Archive for January, 2009

We Can Heal this Nation

We can heal this nation. We can repair this world. He is not the solution, but he’ll lead us well. Godspeed Mr. President.

Maybe I Could be a Republican?

Ouch, my fingers burned even typing that. But there’s a big fat law that’s invading my personal freedoms come the end of this month.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is supposed to protect our children from lead and phthalates in toys. And clothes. And books. And crayons. And bikes.  I’m all for protecting kids. I went through our entire train collection in 2007 when train after train was reported as having lead paint. I read every recall, I looked for serial numbers on James (James is red, so he’s the most likely to be lead -filled … gah, I still don’t like Alec Baldwin narrating the Thomas & Friends stories).

I’m not convinced the CPSIA is the answer though, neither are some others. She’s going to have to reduce her offerings drastically. There was fear for awhile that thrift shops would go out of business because they wouldn’t be able to afford the testing on all their merchandise. We’re supposed to embrace the new world order of reduce-reuse-recycle. How can I do that when there are no consignment shops and it’s illegal for me to sell my gently loved children’s clothes? However, on January 8 it was clarified that thrift stores did not have to test their products (they do have to continue pulling items from their shelves that are on a recall list though).

I fear the only toy sellers to weather will be WalMart (speaking of which, I think it’s interesting that I was all woohoo, look at the pretty picture representing the data and you all were OMG the locusts and the hey hey) and Target. The small independent toy sellers, of which we have three brick-and-morter stores within easy reach, aren’t going to make it. They aren’t going to be able to afford to stock their shelves with more expensive toys (thanks to the CPSIA) and let them sit there longer (thanks to the recession). The etsy sellers aren’t going to be able to test each of their individual creations.

What can we do? If you’re a member of the huge time suck, you can join Rally Against the CPSIA legislature. If you’re a seller on etsy, they’ve started a thread. Boutique Cafe is full of great ideas. I’ll be writing my congressional reps; don’t know who yours are? Check here.

Did you also write a post about this? Toss it in the comments. I know I’ve read lots of good stuff, I just can’t seem to find it in my reader currently.

As for the changing parties, ha ha! It was a joke. But I would like government to keep its paws off my hand made skirt.

Data Visualization

I love me some data. And some very smart people are creating new ways for us to visualize our data. I used to think that meant new graphs, but it’s so much more than that.

Take for example this visualization of the growth of WalMart, this was designed in 2007

And then go check out this visualization created July of this year. You wouldn’t have nearly the impact with a mere bar chart. Sure, you’d see the number of stores increasing, but it’d be difficult in a two-dimensional display to convey location and frequency and sheer volume.

Flowing Data’s
five best visualizations for 2008 can be found here.

Milk Does a Body Good

You know that that headline is being used all around the country is reference to former Mr. Madonna‘s new movie. It has to be.

And for good reason.

Milk is a great movie. If you’re presented the opportunity to see it, I highly recommend you seize it. Although, this is one that will also play well on the small screen. At the end of the flick my friend says to me, well that was depressing. And she’s right – it doesn’t end on a happy note. But what I find more depressing is that 20 years later we’re having the same issues in the same state. Good grief people. We’ve been denying civil liberties to a class of people FOREVER, let’s move on. I think one of the most powerful points was when Milk tells Mayor Mascone that if he reinstates Supervisor White that the mayor won’t be re-elected, that he won’t even be able to get the job as the dog catcher because the gay population won’t support him. And the mayor doesn’t reinstate Supervisor White. He knew then what people are learning now (or again) that when a group is motivated there is little that cannot be accomplished. I mean, look at our President-elect.

Anyway, go. Or rent. Either way, add it to your list of must-sees in 2009.

As for the winner of my copy of The Departed, it’s Kim the knitting librarian from BigBadWolf. Kim, send me your address and I’ll drop your movie in the mail.

I plan to watch American Gangster this weekend. If I manage to do that, it’ll be given away on Monday.

So, five presidents walk into a bar

If only I had a punchline for that …

Earlier this week President W invited his dad, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, the husband of the soon-to-be Secretary of State and the President-elect over for lunch

There are two ways to break down the demographics of this photo: 3 democrats and 2 Bushes or 3 blue ties and 2 red ones. Interestingly, tie color does not follow party lines. Obama’s light blue tie “is associated with health, healing, tranquility, understanding, and softness.” Our country needs healing, so it’s a good choice. As we all know red is a bold color of passion and power. Does Clinton think he needed to remind these men of his own power? And Carter? Did he wear that tie during his own presidency? Carter should definitely wear green, olive green “is the traditional color of peace.”

OMG WHERE IS BILL’S FLAG LAPEL PIN? He’s going to Gitmo for sure. Well, he can take Jimmy with his I guess.

Carter looks a little uninterested in the whole affair. Also, he’s standing in the exact same place as he was in this picture. Creepy.

I like this picture. Carter’s looking at Reagan like laugh it up jackass (although he’s a Southern Baptist so that language would never cross his lips) your best friend is a monkey and I don’t mean that chimp from your movies.

Don’t forget to win my copy of The Departed you need to leave a comment before 10pm MST today.

completely unrelated to anything … my site was moved to a new server yesterday and I lost some comments, I have them in email and will put them back up in order as time permits

A New Love

Sometimes I surprise even myself. I like brussel sprouts!! I think brussel sprouts get a bad wrap. There’s a whole discussion board about why people hate them. Personally, I hadn’t had them in years until a friend served them at her house. And now? Now I LOVE THEM. They won’t replace my beloved beets (oh how I love the beets) but there’ll be more brussel sprouts at our house.

Have you tried (or retried) a food recently and surprised yourself with your like for it? What’s the best food that the rest of us probably aren’t eating?

The Departed

Spoiler alert

Everyone dies. Well, not Marky Mark – he lived.

I really wanted to see The Departed on the big screen, but I was busy raising kids. Or something. But this weekend we sat down and watched it. It was as good as I hoped (btw, my expectation for movies is low – as long as I don’t feel like that’s two hours of my life I really want back, I consider it a success).

How could you not love The Departed though? A good story that draws you in and an amazing star-filled cast. Jack Nicholson is #1 bad guy, Marky Mark is a smart-mouthed police Sargent, Matt Damon is a mole, Leonardo DiCaprio (anyone else remember him on Growing Pains?) is also a mole but for the other team and Alec Baldwin. Oh! And Martin Sheen. See? good actors – it would be hard to make a craptastic movie with these guys all being directed my Martin Scorsese.

Some things that bounced around in my head … how is it that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck got their big break together in Good Will Hunting and one of them makes romantic comedies and the other makes awesome action packed adventure? Also, can you imagine Thanksgiving at Mrs Baldwin’s home if all four sons were there? Alec is an outspoken liberal, Stephen is an evangelical Christian, Daniel has allegedly has a cocaine problem and then boring Billy is married to Chynna Phillips and has been for over a decade.

Anyway.

If you like movies that make you pay attention and can handle the constant use of the F-word

Ellerby: Go fuck yourself.
Dignam: I’m tired from fucking your wife.
Ellerby: How is your mother?
Dignam: Good, she’s tired from fucking my father.

There’s blood too. And guns. And cigarettes.

I would totally watch it again. And for some points of comparison:

  • American Pie or The Departed? The Departed
  • Face/Off or The Departed? Are you insane? John Travolta is in Face/Off, Face Off
  • Italian Job or The Departed? you should do a Marky Mark double-header and watch both
  • Horton Hears a Who or The Departed? The Departed
  • Slumdog Millionaire or The Departed? Slumdog Millionaire because you can rent The Departed anytime
  • Australia or The Departed? The Departed, Australia took 3 hours of my life that I cannot have back
  • The Dark Knight or The Departed? ooh, that’s hard … but if I can only pick one, The Departed

So, there you have it. Watch The Departed. And to help you do that I will send one lucky person my copy on DVD. It’s a legal, purchased DVD – only watched once. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Friday, January 9. To be eligible leave a comment before Thursday, January 8th 10pm MST.

No Dinosaurs Here

I’ve read many people’s posts about how 2009 will be better. How they will be better in 2009. Their inspiring plans to improve their lives. And I thought, what will I do? What are my resolutions? I have many, but none that leave the sanctity of my own head.

Sorry.

But! I did find a way today in which I am different than a year ago. A good positive change: my buying decisions.

I have two small children. Small children like chicken nuggets, it’s a fact. Until recently I fed my children some dinosaur shaped nuggets that I found at Costco. I think they were $10 for eleventy million nuggets or something. Then a friend mentioned the sodium content. Copy. Dino nuggets not to be replaced due to high sodium content. Today I wanted to stock some nuggets in my house. While shopping I found some and checked the sodium, too high. I headed over to the frozen organic kids section (the kids are neither frozen nor organic, the food is) and looked at Ian’s brand. I was satisfied with the sodium content but not the packaging. I know that I need more than 2 servings of chicken nuggets (not at once, but in the time before they expire it seems highly likely my kids will partake in the nuggets). So, here I am in the frozen food section trying to figure out what to do. I’m willing to buy the Ian’s – I just want a larger option so I have less overall packaging. (in the end I purchased the 2 serving box and will look for a retailer with a larger offering).

Another example, there are two brands of laundry detergent that I prefer to purchase. Today they were priced the same – I chose the one in the smaller bottle thinking that it’s less material to recycle.

A year ago I would have purchased on price alone. Or price and some other factors, but probably not packaging. And the laundry detergent? Last year as long as it was sans perfume, I was all for it. Now I like my soaps natural and antibacterial-free.

So, there you have it. One way in which I am better at the end of 2008 than at the start: I’m consciously trying to reduce our waste through unnecessary packaging. And I’m noticing manufacturers that are reducing their packaging too. While I am not in the market for carseats I saw that Cosco is packaging their seats in a reuasable plastic cover rather than a ginormous cardboard box. They have the added bonus of getting more seats on the shelf in less space. One company that surprised me with some of their packaging is Method. Their baby hair + body wash has an enormous plastic lid. I am sure it is recyclable, but wouldn’t it have been better to not make it in the first place?

Since I’ve completely abandoned any hope of a coherent post, the Asus Ecobook has a bamboo (rather than plastic) shell. It’s beautiful to look at and a sustainable material.

What packaging has surprised you recently? Did you really expect to buy those brussel sprouts in a clam shell? What packaging is fantastic in its minimalism and recyclability? What have you bought just because of the package?

Adieu 2008

We took the kids ice skating last night at a temporay outdoor ice rink in a neighboring town. Poor Elliot, one blade on the ice and WIPE OUT! He has the bruise on his head to prove it. After that he was happy to take a ride in the sled, as was Audrey. But soon his bravery reappeared and he skated, on his own for about an hour. The rink had all sorts of tools to help kids learn to lean forward while skating. Elliot’s tool of choice was a shovel.

After a fun time skating in 50-degree weather, we went in search of hot cocoa. Coffee shops were not open, it was after 8pm on NYE – why would you want that business? So we ended up at our local neighborhood bar & grill and had sundaes! Elliot declared it a great night and that every NYE we should go ice skating and out for ice cream. I’ll hold him to that when he’s older.

Welcome to 2009 everyone.