Monday, August 31, 2009

Need a Gimmick


Seems like lots of people these days are having their blogs made into movies or writing blogs and then making special guest appearances on CSI or going on a talk show or a radio program or a world tour or something. The trick is to have a focus; something compelling and exciting that makes your readers want to come back every day. For instance, we went to see Julia and Julia a couple of weekends ago and the "thing" in that is this woman deciding to make every recipe from Julia Child's French cookbook in one year and to blog about it every day (after the movie, Padhraig said he was going to give himself one year to make every recipe in the movie. All six of them). Then I read an article in The New Yorker this week about a man who decided to force his family in New York to try to live without contributing to the failure of the planet (i.e. produce no garbage, recycle, use cloth diapers on the baby, eat by candlelight, walk everywhere, stop using toilet paper). They created a documentary about his experiment and even though the writer of The New Yorker article was snarky about it, the writer has the attention of a large audience in part b/c of his blog (he has also written other books, though none as popular, I don't think).

These blogs are in some ways the written equivalent of a reality show; one like Ruby, for example, which follows the weight loss of a woman in Louisiana as she diets and exercises and struggles to get her weight to a healthy number.

So, I guess I need a gimmick, preferably one that has a one or two or ten year cycle. It also has to be something that doesn't require a person to quit her job or travel too often. And it must have the potential to evolve or change on a regular basis. Like, I could say that one of my goals would be to adopt a baby or become a foster parent, but that's a slow, slow process. Most entries would be: "Day 27: Still waiting for baby to arrive. Day 156: Saw a Pampers commercial and realized I don't know a thing about absorbency."

A task closer to what I could manage would be to write a book in one year, but there's nothing more boring than reading a blog about writing a book. The whole blog phenomenon anyway is an intense form of weird self-absorption. I could read a book a day and review it. I could attempt to identify a new type of fauna each day, take a cat picture, discover a new part of Philadelphia, make crank phone calls, follow several TV shows (my mother would kill me if I did this), do what Natalie Dee and her husband do which is to post a cartoon every day. Or like the daily observation on the subway. I see a lot of interesting things on the subway (most commonly, some form of child abuse or another). There's this one retarded guy I see all the time. He talks really loud with his mouth hanging open in a voice just like Lenny from Of Mice and Men. He's always talking to the person next to him, but I'm never sure if the two know each other or if he just frequently strikes up conversations with strangers. I avoid him. Maybe just a general South Philly blog with the window photos (I have a few; just don't have my cord to move them from my camera to the computer today).

Will think more about it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Flipping Out

We bought a Flip camera for the office so that we can capture events like the first day of classes, lectures, Homecoming programs, quick interviews,etc. So, of course, I have to learn how to use it and the first thing I did was force Manny to make 2 videos with me. Both are silly. The first is me trying to speak in a French accent. How my hair got so messy is anybody's guess. The second is Manny being asked to show me some yoga poses. You can see evidence here of how softly he speaks. He almost never raises his voice above a movie-theater volume. Look at his cute dimples, please.

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You can look forward to thousands of cat videos before the end of the weekend, I am certain.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Love the Beanbag Chair

My mom recently mailed me a bunch of old photographs that I need to scan and send back to her. Here is one--I'm about 5 or 6. This is at my grandpa and grandma's house in Nebraska, where we used to live. I do not know what I am holding. A beer pong? Grandma looks crabby in
the background, but that's probably mostly because she never liked getting her picture done. It does look as though she's recently been to the beauty parlor to get her hair shaped into its Sunday best.

We looked at more houses yesterday and saw one or two with this same paneling on the walls as shown in the photo. Only really one old person house, and it was well-maintained. The houses all start to look the same after awhile. Stairs to the left, narrow hallways, three bedrooms in a row upstairs. Saw one house I like a lot, but I'm not going to mention anything about it because I don't want to jinx it. Jeanne showed me a great house with lots of original detail--little built in cupboards and glass door knobs--but it wasn't in the best area and the house across the street was abandoned and looked like the perfect place for a crackhead to turn tricks undisturbed. So, won't get that one. It also didn't have a washer or dryer or a refrigerator. It was cheap though. We'll see...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Another House I Won't Buy

So, yes, I put an offer in on another house, but the sellers are dragging their feet a little. I was supposed to have an inspection today, but of course, until they sign the agreement, there's no point in paying the $500 to have a guy tell me everything that's wrong with it. In the meantime, I've been stalking the house--going by in the mornings to see if it's changed much, taking photos, and accidentally a video of it. Below, please see the tree in front of the house. Note the fake flowers. Below that are pictures of the current resident cat, Mimi, who I met when we looked at the place. She is fat, fat, fat, and has a tiny little head. She's very friendly though. I also have a short video clip here of her doing a somersault; despite the excessive weight, she seems limber enough. You will be unhappy to know that I have already spotted 3 stray outdoor cats who hang out on the street. I saw them when we first looked at the house, and then, another morning when I went by, an old guy in a wife beater t-shirt came out and poured cat food right on the ground by his steps and three cats dug right in. One of them is an all white cat who obviously used to belong to someone because he is friendly. Speaking of unwanted animals, a girl from my management training class is supposed to come pick up this calico in about twenty-minutes. I'm going to tell her that there is a no return policy on all cats taken from the premises.


















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Monday, August 17, 2009

What to Look for When Buying a House

After having looked at about 40+ houses in South Philly over the last 3 weeks, I consider myself an expert in the realm. You might be amazed at the similarities they share.

The ones that are "modernized" have the same, same characteristics:

1. New, cheap faux hardwood floors (Home Depot: $2 a square yd.)
2. That big round fat sink in the bathroom (Home Depot: $45)
3. Recessed lighting (HD: $3)
4. A huge chandelier (see previous pics from house on Jackson St. HD: $24.99 or $45 for two)

The grandma type houses have:

1. A lingering mothball/spaghetti sauce smell
2. Handlebars affixed to the sides of the bathtub
3. Paneling
4. Wall-to-wall carpeting in all of the rooms
5. A pencil sharpener attached to the basement steps
6. 1 to 2 adult potty chairs
7. Jesus' in surprising places

In the shitty, still occupied houses you will find:

1. A broken beer glass on the back patio
2. Neglected pets
3.Mattresses on the floor
4. Tons of music posters to cover up dirt stains
5. Burnt candles
6. A guitar with dust on it
7. General overall filth

And then they are the houses I like which have:

1. Hardwood floors in all of the rooms (most especially if it's not the super cheap kind).
2. Some original details from the olden days like maybe a chair rail or glass doorknobs or a keyhole or built-in cabinets.
3. Three bedrooms, preferably
4. Washer/dryer and a dishwasher would be nice
5. A clean backyard with a privacy fence wherein the neighbors aren't growing twenty foot high weed trees (seen in 2 places) or there's not a dead rat skeleton in the back alley (seen in 1 place).

I hope, hope, hope this one I saw on Friday is the one I get (even though it doesn't have a dishwasher). I'll know more by the end of the week. Y'all are invited to my first dinner party.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ernesto in Action

Just found these two videos I made of Ernesto in my down time this spring. Don't know what the hell I was doing with my time. Must have been an "off" season for The Bachelor and/or I had no new library books. Can't remember if I posted them before, but here they are for your viewing pleasure.

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I hope you find them as charming as I do...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Free Kitty! Beautiful! Absolutely Free! Please save me from having another cat!

As you may have guessed from previous posts, one of the hardest things about South Philly is the plethora of stray cats; some feral, some abandoned by owners, some that still get fed but are never taken to the vet. Such as the cat below. The first three pictures are her as a little kitten. But then the little girl who had her couldn't keep her because her cousin was allergic. The people behind me took her in. She recently had kittens, so now there are two more males in the neighborhood. I knew they wouldn't take her in to get fixed because it's just not a priority for them. So, I stole her away last Sunday night (I asked first--they said they didn't want her anymore, but were going to keep the kittens). Took her to the cat place yesterday, where they fixed her, gave her shots, clipped her nails, and gave her a flea dip. She's brand new! But I can't have her. I don't want to just let her go again, because even though I know they will probably keep feeding her and now she at least won't keep having kittens, they don't really consider her to be a pet. Please, please someone take her. I will deliver her to your door. She's a nice kitty. A little shy, but she lets you pet her and pick her up, uses the litter box, etc. She doesn't make any noise either, as I feared. Here she is as a kitten before being thrown out on the streets.

The little boy next door.

Her original owner.

And this is her six months later. She's looking up because I'm dangling a ribbon above her head.

Close-up. She's pretty little. Looks still like she's not full grown, but she is. She's about six or eight months old.

Wishing for a home.
She's not mad in this picture, she's bending down so I will pet her.

If no one takes her, we'll have to drown her in a lake, people.

And here come a series of photos of the house I looked at this past week. It's three bedrooms. This is the smallest bedroom. No closet in this one, but there are in the other 2 rooms.

Front view of the street from the biggest bedroom.

Master bedroom closets. What a change that would be for me after two and half years using the second bedroom I have now as a large walk-in closet.

Here is Jenn, opening up the closet for your viewing pleasure.

Built in shelves in the second bedroom.

Glamorous chandelier hanging in the hallway. Don't really like it.

New, energy saving windows and a view of the houses behind it.

Detail of the bathroom shower.

Bathroom sink. The bathroom is small, but compared to my boat-sized sink now, this is very luxurious.

Cabinet in the bathroom above the toilet. Shower curtain must go.

This is the sink in the basement half-bath. I love that the faucets read hot and cold. Wish this sink was in the upstairs bathroom.

Weird toilet in the basement. Would I ever go down there to use it? Unlikely.

Sink again.
The basement.
This is a long view of the downstairs from the kitchen through the dining room.

Back of the house. Manny Fernandez says that siding is good.

Back patio with gate.
Alley-way in case of fire.
Built in kitchen shelves.
New stove that I will likely never use.

Shiny floors! This is again frmo the kitchen to the front door.

Stairs. Odd picture.
Glamorous chandelier part II. One upstairs and one downstairs. Notice the high ceilings.

I like this archway. This is from the living room looking into the dining room and kitchen.

Radiator in living room.
Little weird alcove in the living room where you could put in bookshelves or, as my mom suggested, a giant Virgin Mary statue.

Front door.
Front, again.
This is the front side alley. That's it. Should I get it or what?

And these are two random dogs at Carrie's mom's house in State College.

Me with doggie.
Weird art display in SC. Creepy little girl reading a book. Padhraig refused to sit beside her.

Janet's office in State College.

Carrie posing by another interesting artsfest piece .

Long shot of same.
That's it for now. Must go shower and get ready for my nine o'clock favorite show, Mrs. Marple on PBS.