29 February 2008

Perked up *my* day

I loved both the Partridge Family and the Brady Bunch, so why it's taken my so long to find this, I couldn't say. But I think I'm going to have to play it whenever I feel down. Or even non-plused.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present The Mundelein High School Partridge Family / Brady Bunch Throwdown:

And you just know that when the concept was first outlined to them, the Mundelein choir kids* were all "huh?"

Perhaps their teacher showed them this:

* most of whom were born in 1989, 15 years after the big Mondrian bus was permanently parked in the garage

A couple of quotes for Friday

Richard Land, with whom I so rarely find myself in agreement, said something that rang totally true for me:

I feel sorry for Hilary Clinton running against Barack Obama. She's trying to conduct a job interview and he's on a date.

And I ran into this one from Sean Combs in whichever Time magazine I'm currently carrying around. He was asked "what factor makes a record a sure hit"?

Melody. When you hear a Beatles' melody or Marvin Gaye, it changes everything around you. You ever see those commercials where somebody's someplace and then the whole room changes? Melody does that.

28 February 2008

Yup, that's pretty much it.

The next time that Kris is in the DC area, he should come to dinner with Mattie and me. Wildfire (in Tysons) has a darn good gluten-free beer.

Thanks to Gluten-Free NYC for the link.

22 February 2008

Mmmmm syrup

What I don't understand is why I wasn't contacted regarding being Miss Maple Syrup. After all I do for those saps.

Maple Sugar Festival

21 February 2008

How to find a nice hot cuppa

I love the internet. Especially when it's useful.*


Every single fiber in my weird-old-lady-with-seventeen-cats being is all a quiver.

*And especially when a few of the postings were put there by my pal, Lori.

20 February 2008


Long years ago I worked in an office just scant blocks from the office where I work now. One day, one of my co-workers was telling a story about this guy and she said "he was so white" and, turning to me, "whiter than you, even, Leta."*

Which was my big clue that I am a Very White Person.

Or, rather, that everyone else also knows that I am a very white person. I mean, I like Gilbert and Sullivan; movies with Hugh Grant in them; the writings of Dorothy Sayers; PopTarts; NPR; and VWs. I'm an Episcopalian, for Pete's sake. So it's not like I thought that I had a lot of street cred or anything.**

And finally, there is a website for me and to explain me to others: Stuff White People Like.

I am also thinking that learning about my Very White Brethren and Sistren will be easier than learning about Facebook.

via Arjewtino.

*And the person who said the thing quoted above? A very nice white lady who lived in Takoma Park; had a different last name than her husband and child; a PhD in a "soft science" with a helping-the-poor-and-downtrodden emphasis; and who liked to dress in dashikis and other African clothing. Pot? Hi, it's Kettle. You're white.

**A phrase that, having been used by me in a blog post, is officially passé.

19 February 2008

Navigating Facebook

Joining Facebook is a bit like parachuting into a strange country, only more so. There are some people I know but there are local customs that I know nothing about and I'm don't speak the language as well as I thought I did when I was practicing at home. Oh, and I broke my compass when I made landfall. (Or whatever it's called for parachuting. "Landfall" I got from all those years of reading SF.)

Anyway, here I am standing by the side of the road trying to read the map so that I can find a hotel and a hot meal. A hot bath wouldn't hurt either. Several very friendly people have offered me a ride but maybe that's not such a good idea. My flashlight mostly works excepts when it goes out for no real reason. And it's really loud here.

So - to change metaphors - I'm taking the same approach that Pekoe does when we move. I've come out of my cat carrier and I'm sniffing around a little bit while pretending that I'm not here and that you can't see me. Clearly, everyone can see me because as soon as I went live, they started poking me and zombie attacking me and giving me little green things for my garden patch. And I've continued to react like Pekoe: I just stare at them without moving. Later, I swatted at them a bit with my paw and sniffed at them. So, Facebook-wise, I'm not hiding under the bed, but I'm not letting anyone pick me up either. I have a rubbed up against a couple of pieces of furniture, though, to mark my new territory.

As of right now I have 11 li'l green patch requests and 13 other requests pending. Last Sunday I told Denise - who is far more tech forward than I am - that I felt a little overwhelmed, and she said that she did, too, and was ignoring everything until she figured it out. Good enough for Denise, good enough for me.

So here's what I'm dealing with at the moment:

1. I figured out poking, which is basically Facebook for "Hi!," rather than, say, the more perpendicular sense in Arcadia. So poking is fun. Not yet sure about superpoking or any of the other variants.

2. I have a zombie, but I don't know what the etiquette is for feeding people to other people or biting people, so my zombie is bored and lonely right now. This could be a problem if my zombie starts wrecking stuff because it didn't have anything constructive to do.

3. My li'l green patch is dry and bare. Well, it was. I just watered it. So now it's only bare. I am told that I can fight global warming via my li'l green patch, but I'm not sure how an imaginary garden will do that. Must investigate.

4. I have a friends list of 54 people. What happens if one (sigh, or more) of them turns out to be, shall we say, not so friendly?* If I delete someone's e-mails from my inbox and take their name out of the address book, I'm the only one who will ever know. With Facebook I'd have to do something more public, like post that "Leta and [annoying twerp] have ended their relationship" or "Leta and [disappointment] are no longer friends" lest I continue to see their** picture constantly popping in my "friends" section, all hypocritically.

5. If someone writes on my wall and I don't write back am I rude? I actually rather like writing on people's walls, so that occurance rate will probably pick up.

Leta is ..... learning about Facebook.

*Not that this has happened, per se. But it is one of the questions that has occurred to me while going over the tatty little one-page, mimeographed page that passes for a Facebook owner's manual.***

**On Facebook everyone is plural and non-sex-specific. Every time I update it says something like "Leta updated their favorite quotes."

***i.e., Wikipedia's Facebook entry

I shouldn't know this

Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate chips were my Mom's favorite snack when I was a teenager, so when they went on sale at the grocery for fifty cents for a 12-ounce bag, I bought two bags. I'm keeping them in my "pantry" at work where I keep other food and food-related stuff.

The other day I poured a handful into a little cup that had held mixed nuts earlier in the day and as I nibbled them I noticed that they'd gotten a little salty.

And here's the part that I shouldn't know because it vastly increases the number of chips that I eat at one sitting:

They taste several orders of magnitude yummier when lightly salted.

Oh, dear.

15 February 2008

Probably the kick off to the end times

And throughout the land there was a strange stillness. The time of no Starbucks.

Comments after seeing "Hedda Gabbler"

"I have a terrific life." - Lorraine
"I have a great boyfriend." - Leta
"I am a good person." - Susan

This is going to be my "make your Sig O look better in comparison" theater weekend. For Valentine's Day, David and I took in Ibsen's cheerful little domestic adventure, tonight Erin and I are seeing a student King Lear, and tomorrow Erin and I are off to Manassas for Patrick Marber's Closer. Remember the movie with Julie Roberts and Clive Owen? Well, the play it's based on is even sweeter and more disarming. Pity that Les Liaisons Dangereuses isn't playing in the area right now because that would be the perfect capper.

11 February 2008

Finally, a reason I can get behind

One of my complaints about our political system is how abundantly clear it is made that I don't matter. Nor, I realize, does anyone I know. (Well, except possibly Dan the Sports Mogul.) I don't have thousands of dollars to contribute and I don't have the will to band together other contributors to collect thousands of dollars. (And for what? To be ignored in the future? Giving money to politicians is like buying drinks for women who are way out of your league - sure, they're happy to accept but you're still not gonna score. And they'll chuckle about it later. If they remember it at all.)

So I don't have any money to give them and I live in a safely Democratic state. We don't see politicians around here unless ... well, I can't think of an unless. We don't see them. For which, really, I am rather grateful, actually. Think how hellish it is to live in Iowa if you aren't one of the 5 or 6 percent of the population* who actually caucuses.

I haven't gotten around to changing my voter registration from D to I, so I'm still morally obliged turn up for what this year will actually be a primary that will help to decide who our candidate will be. The "Potomac Primary," to be held on February 12, will be comprised of the three places where at least half of the people whom I know live: Maryland, DC, and Virginia.

And so the candidates - the few remaining** - turned their basilisk stare to us. I shudder. I really do.

So here's the sitch: Of the five candidates left standing as of today,*** I would be reasonably content with three of them. I live in a state with a closed primary, so I'm not allowed to vote for one of the three. Of the remaining two that leaves me, I'm fine with either of them. Frankly, I haven't been excited about a candidate since John Anderson and I was too young to vote for him. (Where have you gone, Harry Truman? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you...) So that lessens an impetus to stand in line on Tuesday.

Except that my vote will actually count for something this time. Maybe.

And as there is - in the words of an elected official from Maryland that I was chatting with at brunch on Sunday - no daylight at all between HRC's and BHO's positions on most things, I'm going to have to decide based on externals.

And so, my criteria:

1. Ads. Just as public radio loses a dollar everything they call me thief or a mooch, a candidates lessens his or her changes of receiving my vote with everything ad I see and they lose an additional point for every negative ad. I've actually been home a little bit this week and had the tv on, so here's our "annoying Leta with ads score"

Clinton - minus 0.
Huckabee - minus 0.
McCain - minus 2. No negative ads.
Obama - minus 4. No negative ads.
Paul - minus 0.

2. Validating my hometown. I learned from Silver Spring, Singular that Obama's Montgomery County headquarters are in Silver Spring. On Georgia Avenue. In fact, his headquarters are prett' near the middle of a very oddly shaped geometric-ish figure comprised of: the house I grew up in, my elementary school, current home, office, high school, junior high (yuck), and home theater.

Clinton's are in .... Bethesda.

So that's points for Barack. I'm not sure how many, but definitely points.

I'll spend Tuesday trying to figure out which lever I'll pull (so to speak, no way of telling what voting system we'll be using) and I'll probably vote at the end of the day.

This time I may keep my ballot receipts as historic souvenirs.

* That number not made up.

** Did I mention that Marylanders don't matter? Most of the candidates have already gone home.

*** With Romney having headed home and Ron Paul still soldiering on.

08 February 2008

Vroom! Cough! Cough!

My old vacuum bit the dust. Or rather, sucked up the dust and then spewed it around the room and into my lungs. The vacuum is an ancient orange Hoover upright that's nearly as old - or maybe older - than I am. Okay, probably not older, but Mom had it for years and years and then I got it.* It worked great and, in fact, the motor still does. But the tubing connecting the machine to the bag is of less stern stuff and finally gave way. Ron, the guy at the vacuum repair place told me that it's not fixable (and that he can't even use it for parts), so I set about looking for a new vacuum.

At first I wanted a bagless one, but Ron told me that they are basically just boat payments for vacuum repair guys and that he doesn't sell them. (Almost all of the vacuums in for repair that day were bagless, as he emphatically pointed out.)

Then he showed me some lovely, quiet, reliable machines in the $200 - $250 range. With HEPA filters and everything. The Lexus of vacuums. They were pretty, too. But I told him that I'm one person, with one cat, in a reasonably small apartment. At which point we moved over to the Hoover Tempo.

Also right before our move to the Hoover was my mentioning that I was only pre-shopping that day because my boyfriend noticed that Consumer Reports did vacuums in the March issue. CR kind of annoys Ron, largely because he is convinced that they have one guy who tests vacuums who is 6'4" and a former linebacker and that 5'0", 100-pound little old ladies don't have the same handling and maneuverability experience as Bruno. All in all, a pretty entertaining rant.

The Tempo is more like the Honda Civic of vacuums, I guess - less flashy, a little louder, a lot less expensive. No HEPA, but good filters that would get most of the allergens. And it's a pretty color blue. And what singer wouldn't want a vacuum called the "tempo"? So I said that I'd be back after I checked what CR had to say (pause while Ron rolls his eyes).

That was Monday. The CR info came in on Wednesday and I went sprinting back to the vacuum store only to find out that all the Tempi were sold out. They would get at least three more the next day, but one of them was already promised to someone else. (The Other-Guy-Who-Isn't-Ron looked puzzled that they were flying out the door so fast. I wasn't surprised at all as the Tempo was the first vacuum on CR's list that was under $300 and got good ratings. It was #6, in fact, and got two "excellents," three "very goods," and two "goods." And it is the only vac in the first ten that costs less than $300.)

Yesterday they got the delivery from Hoover and tagged one for me. I went to collect it after work and Ron assembled it for me, gave me some good maintenance advice, showed me how to change the belt. He then showed me how the belt that arrived in my brand new vac was already a bit stretched out as he was replacing it for me, which is basically the reason why I went to Ron's hole-in-wall vacuum repair instead of a big box store. One of Mom's prejudices is that big box stores are staffed by high school students who don't know and don't care and considering how many parts Ron assembled before he carried the Tempo out to the car for me, I'm really glad that I bought it from him.

I picked up some kind of an upper respiratory thing from the unintentional dust storm in the apartment so I haven't been playing with my new toy yet, but this weekend? This weekend, my darlings, we vacuum!

*According to Mom, by confiscating it. Or maybe her word was "steal."

07 February 2008


I don't feel so good.* I can only be grateful that I don't feel so good today rather than any time before this past weekend, but it still sucks that I don't feel so good because I was going to see a play tonight. Now I'm going to pick up my new vacuum cleaner** and go home, eat chicken soup, drink a lot of tea, and go to bed. Not necessarily in that order. Well, collecting the vacuum will definitely happen first.

From the bed my cat and I will watch sit-coms and I will read and I will go to sleep, possibly before the sit-coms are over.


I don't suppose that anyone wants to come over, pat my (kinda germy, whatever) hand, bring me things, take my temperature, and say "you poor baby," do they? Because I would love that.

Especially if they could be combined, like "You poor baby. Here, have more tea." or "You poor baby, that fever is just spiking, isn't it? You must feel awful." The best thing about the latter option is that it allows me to be all brave and say, rather wanly, "Oh, it's okay, it's not that bad," when I really know that I am possibly sicker than any human should have to stand and that I'm missing a play because I'm this sick.

Good thing that I have a practically full bottle of zinc tablets.

*Symptoms: A cough that comes from my lungs*** rather than my throat and a low-grade fever. So all of my skin feels hot and I feel draggy which means that the assault-level of friendliness that is my dominant characteristic is in abeyance.

** More on that tomorrow, but sufficeth to say, it wasn't a minute too soon.

***Please, please, please don't let this be bronchitis. Please no. I hate bronchitis.

Sent to my bosses

Today I found this article that I sent to my bosses (Wind farm threat to radar) because radar? That's what we do. And because I like for the people who write my performance reviews to believe that I read the Wall Street Journal in search of work-related content. (Believe and is accurate, as we know, are not always members of the same set.)

I had found the WSJ article because this article on the TerraPass website linked to it (This is a windmill? Really?). And you should check it out just for the picture.

My favorite part of the Journal's article, of course, is this snarky little comment, because there are some days when SLC are all that I have to live for.
Then there are the image problems, from NIMBY campaigns to occasional massacres of migrating birds (though few propose outlawing cats.)
I have actually been to countries (the Netherlands, England) that have working windmills from the Old-ee Days that were intended to grind grains, rather like the mills of the gods (Greece also used windmills back in The Day.)

Nowadays windmills are built to produce clean, renewable power* but when I hear the word "windmill" I'm more likely to think of "ships of the land with their high canvas sails."

Windmills was one of my very favorite of songs that Clam Chowder sang, especially as it is sung to a waltz tune and waltzes are one of the very few dances that I can execute with any kind of grace. It will be in my head for the rest of the day and if you like to hear a couple of verses and the refrain, give me a call.

*And to grind birds exceedingly small, I suppose, the same service that hydro turbines performs for fish. And I support both of these technologies. Nothing is created perfect. Hydro engineers reduced the fish kills with fish ladders. I am sure that the wind engineers can do something similar for the birds. Like building windmills upside down. Improve, don't abandon.

Windmills by Alan Bell

In days gone by, when the world was much younger
Men harnessed the wind to work for mankind
Seamen built tall ships to sail on the ocean
While landsmen built wheels the corn** for to grind

And around and around and around went the big sail
Turning the shaft and the great wooden wheel
Creaking and groaning, the millstones kept turning
Grinding to flour the good corn from the field

In Flanders and Spain and the lowlands of Holland
And the kingdoms of England and Scotland and Wales
Windmills sprang up all along the wild coastline
Ships of the land with their high canvas sails


In Lancashire, lads work hard at the good earth
Ploughing and sowing as the seasons declare
Waiting to reap all the rich, golden harvest
While the miller is idle, his mill to repair


Windmills of wood all blackened by weather
Windmills of stone, glaring white in the sun
Windmills like giants all ready for tilting
Windmills that died in the gales and the sun

**In this context, of course, "corn" means "grain."

04 February 2008

It was the peer pressure

Way back in high school I tried pot. Not because I was pressured to but because "yes, please" is my usual answer when things are offered to me.* (I tried escargot for the same reason.) So I tried it. Meh, not so much. And unlike the stereotype from 70s, the potheads at my school didn't take the "oh, come on, you know you want to" approach but instead went with "S'okay. More for us." (Important life lesson - never waste expensive stuff on people who don't like it.)

Those potheads have a lot to learn from the Facebook pushers.

I've ignored Live Journal and Facebook for a while now but at the closing night cast party for Arcadia (yes, Sarah, I miss you bunches), Clyde, having signed Erin up, was modifying her profile for her in ways that caused her to wave her arms around and expostulate loudly but - being Erin - not to actually say "no." Sarah's already on, so once Clyde finished having his way with Erin, the three of them slowly turned to me like.... well, like Vampires in search of a light snack.

I went down without much of a fight, I'll admit, which surprised me seeing as I've paid exactly zero attention to Facebook and actively resist LJ.** Clyde did the registration stuff for me and would occasionally hold up the laptop and say "type in a password" or something similar and I'd comply.

And now I'm covered in Vampire hickies and I'm on Facebook. And - so far - I'm enjoying it. During the registration process Facebook trolled my address book and asked if I wanted to friend the existing Facebook members. "Oh, look," said the idiot, "I know these people!" Yes, ding-dong, you know the people in your address book. In order to prevent other ridiculous statements of the obvious Clyde told me to just say "yes to all" and move on. And I did. (What is it with him? Does he have supernatural powers? Did he have them before he did Dracula: The Musical?)

I've added a bunch of friends and even sent some "let's be friends" to others. I put up a profile picture. I've added a couple of applications, like the "where I've been" map. I became a zombie. (I should note that no matter what happens with the whole zombie thing I cannot fight wearwolves as I know one.)

And is it a coincidence that Pete Townsend's "Face the Face" is playing now? I think not.

* Ali once sat me down and taught me some alternative answers to "Leta, would you be able to....". They were "Oh, I'd love to, but I can't"; "Thank you for thinking of me, but I just can't"; and "No." She made me repeat them until they sounded natural coming out of my mouth. They are, of course, some of the most underused phases in my vocabulary, unlike "Oh, I can't ... I have rehearsal," which is somewhere in the Top 20.

** Possibly the better inducement to get me to join came from Patrick and Melanie. They're on and didn't seem to care in the slightest whether I joined or not, reducing the cult/clique vibe I get from social networking sites. One can draw the obvious conclusions but I think it just that they are sane, levelheaded people, rather than, say, Kool-Aid-drinking fanatics. Or was that last clause a bit of an insulting overstatement?

01 February 2008

Chloe does get it

Chloe: The universe is deterministic all right, just like Newton said, I mean it's trying to be, but the only thing going wrong is people fancying people who aren't supposed to be part of the plan.

Valentine: Ah. The attraction that Newton left out. All way the way back to the apple in the garden. Yes. Yes, I think you're the first person to think of this.

Arcadia, Act II, scene 7

Chloe doesn't get it

Erin and I have a little joke between us, based on this picture (below), that Hannah not only is not interested in Chloe as an intelligent human being, but in fact, just flat ignores her.

Why would one ignore Chloe? She seems like a sweet girl. Ahh, but look how she's dressed. Now compare her clothes to those of the scholars around her. Notice what's she's not wearing? That's right - a sweater! Clearly the scholarly mind requires extra bodily insulation. As far as I can tell, the more scholarly someone is, the greater their dependence on the sweater. Bernard (below left) makes an effort, but cannot maintain the look throughout, an obvious clue to the quality of his theories and his research.

Valentine (right above and second from left below) is an actual scholar, but he is young, and so must wear the sweater vest. At some point in the future, he will graduate to the full-time sweater, as is evidenced in scene 5. His future's so bright...

Septimus and Chater, while lovely young men and very attractive in their regency-era clothing, are also not wearing sweaters and so I cannot see them.

I cannot see Septimus even when we are stage together and he sits next to me. Such is the power of the sweater on the scholarly mind.

I can still see Valentine, even in his regency-era wear, but as I am also wearing no sweater in this scene that is not inconsistent with the Unified Sweater Theory.

Erin and I have spent a fair bit of time insisting that the Sweater Vest is probably the most manly, the most virile, the most testosterone-driven garment a guy can wear.* I think that all of the above proves our case for us.

Sigh, sigh, all sigh.

Photos used with permission of the photographer

*Although that's not strictly true. They are the most manly, etc, garments that a man wears in Arcadia. The most manly, etc, garments ever are, of course, bow-ties, knickers, or plus-fours (that last established for us by Payne Stewart of blessed memory). Largely because if you are going to wear any of those things, you'd better have a pretty solid sense of your own masculinity.