Sunday, February 21, 2010

Welcome, Liam Samuel!

GrandBoy Liam Samuel was born today at 12:03pm - just in time for lunch! Mother and Babe are doing well. Father over the moon. Shorty PJs, aka GrandMary, ecstatic and blessed. For more on Baby Liam (and GrandMary), check out Confusions of Grandeur.

Welcome to the world, Liam!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blog Frustration

I think the reason that I haven't posted as much over the last year is that I'm frustrated with Blogge'sr new layout system and can't figure out what to do about it. What I would like to do is migrate to the new layout format, but keep my distinctive banner and template.

I've tried everything. Endless searches on Google for answers that address this. Many false starts - replacing new template HTML with my old design HTML, clicking buttons, saving reams of code. Sigh. In the end I have to revert to the old form so that I can keep my design. Another sigh. I can't believe I'm the only person out there who wants to keep a template design and take advantage of some of the new Blogger layout features, as well.

And yes, I've looked into other blog systems like Word Press, but while they let me import all the posts, comments, etc., I can't figure out how to override the standard, boring template designs they offer and replace with my own. Yet, another sigh.

Plus, for some odd reason, my Blogrolling sidebar stopped working months ago, so I just took it out of the template. I love having easy access to favorite blogs via my own blog. I've recreated the blogroll several times, inserted the HTML into my template as before, but it just doesn't work. Make that four big sighs.

I like things to look right and work right. Maybe I've lost my touch here, but if ANYbody can help me migrate my current template design + add a workable blogrolling feature to either Blogger's mew layout or another FREE blog system, let me know.

(Don't you hate when people blog about blogging? Yeah, a pet peeve of mine, too.)

Sad Anniverary

Here's to old Bailey-girl. Sweet old dog, who died a year ago today.
Hope you're having a big time in Doggie Heaven!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

For Ash Wednesday: A Psalm of Life

Amidst the ashes and smudgings and hymns in minor key of Ash Wednesday, I always find myself quoting from Longfellow"s "A Psalm of Life:"  Dust thou art to dust returneth was not spoken of the soul.

It's a poem I learned in fifth grade, and it's stuck with me. My teacher, Mrs. Peters. was right fond of having us memorize poems, and Longfellow was a favorite of hers. It says a lot (though nothing surprising) that I can remember whole chunks of Longfellow and the entire Gettysburg Address even now, yet have to stop and think about my street address in New York.

Reading over "A Psalm of Life," every phrase is familiar. Did we really have to memorize the whole thing? Must've done, because line after line rings a bell. Life is real! Life is earnest! . . . Art is long, and Time is fleeting . . . Footprints on the sands of time . . . Learn to labor and to wait. Wow. Let's see, and that was - I'll admit it - about 48 years ago?

And another thing I'll admit. I like Longfellow. So there. (I also appreciate Ginsberg's "Howl," so back off.) The last two verses of Longfellow's "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" always break my heart a little. It rhymes. It's trite. But it moves me. Go figure.

On this Ash Wednesday, "A Psalm of Life" gives me hope and encouragement to make it through the 40 days of Lent. So, yeah, all right, my body will someday turn to dust. But not my soul. I'll hang on to that good news throughout Lent.

"Dust thou art to dust returneth was not spoken of the soul."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Missing George and Abe

I think Presidents Day is stupid. I say this, even though I have today off. Honestly, I do not feel the need to honor all U.S. Presidents today or any other day. But I suppose if we have a Secretaries Day (oops, I mean, Administrative Professionals Day), we have to have a Presidents Day.

It was not always thus. In the olden days we only celebrated two presidents and both holidays were in February: Lincoln's Birthday (Feb. 12) and George Washington's Birthday (Feb. 22). I think only government people got the Lincoln and Washington holidays. Were the banks and post offices closed? I seem to remember they were.

Dreary, short February had three - count 'em - three holidays (adding in Valentine's Day) to break up the gloom. And all three were perfect for school children. Lots of arts and crafts projects, plus historical context, of course.

Depending on what grade you were in, Lincoln's Birthday involved building log cabins out of Lincoln Logs or rolled-up brown construction paper, making stove-top hats, and memorizing The Gettysburg Address. (Is that even required in schools anymore? Sigh.) Even in the South, we understood Lincoln's importance to our history.

For some reason, all I remember about Washington's Birthday is cherry-vanilla ice cream. Seems it wasn't available all year, like Girl Scout Cookies. Just in February for old George. Don't care if the "I cannot tell a lie" cherry tree story is a myth, it was good enough to break out the cherry-vanilla ice cream once a year.

But now? Nothing. Honestly, what is anybody going to do to honor all U.S. Presidents today? Hm? What? I plan to sleep in and take a long walk. No one cares. Instead of donning a home-made stove top hat and reciting the Gettysburg address in commemoration of one great president and eating cherry-vanilla ice cream in honor of another, we'll just go on about out lives tomorrow.

So I propose we cancel Presidents Day from, well OK, Tuesday forward (might as well take the holiday I'm given, eh?) and go back to holding up Abe and George as the guys who set the standard. George, for not being an egotistical, power-monger and selflessly refusing to become king or serve as president for life (and his Farewell Address is pretty snappy, too - beware of foreign entanglements, indeed). Abe, for his good humor, brilliant brevity of speechwriting, handling that Civil War unpleasantness as best as humanly possible, reading by candlelight as a boy, and putting up with Mary Todd Lincoln.

And I want my cherry-vanilla ice cream!

Happy weird Monday-Holiday-in-Mid-February-to-Celebrate-Fillmore-Hayes-Harrison-etc.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Lunar New Year: Year of the Tiger

Didn't have much going on this Valentine's Day (as usual), but fortunately the hearts-and-flowers holiday had to share the date with Chinese Lunar New Year, which gave me something else to celebrate. I decided to join a million other people and squeeze into Chinatown for some of the celebration.

Mott Street was turned into a pedestrian walkway (squeeze-and-shoveway), allowing the street to fill with confetti poppers, drummers, dragon dancers, banner wavers, and silly-stringers. Red and gold gizmos of all sorts were sold from street stalls, all celebrating the Year of the Tiger. Grrrrrrrrrowl.

Feeling a little hungry for sticky rice and won ton soup? Yeah, I thought so.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tugging on the Heartstrings

Yesterday, I posted to my GrandMary blog about being weepy in these days leading up to Daughter's impending delivery of my first grandbaby. The weepiness was enhanced by the Belefonte/Greene/Reynolds song "Turn Around" and the early-1960s Kodak commercial running through my head. Thanks to YouTube, I found the old commercial and posted it to the blog.

In honor of Valentine's Day (which is not real high on my holiday list, as you well know), I thought I'd track down a few other classic weepies to share. Here are my top 3 for your enjoyment.

Aw, c'mon. When Mean Joe Green tosses his shirt to the dejected little kid, don't tell me a lump doesn't rise in your throat. And only Coca Cola can cure it.

Hallmark and Christmas. Well. Geez. The little guy missing his big brother and the Grand Finale "O, Holy Night" part? More Kleenex, please.

But this one's still the best. Turn around and you're a youg wife with babes of your own. I can hardly type it. Sniff.

Now let's all go have a good Valentine's sniffle. Cure? More chocolate.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blizzard 2010

New York City is in the midst of a February blizzard. Last weekend's snow totally missed us (poor Washington DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia got slammed twice), but we've had a solid day of hard-blowing snow that's slated to continue through the night.

I could've easily made it in to work this morning, despite the snow. I live right around the corner from the subway station, and I'm sure I could've worked my way up the hill from Grand Central to Second Avenue. But yesterday as we were leaving work, my boss told us to work from home today. And I really did work most of the day, thanks to phone calls and emails. Plus, I got to work in my pjs (not shorty ones).

But I did manage to get out twice. Once around 10am to tramp over to Thomas Jefferson Park and the East River, and once around 4pm to slip and slide my way to Central Park. I love snow, and I love the definition it gives to trees, railings, and benches. It was really blowing, making it hard to see sometimes, but the forays to the parks were worth the wet coat and gloves.

No snow day tomorrow, though. Stay warm and toasty, all!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Shadow Self in Central Park

I'm not very good at taking self-portraits with my little digital camera. Kids do it all the time, and the pictures come out perfect, but practice as I might, my own one-handed-arm-extended photos are either blurry or off-kilter.

So to heck with those back-handed photos. Today in Central Park, I decided to get pictures of my shadow self. And here are the results:

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Super Bowl fuss

Having no intention whatsoever of watching tomorrow night's Super Bowl, I'm still going to weigh in on my favorite. For me, nothing happens in sports between the end of college football (Roll Tide) and the start of baseball season (Go Braves). OK, yeah, the Winter Olympics rears its head every four years, but even the good chance of watching an athlete break a bone or two on ice or ski into a tree doesn't keep me glued to the TV.

Drum roll, please. I'm going against the grain this year and throwing my support (how weak it is!) to the New Orleans Saints. Who dat? Yeah, you got me right. I said it. The Saints. Here's why:
  1. The Saints have never been to a Super Bowl. Lovin' the underdog.
  2. A win will make Fat Tuesday even sweeter for the Mardi Gras crowds.
  3. New Orleans, a city that a lot of mean-spirited folks wanted to see sink into the delta in 2005, deserves a Super Bowl-win boost.
  4. Gotta love the ironic team name. The Saints. Yeah, "saints" is the first word that comes to mind when you think of NOLA. (Would love to see them change it to "Sinners." Talk about support!)
  5. I'm getting kinda tired of Peyton Manning. I used to like him a lot, but, geez, he's in every TV commercial now. Over-exposure.
  6. I can't support a team called the Colts in Indianpolis. The name belongs to Baltimore. Ask Johnny Unitas. (See my treatise on pro-sports team names.)
  7. The sheer cheekiness of the Who Dat? Nation. Way to smack down the NFL trademark police!
Yep. I'm making homemade chili and cornbread, but not for a Super Bowl gathering. The DVDs are lined up. Wardrobe malfuctions are intentional. Commercial-free.

Wake me when they throw out the first pitch in April.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Cutting the cable cord. Kinda.

One of the ways I've decided to trim my monthly budget is by downgrading to basic cable. I never had premium channels, anyway - just 4,000 channels that I never watched. Though I thought about cutting the cable cord all together, my old TV needs the extra cable boost for even local channels. I also shaved a little speed off my internet connection (though I can't tell any difference so far). The monthly savings? $75. Yes, true. $75.

Today is the first day I had to go without standard cable. I will indeed miss my favorite channel, Turner Classic Movies (sigh), but I still get all the local channels (and this is New York - there are LOTS of local channels) - CBS, NBC, ABC, TBS, Fox, two PBS channels, ION, all the shopping networks (could do without those), several Spanish-language nets (wasted on me), ION and a couple of other little surprises.

Thanks to a Netflix subscription ($14/mo), I can watch thousands of television shows and movies online, as well as the DVDs via mail. I plan to spend the weekend catching the first seasons of favs like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dick van Dyke Show, and whatever else strikes my fancy. And just maybe I'll finally figure out the big deal about Lost, since I've only seen a few random, very confusing episodes. Plus, in addition to Netflix, there's Hulu. I suspect I won't miss all those extra cable channels.

There's just me, after all. I'd just as soon sit on my bed with the laptop watching stuff, as to sit in front of the TV. I have friends who've cut the cable altogether (and by cable, I mean satellite, too). With online options, Netflix DVDs, and a few local channels, I think I might survive. And save a chunk o' change every month.

Take that, Time Warner!

Monday, February 01, 2010

In search of a famous twin

Facebook often has silly little themes that urge people to change their regular profile picture to something more (though not much) creative, like a childhood picture. This week it's Doppelganger Week. Post a picture of a famous person that you've been told you resemble.

Well, see, there's my problem. It's been years since anyone's told me I look like a celebrity. I don't feel I can reach back to the 1980's because all of my Facebook fans will do a double-take and slam me for not looking anything like my last celebrity twin. What to do, what to do?

For a while in the 1960's, I was often told that I bore a resemblance to Sally Field. Sally Field as Gidget, not the Flying Nun. Same pudgy face. Same hair. Same joie de vivre. I don't know. I can kinda see it, when looking at pictures of me from, say, 1966-68, maybe. And I still like to say "Tootles!" when I leave a room.

Then when Broadcast News came out in 1987, lots and lots of folks said I looked like Holly Hunter. Well, I was a television producer, and I did a lot of running around, crazed. Again, the hair, the wardrobe, the Southern drawl made it plausible. Never got to play any fun games with William Hurt, unfortunately. Sigh. On the other hand, I didn't break down, sobbing, when I was alone, either.

But I don't resemble either Sally or Holly now. So there's my problem with posting a celebrity twin.

What if I post the celebrity I feel like I resemble? I'm thinking pre-glam Susan Boyle. Another sigh. Guess I'll just let this Facebook fun-week pass me by and stick with my regular profile picture.

Do you look like someone famous? Lucky you!