Friday, March 31, 2006

O, Thou Elusive Cookbook!

Still remains elusive - I'm watching 17 different ones on eBay, but they are wildly popular and keep passing out of my price range. I bid on a few and was instantly outbid by someone with a deeper pocket. Checked, which was depressingly vague and unhelpful, even though their website is very fancy-schmancy. Four days left!

Later... Friend Rindy tells me that she found one for $717.75. *ding*ding*ding* We have a winner!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

More cookbook

It's been quite interesting - I sent the last post to about 100 or so friends & family to see if anyone knew of the aforementioned cookbook, and I've gotten about 2 dozen replies, I think - people who had it as a child, or have it now, but it's a) too battered or b) indispensible. Almost as if they were bragging - "I have one, but you can't have it!" It's nice when you realize that an oft-used, practical item still has a shelf value, isn't it? Doesn't help ME, now, does it?

Called the 2 main used bookstores here in town - Bookman Bookwoman (no idea WHAT that name is supposed to connote; that they actually *gasp* allow both men & women to shop there? Or, that they're segregated? It was originally just Bookman, I believe, but I think the owner took on a female partner, or there was a protest at the gender-exclusive name and this was the result. I'm inclined to suspect the latter, because the shop is in Hillsboro Village, which is Cool and Liberal Central for Nashville, and That Sort of Thing wouldn't be allowed there. But I deliberately digress...) and Elder's Bookstore on Elliston Place which is a City Treasure since it's been there since the 50s and is family owned. (It's interesting that the very idea of family descendants running the same shop/restaurant for over 20 years makes something a Treasure. I mean, the place could have nothing but copies of Hardy Boys mysteries and crappy remaindered books, and we'd still be inclined to think it's a Treasured Emporium just because it isn't a chain or franchise. But I casually digress again...)

Elder's is searching and will call me back, and Bookman/woman didn't have it. The Bookwoman I talked to felt it necessary to describe the similar Betty Crocker cookbooks she had on hand, despite the fact that I had clearly identified the year and appearance of the book - maybe my memory was a bit hazy? Despite the fact that I have become an disinterested expert on the various incarnations of BC cookbooks from the latter half of the 20th century and could describe the features, publication dates, and cover of the one I want in impressive bibliophilic detail. Even though I could personally care less about which one it is, never having used any of them.

But that's true of me in general. I have a quite respectable range of cookbooks atop the fridge that are used or consulted a few times a year; I mistakenly thought in high school and college that I was interested in cooking and started to collect them, only to find a decade later that I could care less, and the internet has loads more recipies than I could ever need. So, the one cookbook that I use with any regularity is my blank one - one of those 3-ring binder types with blank pages and pockets that you can store accumulated recipes; the majority of which seem to be for cookies. Yet I shall never let go of the unused ones - cause they're BOOKS, and Might Be Useful Someday.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

In search of a cookbook

So my friend Mindy's birthday party is on Tuesday, and the ONE THING I know she wants, and I can't seem to get, is the 1969 Betty Crocker "red pie" Cookbook, reprinted about every year through the 70s. They're certainly out there, and I've found lots on eBay... but they're EXPENSIVE! They sell between $25-50 on average, depending on the condition of the book. They are very much in demand, and are considered to be the best edition ever put out.

Mindy got one when she was married in 1972, and has used it until it's falling apart and would like another one. I as good as promised that I would find one for her birthday, and yet I fear the ones on eBay are priced outside of my budget. If anyone, ANYONE, knows where I can get one in usable condition (sturdy enough for regular use for another few decades), please let me know! I'm hoping to find one under $25.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A real page turner

So, I've spent the morning researching products for my friend/client who has MS and can't use her hands. She has a computer with a voice-recognition software, and I suppose compared to most folks with an "input" disability ("input" meaning how she is able to relay commands to the computer) she actually gets by pretty well, considering the mouse and keyboard are useless to her. But we've talked a lot about the limitations of the software, as well as the difficulties of other tasks like simply wanting to read a book. Unless someone is on hand to turn the pages, she's hamstrung.

She asked if I knew of any electronic reading devices; she already reads pdf files of some books on her computer screen, but as she puts it, "I'm tired of watching TV!" She wants to hold a book in her lap like she used to do. The searches that I've done have had pretty dismal results. Sony did just come out with an electronic reader in January, which shows book text on the screen of a moderately-sized (and -priced) tablet. But you have to touch a button to turn the pages, and that's not possible. I dug some more, and found an electronic page turner that manually turns the pages of a book - for over $1000! It at least has the benefit of having a variety of non-touch input devices.

I also found a new voice-recognition software called QPointer Voice that supposedly works better at manipulating the computer interface, but it doesn't take dictation as well as her current product, Dragon NaturallySpeaking. *sigh* Where is American innovation? We thought Viagra was more important?!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Of Salt and Paperclips

I have been in an early Friday morning Bible study with a half-dozen women for the last seven years. We have been observing Lent together for a few years now, even though most of them are Presbyterians; we tell each other before Ash Wednesday just what we're giving up, and we help keep each other accountable through the 40 days.

While I know that this is a spiritual discipline/sacrifice, it has inevitably produced some really funny situations. Such as the year I allowed myself to get re-addicted to Diet Coke so that I might give it up for Lent (yes, I know, it's appalling). Or the year we tried a reverse Lent, where we took on an activity instead of giving up something treasured.

This year as we got together for dinner on Mardi Gras and went around the table each telling our chosen sacrifices, one of the ladies rather hesitantly said that she was giving up salt. We all laughed at this, until she explained that it was a chronic addition - she could not eat practically anything without adding lots of salt to it. Her hesitation in telling us was that she feared it wasn't the "right" kind of Lenten sacrifice, and she was rather embarrassed despite our assurances that it was a really good idea even though somewhat unusual.

But the more you think about giving up salt, in some ways it is the quintessential Lenten sacrifice. You're giving up things that make life taste better. And sometimes it's those odd little decisions that make Lent even more meaningful than giving up chocolate or sweets.

Our group got together again for a birthday dinner recently, and as usual talked about how Lent was going. "Saltine" had been struggling, but God had really met her during this time, and every time she found herself reaching instinctively for a salt-shaker, she would mentally reach out to God instead. In addition, her husband had gotten involved. He had never given up anything for Lent before, but when she told him what she was doing, he found himself wondering what he might give up, and the answer was... paperclips.

Apparently, Saltine's husband has the bad habit of chewing on big metal paperclips throughout the day - they are literally EVERYWHERE; in the home, car, office, all easily at hand as though they were cigarettes. Not your garden-variety oral fixation. It had been difficult, to say the least, but he had perservered, and a lady in his office had finally said in amazement "What on earth is up with you? You haven't had a paperclip in your mouth for 5 days!" Saltine is really happy, as she can't stand this habit of his.

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Lovely Evening

I had Supper Club last night, and it was one of those really great evenings. It's a chance to get to know other folks from my church, and I initially signed up with no great enthusiasm beyond knowing that I needed to do it; but this particular group is full of such intelligent individuals who can talk about ANYTHING, that we always end up having really good conversations.

This time I was at the Kids' Table; the Happy Young Newlyweds who were hosting, the Single Guy, and myself. We had one of the most intelligent, interesting and far-flung conversations on religion, Nashville, history, work, and travel that I've been a part of in a very long time. I forgot what it was like to be around academics & intellectuals - there's always something interesting to talk about! In the other room with the Grownups there was an occasionally LOUD battle about PostModernism and Generational Tendencies being cheerfully fought.

I don't quite know if this evening was important or not, but it lingers in my mind; it does make me wonder whether or not I've let myself get really sloppy mentally. Everyone is always taking classes or reading books or stretching themselves intellectually; but the group I usually spend Sunday nights with in general doesn't really go down that conversational path, despite the fact the most of them are teachers and intellectuals in their own right. We talk, but it's rarely so rich. It makes me want to try and converse on a higher level with my friends.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Glory Be!

So, as mentioned vaguely in previous posts, I've bin feelin' mighty low...*clunk* (this is a reference to an old Bugs Bunny cartoon, which I THINK starred Pete Puma, but I could be wrong).

Anyway, as a result of depression, I've been feeling sick... and feeling sick worries me no end, so I get more depressed, which makes me sicker... quite the destructive little circle. I am the Queen of Psychosomatic Illnessess, in addition to my title of Grand Duchess of Susania. Anyway, after I started feeling like there was a band tightening around my throat yesterday, I went off the deep end and called for an appointment with my doctor.

I've dreaded going in, because I don't LIKE going to the doctor; but also because I was afraid I would find out that the Probable had become Reality. The Probable being Diabetes. It runs in my father's family, as does hypo-thyroidism, which I also feared. Since I'm overweight and take poor care of my eating and exercise, I've always had it hung over my head like the Sword of Damocles by various older family members, including my mom. Plus, being diagnosed with it would mean my current uninsurability would be even more Uninsurable. If that's possible.

So, went in, cried through my listing of ailments with a nurse, then 2 residents in training, then the doctor, and then was tested for all that stuff. I did certainly feel much better afterwards, having gotten that all out of the way - I mean, I suspected that it was all psychosomatic because it has always been so in the past, but I have to eliminate the possibility of it being real so I can get over it and stop worrying.

So they were supposed to call me tomorrow morning with the results, but in fact, called me before 5 tonight with the news that I was A-OK, right down the middle of Average Textbook Healthy Person. (Apparently, crying at the doctor's can get them to speed up your results.) I am quite Ordinary, which is a pleasant surprise.

Of course, I called Mom in a swivet of Relief and Happy to let her know I wasn't Diabetic nor had a wacked out Thyroid, to which she replied, "Not yet..." as well as "thank goodness," etc. Oh Mom. Way to be happy with me! But I know why she had to say the Not Yet - she wants me to work at changing my lifestyle now, so it won't happen ever; she thinks I will just plunge into a vat of chocolate.

Not likely. This really scared me, over the last month, what with the feeling weak and lightheaded all the time, so I have had very little sugar in the last few weeks, and intend to try and live my life as though I WERE a diabetic, in hopes of reversing the Probable. After 37 years, I finally had enough days of not feeling so good with sugar that I'm less and less inclined to eat it now; the consequences are too fearsome.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Thursday, March 09, 2006

"I'm feelin mighty low..." *clunk*

Sorry guys - in poor spirits at present; not feeling much like writing. Hopefully will be in better mood soon!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Colbert for president

OK, Last night Stephen Colbert topped himself, while berating a "journalista" who had made an insulting comment about how the Yahoo news division was as likely to win a Pulitzer as "The Colbert Report". Colbert then did the most hilariously timed sarcastic bit, "Ha ha, that's great. Funny stuff. Let me try one: Jon Friedman has about as much of a chance of winning a Peabody as I do. Oh wait? That's right," whipping out his Peabody Award... then his second Peabody... at which point he said, "and where do I put these? BESIDE MY EMMYS!" and slammed 2 Emmy statuettes on the desk. I spontaneously applauded - it was just sublime!

Here's a really good one from the Olympics...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Furry Fun

My friend Renu sent me this link for the Cheeky Squirrel Name Generator:

My name is Nibbles Crazypaws. Which is terrifyingly accurate, since I'm quite the nibbler - chips at Las Palmas have no chance against me! - and I'm always working on something, be it a computer keyboard, needlework, or crochet.