Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
The show goes on and I go on greatly enjoying it. What's up with Don Draper? And what about that lawn mower?!?
Top shelf of laundry area
Next two shelves of Laundry area
Next two shelves of Laundry area
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Hal Holbrook is 86 years old, a full sixteen years older than the 70-year-old Mark Twain he is portraying in this show. Using Mark Twain's writings, Holbrook talked about this and that, and there was a lot of "the more things change, the more they stay the same" as Mark Twain had a lot to say about incompetent congress, incredibly wealthy fat cats and distrustful media.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Think back to the last time you introduced yourself, either in person or on the phone. Did you say, “Hello, nice to meet you, my name is [first name] [last name.]” Or did you perhaps say, “Hello, nice to meet you, my name is [first name.]”
My guess, based on my experiences of late, is that you only introduced yourself with your first name. And I’m writing five hundred words about how I think you should also include your last name in that introduction. Here’s why.
I am paid to be an office manager which means I’m the person most likely to answer the phone at my job. Because I work in a school, a lot of the phone calls I answer are parents calling for a variety of reasons: child is sick, child is leaving with someone different today, child is coming in late, child forgot lunch, you get the picture. Inevitably, when I answer, I hear, “Hello, this is Sara.” Or “Hi, Patricia, this is Bill.” And while I reply with a cheery hello, I’m mentally flipping through my Rolodex to figure out which Sara or Bill this is. Most of the time I can identify the caller by the end of the phone call, either because they give me identifying information (Ah! Sara the mother of Sam! Bill the father of Jacob!) or I eventually recognize their voice. Every once in a while I have to ask, “I’m sorry, but which Sara am I talking to?” It’s quite embarrassing and it would save me the trouble of asking or scanning that mental Rolodex if they would just add one more word: their last name.
It makes a difference in person, too, for that same reason. I had a woman volunteer to do lunch duty in September and unfortunately I had not quite learned her name. I regretfully asked, and she told me her first name. It didn’t ring any bells and I searched our parent database, but she was not there. The next day I made a note of which child she brought in to school and cross referenced her and it turns out that the name she told me was her nickname and I only had her formal name in the database. A last name would have cleared up the confusion immediately.
Once upon a time, some curmudgeonly commentator pointed out the lack of last names a few years ago and I took note that I was following the general trend. I do my best to buck the trend, though sometimes it’s awkward as in the following scenario:
New person: “Hi, my name is Mark, nice to meet you.”
Me: “Good to meet you Mark, My name is Patricia Collins.”
And then I feel like the weird one for using two names. But it’s for a cause I believe in, so I persist.
Why do we do it? My theory is that it is part of the general tromping toward informality we’ve been moving to ever since those darn baby boomers decided they didn’t like all those bourgeois trappings, man. No one my age has EVER referred to me as Ms. Collins, because said baby boomers have pretty much verbally beaten that out of us, “Don’t call me Ms. Parker, call me Ann! When I hear Ms. Parker, I start looking around for some old lady.” A socialite once commented that now that people don’t ever call her Mrs. Socialite, she never gets the shared intimacy of saying, “Oh, just call me [first name].” And I couldn’t agree more.
Since we are not referring to each other as Mrs., Mr., and Ms. So-and-so, let’s at least give ourselves the knowledge of each other’s last name. By letting others in on your last name, you are inviting them to join your circle, and giving them valuable information they won’t have to awkwardly ask for later.
Join me in using both names today!
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
And, crack blogger that I am, I forgot to take a final picture. But you will see it when I show you the pictures from the First Flush ceremony, which will happen next week. In the meantime, look at the awesome design for the door on the loo. Apparently, each Loo's door reflects the character of the area the Loo is located. The city asked the school children to create the design. We picked out a quote by Emerson and all the kids drew flowers. A selection of them were chosen and sent to the city and a woman came up with this fabulous design incorporating our flowers. We even got our own copy of the door to hang in our school, which is what you see here.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
This was a nicely acted film populated with actors I love to watch and it moved right along with tension building throughout. However, I did not love it, because aside from the token actress and the "stand by your man" political candidate's wife, there were no women in this film. Yes, politics is still a man's world, but there are a lot more women involved than shown in this film.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
I don’t expect a lot from Fred Meyer. They have made their choices and I know what I’m getting when I go there. If I want to talk to a knowledgeable (and even cheerful!) employee I will go to New Seasons, but at Fred Meyer I am on my own. However, recently I was infected with a bit of curiosity and turned to the company website for an answer. And now I know not to expect much from that venue, either.
Fred Meyer, for those of you who don’t live within its reach, is a combination grocery and variety store which was founded in Portland and spread across the northwest before being bought by Kroger. I grew up shopping Fred Meyer in Boise, Idaho and today in Portland, Oregon, a lot of my paycheck is spent at the store that is four blocks from my house.
Recently, I was buying crackers and I noticed the generic brand of Triscuits was not on the shelves. This was unfortunate, as I liked that brand and it reliably cost less than standard Triscuits. There are never employees available to answer questions in the grocery department, so when I came home I went to Fred Meyer’s web site and sent a brief note enquiring as to the status of the generic Triscuits.
A week passed. I received the following email:
Dear Ms. Collins:
Thank you for contacting Fred Meyer. Regrettably, I am unable to say with any certainty as to whether or not this product is being carried at your location. Please speak to your local store director regarding product availability as our office does not have access to inventory/ordering information. They can check inventory at other locations and will be able to advise if the product can be stocked and/or ordered. In addition, I have forwarded your request to the store manager for further review. Please do not hesitate to contact us at888.247.4439 if you have further comments or concerns. Thank you for your patronage and have a great day
So Brandee Powell was able to tell me that 1)She has no idea about my local store and 2)I should contact the store director directly. She was not able to tell me what the store director’s name was or how to contact her or him, but was able to forward my information to said director for further review. What have I learned from Brandee Powell? That Fred Meyer’s web site is pretty much useless for answering questions and that Consumer Affairs employees can’t do a bit of research to find out what products their own stores carry, or even direct me specifically to a company employee.
So it’s been a week since I received the above email filled with the opposite of information, two weeks since I emailed the original question and that question still has not been answered. It’s not a life or death detail, and I can certainly live never knowing what has become of my generic brand snack crackers. But if you are going to have a feature on your web site offering customer service, it might be nice to actually have customer service by answering the questions submitted.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
And those couple of inches were enough to delay school for two hours. We started at 10:30 instead of 8:30. Of course, Wednesdays are also our early release day. We are done at 1:00. So school started at 10:30, the kids had ninety minutes of learning followed by 30 minutes of lunch and 30 minutes of recess. Then everyone went home. It was kind of a lame day. 31 (of 142) students were absent and I don't blame them one bit.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Last week, Steve Duin, columnist for the Oregonian, lamented the misogynistic, graphic, abuse of women—or in this case woman—as seen in the David Fincher version of the movie The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. He wondered what his 21 year old daughter made of the violence and compared the different message given by another movie of the holiday season—Hugo.
Well, I’m not related to Steve Duin, and I am not 21 any longer, but I am a woman and I do have something to say about women and movies. While the “business-as-usual” depiction of violence against women is, and continues to be disturbing, my feeling is that it part of an even bigger problem. To twist a line from the band Cake, when it comes to women appearing in movies, “baby, we’re never there.”
In comparison to men, women’s stories are rarely told on screen. If we appear at all, it’s usually in one of two ways: as the biblically approved “helpmate” to further the male protagonist’s story; or the jezebel role keeping the male protagonist from something. Let’s take other movie Duin mentions, Hugo. The man character is a twelve year old boy. The secondary character is an aging toy seller. Both of these characters have female companions to help them along their journey: the toy seller has a supportive wife and the boy has a friend, the granddaughter of the toy seller, who might hold the key to solving one of the movie’s mysteries. Don’t get me wrong, Hugo is a good movie, well acted, well directed, beautiful to watch and I recommend it (although it is a tad slow.) But if you are looking for a story about women—their thoughts, their feelings, their journey, their growth—this is not your film.
And neither are most other films. I didn’t believe this myself until I started keeping track one year. I put each movie through the Bechdel Test. In order to pass the test, a movie must answer in the affirmative to the following three questions:
- It includes two women
- Who talk to each other
- About something other than a man.
I didn’t expect a large number of movies to meet this guideline, but I watch a range of movies, from big, dumb blockbusters, to mainstream fare to independent and foreign films. Given such breadth, women would be somewhat represented in these films right?
Wrong. To my dismay, the vast majority of the films I watched that year did not even meet the first criteria, either having no women at all, or one woman (the wife/girlfriend role.) Sporadically I would view a film with two women in it, but when they did interact, they—yep—talked about a man.
This is a problem. It’s part of the blatant and pervasive sexism that seeps through every part of American culture. Women make up half of the population, but our stories--at least the ones that have something to do with a topic other than finding love--are not told. We don’t see ourselves on the big screen. The fact that we are rarely, if ever, on screen tells a bigger tale about our place in society than any movie made about the subject.
What to do? Let’s get some more women writing scripts and women directing and producing, heading major studios. Perhaps men could also take an interest in movies that tell women’s stories. We’ve got stories to tell and not just about how we landed our man.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Note: one of my goals this year is to write essays regularly for the blog. My goal is to have about 500 words ready to publish every Thursday. I'm not sure how good the writing will be from week to week, but my goal is to publish every week, so what gets written is what is published. As always, comments are appreciated.
Last year I made two public resolutions, accomplishing one and failing at the other. But I made another resolution, didn’t tell a soul and was very successful in keeping to that resolution for 2011. I resolved to not take a single class, in anything, for the whole year. No one-day workshops in gardening, no short series of exercise classes, no free classes at the library, no learning a new technique, new hobby, a new way to cook. Whatever knowledge I had going into 2011 was not going to be supplemented by any new knowledge given to me in class form.
Why did I do this? Sometime in 2010 I realized that I was out of control with the classes. My classes budget (actually performances/classes) was wildly oversubscribed and that red figure in the budget continued to be troubling. So money was an issue. Time was the other issue. Off the top of my head, I know that in 2010 I took two classes in growing fruit, a beekeeping class, a 10 week ballet series, a running group at my gym and an eight-week harmony singing class. All of those classes took time away from my already established interests, leaving me excited about the new thing I was doing and frustrated that other things (the gardening, the cooking, the reading, the regular, already paid for, exercise classes at the gym) weren’t getting done.
So I stopped. It was incredibly freeing. When the catalogs for community education classes arrived in the mail, I just tossed them in the recycling bin. When the emails about gardening series arrived in the inbox I just deleted them. When I read flyers on bulletin boards, I just moved on. There was no burst of nervous excitement. I didn’t have to wedge the class into my schedule, figure out where the money was coming from to pay for it or get caught up in the dream of how it would transform my life.
Because that, I realized as the year progressed, was what the problem with classes was. Upon the discovery of a new class I would invest a ton of emotional energy into the fantasy of how my life would be changed by this new thing. A ten week series in ballet would leave me more graceful and with the will to transform my body into the lean carriage of a professional dancer. A series of classes about growing fruit in my backyard would open the door to bushels of fruit and the dedication to the daily upkeep involved. A series in harmony singing would propel me toward a side career in folk music performance.
But none of those classes created those things in my life. The ballet left me frustrated, at the state of my body right now and how incredibly hard even the beginner class was. The fruit growing classes gave me knowledge, but left me overwhelmed as to which step to do next and so nothing was done. The harmony singing classes were a joy, and also a frustration as I repeatedly failed to hold my end of the harmony bargain. The sad truth of the matter is, forming a “new” anything takes a lot of time and effort which is tough for a person whose time and effort is pretty well parceled out already.
Last year, what I felt the most was peace that the person I am currently has many interests already to keep her occupied. And I had the realization that I need to carefully select the classes I take, being respectful of my time and my budget. I also need to keep in mind that the end result of the class will not be a brand-new me. It will most likely just be the same old me, with a bit of new knowledge who may or may not have the will and the time to integrate the topic into my already full life.
Monday, January 2, 2012
There were parts of this movie that were odd, went on a bit too long or were just awkward. But I found the main male character delightfully amusing ("'preciate it" he said often at the beginning of the film, almost like a nervous tic, and that won me over) which partially made up for the somewhat flat female lead. If you are interested in views of San Francisco, or are intrigued by the "Before Sunrise" concept turn on its head, this is a movie for you.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
If not for the inclusion of Orny Adams--a steaming bundle of neurosis and uncertainty who was painful to watch--this would have been a much better movie. I understand the dramatic contrast between the seasoned pro and the up-and-coming comic could have been an interesting one, but Adams was so unlikable that I mostly just waited for him to go away. There were some interesting and also delightful moments, like Jerry Seinfeld telling the story of the Glen Miller band tromping through a slushy Iowa field, but I'm not sure it's worth watching the entire movie to experience them.