BlogExplosion

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Start With "Once Upon A Time"

So I've been blogging and reading blogs for a couple of weeks, and have decided that most bloggers are not very interesting. I have found only one blog that really reads like a story or memoir, Instructions to the Double, which was the inspiration for starting my blog in the first place. "Tessy," at the time a 26-year-old nanny living in Brooklyn, was not only an excellent writer but was also very open about all of her experiences and let-the-reader-be-damned... whether the reader happened to be anonymous strangers like me, her Boyfriend, or her employer. Unfortunately, she "learned her lesson" when her employer slammed her in a New York Times Sunday Styles piece, and since that time, her writing (in a new blog) has become far less open.

Through BlogExplosion (see link in my sidebar), I've had the opportunity to "surf" hundreds of blogs for 30 seconds at a time and, in return, receive more traffic to my own blog. Most of these blogs, including my own, read like a collection of essays on whatever comes to mind, instead of like a diary or collection of short stories. While there are those who try their hand at erotica, most yammer on about their almost always liberal political leanings.

Then again, you may ask, what was I expecting? Perhaps hoping for the best in blogs was like imagining that spam might be interesting?

I actually did make a pledge to myself in a recent journal entry to write more interesting stuff by being more "well-read" -- not well-read in the traditional sense of the word (i.e., the classics... War and Peace, Shakespeare, Plato), but in a more eclectic sense of the word (i.e., the classics plus...The New York Times, The New York Post, Wall St. Journal, Cosmopolitan, trashy beach reading, other people's blogs...and so on).

In that vein, today I received a nice box from Barnes & Noble:
The Interruption of Everything -- Terry McMillan
The Lake of Dead Languages -- Carol Goodman
The Mermaid Chair -- Sue Monk Kid
The Sweet Hereafter -- Russell Banks

So I am saving up all the traffic credits that I earn from BlogExplosion by surfing O.P.B. for a day when I have some really compelling content here...perhaps the day the Desperate Housewives DVD comes out, or the day after the new season starts in October...I'll let you know.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Girls' Night Out

So the girls went out in Red Bank on Saturday: Me, Melissa, Susan, and Gabrielle plus a male guest, John. Upon learning that Gabrielle was bringing her new love interest, PostBoy suggested that I should behave as if John weren't there, feeling free to ask questions such as "So, Gabrielle, how does John stack up in bed compared with Carlos?"

We took polaroids that I probably will not post. Everyone at the table agreed that the left (Banana Boat) side of my face looks better than the right (Olay Regenerist) side. Note to hedge funds: Sell P&G short. Susan, does this now qualify as financial writing worthy of a link from your hypothetical blog?

Susan craves young boys to pleasure her...as a result of too much reading of the NYPost this weekend, I suggested that she take up teaching high school or, to keep her out of jail, perhaps a freshman college course like "Introduction to Communications."

Gabrielle did indeed bring her new/old love, John, which distanced her from us a bit. I guess she ran into him at her 20th high school reunion last year and they sort of picked up where they left off. And when I asked the key question, she said he had wildly improved in the bedroom since the old days. Poor Gabrielle is still living with Carlos, sleeping in her son's top bunk bed, and trying to figure out her life until and after a divorce. It is hard to imagine the life she lives with Carlos just to keep her family together...cooking for him, keeping up the house, lying to her children about "business trips" and Carlos' snoring as the excuse for not sleeping in the same room with him, and putting up with Carlos' insulting treatment. So it is no wonder she's been looking elsewhere for love, and I guess I'm glad for her that she can find refuge with John.

I talked less than I would have liked with Melissa, who was across the table from me at dinner. She has learned that she is having a boy, which leaves me with a closet full of pink baby clothes.

The Scarecrow Has Landed

The Scarecrow arrived from Yardiac (click on link on original heirloom tomato post so I can make a dime today), never mind "not a moment too soon" but unfortunately a few days too late for half of Rex's new heirloom tomato plants. The Scarecrow is a fabulous-sounding device that is designed to use a motion detector and my garden hose to hose down animals as they approach Rex's precious garden. We don't even know who it is who is eating the new plants and taking bite-sized chunks out of our ripe tomatoes. I will send Rex out to the garden to set it up immediately and will report back on the results.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Early Bad News for Procter & Gamble

10 days into the Olay Regenerist vs. Banana Boat CPG Study, Rex reports that the left (Banana Boat) side of my face is looking and feeling better than the right (Olay) side. Fewer laugh lines on the left and smoother under my left eye than my right.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Conversations with the Sex Therapist

The other day I went to a "lunch bunch" at the kids' school...an opportunity for returning families to meet and greet the new families that would be joining the school in the fall.

I was buddied up with two different mother/daughter combos who would be in my younger daughter's class, and my role was to answer any questions they might have about the school. One subject that came up was volunteering, what types of things are the best to sign up for. Based on my prior experience of consuming a little too much wine at last year's Toddler Tea and volunteering to be on the "Toddler Art" team for the fundraising auction and subsequently remembering that I have no artistic ability, I suggested that they peruse the laundry list of opportunities and choose something that matches with their skill sets. One of my new buddies remarked, "My husband and I have volunteered to lecture. He will lecture on how not to need a lawyer from a lawyer's perspective, and I will lecture on healthy sexuality for children. So I say, "I guess your husband is a lawyer; what is it that you do?" She responds, "I am a sexual therapist."

And now, dear readers, I want you to note that, with remarkable restraint, and for fear of saying something I shouldn't, I remained silent....which gave the other nice mom next to me the opportunity to ask, "so you work with children??!!". So there was enough of her foot to fit in her mouth and to share with the entire lunch bunch!

Anyway, we are all eagerly looking forward to the upcoming lecture, when desperate housewives will try to fit their personal sexual issues into questions that sound like they are related to their children's healthy sexuality....any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Hideous Nest

On Monday Rex discovered the most hideous nest attached to one of the dormers in our lovely home:



I don't even know what lives there....wasps? hornets? Voldemort? Anyone wanna make a guess as to what sort of scary creature builds such a thing?

The exterminator is coming today between 2 and 5pm. I'll keep you posted.


Later....

The Terminator is here....turns out the hideous nest pictured below is a wasps' nest, and that it probably took them a few days or a week to build themselves this lovely home upon my lovely home. Today the Terminator will treat it with toxins for the Queen and her worker wasps to share, and will come back and remove the nest in 2 weeks for an extra $30 if it doesn't dissolve or fall down on its own. I don't envy him his job...he suggested that "it is hard to strategize when you're on a ladder" and he might need some ice for when (not if??) he gets stung.

Advertising Works??!!!

So yesterday I added Google's AdSense to my blog, and I am amazed at how targeted the ads are that they've come up with on almost every post. Allman Brothers tickets on the Jane Austen (hmm....no Austen books from Amazon or Barnes & Noble??) and the Allmans post, Yardiac tomato cages on the heirloom tomatoes post, links to Dell on the technology failure rate post.

More importantly, it looks like I have already earned $1.66! I wonder what would happen if I actually clicked through from my blog and bought the $56.95 Scarecrow Motion Activated Sprinkler from Yardiac to protect Rex's garden from bunnies and other perpetrators...

Keep clicking through, dear readers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Jane Austen and the Allman Brothers

From Jane Austen's Emma:

"Emma was aware that great must be the difference between a Mrs. Weston only half a mile from them, and a Miss Taylor in the house."


From the Allman Brothers' No One to Run With:

"Well Tony got a job, three kids and a lovely wife
Working at the CommerceBank for the rest of his life
Nobody left to run with anymore
Nobody wants to do the crazy things we used to do before
Nobody left to run with anymore"


I dedicate this post to one of my best high school girlfriends -- Melissa, a Jersey Girl who lamented the very same thing... but by the time she packed her stuff and got right out of here to the Left Coast, she was married and working hard on children rather than looking for someone to run with anymore.

Certainly Ellyn would agree with the Austen/Allman sentiments as she has given up on each of her girlfriends as we each, in turn, married and ceased being the "cool friends" she once had. ("Of course I didn't return your call. I knew you were calling to say you were -- circle one -- getting married or pregnant") I will have to look back at my journals during my "single years" (1991-1995)... I doubt that I made any vows to continue to go out drinking and dancing with the girls every weekend after finding Mr. Right. I do remember thirtysomething being my ideal of how things could/should work, with Michael/Hope as the central couple with single and married (and eventually divorced) friends all floating comfortably in and out of their home, bringing bagels on Sunday mornings. I think I can safely say it only works on TV.

I know for certain that marriage and children make my writing less interesting, but I'd rather be married and less interesting than single and soul-searching. The days when I would go on dates for the sole purpose of amusing my friends with stories afterwards are over. I will, however, commit to working on the "less interesting" part so my dear readers will have something to look forward to on these pages.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Olay Regenerist Setback, but Getting Younger Every Day

Had a minor setback on the Olay vs. Banana Boat CPG Study, as I forgot to bring the Olay Regenerist to the Beach this weekend. To avoid the aging effects of the sun, I had to apply Banana Boat all over. Returned to the original plan last night at bedtime, but feel it is premature to report any results until the end of this week.

However, I have dropped 10-12 years off my age by starting a blog and joining Friendster. Um, I only have two (2) friends so far. Brent??

Friday, August 12, 2005

Noonie?

When we lived in New York, we had neighbors on our floor who had children similar in age to our toddler daughters. The little girl down the hall had coined the term "noonie" for the female genitalia, and our girls stuck with it. Her mom told me, "I don't know how long we should wait before we teach her the correct words for it, you know, the V and the P word." And I thought, and should have asked, for now I'll never know..."what do you mean, vagina and PUSSY?"

(I think I may have shocked some of our new friends with that story last night, but, well, that's who I am, and I was, after all, talking under the influence -- see below)

Talking Under the Influence (TUI)

Clearly not as bad as famous blogger Dooce, who recently asked an enormous non-pregnant neighbor when she was due, but last night after a few glasses of wine (NEVER mix white and red) I inquired of the mother of fraternal (non-identical) twins whether they had started playing tricks on their teachers like the identical twins who live across the street from us at the Beach.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Heirloom Tomatoes Are Here!!

About a week ago, my husband, let's call him "Rex," (although, unlike his TV counterpart, well past the first season he is very much alive) lamented that we haven't planted heirloom tomatoes in a few years..."wonder where I might find some for next year." The answer, as always, is online (Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants). With Laurel's encouragement, I thought, "Why wait until next year? Let's have tomatoes in October!" So I printed out 39 pages of research and gave him the phone. Ignoring the research, Rex asked Laurel to choose six plants for him with the following criteria: "Zebra-like, orangey, pink to purple, and no red round varieties." Right now I'm unpacking the box and have discovered (in Laurel's words):

1) Green Zebra: (4.25) 75 days. Visually enchanting, abundantly productive, this 2-inch round fruit ripens to an enchanting amber gold with dark green zebra-like stripes over the amber background. Another wonderful variety from Tom Wagner, it is utterly gorgeous to behold, tangy and deeply sweet with lingering flavors, like fine wine. This exquisite tomato was chosen by chef extraordinaire, Alice Waters, for her restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. In my top 5.

Note from Bree: As Rex cannot help but adore Chez Panisse, he will be delighted with this selection.

2) Flammé: (4.25) (SS) 70 days. Very prolific and stunningly beautiful, Flammé is an unforgettable tomato. Intensely orange with a reddish blush on the blossom end, these flame-colored 2 ounce globes have a rich, tangy and exciting flavor that literally bursts in your mouth. Cut open to reveal a red interior, this fruit reminds me of a blood orange with its spectacular contrasting colors. Fruits of Flammé appear to glow on the vine against a backdrop of deep green foliage. Just marvelous.

3) Black Cherry: (4.25) (Ch) 65 days. A perfectly round cherry tomato with classic black tomato flavor, sweet, yet rich, smoky and complex. Fruit picks easily from the stem and is produced in abundance on vigorous, tall plants. These cherries are irresistibly delicious: look like a black cherry, taste like a cherry-- a unique addition to the color and flavor spectrum of cherry tomatoes for your garden, along with White Rabbit, Sungold, Green Grape, and Reisentraube, it makes an arresting display for any table. Just outstanding.

4) Anna Russian: (4.25) (E) 65 days. An exquisite heart-shaped deep pink to red, juicy, sweet creamy tomato. The fruit shape can be described as resembling an upside down Russian Orthodox Church spire; the shape is enchanting, just lovely. This plant has delicate, wistful, almost droopy foliage; don't let that fool you, it's easy to grow; a brave little plant resembling a little weeping willow. In my top 5, and the very first heirloom tomato I ever tasted many years ago when my mom brought me one from her garden. I swooned. Always among the first few I plant each year in a little tomato-love ceremony. Anna Russian bears very well during hot weather.

5) Probably Mr. Stripey/Tigerella (the little white tag was missing, but the some mysterious etchings resembling MR ST appeared on the box): Tigerella (4.25) 56-60 days. This wonderful old-time British heirloom tomato bears huge crops of small orange-red round 1 ½" to 2", 4 to 6 oz. fruits with fascinating yellow-orange vertical stripes. A European favorite, the fruits are surprisingly lively: tangy, richly flavored, very prolific, and one of the most beautiful tomatoes you'll ever see. (Sometimes called Mr. Stripey--Tigerella is the proper name)

6) Lemon Boy: (4.25) (H) 72 days. A perfect jewel. Lemon Boy is sunshine yellow, perfectly round , 8-10 oz. with a deep rich flavor, bright, smooth, juicy, luscious and very prolific. Slightly tangy, sweet with lingering overtones of citrus. Bountiful on the vine, easy to grow, an all around winner and my absolute favorite hybrid.

A little something for everyone: the heirloom tomato plants came with at least 12 rubber bands for inclusion in my friend Brent's rubberbandball that we keep around the office.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

100% Technology Product Failure Rate (or, Today the Little Guy Goes Home)

WARNING: THIS POST IS SO BORING THAT I MAY NOT HAVE THE HEART TO FINISH IT. Guess it depends how much longer Gateway keeps me on hold (45 minutes and counting)

Blogging while on hold with a customer service representative from Gateway. Trying to return the "Little Guy," as Brent and I had named our new SimpleTech (I know, I know, it does sound a little too close to Simpleton) 160GB hard drive (Little Guy) when he arrived on scene.
After saving a total of maybe 40GB to the Little Guy, including a full backup of important documents from our office server, my entire iPod database (cut not copied -- GASP), and a large photo archive, the Little Guy gave me a blank look. A really blank look. As in, your external hard drive is no longer "Little Guy" with 40GB, it is "F Drive" with zero GB.
14 minutes later, I am still on hold with Gateway with no RMA in sight. Original customer service rep attempted to transfer me to Tech Support. I started hooting at him, OH NO YOU DON'T....LITTLE GUY IS ALL PACKED UP IN HIS BOX AND HE IS READY TO COME HOME TO YOU. So he put me on hold to think about if for a little while, or perhaps to update his own blog about annoying customers who always want to return things, and came back 5 minutes later to say he was transferring me to another department. I can't peg the music I'm hearing....maybe U2? Interspersed with suggestions that I use their web site for personalized support instead.
Anyway, this was not intended as a much deserved rant against Gateway customer service. It was more a question for readers everywhere: is there a 100% technology product failure rate in all brands today, or do I just have a personal magnetic field that messes with the inner workings of electronic devices?
In 18 months, I have watched the following, in most cases brand new, devices crash before my very eyes:
* brand new SimpleTech 160GB External Hard Drive ($109)
* brand new Archos AV420 Personal Video Recorder ($399)
* brand new IBM Thinkpad (probably $4999)
* older HP Server that notably crashed the same day as the brand new IBM Thinkpad
* multiple Dell notebooks, in various stages of use, launching the catch-phrase "never another Dell"

My point/question: DOES THIS HAPPEN TO EVERYONE, OR JUST ME? I feel certain it doesn't happen to Walter Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal.

After 57 minutes on hold with four different departments at Gateway, I have received a FedEx return label and RMA number and will end my rant. If you enjoyed this post, better print it out for your memory book because it turned out to be so boring that I may have to delete it.

Olay Regenerist vs. Banana Boat CPG Study

Tomorrow morning I will launch an important study of skin care products. From August 10th through October 9th, morning and night, I will apply Olay Regenerist Serum (Olay), $16.99 for about 3 ounces, to my right cheek and Banana Boat After Sun lotion (Banana Boat), maybe $4.99 for 16 ounces, to my left cheek. Watch for the weekly updates and final results right here.

To Blog or Not To Blog...

Bloggers seem surprised when, after they reveal intimate personal information in their blogs and send out mass e-mails inviting others to view their blogs, that their potential love interests, employers, etc. discover their blogs and learn all of that intimate personal information.

I know for sure that I'm not young or naive enough to use my blog to replace my personal journal, and then it seems like to much work to split my personality between a private, real self (who thinks/writes things about other people that they shouldn't be reading online) and a public, blog persona who probably has a stronger writing style but far less interesting thoughts.

Friday, August 05, 2005

First Blog: The Launch of Roxiticus Desperate Housewives

I was inspired to start blogging by the recent unpleasant exchange between Helaine Olen and her former nanny, "Tessy." Helaine Olen's article "The New Nanny Diaries Are Online" appeared in the Styles section of the July 17 Sunday New York Times. Her former nanny, Tessy, countered with a well-written rebuttal (Instructions to the Double: Sorry to Disappoint You) blog for all of the NYTimes readers who came looking for nannies gone wild. As a full-time working mom who employs a nanny, I'm intrigued with both women's perspectives. And, irrespective of any unfortunate connection to Olen, Tessy's blogs are interesting.