September 30, 2005

Curiosity: Nails and Lipstick

This is a question for the men:

Do you look at a woman's fingernails? If so, then what impresses you? Is it:

A) Length, shape, recency of polish job?
B) Whether or not nails are polished?
C) Decorations on fingernails?
D) Cleanliness of nails, polished or unpolished - doesn't matter?
E) You don't look at fingernails.

Now I have a question about lipstick. Do you:
A) Like lipstick and think it enhances a woman's sensuality/sexuality?
B) Like lipstick, but it depends on the color on the woman?
C) Like lipstick, but wish it stayed on the woman?
D) Dislike lipstick because it's fake and messy?

I have sneaking suspicions I know the answer to these. But I need a sampling. Tell your friends to comment, gentlemen. I'll follow this post up in a couple of days with my "sneaking suspicions." And how/why this topic came about.


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September 24, 2005

Geeks Cook, Too

The category of recipes might be stretching it a bit, but if you haven't visited Cooking for Engineers, you're missing out.

Check out his recipe methodology - here's an example. I'm absolutely enthralled. I think when I leave instructions for Brian to begin dinner that I'll do so in this manner.


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Mail Order/Internet in a Store

Business 2.0 has an article called "Why Some Brands Can Stand Alone" about retailers and specialty stores, citing Lego and its large play area as a giant success.

Shunned by kids for digital play alternatives and challenged by an onslaught of rivals, Lego has been under attack in recent years. Yet things may be turning around for the 73-year-old Danish toymaker. A Star Wars licensing deal has propelled sales of Lego sets based on the movies, and the construction-toy category has been hot. Another part of its business also offers hope: It's called the Lego Store, and it's boosting sales and luring customers in malls and well-to-do suburbs across the United States.
We have the print version that goes into a whole lot more detail (like the part I mentioned), but branded stores is the point of the article.

Today, Brian and I visited the new Omaha Steaks store in Richmond Heights. which is a trendy stop for the product one normally receives in the big styrofoam (a large component of my personal hell) container with a hefty shipping charge attached. For about $60, we walked out with 12 5 oz steaks, two boxes of burgers, and some beef jerky thrown in. I bought spice, too. Not bad - but the point is, I was already in the area, and we were out of steaks, and the store was there, and we knew what we wanted, so, bam, instant transaction. Almost like a convenience store, but for a product I can't get elsewhere.

If you're a fan of Omaha Steaks, this is a good weekend to visit. Lots of specials. Many more of the stores are opening up across the US, too, seemingly.


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September 19, 2005

Random Fact of the Day

If you have bumps on your thyroid gland (many do - I have 11 or so of them), they're called thyroid NODULES, not thyroid NOGGLES. Yes, I know what I'm talking about. Go look that up on WebMD or something.


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September 18, 2005

Tour de Judy

Ok, cyclists. Another ride.

The Judy Ride Foundation's Tour de Judy gives people of all ages an opportunity to join the ride to save lives. The festivities begin at 8:00am and will include a 30-mile ride (7:30am registration, 8am and a 10-mile ride (8:30am registration, 9am start), and a 100-yard kids Tour de Judy jr. street sprint (10:30am registration, 11:00am start No Entry Fee Required!). So bring your bicycles, tricycles... basically anything with wheels! And bring your family and friends, too.
This one hits closer to home than Tour de Cure and the MS 150 - in both 1994 and 1999 I had breast lumps removed - thankfully benign. My godmother is a breast cancer survivor. I missed Race for the Cure this year because I felt I desperately needed a long training ride that day. So here's my chance to give back...and locally.

30 miler. Join me in Clayton on the 9th.


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Ah, Another Silly Headline

Love Sentenced to 180 Days at Drug Center

Yes, we all know it's about Courtney, but I think it's funnier if just read literally.

Stunning paragon of motherhood, isn't she?


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Deutsche Post, Recognize It?

It was Germany's federal post office. But now it's so much more.

I follow this with more interest than most because I've done some work for DHL over the last 5 years, and DHL was loosely affiliated with Deutsche Post until 2 years ago when it became the yellow and red UPS and FedEx competitor whose trucks you now regularly see. (and fully owned by Deutsche Post)

Deutsche Post seeks to purchase Exel, a UK-based company that would (according to the Thursday September 15 print edition of the Wall Street Journal) "double the size of Deutsche Post's logistics operation." Whoa.

Even more interesting, the purchase is rumored to be largely completed in cash. "Deutsche Post, in which the German government still owns 45%, would likely finance the purchase with a combination of cash and stock. The company has no debt, and has liquid assets of more than [pound symbol I'm too lazy took look up the ASCII for]4 billion." Evidently the boys in brown are also at least interested in the bidding, as UPS is, according to this same article, "eager to beef up its international presence."

Whoa. Just whoa. Consider the huge losses DHL has incurred in branding itself - 1.2 billion - and the linked article's out of date. And then figure that its parent company has no debt. Yeah, I'll bet brown has paled to tan, if not publicly. This company's serious.


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Colorado Spice

I like food cooked fairly plainly but with spice. The Foreman grill is great for this, and I've found some really good prepackaged spices that I thought I'd share. Website: Colorado Spice.

I've linked into the sampler pack you can buy online. No MSG - nothing artificial. These are a bit pricy, but you can find them locally by the fish counter at Schnuck's. Well worth it.


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September 13, 2005

Get Your Violence in Another State?

My coworker Steve pointed out this article for its amusement factor.
Westlake Village (CA) - California lawmakers approved Assembly Bill 1179, which prohibits 'extremely violent' video games from being sold to minors and requires large labels to be affixed to retail boxes. Violators can be hit with up to $1000 in fines, per infraction. The bill now heads to Governor Schwarzenegger's desk and he has 30 days to either sign or veto the bill.

AB1179, formerly known as AB450, was sponsored by Speaker pro Tem Dr. Leland Yee (Democrat -San Francisco/Daly City) and passed by a 65 to 7 vote. The bill will hit retailers with up to a $1000 fine if they willingly sell violent games to minors. In addition, AB1179 requires a two inch by two inch label with a white 18 (outlined in black) to be affixed to the retail boxes of those games. Interestingly, only the retailer will be fined, and not the sales clerk. Also, if the manufacturer forgets to label the box, the store will not be fined.

In AB1179, violent games are games where the player has an option of killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being in a 'shockingly atrocious manner', but it is unclear who will determine what content will fit that definition. Yee, who is also a Child Psychologist, believes that violent games can have a dramatic and detrimental effect on children and his bill has the backing of child advocacy groups, like Common Sense Media.
Nanny California - waa waa. Nice subjective determination going on. I wonder if Q-bert would've drawn ire because Q-bert liked to curse in balloons of #)%*#@()@& (and thus and such). That may be next.

Schwarzenegger has to veto.

Oh, and another amusement factor paragraph in the piece.

While there have been studies showing a link between violence and video games, there are just as many studies showing no such link exists. In fact, in the American Psychological Association's monthly magazine, one month you will see an article with a psychologist saying that violent video games increase aggression, while the next month another psychologist will say exactly the opposite. Recently the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found the behavior of players subjected to 56 hours of Asheron's Call 'were not statistically different from the non-playing control group.'
But were those 56 hours consecutive, counselor? I have found that after extensive AC exposure I see all bugs as Olthoi and like to slaughter them accordingly.


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September 12, 2005

Strange City Planners

This post is under "housekeeping" because it pertains to the area in which I work.

The article is on, the online version of the Post-Dispatch. A woman in my community choir and I were chatting about this because she knows I work on the street. Said article articulates (maybe) the plans of Creve Coeur, MO to make Studt Avenue (I still don't know how to pronounce that after 5 years of working in a building that resides on that street) the "main east-west street through the downtown." WHY? It's this tiny road. Hear the toll of the eminent domain bell, citizen.

I'm truly boggled. Pertinent info:
Matthew Brandmeyer, Creve Coeur's planning director, said the downtown plan "provides the framework for how this part of the city will be redeveloped in the future, if and when the property owners choose to rebuild."

Note the phrase "when the property owners choose." It reflects early opposition from some residents and business owners who feared the use of eminent domain. The final plan discourages that approach.

For example, the Plaza Shoppes at Olive and New Ballas will remain. As for the people of Old Ballas Village, a condominium development, "Their future will be in their hands," Brandmeyer said.

The plan has residents and civic leaders pondering how it will change the character of their community.

Mayor Harold Dielmann has lived for 75 years on the same piece of ground his grandfather and father farmed. "Now we're getting a downtown," he chuckled. "We didn't move downtown, so we're building one."

"I think we've got a great community, but we think it will get even better with a new downtown," he said. Diane Deutch has lived with her husband in Creve Coeur for 30 years. "When I first read about it, I thought - a downtown Creve Coeur?" she said

" I guess it could be very pretty and fine," she said. "There's a need for apartments and condos in Creve Coeur, loft living would be good, and I'm all for having more eating options. I just don't want to add traffic to my quiet neighborhood."

Deutch said she liked the idea of making an area more pedestrian-friendly.

Other people have expressed a dislike for buildings being built right up to the sidewalk. Streets would be in a grid pattern and as narrow as possible to handle traffic at a slow pace.

The plan envisions Studt Avenue as the main east-west street through the downtown and Ham Avenue as the main north-south street. Some buildings could be several stories tall, but skyscrapers are out, Brandmeyer said. The downtown could contain about 400,000 square feet of commercial space, 400,000 of office space and 500,000 square feet of condominiums.

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MS 150, Year 3 Indeed

This year's MS 150 was a surprise. I was ready! I can certifiably say that although I finished last year's, I wasn't really ready.

Saturday's forecast was for a high of 93, I believe, with winds up to 18 mph. Ewww. Thankfully, I don't believe it was either that hot or that windy. It was moderately hilly and essentially the same 75 mile course as last year. I should probably have done the century, but I usually err on the side of caution. So I did (most of the smiling people in the extended entry did do the 100).

Burned about 3500 calories during ride time (I turn off the heart rate monitor every time I stop). I inhaled 3/5 of a medium pizza for dinner, and I was in bed by 9. At 2:30 I woke up starving and ate two bowls of Raisin Bran. Back to bed. Started out Sunday with a mess of hills and no warm-up. Ouch. The first 35 miles or so were brutal in that fashion. For about an hour's worth of ride time I questioned my sanity (after knowing basically what to expect from last year). Then it was lunch time, and I ate some pickles. And then I ate more pickles - must've really been craving salt. Had a sandwich, too. Starting out from lunch, it was a dream come true. Tailwind. Flats to rolling. Flying, baby.

My average speed on both days was just shy of 14 mph. Not going to win any races, but considering my conservative approach, not too bad. I can (and will) push a bit harder in the future. Just didn't want to bonk.

So I was home by 6 last night, which was very nice.

Pic in extended entry. I'm the pale one.



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September 08, 2005

MS 150, Year 3

Well, it's that time of year again. And I think I'm ready.

Year One: Ride lost to woman moping at home about her swollen foot.
Year Two: Hills! Tired Heather.
Year Three: ?

I leave tomorrow morning after loading up the car with everything I need to take to Columbia, MO (don't forget the bike). Columbia's about 120 miles away, and it's where I lived before meeting Brian. So in a sense I'm kinda going home. One of many homes.

I'm ready, if Monday's 65 miles is any indication. Sunday's the wild card. I haven't done all that many back-to-back rides this year, but I've done a whole lot more weekday riding. My cardio conditioning is pretty strong. My legs are probably weaker than they've ever been since I've been riding.

The cause of the long, long bike ride is Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating disease with varying symptoms depending on severity. At the most positive, it's an expensive disease. If it's caught early, it can be treated with a lifelong drug regimen.

So, if posting's light for the next few days, it's because I'm collapsing after the ride. Wish me luck.


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Christmas Ideas for Heather

I can't remember where I saw this, but it's just the bomb. Jewelry for geeks!

Unfortunately, the one I like the best is $250.00 (the diode choker). The dual processor necklace is too obnoxious (besides, we could easily make those here).


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The Hummer Laptop

Yes, really.

General Motors is expected to announce a new laptop next week that's styled after its popular Hummer multi-terrain vehicles.

The carmaker has signed an exclusive three-year licensing agreement with Spokane, Wash.-based Itronix to make a portable computer designed for people who work outdoors: police officers, firefighters, claims adjusters and construction workers, for example, as well as people who own a Hummer and are fascinated by anything related to the oversize vehicles.
I think it looks like a scale. Some days I do want to throw my laptop, but I seem to always refrain from doing so. It'd scare the cats, anyway.

Speaking of cats, I'm looking forward to the Hummer Hello Kitty.


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Apple Nano

What to think. What to think...

I'm not sure, really. I like my iPod Shuffle and think it was worth the $149 I paid for it. I use it primarily for exercise, and exercise means sweat. But something in me can't pay more than that for a music storage device, even if it does hold 1/20 or 1/10 of my library. What would I use it for that I can't use the Shuffle, which loads pretty quickly.

This is probably why I wasn't an early adopter in iPod culture. I think the one bonus would be the visual cue of what song's playing. Sometimes you want to load lesser knowns in to give them a whirl. Being able to rate on the iPod - that'd be an attracting feature to me.

Info on the Nano (in case you're like "what's is she talking about.") And the iPhone doesn't strike me - cost again. Maybe in a year.

Speaking of all things Apple, iTunes 5.0 is now available.


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Pretty Good Solitaire

If you're a solitaire fiend (especially computer solitaire - not having to deal cards is fantastic), you really ought to check out Pretty Good Solitaire. There's a 30-day demo (and that's 30 tries, not 30 days that start ticking the first time you use it).

I'm a big fan. Great way to waste time/defer blogging when one has nothing to say. Game of Batsford, anyone?


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Katrina, Yet Again

Hey, all you blamers out there who think you know what really happened...

Why don't you just blame me? I'll be the goat, and we can all get back to what really needs to be done: helping people.

(No lawsuits, please. I'm not really to blame, as you might have suspected. Carry on.)

I might be to blame for the hole in Sean Penn's boat, though.


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Aid from Mexico

Something about this just warms my heart. Thank you, Mexico.

Carrying water treatment plants and mobile kitchens that can feed 7,000 people daily, the convoy bound for San Antonio is the first Mexican military unit to operate on U.S. soil since 1846.

The first green tractor-trailers, with Mexican flags attached to the tops of their cabs, crossed the international bridge at Laredo at about 8:15 a.m.

The rest of the 45-vehicle convoy was in a staging area on the U.S. side in about 15 minutes.

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September 05, 2005

Tube and Tires and Tubes, oh My

Well, as I mentioned about a week ago, I had my first flat, and being that my bike tires had about 2500 miles on them, decided to replace them. Took bike to bike shop. And that's where the fun started.

I got the bike back on Tuesday. Wednesday a.m., I was up at normal time (around 5:00 a.m.) and noticed the tires were a bit low on air. Checked the sidewall to make sure these tires were rated for the amount of pressue I like to put in them (102 psi, baby), and pumped both to that.

I was wandering around when I heard these squeaking uneasy noises from my office. Entered office and set bike to have better posture, and, yes, you who ride know what those noises were a precursor to. POP! Very loud. Woke Brian up, who probably dreamed of a gunshot. So, no ride for me.

Took the bike into work so the guys could take a look at it and tell me what I did wrong/assist me in learning how to change a tube and replace a tire properly.

Ryan set the bike upside down balancing on the seat (why didn't I think of that), and we took out one of my spare tubes. He released the wheel and explained the what/how/why of what he was doing. Tube was pissy and obstinate, but he got it in there, and we put some air in. Nearing full air, the bad dog popped. Yeah. POP! In the office, no less. And EVERYONE and his dust mites heard it.

So, if you're counting, that's two tubes and zero miles. At that point, we noticed that the tube (which the guy at the bike shop had just handed me, and I didn't check) wasn't the proper size for the tire. Well, at least that blown tube made sense.

Took the bike in at about 3:40 on Wednesday - took off early to do that. Needed to ride. The guys at the bike shop are really laid back - both a detriment and a calming effect. One takes the bike and hangs it on a stand, reviews the blown tubes and my previous tires. Which are a different size (yes, the tires) than the new tires, though Ryan had said the new tires SHOULD fit my wheel rims. The bike mechanic tries to put a new tube (of the proper size this time - they exchanged them for me) in the back tire, but really has no luck and goes to find new new tires from the warehouse.

There's an additional bike mechanic in the workroom. I chat with him a bit, and then I start wandering the store while awaiting the new new tire. Spontaneously, as in a "poetic justice," "icing on the cake" moment, the front tire, which has been silent and feeling neglected, blows its tube. POP! It was all I could do not to crack up.

An hour later, I left the bike store with new new tires (yes, two) of the previous size. And all is well with the bike.

3 blown tubes. Zero miles ridden. That's just obnoxious.


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What I'm Thinking About

In the interest of time and general summary, here's what's on my mind right now:
  1. The politicization of Hurricane Katrina sickens me.
  2. ~65 miles (bike) today and 30+ on Saturday do make me ready to return to nice, quiet, sedentary work tomorrow a.m.
  3. I need to tell you guys the story of 3 flats and zero miles (next)
  4. The book I'm reading - Freddy and Fredericka - is worth sending to every bibiophile you know. (And darned cheap on Amazon, as you can see).
  5. My mother, who is retired, is too busy to read my blog. Isn't that obnoxious! Social butterfly.
  6. Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 comes out September 27th!
  7. And Civilization IV releases on November 14, 2005 (expect Brian's blogging to be light to nonexistent that week)

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September 03, 2005

The American Media - Perfecting the Whine

I've kept a very close watch on the hurricane Katrina coverage - probably like much of America. It's mostly been via - easy to hit any time of day and catch up to what's going on. Frankly, though, once the immediate hurricane peril passed, I moved from worried to disgusted.

CNN does one of three things with its stories up until today (when finally it tells us how to help). Here's what they are:

1) Airs stories about how much worse things are getting. (Chicken Little syndrome)
2) Prints stories about how the relief effort isn't good enough/criticizes the federal government.
3) Shows pictures of suffering people in private moments with emotionless taglines. I don't have one handy, but you probably know what I mean: "Watch so and so weep at the loss of his wife of blah blah blah"

What's out there today? "Democrats want disaster answers." What, do they think that the Bush administration has a direct line to God? You want guaranteed safety along the coasts? Don't live there. There you go. Completely not feasibly, but guaranteeable.

Then there are the black leaders yapping about poor response to the crisis. This IS a horrible tragedy. It's brought out the best and worst in people - the best being the outpouring of support and the worst being the miscreant lawless individuals looting and burning New Orleans. And, as I predicted, the best and worst have been synchronous in their occurrence. Hey, black leaders, what's your position - you think the federal government saw what was happening, said "oh, it's just poor black people, let's play another six rounds of canasta?" Idiots. Quit your yapping, open your pocketbooks or roll up your shirtsleeves (if you're down there), and do something. Remember the HURRICANE that caused the problem? Yeah, you think it might be impeding logistical scenarios of getting food and water to suffering people. Wow, that might just be occurring. Of course, if the refugees were mostly white, then the flood waters would miraculously subside, and help would have arrived Monday evening. RIIIIIGHT...

I'm disheartened about the lack of stories of all of the people who've survived and still have each other. I have a client who's based in New Orleans. She's in Baton Rouge (with just about everybody else, she said - the city's overrun) and has probably lost everything. Her son's in the National Guard helping at Flood Zero. And other than being a bit depressed that she's likely not got a home anymore, she's in pretty good sprits and recognizes it could be much, much worse.

And you know what, the response to something like this is NEVER going to be good enough. It's the fact that we're fallible human beings, and that certainly isn't going to change. Kudos to everyone who's doing what they can to help.

Human suffering sucks. It feels like we can't ever send enough money or pray enough. But with human spirit there's always hope. Thank you to Sri Lanka, Japan, Singapore, Great Britain, and all of the other countries who are helping.


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September 01, 2005

Need Staff Paper?

So I found myself wanting for staff paper tonight. Easy enough fix (and how cool is this):


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