Monthly Archives: April 2010


I watched the production of Hamlet that aired on PBS earlier this week. I normally would not have watched a modernized version of Shakespeare (Yes, I’m one of those kind of people.) but with David Tennant as Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as Claudius I couldn’t pass it up. And now, from now on, in my mind Hamlet will forever look like David Tennant.

I recorded it in the daytime because I was sure that no one else in my family would be interested. Number Two Son did watch part of it and he and I both agree that David Tennant does crazy exceptionally well. Patrick Stewart was good too of course. I really enjoyed the whole thing and I’m thinking of seeing if I can buy it on DVD.

The modern trappings didn’t bother me as much as I expected. I still thought of it as taking place in the 1500′s. I suppose I read enough science fiction that an alternate reality in which 16th century Denmark has surveillance cameras and t-shirts and such seems entirely plausible.

Oh, so that’s the reason

This Is Why You’re Fat: 10 Really Surprising Reasons. Well, most of them aren’t surprising because I had already heard them before. Fewer than half apply to me and I’m not saying which ones they are, except to say that there’s only one that I could do anything about – caffeine. I’ve never drank coffee but in the last two or three years I have been trying to cut down on the amount of black tea and caffeinated sodas that I drink. I’m not sure if that has actually made any difference or that it could make a difference if I increased my caffeine intake, which I don’t think I want to do.

The First Iris

White and purple iris

My irises are starting to bloom. These purple and white ones are the first this year. I also have some yellow ones that are just starting to open and a lot of nice fat buds on the others. This photo was actually taken several years ago. I already have hundreds of photos of my irises so I just decided to dig out one of the old ones instead of taking more.

Drain Pipe

Last night I discovered another one of those things that makes me feel like singing “I Love the World”: bellmouth spillways. I had never see one of these things before. It seems like a beautifully simple idea and yet, also little bizarre.

BLDGBLOG quotes Andrew Crompton who waxes poetic about the big hole: “What is down that hole is a deep mystery.” Really? Come on! This thing was built. Someone has to know what’s down the hole.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it took me a few minutes to figure out how the thing works. It’s a huge pipe that comes out the other side of the dam, of course. Simple, but it is rather fascinating and I’m not sure why. I guess it is mysterious, in a way – not because I don’t know where it goes but because I can never go down there and see for myself. And also, I think we’re all a little bit fascinated with scary things and this is definitely a big scary thing. You should never get too close to one.

This page on Giant Spillways has several more pictures, including one of the outlet and two videos. And of course there are several photos of bellmouth spillways on Flickr.

Wooden Gadgets

Modern gadgets encased in wood. The Swedx monitor and keyboard aren’t exactly steampunk but they are nice. I’d settle for that. To be honest though, I really like my lighted keyboard. I’m not sure I’d want to give that up even if the wooden one does look nicer.

Portrait Photography

These are some of the most beautiful portraits I’ve ever seen. They’re mostly photos of women and girls but there are hundreds of photos and a few paintings and if you look far enough you’ll find some of men and even a cat.

Pixdaus is a beautiful photography site – mostly nature photography. I forget how I found it.

Vintage Sewing

I love A Dress A Day but I don’t get around to it every day. Last week Erin wrote about this vintage pattern that she got from Antique Dollhouse of Patterns. I’ve always wondered how women manage to walk in those skinny skirts. Have you noticed that for women to be attractive has always meant wearing something that made them less able somehow?

The really interesting thing about this pattern though, is this: “…size 20, old old sizing, bust 38 inches…” That’s crazy! On modern patterns a 38 inch bust is size 16 or at least that’s what it says on the pattern envelope. I have not found them to be very accurate. I always wear one or two sizes smaller than the measurements given on the pattern indicate and I never wear clothes that are even a little bit tight.

Versatile Cookie Recipe

Here is one of my favorite cookie recipes. You can use it to make a number of different kinds of cookies just by making a couple of simple changes.

The Ingredients:

1 cup or 1 stick butter flavor Crisco (or use real butter instead)
1 cup brown or white sugar (see below)
2 large eggs
1 package (4 serving size) instant pudding mix
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
chocolate chips or other additions (see below)

The directions are the same as for most drop cookies. Cream together the shortening and sugar, add eggs and mix well. Sift the dry ingredients and add those to the shortening, sugar and eggs and mix well. Add chocolate chips or other addition. Drop teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes.

Try this with different flavors of pudding mix. For chocolate and most other flavors I use brown sugar but for some lighter flavors like lemon I think white sugar works best. Instead of chocolate chips you can use white chips, M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, chopped nuts or anything else you can think of that sounds good to you. Yesterday I made some using butterscotch pudding and Hershey’s Special Dark chips. They’re gone already. You could also drizzle icing on top; put sprinkles on top; add mint or orange extract to chocolate cookies; add coconut or whatever your imagination can come up with.

Random Linkage

Destination Creation – an art site; all kinds of interesting and weird stuff, like Reality Simpsons, an Escher tribute and a number of celebrity zombifications. – Russian news and culture

Good Show Sir – Worst Sci-Fi Covers – Oh come on! Many of these are cool! (via)

AltJapan – More odd stuff from Japan. How about an Obama action figure (another one from BR)

Where’s My Jetpack? – You know… sometimes I really wish everyone would just shut up about the stupid jetpacks. That’s the second worst idea ever, the worst being the flying car. There are some interesting pics there though. I like the steampunk jetpack. It’s obviously just for show and that might be the best thing about it.

How a European Sees the USA – I often get the feeling that’s how some Americans see it too. (via)

The Long Now Blog – science, technology and social issues

The Reason Behind Typos

Doctor Who stuff – a LOT of Dr. Who stuff, including some catch-up for people who are new to the show.

Questia – online library of books and journals, organized by category

A Mini-Rant

I hate when I do stuff like this. I needed to buy shampoo today. I know someone out there is probably going to think “Sheesh! She’s sure obsessed with her hair this week,” but this isn’t really about shampoo or my hair. It’s not about what’s on my head but about what’s in it, which apparently isn’t much.

I hardly ever buy the same shampoo twice in a row. I like to try different shampoos because I keep hoping that one of them will make my hair look just like that of the models in the shampoo commercials – smooth, silky, not a hair out of place. So I spent a long time reading shampoo bottles. I noticed a L’oreal “volumizing” shampoo that said “sulfate free”. I think maybe what really attracted me was the shiny green tube it came in. I guess sulfate is supposed to be bad now. I don’t know if it really is or not but I know I can pronounce it. I could not pronounce a single ingredient in this shampoo. Well, maybe one – water.

I also looked at Aveeno volumizing shampoo. The bottle isn’t as pretty but I can pronounce more of the ingredients. And other Aveeno products I’ve tried have all been satisfactory. I went back and forth between the Aveeno and the L’oreal for a while. Both are also supposed to strengthen your hair too. Eventually I decided to get the Aveeno.

And when I got home and was putting stuff away I realized that it’s not shampoo; it’s conditioner. Doh! So I still need shampoo. (Not urgently, thank goodness; I still have enough to wash my hair one or two more times.) I really hate when I do stuff like that.

Something From the Movies

I have been hearing this piece, The Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsel, on the radio occasionally for several years. Whenever they play it they always mention that it is from the movie Dangerous Moonlight. I have been wanting to see it and finally did earlier this week. It was not a great movie, but not bad either. A rather simple story about a composer who is also a fighter pilot. It’s a romance and I generally don’t like romances because I always want to grab the woman by the hair and tell her, “Stop being such a selfish, whiny bitch!” but as romances go this one wasn’t bad.

And the music? The first few times I heard it I would have said it’s not really my cup o’ tea but it has grown on me. A rather nice little piece.

Here’s a scene from the movie. (the beginning)

I also found a performance by Richard Carpenter. Yes, that Richard Carpenter. Why don’t all piano soloists wear brightly colored high school prom suits? Black is so boring. (kidding)

Quotes From Here and There

“I am Steve Jobs and I just sold you suckers a gadget that iDesigned, iControl and iBreak if you break my arbitrary rules.”here

People: if someone is seriously using data visualization to justify eating a Double Down, I don’t think they’re receptive to your arguments about the ethics of meat consumption.there

If you’re so bloody spiritual, then why are you so judgmental and insensitive?here

The Daleks are supposed to be the Doctor’s worst enemy–so bringing them up every time one of the second series’ writers is stuck for a story idea diminishes their impact.there

Anyway, now that I know I have mutants growing in the pantry, I am beginning to wonder if my husband’s Frankenstein warnings about the leftovers in the fridge might cause a

Oh, sweetie, bless your heart. This terrifying “Sandwich” was created because fried chicken is GOOOD. Bacon is GOOOOD. Cheese is GOOOOD. And someone somewhere thought, “you know, maybe if we put all this gooood stuff together, someone might buy it and eat it!”there (Oops. That makes two about the Double Down. Certainly is popular this week.)

I’ve always worked on a pretty inclusive definition of art as “any activity whose primary goal is the provoking of an aesthetic response”.here

Spring Whites

This shrub is called an “Autumn Olive”. I’m not sure why. The tiny white berries it has later in the year do not look anything like olives. (Well, except for being round) These flowers are not really a white white, as you can see, more of a pale yellow. They smell wonderful.

Autumn Olive


Snowball bush. The flowers start out green then turn white. I like the green phase. These are still just slightly greenish.

Snowball bush


Finally, the lowly dandelion. Remember, my number one secret for lifelong happiness is to love weeds – not merely tolerate them or make peace with them, but love them. Weeds are everywhere so if you learn to love them you will always be able to find something that will make you smile. And honestly, just look. Isn’t this a wonderful thing?


Note: I do try to keep them out of my flower beds. I’m not that eccentric.

Earth Day, etc.

Today is Earth Day. Huh? What? Isn’t every day Earth day? It’s hard to think of this as a special day when we are constantly beat over the head with “Save the Earth! Save the Earth! Save the Earth!” 365 days a year. I do have sort of an Earth Day observance of my own: Every year on Earth Day I plant something. (usually)

The tradition started one year when I was planting something and realized “Hey, it’s Earth Day. How appropriate!” This year, I don’t know. I don’t have anything to plant and I don’t want to go to town again today. There’s a lot of construction in town and the places where I would buy plants are all on the other side of town so I’m thinking I’ll be lazy today and have a late Earth Day “celebration” this weekend. After all, every day is Earth Day, right?

Speaking of traditions, I’ve been in the habit, for the last several years, of treating myself to several new CDs for my birthday. I had been thinking of ordering some from Berkshire Record Outlet so I could get more for much less but they’re rather slow to ship so it’s too late to order from them and have CDs arrive in time for my birthday. But I might go ahead and order from them anyway.

I’ve been thinking, “Wow, everything is so green this year!” feeling like it’s still early spring. I mean, I’ve been aware of the date but, well, it’s hard to explain but it’s just hard to believe that May is less than two weeks away.

The Hair Dryer Saga, continued

About half an hour after I posted my hair dryer rant yesterday I thought of the perfect title for it: “Too Young to Smoke”. Darn. I could have changed it but decided that it was too late. Oh well.

Yesterday I looked at hair dryer reviews online but they weren’t very helpful. They were all about how fast or slow they dry your hair, how frizzy they do or do not make your hair, how quiet or noisy they are, etc. Nothing at all about how likely they are to have a melt-down six months after you buy them. So I just went out and bought one. (This meant going out in public with my worst bad hair ever.) I thought about the Conair travel dryer but it occurred to me that maybe the problem is that it’s not possible to make a good compact hair dryer. There was another Conair that I was really liking a lot but I couldn’t find anything on the box about a warranty. So I ended up getting another Remington, but not the same model. This one is much more expensive and has a four year warranty.

They still had the same model as the one that burned up yesterday. It had a two year warranty. I know we haven’t had it even a year and I looked for the receipt but couldn’t find it. We are unusually good about keeping up with receipts except for the things that end up quitting. We have receipts for things we don’t even own anymore but not for the recently purchased hair dryer and that is strange because I actually expected it to quit because of my experience with hair dryers so it seems like I would have made a point of keeping the receipt.

But anyway, yesterday as soon as he got home the Husband plugged it in to confirm that it was indeed smoking, though he missed out on the impressive puff of smoke that I got to see, then immediately began taking it apart, an operation that required small power tools since small household appliances are expressly designed to make it impossible for you to get inside them. Oh well, if I had tried to get it replaced under warranty it probably would have taken way longer than I could possibly manage to get by with a hair dryer. I am keeping the receipt for the new one though. Definitely, definitely, definitely.

I’ve already used it, naturally. I had to fix my hair as soon as possible. I really hate when it looks especially bad even when there’s no one else around to see it. So far I like the new dryer. It’s bigger and heavier than I wanted but it’s not huge and it’s not as awkward to use as I expected. High heat does not feel as hot as on the old dryer but it dries just as fast. I really hope this one lasts for a few years.


They Fight Crime:

He’s a suave bohemian werewolf from a doomed world. She’s a transdimensional belly-dancing college professor who hides her beauty behind a pair of thick-framed spectacles.

Another silly, addictive website. I love it! Thanks, LeeAnn