Friday, October 31, 2008

That Linking Feeling

Everyone is so mean online these days. Even people on my do-gooder, stinky treehugging sites are being short with each other.

I blame the election. I think everyone is stressed out about the economy and we are all waiting to see how the election goes down before we make any big choices about our future.

The problem with this online grumpiness is that it's never the big jerks who leave in a huff. It's always the nice people, the ones with all the great ideas, who get fed up with the sniping and backbiting who leave that online community for good. I think a lot of great sites are ruined by the people being mean with their comments.

On all my favorite sites I've just been adding helpful links to do-it-yourself demos, feel-good testimonials, and other sites where the atmosphere is less strained.

I was planning on doing this until the election is over, but I may just keep being the Queen of the Links on these various sites until the end of the year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I've managed to break another printer. Which is really easy to do. At least this one lasted three years before a paper jam brought it to its death of obvious forced obsolescence. Can office equipment just cost a lot of money and not break all the time? I'm just slightly furious about how bad the manufacturing quality of, well, everything is, if you can't tell already. Like we really need more crap in the landfill.

I've checked online. According to a dozen different printer websites, once the paper feed breaks, it's next to impossible for a consumer to repair this printer since the company can't be bothered to sell spare parts.

So, instead of taking this to the e-waste dump, I decide I will give this printer one last shot by putting it on freecycle. I might not be able to fix it, but maybe someone else can use it as just a scanner or a fax machine.

An hour after listing the printer on freecycle, "Jason" arrived at my door to pick up the broken printer. He works in IT and thinks he can make the printer work again or at least part it out to repair another printer. Score one for the environment!

Five minutes ago I received the following email:

From: Jason xxxx
Date: October 28, 2008 at 12:40 PM
Subject: [freecycle] OFFER: Epson 3 in 1 printer/fax/scanner
To: The Producer

Thank you for the scanner. I give massages if you ever need one.


Ew. I'm sure "Jason" is beating off to the printer's warranty paperwork as I type this.

(Patting my arm hairs down).


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Part-time Privateer

Today Mr. Foxypants told me his theory on how people organize their homes. He believes that there are two types of people: those who live in doctor's offices and those who live on pirate ships.

I would think this idea hilarious, save for the fact that he then made it clear that my office is so messy, that the corsairs wouldn't have me.


Really, it's not that messy. It's like 40% Anne Bonny to 60% Doogie Howser.

I'm going to ask Sandy the Captain for her professional opinion on this matter because I think this comparison is unfair to pirates everywhere. I'm sure Calico Jack's ship wasn't filled with frog figurines and a huge collection of plush Garfield the Cat dolls like the office of my gynecologist.

And what's so great about living in a doctor's office anyway, even if it's just a stupid metaphor? My father, a doctor, somehow seems to think Skeet Shooters Monthly and Hi-lights for children is what all his patients want to read, especially when he's running 45 minutes late on his appointments and they're trapped in his waiting room. I would bet a piece of eight that pirates subscribe to better magazines.

And to that end, today I dropped off a huge stack of Elle Decor and Vanity Fair Magazines at the local emergency room.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tea House

My friend Laura just opened a tea house that serves organic, fair trade tea and locally sourced food. She's one of those rare people who manages to make sustainable living look fabulous and chic. When I came across six beautiful chrome-plated serving trays in my garage (from who knows what) while organizing for my garage sale, I instantly thought of her. They are perfect for her restaurant. I dropped the trays off at her house today.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Caffeine Achiever

I don't remember when I started drinking coffee.

I was that young.

No. Really. I spent my grade school breakfasts hunched over the funny papers, drinking cafe au lait from 16 ounce mugs my parents purchased at the local craft fair.

When I was little, one of my father's chores was to buy coffee for the house and his office. We would go to the local roaster once a week carrying our bedraggled paper coffee sack for refills of the family blend (50% Kenyan, 50% dark Columbian). I carried on this tradition of the weekly trips to the coffee store for my snooty whole beans all the way through college.

At some point in the 1990's, all the coffee plantations *cough* I mean companies like Starbucks switched over to just carrying vacuum packed bags of coffee at the store. Which made everything easier for them and nothing easier for the environment. Save being really crafty and weaving strands of the heavy plastic sacks together to make prison art handbags and picture frames, the sacks are pretty much unreusable, even as dog poop bags.

So I was very pleased that Allegro Coffee decided to go old school and start selling their coffee in COMPOSTABLE bags. Which really means they're selling their coffee in plain old brown paper bags. But stlll, this makes my unsustainable coffee habit just that much better environmentally.

I called their customer service line and made the operator's day. I'm sure she hears only complaints from customers. I raved about their awesome new packaging. Companies need to get positive reinforcement when they do something smart.

Which makes me more of an aging hippie?

Calling customer service hotlines with all my free time?


Thinking sustainable packaging is an interesting topic for a blog post?


OCTOBER 16, 2008

Today I registered on Yelp! so I could start being one of those know-it-alls who reviews local businesses. I decided to register after noticing that three restaurants that I really love all had some snotty remarks made about them. I spent an hour writing up reviews under my new Yelp! pseudonym.

Thirty minutes later I got a thank you email from one of the restaurant owners. Apparently my interweb disguise did not shield my identity enough and she instantly knew which of her thousands of customers had written the latest review.

If I'm busted for my niceness, does it still count?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Terrible Pawnshop

I am a trash picker. I confess. And if I weren't so worried about running into a sleeping homeless person or a hypodermic needle, I'd be scoping out every dumpster in the neighborhood for abandoned treasures.

I paid for two years of my life by trash picking furniture and other usable items off the curb in my neighborhood and selling those items garages sales. The extra income allowed me to sock away nearly my entire salary and buy a house before I turned 30. I paid for another two years of my life selling stuff on ebay. The extra income allowed me to start my own business and leave the horrible executive job that I hated.

When times are good, ebay and are fabulous estate sales. You can pull together a collection of anything in a blink of an eye. You can also sell just about anything for ridiculous amounts of money and pay for your very bourgeois life selling stuff online.

I spent the day listing books on Or should I say I spent the day looking at how little my books are worth during this recession now that everyone is hocking everything they own to pay the mortgage? The last time I listed books on was about six months ago. The average book price was $8.00. Now, because there's such a glut of books being sold, the average book price for my titles is $2.00.

Ebay has become a terrible pawnshop. There are sad, sad stories that go with many of the listings. People are selling family heirlooms just to buy gas so they can get to work. I can't take it.

What's that arab proverb? "My grandfather travelled by camel. My father travelled by car. I travel by jet plane. My son will travel by camel."

I'm going back to selling at garage sales because the modern world appears to be failing everyone. My mother sold on ebay. I sell on the driveway...

As my nice deed of the day I sent two eastern medicine books to one of my online buddies up in Oregon. Since he's not a fan of western medicine and avoids doctors and hospitals as a rule, I thought he would find an herbal dictionary and an acupressure book useful.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I finally filed my income taxes for 2007 today. I'm getting $400 back from the IRS, but no stimulus check from President Bush.

Which means I made so little money last year that I don't even qualify for the president's lousy attempt to get me to buy stuff and prop up our failing economy.


Well, not like I was going to do anything but pay down my debt with it anyway.

But it will be interesting to see what I get back this next year since now I'm just Miss Moneypenny. What a difference a year makes.

What's really weird is how pleasurable it was to PAY my property taxes, something I also did this morning.

Normally, the payment of my property taxes marks the beginning of the skinny months...the four months were all my big bills are due, conveniently overlapping with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah and New Years, in order to ensure that any gift of cash isn't enjoyed, but used rather to pay for things like my auto insurance.

Just being able to write out that property tax check without stressing about how that big check would negatively affect a host of smaller future purchases like Halloween candy for the trick or treaters, was a huge relief. It was sort of like the mental version of wearing uncomfortable shoes for years and finally getting to put on really squishy bunny slippers.

I've been smiling all day about this.

There was a huge line at the post office today when I went to mail off my property tax check. I let the mom with the two kids and the fussy baby--you know, her--cut in line in front of me. She was grateful for the gesture, but apparently not as grateful as the other people in line who thanked me after she'd left for saving them from listening to a screaming baby.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


My friend Sandy is a yacht captain. Back in 2004, while sailing off the coast of Yemen, her boat caught fire. Under her command, her crew put out the fire and none of the passengers were even injured, but the boat was seriously damaged to the point that they were pretty much adrift at sea. They were working on repairing the engine so they could sail back to the nearest safe harbor when the boat was boarded by machine gun toting pirates. Since the boat was a 40 million dollar vessel loaded with Americans, it was the perfect hostage situation. Sandy and the women hide behind the refrigerator while the pirates searched the ship for valuables to steal. Every night while the pirates were sleeping on their own boat, Sandy and her crew would work on the engine under the cover of darkness. It took them five days to fix the engine to the point where they could outrun the pirate ship and meet up with an American warship. Sandy and her crew won the Distinguished Crew Award, the highest honor of the International Superyacht Society, for their valor and cool under fire.

And because Sandy is a real hero, she, of course, isn't the one who told me this story. I had to hear it second hand from another friend. And when questioned about her heroics, she shrugs it off. "I had the best crew." She's like the coolest person I know.

I mean, really, if you'd battled pirates, PIRATES, and lived to tell the tale, wouldn't you tell EVERYONE who would listen?

I first met my friend Sandy for breakfast this morning. She was in Los Angeles for just a day on her way home from Europe.

I met Sandy on New Year's Eve 2006 while I was visiting friends in Menorca.

I got horrible food poisoning from the fancy dinner we attended, and as everyone else danced their way to the midnight hour, she sat down next to me on the sofa just to keep me company.

She discovered that I'd be in Barcelona the following week and gave me her phone number. "Call me and I'll meet you for coffee."

The following week I took her up on her offer and invited her out for coffee.

Let me just say right now, that had she been single and a man, my day with Sandy would have been like the best date ever. Sandy's girlfriend is a lucky woman.

After walking around Barcelona, Sandy gave me a tour of the 30 million dollar yacht that she was renovating. It was like a floating luxury condominium. Then I went to dinner with her and her crew. It was one of the best dinners I've ever had and I don't even remember what I ate. I just remember that at one point I was laughing so hard I started crying.

Sandy had an open crew slot on her boat. Had I had any money in the bank at that time, I think I would have taken the job as a steward at that very moment and just spent a year floating around the world with her. A small part of me still wishes that I could have done that, but then I wouldn't have Mr. Foxypants as my boyfriend. The timing for us might not have worked out as perfectly as it did. So between him and my fantasy maritime career, I choose him.

But seeing Sandy again, made me think about my future. Life at sea is now the craziest combination of new and old. Sandy's ship is equipped with a million dollars of navigation machinery, but it still takes forever to get old fashioned letters. Sailing is just as romantic as the movies make it out to be, but ten times tougher. The monotony and the long hours are made up for by the mad cash. Sandy's crew work 24/7 for the six figure tips their clients pay at the end of their private cruises, but in the end, they are disconnected from everyday life on land in the most visceral ways. One of her mechanics only sees his family every three months back in Bulgaria.

Today, after dropping Sandy off at LAX, I sent her the one X-Box game we had in the house as a present to her and her crew. I hope it makes the long hours at sea, a little more fun.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bacon, Like Ninjas, Improves Everything

Mr. Foxypants and I returned to The Nickle Cafe--site of our Sunday brunch last week, so we could do a dessert tasting menu of the home made Ding Dongs and the home made maple donuts with bacon sprinkles.

I see the donuts being a problem in my future.

The owners approached us about designing a music playlist for the space because they know we DJ a downtown club that's in a historic building and has music to match. They told us that they would pay us for the CDs. Typically we charge $50 a "mixed tape" CD for this service. I think we're just going to bring them a huge pile of CDs filled with Jazz, Jump Blues, Funk match the vibe of their 1930's exchange for free dessert in perpetuity. As you all know, even before the market crashed, I was a big fan of the barter economy. Trading stuff is a lot more interesting than using cash.

I've been forwarding the good reviews of The Nickel to all the foodies in my life. I really want this restaurant to succeed.

For selfish reasons.

Luckily, I'm not the only bacon fanatic around. As my nice act of the day I copied an article about The Bacon of the Month Club for a friend of Mr. Foxypants who is also a connoisseur of cured meat.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Brush Stroke of Genius

I am a fickle, fickle woman.

Yesterday, I decided that no shade of green was good enough for my hallway. After two separate attempts at adding color to one of the smallest spaces in Dinky Manor, I suddenly decided that PURPLE, yes that color of pre-teen girls and ancient royalty, was the only acceptable hue for my hallway.

So I'm headed back to the paint store...again, to get more sample pots and paint chips.

Normally I try and be good about returning the paper chips to the store when I'm done playing with them at my house. It saves paper, and hopefully helps my neighborhood paint store in a small way. But sometimes the chips just get too beat up to return to the store for reuse.

Today, while filing like a crazy person, I discovered that I was out of the card stock labels that fit into the fancy nickel plated holders of my file boxes. Instead of cutting up a perfectly good buckslip, I realized that paint chips are the perfect size and I can color code my file boxes so I can see what's in them from across the room. A stroke of genius! Okay, that's probably an exaggeration. But a stroke of smartypantsness at least. Definitely a stroke of anal retentiveness.

It's good for the planet, good for the paint store and good for me!

Damn. It's good for me.

Which makes it not nice enough under the guidelines of my super scientific experiment.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Not Necessarily The Lesson I Should Be Learning?

I walked over to my friends house to walk his dogs for him. I get the needed exercise to work off my carbon fatass, and help out my friend who's been stuck in the house all day with a cold. He felt good enough to get out of bed and go on a 3 mile walk with me, so I got to hear all about his round trip train ride to Portland, Oregon for the Pirate Festival. Mr. Foxypants and I are really considering taking the train to Portland for Christmas and New Years. Even though that's 4 days out of a vacation on a train, it's way more environmentally friendly than flying, and we'll be able to do things that we never get to do on the 30 hour trip like read all those books that have stacked up at our house or knit up an entire sweater in one go. We're thinking Portland for our winter vacation because it's really walkable and has awesome Goodwill Stores and Powell's books.

My dog pal is also going to give me a ton of stuff for my garage sale I'm doing in 2 weeks with an old neighbor. He can't believe that I'm willing to take all this crap off his hands. But, I look at it all as free money, whether I sell it or donate it for a tax deduction. And by crap I mean treasure. Beautiful, tax-free treasure...

On the walk home I started fretting about not being nice today. My friend is totally stoked that I came over, walked his dogs, hung out with him even though he has a cold, and agreed to help him empty out his garage full of crap. But have I been nice? I totally enjoyed my walk with him and his dog. And even though I'm benefiting from his garage sale donation, it's not like I went over there intending to relieve him of all his resellable goods.

Am I cheating on my personal challenge today because I'm unintentionally getting something in return for niceness?

Oh no.

When did I decide that nice=torture?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Piles of Sh...I Mean Files

One of my goals of this week is to file every single shred of paper into my filing cabinet. As my cousin Carolyn likes to say, "In our family, we file things horizontally." Why use a cabinet when every flat surface can be storage for paper?

In a minute when I post this, I will resume purging my files of tear sheets on a variety of subjects. Currently I'm going through my crafty crap ideas files. If I had a lot of time, I'd be such a brilliant friend. You should see the ginormous stack of hand made Christmas present ideas I have alone. Handknit hot water bottle cozies, oilcloth school lunch bags, bookends made out of sea shells filled with plaster of paris.

In my fantasy life I'm very creative...and productive.

I owe my producing partner three baby quilts for her children. Her oldest turned ten in August. Oops.

But one thing I will do by the end of the year is knit a lap blanket for a war veteran who has lost his or her legs and is now recuperating at the VA hospital. They are doing a blanket drive (which should really be called "Not All Afghans are Terrorists") and I've signed on to make a blanket. Now, I think the war in Iraq is the United States occupying a country that didn't attack other words I think it sucks. But this doesn't mean that I don't think that our soldiers are doing honorable work. They are. Well, except for those morons who think they're on The Crusades: Part 2 Electric Boogaloo. But I guess that's what makes knitting a blanket for one of these amputees a really nice thing to do. Because I could spend all this time making an afghan for someone who went to Iraq to participate in a "holy war," someone whose values I think are totally backward and stupid. I don't get to choose what kind of soldier receives my gift.

But it's not really about who's suffering ultimately, but that there is suffering. So I will make a beautiful blanket and write a sincere thank you note.