Thursday, August 30, 2007

That's SO last year!

Now that we're all pros at chatting online with instant messenger or sending cellphone text messages, we all know what LOL, BRB, and LMAO** are. But the next generation (call them Generation Y, the "Millennials", the Internet generation - your choice) is way beyond these archaic abbreviations.

NYT's David Pogue offers some suggestions for new terms. My favorites - (pay attention! you may see these soon in a message from me!)

* 12OF -- twelve-o'clock flasher (refers to someone less than competent with technology, to the extent that every appliance in the house flashes "12:00") [I love this one!]

* GI -- Google it

* FCAO -- five conversations at once

* IIOYT -- is it on YouTube?

* SML -- send me the link

* KYST -- knew you'd say that

* NBL -- no battery left

* TWD -- typing while driving

* CYE --check your email

And a few just for iPhone owners: [Andy, this means you:]

* CSVUI -- can't send video, using iPhone

* BPWMI -- boss playing with my iPhone

* SIK -- sorry, iPhone keyboard

* OOM -- out of messages (for iPhone users who haven't upgraded their AT&T "200 messages a month" plan)

And, for the older crowd (read: parents, employers), some classics:

* WIWYA -- when I was your age

* YKT – you kids today

* WDO? -- what are you doing online?

* NIWYM -- no idea what you mean

* AYD? -- are you drunk?

** LOL - laughing out loud; BRB - be right back ; LMAO - laughing my a** off

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Growing up in DC

You've all heard by now that I grew up in DC. A Native Washingtonian, born & raised -- and there aren't that many of us! And growing up there, we were exposed to a lot of things that other people 'outside the Beltway' are not. [Even calling the rest of the country "Outside the Beltway" is a DC thing. ;) ]
  • The local news always has something to do with the President.
  • You can get run down by a motorcade -- it may be the Prez, or the Veep (who nearly ran me down last year), or it could be a visiting dignitary from who-knows-where with flags waving. But don't worry, there will be nineteen motorcycle cops, three dozen cop cars, and twelve black SUVs letting you know that something is up.
  • Museums are always free. And the traveling exhibits always stay for many months.
  • Northern VA and the rest of VA are not remotely the same.
  • You can tell when you've crossed from DC into MD, because the roads are better.
  • "Going to the Mall" has nothing to do with shopping.
  • Washington National Airport is and will always be "WASHINGTON NATIONAL" not "Reagan National”.
  • A snowstorm brings the whole city to a screeching halt.

But the best line had to be from today - a mother who took her 'tween' daughter shopping and was told, "Mom, I'm 11! I'm not Harriet Miers!" Way to be up on the political scene, kid!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Political Compass

Dani sent me a link today to the Political Compass, a site that gauges your left- or right-leaning tendencies, and your authoritarian vs. libertarian views.

The questions are really thought-provoking... in some cases, I would have rather had the option to say "no opinion" or "neither agree nor disagree," but you have to pick one way or the other.
Sample questions: (strongly agree/agree/disagree/strongly disagree)
  • Charity is better than social security as a means of helping the genuinely disadvantaged.
  • In a civilized society, one must always have people above to be obeyed and people below to be commanded.
  • There are no savage and civilized peoples; there are only different cultures.
  • Governments should penalize businesses that mislead the public.
My results: (no one is really going to be surprised) ;)

Economic Left/Right: -5.50
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.44

See that red dot? That's me.

In case you're wondering, here's how some of the world's leaders and great thinkers would fit on the graph (that's Milton Friedman, not Thomas-the-world-is-flat-Friedman). Gandhi and I would have gotten along swimmingly. :)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dignity for Chickens

Every once in a while, in the cartoons, Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny would realize they were "naked", and cross their knees and cover themselves up. We always knew they were naked, but it was a cartoon! Who cares?

Well, somebody thought that chickens should be spared from running around naked, so voila! Chicken diapers! ... I mean, "chicken suits."

To check out the various available designs, and meet the "models", click here.
Actually, I could even knit a chicken suit ... if I knew anyone who had shy chickens! Here's the knitted version from the website - tres chic chicken!

Friday, August 17, 2007

... and not a drop to drink

In addition to a great article about Al Gore (and his pic on the cover), last month's issue of FastCompany had a huge article on the massive quantities of bottled water we drink in this country: the amount of money wasted in the process; the damage we're doing to the environment by trucking it around everywhere; and the irony of buying those neat square bottles of Fiji water when half of the nation of Fiji doesn't have potable water. Here's the quote that got me:
If the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.
The article came out just as Coke and Pepsi 'revealed' that their own bottled waters, Dasani and Aquafina, are just filtered tap water. I have to say, the FC article really made an impact on me. When I do buy bottles of water, I re-use them for a week or more before I recycle them. I look for recycling bins everywhere I go now, and am always surprised when I go to an event (or a house) in Austin where there's no recycling bin. It really hit us at work last week, when we ran out of the giant bottles of water, and had to resort to drinking -- gasp! -- tap water! Honestly. Tap water is fine. I grew up on DC water, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with me. [no comments from the peanut gallery, please!]

Clearly the issue is starting to get some traction. Of course, the Bottled Water Association is unhappy, as you would expect them to be. They feel like they are being unfairly targeted.
"If the debate is about the impact of plastic packaging on the environment, a narrow focus on bottled water spotlights only a small portion of the packaged beverage category and an even smaller sliver of the universe of packaged products," he said.
I wonder if Dasani and Aquafina sales will drop because of the whole "public water source" flap?
Go ahead, take the Bottled Water quiz, to see if you're really paying attention. ;)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yes, it's been a while.

I've been busy! So sue me!

Thursday night, I went up to Pflugerville to watch 'Lady Jane' with some girls from my book club. Our book last month was Innocent Traitor - a historical fiction novel about the life of Jane Grey, who was Queen of England for 9 days when she was 15 years old. The movie is also her story, although it paints a decidedly different picture of her life, and particularly of her reign. The movie (1986) stars Helena Bonham Carter as Jane and Cary Elwes as her husband, Guilford Dudley. The book portrays their relationship as painful and awkward... the movie, clearly taking liberties, spent a lot of time making it into a love story. But at least Patrick Stewart was in it. :)

The heat has finally arrived, so it's been 100-plus degrees since last week. But that didn't stop us from going out dancing on Friday night! About 15 of us went to Cedar Street to see Skyrocket, a great 80's cover band. We took a bunch of 'before' and 'after' pictures -- before the sweating, and after! (Cedar Street is an outdoor venue.) We were drenched within fifteen minutes, just sitting still -- never mind any time spent dancing. But it was a blast! [Waiting for the pictures to be posted, although some of them are blackmail material....]

Saturday night, Andy wanted to go see Guy Forsyth and the Hot Nut Riveters, a 20's and 30's dirty jazz band. I've been hearing about Guy Forsyth since I got here (he's an Austin legend), so Andy and Paul and I went downtown to the Parish and enjoyed the music. We also enjoyed a parade of people at the show that would have given Stacy and Clinton heart palpitaitons. I mean, really, people!

By Sunday, I was dead tired. I did get up and go to the gym, and got a lovely massage from Patrick the masseuse. I think that's what saved me. He was trying to fix the knots in my shoulders, particularly the left one, which I fell on last week at the gym. I didn't do much more after that - it was too hot!

My neighbor came back from her trip to Scotland and brought me a lovely wool scarf, to thank me for watering her plants. (I think I'll put the scarf away until I go to DC in the winter.) I'm planning on going up in October, but I'm waiting for plane ticket prices to drop again. By then there will be a new little Diehl baby, too! (d'oh! another penguin to make!)

Work is incredibly busy, but really fun, for the most part. I'm glad I moved to Texas. :)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

What are the bags of water for?

If you've ever eaten out on the patio at Rudy's in north Austin, you've seen the clear plastic bags of water hanging from the rafters. (I think we talk about those odd fixtures every time we eat there.) We've been told that the bags of water keep flies away, but I was never sure that was true.

But if you hear something kooky like that from many different sources, does that make it true?

Alton Brown is back on the road in "Feasting on Asphalt" on the Food Network. This year, they're riding up the Mississippi River, starting in New Orleans. In the first episode, AB was in a seafood shop, and noticed the bags of water hanging from the ceiling. Sure enough, the proprietor told him the bags were keeping the flies away!

Here's a pseudo-scientific explanation. Believe what you will. (Having been to Rudy's and met up with some flies that clearly weren't intimidated by the bags of water, I'm still not convinced that it works!) And here's another article specifying that "Scientists say the method has no real merit..." So it's still up for debate.