Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Gowns, Tablecloths, and Children

Since I want to fit in with the rest of the blogging community, I guess I'd better do my obligatory post about last night's Oscar attire. After all, I used to own 106 t-shirts so that should make me some kind of fashion expert. I should say that I didn't actually watch the program because, really, there's no need to. It's the same reason I don't watch the Super Bowl. The next day I will find out how it ended and any parts that were worth seeing will be online by then. Why waste my time watching several hours of programming when I can spend a few minutes hitting the highlights the next day? I call it good time management.

Instead of naming a best and worst dressed, which you can find for yourself all over the internet and no 2 sites will agree, I will just offer my commentary on my chosen victims. Let's start with the hosts.

I used to like James Franco before he became JAMES FRANCO. Now I can only tolerate him if he doesn't speak. Anne Hathaway is just precious, I don't care what she says or does.

I read that Anne had 7 costume changes during the show. That's impressive. Here they are in no particular order:
This gown is tragic.
Not very flattering.

This is beautiful.
Too 80s.
Another unflattering design.
She should have stayed in this all night.
It's fun. I get it. I hope it was the most hilarious thing ever otherwise it's just sad.
I'm not sure if this was before the show or after but it's another winner.

See? That wasn't so bad. I only make fun of people who really, really deserve it. Like Helena Bonham Carter. I like her as an actress. She does bizarre really, really well. But she's a notoriously bad dresser.

Bless her heart.
Here are a few more who could have chosen better:

Mandy Moore: Girl, this isn't prom.
Marisa Tormei: Unflattering and just ugly.
Mark Ruffalo's wife: No. Just, no.
Scarlet O'Hara's got nuthin' on these next gals. They have managed to make Oscar worthy frocks out of not only drapery, but tablecloths and cocktail napkins as well:

Melissa Leo's classy tablecloth could only be made better by one thing...
...a sneak peek at her uber chic tittoo.
Nicole, sweetie, pale girls shouldn't wear white.
I think Scarlett Johansson is gorgeous but this dress is not.
I couldn't help but notice the accessories a couple of the ladies were sporting. Some worked, some didn't.
Penelope's fashion accessory, called a Javier, is a fashion DO.
Melania is sporting an out of season, dried up fashion DON'T.
Since we're looking at men, let's look at some more.

Josh & Javier: I have no comment about what they're wearing. Just take a moment and admire.
Hugh is a big hunka eye candy but I have issues with his ears. They're abnormal and I just can't get past that.
I don't even know who this guy is but I hope he fired his stylist. That tux is heinous.
Christian Bale I have admired you since Empire of The Sun but from the neck up you look like a homeless person.
Justin Timberlake was well dressed but his mother was not. She should have worn something more age appropriate.
Russel Brand's mom was a vision of loveliness but he was so not.
Hello, I'm Giorgos Lanthimos and these are my dates: Cheekbones and Jawline.  
I think I'll end my post with some youngsters. The first one is 14 year old Hailee Steinfeld. Her dress is beautiful and age appropriate.
I want to hug her mother.
And then we have Madonna and her 14 year old daughter Lourdes. The only positive thing I can say is thank God someone finally took a weedeater to that girl's eyebrows.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
And finally, my favorite young couple from the evening. I'm a little out of touch with youngsters these days so I don't know who this couple is but my heart goes out to them. I could imagine their lives are not easy. I don't necessarily condone their choices but I do believe that lesbian couples are deserving of the same love and respect as everyone else. 
You Go Girls!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

GraphJam Faves

Here are some of my favorite graphs from GraphJam:

Mental Brownies and Eyeball Conversations

I have nothing exciting or even interesting to report and I'm too tired to make stuff up so here we are.

We're making progress on the Big Clean Sweep of 2011. It's going slower than I thought it would but it's going. Our goal is to be moved out by the end of March but we have a lot of work to do between now and then.

We just finished (and by "we" I mean me and the voices in my head) going through all the clothes in our closets. We ended up with 7 big bags stuffed full of clothes to donate. How did we manage to accumulate so much stuff?? I ended up sorting through 106 t-shirts between the 3 of us. And that doesn't include the dressy t's hanging in the closet.

We're hoarders. I really had no idea. We're not the stinky kind that saves their trash and can't use certain rooms of their house, we're just the insane kind that thinks it's normal for 3 people to have over 100 t-shirts.

I loaded the bags into the car this afternoon and decided to take them to the Salvation Army instead of Goodwill. When we first moved here I donated something to the Salvation Army and even though I can't remember what it was, I do remember that all I had to do was pull up to the door and a bunch of guys came out and unloaded my car for me. Since all these bags of clothes were pretty darn heavy, I chose that option.

I've been to the Salvation Army Thrift Store 2 or 3 times over the last 8 years and every time I go I have trouble finding it. I even had Google Maps opened on my cell phone and still spent a good half hour completely lost in an 8 square block area. Houston is so gonna kick my butt.

After I dropped off my donations I decided to stop at the store on my way home because we were almost out of milk and I had already mentally baked a pan of brownies.

I assessed my overall appearance and saw that I looked about the same way I have over the past 2+ weeks: ratty shorts, tshirt, flip flops and no makeup. That has been my uniform lately. The only difference was that today I was wearing a bra. Oh, and my hair looked good cuz I just had my roots done.

I was feeling way too white trashy for Winn Dixie so I decided to slip into Rite Aid to grab a gallon of milk. Besides, I needed eyeliner too.

As usual, I set off the little shoplifting alarm as I entered the store but no one came running for me so I went about my shopping.

While I was checking out I told the cashier that I was probably going to set off the alarm again when I left and I asked her if she'd like to look through my bag.  She looked aghast and said, "Oh no! No, that's okay." She acted as if she would never do such an offensive thing to a customer. I just don't get that. If I was the store owner and someone set off my shoplifting alarm, there'd be a cavity search going down, that's for sure.

I quickly got back into my car and out of the parking lot before me and my white trashiness could be spotted by any of the high class migrant workers who shop at Winn Dixie.

During this process of cleaning and organizing I've been saving some of the boxes and containers I come across because I know I'll need them when I get to the art room. That's gonna be a nightmare. As I was cleaning out our bedroom closet I came across a pile of shoe polishing supplies that Jayson uses to shine the one pair of shoes he wears every 10 years that need to be shined. I couldn't find anything the right size to put the stuff in and it couldn't just sit there on the shelf looking all cluttery so I used a cereal box to make a container that's just the right size.

I was going to post a detailed step-by-step tutorial on how you, too, can spend hours and hours customizing a cereal box to fit supplies that your husband is probably going to throw in the trash when he sees them, but then decided against it. Mainly because I sort of made it up as I went along and learned what not to do when doing this sort of thing. If I ever do another one I'll post instructions because now I know how to do it right.

But I'll give you the gist of it. You start with an empty box of Special K Red Berries. I'm sure there might be other cereal boxes that would work although I don't know why you would want to use them since Special K Red Berries is the best cereal ever.

You open it out flat then sort of eyeball how big you'll need it to be in order to hold whatever you're trying to put in it.  Then you make new score lines for the width and height you want. I got really confused with this step because even though I didn't measure anything it still felt like math.

Then you refold the box along your new score lines and make the necessary cuts you need in order for the box to fold correctly. Yeah, I know that's vague but it's really just a trial and error thing. And I did make several errors and snipped off sections I shouldn't have but I just used my cover papers to hide my boo boos.

I didn't want the top of the box to close like a cereal box, I wanted a little flap thingie so I just made a few cuts after I folded it to get what I wanted. Over the last 20 years I've made just shy of a kajillion different kinds of boxes, bags and envelopes. After a while you get to where you can design your own without much effort.

Once my box was the size and shape I wanted it, I covered it with 2 different decorative papers from my stash.  I didn't have a sheet big enough to do the whole box (other than wrapping paper and I wanted something sturdier) so I used 2 different ones and just made it look like I meant to do it that way on purpose.

Oh yeah. One little tip. Cover your box before you glue it together. Otherwise it's a pain and it will end up looking gift wrapped instead of covered.

Then I sewed some buttons on the front and used a piece of decorative fiber for the closure.

Voila! A container that's just right size for the stuff inside it. I'm sure Jayson will be appropriately impressed.

Actually, here's what will happen. After we move I will make a lovely little label for the shoe polish box and place it on the shelf on Jayson's side of the closet. Then I will show him the box and explain to him that his stuff is inside there for whenever he needs it.

He will cock his head to one side and look at me with that "WTF? Are you insane? What a colossal waste of time!" look on his face that I've grown to love and adore.

Then I will look at him with my "Don't you EVEN freaking start with me! I've been working my butt off and you know that if I don't take the time to do something creative on a regular basis I will end up on a bell tower with an assault rifle!" look that he will recognize immediately although I doubt he's grown to love and adore it yet.

Then Jayson will reply with a look of "Okay fine, whatever. Let's just all remain calm here, nobody needs to get hurt."

Then our silent eyeball only conversation will end with my look of, "That's what I thought. Now let's try this again."  Then I will break the silence and ask him what he thinks.

He will reply, "Cool!"

And they all lived happily ever after.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I Heart Texas

Yesterday I read a blog post that made me sad. I've read a few things this particular blogger has written and I really like his dry humor and sarcasm. But yesterday's post was a biting criticism of Texas and the people who live there. My people. It wasn't a tongue-in-cheek, good-natured criticism either. It was sort of mean. And it shocked me.

And yes I did mean to say that Texans are my people. I've enjoyed these past 9 years in Louisiana but I'm looking forward to our move to Houston in a few weeks. I'm going home. I have no idea where we'll end up in the coming years and wherever it is I can be happy there. But Texas will always be my home.

I honestly had no idea that there was anyone out there who hated Texas but judging from the blog post and the comments on it, it's obvious that quite a few people do. If you want to read it for yourself go to Too Many Mornings. The blogger is really very good and I will continue to read his stuff even though I don't care for that particular post.

I sent the author an email and expressed my opinion about his opinions. Like any other state Texas does have its share of stuff that we're not real proud of. And maybe we deserve to get picked on because we are required by law to be obnoxiously prideful about our state. Whaddya gonna do?

Since all that negativity put me on the defensive I thought I'd just point out a few of the positive things about Texas. Yeah, there really are some positive things! And wouldn't you know it, this came up just a day after I got my new issue of Texas Monthly which happens to be the Terquasquicentennial Issue. That's a real word. It means 175 years. This issue celebrates 175 years of Texas independence and includes a virtual road trip that covers 6000 miles and stops at 175 historically significant places in the state.

I won't list all 175 because it would be boring. And because I didn't understand half of them. Well, I understood them but they didn't seem all that significant to me. Like on September 10, 1907 the first Neiman Marcus opened in Dallas. Seriously? That's a milestone in Texas history?? We deserve to get made fun of for stuff like that.

Here are my favorites in no particular order:

In 1966 Tex Schramm and Lamar Hunt invented the Super Bowl in a parking garage at Love Field.

In 1971 Mariano Martinez invented the frozen margarita machine used in bars and restaurants. If you doubt the significance of that, the original machine is on display at the Smithsonian which just released its list of the top ten American inventions. Thomas Edison nailed first place with his light bulb but guess who was number 2?

In 1958 Texas Instruments employee Jack Kilby invented the integrated circuit which we now call the microchip.

In 1983 Nancy Brinker held the first Race For The Cure in Dallas for the organization she created in honor of her sister, Susan G. Komen.

In 1962 a woman went to a surgeon to have a tattoo removed and left with the first ever silicon breast implants. She didn't ask for the implants but the surgeon suggested she would be the perfect candidate for the first pair since she'd had 6 children and the girls were lookin' a little tired and droopy. She agreed on the condition that the surgeon pin her ears back since that was the only physical flaw that really bothered her. Other than the tattoo.

In 1969 Denton Cooley implanted the world's first artificial heart, less than a year after performing the first heart transplant in the U.S.

In 1929 Albert Henninger received a plant patent for the first Ruby Red grapefruit.

In 1932 Charles Elmer Doolin invented the Frito.

In 1928 Ben Milam built the world's first high rise office building with air conditioning in San Antonio.

In 1966 Rollin King and Herb Kelleher dreamed up Southwest Airlines.

In 1955 Buddy Holly's career was launched when he opened for Elvis in Lubbock.

In 1877 Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday met for the first time at the Flat, north of Albany.

In 1885 the first Dr. Pepper was served at a drug store soda fountain in Waco.

In 2007 Twitter was unleashed at the South by Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin.

In 1980 the first Whole Foods Market opened in Austin.

In 1984 Michael Dell began building computers in his dorm room at UT.

And the one that gets my vote for being the most significant moment in the last 175 years of Texas history:

In 1907 the Blue Bell Creamery opened in Brenham.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Grocery Cart Problem...Solved!

My dream job would be to work as a Professional Creative Idea Thinker Upper.  It really wouldn't even matter who I worked for as long as they had a constant need for creative ideas and were willing to pay me however much I determine my priceless ideas to be worth.  I don't necessarily want to be the one to carry out those ideas, but maybe just over see them to make sure they're are executed according to my vision.

One industry that is in desperate need of my services is the grocery store industry or their grocery cart management systems, to be more precise.  I bought groceries today and was once again mildly irritated at how inconvenient it is to deal with my cart.  Locating one to shop with usually isn't a problem but getting rid of it when I'm done is another story.  Okay, it's not exactly a problem but it can be inconvenient and I'm all about my own convenience.

As I was cramming all of my purchases into the back of my car this afternoon, I mentally revisited my solution for the grocery cart problems that I have spent an unhealthy amount of time thinking about.  The problems I'm referring to are the inconveniently located cart return stations, or lack there of, as well as the abandoned cart issue despite the location of the aforementioned cart stations.

I really do try to put my grocery cart into the nearest cart return station when I'm done with it, but sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that prevent this...or at least make it inconvenient enough for me to not even try.

The most common of those circumstances is weather.  If it's raining I do sometimes abandon my cart, although I try to do it politely like the picture on the right.  It's not ideal, but at least by parking it on the curb you have lessened the chances of damage due to a rogue cart.

On occasion I have been known to just plain ditch the cart between the cars but I usually only do this if there are no cart return stations, the stations are full or inconveniently located, the weather is really bad, or I'm having an attack of IBS that's causing some serious prairie doggin' and I gotta get home NOW.

Even though I don't place my cart in its designated return location 100% of the time, I do make an effort and I hope that I would never be as inconsiderate as the people in these next pictures.

I would never leave a cart where it blocked a parking space because when I'm the one looking for a place to park and I see carts taking up good spaces, I become temporarily homicidal.

Okay, seriously?  Was the plastic cup in the way?  Was it taking up so much space that the cart just wouldn't fit?  Did the shopper think that was the Cup Return Station because it wasn't clearly marked? 

My solution for these catastrophic shopping cart problems is really quite simple and I'm surprised no one has thought of it before.  Or, as with most of my ideas, someone probably already has and I'm not aware of it.  Just call me The Day Late And Dollar Short Girl.

Envision this: A grocery store parking lot where every parking space has its own cart return area.  Actually it would be one Cart Return Station for every 2 spaces since the station would be between 2 opposite facing spaces.  So the cars would still be parked next to each other, but instead of nose to nose, that area between them would be for the Cart Return Station.

I know.  It's freaking brilliant.  But it gets even better.

My yet-to-be-patented cart return system would work similar to a bowling ball return thingie. 

After you've unloaded your groceries you would place your cart on a special platform that detects the cart's presence and lowers it underground to the completely mechanized cart holding area.  This sophisticated area made up of a complex system of computerized sensors and conveyors would keep 2 carts at the ready for each Cart Return Station at all times.  When the next person pulls into your space, they would push a button and their cart would immediately be lifted up from underground and placed on the platform, ready to use.

What happens if someone abandons their cart, despite my ultra convenient system?  Those carts would still have to be fetched manually but they can be returned to any Cart Return Station.  This can be done by store employees, we don't want to completely eliminate the bag boys, or it can even be done by a considerate shopper who just wants to help make the grocery shopping experience as pleasant as possible for everyone.

For variety, I would offer a higher end model of my system to some of the larger, more competitive grocery stores in metropolitan areas.  This model would include a custom designed Dyson dryer, similar to their hand dryers.  In the case of bad weather, this feature could be activated so that when each each cart was returned it would pass through this custom dryer before being redirected to the next station in need of a cart.

You heard me right.  Everyone gets a clean, dry grocery cart.

This higher end model would also include covered walkways which would definitely increase the store's sales on inclement weather days.  In some markets, primarily in the Northwest, there would be an option to contract with Starbuck's to have a completely computerized coffee station at every Cart Return Station.  This feature would come with an app you could download that has a modified GPS system that lets your cell phone interface with the coffee station nearest to your car.  That way you could use your phone to select and purchase the type of coffee you want. You would send your order to the coffee station and by the time you get out of your car, your hot coffee would be waiting there for you.

The only drawback to my uber cool and sophisticated Cart Return System is that it would be slightly expensive upfront.  The underground area would have state of the art computerized mechanisms that are virtually maintenance free, but you would have to consider the cost of putting it underground, then the operating costs such as electricity and...uumm...oil or something.  Not to mention the fact that someone sort of has to completely design, build and program it but those are minor details.  Besides, it would more than pay for itself in the long run in the convenience it would offer shoppers like me. 

And that's what counts.