Sunday, September 28, 2014

It's alive!

So am I, but I am slammed at work. And because I write at work, I have zero brain cells or desire to write once I get home. This too shall pass, because I have probably half a dozen blog posts written in my head and I will get them down at some point. Plus sewing! And another trip coming up! And kitties! Yeah . . . all that. I'll be back shortly, I swear.

I leave you with a picture of the world's most interesting cat (at least he thinks so):

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What's in your closet?

Have you heard about Project 333? I’ve written about it before although I’ve never participated. The idea has always intrigued me though, and I’d been considering participating this year.

I was talking about it with Kent and it occurred to me that there’s no corresponding idea for men. I don’t think it’s that no man ever hoarded clothes or has a closet full of clothing with nothing to wear. But I do think there are a couple of reasons why this concept is primarily embraced by women.

If you think about it, we women tend to buy into the idea that we need four discrete seasons of clothing—the item change in terms of fabrics or cut and most definitely shift in terms of color. Think of how summer dresses look and feel compared to winter dresses. Or pants vs. those abominations, capris (sorry if you like them, I cannot abide them at all). Fall colors are typically warmer toned than winter colors, and likewise with spring and summer. Even if the palettes are similar, the color saturation is different (think of summer colors compared to winter colors). Summer clothing is as skimpy as can be (and then we freeze in our overly air conditioned offices) while winter sees us putting on the layers.  So we buy seasonal clothing, which stuffs our closets and then we have a hard time mixing and matching what we’ve got.

I don’t see that same situation with men’s clothing. It’s not really much of an option. Sure, in a business casual environment you’ll see men wearing things like khaki pants rather than tropical wool, and some wear those wretched short sleeve “dress” shirts (dress shirts don’t have short sleeves is all I’m saying) in the summer. But overall, men can wear the same kinds of clothing year round.

So before I start the Project 333 plan, I’d rather take a look at my closet and cull the obvious outliers, the clothes that are strictly intended to be worn in one season. I don’t mean I’ll purge my bathing suit, or have no shorts or sun dresses. But I do think I don’t need three months’ worth of either item. I think if I aim for three season wearing out of all clothing items, then I will need far fewer clothing. And if I choose my colors carefully, sticking with the palette I tend to buy all the time anyway then everything will go together.

What about you, how do you approach buying clothing?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A marketing department's dream

I was flipping through the new Ikea catalog the other day, and sort of idly wondering why it is that particular brand appeals to me so much. That got me wondering about the handful of brands that I identify with and tend to stick with, and thinking about why it’s those brands and not others that I prefer.

For example:
  • Membership clubs: Costco always, the rest never. I have tried Sam’s and considered BJ’s because there was a BJ’s near my office in the Boston area but no. I really prefer Costco.
  • Super cheap store: Target over WalMart unless we are in a one income situation.
  • Cars: For years—I mean years—I was loyal to the Honda brand. I bought a Volvo in 2012 and I’ll never go back. 
And then there’s Ikea. I’ve always liked the furniture with the clean lines and generally fun colors or fabrics. And the soft goods like towels or curtains are just wonderful. Plus you can get the meatballs for lunch or dinner with some mashed potatoes and lingon berries as a side—YUM. And this year, you can watch their hilarious ad:

The Kansas City store opened today and in typical Ikea fashion, they opened 20 minutes early because there were so many people waiting outside in the rain. I can’t wait to go, although not just yet. While I love Ikea, I don’t love crowds.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

School daze

A friend recently posted about one of her favorite teachers from 3rd grade, and said that she didn’t remember teachers before that year. That got me thinking about the teachers I remember, and why I remember them.

In preschool, I went to West Nashville Kindergarten (think that was the name although a quick Google search turns up nothing—then again that was *cough* nearly half a century ago so it’s not surprising). My preschool teachers were Miss May and Mr. Gordon. They seemed quite old to me, but not nearly so old as my kindergarten teacher the next year, Miss Sullivan. She had to have been in her 60s, maybe early 70s. Or then again, maybe that’s just how she seemed through the eyes of a five year old.

In first grade, I went to Eakin Elementary School, also in Nashville and it’s still there. I got to see it in 2009 on a visit to my older son and his wife. My teacher was Miss Floyd and I just absolutely adored her. I was beyond ecstatic when she stayed with my class to be our second grade teacher.

In 3rd and 4th grades, I attended Tates Creek Elementary School in Lexington, KY. I couldn’t tell you anything about my teachers, although I do remember attending anti-drug classes as well as getting tested for TB, taking gymnastic for two years (I was horrible at it but boy I sure wanted to be a gymnast) and having a massive crush on Landon King.

Fifth grade was pretty wretched for me. I went to an elementary school in Derby, KS and my teacher’s name was Mrs. Warren. She flat out hated me, and I couldn’t tell you why. But the mean things she said and her obvious dislike and utter reluctance to have anything to do with me are things I’ve never forgotten. About 2/3 of the way through the year, we moved into base housing and I thankfully switched schools. I remember Mr. Amerine being nice, not great but at least nice which was a pleasant change.

In 6th grade, I went to Coopertown Elementary School in Bryn Mawr. Mr. Schultz was my teacher for all but reading and math—he was really nice and well liked. I had Mr. Folmer for reading, and he probably never realized what a huge positive impact he had on me, and how badly I needed the lifeline he offered. I wish I could find him and tell him how much he helped me and what a positive impact he had on me.

After that, I remember specific teachers for some specific classes, but not all of them. The ones who stick out do so for good reasons: At Beaumont Junior High School in Lexington again, I had Mr. Connolly (band teacher in 7th grade), then in Cape Girardeau I had Mrs. Sharpe who taught me several liberal arts classes in high school and was also the speech and debate coach. She was just incredible. My band teacher there, Mr. Ewing, was also good—oh and I remember Miss Myers, my Spanish teacher in 9th grade. She was the one with a wandering eye so I was never sure which eye actually saw me!

Who do you remember, and why?

Preschool, I'm top row, far right side by Mr. Gordon. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

By the numbers?

So. Back to the ALS ice bucket challenge one more time. Yes, I know I’ve written about this twice already but bear with me—I have more to say.

I’m seeing people post snarky poster photo dealies on Facebook that list the number deaths from ALS every year compared to the number who die from lack of access to clean water. No disrespect intended but so what? Is it a contest to find the cause with the greatest number of deaths? Is that how we should decide where we’ll put our charitable muscle or money to work?

Look, I get it that access to clean water is a huge issue around the world. I just don’t see the relationship between that and fund raising for ALS. What if I hadn’t poured my four cups of water, give or take a cup, over my head and donated $100 to ALS research? Would my not doing that have magically helped those living in drought-stricken areas? In fact, isn’t this an awfully lot like being told as a child that I should finish my dinner “because there are children starving in Africa?” How are these related?

Put it another way—what’s the price of a life? Was Spock right, and do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few . . . or the one? Must you have huge numbers of people who suffer from something in order for donating to that cause to somehow be worthy?

Two months before
Jordan was diagnosed
I donate primarily to two causes*. The first one is research for ALS. I do it because ALS has a face for me, the face of a man I never met. The second one is for research into finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. This kind of diabetes accounts for “only” about 5% of the total number of people with diabetes, and it too has a face—my older son. Neither illness gets nearly the funding for research that other diseases get; I will do what I can to help with both causes.

I don’t begrudge those who prefer to donate to causes like access to clean water around the world. Please do me the same courtesy.

*I periodically donate to a couple of other research causes but those are funded a lot better than these two, which is why I generally stick to the ones listed here.