Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Checking in...

Yeah. I'm still here. What's new:

  • J.J.'s fourth tooth came in last week. It's just now at the point where you can see it when he smiles. It has completely changed the way he looks. No more gummy baby smiles. :( Of course, he's still adorable. He's turning into a little boy more and more every day.
  • I finally got that kitchen cabinet door reattached to the cabinet. You know, the one that fell off before Christmas? A second door was trying to liberate itself, so I decided it was time to act. Joe held them down and I got out the drill and some longer screws and I think they're going to work. I have half a mind to call the guy we bought our house from and let him know how bad an idea it was to both use such little screws and skip half the holes in the brackets. I'm sure he doesn't care. He flipped; we bought. It's our headache now. I only have 12 more doors (48 screws) to go.
  • J.J. is really into blocks right now. Well, blocks and anything else he can fit one in each hand and slam together. He's also into clapping, which I think happened when he forgot he didn't have blocks in his hands to slam together and figured out he could sill make noise.
  • Lillie Biscuit has decided that our backyard is the most terrible horrible place on earth and it is her duty to try her best to get out of it at all costs. That, and she likes to go across the street and play with her sister and birth mother. We just keep going back to Ace Hardware and buying more of those stakes to secure the chain link fence to the ground. I caught her yesterday standing on top of the woodpile, trying to get up the nerve to jump out. If she can't get under, she's going to try over. My next solution includes cement.
  • It doesn't matter where in the house we are. If Joe and I are both within the same 12 square feet, it's a good bet that J.J., Lillie, and Zitty are there as well. Apparently, we bought over 2000 square feet too many.
  • We saw Borat. I hated it. Maybe I'm too old. But I used the time to get caught up on my magazines that I hadn't touched since December. So it's not like Talladega Nights or Miami Vice, both of which robbed me of several hours of my life.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The face of advertising

You gotta love advertising icons: The Trix rabbit, Cap’n Crunch, and Tony the Tiger were three of my best buddies when I was a kid. I remember the Keebler Elves, workin’ their elfin magic; Mrs. Butterworth, the talking syrup bottle; and Charlie - the Starkist tuna who just wasn’t good enough.

Hold on - "good enough"? Good enough for WHAT? He wasn’t good enough to be killed and chopped up and crammed into cans and sold 4 for $5 at Kroger.

“Sorry, Charlie”? More like, “Way to go, Charlie! That is, until someone else traps you and feeds you to Morris in the form of 9 Lives...”.

Charlie is the first food icon I can remember that was actually the food itself.

But now, they’re everywhere.

I find myself rethinking grabbing a bag of m&m’s, since each color now has a distinct personality. And that Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookie. He makes me a little uneasy. In the latest commercial, he and his buddies are snatched out of a moving convertible, leaving the car to run head on into whomever else is driving on that road.

And the Burger King commercial, where the chicken is hanging out with french fries and his buddies give him a hard time about wanting to be a fry. Chicken fries (yet another way to cut up and bread the same chicken).

I remember when the California raisins made their television debut and were all the rage. Did it make me want to eat raisins? HECK NO! Now I had to search every handful of trail mix not only for Mr. Peanut’s top hat, monocle and cane, but for tiny pairs of sunglasses.

I’m sure this comes as no surprise, but I felt really sorry for the gingerbread man in Shrek. I also feel guilty eating Teddy Grahams.

I’m all about truth in advertising and I realize that the cheeseburger I had for lunch was once a live cow. I just don’t need to be introduced to him.

Seriously, who looks at a cute character, laughs at his jokes, and thinks, “Mmmmmm... I wish I could eat that”? Not me. How do we teach our kids not to play with their food when their food is frolicking around and telling jokes?

C’mon people, let’s try to keep food where it belongs - on our plates and in our bellies - and out of our merchandising. Because, you know, I used to eat the hell out of those Goldfish crackers. That is, until they started smiling back.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

Got a minute?

And a half?

Go to Google's Image Labeler, get a partner and help suggest labels to improve their image search.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Indulge me

You know, there are things in life that are essential (food, shelter, clothing) and there are things that are nice to have (popsicles, fleece pj's, cashmere lined gloves). I'm all about cutting costs, clipping coupons, and buying store brands when it makes sense, but there are some luxuries that I just can't do without.

My top ten:

1. Good sheets. Please don't even think about less than 400 thread count.
2. Pillows. Quality, not quantity is key. Although, I do have four that are essential to a good night's sleep.
3. Cable. I gave up my TiVo to Joe long ago. TiVo is filled with CSI Miami, Miami Vice and Magnum, PI. But I need my GSN, Food Network and HGTV fixes. I gave up digital cable years ago and still miss BBC, but there are always my DVDs of the REAL Office and MI5 to get me by.
4. Dog grooming. Although Lillie loves her outside tub, I'm not about to toss her in our bathroom and bathe her. Ditto for cutting her nails.
5. My kitchen. Appliances, gadgets, serving pieces... I love cooking and having the right tools just makes it so much more enjoyable. I got a Kichen Aid mixer for Christmas and it's killing me that it's still in the box. I have a four step plan to get the kitchen prepped for housing it... If I could get rid of the microwave, things would be a lot easier.
6. Lighting. I can't tell you how much I love my dimmer switches in our bedroom, the nursery and the dining room. And the Hollywood lights in our bathroom. If I had my way, I'd take out all of the ceiling fixtures in our home (and I still may), and rely on lamps throughout.
7. Candles. I got my sister hooked on PartyLite candles years ago when I dragged her to a show. Now, she's a rep and I get to take advantage of having a direct link to their specials.
8. Shoes. Happy feet = happy Linda.
9. Clothes. I know my husband means well when he comes home with a new shirt for me from WalMart, but I learned long ago that cheap clothes aren't a good buy. I'd rather pop into Marshall's every couple of weeks and see what deals I can find.
10. Peanut Butter. Choosy moms choose Jif. Creamy.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

We're up to three

Teeth, of course. In case any one's keeping score.

Breastfeeding is getting more... challenging.

Fun on the floor


J.J. and Lillie playing in his nursery. Of course, by the time I switched to video, the dog was gone and J.J. stopped crawling, but you can still watch J.J. not crawling.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Pretty baby

From our morning photo session. I figured since J.J.'s able to sit on his own, it's time to invest in some professional pictures. This one didn't make the cut, but I still think he's adorable!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Excuse me while I drool

I really want need one of these toasters.

Five on Friday

Playtime

1. As a child, what was your favorite toy?
I loved my Fashion Plates.

2. Were you more likely to play by yourself or with other children?
by myself (see #4)

3. What was your favorite children's game?
Mousetrap

4. What kind of play were you most interested in?
reading

5. How well did you share?
Not well - if not well means not at all. Still don't.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hey Google...

Here's what I need from Google maps:

Let me enter my address and the address(es) of other people I am looking to meet up with.

Show me a list of centrally located restaurants/bars/whatever kind of place in which I'm looking to meet up.

That's all - thanks,

-L

Updated: I found this.

I just wish I could have watched it

Man is it fun to watch IU basketball again! Kelvin Sampson is the PERFECT coach for IU.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Get real

I was filing away coupons last night, and thought again of my idea for a reality show (I’ve shared it in the past – just not here). Although I can't bring myself to watch Survivor, American Idol, the Bachelor and all those other shows my husband can't get enough of, I do enjoy watching the home-based reality shows, a la Trading Spaces, While you Were Out, and such.

My show is geared toward the busy wife/mom (no, not just her) - but not limited to moms, or for that matter, women. It's geared to the person who takes care of the family home. In my case, me.

So, here's the pilot:

I'm sitting at the dining room table on a Sunday evening after J.J. is down for the night. Joe's at work, the puppy has crated herself for the evening, the cat's no where in sight, and I'm swallowing pita with hummus whole, because I forgot to feed myself when J.J. ate. I'm also flipping through the morning paper, and about to delve into the coupon inserts.

The doorbell rings (don't worry - J.J. can sleep through pretty much anything - I trained him well). I open it to find a camera crew and a bunch of helpful people. They swoop into my house, tell me to have a seat, offer me an ottoman and a glass of sauvignon blanc. Someone takes my coupons from my hands and tells me they'll take care of them.

Over the next two days, I'm shipped off to a spa (with my husband), J.J. is taken to his Grandma's for a visit, and heck, while we're at it, the pets are sent to be pampered as well. While I'm off in dreamland, every coupon in my organizer is used, while the house is prepared. In my case, the side porch is converted to a walk-through pantry, a deep freezer is placed in our garage, and the laundry room gets shelves and (more) cabinets to house all the cleaning stuff.

I come home to find a well-stocked, organized home and don't need to run to Target for laundry detergent for the rest of the year. While I'm dreaming, make Sam's Club a sponsor, and give me a free membership and a gift card for a couple grand. You know, so Joe can have his Chai...

Bonus: the dog comes home from the groomers on a sunny day and doesn’t end up smelly and wet in a matter of minutes.

He'll have the roast duck...



Or, the rubber duckie. Tastes like chicken, I guess. Although, he's not yet had chicken...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Hoo hoo hoo

Hoosiers!

I'm most excited that my boys are fun to watch again. The three losses I have watched this season were more enjoyable than any win over the past few years. Ahh, basketball...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Easily amused

Speaking of J.J. videos...

Here's another.

Back story: We were eating dinner about a month ago & if I remember correctly, the bear burped or hiccuped or sneezed or something. J.J. found it hi-larious, so Joe grabbed his camera and we all joined in. Then we caught the cat eating Lillie Biscuit's food.

You know, a typical family dinner.

Oh - and it's a large file, so start the download, go walk the dog, grab a snack and come back...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Big Friday night

So, I'm about halfway through going through all of my posts and adding tags (I'm not one of those people who says, "Cool - tags - I'll add them from now on." - I'm a retro fitter, but that shouldn't surprise anyone. Oh, and I know tags were available quite a while ago, but I had to think about what tags I needed and map them out first. Again, no surprise, right?) and I'm actually enjoying it.

Here's what I'm doing (Hey honey, go here):

I browsed through my previous posts and came up with my list of tags. I've only had to add three and delete one (so far, but I'm afraid I've reached the point of no return).

I tagged EVERYTHING with "check".

Then, I pull up the list of my posts ("Posting/Edit Posts" tab) and preview the post, then select the tags to add, and finally, select to remove "check".

I've also found a lot of things I'm going to follow up on. You know, to fill in the gaps between J.J. videos.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Be nice to me...


Updated: I told the nurse I was feeling fine, yet I just spent half an hour wondering why they wrote "ONE G" on my post-donation sheet.

Yep - it took me 30 minutes to realize it's "O NEG".

What do diaper deals, biscuits & sausage gravy and wonky boobs have in common?

OK - after that whole long rss thing the other day, I've decided to start sharing things that interest, amuse or in some way affect me.

Here's the link to my Google Reader shared items page.

If you aggregate, here's a feed.

And I added that little gizmo in the left column of my blog (under my flickr thingy).

As you can see, just about anything might get thrown in there...

Update... As I'm switching my primary gmail address, which necessitates switching my other Google services, my shared items are now housed under my new primary account.

Shared items feed here
.

Shared items page here.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

So...

Happy New Year.

Resolutions?

Hmm... I'm not doing the weight loss thing. I mean, I'm still not back to pre-baby weight, but 9 months on, 9 months off, right? I mean, that gives me... umm, hold on, where's the calendar? Crap. That gives me less than a month.

OK, I'm still not doing the weight loss/work out/eat better thing. I mean, I have the BEST work out plan around. And as of yesterday, he's 23 1/2 pounds of baby that I tote around. But, here's what I'll do: I'll put dinner on the table for the 2 nights a week that all 4 Dubins sit down together as a family. Maybe 1 freebie a month, where we can get a pizza or go out for Mexican. That sounds fair.

And, I'll do one thing a week to make our house a better place. Something more than doing the dishes and cleaning the bathrooms and trying to get ahead of the laundry. Like, shelves in the nursery, refastening the kitchen cabinet doors on with screws that are actually long enough to support them, drapes in the family room... This week is a gimme: put away the Christmas stuff once the Epiphany is here.

I guess I'm not doing the Project 365 thing. Maybe next year.

How's the new year been treating you?

J.J. and I spent New Year's Eve at my mother's, enjoying brunch and friends. Then, he stayed with grandma while Joe and I had dinner out and headed downtown to ring in the new year at Buffalo. After eleventy glasses of wine and the 269th time I showed him the cutest picture of J.J. on my camera phone, we headed home minutes into the new year.

Daddy spent day one of 2007 at "Bowl Central" with a bunch of his high school buddies, and J.J. and I met his favorite aunt at the Predators game.

We all touched base at home and headed out to dinner with friends (table for 12 and a high chair but no black eyed peas), and we returned home with a coughing baby. He slept through his coughs (although I really didn't), and we made a visit to the doctor Tuesday morning to make sure it wasn't anything more than just a cough (it's not... yet).

Still coughing. Still no fever. Still 2007. Hope yours is happy!

So, maybe I changed my mind...

Me on the phone with a sales person from the Tennessean (TSP) about 15 months ago: "So, you're going to deliver the Tennessean every day and only charge us for Saturday and Sunday through December of 2006?"

TSP: "Yep."

Me: "So what happens in January of 2007? You'll start charging me for daily delivery?"

TSP: "Nope. You'll go back to getting the paper delivered on weekends only."

Me: "And you won't call me to convince me I need to get a daily subscription?"

TSP: "Nope. We'll just start delivering the paper on weekends only."

Me: "Good. I don't want any sales calls. OK - I'm in."

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Fast forward to this morning - there's no paper on our driveway...

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Me (on the phone with a TSP): So why couldn't you have at least called to remind me I was going to switch back to weekend-only delivery?"

TSP: "..."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

How RSS works for me

When I mentioned recently that I've switched exclusively to Google Reader, Nicole questioned my claim of having 346 feeds, and asked if I was kidding.

Nope. I'm serious.

As I write this, I'm at 357. In a day or two, I may be down to 320. It's a dynamic, living thing, my feed list.

Here's what I have in my reader:

a-list
These are the "read me first" blogs. They're also the "I have 15 minutes to kill, what's out there?" ones. There are less than a dozen and when I'm home in the evening and J.J.'s asleep and Joe still has 3 hours of work and I really don't feel like cleaning the house and I've already burned through all the new entries out there, I'll just stop by for a visit and check in on comments or see if there's something I overlooked or check out their links and find something to keep me occupied. I'm a frequent commenter on these (well, frequent for me).

diversions
These are, well, my diversions. Dilbert, Joe Mathlete, Calvin & Hobbes, Kottke's remaindered links... Again, less than a dozen. Sometimes days go by that I don't check on these guys. Other days, I cross my fingers and hope for Jason to find something for me.

food
Mmm... Food. Recipe feeds, chefs' blogs, Slashfood, Junk Food, The Amateur Gourmet. You get the idea. Over two dozen and checked sporadically. The recipes that intrigue me either get starred for later reference, or if it's something that looks like I need to try for dinner soon, it will get copied and emailed to my gmail account, where I apply a "recipes" tag. Then I can easily search my gmail account for messages tagged "recipes" that contain whatever key ingredient(s) I have on hand. But that's another post...

google
The Google blog, Blogger Buzz, known issues for whatever's been released most recently, a Google Blog Search feed for people who link to me... Less than 10 of these.

iu
4 feeds, all related to Indiana University, 3 related to IU basketball.

just-blogs
This tag may be deceiving. These guys are more my "A minus" feeds. 'Bout a dozen and a half, these are blogs I enjoy quite a bit. Some are local folks, Waiter Rant's in there, and some are people I just stumbled upon. Some that used to be here have graduated to the "a-list". This Fish was here, but we've parted ways. It's just not so easy for me to relate to a young, single girl in the city any more. But I still check in on her every once in a while to make sure she's doing ok.

local
Not surprisingly, these are all Nashville-area folks. People who usually say something that I can relate to. People who take cool pictures. People who have cute kids and pets.

local-too
Two dozen or so. All Nashville people too. Why aren't they "local"? Maybe they don't post as much as the "locals", maybe I'm interested in about half of what they say. But I am interested.

mommy-stuff
A handful of mommy blogs that I reference pretty frequently. Among other things, Baby Cheapskate lists the best diaper deals each week, saving me from scouring the Target, Walgreen's, Eckerd's, Kmart, CVS, Publix, Walmart and other ads myself. She's in Atlanta, but most things are either national or regional and still include Nashville. The Mother Load has her Freebie Fridays, and I've received a lot of great stuff at no cost - some sample-sized items, some not. Others are mommies who I can relate to (or in some cases, I'm glad I'm not) or they just amuse me and/or have cute kids or great ideas.

my work
6 feeds from my company's site.

technology
Over a dozen work-related sites. Product marketing, dashboards, BI, agile development. Things I really should stay on top of for work.

wkrn
13 of WKRN's blogs/feeds. They're from the 20 listed here and/or the 22 listed under the "blogs" button in their top nav bar.

nit
OK, I admit it. This is the majority of my feeds. And this is the least-monitored category. There are over 200 of these guys. This tag originated when Tim guest-blogged and posted an OPML file that contained all of the blogs on the blogroll as of that weekend. Some were already in my reader; some I immediately unsubscribed to. I've added a few new ones since then as well.

This is the last-checked, least-accessed group. The ones I scroll through in "Expanded View" and slow down if something catches my eye. Some of the guys that started in "nit" have moved up into other categories, some will probably move in the future. And as Brittney posts her newbies, I'll grab their feed, add them, and see where they end up.

I also have a "beta" tag. This is where I stick new feeds (that aren't from NiT) that I run across and think I might be interested in. They'll hang out in "beta" until I either move them into the appropriate category or unsubscribe. Usually, I'll start out with just "beta" and go from there. Others may be "technology" and "beta", or "food" and "beta" and I'll remove the "beta" status once I decide it's worth hanging onto.

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

So. Do I really read 357 blogs? Heck no.

I "read" about a dozen, monitor about a gross and scan through the rest. But what I do do (heh - I said "doo doo") is opt to subscribe to the full post version of a feed, if the option's there. In addition, I use the "Expanded View" in Google Reader. That way, I can read the entire post in my reader and click through if I want to comment (or if I want to see if there are any other people who commented).

I will admit right here and now that there are more than a couple of blogs that only include their summaries in their feeds and although I might be interested in reading what they have to say, I sometimes don't click through to see if I am or not. It depends on my frame of mind/available time/speed of the wireless network at home. It may be my loss - but if I do find that when I click through, I'm usually interested, I'll take the time to either go ahead and click or I'll leave it marked unread or star it so I'll refer to it later.

That's another thing. Google Reader (like gmail) allows you to "star" individual entries. As I've mentioned, sometimes I do this so I can refer to something later. Other times, it's something that I want to follow the comments on. Reader also has a "share" feature that allows you to share individual entries with others on a publicly accessible page whether you have your own blog or not. I've yet to use this feature, but I want to. I just haven't decided how I want to...

I really don't expect anyone to be completely enthralled with my (overly?) detailed description of how I categorize and read my feeds. But maybe someone will find something they can use buried deep in all of this. Maybe your blog/news/search habits are no where near close to mine and you think I'm nuts. Or maybe you can relate and you still think I'm nuts. But I have this thing with getting bored easily and need to find something to do/read/amuse me/put me to sleep. And I have a variety of interests coupled with a burning need to approach them all as efficiently as possible. And that's why it's so important to have a reader that works for me. Seriously.

What works for you?