26 November 2008

Snarky enough for a man, grammatically enhanced for a woman

I was browsing Cute Overload earlier as I am wont to do. There was a post about adopting a turkey for Thanksgiving - which I did; her name is Serendipity and she is so ugly she's cute. See?

I had to comment in response to a nuffer who objected to people donating to animal causes when there are people causes out there in need of monetary help. Whilst browsing the comments, I came across one that mentioned something called the Gender Analyzer, a site wherein you can enter a URL and, using some sort of complicated algorithm or something, GA will tell you whether the page was written by a man or a woman.
I tested out a few websites and GA got it right. Then out of morbid curiosity, I tried the URL of my blog.
GA decided my blog was written by a man. Ditto my Domo blog (although in my defense, the site is mostly graphics). This interested me. What about my writing would lead GA's text classifiers to think I'm a dude? (Obviously the text classifier hasn't taken a good look at my rack.) I've decided it's either my complex sentence structure, my excruciatingly correct grammar (if I'm in the mood for it) or my snarky humor.
I think the humor might be more of a typically masculine thing than the grammar, and I'll tell you why: I don't know of any men since Strunk and White (except perhaps my late father) who could diagram a sentence or differentiate between a verb and a gerund. I don't mean to imply that men are stupid, I just mean that men tend to communicate more directly than women, and with fewer nuances and details.
But whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes - no, wait, that's the Grinch.
But whatever the reason, GA decided I write like a man. To the side of the results is a poll: did GA give the correct result? I clicked "no" and was taken to the survey results page. 53% said yes, and 47% said no. So much for their fancy text classifier. I'm inclined to believe that the folks behind GA are bigger turkeys than my new sort-of pet. Which is a shame, I think it's a cool idea. Almost as cool an idea as Cute Overload.

Do me a favor and fill out my poll, won't you? Otherwise I'll be forced to rant about undergarments again, and that wasn't fun for ANYONE.

22 November 2008

Houston, we have a problem ...

Or I should say that I do, anyway.

I think I have a blogging addiction.

I started off with just one blog - this one. Then I started taking pictures and began my Domo blog. Then I started a third blog, a private one, as a journal of sorts.

And I've done it again.

I blame my mother.

I have an unhealthy obsession with English usage, and she has always encouraged it. She's as likely as I to point out inappropriate quotation marks and words pluralized with apostrophes. It was only a matter of time before I began photographing examples of abuse and looking for a place to display them. And the time has come.

I am pleased and slightly embarrassed to introduce you to my newest blogging effort, The Language Police. I have no way of predicting the update frequency, as I'm unsure how many examples of language misuse I can regularly capture in my camera phone. But rest assured that if I see it, I will photograph it, and I will share it.

It is, perhaps, worth mentioning that as I was setting up my new blog, I got an idea for another blog. I wonder if Blogger has a limit to the amount of bandwidth they'll allow me to waste at their expense. I should check on that.

And while I do that, I humbly suggest you check on my newest blog and let me know what you think. I am also accepting submissions, so keep your eyes peeled, and I may appoint you Language Police Officer status. I am the police chief, but I could always use a deputy.

18 November 2008

New baby!

Ok, I totally stole these pictures from my brother's Facebook page. But my camera phone vanished the pictures I took at the hospital, so here we go. This is Landon James Barber, 8 lb 2 oz, 20.5 inches long, born at 11:30am on November 17. I got to hold him for the longest time. He looked at my face for a few minutes and then, nonplussed and exhausted, fell asleep.

16 November 2008

Neigh-mate of the month

I blame my parents.

No matter how much I ranted or raved or cried or stuck my lower lip out, I never had a pet growing up. And I wanted one BADLY.

I can't fault my parents for their refusal; in retrospect it's just as well, really. I wasn't responsible enough, and animals stink and shed and do a number of other unpleasant things.

But because there were no real animals in the Barber house, I made do with plush versions. I have hundreds of stuffed little buddies in boxes in the garage, and I still buy them, even at twenty-five.

There is a Wells Fargo inside the Safeway down the street from my house. My mother has started banking there because ... well, I don't remember why, exactly. But I was there with here a few days ago, and I noticed a sign: Today, sign up for a free checking account and get a FREE plush pony.

There was a pony on the counter.

I held out for a whole three days before I signed up. And I got my pony. And, ladies and gentlemen, here it is. My free Wells Fargo pony.

PS: If you read my Domo blog (and you'd better) you'll notice that Domo hitched a ride. He couldn't help himself.

14 November 2008

Run for it

What I’m going to share with you today is somewhat personal in nature, but it’s bothering me, which means – all together now – it’s going to bother you, too.

I went shopping for a sports bra. I didn’t think it would be that difficult. I should preface this with the fact that I am not exactly on the flat-chested side of things. More accurately, if I went for a run without a sports bra, I could knock myself unconscious.

And now, with that charming mental picture in mind, I shall continue.

I went to Wal-Mart, because I am first and foremost a cheap person. (Jerry Seinfeld once said that cheapness is not a sense. Ladies and gentlemen, he was wrong. Cheapness is indeed a sense.) I figured that if I didn’t find what I wanted there, I’d move on the more expensive Target.

It took me a good five minutes to actually locate the sports bras; Wal-Mart would clearly rather that customers purchase their undergarments of more questionable taste (I don’t know that Disney really *wanted* that done to Tinkerbell, personally). Finally, I found a wall of the things. Some of them looked as though they couldn’t hold in place anything more substantial than a Kleenex tissue. The tag claimed they fit up to a “C” cup. Maybe they’re measuring differently than I do, I don’t know. But the undergarment in question was literally a tube top with spaghetti straps. A training bra, really. That was a big ‘no.’

So I moved on to some sturdier-looking cotton models, things that might actually serve a purpose. And they were sold in a pack of three for ten bucks. Good deal. But I checked the tag, and these, too, only fit up to a “C” cup. Sensing a trend, I moved on to styles I wasn’t even considering. “B/C” cup. “B/C” cup. And finally, “B/C” cup. One style, one that resembled a real bra more than anything, was sold in regular band and cup sizes. These came in “D” cup sizes. But they were padded. I beg your pardon, but “D” cups really don’t need any extra padding. Padding is sort of the problem. And this wasn’t even a full-coverage style; it looked like a demi more than anything.

I checked every other brand and style, and nothing was designed for a cup larger than a “C.”

Am I the only one who sees a problem here?

Let’s examine this from a scientific perspective: if you’re a “B” cup, you don’t even NEED a sports bra. A “C,” I’ll give you. But in my (very personal) experience, it’s the “D” and “DD” cups that really need a sports bra. Not the “B” cups. So why is it that only one sports bra in the entire danged store came in a “D” cup? What are large-bosomed women supposed to do for sports bras? Perhaps we’re not supposed to work out, just to be on the safe side. But seriously, what gives? Because I’d really like to start working out again. And I prefer to do it while conscious.

11 November 2008

In small packages

A zoo in Australia recently celebrated the birth of a baby pygmy hippopotamus.

In case you were wondering, a baby pygmy hippo is about one-fifth the size of a regular baby hippo. Full-sized pygmies (is that an oxymoron? Full-sized pygmy?) are only half as long and one-tenth the weight of your standard river hippopotamus. By my calculations, that makes the babies five times as adorable, and the adults at least twice as cute.

And this pygmy hippo baby, with his Shrek ears and wide nostrils, is very cute indeed. From the videos, he (or was it she?) looked to be the size of a large cat. It was very playful, frolicking in the water and chomping on its keeper’s khaki shorts. A regular hippo could never get away with that.

I’ve always been a fan of ungulates, so I know for a fact that there are also pygmy goats, pygmy horses, and pygmy elephants. And if you go outside the ungulate family, there’s the pygmy loris, pygmy marmoset, and the pygmy owl, just to name a few. These species all have two things in common: they are very small, and therefore, they are very cute.

What is it about tiny things that make them so adorable, so hard to resist? I’m not sure, exactly, but I do know that there’s something scientific to it. Take babies, for example. They are scientifically designed to make us want to take care of them. I believe that was proven in a study somewhere, but at the moment I’m too lazy to look it up. But it doesn’t end with babies. Toddlers and small children can get away with doing things that adults never could, simply because they’re little.

My two-year-old nephew is a good example. He can have snot on his face, and be running after his mother to hit her (for trying to wipe away said snot), and he’s still adorable. If I tried that, I’d be labeled many things, none of them cute or flattering. This is nature’s way, I think, of continuing the human race. Kids can get away with a lot more things that, when an adult does them, you’d normally want to kill them for.

Part of the reason I have so much fun with my Domo blog is that I get to play with miniatures. Domo has a small piano, an angel costume, and a skateboard, and because they’re all tiny, they’re all cute. If I could get away with it, I’d play with a dollhouse. Because it’s little, with little furniture and decorations. And little = cute. We are, I swear it, scientifically programmed to equate something tiny with something good. Things on a small scale are almost always good things. Small = cute, and cute = good, therefore small = good (and I only got a “B” in my logic class. Ha!).

There is, as always, an exception to small being cute. And I speak, of course, of the insect. They crawl. They fly. They bite. They spread malaria. They are creepy and nasty, and yet they are small. But there is a wisdom in this. They need to be small, even though they are not by extension cute, and they are certainly not good. Think about it: would you like for insects to be any bigger than they already are? I’ve seen crickets and roaches the size of field mice. That’s big enough, thankyouverymuch. So I’m happy with bugs being the exception to small = cute = good. Bugs = bad, and we all know that.

And with that inborn knowledge, we have free brainpower to appreciate the good things in life.

Like tiny hippopotamuses.

08 November 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like ... August

I haven't been updating my blog as often as I used to. I've decided that, like Maris Crane, I exhaust easily under the pressure to be interesting. Also, I've been spending more time looking at baby pygmy hippo videos and less time writing.
I digress.

Today is the 8th of November, which means that tomorrow might as well be Christmas. I say this because I've been hearing Christmas music in almost every store I've been in this past week. Some stores didn't even wait for Halloween to be over - Wal-Mart was playing "Little Saint Nick" while I was shopping for Halloween candy a few days before my birthday. Christmas merchandise was fighting Halloween costumes for shelf space, which puzzled me a bit since it was more than two months until Christmas.

I think it starts earlier and earlier every year. Christmas didn't used to start until after Thanksgiving. Then it was after Halloween. Now it's before Halloween. I expect that in a few years, Wal-Mart will stock prelit trees next to their back-to-school supplies. Which is frightening, since school starts earlier and earlier every year. I'm pretty sure that Chandler schools went back at the end of July.

But just because we're pushing holidays up a little, doesn't mean we want to miss any. So I'm sure that by December first, Wal-Mart will have an aisle or two of hearts and flowers for Valentine's Day. And once the Christmas clearance is out of the way in a month (because it gets marked down BEFORE Christmas these days) it'll be time for Easter baskets and chocolate rabbits. Once Valentine's day is gone, they'll display folding chairs and barbecues. And from there, it's time for back-to-school and Santa Claus.

I'm sure that, if I ran a urine-scented retail giant like Wal-Mart, it might make sense to me. But I'm a fairly logical human being, and so I like a day or two to breathe in between holidays. I don't want Halloween to turn into Christmas. I don't want Christmas to twitch its nose and turn into Valentine's Day. I like a week or two where I can buy bags of candy in regular-colored wrappers and not worry about whose house I'm going to or if I've bought a gift for someone.

But back to Christmas ... it's my fault, partly, for living in the greater Phoenix area. But I'm going into clothing stores, and it's all wool and parkas and corduroy. Which is, I'm sure, nice if one happens to live in New York or Illinois or one of those places where the seasons actually change. But here in Maricopa County, we have two seasons: Hellfire, and the rest of the year. And the rest of the year just isn't that cold.

Aside from which, it's hard to feel Christmassy when I'm still mowing the lawn and watching oranges ripen on my tree. It feels more back-to-schooly. So every time I hear "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," I sing along with my own words, about how it's beginning to look a lot like August does in the rest of the country.

But what can I do? Wal-Mart's blaring their Christmas soundtrack and Old Navy's got one table of t-shirts. So I bring my iPod with me, crank the A/C, and laugh at the poor suckers elsewhere who are already getting snow.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go water my roses. In short sleeves and flip flops.

03 November 2008

Bang, bang, you're dead ...

I don't usually wax political, because for the most part politics make my head feel like it's going to explode, and I can't abide by arguing and nastiness. But something has been bothering me lately, so it's going to bother you all as well.

Much has been said in recent weeks about Sarah Palin's suitability as president of the USA. Apparently it's not important that she'd merely be the vice-president. Since John McCain is old, it's apparently a given that he's going to get sworn in and immediately kick it on account of being older than sixty. Ridiculous.
On one level I can understand the concern. But what I want to know is, why hasn't anyone discussed Joe Biden's suitability as president of the USA? He's Obama's running mate, so he's next in line.
Most people would probably hasten to point out that Obama is not an old man. Well, does this make the man invincible? He is an incredibly polarizing figure. There are a lot of wackos out there. It's only a matter of time before someone takes a shot at the man. Whether they succeed and kill him or not is anyone's guess. But he could very well be assassinated, leaving Joe the Bummer as our nation's leader.

What's that you say? Obama isn't likely to be assassinated in office? Well, I'd say that the odds of him being shot at are just as good as, if not better than, the odds of John McCain's health taking a turn for the worst. We are every bit as likely to end up with President Biden as President Palin. And I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't know if I can stomach Joe's weaselly little face for four years.

Let's have a little equality, shall we? If we're going to condemn McCain to death for being an old president, let's at least concede the possibility that Obama will be murdered as the nation's first black president. Well, technically, he's only half, but that's another rant for another day.

But as long as we're condemning one candidate for his VP pick, let's condemn the other as well. That's the American way, right?

P.S. Of Obama, Biden, McCain, and Palin, guess who is the only candidate with any executive experience? That's right - Sarah Palin.