Message Fail

For the past few weeks I've been bombarded by mailings from a candidate for Congress from my district - apparently, for the first time in years, there's a Democratic primary and this guy wants to be my candidate very, very badly.

When I say "bombarded" I mean a mailing a day.  Ok, that's a slight exaggeration.  There were "only" four last week, and this week one.  The campaign has sent out probably 15 mailings over the past 2-3 weeks*, most with the exact same message.  The problem is, with this amount of mail coming in, the message isn't being heard (I no longer look at the mailings, I just junk 'em and it's probable that I'm not the only one).

What's the main message?  That this guy - Sean Patrick Maloney - is the most qualified candidate.  Why?  Because he worked as an advisor to President Clinton.  And (according to his website) an attorney.  Here's my problem: no matter what you think of the Clinton era, it was 10 years ago. TEN.   A lot has happened since then, and it's not clear what Maloney's been doing with his time. It's not on his website.   Where he stands on issues is boilerplate Democratic blah blah blah, with only one specific (his stand on the Obama healthcare reforms and how they need to be protected).  What about the economy, beyond basics?  What about the military?  Syria?  How would he vote on the issues in front of Congress right now?

None of that, anywhere.

Now, I'm as addicted to tv as the next person, and even when I'm fast-forwarding through ads on shows I've DVRd, I see some of the ad.  Some companies are getting really bad advice on their media buys.  In a multi-hour show it's understandable that a company would like to "brand" the show and purchase several spots.  But multiple spots in a half-hour show?  Or within the same commercial break?  People start tuning out.

Some ads I see are cute, but if you asked me a few minutes later what they were for, I'd probably be at a loss.  Blame the use of popular music (and yes, I'm considering Anderson's O, Superman (for Massenet) as "popular") because often there's no connection.  When I hear O, Superman (or The Clapping Song) I don't think about the advertised product, I think about teching dance concerts in college or my Belle Stars album.  But a good jingle?  I can still sing the N-E-S-T-L-E-S song, plop plop fizz fizz-ing with the best of them.

Same thing is happening here.  Rather than an intelligent ad campaign, highlighting his qualifications and ideas on the issues, I'm bombarded with paper noise.  Is he the most qualified?  I have no idea.  No one else is mailing me.  Will I vote for him?  No.  I have no idea what he really stands for or what his experience is.  Sounds a little like a pig in a poke. In other words...

Message fail.

(ps I've written to the campaign asking them to stop the mailings... no luck thus far.  Clearly, the environment is not a concern, as they're using glossy paper that isn't from recycled sources.)

* I'm really glad that the USPS is getting the business but still!


The circle of life

Don't worry, I'm not going to start quoting Elton John lyrics...

Wednesday I learned that one of my many cousins died (actually, a first cousin once removed, but we don't make those distinctions in my family).  He was one of the ones who I would probably recognize if we were in a family grouping but not if we met on the street, and I don't think he was ever quite sure who I was unless someone identified me as my mother's child.  That was ok, because that side of the family is pretty large.

Because he was a Jew, the burial needed to be quick, so there was about 36 hours notice (according to Jewish law, burial should be withing 24 hours, but with families so spread out these days, usually it's a little longer).  I called my parents to make sure they knew - they did, but couldn't come because another cousin, on my father's side, was visiting - and then I called my uncle in Brooklyn to see if I could give him and my aunt a ride (like most people living in the city, they don't own a car).  We arranged that I would pick him up at 5am Friday so we could make the 10am Brookline (MA) funeral with time to spare.

My family has a history of bad eulogies so you can imagine my pleasure at the two that were given here: short, sweet, informative, loving and did I mention short?  You got a real sense of who this intensely private person was (so private, in fact, that for the first 11 years of his battle with prostate cancer, no one - not even his siblings - knew, and he got upset when his brother visited him in the hospital!) and knew he would be missed.

After the internment (there's nothing like driving through Boston with a police escort!), we headed to his sister's house for shiva.  There, the talk was mostly about health and health care; because this is a Massachusetts based family, they are (most of them) pro-the Obama health plan, based on the plan enacted under Romney.  But we also talked about the family's history of prostate, colon and breast cancer.  It's surprising to me that my mother is one of the few women in the family who hasn't had it - her two female cousins have, her mother died from it, and two of her mother's sisters had it.  One cousin said she'd been tested for the "breast cancer gene", was told she did not carry it, but still had gotten breast cancer.  Many of the men in the family have had prostate cancer, and colon cancer has killed at least three of my relatives.

Anyway, the long day ended with me at Thing One's, and then yesterday we brought The Girls up to my place for their summer vacation.  There's some settling in that needs to be done!  Last night, Bogie and Mallory were - as usual - sleeping with me, not under the covers in this heat but at the end of the bed.

At 1:30am we were woken by an ungodly howl, and the sounds of two animals fighting.  To the death.  After about 15 minutes, during which Bogie and Mallory crept to the top of the bed and tried to hide under me and my pillows and Greta raced back into the front bedroom, it was clear that the fight was over.  A small yelp - it sounded like a dog to me - came.  Then another.  A little fainter.  Etc.  15 minutes of sporadic, progressively more spaced out and fainter (not further away, just fainter) yelps later... silence.

I'm one of those who can barely read about animals being mistreated, and you really want to steer me far, far from the pet adoption days at the local store.  So naturally, I cried (The Herd really hates it when their human leaks, by the way).

And I thought of my cousin, how his fight with cancer was a little like the one that had just happened.  Fierce, painful... and ultimately, silence.


I can't resist a challenge

Well, Jandy gets her wish... I took the reading test over at Staples and here are the results:

Now, to get an accurate total, I took the test three times and my scores were 586, 1303 and 1132.  It should be noted that the first was from The War of the Worlds (which I've never read), the second was Alice in Wonderland and the third was The Wizard of Oz (both of which I've read often).  The first text had considerably fewer words than the latter two, and since I didn't know what to expect I didn't hit the STOP button the nanosecond I finished.  I'm not sure what to make of this test...

Still, you take the challenge and report back.  Is it accurate?  Is it helpful?



It's common knowledge that you only have something like seven seconds to make a first impression, but I've been pondering how our impressions and feelings about people we know reflect (or not) the real person.

What led me to this was the other day receiving an e-mail thanking me for a cake I'd baked (my mother's Easy Apple Cake recipe) - it was made for Meeting, but left for the nearby cemetery association's annual meeting.  A number of years ago, my assistant wondered if I even knew how to cook, which took me by surprise.  When we'd met, I was living in the Cold Cottage from Hell, which had a whopping 1sqft of counter space.  Not conducive to cooking!  And I live alone, which means that while I'll broil a lamb chop or do a quick stir fry, "real" cooking isn't something I engage in often. Recently, however, I've been on a real cooking tear: Asparagus Flan, Apple Cake, kugel, chocolate croissant bread pudding, lamb tagine and more.  Maybe I should take some of these to my former assistant...

Thing Two is under the impression that I have a poor diet, which leads to my health issues.  Sadly for him, my diet is far better than what he eats, filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, lamb, chicken,  homemade yogurt and soups (his diet is more processed foods, ice cream, fast food and beer).  My health problems are actually better because of my diet.  Nothing I say or do, no evidence to the contrary, will ever change his impression...

And then there's the question of stress.  Some people think I'm never stressed, while others think that's my natural state. Truth is somewhere in the middle - my work situation was incredibly stressful, and towards the end I was making some bad decisions, whether or not I showed it to the outside world.  Some people are carriers in the world of stress, and I've tried to distance myself from them.  But usually, thanks to The Herd and my ability to escape into my reading, there's not a whole lot of stress...

Yesterday I learned that a cousin had died, funeral to be held on Friday.  My first reaction was to call my parents and then my uncle - the former to inform, the latter to ask if he (and my aunt) would like a ride to/from Boston.  It turns out that my parents cannot make it, so once again I'll be the family representative.  It reminded me of a previous family funeral, another one my parents couldn't attend: my other uncle was concerned that my parents wouldn't know and his wife reassured him, saying "Lazygal will have called them, and she'll be here in their stead".  It's a nice assumption for her to make, and one I hope I'll be able to live up to...

None of these were impressions made in the first seven seconds of my knowing any of them.  Yet, just like those instant judgements, they're difficult to change.  Some I want to, some not so much.

What impressions do you have of your friends/family?  What do they have of you?  How do you feel about them?


Links Galore

  • Rats!  I've got plans for the weekend, but that shouldn't stop you from participating in Mother Reader's Seventh Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge.
  • A Friend shared with me a "Spiritual Punch Card" (Bringing value to the immeasurable acts of spirit growing one human at a time).  For more, go here.  Go forth and be artistic.
  • Starting to play with the Iron browser (more secure than Chrome).  Anyone else?
  • Do you know the meaning of unavailable?


Feeling a bit like Noah

Just finished Part A and Part B of my Big Huge Project... now I've got to work on two proposals and two presentations, and prepare for two conferences.

Oh, and I'm currently reading two books!


Notable Quotes

How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but – mainly – to ourselves.

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending



This has been bugging me for a while (since Mayor Bloomberg insisted that chain stores post the calorie count of items) and no one seems to have an answer:

Why does iced coffee have more calories than regular?

I mean, ounce by ounce, wouldn't it be the same?  Or is the ice somehow adding to the calorie count?  I'm so confused!


Remember that letter?

The Very Important Letter?

It was my Letter of Convincement to join the Religious Society of Friends (aka Quakers).  Here's what happened:

In 1996 I worked for a Quaker school and every morning we had Meeting, broken into 20 minutes of silence and 20 minutes of announcements/skits/whatever.  As that year drew to a close, I realized that silence was important to me and started attending Meeting in Brooklyn.  Off and on for the next eight years I would sit, silently but in communion with others, listening for that of God within me to speak.  When I left Brooklyn I briefly attended a Meeting near the Cold Cottage from Hell, and then when I moved, I found a small Meeting that really (as we Quakers say) spoke to my condition.

After a few years, I was ready to write my Letter.  What was in it?  Well, if thee were writing thy letter, thee'd talk about your commitment to Friends and Quaker testimonies.  Only thee wouldn't need to use plain speech.  And no, Thing Three, it doesn't contain an Offer They Can't Refuse.  Why is it called a Letter of Convincement?  There are two different types of Quakers: Birthright (those born to Quaker parents) and Convinced (those who are - wait for it - Convinced that Quakerism is the right path for them).

The Clerk asked that members read the letter at the next Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, and then a Clearness Committee was formed (note: this is not the same as what Scientology considers "clear"! Clear?)  We met, and talked.  Some Meetings are more conservative and/or Christocentric than mine - for example, those affiliated with Ohio Yearly Meeting or Whittier First Friends Church (home to Richard Nixon) - and there are even evangelical Quakers (I do a great impersonation of one).

Long story short, the Clearness Committee reported to the Meeting at the following Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business... I was approved... then I signed a Membership Book that dates back - I kid you not - to the 1700s.

So there 'tis.


I've got an earworm

Every Friday, Swisslet lists his Earworms of the Week.  I've always been impressed with the breadth of his listening, the depth of his analysis and his lack of embarrassment over some of the music that's wormed its way into his mind.  How many people do you know that would admit to hearing "You Can't Touch This"?

There's a commercial out now, for the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, that uses the lyrics for "Bohemian Rhapsody" for dialog.  Haven't seen it?  Well, here 'tis:

Cool, right?  I've been thinking about other songs that could be used: "Stairway to Heaven".  "Roundabout".  "Psycho Killer".  "She Bop".  "Dream On".  Or maybe they could mimic this exchange found on Chuck's blog.

Luckily, every time that commercial has aired I've been able to go about my business safely, sans earworm.  Whew!

Those who know me well know that I can go on and on about The Herd.  The Boys are particularly smart: they can open all my closet doors, and Bogie has nearly figured out how to open my bedroom door (what's puzzling him is not understanding that he has the trick down, but in winter the wood expands and causes the door to stick).  Francis has figured out how the windows open, but it's quite dextrous enough to do it himself but he really tries - and then turns on the sill to look at me as if to say "Mommmmm, OPEN THIS NOW".

The pressure changes when storms roll in causes them to go a little crazy, so at about 2:30 this morning I thought I'd herd them out of my bedroom and get a little sleep uninterrupted by the game of tag they'd started to play (lucky me, I'm usually "home" for their games).   Ok, I'll be honest: for nocturnal animals, they really don't come to life until somewhere between 2 and 3, so they get herded out virtually every night.  And they lose all energy and desire to be active shortly after breakfast (somewhere between 5-5:30am).


At about 4:45 this morning, a very bright light flickered its way past my closed eyelids.  All three Boys were making noise (Francis is usually pretty quiet).  My startled thought?  Bogie'd opened my door and someone had figured out how to turn on my light, and they were high-fiving.  Then I heard the thunder and realized there was a storm outside and some scared cats inside.

Do I really need to finish this story?  Do you get the connection?

Please, someone, give me another earworm!