Monday, December 31, 2012

Opinions wanted on phones

I just bought a new laptop and now I’m getting the bug for a smartphone.

I have a dumbphone, you see, running on a prepaid no-contract service from Wal-Mart (which I’m pleased with overall). I could buy an unlocked iPhone 4 off of eBay for not too much (in the grand scheme of things) but I’m not sure I can so far justify the purchase and subsequent upgrade from the $30 phone plan to the $45 one.

So, I’m curious about everyone else’s experience with smartphones and usage thereof. Or random observations that make me laugh. Points for any good jokes involving journalists using smartphones in a dumb fashion.

Most viewed posts of 2012

The thing I love about these kinds of posts is that, though obviously canned and not creative, they’re still interesting!

Without further ado, the 10 posts of 2012 that gathered the most individual pageviews. Stats are drawn from the Google Analytics tool thing, and I have no idea how accurate they are, but they’re a decent starting point.

7 views – “LOMO #24: Guacamole,” in which I wonder why people first decided to eat a mushy Martian-green food.

7 views – “LOMO #22: Road tripping,” in which I picture an iPod radio broadcaster powered by miniature windmills.

8 views – “LOMO #30: Lists,” in which I complain about grocery lists.

10 views – “Reader interaction,” in which my beloved readers suggest topics to write about. (I have used some of them and do intend to hit the rest at some point!)

11 views – “LOMO #31: Jane Austen movies,” in which I make fun of back-of-the-box movie blurbs.

11 views – “LOMO #3: Patterns,” in which I describe, tongue-in-cheek, the progress of a sewing project.

13 views – “I’m going to have stained glass windows,” including a picture.

16 views – “Books for single girls,” which is pretty self-explanatory.

18 views – “LOMO #33: Live blogging the apartment,” in which I describe the antics of the UD* in such a way as to give the impression that he’s dragging a dead body upstairs.

19 views – “A Real Update,” in which I describe the difficulty of painting a bookcase with spray paint (and otherwise include real updates about my life circa April).

*Upstairs Dweller.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


¡Feliz Navidad!

Joyeux Noel!

Mele Kalikimaka!

The things you learn from obscure Christmas songs. Smile

I attended a family swing dance and taught about a dozen people the basics of east coast single-step swing. Unfortunately, I don’t have my own photograhpic evidence of this splendid occasion – the pictures are all on my relatives’ Facebook pages instead.

What did you do this Christmas weekend?

Life on my own #36: Mattress deductions

I came home from work this evening, carefully inching my way up the main street so as to avoid sliding on the new-fallen snow and crashing into the sidewalk.

I gingerly stepped one foot at a time along the sidewalk at home to get to my mailbox.

I saw a double-bed mattress sitting on the front porch.

Somebody, please explain to me what UD*  is doing with a mattress… oh, and a bed frame… on the front porch.

They’re not even set up so you can sit on them. At least then I might postulate that someone decided to experiment with living in the cool weather that Eskimos experience. Instead, the mattress is leaning up against one of the porch posts.

Also, the mattress is covered in flowers, as if it were the mattress my grandmother picked out to match the wallpaper. A lovely winter view for my front window, but not exactly your typical masculine print. All I can surmise is that it was acquired secondhand.

And if they remain there much longer – accompanied, in fact, by a strange station wagon that apparently wasn’t moved today from its little spot on the curb next to our apartment building (to judge by the accumulated snow) – I will have to guess that someone is either moving out again or moving in. Not really sure which.

I’ll have to take more lessons from Sherlock Holmes to work on my deductive skills.

*UD = upstairs dweller. You know, the one that watches “Friends” and likes to drag dead bodies up the front staircase.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It’s 12/12/12!

I just felt obligated to point that out. Also to point out the interchangeability of the 12s, so that date could be read in U.S. or international style and still indicate the same day.

In addition, this is the last day for about 88 years that all the numbers in a date will match. I will probably not be alive to see 01/01/2101, sad to say.

I think, at 12:12 p.m. today, I will attempt something marvelous. Not sure what yet.

Maybe I’ll bake some banana bread.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Compendium of Links #35: Music and philosophy

I got sick last Saturday night while at work. You know that already. That means I spent the entire weekend cooped up at home, with the exception of the absolutely necessary trips: to pay the electric bill, to buy groceries and non-expired cold medicine and to do laundry.

That also means I had a lot of time to goof off. Because when you’re sick, you’re supposed to take it easy. Thus my predicament: Lots of time that I can spend, but not with people. We wouldn’t want to infect my entire church/extended family now, would we?

For today’s Compendium, let’s first look at a list of April Fool’s Day food and drink hoaxes. Including Squeeze Bacon. (Thx to da baum for da link.)

A writer for The New York Times recently exhorted my generation to take a hard look at the ironic lifestyle so many live. From the article, titled “How to Live without Irony:”

Throughout history, irony has served useful purposes, like providing a rhetorical outlet for unspoken societal tensions. But our contemporary ironic mode is somehow deeper; it has leaked from the realm of rhetoric into life itself. This ironic ethos can lead to a vacuity and vapidity of the individual and collective psyche.

Lots of Bible study tools are online and free at I haven’t used this particular site but it looks valuable. As does, which is meant to help you along in your Bible memorization.

A Christian blogger makes a good point about comparing music: Just because a song isn’t your style doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s more worthwhile comparing a music to its genre’s standards or to how acceptable it is in a certain setting.

Then, the owner of an thinly legal music-sharing site (Grooveshark) wrote a defense of why recorded music should be free. I’m sure I’ve had this link open for months but I’ve only recently been able to read through it all. It’s a fascinating take on the current setup in the music industry. (Kudos to Evangelical Outpost for their own take on the guy’s arguments.)

Another music link: Why folk music rocks, according to an Ev.Outpost blogger. I’m a folk music aficionado, of course, and part of why I like it is the poetry of much of folk music’s lyrics (think Paul Simon) and the variety of subjects (not just “I love/loved him/her”).

What are students really buying in an education? An Online Journalism Review writer suggests that it’s evaluation, community and coaching – because we can already get all the information we need for free, you know.

ReadWriteWeb is starting a new series, ReadWritePause, on how to better balance connected and offline life. They began by posting an article with “Don’t read this article” in the URL: “Yes, we’re a tech site. Yes, we’re suggesting you spend less time online.”

Courtesy of my cousin the seamstress-extraordinaire, I present: a C.S. Lewis poetic commentary on nostalgia, which begins:

No. It's an impudent falsehood.  Men did not
Invariably think the newer way Prosaic
mad, inelegant, or what not.

And for your viewing pleasure: ESPN’s impromptu homage to the cult classic The Princess Bride. Yep, I’m serious.

This is the only bit of ESPN I’ve watched in my life. But it’s a highly pleasing bit.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Life on my own #35: Live-blogging the apartment (again)

Upstairs Dweller, a guy, usually works second shift. But for the last two days he’s actually been around here in the evening. Don’t ask me why; I haven’t a clue.

And tonight, as I was gleefully pecking away at my keyboard, UD did a few strange things.

He jingled his keys around upstairs. (OK, not so strange.)

He came downstairs and flicked the porch light on and off a couple times. Click, click, click.

(We have really loud old-fashioned light switches. They’re push-button style.)

He went back into the foyer and clicked a light in there on and off a few times. Click, click, click.

And only then does go back upstairs (to fetch his forgotten keys?) and then back downstairs to start up the truck.

Which didn’t catch the first time. Squeeeeak goes a belt.

It’s an ancient, two-tone Ford, I think, so I’m not surprised at the noises it makes. The ones produced by the Ford’s owner, however…

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Life on my own #34: Sicky-poo

I came down with a cold last night while I was at work.

It was me and the sports editor most of the evening. I sneezed. And sneezed again. (The sports editor just kept talking to some coach over the phone.) I read over pages and tried explaining the corrections to the page designer by phone, as usual. However, this conversation when something like this:

Me: “OK, I’ve got corrections for you on A1 and A8.”

Designer: “All right, give me two shakes of a leg to open this thing up.”


Me: “Ok. In the hoops skybox, where it says Boys and Girls in Actions, can you take the S off of Actions, make it… not plural? I mean singular?”

Designer: “Gotcha. Next?”

Me: “OK, now there needs to be a line around the picture. I mean a box. A border?”

Designer: “Got it fixed.”

Me: “OK, now there’s some weirdness going on with the… byline! the byline for the holiday cheer article. It’s what, too far to the right. I mean left.”

Designer: “I see it. Yeah somebody broke the styles or something. I caught all the rest of them.”

Me: “OK, next at the end of that article. In the jump line. It needs to say page A1. I mean A8. It says A1 now.”

Designer: “Got it.”

Me: “OK, now for page A8…. oh, wait, nope, there’s nothing on A8. It’s good.”

Designer: “OK, I think there’s something missing now that I look at it.”

Me: “Um, I don’t see it.”

Designer: “It’s something big.”

Me: “I give up.”

Designer: “The vertical rule between the stories.”

Me: *mentally smacking forehead* “I see it now. Thanks for catching that. My brain’s not working tonight.”

So, having established to the designer that I was clearly lacking sleep, mental capacity or both, I went home sniffling.

A suppertime orange and cup of tea had held me together for part of the night, but by 11:30 p.m. I was good to be able to drive home, my head was so clouded. My nose felt like it had grown to twice its size and was taking over my ears. So I went straight to sleep… or tried.

12:30 a.m. My neck feels swollen. And my nose is severely clogged. Vix to the rescue!

2:55 a.m. Well, Vix didn’t quite rescue me. Time for the cold medicine.

That’s when I discovered that my box of daytime and nighttime cold medicine gel tablets had expired five months ago. I distinctly remember buying them. It couldn’t have been so long ago as that implies! Also, being slightly muddled by lack of sleep/sniffly sinuses, I decided to take the medicine anyway. And soon went almost-peacefully to sleep.

My sister the nurse assures me that though medicines typically lose their efficacy after the expiration date, the alcohol in the nighttime cold medicine likely did not.

It was past 8:30 when I woke up the first time this morning and was still quite tired. I woke up again around 11:15 a.m. and made myself some chicken noodle soup, then listened to a Tim Keller sermon. I didn’t get up for real until 2:30 p.m.

When I did get up, it was merely to loaf around the living room  trying not to overextend myself in my ill state. I don’t actually remember what I did. A good portion was spent talking to my sister on the phone, I think. Also Facebook. And finding more kleenex.

The sad thing was, it was Sunday and I couldn’t go to church for fear of infecting the general populace. So I’ve been holed up here in my living room for most of my waking hours. It has led to some rather funny Facebook commentary. Ironically, the comments strayed to discussing the order in which to blow your nose and wipe your eyes… but without any reference to my current physical state.