Saturday, March 13, 2004

Oh-So-Open Marriage

Whenever a guy says he has an open marriage, I say, "Oh yeah? Anybody tell your wife yet?"

Spring Cleaning: Desktops

Oh, hell. I thought I was GETTING SOMEWHERE with this cleaning business, but I was thinking macro, not micro. A reader sent me a picture of her desk area, teasing me that the picture I posted of my desk last week was so clean and pretty and how did I manage to have such a lovely desk. Well, first of all, that "desk" is my dining room table, so it's a cheat picture. I have an office and a desk, that's a perfect tornado of papers, believe me. So there's a lot to do in there and I will start the big dig soon -- especially as a big bunch of the paper swirl is required for my taxes.

Her picture nearly blew out my mailbox which is at near 90% capacity. I keep a very tiny email inbox just for that reason, so I'm forced on a regular basis to give a lot of old messages the big heave-ho. So add that to my cleanup list.

And how about the desktop of this computer? WHAT A MESS! Time to get some e-trash bags (new folders) set up and make a clean sweep of the thing.

Spring Cleaning: Trash Bags

I have a myriad of trash bags. I have big black plastic ones with red drawstring handles cleverly woven through the top waistband of the thing. I have equally big-sized clear plastic ones. The clear plastic ones are the best thing for too small clothes headed for the GoodWill Charity Donation Box. I have trash compactor bags, which always leave me wondering why the hell flat trash is better than not-so-flat trash. They are white and half the size of the big bags.

Spring Cleaning: Ant

I wonder if normal people -- not writers like me -- can vacuum their rug, suck up a bunch of cookie crumbs, then accidently, really really really it was an ACCIDENT, suck up an ant and then NOT spend a good bit of the day imagining what that ant is doing in there and if he was torn limb-from-limb or not and did he happen to find those cookie crumbs and did he head-butt a little comfortable place out, a bit like an ant cave, maybe more like a swinging ant bachelor pad and is dining on those cookies and feeling altogether sanguine that another girl ant might be swept into his lair any minute. Maybe he's having a pretty good day.

But wait.

What I really need to know is if there are normal people who suck up cookie crumbs, suck up an ant, and never think twice about it ever again.

And the big question -- could I become one of those people?

And would that be good?


He needs a little lava lamp.

Spring Cleaning: Maid Brigade

These guys keep leaving flyers on my door handle. Maybe they are trying to tell me something. Maybe I'll splurge and go away for a day and come back to a house they have no weird headtrips about cleaning up from stem to stern.

Spring Cleaning: Psychological Suittcase

Ugh. Don't make me face it. Ugh, on the other hand. Today's a day to face things if ever there was one. Okay, okay.

So the thing is ... it's hard to give things away, harder to throw things away. But there's a need to do it. Time to just let go. We'll be dead one of these days and we won't go merrily along clutching a handful of mismatched socks, or a too small sweater, or a nearly worn out pair of sneakers, that's a guarantee.

Take a look at your things. All your things. Have you made a little wall of things to hide behind? Does it work as a worthy fortress? Nah. I have piles of stuff that seem absolutely silly sitting there.

Is your body holding winter fat, hiding your bones, just as your closet is holding a ton of stuff you just don't need? Close your eyes. If you had to pack a suitcase in the next 10 minutes, with just the stuff you REALLY need for the next week, what would be left over?

I won't say it ... but maybe you want to pack that suitcase and toss the rest.

I'm gonna try to pack my suittcase.

Spring Cleaning: Smell

There's a smell ... not a nice one ... in my kitchen, maybe my fridge. It won't be there for long. I'll get to the bottom of it.

Spring Cleaning: Socks

Up early, sorting clothes, three laundry baskets. Lots of winter stuff that doesn't fit. The kid's stuff doesn't fit SO FAST and you have to learn, as a parent, to let go. After a big sort, biggest pile turns out to be clothes to be given to charity, second biggest pile -- mismatched or never-to-be-matched or just-refused-to-be-mated or recently divorced socks. What a lonely life they lead, but I will be a vigilant matchmaker today.

Friday, March 12, 2004

More Snow More Ice More Rain

What the heck is the story with this weather? And as for the "in like a lion" and "out like a lamb" routine, this March seems to have dragged itself in like stinky wet dog who's been rolling in his own poop. This weather stinks.

Boston Priests Suggest: Don't Eat Weenies

Isn't it a little late for this kind of advice?

My Friday Five

Here's a list of my Friday Five answers, more or less accurate I think:

1. What was the last song you heard?

One Week -- Bare Naked Ladies
It's been one week since you looked at me
Cocked your head to the side and said 'I'm angry'
Five days since you laughed at me saying
'Get that together come back and see me'
Three days since the living room,
I realized it's all my fault, but couldn't tell you
Yesterday you'd forgiven me
But it'll still be two days till I say I'm sorry

2. What were the last two movies you saw?

Lilies Of The Field, Sidney Poitier
Pirates Of The Caribbean, Johnny Depp

3. What were the last three things you purchased?

Tickets for "Fifth Graders' Spagetti Dinner" at my kid's school
Case of Diet Coke

4. What four things do you need to do this weekend?

Taxes -- paper gathering
Scrub kitchen floor
Buy new wooden slat blind to replace broken one
Pay Bills

5. Who are the last five people you talked to?

on phone?

friend in my town
friend out of town
friend out of town

in person?


does IRC count?

and about 100 others

Young Man!

Well I certainly heard from a few young men who didn't like the piece I wrote yesterday about older men. Now, guys ...


Ugh. I have a lot of paper chasing to do, but figure if I get going I might actually get it together. If you've completed yours, you're a genius. For the rest of us, make a stab at it this weekend -- you'll get further than you expect.

My bike sure looks good sitting by the door, ready for Spring. Maybe we'll have more lousy weather and I can get my taxes done.

Thursday, March 11, 2004


Looks like the South By Southwest Conference in Austin will be lots of fun this weekend. Everyone have fun.

Thursday Night Lineup

I almost never watch TV, but check this out:

Will & Grace
Trump's The Apprentice
Lady Di

Perfect trash TV night.

Trump's Apprentice

On tonight and I think I might be hooked. I've only read the site, but it looks so nutty, I can't wait to see the show.

In Praise of Grey

Nothing would help my reputation as I slide ladylike into my later years than dating someone Aston Kutcher-ish, n'est-ce-pas? One of those barely-legal boys who've just learned to hold a pen and are still learning what to do with it. One of those sweet young things who were NOWHERE on the day JFK was assassinated. One of those boykins who are just getting over a crush on their Kindergarden teacher.

I mean, imagine who wears the pants in such a relationship, and who spends most of the time taking them off?

But honestly, they hold no appeal. I don't know why, but I'm really hooked on grey. You can have the biceps, give me bifocals. I mean until a man's at least 50, he just doesn't know the first thing about what he's doing with a woman.

In church, sometimes I'll see a guy in the pew ahead of me who's got those killer greying temples and sideburns, a bit bald and I am half out of my mind -- you should hear me praying loudly "and lead us NOT INTO TEMPTATION" and I mean it. And until a guy's a dad and been through the pure baby hell of up-all-night-marathons and the elementary school insanity of packing lunches and remembering to sign permission slips to field trips to the Zoo -- he's just not my kind of wild animal. Those wrinkly-eyed tired older guys at the PTA meetings, well, I can barely keep my panties in place when I get the chance to study a room full of those hotties. Give me paunch, give me love handles, give me foreplay that starts with both of us unable to read the fine print on the Viagra bottle and a guy who's idea of living dangerously is letting me feed him one too many little blue pills.

Older and wiser, yes, but also keenly aware that we're all gonna die some day soon. No one knows how to live better than someone who's seen some death hanging around and knows his number will be up soon enough. These guys know how to carpe diem and every other sexy practice that we like to refer to in Latin.

They know restaurants. They know the rhumba. They know romance. Yes, they've been around the block. But they can tell you a helluva story about the trip.

So I have to say I'm sorry, young guys, you're all adorable in many ways, but go pick on someone your own age. I want a man with a slow hand, a nice touch of arthritis and all afternoon to tell me about it.

Look Before You Leap

Oh hell, there's a lot of good sense and wisdom in that phrase, isn't there? Not my cup of tea for the most part, but this week I did just that. I could have gone off half-cocked, as they say, on a certain project because I'm just so eager to get it going, but I pulled back and reasoned that there was no reason to rush and the extra time would be well put to use making sure we were really ready to go.

He Who Hesitates Is Lost

For the most part, I subscribe to this worldview more than just about any other. I had a wonderful conversation the other day with Ole Eichhorn about this very thing. We were talking about entrepreneurs and the ones who really HOLD THE SECRET -- which is best summed up in the following statement:


Or as I was kidding around with him saying, "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly." By which I mean, if you have a great idea and don't execute it -- you're nowhere. If you have a great idea and even execute a small part of it and do that BADLY, you're still ahead of the guy who's got the idea knocking around in his head, not in the world. Nothing helps you figure out what to do to make something perfect better than first doing it imperfectly.

We were saying it's a bit like walking through a door -- you just have to get up and walk through that door. Maybe it's a door to a party, and when you walk through, there might be people who don't like you or don't want to talk to you, but WHO CARES!?!?!?! At least you're IN THE PARTY, IN THE GAME,

Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater

Lately, I'm having a big bout of extremism. "This will never happen. That always breaks. This is a disaster. That was a waste of time. Winter will never end. Spring will never be here." It's not like me at all.

I don't know where it's coming from.

Also woke up with the weirdest thought the other morning. I was burrowing around under the covers -- hesitating about getting out of bed on a cold morning -- something normal people often do but I rarely do. I tend to SPRING out of bed most mornings, but I was getting in a funk, and feeling like nothing will ever amount to anything and just feeling hellishly impatient about a lot of things. For some reason I thought, "You know I want to get really good at flossing my teeth, and making them white. That's something I can really get behind." And I started to get really obsessed about the idea. It just seemed like something I can control. I can be sure of a good outcome. Get some of those whitening strips, get a big bundle of dental floss, get all crazy about brushing 10 or 15 times a day with my Oral-B toothbrush and I will have some seriously terrific teeth.

I dragged myself out of bed and the devil side of my brain said, "You are LOSING your mind."

But my angel side said, "Wait a minute, maybe so, but you'll have a fabulous smile in the looney bin."

Which is all to say that it's really easy in these hellish transition times between seasons to get so fed up and impatient about everything in your life, you can find yourself throwing the baby out with the bathwater in a number of areas of your life.

Your diet will never work, so you stuff your face. Your exercise routine will never happen, so you give up completely. That new job will never appear, so you stop looking.

All I can say is STOP! This perilous "in-betweeny" time requires the discipline of a ninja in training to just back off from those feelings of blowing up your best-laid plans. Just help yourself by not freaking out. Keep the baby. And buy some dental floss.

[BTW, I have terrible teeth so I don't know what the heck I'm thinking here. Still if I make even the smallest improvement, I'll be much impressed with myself.]

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day

My kid wanted to know what that meant. We started by talking about bricks and mortar. Not the ebusiness kind. The real kind. I was doing my exercises. On the floor.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Roast Chicken

Mmmm ... really good on a cold night like tonight and then if you take the leftover pieces and save them for a Chinese Chicken Salad for the next day, really a treat. My Chinese mother-in-law taught me how to roast a chicken on very high temperature (450) with nothing but garlic salt on it. Gets all crunchy and delicious.

Homework Is Stupid -- I Hate Homework

I'm waiting for him to say it. He says it every time we do homework. I think ... I give him another 5 minutes. He visited a friend this afternoon and played videogames instead of getting it done early. This is always a problem.

Only Makes Sense

There are still SO many people who don't know what the hell a weblog is. Met one yesterday and in an odd way, I kindof like meeting someone who doesn't know the first thing about it.

Still the data about blogging is from last spring -- a year ago -- and I think things have changed RADICALLY in one year in terms or blogging.

The One

Ruby's been writing about NOT being "the one" at certain times in her life and then more recently, finding "the one." Thanks for the link.

Hockey Seen As Possibly Brutal

Oh, yeah, right, suddenly someone's figured out that ice hockey might be dangerous?!?


Are you getting the feeling, like I'm getting the feeling, that blogs may be the last place on earth where you can say that word? Fuck, what's this world coming to?

Memo From The Disk Of ...

I mean, FROM THE DESK OF ... Halley Suitt actually. Here's a picture of my desk, pretty candle, flowers, pencils, teapot, teacup, mouse.

Xeni On Blogging

I love what Xeni has to say on this "best blogs" subject. Here's her email she agreed to let me share.

I totally love her concept of "ONLINE MOOD RINGS" -- what a great thing to say!

> Over time, I've adopted my blog-mentor Cory's
> philosophy of "my blog is my
> scrapbook, whether or not its contents interest
> you." And in attempting to
> emulate his "shorter-is-sweeter" style, I've grown
> to appreciate the beauty
> of brevity on blogs. When a blog is a
> pointer-scrapbook, it makes sense to
> point as efficiently as possible.
> But I've also developed an appreciation for
> longer-winded blogs that serve a
> different purpose. Take Kevin Site's blog
> <>, for example.
> Kevin's blog is mostly a collection of first-person
> essays, usually over 400
> words or so each. Completely different style from
> BoingBoing. Completely
> different purpose.
> Some weblogs are subjective accounts of the
> blogger's experience moving
> through the world, others are shorthand lists of
> things the blogger
> encounters, others are navelgazing cul-de sacs,
> amounting to little more
> than online mood rings that chronicle self-involved
> minutiae.
> But in the end, this is what matters for all of
> them:
> Best blogs follow the same form as best writing in a
> magazine or novel.
> Whether the posts are brief, a la Cory, or
> long-winded, a la Kevin,
> they use only as many words as are absolutely
> neccesary for the task at
> hand.
> It's not about whether posts are short or long. It's
> about the fact that
> wasted words are obstacles.

And btw, I hate to make a big deal about it -- but read what this brilliant babe said one more time:

> Best blogs follow the same form as best writing in a
> magazine or novel ...
> they use only as many words as are absolutely
> neccesary for the task at
> hand.


Your Soft Face

Lance here talks about how guys really need to take care of their skin -- shhhhhhh, it's a secret, but they REALLY do. I know a lot of good-looking guys whose faces are not in nearly as good shape as their bodies, families, wallets, houses, cars. Think Robert Redford -- why didn't someone mention SPF 40 to him? Thanks to Anil for the link. I like Lance's blog a lot.

Cars We Loved

Good day to write about the cars we loved.

Garmin Kia

My dad had a Karmann Ghia -- a red one. Now, I'd be lucky to have a Kia with a Garmin GPS system in it. Funny how things change.

Real Estate Porn

When I look at some of these houses from Greenwich, I can't help thinking this is like real estate porn. You wait for the screen to fill with these big-breasted French-doored monster babes of mansions.

I grew up ... if there was one ... on the "modest" side of town.

The joke of it was that I grew up in a very average middle-class house (3 bd, 2 bath) on a street called Mansion Place. There WAS a mansion on the street, but it sure wasn't OUR house. My dad used to make people wait for him to go from one phone extension to the other, saying, "Let me pick up the other phone -- it's at the other end of the house," and would proceed to make them wait ENDLESSLY to fool people into thinking we lived in a mansion and the "other end of the house" was miles away -- it was insane -- and typical of my nutty advertising man dad. Image was everything.

Greenwich Time

The newspaper in the town I grew up in was called the Greenwich Time and I remember getting a little confused as a kid that there was something called Greenwich Mean Time. Being from Connecticut and a New England Yankee, I figured this had something to do with the people in Greenwich, England being a little bit nasty -- slightly MEAN -- mostly because they lost our American Revolutionary War and were still cranky about it.

Reasonably, as all children do, I figured the world revolved around MY Greenwich and that Greenwich Mean Time was some sort of second-rate, not so nice place called Greenwich after our town in Connecticut.

The British always looked a little less friendly than the Americans when I was a kid anyway, so I appreciated them distinguishing their town from ours, which would be better known as Greenwich Nice Time.

Thanks Jort

I got the word from Jort in the Netherlands -- I was off by one hour in the post below. Sorry guys -- the Brits are + 5 and Holland's + 6 -- will correct.

Time Check

Okay, 7:45am here on the East Coast ... 4:45am ouch on the West Coast ... wait -- going the wrong direction -- better to go east and get later ... Europe's + 6 so that would make 13:45, just after lunch in London ... the Netherlands is a bit later at 14:45, perfect time to take an affternoon nap ... then let me noodle out Japan ... 8:45pm in Tokyo I think ... and Australia is 12 hours + 4 hours, means 11:45pm ... ah, time to go back to bed.

[Wrong -- England would be 12:45, and Holland 13:45 ... + 5 and + 6 per Jort.]

I Can't Help Loving That Man

I forgot that Hammerstein and Kern also wrote Showboat. This song was a great one. I bet this collection by Lena Horne which includes the song is pretty cool.

Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man

-- Lyric by Oscar Hammerstein II
Music by Jerome Kern
from Showboat (1927)

Fish got to swim, birds got to fly,
I got to love one man till I die.
Can't help lovin' dat man of mine.

Tell me he's lazy, tell me he's slow,
Tell me I'm crazy, (maybe I know).
Can't help lovin' dat man of mine.

Oh listen sister,
I love my mister man,
And I can't tell you' why
Dere ain't no reason
Why Ishould love dat man,
It mus' be sumpin dat de angels done plan.

Fish got to swim, birds got to fly,
I got to love one man till I die.
Can't help lovin' dat man of mine.

Tell me he's lazy, tell me he's slow,
Tell me I'm crazy, (maybe I know).
Can't help lovin' dat man of mine.

When he goes away,
Dat's a rainy day,
And when he comes back dat day is fine,
De sun will shine!
He kin come home as late as can be,
Home without him ain't no home to me,
Can't help lovin' dat man of mine.

De chimney's smokin'
De roof is leakin' in,
But he don't seem to care.
Dere ain't no reason why I should love dat man.
And why do you love that man?

It mus' be sumpin' dat de angels done plan.

All The Things You Are

My Dad and I used to love this song. It's all about a lonely winter turning into spring.

I didn't know until I just looked it up that it was written by Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern, so it must be from a musical*. I also never knew the intro verse. I only knew the part that begins with "You Are"

Time and again I long for adventure
Something to make my heart beat the faster
What did I long for I never really knew
Finding your love I found my adventure
Touching your hand my heart beats the faster
All that I want in all of this world is...

You are the promised kiss of springtime
That makes the lonely winter seem long
You are the breathless hush of evening
That trembles on the brink
Of a lovely song
You are the angel glow that lights a star
The dearest things I've known are what you are

Someday my happy arms will hold you
And someday I'll know that moment divine
When all the things you are, are mine...

*It was from a musical Very Warm For May, which didn't do well, but the song became a big hit.

Sex God Says "She Will Never Stop Asking For More"

More from the wonderful world of real live spam. I got this message this morning. It was from someone named Sex God. Not an acquaintance of mine, never met him.

The subject line of his email suggests, "She Will Never Stop Asking For More."

I ponder ... "More what, exactly?"

It's still early, I figure ... "More sleep?" ... as I yawn and make a cup of tea.

I open the email.

It says, "Why do guys like you and me know what a duvet is? There were many examples of animals all around. He wanted to know more. How embarrassing."

It seems to have been translated from High Dutch Transylvanian into English.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Men Don't Want To Get Matched?

There was a piece in The Wall Street Journal today about the lack of men participating in the higher end online dating services. There seem to be more than enough on the lower-end (no cost, no background check, "online personals"- type sites) services, but when you get into the serious stuff -- like EightAtEight or The Right One or It's Just Lunch -- men just won't commit -- to being customers, that is. So there are boatloads of women and in some cases very few men willing to participate in these better services.

I had lunch with a certifiable Alpha Male -- very married to a good friend of mine, so no flirtation zone involved -- and I had to ask him, since it was a business lunch and I wanted to impress him with my close reading The Wall Street Journal, what he thought about this.

We both know a lot of single men that wanted to be hitched. We both know that marriage is really the healthiest thing in the world for a man -- and that many of the men we knew who were single really NEEDED to get married. We both know that most of the single women we know are much better at taking care of themselves than the men we know.

So what gives? He suggested that maybe men figure the only women who would sign up for those services were women who couldn't get a date any other way ... this was interesting to me. In other words, he figured that maybe men expected that all the women who'd admit they needed a man that much and use a service, were dogs.

I think he was right that many men think that -- but I also think it's not true. I think it has more to do with the fact that women are much more practical and men are much more romantic. Men really think they'll run into some babe on the street corner who can't live without them. I think women just don't think that way.

There's one other angle. The classic Alpha Male wants the CHERCHEZ LA FEMME mysterious stranger experience. He wants to hunt his prey. He doesn't want to shoot fish in a barrel. He wants the one he can't get. Maybe the services take this out of the equation -- and it's EVERYTHING.

Feel free to blog me a response -- enquiring minds want to know.

Possible Dean Endorsement

Possibility that Dean will endorse Kerry -- who happens to be leading in Florida -- but I have to wonder at ANY endorsements. They all seem to have unpredictable results.

Death By French Fry

More good news -- "Americans Are Eating Themselves To Death" -- it's enough to make you want to sell your car, move to a city where all you can do is walk and get a job where you are not sitting on your butt all day.

Jarvis On Brooks And Soft-Core Narcissism

This post by Jeff Jarvis is very interesting. He thinks David's Brooks argument about who's more frightening -- Mel Gibson with his fire-and-brimstone religiosity or Mitch Albom with his new-agey "easygoing narcissism" -- is an easy pick. He finds Gibson more scary.

I say they are both seriously terrifying.

And as for David Brooks claim that "nobody even thinks to protest or get angry about it" I must correct him and mention that Chris Locke is all over this subject and is shopping a book proposal on the very notion he describes. Call it "New agey Non-thinking." if you need a tagline.

More On How Blogs Are Organized

I emailed a few of the folks I mentioned below, as being great "short and sweet" bloggers and they've replied with some very interesting ideas.

Cory Doctorow points to this piece he did about how he uses a blog -- My Blog, My Outboard Brain.

Dave Winer expands on the notion, pointing to a great post by Lisa Williams on how RSS slices and dices information for our intellectual dining pleasure.
Oddly, what this all makes me think of is a remark by my old boss Harry Tse on Chinese food (it's dinner time and I am pretty hungry. Maybe that's why the food metaphors!). He noted that most Chinese food is plated in such a way that knives aren't neccessary for the diner. Western food, he said, involved a different division of labor between the cook and the eater -- western cooks might put a steak on the plate, but a Chinese cook would be more likely to slice the steak into bite-size pieces easy to handle with chopsticks.

In a similar way, development of RSS is changing the division of labor between the author of web content and the reader of web content. Right now, the author is responsible for almost everything including the visual layout of the page. In an RSS world, the reader has much more control over how to display their information to themselves, slicing and dicing incoming information from different sites, displaying it in ways far beyond simple reverse-chron, and putting the visual "sauce" on it that they like best.

Okay Okay -- The Long And The Short Of It

A number of people have already "pushed back" about my assertion that short blog posts are best. Okay, okay, it's true, sometimes going long and detailed is cool.

I guess what I want to say is that making your front page full of short bits with links to the "rest" of a post is ideal (no matter how long it is). Also when you're in the mood to write a essay-long piece, that's reasonable, but I think managing it makes sense. What do I mean by "managing it" exactly? Well, check out the way Dave Winer will put a link to a "DaveNet" piece which people understand is a kindof "shelf" where he stores longer, thoughtful posts. If you're in the mood (or have the time) to read a longer piece, you can do that, but it's a courtesy to readers to mark the post in that way, allowing them to choose. (And notice if Dave does a long post on his front page, you often feel like he's going on too long there. His own "good housekeeping" has set expectations on how he will manage text.)

I think managing many short posts, mixed with longer posts is a challenge. Visually, I like a blog that has lots of posts with "jump pages" to a second page -- much like a magazine when I come to think of it. [Of course, I break the rule here all the time.]

Feel free (and I can see from my email you do) to disagree with me.

You Better Read This

Start with this. Go to the link below, where I found it. Can you guess who's blog it's from? Then we'll talk about short and long blog posts, which, btw, everyone is emailing me about and disagreeing with my bold assertion below that says short and sweet is the only way to go. I am chastened.

This is what you hear when you walk through the portal of death:

You’re going to stay here for a week.

Everyone gets a private room. Please feel at home. But while you’re here there’s one thing you must do.

Out of the __ years of your life, we’d like to ask you to choose one memory, the one you remember and cherish most.

There is a time limit. You have three days to decide.

After you choose your memory, our staff will recreate it on film as exactly as possible.

On Saturday we’ll show the films to everyone. The moment the memory comes back to you most vividly, you’ll go on to the other side, taking only that memory
If you guessed Jonathon Delacour, you're right.

Fewer and Less

I hate to go all ENGLISH MAJOR and grammatical on you, but I continue to hear really well-spoken, educated, articulate people use the words "fewer" and "less" incorrectly. It's no surprise, since they are used incorrectly in print and in broadcast on a non-stop basis. They are especially used incorrectly in Weight Loss ads -- tons of which we are forced to listen to and see every day. Here's the rare example where they are used correctly. Do you know why?

Here's the idea.

Fewer is used for separate, individual, discrete, "count-able" items (actually called in grammar books "count nouns".) Fewer calories.

Less is used for a "glob" of stuff that you can't enumerate or separate (often called "mass nouns" or "non-count nouns". ) Less fat.

Fewer hours in the day. Less time.

Fewer constitutional rights. Less freedom.

Fewer cars. Less traffic.

When you start to use the words correctly, you'll notice how often people don't. It will be jarring to your ear, like it is to mine.

Am I being too picky? Maybe.*

Fewer errors. Less miscommunication.

*Easy way to remember which is which -- the thing that is a glob = less-- one syllable in GLOB, one syllable in LESS; the thing that has pieces (piec-es 2 syllables) is the word with two syllables FEW-ER (it has two parts to the word)


I don't get it. I recently bought a new keyboard and a new mouse. Both of them came with a CD full of ... god knows what ... but also with an array of complicated features I TOTALLY DO NOT NEED.

This keyboard is littered with keys that mean nothing to me and I suppose if I had installed all the junk on the CD, that would have enabled them to ... do something ... not sure what. The buttons have cute indecipherable icons on the key and then subtitles (obviously required because the icons are so meaningless) to each key that say the following things:


Not one of these fuctions requires its own key. I can do all of these things without a key.

They were so busy adding these keys I didn't need, they gave the CAPS LOCK, NUM LOCK and other keys I really need short shrift and I can barely find them.

The unfortunately flawed assumption on the part of most developers of both software and hardware that a "feature-rich" product merits a higher price and can generate more revenue is the downfall of this industry. "Feature-rich" means overly complex, pointlessly complicated and lacking in efficiency and simple elegant design, if you ask me.

Blog Prof

With a new project I'm working on, I am teaching some non-bloggers how to blog and it's really interesting to show someone the ropes. I have a whole different attitude about blogging than I used to.

For instance, I think brevity is the soul of blog wit more than ever. Look at my archives and see some of my first year's worth of posts -- too too long and ponderous I think.

Short and sweet -- the best blog is a fresh blog full of lots of little posts. Ask him and him and her and him and him.


We wake with goofy piles of snow. I know, I know, it's March in Boston, there's no reason I should be surprised. Still ... all those boots and hats and mittens had started to wiggle their way to the BACK of the hall closet and I can't say I was upset to see them disappear, until YIKES OH NO WAIT A MINUTE, we sure need them all of a sudden.

So many people have late winter colds which are also part of this early Spring weather it seems. Please sick people -- force those fluids and get well soon.

There's something brave and valiant about our morning routines. I love when I catch a friend on the phone in a distant city a few time zones away trying to rouse themselves. They perform the magic incantations of java brewing. The spell we call coffee can just about save you some mornings. My magic is tea, however.

I have an acrobatic troupe of squirrels, furry brown, on a white snowy circus floor out there doing the craziest stunts. Who do they think they are? What do they think they are doing? They make me laugh enough with their gyrations and near-death experience leaps of derring do to get my heart racing, day going, bath drawn, tea drunk and might get me and my son out the door to stand in white snow waiting for a big yellow school bus to arrive flashing around the corner, scooping up children on their way into this day.

PhoneCon Conference Ye Olde Serious Business

Looks like the PhoneCon Conference will draw an impressive crowd again this year. It's invitation only. You're guaranteed to meet and greet the elite of this new fangled technology.
Please join us at the second annual PhoneCon conference in Boston, April 18-22, where we'll be bringing together some of the smartest minds from across the Harbor to talk about talking on the Telephone.

As you know, the emerging power of the Telephone as a tool to shape democracy, our flour and cotton mills, and our understanding of Rhode Islanders, is just beginning to be understood. That's why it's so important for telephoners to get together in person to talk about talking on the phone.


-Do you have a telephone?
-Do you talk on your phone regularly?
-Do you wonder where the telephone's headed?

Then PhoneCon is for you.

Please note, this is a user's conference. Its focus is on people who use phones. It will address my invention only as my invention plays a role in letting people talk to one another over the telephone.

We hope you enjoy some of the exciting sessions we already have planned. The cost of PhoneCon is free. So get on your horse, put some Paul Revere in your giddeyup, and hurry on over to Boston.

--Alexander Graham Winer

I heard last year it got so wild, they had a big Tea Party in Boston Harbor and got caught dumping tins of the stuff. Thanks to Jeneane for the pointer.

Monday, March 08, 2004

My Kid Flies A Mean Chopper

My kid is flying his Apache -- brother of the Comanche, he tells me -- across the desert blowing things up in his game, THUNDERSTRIKE. He loves this game. He can't get enough of these choppers.

Barlow On Gray

John Perry Barlow wrote this most amazing blog post about his friend, Spalding Gray, here.

Dear Listeners

This story is a humdinger. I used to live in LA and listen to KCRW all the time. I thought Sandra Tsing Loh was terrific. And I specifically remember listening to the general manager who fired her, Ruth Seymour, ad infinitum on fund raising drives, because Seymour was one of the stupidest, most annoying people I've honestly ever heard on radio.

I remember thinking, "who the heck would think this woman would inspire anyone to give money to the station?" and "who the heck let this idiot on the radio?" and then thanking the jerk who did so, because I never felt guilty about NOT supporting the station once I'd had an earful of this woman. I remember asking a friend if he thought this was some sort of anti-fundraising campaign -- that they put Ruth Seymour on just to get people to call the station and pay money to get her OFF the radio.

And the biggest irony of this whole business -- is that the woman was fired for mentioning she wanted to have sex with her own husband!?! I thought Bush and Powell and all the boys in Washington wanted women to have sex with their husbands -- what did I miss?

So are we witnessing THE NEW MORALITY or a great new excuse to get rid of employees you hadn't found a convenient way to get rid of until now?

Thanks to Doc for the link.

Concrete Blonde

I know you've been listening to them. Admit it. Concrete Blonde, yes.

Nice Resume

Mike Meyers dressed up like a boring corporate guy interviewing Cameron Diaz for a job as the Nickelodeon Choice Awards Hostess -- he notices she says she was the voice for Princess Fiona AND for Shrek in the movie Shrek, which of course, HE was, so she's lying. "Nice resume" he says. Gives her the job anyway.

Priest's Son's Passion

And of course, as cool as AKMA is, his son is 1000X more cool. Don't miss his blog on seeing the movie:
First off, I disliked the ending scene. I think it would have been a more effective ending to have left off the resurrection, or at least made the resurrection scene be not quite so "staunch-hero-standing-upright-for-the-good-guys". Secondly, some of the technicalities in the crucifixion process bugged me. Thirdly, I couldn't have moved that cross that far in peak condition, let alone half flayed, let alone up onto the rocky lump that was Golgotha. Now, there were parts that I did actually enjoy, between the bouts of tears. The Devil, for instance, I thought was well done. The combination of the only mildly distinctly female face and the higher-ranged male voice gave the character an asexual quality, which I thought fitting.

Priest's Passion

It's pretty terrific to have a blogger like AKMA -- an Episcopalian priest, a teacher, a cool guy -- write about seeing the movie The Passion. Talk about a person who has a lot to teach us on the subject.
But that points to one of the tremendous aspects of this film, its strength and its weakness: Gibson has wrought a cinematic artifice that almost entirely escapes his intentions. I said at the beginning that Gibson has achieved what may be an unsurpassable illustration of innocent suffering, but how many viewers will take up their crosses? How many others will look at Pilate’s lackeys and go and do likewise? Gibson has disclaimed responsibility for the harm this movie may cause to Jews, to relations between Jews and Christians, to the Christians whose self-hatred succumbs to a spirit of destruction and mortification, since he did not intend those effects. He did undeniably intend, however, to sow the wind that has stirred up more-than-merely-human forces already. Who will reap the whirlwind — and who will cash the checks that flow to Icon Productions?

The Thing We Like To Forget

It's always nice to make a friend and see what you have in common. We collect stamps, we rollerskate, we love hummos, we go scuba diving, we write code, we love swimming, all these different things we might have in common with a new acquaintance.

Oddly, we seem to spend so much time trying to forget the one thing we all have in common. Some day, we die.

The End Of Life

This website has some poems I like a lot. Especially this one by Emily Dickinson.

There Is Something Good Here

Spalding Gray's body was found after his two month disappearance. I was reading the other night about the bittersweet place those who grieve find themselves in when a body is finally found.

Several people, after my parents deaths, told me how much better it is to be in some way able to experience the death of a loved one. With my mother, we were all around her bed and heard her last breath late on a Friday night, an exhausting day after I'd been up with her the whole night before. With my father, I was there with him alone at dawn and spent the last two hours of his life with him.

They say people who are not present for a loved one's death can feel really stuck, have a lot of trouble going on -- that they often return to the hospital where the person died, to the exact hospital room -- not quite believing it, not able to let go. I remember that feeling when I had a miscarriage and I had so much trouble believing it was happening, that the pregnancy was really gone, that our happiness about a new child was over.

I hope this gives his family a better way to say goodbye.

Swimsuit Demographic

How did I know the banner ads on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition website would be Levitra? Just a hunch.

Why Do We Meet The People We Meet?

Some days, like this one, when a snow storm threatens to bury us alive, we have one cup of tea after another and rather than kicking us awake with caffeine, they slow us down into a cozy haze and we sit at our table alone looking at a delicately violet african violet and are left with only one question, "Why do we meet the people we meet?"

Lately, I have met some folks I kind of like a lot, but they are most mysterious to me and even more strange is how and why our paths have crossed.

I call each a blessing.

Each requires a certain amount of respectful, delicate, thoughtful mountain climbing. The footing is tricky. They give you this story and that, a late night recounting -- each fact a perch -- a way to scale the mountain they are. A way to climb into their life, trying not to disturb the terrain, just to do a quick Darwinian study of their natural lives, their uniqueness, their bravery, their most interesting vista on this world.

As a naturalist, I would like to fill a sketch book with diagrams of their desires, their passions, but know I still would not understand even the smallest bit about them.

We're Going Bridal

If you thought going postal was fun, Rageboy's daughter suggests GOING BRIDAL. Thanks S for the lead.

Well Hung Is Hot

Well, don't say I didn't tell you, but Hung is hot.

Not 10:15

See this guy I know said at his daughter's school when they want to talk about a boy's penis they refer to it in a secret code -- they call it PEN 15 -- pen fifteen.

He told me over the phone and I could've sworn he said, "10:15" and I found that really weird.

Pee Thing Pen 15 That Is

Yes, Dave Barry is much concerned today with urinals and a thing a friend of mine calls Pen 15. I'm glad someone is concerned with it.

Policy On Pix

I never use pictures here, so I'm rather naive about what the conventions, etiquette, best practices are for posting a picture and giving credit to the source or photographer. Anyone with an opinon, please email me about it. Thanks. It's halleys at yahoo dot com.

Big Snow Fluttering Down

It's not like I didn't know it was headed our way ... still, after yesterday's terrific warm spring day, it's hard to stomach on a Monday morning. Ugh.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Hallie Sue

When I was a kid, I didn't do a very good job of telling people my name -- Halley Suitt (pronounced "suit" like a suit of clothes) and often as not, they thought my name was Hallie Sue -- some ante-bellum Southern girl -- not the Northern Yankee me. It used to drive me crazy.

These days though, I think I could really cotton to a Southern belle name like Hallie Sue. I think any time I'm south of say ... New Jersey ... I'm going to introduce myself as Hallie Sue. Y'all.

Way Into Jesus -- Not Way Into The Passion

I'm big on Jesus, but have ZERO interest in seeing The Passion. Shouldn't they rename it to 'A BUNCH OF THUGS BEATING A GUY TO A BLOODY PULP" which is what everyone tells me it's like. As much as I don't want to see it, the thing I find even worse about it is how many people DO want to see it.

What Did You Give Up For Lent?

I hate to keep answering that question, "IS THERE A WEBSITE FOR EVERYTHING?" But I have to say, "OH YES THERE IS" when I can click on and read stuff like this.

It occurs to me there are a lot more Jewish holidays about giving things up and fasting than Christian holidays that work that way -- unless I missed something. Maybe Christians don't feel the need to sacrifice as much? I always wondered about that.

Irish Soda Bread

I am nibbling on big hunks of Irish soda bread in anticipation of St. Patrick's Day I suppose. I really like the stuff. Very springy food. Must lay in a store of hot cross buns too. Oh so Lent.

Full Moon Last Night

Did you see that moon last night? Whoa!

Tom And Jerry

We love Tom and Jerry. Looks like we'll have a quiet afternoon watching cartoons while I wash mud out of clothes. Lots of mud, lots of clothes.

I Mean -- Do They Do It Just To Piss Me Off?

You can't help asking that question. These inquisitive boy monkeys, as calm and easy going as Curious George, do they come up with these crazy stunts just to make their moms crazy?!

I Love Boys

I love boys, but I totally do NOT get them. I do not understand what makes them do the crazy things they do. Feeling a lot like a mom, a girl, a woman, a female today as I look at a pile of mud encrusted pants, winter parkas so dirty they beg for the garbage can, not the washer, one saturated mud sneaker, its mate swallowed by a mud monster at the bottom of a mud hole in the back yard.

When you invite your kid's best friends -- two twin boys -- over for a sleepover and you have return them with one missing shoe, dressed in your own kids' clothes because all their clothes are in your washer -- it's not easy to explain. I guess one missing shoe is better than one missing boy, but how is it that they can get so filthy so fast and always as you're rushing out the door to an event that requires clean clothes ... oh, yeah ... and shoes.

Mud Hole

Well, we had a hellish situation this morning about 15 minutes before leaving for church -- it involved three 8-year-old boys and a mud hole -- early spring mud seems to be a magnet for cleanly dressed boys. I'm still getting over it. I don't even know how to start describing it.

Everything was going so well ... I should have known disaster was about to strike.

Red Sox

Here we go again. Looking to get our hearts broken, but these boys are always worth falling in love with.

Happy Birthday Dede

Love you girl -- have a great day!

Sub Sandwich Sunny Day

When a rare warm spring day dawns sunny and clean and shiny like this one, with a gorgeous blue sky and I go by the local pizza joint to get a tuna sub sandwich after church for me, and a pepperoni calzone for my kid and we sit and watch the Red Sox playing an exhibition game down in Florida at spring training, while we wait for them to make our lunch to go, a Bostonian could get the idea that we'll get out of this brutal winter alive, get out of it soon, we might even get a little upbeat ... but then ... nah, we hear on the radio on the ride home "mix of snow and rain tomorrow" -- remind me why we live here?!?