Oh, Lane Bryant ....

Opened yesterday's mail to find this pic on the cover of a flyer from Lane Bryant (I later read online that they call it a "magalog" which is just another reason to cancel my card with them, if you ask me):

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I did tweet that I thought it was inappropriate last night, and a bunch of others agreed with me because their feed was about 20 apologies in a row, but I thought I could better articulate it on their Facebook page. So I wrote this:
I've been shopping at Lane Bryant -- almost exclusively -- for about 16 years. I love the clothes, I love the fit, I love that I can find non-muumuu, trendier clothes in my size ... I could go on and on. However, the current flyer/catalog (I read you call it a "magalog"? ouch, that's bad) really gave me a bad taste in my mouth. I appreciate the attempt at "real women". I appreciate that it's an attractive picture. What I can't appreciate is that you made the choice to make it a cover photo. If you just thought it was a great photo and were all "real women" and "embrace curves", blah blah blah, it could have been on the inside where no one but the women who shop at Lane Bryant would have seen it. Choosing to place it on the cover tells me you just wanted to be titillating. Shocking for shock's sake doesn't make me shop at your store. Are you marketing to me, or my husband?

Here's the thing: years ago, my husband asked me to not to get the Victoria's Secret catalog anymore. Because I respect him, I cancelled mailings from them. When I saw this in the mail yesterday, it took me right back to that time. Really, it raises all kinds of questions. Why do you want half-naked girls on the cover of a CLOTHING CATALOG?! Are you selling half-naked women? Last time I checked, you would actually *prefer* that I buy both a top and bottoms. Wouldn't that be better for your bottom line?

Please hear me: I don't think it's pushing any sort of homosexual agenda, as some have noted. I don't think it's not a beautiful shot. However, I *do* think it's almost soft-core porn. I do think it's very clear none of those women is wearing a top or bra (ironic, because I happen to know you sell both). And the only conclusion I can draw is that you chose that pic because you knew it would be shocking. Putting that pic on the front means you are not marketing to me. You're basically just opting for the old "all publicity is good publicity" thing.

I'm sad, because I always felt like you actually DID understand me and my preferences, and now I know you don't. Do I want to look like those girls? Sure! But they don't need to be half-naked on the cover for me to want to look like them.

Women who receive your catalog have husbands and sons who don't need to see that. Have some decency. Think about your customers. Don't turn in to Victoria's Secret. Make nice clothes for us and sell them tastefully. I expected more from you, Lane Bryant. I'm also thankful that Old Navy now has plus sizes on line. We can "embrace our curves" with clothes on them, you know.

They replied nicely but cluelessly:
Hi Margaret - Thank you for notifying us of your thoughts regarding the Lane Bryant September magalog cover. Its intent is to feature a group of beautiful women proudly showing their figures and empowering our customers to embrace their own curves. We appreciate your opinion and apologize for any displeasure the photo may have caused you.
Again, we value your opinion and that you took the time to share it, and we will continue to offer the fashion and quality you expect from us.

Which I felt compelled to correct:
No; your intent was to shock. Please don't try to couch it in marketing spin. The women who get your catalog are intelligent, professional, world-wise women. Again I'll say: curves can be embraced with clothes on. Showing me half-naked girls who are too big to be "regular-sized" models doesn't "empower me to embrace my curves". Please. They don't even have back fat! You've made me laugh. Thanks.

And then I reminded them of this example of theirs which is utterly gorgeous (and ironically contains many of the same models):
la cocina

Food, farting, and farmbox

You've missed a few BWA HA HA moments in our house lately and I've been trying to remember to blog about things Unk said lately that made me go LOL. I had three "food conversations with Unk" I was going to share with you, but I can only remember 1. *sigh* The mind is the first thing to go.

The one that has stuck in my head for ages was when I was cutting up broccoli florets and telling him how good they were for him. The conversation was something to the effect of:
Me: Cruciferous vegetables are so good for you! They fight cancer!
He: Cruciferous vegetables? Like what?
Me: Uh ... like the broccoli I'm cutting up now.
He: So is there a link between farting and less cancer?

My sister says this is a squash
Originally uploaded by Antof9.
The broccoli is thanks to our CSA (lovingly known as The Farmbox). We've had an abundance of greens (of course!) and other veggies (recognizable and un), and rhubarb! We had several weeks in a row with only a small amount of rhubarb (so had to settle for "crisps"), but last week finally got enough to bake a whole pie. Anyone who knows my husband knows he doesn't really eat sweets much at all, and is more likely to be found eating protein at any time of the day or night -- meals, snacks, or otherwise. So imagine our surprise when we heard he'd had a piece of pie for breakfast the morning after I made it! Our friend Scotty (who is living with us for a while) decided that the Unk who eats pie for breakfast is probably a horcrux.
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A Blog Entry of Great Import. Or, Why I Hate Burger King.

Recently, I was in a situation where I was forced to think about my extreme dislike for Burger King. I can't remember what I was doing or why I thought it needed to be traced, but imagine my surprise when I "remembered" why I disliked it so! Even more recently I was in a Facebook conversation where I had to type it and thought, "oh yeah, I can blog this. THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW!" Lucky you.

Growing up, we didn't eat a lot of fast food. In fact, we ate almost none. On a very basic level, I couldn't have told you if I liked McDonald's or Burger King or Wendy's better, or what a favorite order was at each place, etc. In college, I found that I really liked the Hardee's breakfast sandwiches and would have one on the way to church every Sunday morning. I distinctly remember when McDonald's started selling chicken nuggets - I was also in college, and I loved a 9-pack with BBQ dipping sauce. I'm sure the fact that at some point I started buying the 20-pack had nothing to do with the fact that I went to college at about 130 lbs. and ended my freshman year at 162.

Life moved on and I never really did become a big fast food eater (no pun intended), but if given the choice, I'd have a Wendy's burger over anything else. McDonald's would be my next choice, but I really don't like Burger King. Why? For many years I didn't think about it; I just knew I didn't like them.

And then I had my memory epiphany. I never really ate a lot of Burger King, but I ceased altogether when they came out with the "croissanwich". I was so offended by what they did to the word croissant that I never wanted to eat there again. My only regret is that I wanted to boycott them again when they came out with that creepy Burger King ... King as a mascot. Holy cow, I wished I'd been spending millions there on a weekly basis so they would feel the big gaping hole of me NEVER EATING THERE AGAIN as a result of that stalker mascot decision. *sigh*

Anyway, that's why I don't eat Burger King. Ever. And "because I like food" is the reason I don't eat at other fast food places. Also, see: $$. Last, I've seen Supersize Me and it freaked me out. ... although I did recently eat a McDonald's burger in the Whole Foods parking lot, which gave me an evil satisfaction I can't fully explain.
Ant icon

So ... there's nothing like blogging about yesterday's news ...

I guess I wrote this and never actually clicked the "post" button. I could just toss it, but I might as well have it here so I can link back to it. Basically, here's my essay on "I don't care what he does in his personal life" and (former) Representative Anthony Weiner.

Just like with Bill Clinton, I'm hearing comments to the effect of "I don't care what Representative Weiner does in his personal life ..." blah blah blah. Basically what these people are saying is, "I just want him to be good at his job. He can do whatever he wants when he's off the clock." This sounds so magnanimous and high-thinking and… short-sighted.

Because while that sounds good in theory, there are several things wrong with it in reality. I could argue that very few of us are only at our jobs for 8 hours a day. The vast majority of us (and definitely politicians) ARE our jobs 24/7. But that's not my argument.

Here's the thing: morals are morals. You don't use them sometimes. You don't just use them at home or just at work. They govern your every action. They don't change between work and home -- they are with you always. If you believe X is wrong; it's wrong all the time. If you believe Y is right; it's right all the time. Situational ethics don't actually exist. You might think you can apply one set of morals in one type of circumstance and another in another, but eventually your real ethics take over and the gray becomes black or white.

And because of that, I say that your morals matter, politicians. If you'll steal pens from work today, there's no telling what you'll steal from work tomorrow.

But I can give you a better example. I worked for a man in Chicago who I used to say was the best manager of anything I'd ever worked for. He managed one of the top 3 branches of a huge financial services company. This was no small potatoes. I was his assistant and part of the leadership team in both a suburb office and then in the big downtown Chicago office. He really was a great manager and boss. Everyone loved him, he increased production in that branch, he recruited great people, and as one of the top 3 branches in the nation, we were incredibly successful and were constantly jockeying for position 1, 2, or 3 in the company.

In the months up to my taking a new job as a trainer (and reporting to our home office), some odd things happened. I felt like he was constantly mad at me, he made some very questionable hiring decisions, and it was just a generally weird atmosphere. Basically, I was happy to become a home office employee and telecommute from a different space in that Chicago office and no longer report to him.

As time passed, I heard comments and rumblings from the people who sat near my new desk (when I was actually in town and in the office). More decisions that didn’t sound like that manager. Odd choices, strange rule implementation, a couple really good recruits he’d had “in the bag” who slipped through his fingers and went to other firms, etc., etc. And more bad hiring decisions.

And then one day when I was just back from a trip, he asked me to come into his office. After walking down the hall feeling slightly paranoid (I didn’t report to him anymore – why did I feel funny?!), I got to his office and he shut the door behind me. It felt exactly like when I worked for him and he had to yell at me. And then he shocked me. I mean SHOCKED me. He told me he’d been having an affair, and was basically enlisting my help in convincing people that it was true love. I could go into the details of who the person was and how that made it even more upsetting, but I don’t need to. Suffice it to say that that explained EVERYTHING. (and nothing, at the same time, of course) He had just celebrated a big anniversary (20 or 25), and was having an affair at the same time.

It's possible you might not see the correlation between the affair and his job performance, but it was glaringly obvious to me and many people around him. His lapse in morals most definitely affected his work. Soon after The Conversation, he was demoted to a smaller branch, left his wife, and then eventually was no longer a branch manager. I'm not sure if he married the woman he "affaired" with, but he is not with her now. I fell out of touch with him so I don't even know the whole work history, but suffice it to say he was either asked to leave (that's how they fire managers who haven't actually embezzled or done something illegal but are nonetheless sucking at their jobs) or actually dismissed in the end.

You can keep saying "what he does in his personal life doesn't matter to me; I just want him to be the mayor/senator/president/whatever," but for me? It matters. It matters a lot. I expect a person to have integrity in all of their dealings. I expect him/her to be faithful to a partner, to be a parent to the kids they've chosen to have, to do the job they are being paid to do. Doing something "on their own time" isn't actually a thing if it violates promises and vows they've already made. If they don't demonstrate integrity in little things, I don't expect them to demonstrate it in the big ones. What's the expression? "Character is who you are when no one's watching" or something like that. I believe it. Because it's true.

A recipe only a BookCrossing vegan could love: Black Bean Brownies

Old BookCrossers may remember this chit-chat thread, which just took me about 20 minutes to find using the "new" search feature on BC. It took long enough that I decided to condense the BBB part because it entertained me, and I talk about it periodically.

Here's the original thread. Unless BC changes the way they do links again, of course.

To start, our good friend zz_neena was looking for dinner ideas. People responded with a lot of good recipe ideas, so if you're looking for dinner recipes, there's that in that thread, too. Of course someone wondered what she was serving for dessert, which is where this recipe came up.

Original Recipe:

Here is a SUPER easy brownie that tastes really decadent!
(by BookCrosser Ri)

Combine one box of brownie mix with one can of pureed black beans (yes, you heard me correctly). I just throw the beans in the blender with a bit of the liquid from the can until it makes a nice soupy goop. Stir it up, like you would a "regular" brownie mix.

Bake just like it says on the brownie mix box. That's it. Yes, it is true that the only ingredients are black beans and brownie mix.

These brownies are extremely fudgy and the best that I have ever tasted. I give them as gifts, as they are so popular with my friends now. You can dress them up with frosting, chocolate chips, marshmallow fluff, nuts, etc. They are also really nice with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce!

Also, I tend to underbake my brownies a bit to keep them moist and fudgy, as I don't like hard ones.

The details, if you wondered how anyone could come up with that idea:
I learned of ts great recipe from a vegan friend of mine who also has bad chocolate cravings. She had way too many beans in her house and voila, the recipe was born.

I typically used Pilsbury mix (when I was in the States) because it was the one that didn't have whey in the mix (hence it was vegan). But, since then I have successfully made this with any brownie mix. For the 13x9 sized mix, I used the whole can of beans with a little liquid. For the smaller 9x9 varieties, I just scale back the beans slightly and add to the mix until it looks like brownie batter consistency.

As for the health specs, I don't know them. On the box mixes there is usually a nutritional listing for the mix itself as well as the prepared type. Take the info from the mix and then add the info from the black bean can (divided of course by the number of brownies you cut).

Well, I certainly couldn't leave it at that, so ...
Then I did a Scientific Experiment:
The specimens are in the oven!
Specimen A: Atkins Chocolate Brownie Mix
Specimen B: Betty Crocker Chocolate Chunk Brownie Mix

so far they look and smell like brownies, although Betty's was clearly glossier and brownier. The chunks of chocolates didn't hurt her either. . .

One note: we found black beans with an ingredient list of only beans, water, salt. Many of the others had garlic or onion powder or other things. Probably something you want to check first :)

A huge plus from the lab: no measuring cups!

Results from the Lab Experiment:
Specimen A (Atkins) just didn't quite cut it. Quite frankly, we weren't sure if they would be sweet enough even if made as directed. I wish I had stirred some extra sugar (I was even willing to use Splenda) in the mix.

Specimen B (Betty) was . . .well, to use Ri's word, "decadent". We think it was the gooey chunks of chocolate throughout the brownie.

Final results: Betty's could be eaten straight out of the pan. And quite frankly, were. Could have been a *tiny* bit sweeter, but was definitely, definitely yummy.

Atkins was MORE than adequate with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.

Special thanks to Ri for the idea (which I will definitely do again) and zz-neena for having a dinner emergency in the first place. Even if they hadn't turned out yummily :) we still had fun doing the science experiment!

The good thing -- my friend who was over for dinner took them back downtown with her to give to "the boys", so we just have a little bit left in the house.

Additional thoughts (in conversation) about the two mixes:
... that the Atkins one just wouldn't be good no matter *how* it was prepared! :) But honestly, it was perfectly good with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup!

No doubt Betty is using the gooey chocolate chunks as a diversionary tactic :)

And of course, Unk's final assessment from the morning after:
"those are the first brownies that'll give you gas"

Hey look! A blog entry NOT about American Idol!

If you follow the "FridayReads" hashtag on Twitter or you've seen my "currently reading" books on Goodreads, or if you've seen me whining on Facebook, you know I'm STILL trying to read The Gulag Archipelago. And what I've just realized is that my blog is basically the only social media venue I haven't yet complained about this on. Let's put an end to that right now!

To sum: I always wanted to read this, and when Solzhenitsyn died in 2008, I thought, "this is as good a time to read this as any." I started reading it shortly before a business trip to New York. My theory for planes is "enforced reading" and I relish it. So I took this book on the plane and thought I'd read a ton of it on the flight. And I did. Until I felt that feeling you feel when the plane starts to slow down, and I thought, "wow, we sure got here fast." And then I looked out the window and saw Chicago. Which is not close to New York.

There was scary flying in circles using up fuel, the man next to me sending BlackBerry messages to his family, lots of emergency vehicles, and an emergency landing at O'Hare. We eventually got on another plane for NY, but my love of flying had changed (a bit), and I was no longer interested in this book.

It's now April of 2011, and I AM GOING TO FINISH THIS BOOK. Out of sheer stubbornness, if nothing else. I am, after all, the Stubborn Girl in my family, the one who reminded her dad of his sister ... the Stubborn One. And I want to read it on Principle, dangit!

So yesterday in this book, I ran across a word I didn't know and hadn't seen before: gaybisty. Nor had or Google. In fact, as inkognitoh noticed, Google thought we wanted "Gay Big City". I don't even know what that means, because if I were talking about a big gay city, well, that's the order I'd put the words in. fechtbuch came up with my favorite definition so far: It means "bisty attracted to bisties of its own gender". Which was at least entertaining, but not helpful either.

Context might help:
Not everyone swallowed up by the Great Machine was allowed to mingle with the natives of the Archipelago. Well-known foreigners, individuals who were too famous or who were being held secretly, purged gaybisty, could not by any means be seen openly in camps; their hauling a barrow did not compensate for the disclosure and the consequent moral-political damage. In the same way, the socialists, who were engaged in a continuous struggle for their prison rights, could not conceivably be permitted to mingle with the masses but had to be kept separately and, in fact, suffocated separately -- in view of their special privileges and rights.

Two of my Twitter friends (one of whom is also an LJ friend) found this link, which seems the most helpful. Another friend suggested "'Gay Bisty for Me' an Eastwood flick with a speech impediment?" Our friend miketroll suggested KGB-ist, which goes along with that Yahoo discussion thread.

Anyway, it was so strange to encounter this seemingly-unknown word that I thought I'd share it. Now it seems a rather dumb blog entry, but it's written so I'll hit "post" shortly. The last time this happened for me was "palimpsest" about 8 or so years ago ... but at least the dictionary recognized that one! Do you have any new words you've learned lately? And did you know that has an iPhone app? I just learned that yesterday, too!

So that's that. A blog entry of epically nerdy proportions.

Update May 3, 2011 with ... information from the Translator's Notes (yeah, duh):
Soviet Security services personnel, for example, are referred to in a variety of special epithets, some of them carrying overtones of contempt. Most of these have been manufactured from the various initials, at one time and another, of the basic Soviet secret police organization:

(He explains "Checkist")

"Gaybist," which is pronounced "gay-beest," with the accent on the last syllable, is derived from the letters "g" and "b" standing for State Security.

Likewise "Gaybeshnik" -- pronounced "gay-besh-need," with the accent on the second syllable.

Maybe I'll be less crabby this week

... because wandererjen is here and I have ice cream.

And now for the Top 8

Starting with a most hilarious entry by the judges. J Lo has a big wad of tulle stapled to the front of her dress, and Mr. Tyler continues in the Polyester Mom top vein.

Tonight they are singing "Music from the Movies"

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Predictie McLeaverson would like to see Paul, Lauren, Jacob or Haley go home. Guessing It'll be Haley or Paul after tonight's performances.

AI not on DVR - "live"

It's your Top 9 America, and I can't pause and re-wind so what you get is what you get. And I have no idea what Steven Tyler was doing at the top of the show. Very weird. is the coach this week. Interesting. I thought it was "rock-n-roll" week, but it's Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame week. Got it?

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I'm sorry, but Predictie McLeaverson is crabby, and doesn't like this cast much at all. Not sure I even know (or care) who is going home. I'd be ok with Jacob going home, I think. But really, none of them got me excited either way. Sad. I'm sorry -- maybe I'm not invested enough in this cast to care. There's a lesson here -- go back to watching the cattle call auditions if you're actually going to watch the competition.

Oh, I'm still typing for the ending montage of all of them. Yes, Jacob should go home. I'd send Haley too, if I were in charge.

Ok FINE. But I might not do it every week.

As many of you know, I decided I wasn't going to watch American Idol this year. I had decided enough was enough, and that between the shark-jumping and the time wastiness, I should stop blogging the show. And I've successfully avoided the current season! I mean, I really have! I haven't watched any of it (cutting some of the cable/HD DVR helps).

And then Unk ran upstairs to brush his teeth (he's hanging out with a brother tonight), and I flipped the channels on the TV and .... now I'm watching this stupid show again. I hope you people are happy.

So ... picking up near the end of the first quarter of tonight's show, we have The kids sing songs that make me feel old (in other words, songs from their birth year)...

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Predictie McLeaverson has some she likes but won't be making predictions until she sees a whole evening of performances.

In honor of National Grammar Day ...

My good friend miketroll knows my love language, and made sure I saw this post on the FAILBlog this week. It seemed appropriate to post for MARCH FORTH. Well ... appropriate with my edits below, of course.

epic fail photos - Proofreading Services FAIL
see more funny videos, and check out our Insanity Wolf lols!

The poor, poor idiot's visible contact info notwithstanding, I did get quite the giggle from this. Interestingly enough, each person who looks at this seems to see a different number of errors. As a freelance editor and proofreader, I'll note what I see ... and what I'd say if this had been given to me to proof.

  1. Proof Reading should be Proofreading

  2. $ + "Dollars" is redundant. There's no need to write out dollars when using dollar signs

  3. "dicussed" should, of course, be discussed (and not the homonym "disgust", as some suggested)

  4. "less" is for mass nouns. This was a count noun, and should have been "fewer" (but really, if you're paying a proofer, there shouldn't be any errors left in the document, should there?)

  5. I have no idea why "grammatical" would be capitalized here

  6. "you" should, of course, be "your"

  7. funny that both "any time" and "anytime" were used in this, but both times it should have been "anytime"

Additionally ...
  • I'd award bonus points for a little more punctuation. Like a period after "back" and "Circle"

  • More bonus points for writing the dollar amount properly ($2.00 - $6.00 or $2.00 - 6.00)

  • Even more bonus points for writing the time properly (4:00)

  • Lots and lots of bonus points if the person had taken the time to format this nicely instead of 6 almost random lines, like, say:

Proofreading Services

$2.00 - $6.00/paper, subject to length, content, and turnaround time required. Negotiable when we talk about your paper.
Full refund if your grade is marked down for any grammatical errors!

Email: xxxxx
Mobile: xxxx

But that's just me :)