Just a little blog about me and mine.

ATNTFTB: When It Comes to Detergents, What’s the Least Irresponsible Choice? February 26, 2009

Filed under: in the news — Katie @ 10:35 pm

This morning we finished up a Costo/Sam’s club sized container of automatic dishwasher liquid–it’s all full of chlorine and lots of other bad things–but it’s cheap. Then I didn’t recycle it because even now, 14 hours later, I would probably still be rinsing it out. So, with a little shame, I saw this article in a new Times feature called Green Home.


This article is an interview with the head honcho for the EPA’s Design for the Environment division. This part of the EPA identifies the safest products on the market after the makers submit a list of ingredients.

This article is noteworthy because I learned more about different products that I buy and with real knowledge in hand–not just the claims on the packaging–I might make better choices, although I still don’t want to be sold Amway products.

Better yet, I also found this article to be fantastic because the interview is a classic example in a government bureaucrat being so vague and unhelpful in answering questions that it’s hilarious.


ATNTFTB: Ash Wednesday February 25, 2009

Filed under: in the news,theology — Katie @ 3:46 pm

I wanted to find an article on Lent and Ash Wednesday to combine two blogs into one: one my daily news story and the other explaining why I’ll have an oily and dirty smudge on my forehead later this evening.
So, I went to the New York Times website and searched for Ash Wednesday. I think the results show us a bit about our national religious literacy, or lack thereof.

The first article is about a fairly sounding horrid movie from 1973 called Ash Wednesday starring Henry Fonda and Elizabeth Taylor. From the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s I saw notices that churches would be holding their annual Ash Wednesday services to begin the penitential season of Lent. By 2008, there were only notices that New York City parking rules would follow the weekend schedule on Ash Wednesday. Also, the U.S. and British bombing of the German city of Dresden in World War II took place on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday–burning to death over 100,000 Germans in their homes, but not actually reaching any military targets. A nun meditating on this event said, meditating in her convent on that first day of Lent, thinks of the smudge of ash on her forehead; it is ”as if . . . the dust of cities wrecked by war had touched them this Wednesday of ashes.” Penitence needed indeed.


Not Newsworthy at All

Filed under: pets — Katie @ 9:22 am

I’ve been working too hard today to read the Times yet, but did see this tibit of information on when I got home. There is, it seems, designer cologne for dogs. It’s called Sexy Beast and it combines essential oils of bergamot, patchouli, mandarin, and nutmeg to create a unisex scent for your stinky pup. The best part? It’s called Sexy Beast.


Unisex cologne for dogs is strange and funny enough I suppose, but in our circle of friends (some Agnes Scott girls plus 2 Georgia Tech geeks), the phrases sexy beast, you’re a beast, and grrrr date back some years. Sole credit for this invention dates back to the Agnes Scott swim team circa 2001 or 2002. They would yell that to each other while swimming for motivation. It soon found new uses and new users. Now the circle is drawn wider yet again with a more literal interpretation and including actual beasts.


ATNTFTB: What Was With the Peacocks and the Gothic Fiction? February 23, 2009

Filed under: books,in the news — Katie @ 8:27 pm

Today’s article of the day is actually a tie with a Business Section article on Tropicana’s failed package redesign. But I love this article title, and I love Flannery O’Connor and her magic of capturing the Southern Gothic, so Books of the Times wins out today. But man, why waste all that money on an orange juice carton?

How does one go about writing a biography of a enigmatic reclusive writer who didn’t live very long? A new book, Flannery attempts this task, and does unravel a bit of the mystery and appears to do a fair job of illuminating Flannery O’Connor’s deeply admired and dark body of work.

Here’s what we know about Flannery O’Connor: She owned peacocks. And made outfits for them. She was racist. She was Catholic in an anti-Catholic South. She mostly lived as a recluse at her family’s farm, Andalusia (a Southern Gothic theological pilgrimage with a good friend from seminary has been in the planning stages for a few months now). A lady friend was madly in love with her–it’s not clear whether the feeling was mutual. She died of lupus at age 39.

My first awareness of Flannery O’Connor began many years ago when my mom talked about meeting her in the 1960s. My mom attended what was then called Women’s College of Georgia (located in Milledgeville, GA). Flannery O’Connor went to college there was well, and while my mom was there from 1961 to 1965, and Flannery O’Connor–quite ill by that time–would occasionally come to campus to speak. My mom doesn’t love her writing, but even then she grasped the awesomeness of having someone like Flannery O’Connor in your midst.


ATNTFTB: Tamer ‘Rent’ Is Too Wild for Some Schools February 20, 2009

Filed under: in the news — Katie @ 11:45 am

I’m not a prude. Or a Puritan. I’m really not. My favorite tv shows are Weeds and The L Word, and I would prefer that How I Met Your Mother came on Showtime so they could spice it up a bit. And Callie as a lesbian on Grey’s Anatomy? Hot. I’m also really into free speech and really not into censorship, even of things that, well, should be censored.


But I kinda agree with some of the folks in this article that Rent maybe isn’t the best idea for a high school play. (I mean, we all know Zac Effron will eventually come out and put some new perspective on High School Musical, but even then it won’t be quite as the same level as Rent)

I first heard about Rent on the Rosie O’Donnell show in 1997–the summer between my junior and senior years in High School, and recall riding around in my trusty 1988 Dodge Shadow playing the Rent soundtrack nonstop. (Yes, I should have known I was gay then but didn’t). So, yes I was in high school and consuming Rent and its message, but we didn’t all go see it as a class or anything. And the drama club certainly wouldn’t have performed it–that would be…gay. PL went to an arts magnet high school, so they had a VERY different campus culture, but I’m not sure they would have even done it when she was there. When her little brother was at the same school as a senior in 2005, the school put on the Laramie Project and it was met with some protest. He shrugged his shoulders and didn’t care whether they did the play or not, but that’s his usual approach to most other things in life as well.

As the article explains, the high school version of Rent has removed some explicit language and they removed the song Contact (they did that in the movie too). I guess “Rent: School Edition” is much more along the lines of the movie than the original play, and the movie did seem to fairly popular in the mainstream way. On the other hand, a part of me is ashamed of my old person-like shocked reaction, and thinks it’s a great thing that high school kids don’t blink at the thought of a play with gay and straight characters and draq queens. It makes me feel both very old and also very hopeful that “kids these days” by and large grew up with LGBT figures in the media and in their lives. I am also hopeful that people who actually see Rent will love it, and even though they may scoff at the subject matter at first, deep down they know it’s quality stuff.


Potato, Potato February 19, 2009

Filed under: family,gardening — Katie @ 10:30 pm

p2190100For many years my dad kept a journal of his gardening activities and wrote down dates of planting, diagrams of his evenly spaced rows, and recorded his failures and successes (such as tomatoes so large you only need one slice for a BLT).  After many years, he didn’t need to do that anymore.  He remembers by instinct after a lifetime of working his grey dirt (unlike us unlucky folks with red clay) that, for example, you plant red potatoes on Valentine’s Day.

I was with my dad on February 13th this year, so it was no surprise that after dinner we went to the farm store and bought a big bag of seed potatoes.  I went home with about 25 pounds of them in my car.  To put that in perspective, each seed potato will yield an average of 3 plants, so I probably have 100 or more potential plants worth of potatoes in my car right now.  Last year PL and I had 4 potato plants and we grew more potatoes than we could eat.  Needless to say, I’m looking for some eager potato growers.  There’s still plenty of time left to plant them–the Valentine’s Day planting date is pushed forward a week or more with no problem, especially since it’s usually a bit cooler here than where my parents live.

I do have to admit that I’m a bit hesitant to give the seed potatoes away for several reasons:

  1. I just don’t know that many people, and if everyone I know is growing potatoes too, then I don’t have anyone to take my extras.
  2. Potatoes are so easy to grow that if you knew how easy they were, you wouldn’t be as excited when I give  you a bag of  pretty red potatoes.
  3. I don’t know if you can be trusted with the secret and ancient knowledge that although it’s cool to see big potatoes when you dig up the mounds at the end of the growing season, it’s even better to sneak your hand in the hill and pull out the tiny ones (don’t peel them!) and cook them–they are like butter (said in your best “Coffee Talk” voice).458176377_ieup2-l1

Before we can plant potatoes though, we have some major garden preparation work to do.  We have one raised garden bed in the backyard that I built the day after we closed on our house–seriously, we had no furniture, or even electricity, in the house, but we had tomato plants.

As our family grew to include 2 homeless mutts, our tiny garden bed has become a digging pit for the dogs and their friends.   That’s a  fine activity I’m sure, but not something that fragile baby plants enjoy.

Since the backyard has gone to the dogs, literally, we decided to move the garden to the front yard, and to just plant things directly in the ground.  It’s sunny and lovely in the front yard, and I hope it turns out to be a good spot.

So, this is what the yard looks like right now.  In front of the house (resting underground, waiting for summer) are the world’s largest elephant ear plants and some lilies and other flowers of indeterminate heritage.  The grass is already in sorry shape, so there’s no shame in digging it up and putting cow manure on top of it.  If I’ve never mentioned it, our gardening philosophy is primarily governed by things that people give us for free–I got some assorted bulbs from a coworker, so that’s what’s planted in our flower beds.



ATNTFTB: Great Workout, Forget the View

Filed under: fitness,in the news — Katie @ 7:53 pm

Today’s article stands out for the quirky factor of the event chronicled, but also because of the juxtaposition of reading (and then blogging) about extreme sports instead of actually going running.

In New York City on February 3, 319 people participated in the 32nd annual Empire State Building Run-Up. Participants race up 86 floors–that’s 1,576 stairs. The Empire State building stair well is closed to visitors every other day of the year, so it’s cool that they open it for the race. But, ouch.

In other news, it’s colder today than I thought it would be and more windy too, so we felt that we had a good excuse to not go running. Instead, I changed out of work clothes, ate some Cocoa Puffs and watched the Rachel Maddow Show Podcast.

We’ve been fairly faithful runners lately, and progressed back up after some cold weather laziness to week 4 of the Couch to 5k running plan). I also have a shiny new green Ipod Shuffle (a great Valentine’s day present from PL) so I’m enjoying some weird techno funk running podcast to help pass the time. But not today. Today, I’ll just read about the 15-20 minutes of agony of other people.