Saturday, February 16, 2019

"their personalities took flight and they became themselves"

I. Watch for Falling Bricks

I went on a field trip with SVDP board member Pam yesterday to our store across the Mississippi, in St. Paul
Pam and I are on the new Store Committee, with a goal of giving our two Twin Cities' thrift stores a facelift, as Big Boss called it.
I had never been to the other store.

What a dump.

The brick building itself is cool, from 1911, with original pressed tin ceilings (below). 
Spruced up, this place could be a gem, and in fact the surrounding area's houses & businesses are being gentrified, for better and/or worse.

But we're not sprucing up. 
Oh, no. The thrift store moved in in 1960 and hasn't refurbished since, inside or out.
A few weeks ago a chunk of brick fell off the front of the building and hit a passer by--luckily for her, it hit her shoulder and only bruised her, and luckily for the store, she was a longtime customer who didn't sue.

Now the Society has to spend a fortune on long-deferred repairs, which will prevent customer deaths but not otherwise improve the store's appeal. 

I keep saying this: 
I love & hate the laissez-faire/Quietist management of the thrift store(s).
On the one hand, it means they are a dump. (My store is slightly better, because the building is newer.) But the cool, old stuff has not been stripped, so their character remains.

It also means there's freedom to make all sorts of changes. You've gotta supply your own oomph, though, and making change in these circumstances can feel like moving wet snow.

Now Big Boss is stepping up, I am cautiously hopeful.
In a small way, the snowball has started to roll.
Compared to the other store's baffling books section, for instance, my books section is stellar. 
 (I wish I'd taken photos of that store's book category names, which are ... unique, and also not necessarily related to the actual books in the category.)

When I started as Book Custodian, I'd asked Big Boss if I should OK changes with him. 
He'd said, "No, just do it."

II. The New Girls

Dumpiness aside, the St Paul store was fun to rummage in. 
Look who I found impounded there!

Almost a year at my store, and I've seen not one Orphan Red come in.
You may recall I'd bought three new Reds off ebay last fall? Each was damaged in her own way: matted hair, dirty clothes, a dog bite on a leg....

I'd ended up feeling overwhelmed by personalities, however, and Marz took the three to her house, where they are learning acrobatics and mime.

I don't know that I'm up for more Reds living with me permanently, but I couldn't just leave the girls there. They said they were having fun with the other toys, but they wanted clothes. Also, they sparked instant joy in me.

I paid their release price (99 cents each), put them in my backpack's outer pocket, so they could see, and took them home.

SweePo, Red Hair Girl, and Penny Cooper welcomed them eagerly.
Penny Cooper gave them an elixir, first thing!

The new Orphan Reds say their names are Orange Colored Sky and Lulu LaFlame.
I'm like, "Girls! Those are stripper names!"
Who knows. 
Sometimes the Reds change their names later. And sometimes they don't. 
(Penny Cooper would never change her name! But SweePo went through several names before she told a total stranger at the Minnehaha Falls that her name was Sweet Potato.)

The News were tuckered out, so they were given the bed the original three outgrew and a soft, warm blanket. 
They stayed up late though, talking through the slats.

III. Rescue Reds

One of my favorite things in the world is the all-volunteer Wire Fox Terrier Rescue Midwest  group. They take in this breed and other terriers who come their way––some of the dogs shockingly damaged by cruel or careless humans.
(I know the group because bink & Maura have adopted three terriers from them.)

At first I was dubious. 
Why spend all this energy and money to rescue badly damaged dogs? Healthy dogs, sure, but why not just make the hard call and put the mangled ones down as gently as possible? 

In the years I've followed them, however, I've totally changed my mind.
It's not about the dogs.
Well, it is about the dogs, but more, the group's work caring for wounded creatures is a demonstration of people trying to clean up after the damage other people wreak on the vulnerable. 

It's often heartbreaking and enraging.

Even if one might disagree with using resources for dogs instead of, say, children, still, the group's work is like a neon sign declaring, PEOPLE CARE about little beings who are too small to protect themselves, 
. . . to protect themselves FROM US

I take heart from that.

In a way, the Reds are a little bit like that. 
I post their adventures on Facebook and here and there have gotten comments (or private messages) along those lines--that they give people a bit of heart in a difficult time. (And every time is difficult for someone.)
The Reds do that for me, that's for sure! (Of course, they are me, to a large extent. But also not.)

I posted the New Girls on FB last night.
A FB friend who takes an interest in the Reds asked if they are still "made"--apologizing for his assumption that they originally come from a factory.
(People are sometimes unsure where the illusion starts & stops with toys.)

I wrote back that yes, they were made in a factory in China in the 1990s.  "They started out as Madeline dolls," I wrote, "from the children's books. But somewhere along the line, their personalities took flight and they became themselves."

He wrote back that they became themselves under my care.

His comment crisscrossed some line for me––I wasn't comfortable with that depth of make-believe, I guess––at least, not on FB, and I took that post down.

Anyway, my thought is, I will make clothes for Orange and Lulu, and then maybe see (on FB, etc.) if anyone wants to give them, as dog rescue says, a "forever home".
Meanwhile I am happy to be the foster home, forever.

(If you're interested, you can email me at frescadp at gmail.)

Thursday, February 14, 2019



This is one of the photos I took of a coworker with props from our thrift store for Valentine's Day today.

I always let the subjects choose the photo they want to appear on our FB, and I just had to accept that instead of this one, she chose a cute one of her holding a pink stuffed monkey.

Arty Rats Diorama

Correspondent Kirsten has sent me several sets of photos of the changing dioramas in windows at street level, created by a woman named Hattie.
The toy rats are always looking in from the outside.

Here is this month's diorama--a visit to the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

 Recognize the little people looking at the paintings?

More to come.
Thank you, Kirsten!

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Sort of Books I Cull (+ Women's Prison Book Project)

Not to worry, I'm not getting rid of great books. 
Here, below, is a cart of long-unsold books I weeded from the bookshelves when I started--full of the sorts of books I don't even bother putting out––
unless they're vintage or somehow cool (for collage material, etc.):
1. Outdated computer/Internet books (anything older than three years)

2. Outdated business books (New Ways of Managing Conflict, 1976)

3. Color Me Beautiful (1980 ed.): 
actually, now I have a 33-cents shelf, I'd put it there

4. Best of Modern Humor, Mordecai Richter, 1983: 
Ditto the 33-cent shelf, but copies online sell for $0.01

5. Old travel books (boring ones, e.g., Readers Digest guides to national parks), and price guides to collecting antiques

When our warehouse has a few hundred boxes of these, they are sold them for pennies a pound to... I don't know. Need to check on this.

II. "It's the little things that get us through the hard days...."

Good books that don't sell (there aren't many), we donate to a local church for their rummage sale
or to  the excellent Women's Prison Book Project.

Women in prisons around the country write to them to request specific books, or books on specific topics–– recovery from addiction, for instance, and crochet books (you can crochet but not knit in prison).
The WPBP serves women in prisons nationally but lucky for me the  project is housed in a bookstore only a couple miles from the thrift store. 

You can mail them books there too:

Women’s Prison Book Project
c/o Boneshaker Books
2002 23rd Ave S
Minneapolis MN  55404

Sometimes I set aside books on most-requested topics for them, knowing the thrift store clientele can get a wide range of books from libraries and incarcerated women can't.
Here's a list of some frequently requested but rarely donated books.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Uses of Ice-Cream

The little freezer of my new fridge doesn't keep ice-cream frozen, so I put the pint I bought this afternoon on the back porch in the fresh snow. 
The Orphan Reds spied the ice cream and mounted an expedition.

Red Hair Girl put on an extra velvet jacket, and the others dressed up in stuffed animals (empty ones waiting for re-stuffing) (no toys were harmed).

They cleared space so they could open the ice-cream.

They took the lid off...

 But not for the reason I thought...

SweePo skipped the lid and rolled down the hill.

Coming in fast! Can't stop!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Book Pusher

I set up a book display for Black History Month at the thrift store yesterday.

I emailed my auntie about my display this morning, saying I really am in the right job, wanting and getting to take time to make displays:
"I'm a book pusher!"

"You should have a T-shirt that says that," she wrote back.

Of course they exist. But this one I like is unavailable, from a conference in Italy, and the others I saw are too custey. 

I'd hesitated a little before going ahead with the display because some people point out that black history should be incorporated into EVERY month, so it's ridiculous/insulting/placating to set aside a month for it. 

I agree it should be incorporated, but it's not. I decided it's a self-indulgent, purist fantasy to see Black History Month as a capitulation, as I've heard suggested.

You know, this is a leftist perspective I'm talking about.  A fringe one, but I did take it into consideration.

On another fringe, some say we don't need to set aside a month to focus on black history because history is dead and gone, and we should get over it. 
If only it were that easy, that might be nice? Give everyone a fresh slate?
I didn't even take this into consideration.
Barring the singularity, when A.I. achieves self-consciousness (and memories can be wiped), I'm with Faulkner,
"The past is never dead. It's not even past."* 

I was influenced, too, by the new volunteer at work telling me that her high school didn't teach about the U.S. internment of Japanese-American citizens during WWII. 
She only graduated from high school ten years ago.
They did teach about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and some of her classmates picked on her for it, she whose father came from Japan.

So, yeah. Let's be fair and balanced and mind the gap. And mend the gap––with books!

These are some I gathered together. Of course we only have what's been donated––and what remains unsold for long enough to get into a display (copies of Malcolm X sell fast)––

but it's a decent spread.
I did not know poet Rita Dove (blue book ^ Selected Poems). She was the US Poet Laureate 1993-1995, and last year the NYT Magazine named her their poetry editor. (That magazine's 2018 interview with her here.)

I was extra glad I'd put up this display when later I read a white person saying it's hard to understand black people because they've never known them. 


Here's an idea to push for mutual understanding:
Read books!


Recent genetic studies back up Faulkner saying the past isn't dead. An article in The Atlantic, October 2018:
"Inherited Trauma Shapes Your Health;
A new study on Civil War prisoners adds to the evidence suggesting that our parents’—and even grandparents’—experiences might affect our DNA."

Friday, February 8, 2019

"My Neighborhood Looks Like..."

It was fun to walk a few blocks through yesterday's big snow storm.

Cakes, above: The local panaderia is preparing for Valentine's Day.

At my destination, I drank cheap Chardonnay and read Visit Sunny Chernobyl, a travel book about worldwide human-made disaster sites, before Julia joined me for vegan banana bread.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Books at the Store

A round-up of some recent photos of books I put out at the thrift store. Even though I spend 20 hours a week with the books, I like to gaze upon them away from work too.
Last month, Big Boss agreed to flat-pricing books at .49, .99, and $1.99.  
Now I only put price stickers on books if there's any question about their category, like the fashion history books above.
Technically they could be .49-cents Kids' Books because they're from the children's books publisher I used to work for, but they're brand new, and cool, and of high-interest for adults, so I stuck Adult Prices on them ($1.99 for hardbacks).

Flat pricing saves time, so I get more books out, faster. It also means some of the paperbacks especially are way, way underpriced. January earnings from book sales went UP, as I'd hoped & sensed they would---even though we closed a couple days for the sub-zero weather.

Gardening books don't sell much, no matter the weather though...

(I still haven't got enough 5 x 7" frames to put out all 23 of the category signs Art Sparker made for us.)

And, my favorite thing = this cow, below.
Oh, and there's still the 33-cent Bargain Books section too, for good but beat-up books, or books that don't sell after a couple/few months but that I determine deserve one last chance.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Song About the Federalist Papers

There's a song about the Federalist Papers?

Of course there is--how could I not have known?!
I wrote a whole chapter on Hamilton: An American Musical for my book for teens, Fandom: Fic Writers, Vidders, Gamers, Artists, and Cosplayers ––[oh, you can see the whole Introduction, which is about Hamilton, on Google preview––the publisher's market is school libraries, so it's too expensive for the casual reader]

––but the only song I actually listened to from the musical was "My Shot"--mostly because I used it as an example of a mash-up--
here, wonderfully! with High School Musical:

I tried to read Ron Chernow's biography, Hamilton--the one which inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda, but it was so frilly, I stopped after a few of its 832 pages. 

(I like the Penguin Lives series––thirty-three biographies of a couple hundred pages each.)  

Anyway, I'm not much of a music person, and while I would go see it on stage (if someone paid for my ticket), I didn't bother to listen to Hamilton––it didn't matter for my purpose, which was to write about what the FANS of the musical made in response: fanfiction, videos, games, pictures, and costumes...

So the other day when I ran into a fourteen-year-old neighbor on my way to the library, and I told her I was going to get The Federalist Papers, I was surprised that she lit up. 

A fan of US History?

No, a fan of Hamilton!

Of course.

looked it up, and there it was--a song about Hamilton writing 51 of the 85 papers (though not No. 10, the one I read--that was James Madison's). It's pretty compelling.

A Parental Advisory?
Warning: Promotes Political Philosophy?

Some lyrics:

BURR: Who’s your client?

HAMILTON: The new U.S. Constitution?

B: No way.

H: Hear me out.
A series of essays, anonymously published,
Defending the document to the public.

B: No one will read it.

H: I disagree.


"How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?
How do you write like you need it to survive?
How do you write ev’ry second you’re alive?
Ev’ry second you’re alive? Ev’ry second you’re alive?"

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A bit of proportionality, please!

I came home last night to see Penny Cooper reading aloud from this paper (Federalist No. 59). The Reds were disappointed that despite the promising title, "The Future Size of the House," it does not take into account the relative size of humans and dolls at all
A bit of proportionality, please!*


I really did come home to this scene. 
Marz** had been at my place when I left, and I suspect it was she who helped Penny Cooper set up this book.
It's a paperback copy, but The Federalist is 599 pages long. Though they are
disproportionately strong, that's a bit much for small dolls.
*From one of my favorite movies, Strictly Ballroom (1992, Baz Luhrman)--links to National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

** If you don't know, and you're wondering, Who is this Marz you are always mentioning? here's a post from 2013: "How I Met the Marz".

Marz & I been blogging back and forth (about Star Trek) for a year+, when she joined me and bink walking the Camino de Santiago in 2011.
At the end, bink filmed us
(32 sec.) doing a little dance in front of the cathedral, copying Stephen Colbert's choreography:

Marz moved here afterward. She's been living on her own for a few years, all grown up––she's even almost thirty (can this be?!? well, in two years). I still think of her as sort of my borrowed/foster kid. 
Changeling on loan? 
Temporary "not a puppy!"?
Something like that.

P.S. I am no longer anywhere near as light footed––especially not with a backpack on!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Dogs & Bordeom

Snoopy's not bored, but not, as Walker Percy claimed, because dogs fall asleep instead of getting bored. (Wut?)

Originally published Feb. 1972
Thanks, Michael, for the link!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

"Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm."

I laughed out loud reading Federalist Paper No. 10.

It's available online, but I wanted to read it on paper––I have an easier time paying close attention to things on paper, and I figured this would take attention (it did)––so I went to the library this afternoon and got a copy of The Federalist
I stopped at a coffee shop on my way home to read the famous No. 10––it's only 8 pages long.

Reading it reminded me of truffle oil, which I've only eaten once, at an expensive French restaurant with my father. 
I don't care much about cuisine, I'm pretty happy eating at White Castle. My father chose a multi-course menu for the whole table, and the first course was a little something on a big white plate, drizzled with truffle oil.
I thought, Oh, truffle oil, who cares? 

And then I ate it, and it was so good, so flavorful, and so subtle, it's the sort of thing that makes you stop. Just stop. I don't care if I ever eat truffle oil again, but it's one of the best things I've ever tasted.

Like truffle hunting, this paper takes a bit of effort, but it's worth it. It's tight and elegant, a real pleasure, and if haven't read it before but you studied US History in grade school, you might think, like I did, "Oh, that's where that came from!" 

"That" being a key element in the design of the government of the United States, my (and maybe your) country. 

But also, this is a little essay about human nature, trying to see clearly and to think honestly about how we are, and not to fool ourselves that we, or anyone else, are better than we are. Or worse!

Thinking we're better than we are sets us up for temptations we can't handle.
Thinking we're worse than we are deprives us of freedoms we can handle (or that are worth risking, anyway).

Seeing that is both ennobling and humbling.

Here's the part that made me laugh. 
James Madison, the author of this particular paper (Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote others--all signed "Publius"), is talking about how self-interest will sway lawmakers. It's just human nature. If a lawmaker has the opportunity to vote in his own interest, even if it sticks it to the little guy, well... maybe that's not a smart set up. 
I have noticed this myself.

Further (this is where I laughed), he writes:

"It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them subservient to the public good.
Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm."
The paper's modern that way.

Shortly after I read it a friend happened to come in the coffee shop, and I read those two lines aloud to her. She laughed in recognition too.

Reading Federalist No. 10, I felt a debt of gratitude to Publius for going after the philosophy of politics like pigs after truffles. 
What we do with the results, well, that's up to us.

Friday, February 1, 2019

What I'm Reading

Piling up books I'm reading (or have or plan to read), I noticed several of their titles could be lined up to make some sort of sense. (Perennial thanks! to Kirsten who first pointed this game out to me.)

Le Road Trip: An Anthropologist on Mars, A Tale of Love and Darkness. No Time to Wave Goodbye: 365 Days Lost in the Cosmos. 

Le Road Trip is a beautiful book by Vivian Swift, who I met on Steve's blog, Shadows and Light Thank you for your generous gift of this book, Vivian!
It arrived on one of the warmer of our polar vortex days, when it was only -15 (at -25, the USPS stopped delivering)––a perfect time to look at lovely pictures of Somewhere Else.

The book's subtitle is A Traveler's Journal of Love and France, and it's the France of croissants and chateaux––vin rouge not gilets jaunes––captured by Vivian in charming watercolors.

Oliver Sacks always tells amazing stories about humans and our brains, so I'm looking forward to reading An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales, which follows seven people with neurological disorders. 

I'm taking a break from A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz.
It's good and meaty, but it's hard going for me because I barely know the politics and people behind his childhood in British occupied Palestine. I want to go back to it, but I think I'll read some of his other shorter books and essays first, to get more background. 
I'm especially interested in his teenage years in a kibbutz.

No Time to Wave Goodbye is about the London children who were bundled off to the countryside at the beginning of WWII, for their safety. Lots of bits of interviews with the now-old kids themselves.

Turns out the English countryside wasn't bucolic for many of the unaccompanied young children--including six-year-old Michael Caine, now Sir Michael Caine, whose host family locked him in a dark cupboard.

365 Days is a memoir by Ronald J. Glasser, MD, who served in a US military hospital in Japan during the Vietnam War.
A pediatrician, his job was to take care of the children of military and government officials, but, he said, he “soon realized that the troopers they were pulling off those medevac choppers were only children themselves.” 

When I look at teenagers, I like to figure out how long ago they were 10 years old. For a 17 year old soldier, you only have to subtract 7 years.

I started Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book (1983) by Walker Percy last night, while I ate veggie burgers at White Castle after work.

(That hat I'm wearing is the best hat! It's fake fur, and it's warm. I looked up the brand, Pandemonium, Seattle, and it cost $82 new.
And it seemed to be new when I got it at the thrift store (of course) for $3.99.)

White Castle's colors match the book!

Verdict: Disappointing. Self-referential, cute, and unreliable. You can't trust an author who asks,

"Why is it no other species but man gets bored?
Under the circumstances in which a man gets bored, a dog goes to sleep."
Have you never met a dog? 

Adding to the list:
Federalist Paper No. 10-- "among the most highly regarded of all American political writings", but I've never read any of the Federalist papers. Now I want to because Michael posted about Columbia's core curriculum, which includes No. 10.

The FPs are all online here, at, among other places, which might be handy because I think these .gov sites go down if the government closes.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Auntie Vi's Italian Olive Oil Rolls

The Orphan Reds have never made bread before. They are fascinated!

We're using my Sicilian auntie's recipe for Italian Oil Rolls.

I've had this, her handwritten recipe, since I was in my twenties:

Italian Oil Rolls
Makes 1 doz.


1 pkg. dry yeast, or 1 cake compressed yeast
1 cup water (warm)
2 T sugar
1 ½ t salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg
3 to 3 ½ cups flour

  In large bowl soften yeast––sprinkle in warm water with sugar.
When yeast is soft, add salt, oil, and egg.

Gradually add flour, just enough to make soft dough.
Knead until smooth and elastic (10 min.)
Place in greased bowl, turning dough to grease surface.
Cover and set in warm spot.
Let rise until double, about 1½ to 1 3/4 hours.

Shape 12 rolls in muffin tins.
Let rise about ½ hr. to 45 min.

Bake in preheated 350º oven. about 20 min.

UPDATE: Success!

It's cold.

Long-term weather forecasts are often wrong, and I was hoping today's would be. It is a tiny bit off, but not in the right direction:
the forecast was -25ºF (-32 C).
This morning it's -28.

And it's windy. The wind chill (what the air feels like) is -50, colder than the South Pole.  At these temps,"exposed human flesh can freeze in 10 minutes", according to weather guy Mark Seeley at the UM.

Ah--here--my friend Julia caught how that looks (the dangerous cold, not the frozen flesh): this is Bde Mka Ska, the lake a couple miles from me, yesterday--from Julia's IG "happify":

Here's an interesting article (1/29/19) from scientist Jennifer Francis who studies Arctic warming, explaining "How Frigid Polar Vortex Blasts Are Connected to Global Warming".

Marz had come over Monday evening and got stranded by the quickly falling temperatures. (She lives a couple miles away, and neither of us has a car.)
Both her workplace (the food co-op) and mine closed yesterday and today for the cold, so she's hanging out here. 

Of course she could take a taxi, but I'm glad of the company.

I didn't have much food in the house, so yesterday I bundled up and went out in the mere -15 temps to get the makings for Thai chicken soup. The Asian grocery Shuang Hur is only two short blocks away.

Penny Cooper watched and waited at the window for me.

My old windows are leaky, and you can see there's frost on the outer windows, even though I put plastic over them this fall.  
This morning, they're iced up. (It's a little scary.)

I returned safely, the soup was terrific.

Thai chicken soup (tom kha gai) is easy to make. 
You make it like classic American chicken soup, you know--boil a chicken with some veg and flavorings.

In the Thai version you use lemongrass, lime leaves, and ginger, and add a can of coconut milk. Here's a recipe for Thai Chicken Soup that gives substitutions.
(I leave out the fish sauce––I don't like it.)

In the evening, I settled on the couch to do some Serious Reading. 
(My hair is not supposed to sweep forward like a Beach Boys 'do, but it tends to...)

The apartment is cold this morning--I have the oven on low for warmth. Since it's on, I might bake bread today--I've been meaning to since Sandy Miller blogged her bread recipe (on her blog Paine Falls).

It's supposed to warm up tomorrow (Thursday)... to -1.

And Saturday is supposed to be +40 F (4ºC), when  "a Pacific breeze returns with a 60-70 degree temperature jump."

Monday, January 28, 2019

My wheatgrass says, Be Still.

You know how sometimes things seem to be telling you something?

(This is a cognitive bias, of course--the universe is not trying to tell me anything. It's not trying to do anything, unless, as Neil deGrasse Tyson says, it's "trying" to kill me, i.e., work its entropy on me and spread my atoms around.) 

But anyway, psychologically it's good to listen up.
 Lately I've strung together a whole bunch of messages, all the same:
Slow down. 

☛Running for the bus and falling flat on my face.

A coworker telling me I'm "too hyper." (I don't like this coworker, who always has a sour expression, but that doesn't mean she's wrong.)

NOT taking breaks at work, even though my hand therapist advised me to.

Yesterday even the wheatgrass I drank the co-op said, BALANCE.*

And last night, Mr Boss posted a line from Exodus (14:14) on FB:

"Love will fight for you; you need only to be still.” **

I like that quote a lot. Sometimes I am approaching work as if it were a fight I need to win. If I'm going to see it that way, I could relax and let Love take it on.

But, how? What would help me do this?

I will patiently keep pondering, practicing, and inviting a bit of stillness.


* At the co-op, the woman eating a breakfast sandwich next to me commented,  “My mind says wheatgrass but my body says bacon.”

** It actually says "The Lord will fight for you", but I always cringe at that lord, lord language––I picture an unpleasant old guy in a manor, and me a serf.
So I change it to "love"--a valid swap, since 1 John says, "God is love," in the sense that God = Love; therefore Love = God. 

Right? Any logicians out there?

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Tiny Dancers

Army guys & one cowboy freed of weapons by me (voluntary, on their part, just to be clear);
Disco ball (tea strainer) scene by Marz

They're dancing to "He's the Greatest Dancer" by Sister Sledge.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Everything is fine.

Speaking of clear signs, this one, above, from the NBC show The Good Place is genius. It's what the characters who've just died see when they wake up in a heaven-like place. 

The genius bit is not just the sign's clarity but that it turns out the sign is not exactly entirely true.
Which, if we think about it (part of the whole idea of the show),  invites us to think  about the power of clear, punchy messages. 
"Build a Bear Wall!"

Have you seen the show?
I watched it on Netflix because it was recommended by Cocktail Party Physics––a blog by physicist and Buffy fangirl Jennifer Ouellette––in one of her recent weekly round-ups of recs.
(J.O. also posts real cocktail recipes on the sidebar.) 

The Good Place is pretty good. It's by the creator of Parks & Recreation, and has a similar sweetness.
It's like one long and slow conversation about morality and ethics conducted while eating frozen yogurt and watching something like Cheers

(I haven't actually watched more than a couple episodes of Cheers, but Ted Danson (from Cheers) is the head of the Good Place. Since I've barely seen him before, I was surprised--as you may know, he's really good.)
I recommend The Good Place. The first season lags: even at 22-minutes per episode, it should've beeen 6 episodes, not 12, but keep watching for the far, FAR SUPERIOR second season. 
As philosophy, it's lightweight and full of holes. 
As TV, it's heavy, man!
But also light--I laughed a few times, and actually remembered some of what I laughed at. E.g., Frozen yogurt: an example of humans taking something good and making it a little less good so they can have more of it.

My Big Achievement of the Week

Speaking of signs,
here's my big achievement at work: 
I put up a new sign in the bathroom yesterday. 
I've been meaning to do this for almost a year, even before I was hired. Posting this week about the unclear bathroom sign in the museum got me to finally DO it.

Ever since I started at the thrift store, our bathroom has bugged me--no one takes care of it. An extra challenge is sometimes homeless customers take mini-baths in the sink.
I'm sympathetic--they want to be clean and don't have regular bathing opportunities, BUT, you can imagine, this makes a mess!*
[Please, no comments about how homeless people should take baths in their cars or something! I'm on their side, I just wish we had a real shower for people to use.] 

First thing I did last year was hang a picture of geraniums:
But.... see those scraggly, old paper notices?

It took me 11 months before I replaced them with a notice I printed off the internet and hung in a gold frame yesterday. 
(The sign's wording is cumbersome, but I don't care--in this case I was going for the semblance of cleanliness and care.)
ONLY after I took the photo did I realize the sign's just a tiny bit crooked in the frame. 
Oh well. 
It's going to stay like that until I print another sign . . . probably in another 11 months. There're just so many other things like this that need doing at the store. 
It'll do. 
It's fine!

Everything is fine.


* I emailed my 93-y.o. auntie about the bathroom, and she emailed back:
"I try not to use public restrooms.  Sometimes it’s a necessity. 
Not too long ago I went into Walgreens restroom. A woman was shampooing her very long hair.
At least she was trying to keep clean. She looked at me rather sheepishly.
I commented to her, 'I bet that feels good'.

Friday, January 25, 2019


Fun! Michael at Orange Crate Art accepted my invitation to rewrite for clarity the clunky signs I posted yesterday

More, he wrote a whole post about the signs' language in his How to Improve Writing series "dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose". 

About the YMCA sign, "We serve relentlessly with our community until all can thrive in each stage of life", he points out:
"Eight of the fifteen words in the original sentence form prepositional phrases. That’s why the sentence sounds so ponderous." 
Read his post, "How to improve writing (no. 79)", here:

My rewrites and thoughts are in the comments to his post.