only names, but also household income and being raised by a single mother that make a boy more likely to be criminal. The study said it found this to be true whether the kids were black or white...but I just feel that they picked names like "Ivan" and "Ernest" for examples to try to avoid being accused of being stereotypical, since technically, someone from any background could give their kids these "uncommon" names.

Even the Freakonomics guy was doubtful: Do Uncommon Names Turn Kids Into Criminals?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Sometimes when you're not looking for a little respect, you might still get some.

I was on the train in a quiet spot towards the back reading my newspaper, when a gaggle of teenage boys entered. And I felt quite curmudgeonly because all I could think about was how noisy and annoying they were, but I tried to keep a straight face so my inner frowning wouldn't show.

I listened to their conversation for a few seconds and then decided to tune them out. One really doesn't have to keep up with the young people all the time. There is a fine art to being somehow alert and yet still concentrating on what you are reading. When I don't practice this, I nearly miss my stop if I'm reading something good.

At some point, I heard one of them recite song lyrics where each line ended with "like a b*tch." Again, I tried not to frown too much. But this did cause me to become more alert.

"Yo, son, yo."

I looked up to see one of them shifting his eyes towards me.

The boy right in front of me turned and looked sheepish. I waved my hand. His friends laughed. And he said, "Hello."

"Hello. How are you?" I replied, sounding like a school marm.

"Good." he said. And he and his friends grinned and then went back to their conversation. They eventually started to discuss the differences between "n*ggas and females" and how they hated when "females" who wouldn't talk to them when they were alone started calling them out and got bold when traveling in groups.

So the lyrics I heard weren't great and those boys won't stop listening to them or using the term "female" as if it described a lower species...the fact that they can show a small amount of deference tells me that all hope is not lost.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Spin Doctor

There was a kid in the grocery store today explaining to his mother why eating Coco Puffs (presumably with milk) good for him: "They have lots of calcium and vitamins..."

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'll Show Them, I'll Watch TV on the Internet (sO tHeRe!)

So I just read that the Senate has passed a bill that would delay the Digital TV Transition and keep us in analog mode a few months longer.

Last fall, I wrote about the transition to digital television and my converter box experience.

Eventually, I was able to get it all up and running...but this did not last. After a couple of months, my television would only tell me that it had no signal.

I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but since this loss of signal occurred just as the Christmas shopping season started, I had to wonder if something had been scrambled as a way to "encourage" people to buy brand new televisions...but then I thought, "Nah." I'm probably one of a few early birds who set it up way before the original D-Day in February. Still, my box refuses to convert and I'm back to analog. If it still won't work whenever they decide to make the switch, I'll just watch Netflix, network websites and

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Wonder as I Wander

Why is it that people always stop and ask me for directions when I'm on vacation? I guess I look like I belong...Anyone who knows me knows how often I get lost at home, so this seems rather odd. Not only do I look like I know where I'm going when I'm out of town, I blend in so well, I get mistaken for an employee. In a gift shop, someone asked me if I worked at the place before ringing me up...presumably to give me the employee discount.

Speaking of wandering...on my flight out, the crew created an elaborate ruse to keep an 11-year-old guessing about our destination since the trip was a birthday surprise from her mother. Every time they made an announcement, they referred to various tropical locations ("We are now 2000 feet above Barbados." "As we make our descent into Puerto Rico...") I was glad to be going where I was going, but hearing the names of all these other places while half asleep on the early morning flight, made me wonder if I wasn't going to some island and sort of wish that I really were.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Get your O-BALM-A Lip Balm!

This is a great product and I know the talented woman who makes it. I was a creative consultant for this product. All proceeds go to charity. Please support it if you can.

O-BALM-A Special Edition Inaugural Balm

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

DeclaraciĆ³nes de Amor

Yesterday, as I got off of the train, I saw a young man eyeing a young woman appreciatively. His half smile told me that he was sure to declare himself and not just walk by.

"Shut the f*ck up," he said.

"You shut the f*ck up," she replied.

"Before I take that [?] from you," she added.
(Ah, they know each other and have performed these courtship rituals before.)

Later, as I walked down the street I heard a woman yell, "I'm not picking you the f*ck up!" And then a child whimpered.

Maybe it was the same young woman, declaring a maternal love as she had earlier declared romantic love. Love is in the air.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Brown Delivers...and Here is How You Can Help

There was a knock on my door and it was UPS. The delivery man looked tired and that is understandable, but the rest of the exchange was not.

-He complained that my package was too heavy.
-He asked if anyone else could help.
-Then he asked me if I wanted a pair of gloves.

I understand that the package was quite heavy and I know that
it is not fun to carry things up more than one flight of stairs...
and yet, I do not work for UPS, so there was not need for me to use any gloves.
"Art and ring pops--just what I need!"

I am running late (surprise!). So to find out who said that and why, I refer you to another blog that I write:

Roller derby, ring pops, and art--oh my!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Networking: Fact and Fiction

This morning I read in the Washington Post about a study that concluded that a lack of networking hinders black women.

And then I turn on Ugly Betty, where Betty blows off a networking session since it was "casual" and didn't seem all that important. This season Betty is attending Y.E.T.I. (Young Editors Training Institute), a training program for editorial assistants who want to get ahead.

Betty gets lessons in networking from snarky Mark and Amanda--they weren't exactly the best tutors, but she gets a push in the right direction. And that is something that many women of color don't get. Plus, Betty feels torn between her family and her career--something that starts long before you make it to the top.

I attended something similar-the Columbia Publishing Course-when I had a starry-eyed dream of being a book editor. We had "Sherry Hour" every night and I could hardly force myself to go. When I think now of the opportunities I missed...chitchatting with publishing royalty and classmates who would become publishing royalty...

But since I know that what's mine is mine, I cannot worry about all of that now. I did attend small group lunches and found other opportunities for networking that suited me more. And that is exactly what you have to do...but as the Washington Post article illustrates, first you need to know just how important it is that you do it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Today's To Heck in a Handbasket Report:

Exhibit A-
The country and the world are a hot mess, Congress is just getting back to work and one our beloved statesmen has already asked for time watch an "historic" football game. Nevermind that the session he wanted to miss is the same one where they certify the Electoral College so Barack Obama can be president...

Florida Congreesman Cliff Stearns asks Nancy Pelosi for Football Break

Exhibit B-
Someone I know on Facebook just used his status message to announce his sadness over the impending separation of a recently married couple we know. Compassion is good...spilling the beans online...not so much.

In other news:
Soup. It's what's for dinner.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

My Very Own Best/Worst List

The time for best/worst lists is almost ending, but I still have a bit of time to slip this one in...

The Worst
These are the worst places to go expecting quality work and decent customer service, or if you want to put a more positive spin on it, the best places to go if you would like to lose money and time and be treated as if you are less than dirt.

Longwood Management, LLC

All Star Fence & Construction, LLC

I haven't written about All Star before, but I think of them often as I run the gauntlet by having to dart through the parking gate they allegedly repaired at my condo before it closes on my car like the jaws of death. I also remember them fondly as I listen to the sound to the ill-repaired gate dragging against the concrete because my condo faces the parking gate.

As expected, they are loathe to actually finish the job, being no-shows for follow-up and citing trumped-up technicalities in the contract to explain why they bear no responsibility for the screeching, ill-timed gate.


The Best

Conversely, here are the best places to let the management know that you have a complaint because it will likely be resolved to your satisfaction and amazement.

Landmark E Theaters


Friday, January 02, 2009

Snuggie: An Enigma Wrapped in a Mystery

While I was home last week, I saw all of these commercials that I don't see so much at home. I don't know if it is because I don't watch that much TV or if it is because I don't have cable or because no one sends away for things in this part of the country...but I realized that I had not been given the opportunity to pay $19.99 or $29.95 to send away for a product that will change my life.

Nothing has really changed (in fact, some products like the Bedazzler, are now available again) except that now they add a charge for "Processing and Handling" instead of the "Shipping and Handling" charges I remember from childhood. As you know, "processing" is much more sophisticated and a much more believable charge than "shipping."

Just the other day on Facebook, someone was talking about a product that had me cracking up laughing when I first saw it: Snuggie. What is a snuggie? I'm glad you asked. Why it is a money-saving, life-altering blanket with sleeves of course! Snuggie has taken on a life of its own, inspiring a cult of Snuggie and at least one parody.

To me, it looks like a Star Trek costume, but who am I to judge? I have yet to design a garment that can make anyone's life easier...