Wednesday, December 30

A Card From Christmas Past

As I was taking down Christmas cards and setting some aside, my husband remarked at me saving them. I am not a saver of things by nature, but if you write me a note in a Christmas card, it’s getting saved and put away with the decorations.

Today as I was flipping through cards from Christmases past, I thought of all the senders who aren’t on this planet anymore and the ones who were yet to be that started showing up on later cards. In addition some folks aren’t with the ones they started out with and now send cards from the current loved ones they are with. Look back, and I’m sure you’ll find that same instances with your friends and family.

One particular card I picked up said, “For Grandson and His Wife at Christmas.” Excited, knowing it was from my husband’s grandparents, Papau and Mamau, I read her handwritten note: “Hi you two. Heard you moved back to Buffalo. Sorry you couldn’t make it up to see us; maybe next year. I know your mom has told you about Papau. He’s still sore but getting better. When you get as old as we are, it takes longer to heal. Rick and Ginger, we love you both and wish you all the luck and happiness in the world. Be good and take care of each other. Love, Papau and Mamau”

I have no idea now what ailment Papau endured, but we enjoyed many more years with both of them in our lives, and when Mamau took leave of this planet, Papau moved in with my mother-in-law so we got to see him quite a bit.

They were two of the coolest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Even into their seventies that sat close together like teenagers and held hands. Every time we’d see them they’d warn us to never get old. While we have no choice in that matter, we can surely “be good, and take care of each other.” Merry Christmas, Mamau and Papau.


Vacation. You can leave a physical place or vanish from your daily routine.

I am in the midst of my end-of-year vacation and am enjoying a good mix of things. I’ve gotten up early and slept in late. I’m staying up late right now. I’ve had lunch with a dear friend, and I’ve eaten fantastic leftovers at home consisting of Christmas ham, white cheddar with chipotle peppers and cranberries in it all topped with onions and grilled on seven-grain bread. I eaten a bit of my dad’s homemade peanut butter fudge every day. This afternoon I did an entire clean sweep of one room in my basement and started the keep, trash and donate piles.

Before I left work, a coworker asked what I would be doing with my days off. I responded, “Two things. 1. Do nothing. 2. Do whatever I want.” It’s working out well so far.

Sunday, December 27

Christmas Present

My husband and I are back to our serene life after three days of wild family merriment, and the afterglow is a ribbon of warm pink weaving through this day after. I am so grateful to everyone who made my Christmas one of the merriest. The synergistic effect of all these individuals - my mom and dad, husband, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, brother-in-law and one to be, nieces, nephew, sister and brothers and even the sometimes maddening (for me) dogs and cats - creates a boisterous experience that is not to be missed.

As a kid, the culmination of Christmas was that fantastic plastic or stuffed creation that I’d been yearning for all year long. Now it’s about the fresh baked stuffed mushrooms and thumbprint meatballs made by my dad, pumpkin pie fit for the Gods, walking dogs with my niece and sister-in-law on a mild Christmas Eve afternoon while we terrorize them with Christmas caroling, a gift exchange that makes you appreciate your family’s cleverness and creativity as much as the gift, playing Scattergories and sucking at it, laughter, miscommunication, feeling stupid and more laughter, surprise gifts like the Miracle-Gro my parents got for our Norfolk Pine named Wilson (the only other living creature in our house with a name), homemade fudge from my grandmother’s recipe, more homemade fudge...and truffles even, making crunchy French toast with my brother while my dad sizzles bacon and the wonderful smell that ensues, the smell of dinner later (can someone create an aroma recorder, please?), sharing wine made from sweet Niagara grapes in tiny tasting cups, brunch with my in-laws on Christmas Eve morning, the lovely glass vase my husband saw me admiring in the fall, getting him the thin soft scarf he’s been pining for, love, love, love in spite of imperfection and finally not dwelling on Decembers past. It really is all about the Christmas present.

How I Survived Christmas

My apologies to Christmas, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s like running a half marathon instead of a full - all the fun, half the stress. Like running a half marathon though, it’s half the gratification. Christmas makes you put in all the work, and sometimes when you prepare as you should and all the elements are with you, you get to the finish line feeling really, really good. This Christmas gave me that all-smiles, I-can-stop-now, boy-this-has-been-a-lot-of-fun feeling.

Past Decembers have had some really dark spots for my family. Some events were depressing beyond words. The bright lights and merriment barely made a dent. This year, I found my way through the fog. Here are some things that helped:
1. Gift Ideas List.
Early in the year and every time I heard someone mention something they would like or need, I added it to my Gifts-to-Be list under their name on my iPhone. Or I added things I just know they like in general. When gift-buying time came, it made it much easier. Yes, it may be the thought the counts, but you’ve got to put some effort into the thought.

2. Baking.
When I still had too much to do or sad memories began to creep in, I baked. And I remembered how much I like doing it. There is something immensely satisfying about creating something from nothing in just an hour or two. Spreading a little confectionery cheer is also very smile inducing. Seven kinds of cookies and two pans of gingerbread put me right in the spirit. I also worked the baking right into stocking stuffers so everyone got a colorful one-of-a-kind gingerbread cookie. My inspiration was Starbucks' cute polar bear cut-out. I went with mittens and Christmas cows. It was so much fun.

3. Putting up the Tree.
This seems like a no-brainer, but some years the weeks were just flying by, it became mid-December and “What’s the point?” won out over other thoughts. This year I had to get it up before my cookie party so the house would be all festive. Being a designer, I pride myself on never missing a deadline; it works for more than just projects.

4. Inviting People Over.
Inviting people over made me put up all my lovely decorations (mostly made by my mom), forced me to keep the house spic-n-span and somehow made this month feel less rushed as I baked with friends, had dinner and watched movies with others and enjoyed a whole weekend with my parents and mother-in-law in which we enjoyed a walk in the park to feed chickadees by hand and a TubaChristmas concert that was a couple of the most enjoyable hours of the month.

If you were ever a Girl Scout like me, you learned the secret to life at an early age: Be Prepared. Or at least give it your best effort.

Tuesday, December 15

Four. Seven. Ten.

4 women. 7 cookie recipes. 10 hours - plus me going on to decorate for two more for an even dozen hours to round out this baking marathon. Rows of snickerdoodles, piles of pizzelles, shallow domes of sour cream cookies and more covered my countertops and the smell of the holy trinity - butter, flour and sugar - permeated the walls of my kitchen. Above are some results from my semi-annual* cookie party.

*It takes a hiatus now and again.

Tuesday, December 8

December Thaw

My tree is up, lit and decorated and has been for a week. If you are a Christmas-celebrator, yours is probably up, too, and you might wonder, “What’s the big deal?” I’ve been a humbug, a scrooge, opposite of in-the-holiday-spirit for a couple of years and even the years the tree went up, I often found it a chore.

I used to have an annual cookie party that has been on a two- or three-year hiatus. This Saturday it will be back, and it’s going to be the best one yet. My friends and I often bake from sunup to sundown and eat butter, sugar and dough for lunch. This year we will take it slower, have an actual lunch of cranberry chicken salad on croissants, and I’m going to have the frosting made ahead of time. Snickerdoodles, my specialty, will be the first cookies in the oven.

What has happened exactly to bring on this holly-jolly?

It’s warm, people! 30 degrees. Not 10º. Not 10º below. November was filled with 40 and 50 degree days, and while the temperatures are dropping, my holiday spirit didn’t get frozen solid before December got here. It’s as good a reason as any.

Sunday, August 30

Looks Like Rain

Every day this summer it seems to have rained or looked like it was going to. Despite that, I have really soaked up every last downward spiraling blob.

Wednesday, August 26

Size Matters

In the world of clothing sizes, I am no longer average. I'm pretty sure I was average once, wearing a solid 7/8 all my teenage years. I can still wear my old high school clothes. (Commence grumbling.) But I do all kinds of things I think are fun to keep fit. Anyway, this post is about clothing sizes, and I needed to give you some background. My point is I have not changed size, but when I look for clothes now, I'm anywhere from a 0 to a 4. What gives? Does seeing a smaller size on a pair of jeans fool anyone? I think not. Same with something costing .99 cents. You and I both know that's a dollar. Trickery.

I am finding it nearly impossible to find clothes that fit in the women's section so I have been shopping in teens for years. Tonight I had a breakthrough after not finding anything there. Girls! Yes, I found two pairs of size 16 jeans that fit like they were tailored for me. The epiphany came when I remembered a favorite pair of capris I have were my niece's; she was tired of them. I figure in another decade I'll be solidly into children's sizes.

Thursday, August 20


This year has been filled with road and rail travel, well, filled compared to any other year. It's no wonder I'm still painting my kitchen cabinets and have yet to move on to the walls.

Here's a list of places I've been so far in 2009:
1. New York City
2. Buffalo
3. Boston
4. Boston (again)
5. Reston, VA
6. Washington D.C.
7. Corning
8. Toronto

I'd like a nice Top Ten. Boston can count as one, and Reston and Washington are so close let's count them as one as well so there are four slots to be filled by a world of possibilities.

I'd take any of these candidates:
1. Kailua, HI
2. Venice, Italy
3. Seattle, WA
4. Lancaster, CA (to drive the musical road, of course)

Wednesday, June 17

A Sail of Glass

Over the weekend my mom and I attended the Glass Art Society Conference in Corning, New York at the Corning Museum of Glass. If you've never had the chance to go and you enjoy glass even a tiny bit, put it on your to-do list. If you think you'll be back, ask for an Admission Only membership. It doesn't cost any more and will let you in for free the rest of the year! This image is one I took of a piece that was part of a one-night art installation on the bridge between town and the museum.

6 x 6 x 2009

A local gallery has a fundraiser every year where local artists and those who want to be donate a 6" x 6" piece of art. They sell them for $20 each to keep the gallery afloat for the next year. It's an inclusive, fun, community event. Above is my piece: Quiet Like Bananas Are Quiet.

I thought about taking it into the computer - and may still - to make it all polished and flashy, but I wanted someone to buy a piece of art that was actually touched by the artist during creation. That's what makes paintings so much better than prints of course. Have you ever seen an actual van Gogh? The texture is amazing!

Friday, May 29

Maira Kalman: And the Pursuit of Happiness

Sometimes I come across something wonderful and horrible and amazing. Today it was this New York Times blog post written and illustrated by Maira Kalman. I love her art, her words and her sentiments like, "Don't we need both the warriors and artists on this planet?" and "Everyone is beautiful. Everyone makes you proud. Everyone breaks your heart." Okay, I liked every word and brush stroke.

Monday, May 18

Eat, Sleep, Draw

This shoe is probably the best sketch I've done. I hadn't sat down to just draw in a long time and signed up for a class so I would have to. So conditioned am I as a graphic designer, I tend to crave that deadline. The teacher set up this still life with a spotlight and we drew in the dimness. Who wore it? Where did they go? How many public restrooms had the shoe hurried into? Did that shoe get to dance? I wondered these things, and I loved drawing this shoe.

Everyone learns to draw. Then most of us stop. I sometimes forget what a pleasure it is to look, really look, at a leaf, a person, a dream and transcribe it to paper. The process is as magical as a photograph appearing in a bath of darkroom chemicals - maybe more so because the subject is not captured by technology, but by a being.

Synapses fire off to make the finger hold the pencil, jog the line, darken a shadow, while the eyes record what they see to create an image filtered through thought. Click here to see the magic.

Saturday, May 16


When you are around someone who is bettering themselves in some way, education, fitness, etc., it is hard not to get inspired. Or at least feel inadequate or lazy or both for not doing something to move toward your goals. My husband has acquired a couple Microsoft certifications and is taking a course twice a week to learn C# (sharp not pound, apparently) and .net programming, things I cannot hope to ever understand. I've run a few marathons so I'm crushing him on the fitness (though he's not unfit as I've wrangled him into some 5Ks), but it's time to work a body part I've been neglecting.

I've been a graphic designer for over a decade, but as with most professions, there is always something new to learn - and thank goodness. A month ago I downloaded a 10-week Photoshop webinar and am finally nibbling away at the one-hour classes with accompanying one-hour Q and A. For perspective, I now have to admit a guilty pleasure: I loved school. I loved college. Being in a class is one of my favorite things. I was really disappointed I couldn't take this Photoshop course when it was offered live and was really worried it would be dry and feel less interactive. Maybe that's why I put it off for a while. It turns out that it's wonderful.

The instructor, Jason Hoppe, is excellent; he is concise, entertaining and dispenses so much knowledge about Photoshop it could fill an Egyptian pyramid. As someone who uses the CS3 version of this program, I'm in an excellent spot to soak up more efficient ways to do the things I know, learn some new techniques, see how things work in CS4 (the version used in this course) and get a refresher on skills I learned once but don't have the opportunity to do often. It's like taking toothpaste to tarnished silver; try it - it will shine like new.

As a lover of learning, my second favorite thing is sharing what I've learned. I often e-mail my coworkers tips and tricks. Some they already know and some they don't, but I figure if we all get faster, we have more time for the fun part - being creative! There are so many things I've picked up from this course, such as holding the option key (alt on the PC) while clicking on the eyeball icon on one layer will turn all the other layers off for instant before and after comparison. Fab-u-lous!

This course is still available here. Download all 10 weeks for $65 or just the weeks you want for $15 each. CreativeTechs, a Seattle-based professional Mac support company, is who produces this course and others. Visit their blog for all kinds of useful Mac/design-related information. You can also follow them on Twitter: @creativetechs. Am I in some way affiliated with CreativeTechs? No. I just want you to get better.

Monday, May 4

SharePoint Saturday, D.C.

I don't use SharePoint. I have just a basic idea of what it does. Who knew it would take me on a variety of road trips and lead to fun excursions at the destinations? While Rick packs his brain all day at SharePoint sessions, I meander around wherever I am until we meet up with the group later to go out and have fun.

I have now tagged along to two SharePoint Saturday weekends - one in Boston, one in D.C. - or to be more precise, the surprisingly fun suburbs of Waltham, MA and Reston, VA. In Boston last month, I set out on foot and didn't stop until five hours later and then just to have some lunch. While in D.C. this past weekend, we headed into the city to experience the monuments at night. The cherry blossoms littered the ground like delicate pink confetti as we walked from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington, the spring night air was perfect and the company highly entertaining and welcoming to a non-SharePointer. From an impromptu light saber duel during which a stranger sidled up and joined in for a few jabs to lying at the base of the Washington monument to look up at the top, it had the air of a senior trip. Maybe that's because my senior trip - way back in the day - was there though our bus driver got lost, and we didn't get to all our designated stops.

Rick is really motivated as a user of SharePoint to learn all he can and then share what he knows via blogging and presenting. I had a small epiphany today about getting certified in the design programs I use. Perhaps I could eventually train people if I headed in that direction. It could be worth the mental road trip.

Tuesday, April 14

Thank You Fold-Down Seat Inventor

I have a bike rack. I just decided it would be easier if my bike could
go in my car, and those sweet fold-down seats did not let me down -

If the person who invented them stumbles by my blog and reads
this, I think you deserve a Pulitzer prize. You made it possible for
me to get to a trail where I didn't have to worry about traffic. You
made it possible for me to ride helmet-free, the wind in my hair -
without the usual guilt I'd feel about being turned into a vegetable
for my husband to feed if I were braving the road and got unlucky.
Simply put, you make my life - and those of countless other fold-down
seat owners - better.

Note: For those of you thinking I should be wearing a helmet anyway, it was not a mountain biking trail, but one of those rails-to-trails trails. If you think I should still be wearing a helmet, I'm just glad you haven't gotten a law passed against it for people my age because this normally law-abiding person would break it.

Saturday, April 4

Getting it Done

It's been another busy week where the majority of the time spent at home was with my eyes closed. Tonight B and I stayed in. I dialed on the dishwasher, got two loads of laundry done and - miracle of miracles - put away, went to the gym, had wonderful conversations with B, got my mom's birthday present, downloaded an online Photoshop course to expand upon my skills, updated apps on my iPhone, made the grocery list because our fridge looks like a bachelor lives here and picked up the last drawer pull we needed for the kitchen and returned some wrong size screws that I'd bought. Whew. Still there are plenty of things that need doing like cleaning the bathroom, putting the dishes away, grocery's just never ending isn't it?

Monday, March 30


I have trouble connecting things. I hesitate. But some things you have to go right into. For example, when you do a round-off back handspring it is no where near the same thing as doing one round-off or one back handspring. The round-off back handspring is all one creature. The middle is not "pause, bend knees, sit back, JUMP!" It's "land/punch the floor with toes while jumping backward." Fast.

No time for thought - only do.

I am so bad at do because of that lack of time for thought. In the end, that is my downfall because thoughts lead to fear and fear leads to hesitation and hesitation leads to failure. I must try to trust that physical plane and push the mental one out of the way. My brain may be the least flexible part of me because it is the only one that understands the danger I'm putting the rest of the parts in. Understandable brain, but it's unacceptable. Get out of my way.

Saturday, March 28

I <3 Anemones

It was a lovely day at Boston's New England Aquarium with my folks. My
mom had the fine idea of going, and it's well worth the trip. But go
on a Tuesday - like that commercial that's on right now suggests. By
noon there were more people than fish!

One of my favorite things was this first tank we spent about 15
minutes at. Anemones are such fantastic creatures. I was more excited
to see them than the fish.

The jellyfish special exhibit was excellent. They were the only
creatures I was glad to be seperated from by glass. Apparently
jellyfish are psyched about global warming because they are very
adaptive and thriving. There were penguins, but it's sad to see them
stuck inside. Myrtle, a 70-80-year-old sea turtle so large you
couldn't get it in the back seat of your car, is also in residence.

Wednesday, March 25

Over the Hump

Do you ever get in a better mood seemingly for no reason? That happened me today. I've been deducing that it's Wednesday's proximity to Friday. Or maybe it's because I signed up for a free online course to understand why colors in Photoshop don't print the same as the exact colors in InDesign. Other bright spots on the horizon are that I'm going to wash the winter filth off my car today, and I plan on baking snickerdoodles when I get home. The cookie baking will be very exciting because I just got a new gas stove...with a window!

Maybe I'm just in a good mood because there are immediate things to
look forward to.

Tuesday, March 24

Green Things

Things secret and green are poking up into the world. I extend a tentative finger, touching each one. Hello. They are strong and like upside down divers, hands thrust toward the sun.

The beginnings of daffodils and tulips spear through last autumn's leaves. The weeds are still weeks away, and the rain will provide these first flowers with all the water they need. This is the time that I love my garden. Bulbs I buried under winters long past push through all the dirt and leaves that have been heaped upon them.

Slumbering in silence, shoving aside misconceptions like here there be no flowers, believing there is light in the direction they are heading and standing tall and bright through - and because of - all the rain - this is the ethos of green things.

Wednesday, March 18

"Sit, Ubu, Sit"

I was looking for the Eat, Pray, Love book when I came across Sit, Ubu, Sit by Gary David Goldberg. Gary is the guy that created Family Ties, and this is the story of how that happened, the story of his life.

B and I recently took a road trip to Boston, and since my stereo is too old to know what an iPhone is, I became the audiobook and read it as we traversed the interstate. It was so much fun to read aloud, and B loved hearing the tale unfold. It is clever and upbeat; a love story with life's anvils-dropped-from-high-places thrown in. You know when you're reading sad parts to yourself, and if you're the stoic sort, your eyes may well up a bit, but you just keep reading? There were two spots where I could hardly read aloud. Damn. Dragging emotion outta me. Okay, Gary, you're good, and your story is wonderful, and if nothing as amazing as creating a hit TV show is in my future at least I've got the love of my life with me for whatever comes.

Tuesday, February 24

It's Been Days

It's been days, nay, over a week since my last post! What shall I share with you this time? If you're like me, you've thought about throwing a paper airplane out of a skyscraper. Here's a video of someone who did and recorded their craft's beautiful flight from take-off to landing.

Saturday, February 14

More Than Chocolates and Flowers

Valentine's Day. Is it contrived? Do you hate it? Do you write a mushy note to your sweetheart? People go all out with romantic getaway weekends with their significant others or swing to the other end of the spectrum to put together highly entertaining anti-Valentine playlists and celebrate the anti-holiday. Me, I'm a sucker for the mushy stuff, and I think anti stuff is fun, too.

Whatever your feelings, this day is about love. Maybe you love the diner down the street and the friendly owners who work hard to make it so inviting. Maybe it's a book that you love written by someone who spent days tapping their thoughts out. Maybe it's that person who lies down next to you at the end of each day. Surely you are not anti those things so broaden your Valentine definition to include more than honey-snuggling if you don't have a honey to snuggle.

I say celebrate. Go to that diner. Pick up that book. Write a goofy note to that person who embraces your imperfections. Love and you will find it.

Sunday, February 8

Fun With Family

That's Grandpop, a cast of a Giant Tortoise that used to live at the Buffalo Zoo and still lives on in memory at the Buffalo Museum of Science. The last time I saw him - well, his cast - was probably twenty years ago.

Saturday B and I met my parents for breakfast and to spend the day in Buffalo. We'll often end up at a movie or just wandering the Galleria, but my mom asked, "How about we go to the science museum?" What a great idea. We had such a good time. The funny thing is the last time I was there was with them and my brothers and sister in the family minivan, back when minivans were kind of a new thing. It was nostalgic and quiet at first because we got there within a half hour of them opening.

The two exhibits that I remember most are this turtle and the pendulum. You can see it on the first floor and then run up to the second floor to look down at it swinging back and forth. They start it swinging in one direction every day and if you check it out after you've been there a few hours, it appears to have changed direction when in fact it's just that the Earth has spun that much.

Monday, February 2

Winter Without End

It's staying lighter longer, but it's still hard to remember days warm
enough to wear a t-shirt right now. When it is reasonably warm, I make
the most of the snow on cross country skiis and my snowboard. Fun as
it is to go flying down a hill, my thoughts keep turning to
surfing...wishing that still, cold slope was the surging, warm ocean
beneath me.

Is it possible one trip to Hawaii has ruined me forever? B is also
done with winter. The only problem is winter is hardly done with us.

Hopefully we will have another day of just the right amount of snow
and warmth to get to this spot pictured. The trail flanked on either
side by maples and hawthorns leads into a grove of pines filled with
shadow and sunlight. It's the kind of place you get quiet in; like
entering a church but better.

Sunday, January 25

No Sunday Blues

All the Sunday life maintenance stuff is done: garbage collected, fresh towels up, fresh sheets on, lunch made, clothes out for tomorrow and (ugh) alarm set. Now I'm about to chill and read some more of Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach. Her writing is witty and always chock full of fascinating facts and stories. A previous book, Stiff, is one of my absolute favorites. So the prospect of reading makes me happy plus I'm really excited to show off some logo design ideas on Tuesday for the place I just started rowing at. There was a quote in the movie A Family Thing that goes something like, "Being happy ain't nothing more than having something to look forward to."

Wednesday, January 21


What a momentous and hope-filled day. I don't know how Barack is still awake let alone lively looking. I am whooped. It's a let's-see-how-many-sports-I-can-fit-in-one-week kind of week. Sunday - 1.25 hours cross country skiing. Monday - 1.25 hours cross country skiing. Tuesday - 1.5 hours rowing (my first class, indoor tank, way fun). Wednesday - 1.5 hours gymnastics. I'll throw a run in eventually just to show off or maybe I'll just pedal to a podcast at the gym.

Waking up is not pleasant. I have a strong suspicion that bending legs to lift them tomorrow is going to be especially unpleasant. I will sleep well though - from sheer exhaustion and with happy thoughts of the Obamas doing the same in the White House.

Sunday, January 18

Hello Monster

This is my new iPhone wallpaper. Isn't he cute? He makes me smile every time I turn it on. You can get him or some other one that strikes your fancy here.

If you like design and illustration consider making this your go-to place for amazing quality desktop wallpapers.

Wednesday, January 14

Ha ha haaaa ha ha

A friend sent me an email today that had the kind of joke in it that most people are like "meh" about while it makes me laugh later in the day just thinking about it.


If a fly didn't have wings, would it be called a walk?

See? I can just with my face 6" from the screen because I took my contacts out before I thought of posting this. That's funny, too, no? Fellow myopics, do you ever think about how we would be the village idiots way back in the day?

Saturday, January 10

Saturday + Shark Bites

It's a typical sleep-in Saturday. Breakfast is consumed, fresh towels and sheets, light cleaning and basic life maintenance tasks are ensuing.

I sure would like to get out and enjoy this winter day, but the snow is crusty and it's too darn cold! Now, I am a hardy sort folks. I went cross country skiing at the park yesterday and ended up having to put my toes in warm water when I got home. Visions of surfing danced in my head as I scraped through the forest. It occurred to me that both sports risk body parts: surfing to shark lunch and skiing to frostbite. It also occurred to me that I'd rather have my toe bitten off than frozen off simply because the environment - delicious warmth, sweet ocean, beautiful beach - is a way more pleasant place to have something go horribly wrong. (Of course I could lose more than a toe surfing, but let's not think about that.) Sure, it could be argued that I could simply stay inside to avoid potential frost bite, but that's like saying stay out of the ocean so you don't drown and whatnot. The risk is worth the pleasure of living.

Tuesday, January 6

Things I Learned Today

1) Female ducks have vaginae that spiral with some tubes that are dead ends.

2) Male ducks have penises shaped like corkscrews - that go the opposite way.
(Click here 'cause you know you gotta see this.)

3) Humans who are asked to remember a seven-digit number and then interrupted to see if they want chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit, will most often choose the cake.

4) Humans who are asked to remember a two-digit number and then interrupted to make the same choice almost always choose the fruit.

5) The reason for #3 is because so much of the brain is being used to remember the longer number that the snack decision is made more on feeling than analysis, and that feeling is, "I want chocolate cake!" The folks who only have to remember 2 digits have more analytical power left to think that the fruit will be better for them, less calories, etc.

Where did I learn all this amazing stuff? From WNYC Radio Lab - my new favorite podcast. iTunes describes it: Science meets culture and information sounds like music. Each episode of Radio Lab is an investigation - a patchwork of people, sounds, stories and experiences centered around One Big Idea.

These particular episodes are entitled Sperm and Choice respectively. Go check them out! And see, that chocolate cake picture wasn't as misleading as you at first thought. This is an actual dessert that B had at Max Brenner's in New York City Last week called The Golden Heart. Mine was similar but had raspberries instead of bananas. I'll have fruit and cake whether I am trying to remember number or not!

Friday, January 2

Instant Gratification

The weather looked relatively mild in New York City, and I could not fit one more thing in my bag so I decided to leave my hat at home. It's a pretty hat, handmade and knit in the colors of the sunrise: orange, purple and pink. One evening I spent a couple hours looking for it on

The first day was tolerable walking under gray skies and through the chilly air and so was the second. The third day, New Year's Eve, B and I ventured down to Times Square in the afternoon. We had plans to be inside and warm dining with friends in the evening, but right then the snow had started blowing, the wind was making me squint, I was longing for the hat I had left within arm's reach as we headed out the door three days ago.

B, ever the voice of reason, points out that I could just buy another hat. This kind of thing is irksome when i already own a perfectly good hat, but he is right. So without a Dick's Sporting Goods or EMS in sight, we go into a Gap. Times Square is already filling up with merrymakers, the weather is forcast to feel like 0, and I'm thinking pickings will be slim. They are. I tried on a toddler's hat as I have a small head (don't worry - it's proportionate to the body), but it was just a touch short.

Back into the arctic wind again, we spot a sidewalk vendor ahead selling those cute hats that come over your ears with the braided strings hanging down. I always wanted one of those! The first one I try on is really cute so I try on five more and end up getting the first one. B pays the vendor, and I pull my pretty new hat in cream, olive and deep orange snuggly over my head. Instantly the blowing wind is hushed, my hair isn't blowing into my mouth and my head is warm. There is something intensely gratifying about buying something precisely when you need it. Buying a hat for the possibility of frozen earlobes isn't nearly as delightful as providing immediate relief for ones that already are.