Thursday, January 01, 2009

The End

I haven't been posting here much, as you may have noticed.

The thing is, I don't think I'm a very good writer, and I don't know that I have all that much to say. I have the occasional desire to rant, but I don't know that that justifies having a blog.

The sock monkeys that I have been making have proved to be very popular. So, I'm going to try my hand at selling them online and see where that goes. I'm dropping the psuedonym and starting a new blog. I have opened an etsy store (though not with any inventory, yet) and my new blog will mostly be a place where I can showcase the monkeys I've made that already have homes, though I will also keep writing from time-to-time on random topics.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Girls' Guide: Winter Shoe Care

Hi Rita! i found you through eastside bride, who sent me to alphamom, where you commented on leather shoes in the winter. i'm moving to chicago from LA in january and trying to figure out what kind of shoes to get. i'd like to get a pair of brown leather boots but don't want to get them ruined. i found one that is already waterproof. would that protect against the salt? and if i got non-waterproof ones, would all i need to do is water proof spray them? please help!

Hi Tealeaf! Chicago is a big change from LA. If you are going to live or work downtown, you will be doing a lot more walking in a wider variety of weather. Protecting your shoes is a necessity.

I'm a little skeptical of leather shoes that say they are waterproof - it just seems odd to me. However, if they are, fantastic, but giving them a little extra help would still be a good idea. Protecting any shoes - leather, suede or fabric - will make them last longer and keep your feet dryer.

For my leather boots - the more rugged ones that help me hike through snow and the fancy knee-high variety - I use Penguin Himalaya Wax. I don't remember where I found it, but the brand isn't really important. It uses bees wax and silicone to keep leather supple and form a protective barrier to keep out snow and, most importantly, salt. Salt will ruin your shoes. It will break down the leather and then, when the snow melts and gets the shoes wet, you'll end up with a white, salty outline of where the shoes were wet. Not cute. Once you use a spray like this, you can just use a rag to wipe off any dirt or debris that your shoes collect.

Only use wax-based products on smooth leather. They will ruin suede or fabric. Also, it is a good idea to apply the spray outside, if possible, as it can get kind of fume-y. If you can't do it outside, spread some newspaper on the floor, and cover a good, wide area. This spray is obviously not good for carpets, and it will make hardwood floors super-slick. If your shoes look a little dull once the spray dries, just give them a quick buff with a soft, clean cloth.

For suede, you have to find a spray that says it is for leather and fabric shoes - for some reason, a lot of them don't specify that it is safe for suede. However, the ones that are NOT ok will say, in big, bold letters "NOT SAFE FOR SUEDE AND NUBUCK." I really liked the stuff that Aerosoles sells, and I've also used Kiwi Protect-all. Again, you spray it on, let it dry, and then when you run into salt or other dirt, you can just wipe it off when you get home.

Protect your shoes around now, before winter really gets going, and try to keep them clean. You want to keep an eye out to see if the spray is starting to wear off, but I usually just apply it in the fall. If it is a long winter, you might need to go again, depending on how often you wear your shoes. At the end of the season, really wipe them down to make sure there is no dirt hanging around. Stuff tall boots with newspaper to help them keep their shape while in storage. Next fall, start over again, reapply the protecting spray. You can easily extend the life of your shoes by protecting them at the start of the winter.

I hope this helps. Welcome to Chicago!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

75 Books Every Woman Must Read

Jezebel just posted the 75 books every woman must read. Here's their list (with the ones I've read in orange, plus some comments):

The Lottery (and Other Stories), Shirley Jackson
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
White Teeth, Zadie Smith
The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende
Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion (Didion is an amazing writer. Before her, I never read non-fiction. Her prose is beautiful)
Excellent Women, Barbara Pym
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys (Read this in college, shortly after reading Jane Eyre. Our whole class was in love with Rochester, and did not want to hear Bertha's slander of him. All the same, this is a truly lovely book)
The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
Beloved, Toni Morrison (I actually think I've read this, but I'm not sure).
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
Like Life, Lorrie Moore
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (Probably one of my all-time favorites. I have read it many times, and it still brings me to tears. Also one of the few successful film adaptions - the BBC/Colin Firth version, obviously)
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
The Delta of Venus, Anais Nin
A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley
A Good Man Is Hard To Find (and Other Stories), Flannery O'Connor
The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx
You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down, Alice Walker
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston (Awesome. If you haven't read this, read it before any other on this list. Except Pride and Prejudice)
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Fear of Flying, Erica Jong
Earthly Paradise, Colette
Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt
Property, Valerie Martin
Middlemarch, George Eliot
Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid

The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir (I was a philosophy major in college. I read most of this, but not, technically, all of it. I was so pissed to find Borders had categorized this as Wellness>Women's Studies, and not with the other philosophy books. They still categorize it this way and, while I sort of get it, I also hate it)
Runaway, Alice Munro
The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
You Must Remember This, Joyce Carol Oates
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Bad Behavior, Mary Gaitskill
The Liars' Club, Mary Karr
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith
And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie (I love mysteries of any sort)
Bastard out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
The Little Disturbances of Man, Grace Paley
The Portable Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker (I wish I was as witty as Parker. She is my literary hero)
The Group, Mary McCarthy (McCarthy is under-appreciated)

Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (Surprisingly, this book has one of the most accurate descriptions of the feelings of loss after a loved one dies that I have ever read)
Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag
In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez
The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
Three Junes, Julia Glass
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft
Sophie's Choice, William Styron
Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
Love in a Cold Climate, Nancy Mitford
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (I read this in sixth grade, and can still remember finishing it, under the covers, around 3am, because I couldn't put it down. I had heard that line "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." my whole life, and never would have thought it could possibly be as devastating as it was to actually read it)
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
The Face of War, Martha Gellhorn
My Antonia, Willa Cather
Love In The Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Harsh Voice, Rebecca West
Spending, Mary Gordon
The Lover, Marguerite Duras
The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
Tell Me a Riddle, Tillie Olsen
Nightwood, Djuna Barnes
Three Lives, Gertrude Stein
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
Possession, A.S. Byatt

Sunday, September 14, 2008

T-Mobile, You Make Me Sad

I just sent a long and rambling e-mail to T-Mobile's customer support. I doubt I'll get a response, but we'll see.

I have been using a phone that I got in 2003. I had briefly switched to a Razr that a friend unlocked for me, but it stopped getting software updates and was getting buggy. I switched back and am generally happy with the old phone, but the call quality is not as good as I would like it to be and I am eligible for an upgrade, so I started looking for new phones.

I finally found one I liked and went to order it online. That's when I discovered that T-Mobile has instituted an $18 upgrade fee. This is not new news, but it was new to me. T-Mobile support says that the fee is for shipping and handling, which they advertise as free, but that first link indicated that it is really to offset the cost of subsidized phones for new customers.

I like to get myself all worked up over things like this. I am a firm believer that customer service is more important than saving a few bucks. I have no idea if T-Mobile is the best carrier, has the best network, or the cheapest prices. They did have very reasonable prices when I signed up, but that was in 2001 and might not be true anymore. I stayed with them because of their customer service. Now, I'm annoyed. Here's my complaint:

I have been a loyal T-Mobile customer since 2001. In 2005, I convinced my husband to switch to T-Mobile. I have stayed with T-Mobile, and recommended you to others, because of your customer service.

I haven't upgraded my phone in at least two years, and was surprised when I went to checkout and saw the $18 upgrade fee.

Your website says the fee is for the administrative costs of an upgrade - shipping and handling. But choosing the express shipping, which is not “free,” doesn’t eliminate the charge. Shipping UPS ground from Albuquerque, NM to Des Plaines, IL (where I live) is $10.03. Since I'm ordering online, and not on the phone with a person whose salary you have to pay, it is clear this is not a handling charge.

After some searching, I see that the fee was established in November, 2007, and is generally assumed to offset the cost of subsidized phones for new customers. This is poor business planning on your part. I am willing to sign up for a new, two-year contract to get a new phone. My contract costs should cover the cost of the phone over time and, given my history of staying with one phone for much longer than my contract time and rarely using even half of my plan minutes, I think you are getting a pretty good deal with me as a customer. I pay my bills on time, use less of your services than I pay for, and rarely ask for new phones.

Since my contract has expired, there is no reason for me not to look for another carrier, where I won't have to pay an extra fee for a new phone. This fee shows disrespect for your customer and erases all of the goodwill my previous experiences have created. It is easy to charge the same fees your competitors are charging, but, by joining them, you’ve eliminated what distinguished T-Mobile from the others in the first place. I hope someone over there comes to their senses and eliminates this fee. Until then, I’ll stick with my old phone and start shopping around for another network.
We'll see if I hear anything from them, but I doubt it.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Things I do for my Team

This is one of the images I was thinking of using for fantasy football trophies. This picture of Dave Wannstedt has to be hosted somewhere, and it doesn't seem to work from where I found it. Basically, this post is just so that I have a place to save this picture. Enjoy!