Sunday, August 28, 2011


Abrasion [noun] (uh brah zuhn)
  1. The process of wearing down or rubbing away by means of friction.

Irene has transformed into an abrasion on my soul.

I was set to settle into my Sunday, lounge and eat and read and (check work e-mails) and enjoy this day of rest the way I usually do.  I was set to fill up my tank with 5-cent off gas and maybe, just maybe take my car to get washed. I was set to let the hurricane-hype roll off my back like water on a hurricane-battered window. 

I bought extra batteries yesterday. 

Foolish, I know. I like to think of myself as fairly independent in my decision making – don’t wait for me to follow the trend, you’ll be waiting a long , long time – and yet, here I was on a Saturday, waiting in line with my mom at Lowe’s to buy a 10-pack of D batteries “just in case.”  Foolish is a kind way to describe my actions.

I’d like to blame herd mentality, media swarming, and well-over a week of consistent water cooler chatter about Irene and the Chaos She Will Bring.  Of course, even I can’t believe my actions are completely devoid of personal fault.  I was there, after all.  The aforementioned list of perpetrators succeeded in getting under my skin and festering in the one area that my reptilian brain loves to loathe: fear.  In the battle between fight and flight, the latter was never an option and former would be silly (“Hey, Irene! Put up your dukes, put ‘em up!!!”). 

But I could do something in between – something small and seemingly insignificant, but still something.   I could go out and prepare to power my radio in the event that we lose power.  I could do that. 

Still, the purchase was foolish.  I have batteries at home: AA, AAA, C… but no Ds and my radio needs Ds.  To be specific, that radio needs Ds.  I’m sure I could dig through the closet and find a radio that runs on AAAs in the event of an emergency, but I had it set in my mind that this large blue boombox with a broken CD player from ’99 needed to be powered.  It needed it. 

Or maybe I did.  Just in case. 

As I reflect on my jaunt to find portable power at Lowe’s, the wind is wailing and the trees (thankfully flexible and resilient) are swaying like dancers warming up.  The batteries are upstairs in the office cabinet and I have settled back into my Sunday, typing, lounging, and channel surfing for a good movie.

I suppose if a little bit of a foolish, impulsive, societal-pressure of an action can give me back my Sunday routine, it couldn’t have been that foolish.  Not really.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Contrite [adj] (kuhn triet)
  1. Deeply sorrowful and repentant for a wrong

Irish yogurt.  An unappreciated breakfast item.
I love yogurt.  Creamy. Tangy.  Smooth.  It's a constant companion in the form of a small, nourishing, dairy-laden snack.  The curious thing about yogurt is that no matter where I've been, it remains a simple, tasty treat that simultaneously reminds me of home and gives me a sense of where I am.

China?  Yak-milk yogurt – heavy-bodied, silky, sweet!

Home? Light and Fit – fruity, smooth, 80 calories! 

Ireland.  Er, yes, Ireland.  That does throw a wrench in my theory.  Irish yogurt proved to be a cross between sour cream and cream cheese.  Thick, rich, and sour with a distinctive aftertaste that can only be described as cloying.  The only saving grace of this breakfast item was that it came with granola to mix in.  Of course, the so-called fruit syrup at the bottom of the cup almost made the granola's pretense null and void. 

If that yogurt could speak, I have no doubt it would have been quite contrite.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Soak [verb] (se ow keh)
  1. To make thoroughly wet or saturated by or as if by placing in liquid.
  2. To take in or accept mentally, especially eagerly and easily

It happened in a pub.

The musty booth was obtained.  The fish and chips were ordered.  The music was picking up.  The crowd soaked in Guinness from the inside out.  All was well.  And then the people in booth next to us – to my completely shock and horror - started talking to us.  Animatedly.  Interestedly.  Without pause.

My reaction: What the heck do you want? 

O'Shea's!  Packed with chatty tourist and locals alike.
In public, friendliness is a smile, a shared joke about poor service, a “don’t worry about it” if you have to move your chair for someone to walk by.  I believe that general concept is well understood in the States.  If not that exact wording, at least the sentiment of privacy even in crowded spaces.

Not here, not in the pubs of Ireland.

It happen almost every night.  In Dublin, in Doolin, and Westport, too.  Complete strangers would strike up a conversation with you out of the blue.  One moment you'd be sitting by the bar, nursing your diet Coke (okay, stop your judging), and listening to the music, and the next you've been swept up into a conversation by locals who you could have sworn were not there a moment ago.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t off-putting, that it didn’t make me feel uncomfortable and want to go back to my quiet, question-free room and lock the door.  The first time, I may have done just that.  But (and there's always a but when there's something to be learned), by the time I boarded the plane for Boston, I was more open to the giving people the benefit of the doubt.  Don't be mislead: Never did I turn into Sally Social  – that would have been devastating to my introvert credit.  However, in the end it seemed like people were motivated to ask questions at the bar because, well, they had a question.  Curiosity was the motivator most of the time.  A desire to show thankfulness another.  Or, my favorite, visible opportunity to show commonality – Obama did just leave Ireland the week before we arrived and it was a chance to talk about something we both understood.
The very first batch of Irish fish and chips. And mushy peas.

On that night in Dublin, with old men singing and fish and chips and our chatty booth mates,  I learned not only that mushy peas are really, really mushy, but also that our neighbors were all siblings, regulars to this pub, loved the piper (who was only 16!) to pieces, and had no idea where Vermont was in the States ("By Montreal.  Just in the States and with more confusion about health care.").  

And it all happened in a pub.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Obdurate [adj] (ahb duhr uht)
  1. Hardened in feeling
  2. Resistant to persuasion

I'm completely obdurate on the issue and you cannot convince me otherwise:

Traveling is enjoyable. Sorting through travel photos is not.

I took over 600 photos on my trip to Ireland.  While that means I have over 600 memories captured in film, er -- zeros and ones (?),  it also means that I have over 600 memories to sort, label, compile, edit, delete, regret deleting, and share.  This kind of activity requires a fair amount of momentum, typically granted by the glow of the trip upon one's return.  I rode that wave - showed my family all 600, unedited images, posted two days worth of photo albums online with captions, set my desktop background as a vista from the Cliffs of Mohr.

And then Wednesday came around.

Wednesday was the day I went back to work.  Wednesday was the day I attacked 700 unanswered e-mails.  Wednesday was the day reality trumped memories.

To say the least, my wave of momentum evaporated.

Nonetheless, a loss of momentum isn't completely to blame.  There's also cognitive dissonance.  I look at a photo of our trip to the Joyce County Sheepdog demonstration - look at Sweep fly around, herding those sheep (or more likely, staring them down)!  I captured that moment, but know, from memory, that the better shot would have been of someone in our group petting Roy, another sheepdog.  The reality of what I have captured is countered by what I know I could have captured, if I'd only known.  Opportunity cost meets cognitive dissonance.

The trip itself was lovely: green, hot, sunny, energetic, filling.  I wouldn't trade the experience.  The need to sort through my photos?  Now that experience I'd trade.  Thank goodness for travel-mates that love to point, shoot, edit, and share.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Assuage [verb] (uh sway)
  1. To make something unpleasant less severe

I've found that the only thing that can assuage the fear of penning a long, boring, obnoxious blog entry is to set out with the objective to do just that.  To write a long, boring, obnoxious blog entry, that is.  Prepare yourselves, dear friends.  This is going to be a dozy.

I (and a couple thousand others on this planet, thank goodness) have a tendency to avoid that which has the potential to be unpleasant.  Take, for example, physicals.  Or cocktail socials.  Or poorly constructed, asinine, yuppie accounts about my trip to the Emerald Isle.

... not that the last example has anything to do with the fact that I have not posted for months. No, not at all.   *CoughCough*

On the one hand, it's comforting to know that shying away from such galling occurrences is more natural than not.  "Walk into that lion's den?  No, thanks," screams the human psyche.  "I'd much rather walk around.  Or starve.  Or go play this great game of cornhole I just found!" 

On the other hand (because there is always another hand), it's just as disconcerting that we lean toward cowardice when given the option.  I decided to avoid my own blog for months in order to maintain a false sense of literary bravery and accomplishment around in my proverbial handbag.  "Lion's den?  What lion's den? Let's get back to that game of cornhole," my mind rifts.  While I may now be an expert cornhole player, what have I really gained?

If you said, "Nothing," you're far too pessimistic.  If you said, "A growing sense of impending doom," gold star for you!

Today, I set out to leave cowardice at the door.  While it hasn't reached the entryway just yet (it's peering around my couch, right now), I know that only way to push it out will be to try.  This attempt may not be noble or iconic or bold or, heck, even good, but it's something.  And something is a lot better than the nothing I've been putting out.

Here's to second, third, and fourth tries.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Specious [adj] (spi suhs)
  1. Seemingly true but really false
  2. Deceptively convincing or attractive:

I am in Dublin.  No, really - that's not specious statement.  I, Kristen of the Green Mountain State, am sitting on the tile floor of my room in the buzzing city of Dublin, Ireland.  A little worse for wear in the sleep department, I must admit, but generally whole and ready to take this city by storm!   

And “by storm,” I do mean at a steady, marathon pace that will leave my feet relatively intact. 

Wanting to keep my brain intact, as well, I’ve decided to rely on numbers to summarize my first days in Ireland.  So, without further ado…

Dublin (and travel so far) by the Numbers:

  • 21: the row I sat in during our 6-hour flight to Dublin Airport. 
  • 0: the percentage of joy in my heart when I found out that not only did we not have WiFi in the room, but that my iPhone couldn’t dial out OR receive data.  Here’s to purchasing an international call and data plan for nothing.  (Bitter, me? No…)
  • 10: minutes that we waited to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College.
  • 6: the number of faces that dropped when I ordered chicken liver pate at our first group dinner.  Note: It was delicious – particularly when you stacked the croute with liver and fig compote.
  • 8:  the number of times I thought we were driving on the wrong side of the road thus far and that we were surely going to die.  Or be wounded. Or simply have a heart attack.
  • 1: cups of tea I’ve sipped.  This unexpected cuppa was sipped this morning, with milk and sugar, before heading to the Loughcrew.  The poor waitress has a look of horror when our group descended on Caffrey’s – it was 10:30 AM the morning after the Barcelona v. Manchester United match and there were two dozen of us after all.
  • A LOT: The hills I’ve climbed today. After a trip to Loughcrew (a fantastic (and very windy) megalith burial site) and the Hills of Tara, I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that we climbed 20 different hills – tall, short, steep, steeper, green, yellow, rocky, and covered in sheep poop.  These sites would have been nothing if it wasn’t for Kelly, our beloved guide (and archeologist and Champlain professor – she’s like Indiana Jones, people).   I never knew turf-encrusted tombs could be so…. alive.
  • 17: The age of the pipe player at O’Shea’s Merchant, a pub in town.  He quietly took our breath away and got out of feet tapping while we munched on fish and chips (and “mushy peas,” I kid you not).  Then men in the pub jumped on the bandwagon and sang a capella to the room.  The gentleman next to us (lovely and now educated where Vermont is in comparison [AKA not near Michigan]) egged them all on,  hand clasped around a bottomless pint of Guinness.  Only in local pubs.

What's up for tomorrow? Tomorrow: a walking tour of Dublin, visiting Champlain’s academic center, Irish Parliament, and an Irish House Party for a little craic (AKA entertainment – get your mind out of the gutter!).  Oh, and yogurt.  Can't forget that yogurt... (stay tuned for an entry on that little beauty of breakfast).
[Note: Internet connection is poor, so no images yet.]

Friday, May 27, 2011


Caprice [noun] (ca pris)
  1. Sudden, impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated action

While traveling means being at the mercy of every whim and caprice from a slew of factors*, there is one thing that remains in your complete and utter control: packing.

I've always loved and loathed the process of packing.  It's one thing to calculate what to bring on a trip; it's another to change those calculations into a reality that will fit into a single bag

The two-page, two column list.
What does a successful packing venture come down to?  Transmogrification.  And lists, but mostly transmogrification.

I know, I know: "Why are you bringing magic into this?"  But truly: I have no idea how it happens otherwise.  When you're 24-hours away from takeoff, staring at a two-page list of must-have items, it seems like the only thing that manages to get everything stuffed into your bag is something mystical.  

The mystics were with me today.   As of last night, I had a packing list, a pile of clothes, toiletries, electronics, and snacks, and a bag** longing to be filled.  As of the time I sat down to write this entry, I have a filled carry-on and 47 lbs. of  checked bag goodness.

We're packed!  AKA Victory!!!

In a few hours, I will step on the plane to Ireland.  I have no doubt that I'll be fighting to control my excited caprices every step of the way.  And by "fighting" I do accepting without question.  I am traveling to Ireland, after all - what's a journey abroad without embracing the new and unexpected?  See you in Ireland! 

*including but not limited to: Thunderstorms, cranky and/or drooling passengers, and Icelandic volcanoes.  

** His name is Maurice, by the way.  We've been through a lot together, so it was only fitting to christen him.  

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Lucid [adj] (loo sihd)
  1. Clear, intelligible, and easily understood

Does a lamb shank make a good souvenir?

I suppose if one addresses this question in a simple and lucid manner, the answer would likely nest in the negative.  "No, my uncouth friend," One would begin, resting behind a large gilded desk with one's fingers tented. "A lamb shank does not an acceptable souvenir make." 

And this, dear friends, is where I grow concerned, as a lamb shank was one of the first souvenir ideas I had after learning I would be heading to Ireland, the land of (some of) my forebears.

I am of the camp that declares edible gifts to be some of the best gifts to receive.  Food from exotic lands is exciting - it's new, it's culturally significant, it's not FDA approved!  A slice of packaged turtle jelly, a hunk of freeze-dried poutine, or a bundle of seaweed "rice cakes" all say so much about the place they were sold and the people who by it.  I've never been so excited as when someone brought me Pocky sticks from Japan - well, except maybe that time I was brought Vietnamese coconut candy or those Mexican sugar skulls.  The excitement stems from the idea that you're partaking in a small, but significant piece of another world.  After all,  food is culture, culture is food.

Turtle Jelly. China 2009
This week, I'm preparing to depart for Ireland by adding footnotes to my packing list ("...what's missing here? Headphones? Nope. Toothbrush? Nah. Maybe - oh, SOCKS!"), agonizing over my ticket (Me trying to call the travel agency: "No, seriously, where is my ticket?  What about my confirmation number?  THERE'S NO NUMBER HERE!!! FOR THE LOVE OF PETE...oh, sorry, ma'am, wrong number.") and, being a somewhat crazed individual, calculating my souvenir list.  This list is currently chock-full of food - most of which I cannot begin to know, A) If I can find, B) If I can bring back, and C) If it would survive the trip.  And yet, here I am, homing in on finding Cadbury chocolates, rashers (AKA Irish bacon), and Marmite. Oh, and a lamb.  A lamb would be nice. (Mr. Norton - the lamb's name - could masquerade as a guide dog, no?)

Of course, I have a foodie list for my culinary delights while I'm in country, too.  Irish stew, Shepard's pie, fish and chips, baggers and mash, freshly steamed mussels, boxty, and even black pudding make the list.  With so many interesting gastronomic options before me, it seems almost rude to not offer a sliver of this experience to those at home.

So, does a lamb shank make a good souvenir?  Yes.  Yes, I do believe it does.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Idiosyncrasy [noun] (ih deeh uh sihn kruh see )
  1. Peculiarity of temperament
  2. Eccentricity

I wear striped knee socks with my running shoes.  They're not overly shocking, just grey and black and cream.  Neither sock is threadbare or allows for my big toe to stick out uncomfortably, which I consider a boon.  They do, however, look a tad - what's the word? - odd when paired with my sneakers, go-to workout capris, and (high school) freshman field hockey sweatshirt.

It is for this idiosyncrasy that I workout in seclusion. 

[Well, and the fact that I run like one side of my body is in the process of being sucked into a black hole, but that's neither here nor there.]


When it comes to exercise, I do have a few quirks beyond my ensemble.  There's the order in which I arrange my bike, weights, water bottle, and TV (1, 4, 2, 3).  The fact that I turn the heat up when I'm warming up (heat? warming up? The connection is not lost on me).  The way I roll up my yoga mat (side note: Don't you hate it when it doesn't roll evenly? If yoga's about centering yourself, my mat sure as all out has to be centered, too).  Each of the aforementioned tasks is a tradition - a good luck pep talk to myself before and after all the stretching, sweating, and general chaos ensues.   I see similar acts of eccentricity occur all the time and while a particular choice may look out of place from an outsider's perspective, I know it would make perfect sense if I were to spend a few minutes in that person's reality. 

Without our quirks, the entire world may go down in flames.  Or, you know, at least my workout and that would be a shame.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Bonhomie [noun] (bah nuh mee)
  1. Good-natured geniality
  2. Atmosphere of good cheer

Looking to improve your workplace bonhomie?  Two words: Silly Putty.

If, for some strange reason, you do not have a well-loved container of this pliable gunk, I highly recommend running out to the closest dollar store you can find and buy some!  Putty is perfect for kneading, molding, ripping, destroying, and repairing - all things that one is bound to want to do on an overly hectic day!  Heck, it's even fantastic for creative pursuits!

Looking for a job in the fashion industry?   Say, hello, to the House of Putty!
Fashion and Putty.

Or maybe you're more of a stylist?
I Love Lucy (the Duck).
Into the pursuit of zeros and ones?  Shout your love for web traffic in moldable rubber!
"Very Unique Visitor"
 But, if you're like me and enjoy patterns, perhaps you'd rather just play and see what happens:
Pebbles.  Or bubbles.  It's up to you.

Thanks to Maureen for letting me post some of her gifts of Putty art!  A prettier dress and banner were never crafted. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Glower [verb] (glow uhr)
  1. To glare
  2. To stare angrily and intensely

Frown, be gone!  The stark glare of winter has lifted and the effervescent blush of spring is upon us!

Don't believe me, do you?  The fact that today is the first of May, the temperature is in the 50s, and birds are signing their merry song isn't enough to stir hope in your heart?

Oh, I see: You need proof - photographic evidence.  Well, evidence you shall have:

Ta-da!  Greenery!
See that?  That's the color green.  You may not recall this verdant hue, as it has been a good 6-months since it's made an appearance in nature.  Nonetheless, it is here now.  Welcome, green!  You will always be appreciated in our halls.

[Unless, of course, you come in the form of mold, mucus, or the teal tone of gangrene.  If you arrive under such circumstances, you will surely make us glower once again.]

With a backyard full of new life and vegetation, let the countdown begin to the blooming of those lilac buds, another season of (endless) lawn care, and my arrival in one of the greenest isles around! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Accretion [noun] (uh kree shuhn)
  1. A growth in size; an increase of amount

X-Men: First Class makes its US theatre debut on June 3, 2011.  At this time, I'll be traversing the wonder and delight of the Emerald Isle, but make no mistake: the fact that I can't be in line for a midnight showing in the States doesn't change the accretion of my affection for this movie.

I love X-Men.  The 90s television series on Fox was one of my favorite Saturday morning shows - the fantasy, the action, the drama!  Even the sociological aspect of the plot struck a cord with my pre-adolescent brain: Why are the mutants discriminated against?  What makes this prejudice okay in society?  How does one fight a government that is against ones very existence?  How can I get a cool hair streak like Rogue?

Okay, so maybe the last question wasn't exactly sociologically motivated.

Although the only time I picked up the actual comic was when my parents would bring me a few issues when I was sick (say it with me, "Aw!!!"), I never felt out of the loop with the characters or the progression of the series.  I felt like I understood these outcasts because weren't we all like them more than other superheros?  I was not an altruistic alien like Superman.  I was not a millionaire with a vendetta like Batman.  I wasn't a masochistic nerd (...geek: yes.) that was bitten by a radioactive bug like Spiderman.  But I was a little lost, a little on the edge of clicks at school, and a little bewildered at my own brain, let alone the status quo and how it seemed to be stacked against like me.  I was an X-Men.

What this love-fest comes down to is that I am excited about First Class.  The first and second X-Men films* made me extremely happy, so to have this prequel about the beginning of my favorite duo - Charles and Magneto - emerge is truly exciting.   If I could pull it off, I'd find a theatre in Ireland to view the film, like I did with Terminator Salvation in China.  But I don't think, for some strange reason, that is in the planned itinerary.  Bummer.  Therefore, I insist on geeking out over snippets from this film - and even fan-made ones like the title sequence below.

X-Men: First Class Title Sequence from Joe D! on Vimeo

This is what the opening credits for First Class need to be:  First Class!  A ode to the decade, an ode to the long time fans, and ode to the source material  Is this what you're envising for the style of the opening? 

*And no: We do not talk about X-Men 3. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Aver [verb] (ay vehr)
  1. To declare positively

I must aver that I woke up at an ungodly hour for a sabbath day this morning.  I'm a morning person, but even I have to curse at the sun when confronted with the fact that while I traversed desolate streets, hundreds of others were tucked into bed, relishing the Sunday lull.

Bitterness: it happens.

Of course, my wake-up call did have a purpose.  A purpose that made complete sense at the time of conception, but when juxtaposed to sweet, sweet slumber seemed rather obtuse.  While questioning why in the world I used words like "conception" and "obtuse" at such an hour, I hopped on the highway, free of traffic, and got off three exits down.

It was all for Eggs Benedict.

Velvet hollandaise, with just a enough lemon juice to make your taste buds twinge.  Perfectly round poached eggs, with bright yellow yokes. Seared Canadian bacon, with just enough snap to let you know it cares. And then the English muffin, homemade and grilled, not toasted.

This was the gastro-treat that tore me from my bed.  This was the petit dejeuner that called to me like a siren.  This was what compelled me to get out of the house in time to be at the restaurant at 8:00 a.m. to avoid the infamously long line.  And this is the breakfast that is sitting in my stomach as I prepare for a Sunday afternoon nap.

It was worth the effort.  But I won't be duplicating said effort next week.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Obviate [verb] (ob vee ayt)
  1. To anticipate and prevent
  2. To make unnecessary

I had every intention to summarize my takeaways from SxSWi tonight, but the more I think about my conclusions, the more I think others' conclusions obviates the need for mine.  Don't take that as a pity party - I've had a blast talking about the friendship of legal and social media, the gamification of marketing, the mobile phone as your augmented mouse, and the joys of ROI (note ROI is for your execs and KPIs are for your team) - but there's only so many times you can see recaps about "the game layer" and "how you should be measuring social media" before it all begins to sound like, well, gibberish.

"Tsk-tsk.  What a cop-out, m'dear," I hear you think. "You chatted with everyone about the glory that is SxSWi and yet you refuse to share a single tidbit of information with your loyal, if digital, companions."  

Fair enough.  Fair enough.  You have shamed me into a state of unrest.  I will share 5 personal takeaways that are not related to the panels, okay?  I'm sticking to my guns on this one - don't give me that elephant lip, mister!
My low-tech notes.  And my spectacular shoe.
  1. Book everything early.  The second you register, get your flight and hotel in order.  While the location of my hotel this year was equidistant from the Center and the Hyatt, I also paid through the noise for it due to my booking procrastination. Never again.  Never again.
  2. Take advantage of free transportation.  FreshBooks sponsored a shuttle from the airport, Chevy's fleet of vehicles roamed around Austin to offer a lift (Marilyn was my favorite driver, personally), and the rickshaws are tip only.  Pay not for your transportation - that's what sponsors are for. 
  3. Avoid the official parties. The unofficial gatherings - whether they are, in fact, just poorly promoted parties or random tweet-ups at a restaurant - tend to be less crowded and more authentic. 
  4. Be trustworthy.  This is a weird one, but here's the thing: When someone asks you to, let's say, watch their iPad2 while they got to the bathroom, do just that. Perhaps this will eventually become another entry about my apparent trustworthiness (people ask me to watch their things, give them directions, and recommendations for restaurants all the time), but I've found SxSWi to be full of people living by "Do unto others as you would have done unto you." It's a conference of camaraderie; no worries over losing your spot in line or having your iPad2 walk away.  Trust, it's a beautiful thing.
  5. Please remember to have fun while you're learning.  I attended 22 panels from March 11 to March 15.  The vast majority of the panels fell under my legal-regulations-measurement goal, but some were out of left field.  And you know what?  Just like in college, the sessions that had nothing to do with my objective turned out to be some of the most useful.  Social Psychology, Seth Priebatsch, and Improv for Everyone still have my mind racing.

There?  Are you happy now?

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Mendicant [noun] (mehn dih kuhnt)
  1. Beggar

While having a rather serious conversation about "The Next 10 Years" and what, preciously, that decade should yield for a career - prowess? Longevity? Joy? High blood pressure? - it was (somehow) determined the optimal profession to enter and master is one that will deem us indispensable in the occurrence of a Zombie Apocalypse

Ahem.  If you're looking at things pragmatically, that is.   Clearly, being a mendicant isn't an option.

I'll admit that this may have been an attempt at subterfuge, trying to take the intensity of "What am I going to do with my life?" down a notch or two.  However, you must admit that the concept does have legs and makes you wonder: If all of society collapsed, what skills do I have to survive and thrive?  

I don't know about the rest of you, but my survival is currently banking on a mean French Toast and basket weaving.  It is for this reason that I'm fairly sure I'd go out with the first wave of Zeds.  It was nice blogging with you all.

And yet, there are careers and hobbies that would serve this state of cannibalistic chaos well.   In fact,  I can think of my top 5 that have roots in today's society but could rise to the top when all else shatters.

  1. Outdoorsman: The most obvious of them all, the man or woman who has a knack with weaponry, an eye for moving targets, and a sense of the natural world will thrive in Z-Day.  Today, this person may be a weekend hunter, a Scout Leader, or a member of the armed services.  Tomorrow, they're John from Lost.
  2. Farmer: Known for being hard workers, farmers, again, have a sense of the land - they have a large knowledge base of animals, plants, and the impact of the weather.  Many farmers also act as their own mechanics, so when your cross-country Hummer breaks down in the middle of Z-Ville he or she will come in handy.
  3. Chemist: Think explosives and fuel - we need both.  The first for tight situations, the second for transportation.  However, an academic need not apply; we need someone with field experience.  A bonus if the chemist once took a class in pharmaceuticals.
  4. Medical doctor: Without a shadow of a doubt, people will get ill or hurt.  A doctor will be invaluable to a group, particularly if that doctor is a surgeon. Lost is the perfect example of this need.
  5. Electrical engineer: Yes, when the Zombie Apocalypse hits electricity will go dwon, but it doesn't have to stay down.  An electrical engineer can build a generator, fix flash lights, or set-up a communications network.  A good engineer will also be able to harness wind, solar, and water to provide energy.  
There.  The Top 5 Careers that will help you in the  Zombie Apocalypse.  ... sadly, my job is not on that list, nor is it connected to any in a tangential manner.  Okay, how about a bonus Career for the list?

     6. Renaissance Faire'r:  Basket weaving!  Candle making!  Butchering!  Campfires!  Clothing construction!  Grog and pub songs!  All handy skills for the human survival convoy. 

Is your job on the list?  Did I miss something big?  Make the case for how indispensable your chosen career will be come Z-Day and maybe I'll add it to Bonus section. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Talon [noun] (taa luhn)
  1. Claw of an animal, especially a bird of prey

I have returned from South by South West (SxSW) with the satisfaction of a once-hungry hawk with a hare locked in her talons.

I ventured to Austin with a goal to see it all: go to every panel on social media regulations, legality, measurement, and gaming that I could, eat at every out-of-this-world restaurant, food truck, and hubble I see, and embrace the weird that is this capitol city in Texas.   With a smidge of pride, I can say that I accomplished my goals everyday - panels and foodie opportunities bowed before me!  The weird I sought, however, remained elusive.  A local told me that I wasn't really seeing Austin during this week.

"This isn't Austin," she reported as we waited in line at kebabalicious on Commerce Ave., "This is the convention - Austin is much, much weirder."

Drat.  How was I going to find that touch of weird I so craved for this trip when everything had an aura of "convention" around it?  Sure, those giant Fandango mascots waltzing up 4th was strange, but very SxSW.  That "I wear my sunglasses at night" dance party?  Sponsored, no doubt.  And that trip to Emo's for Steampunk Burlesque?  Emo's is legit, but this was an interactive event after all.  Hm.

And then: I saw it.  While waltzing home from a late, late dinner, my cronies and I spotted what we thought was just another pedicab.  But it was not a pedicab: it was a rickshaw runner, carrying three people, and going at a decent clip down the street.  I stopped dead in my tracks and asked my group, "Is that really happening?"  Without a delay, a man riding in the ricksaw shouted, "Oh, yes! This is really happening!"

My mission couldn't be more clear: To fulfill my weird goal for Austin, I needed to get myself on a rickshaw. 

One day passed, and then two and three. It was the very last day of the conference, my crew was fairly certain we'd leave without another rickshaw sighting.  And then, we saw Steve, stretching outside the Convention Center after our last panel.

It was a miracle of Austin - and I filmed it.

Steve took us down alleys, into traffic, across intersections, and right to our hotel's front door.  And you know what?  There's no standard fee; they live on tips!  For fulfilling my final goal, I tipped in an obscene way and still thought I underpaid.

I now sit at home by my fireplace, reminiscing about the week away, and I'm satisfied with what I accomplished.  Even if it was only for a brief moment spread over seven days, I had a piece of the knowledge, ambition, and weirdness of Austin in my talons, and it felt pretty good.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Collusion [noun] (kul loo zhuhn)
  1. Collaboration
  2. Complicity
  3. Conspiracy

I wish my Brain would stop acting in collusion with Reality.  The two of them talk, you see.  My eyes scan a glossy, register a fashion ad and my Brain begins to think.  But why should it do so on it's own?  It pulls out its brand new iPad 2 (because, clearly, my brain has obtained one - and has hidden it from me) and messages a trusted friend, Reality.

Brain: Hi, Reality
Reality: Oh, Brain! How r u?
Brain: Good, good.  Been looking at this magazine ad and was wondering if we should expect it to look good on us. [Pic attached]
Reality: WOW 0_o
Brain: So, you think we'll look like that, too?
Reality: Ummm...sure, sure.  BTW get that iPad 2 I sent?
Brain: Yeah, love it!  Thanks so much! But, do you really think we should get it?
Reality: You deserve it!  :-)
Brain: Awwww! Really? Stop it. 
Reality: Would I lie to you? ...
Brain: Too sweet!  Oops, need to get back.  TTYL!

My Brain then give me its input: "Look at how glorious that model looks in that chartreuse and mauve zebra-print jumpsuit!  If she looks so jaunty, surely we will, as well.  Get it!" In that moment, my expectations are high.  Why would my Brain lie to me, after all?  It is me.

And yet.
My Brain has also been seduced by the idea that Reality won't lie to it, thereby allowing said "friend" to slap this occasionally media illiterate gal across the face.  But I doubt Reality's only confident is my Brain - I bet many other Brains chat with it, as well.  Brains that gift it cruises and massages and front row Knick's tickets; Brains that ask it to conveniently forget to let other Brains know that chartreuse and mauve zebra-print jumpsuits look good on no one, save for well lit, overly Photoshop'd, and paid spokespeople.

Thankfully, with the influx of media literacy in schools, most of us take marketing with more than just a grain of salt - we grab the whole container.  Our Brains are trained to be weary, to analyze all resources, and then come to a conclusion.   However, even when we know better, we still do it: We trust.  We see past the make-up, the .12 cm font, the paragraphs of disclaimers, and choose to move forward with faith that it'll be different this time - this time it'll work for us.

This instance of trust in the advertising brings me to my most recent example of Brain/Reality collusion: 

An e-mail sent the weekend before my first Bon Jovi concert, urging ticket holders to "Arrive Early - No Opening Act." Be there at 7:30 "SHARP," it extols - we're starting with or without you, it screams.  Fast forward to March 1 at 7:30 PM: Nothing.  7:35 PM: Nothing.  7:55 PM: Ditto.  8:00 PM: De Nada.  Finally, after sitting in my seat like a good fan for well-over an hour and a half, the show starts at 8:15 PM.

The marketing lead my Brain to believe; Reality showed me otherwise.  Never again - until next time, that is.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Lissome [adj] (lihs uhm)
  1. Easily flexed
  2. Limber
  3. Agile

I've been wearing a pair of granny boots around town for the past few weeks.  They're lissome, the leather now marked and worn.  The shiny black is now a matted gray that works well with its darkened, threadbare laces and weakened hooks.  The heel may be the only thing that has maintained its original structure: 2-inches of solid Cuban heel.

I know I'm not winning any fashion awards when these shoes are strapped to my feet.  Those kind of accolades are only bestowed upon wispy espadrilles, leopard print pumps, and red-soled stilettos. And yet, I can't find it in myself to care.

To call these boots anything but homely would be an insult to their utility.  With my heavy Victorian waders, I can traverse puddles, conquer ice slicks, and march through well-intentioned piles of salt without any ado.  After confronting the weather, they can then take me into the boardroom, where their strength, tenacity, and unabashed resolve transfer from their leather soles into my words. 

Yes, the Vermont winters have not been kind to these shoes - but they have certainly been kind to me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Knell [noun] (nehl)
  1. Sound of a funeral bell
  2. Omen of death or failure

Despite fear and panic, cruelty and mockery, endless brainstorm sessions and rows and rows of cookie cutter cubicles, it's still too soon for you to hear the knell for creativity.

For inspiration.  For insight found in the most unlikely places.  

It's too soon to believe there is no original thought.  Too soon to self-edit vision.  Too soon to welcome manila into your veins and monotony into your soul.

Fear and panic, cruelty and mockery, endless brainstorm sessions and rows and rows of cookie cutter cubicles... these are for what the bells tolls, not your imagination.  Not your euphoria.
Not you.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Judicious [adj] (joo dih shuhs)
  1. Sensible
  2. Showing good judgment

I have to question how judicious it is to have not one, not two, but three theatrical retellings of Snow White without a single one of them featuring our fair princess as an evil vampire.

*Insert chirping birds, a la this clip*

Okay.  Here we go: Snow White is a vampire.  No, no - stay with me.  The Queen is not evil; she's a vampire hunter. 

This story is loaded with allusions to Snow's less-than-living reality, even if it the tale itself paints her as the innocent victim.  Remember: History is written by the victors.  We've seen it happen time and time again - so why would it be any different when it comes to faerie tales?  I propose that the Queen of Snow White is merely a victim of a rewritten history - the target of a post-humorous smear campaign by her archenemy.  And here is my evidence:

  • As the German telling of this tale goes, Snow White begins as a wish made on a drop of her mother's blood.  Blood.  B-L-O-O-D.  To top it off, the mother dies during childbirth.  A coincidence or Snow's first victim?  
  • The Queen uses a mirror (an item that vampires traditionally cannot be viewed in. A great irony.) to keep an eye out on "The Fairest of the All," also known as AKA very, very pale people.  Perhaps those who do not go out merrily in sunlight and have no blood pumping through their veins, hm?  
  • The Queen asks her loyal Huntsman to kill Snow and bring back her heart.  A heart skewered with a wooden stake, me thinks. 
  • Snow has an uncanny ability to get men to protect her.  The Huntsman backs out of killing her.   The Dwarfs (AKA "The Buffet") fall over themselves to please her.  It's all vampiric hypnosis.  Plus, a Prince she's never met fights over her "dead" body - but we'll get to that. 
  • Snow doesn't die.  Ever.  The Queen hunts down the Fair Lady to kill her on three separate occasions.  Her first failed attempt is with a magical corset that tightens and tightens and tightens one's ribcage.  Really, a vice grip like that on your ribs should kill you - unless you don't breathe.  The Queen, not one to give up that easily, then tries a poison comb, which, too, fails.  And that poison comb should have worked, as well - except if Snow's skin is so hard that it can't be penetrated.  Finally, Snow is handed a BLOOD RED poison apple, which Snow eats and - wait for it - still doesn't die.  The traditional tale says the apple was merely "stuck in her throat."  A lucky happenstance or an author trying to explain the unexplainable (also known as vampirism)?     
  • The dwarfs put Snow in a glass coffin while she rests.  'Nough said.
  • A Prince, who has never meet our princess before, becomes enchanted by Snow's beauty and instantly falls in love with her.  He fights with the dwarfs over the body and, somehow, this "wakes" Snow up - Ms. Undead likely sensed an escape and a way to get rid of the Queen marrying a powerful prince all in one move.  
  • Unbeknown to her, the Queen attends a wedding - only to find that it's the wedding of a once-ally and her last target.  Completely ditching her pure and innocent routine, Snow makes the Queen dance in hot iron shoes until she dies for her and her minions' - er, I mean guests' entertainment.   This leaves Snow a kingdom for her next buffet. 
Ladies and gentlemen of the faerie tale jury, the evidence is before you.  Grimm's so-called Evil Queen is nothing of the sort; she is a hero, a warrior against the darkness.  Sadly in the Queen's case, the darkness triumphed and manage to so manipulate the true telling of Snow White that her bravery and sacrifice are known only as vanity and greed today.  

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Garner [verb] (gahr nuhr)
  1. To gather and store

Like many of us, I've garnered a long list of favorite online videos. Some I can't unearth for the life of me (i.e. the one that boils down the history of someone's relationships via online activity - hilarious. Can't find it - not so hilarious), but other videos I have had the foresight to bookmark, Like, Favorite, and/or burn the URLs into my neocortex. Here are just a few of my old - and new - favorites to share:

My first foray into Eddie Izzard. While the act itself is to die for, the use of Legos makes the whole thing priceless.

Released just last Wednesday, I've proudly shown Volkswagon's new Passat commercial to far too many people.  [The best part is that I think Vadar is, in fact, a girl - the baby doll bedroom scene is my evidence. Power to the Geek Girls!][UPDATE: So, Darth was played by a boy.  Still, in my imaginary commercial world, this character was a geek-tastic girl.  So there.]

Behold!  The power of editing!   This video still creeps me out.

The penultimate viral video.  All hail OK Go!

What's on your must-see list?

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Naïve [adj] (nah eev)
  1. Lacking sophistication or experience

I have never been one to be naive about weather, particularly the variety we receive in Vermont.  The Green Mountain State entices many with its lush greenery during the spring, serene lakes during the summer, confetti farmlands during the fall, and white-capped mountains during the winter.  These sites are iconic for a reason- if my opinion means anything, I highly recommend visiting our state to witness each season in action.


As a native, the weather that each season brings uncovers something a little different for me.  Spring means boots for Mud Season, summer means sunblock for every excursion, and fall means having a handkerchief handy for when the wind picks up woodsmoke.  And winter?  Winter means sunlight, or  a lack thereof.  The colder months - which can range from November to April - bring a series of cloudy days that can span for weeks on end.  After a few days without sunshine, the lack of vitamin D starts to wear on the system and make the winter feel much, much longer.   May it be winter blues, cabin fever, or the more formal Seasonal Affective Disorder, there's no reason to accept that winter has to be this way.  Say it with me, "Winter can be fun!" The colder months can be just as buoyant as any other - just with the right tools in place, such as:
  • Water: Drink more of it.  The majority of the human body is made up of water. When we're dehydrated we feel like less than our normal selves, relatively inept.  By drinking more water, you're replenishing your body and allowing it to work as it should.
  • Vitamins: Get them.  Like water, our bodies need certain vitamins and minerals to function properly.  Whether you take supplements or have a nutritious diet, giving your body the fuel it needs is important when certain vitamins (like Vitamin D from the sun) are in demand.
  • Exercise: Yeah, yeah, yeah: We've all heard this one before.  I myself have spent many a winter curled up by the fireplace, munching on baked goods, and waiting for the winter (and my blues) to end.  But moving around, even if it's just a little, will get your system going again - endorphins, adrenaline, basic blood flow - and, as a result, make you feel better.
  • Light: Embrace it.  Sunlight is your friend during the winter.  When it's sunny, get ready to be active.  No cave dwelling allowed - well, maybe on certain days, if you're near a window.
With these things in mind, winter weather may move from being a chore to being a gift - even without a lot of sunlight.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Hapless [adj] (haap luhs)
  1. Unfortunate
  2. Having bad luck

Won't someone help this poor, hapless Lego® man?  What Lego man, you ask?  This one.

Toys R Us in NYC, November 2010

Don't you see him? Okay, how about now?

Lego (jumper) Man, Toys R Us, NYC, November 2010

Yes, that Lego man, the one teetering on the edge of that very tall skyscraper.  Thankfully, even in this position, he has a weather-controlled environment, interlocking feet, and a low center of gravity in his favor.  However, one good bump from the unruly herd of remote controlled car/helicopter/My Little Pony-wielding 9-year-olds below will send Monsieur Lego to a carpeted grave.  Or tiled grave.  Or laminate.  I don't remember the exact flooring treatment, to be honest.  In the end, there were hundreds of little feet scurrying around the toy store when these pictures were taken, so it's unlikely that the Lego man survived with all of his plastic limbs (or hairpiece) intact. 

Knowing of the fate this precariously posed toy likely faced, I suppose the real question is not whether anyone will help him, but rather if someone will help the poor, hapless sales representative who set-up this display?

Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Nadir [noun] (nay dihr)(nay duhr)
  1. Lowest Point


    In an attempt to make room for a few new additions, I decided to reorganize/confront my entire library this week.  I was grabbing for a just-out-of-my-reach Tamora Pierce novel while preventing a tsunami of literature from tumbling off the shelf when I realized I had reached the nadir of my bibliophilism.  Up to my knees in memoirs, sci-fi, and textbooks, I saw just how many books were laid out before me, and I thought, “Geeze.  That’s a lot of books.  But … I can’t think of getting rid of a single one of them.  Well, maybe that one.”    

    And I’ll admit it: I wanted more.  I had a list of books in my iPhone that begged for perusal at my local shop.  Did I need to go on Addicted?  Perhaps Hoarders?  Or maybe even Celebrity Rehab (okay, this was a long shot)?  Was there anyone else out there who felt like his or her library was more than just a collection of papers, but a collage of his or her self? 

    Thankfully, there was.  Enter Forever Young Adult, stage right.  This post asked the question, “What does your shelf say about you?” and I think I’m ready to answer.

    The Library in all of it's Glory (Yes, with a capitol G)

    1.   I will never, ever own an eReader.  I love real, honest-to-goodness books, with book fragrances! Books are meant to be held; pages are meant to be turned.  Plus, I like to live dangerously.  Where’s the risk of losing your place or receiving a paper cut with an eReader?  Live on the edge, say I!

    Shelf 1

    2.   I buy books I plan to read and read often.  I may have started my bookworm life as a library rat (thank you elementary school library!), but I am now a hoarder of preferred literature.  See double stuffed Shelf 1 – which I love!  Double stuffed is really just another way to say, “I want you to be happy, books. Please, frolic merrily with your ilk on this shelf.”

    Shelf 2

    3.   I believe that books are meant to be shared.  Odd, considering the previous bullet, I know.  I have books missing from my shelf that are currently in the hands of those I am trying to educate on the wonder and miracle that is *Insert Name Here – like Hunger Games or anything by Mary Roach.*  I worship at the altar of these books and proudly sing their praises in public.  See something you like?  Let me know. [Note: I have been burned a number of times.  A book ingested by canines, a book finding a watery grave, a book chopped by a not-so-amiable lawnmower… Been there, done that.  However, I suppose I still believe that people are intrinsically good (Take that, Hobbes!) and continue to lend to those with a literary lust in their eyes.]

    Shelf 3

    4.   I am, and always will be, a lover of science fiction/fantasy. Shelves 1-3 are proof of this statement – Anne McCaffrey, Tamora Piece, Harry Potter (Hardcover – 1-3 received this year for Christmas, 5 & 6 preordered months in advance, and 4 & 7 picked up at two ubber-hip midnight releases at a local shop.], Stephanie Meyer (Twilight is the best cotton candy a girl could ask for!  Though, my preference lies with The Host.), Holly Black, (Team Unicorn.) Cassandra Clare, Sara Rees Brennan (BTW – Not only an excellent crafter of dialogue, character, and demonology that is – dare I say it? – logical, but the Best. Blogger. Ever.), The Hunger Games, Killer Unicorn Series, and my Jane-Austen-Meets-Zombies-And-Sea-Monsters duet.  These books say, “Hey, I get reality.  Really, I do.  I do not, however, choose to spend all of my time there.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a clockwork army to catch up with.”
    5.   I bow before wit in any form.  Alan Alda, Mary Roach, and Christopher Moore make my brain and funny bone(s) happy.   If you do nothing else this week, I recommend picking up Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. A lively read (pun intended). 

    Shelf 4

    6.   I went to college.  You know this because Shelf 4 consists of books that A) I cherish from favorite courses, or B) I really, really wanted to sell back but the promise of $5 for a $150 book just didn’t sound that appealing.  This shelf also alludes to my chosen profession, which may or may not say something about me.
    7.   Finally, I am a bit of a liar.  You see, this isn’t my only bookshelf.  I have volumes on three other shelves around my abode.  Now, the contents are not quite as telling as that shown above, but I still cherish each cookbook, classic novel, and coffee table tome.  Because, you must admit: There is nothing as splendid as a good book no matter where it is housed.

    Thanks for pulling me out of my nadir, FYA! Oh, and a special thanks to my library, whom without this post would have never occurred.