Tuesday, September 30, 2003

CUBS WIN!!!!!!

I am in total and complete shock. For the first time since 1945 the Cubs have won a playoff game on the road.

I am almost beginning to believe that the Cubs can get all the way to the World Series. I would then have to completely review my entire belief structure. Perhaps the goat curse has controlled the Cubs fates since 1945.

As a lifelong Cubs fan I know better than to depend on the Cubs to do anything but break my heart. THat said - I would forgive them anything after tonights great game.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Digitize shopping

This afternoon I had what is clearly a 21st century moment.

When running errands during lunch I stepped into a large super store and realized that I had no idea where what I wanted was located. Instantaneously I thought “Control F and I can find it”. I then realized what a total geek I have become.

I realized that I have become so accustomed to finding things online that I just instinctively will use keystrokes to accomplish things quickly. I wonder if as time goes on stores should make the effort to cater to their connected clientele. Perhaps a kiosk at the front of the store that would allow customers to quickly determine where (and if) what they are there to purchase is located in the store.

It is not that I am unwilling to wander the store aisles asking for assistance from employees who always seem to say ‘Let me check’ and then promptly disappear. It is just that I am certain there is a better way.

Retailers long ago learned that putting the most popular items (milk) at the back of the store forced customers to pass through the aisles and ideally increased the impulse purchases. That system worked for the last 50 years but… I think that it is time for a change.

My experience is just a symptom of how all of our lives are busier than ever before. We no longer have the time or inclination to wander tot he back of the store and search from aisle to aisle to find what we want. Many believed that purchasing online would be the revolution in retail sales but the shine has worn off that apple.

Often it is far more convenient to just run to the store… until you get to the store. In the store the maze of aisles and constantly changing stock locations make for a veritable treasure hunt every time you go shopping.

It is time for stores to make the determine what changes should be made to better serve their customers who are increasingly accustomed to the shortcuts and time savings of an online lifestyle. I understand that a ‘search function’ doesn’t quite work in the real world but something a bit more effective than the incredible disappearing sales associates. We are living in a digital age – most people are now accustomed to finding their own information and would likely be happy to find their own packaged goods if only there was an efficient way to do it.

Until those kiosks show up at the front of stores I will bee doomed to wander the florescent lit hangers that are my favorite mega stores until I can figure out where exactly the product I need is located. However – I refuse to impulse purchase. Except for that great DVD, and that cute purse...

Thursday, September 25, 2003

I hate that too!

Jay Solo has written about something that happens to me all the time.

The lost blog post. Not because of the traditional blogsplat lost post problem - rather when a post is lost before it is even written!

For me... I find that most of the best blog posts I 'write' (in my head) when I am driving. Then I forget them totally or remember just enough to be frustrating by the time I get in front of a computer.

Sorry to say - that is what happened to me today. I promise to have a great post tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Blame it on the goat

Here in Chicago we have been without a World Series winning baseball team for a long time… VERY long.

The Chicago Cubs actually have not won a World Series since 1908 – the longest dry spell in major league baseball. Even so, until 1945 the Cubs would at least get into the World Series on a fairly regular basis. That year the famous curse was placed on Wrigley Field…

It is told that Sam Sianis, a Greek Immigrant and self promoting owner of the famed ‘Billy Goat Tavern’ (famously portrayed on Saturday night live ‘Cheesebooger, no fries – chips’), attempted to bring his Billy Goat to Wrigley Field to watch the 1945 World Series. Even thought he goat had his own ticket the ushers refused it entry. This led Sam Sianis to curse the Cubs “Cubs, the not gonna win no more”. And now for 58 years they have not gotten into the World Series – let alone win it!

I am not usually a very superstitious person but… after 95 years without winning a World Series I think it is time to consider the fact that supernatural forces may be at work. Our curse is not as widely known as the ‘curse of the Bambino’ that has meant many years of pain for Boston baseball fans. And the curse gives no explanation for why the White Sox have not won a World Series since 1917 (being a Cubs fan I think the fact that they are the Sox is explanation enough).

However, this year some enterprising souls have struck upon a great idea… transfer the curse to another team! Three Cubs fans flew down to Houston, bought a Billy Goat, and purchased tickets to that afternoon’s game (including a ticket for the Billy Goat). They then attempted to enter the Astro’s Park. Of course, the ushers would not allow three men and a goat to enter so a proclamation was read by one of the owners of the goat:
Two years shy of sixty cursed
For all this time the cubs were worst
Armed with goat and mystic verse
We hereby reverse the curse
You had your chance to let him in
But now no more will Astros win
We’ll take our Goat and leave this place
Along with your hopes in the pennant race!
If this story has the vibe of a wacky radio bit that is because it was a wacky radio bit – but one I can support. I am sorry for those of you who may live in Houston but we in Chicago are desperate for a win – desperate enough to try and curse someone else.

No matter what happens this year with the Cubs I will still be a fan. The Cubs have taught me the difference between hope and faith. Right now I have a great deal of hope for the success of the Cubs this year but… not much faith that they will pull it off. Perhaps the lifting of the curse will make all the difference this year (I hope).

Monday, September 22, 2003

Inanimate objects

Recently I have read or heard the following statement from several sources.

“Guns are evil”

This is just about the stupidest thing that anyone can say to me. I have a short prepared vent that I would like to share with all of blogdom…

Guns are not evil, they are not good, they are not dangerous, and they are not safe. Guns just are. As inanimate objects guns can only exist. To be evil, or good, or dangerous they would need to have consciousness and free will in order to choose to be evil or good.

If you have a problem with how guns are used then say that. If you state ‘gun owners are evil’ then I will understand that you are misguided and wrong thinking – rather than simpleminded and anthropomorphizing.

Recognize that in order for a gun to be used for an evil purpose that it will have to be picked up, loaded, aimed and fired by a person. That person would likely do something evil regardless of the existence of the gun. A gun is only a tool, like a hammer or a screwdriver, how often does one feel the urge to exclaim ‘wrenches are evil’. Ridiculous!

However, I think ascribing motives to inanimate objects is a symptom of a larger problem in our society. Beyond the creepy anthropomorphizing (for which I blame Disney) there seems to be a complete lack of any responsibility taken by anyone for his or her actions.

Perhaps my obsession with personal responsibility is a result of my upbringing. After the age of seven whenever I was involved in any type of an accident – from a bike crash to spilling something in the kitchen my mother would say “What caused the accident – and how will you avoid it in the future?”. The result of this was that I quickly learned to take responsibility for my own actions and understand that just about every accident can and should be avoided.

This simple childhood lesson seems to have been lost on many other people. In particular… news reports seem to blame guns for crimes. Last I checked nobody has created a gun that has the power to wander the streets alone - shooting unsuspecting gang members. Rather, the person who holds the gun is the person that causes the gun to fire.

Next time you hear about a ‘gun crime’ or a ‘gun accident’ remember – that no matter the crime or accident it was caused by a PERSON.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Darn nature

I had grand plans for a nice long weekend but silly Isabel has ruined them.

M plans were to see my best friend from High School and her two cute sons in Baltimore. I would take a day to visit the Naval Academy in Annapolis and then we would all drive to Chincoteague Island off the coast of Virginia.

Unfortunately... Isabel has put a bit of a damper on those plans.

I have to say that Hurricanes scare me to death. I am a true midwestern girl - tornadoes don't cause me to blink an eye... however a hurricane or an earthquake seems way to frightening.

I have good reasoning behind this thought... I figure that a hurricane will pretty much leave a huge swath of destruction that will leave both you, and your region destroyed. An earthquake will do much the same - destruction throughout the entire area. Tornadoes, in comparison tend to only destroy a small area at a time. I figure that if my house is destroyed I can go stay at a friends or at a family members.

There is one huge advantage to a hurricane is that there is plenty of warning. I hope that everyone on the eastern seaboard who are threatened by this hurricane is safe...

Monday, September 15, 2003


I am not usually prone to fits of jealousy. However, lately I have begun to covet high-speed Internet connections.

At home I am relegated to crappy dial-up and I had promised myself that once employed I would spring for a cable modem. Unfortunately, thought I may be employed the new budget just doesn’t stretch that far.

In the past I have been able to feed my desire for lightening fast Internet connections at work (for that I miss my dot-com jobs). However, at my present job I have no such luck. At the moment my work computer can only connect to the Internet through dial-up that never gets faster than 28.8 and shares a phone line with a busy fax. Suffice it to say – that SUCKS.

My boss has a cable modem to his computer, and as it is a business account we can split the line with a router but… I have no idea how. My new boss is a really great guy, but hardly comfortable with computers. In the week that I have been there I have pretty much taken over the computer maintenance portion of the business. That is a sad commentary on the situation because I am most definitely NOT captain technology.

I like the job a lot (except that it is accounting, and pays crap) but a decent Internet connection would make this phase of my career a great deal more bearable. Also, if I could access the Internet during lunch I would definitely be able to post more often on my blog. Therefore, I am putting this question out to blogdom … Is it possible to connect two computers to the same cable modem? And how do I do it? How much would it cost? Is it something that I, with my limited tech ability, could do?

If you have answers to any of the above questions PLEASE e-mail me at mapchic at hotmail.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

History always repeats itself...

Several months ago the world watched as statues of Saddam Hussein in Iraq were torn down. At the time most commentators compared the event to the destruction of statues of Lenin during the fall of the Soviet Union.

At the time I had no idea that something similiar happened in our own American history.

The Declaration of Independance was first announced and read in New York on July 9, 1776. Following the reading of the declaration a mob pulled down a deeply disliked statue of King George III and cut it up.
The lead statue was well suited for it's future use... as cannonballs and bullets. Evidently it was said at the time that the bullets resulting from the statue were "melted majesty, to be poured right back into the king's men."

I am not one of those who complain that Saddam has not been found. I tend to enjoy the thought of him hiding in a small dark corner of a basement somewhere - it seems fitting. However, I think that part of the problem in Iraq today is that the Iraqi people have not had the opportunity to do something similair... pouring melted dictator down Saddams throat.

I hope that there is some action that is taken that the men and women of Iraq can participate in to close the book on the Saddam era. Perhaps the new voting booths in Iraq can be made from the metal from all those destroyed statues.

Any other suggestions for the use of the scrap metal from all those statues?

Monday, September 08, 2003

Gotta love the Gweilo

I will admit that I started to read The Gweilo Diaries when I was taking a course titled ‘Hong Kong Cinema’ last semester.

I would get bits and pieces from Conrad’s blog that were helpful in class discussion. Not that I could use all of the information supplied - much of it is a bit raunchy for polite society. I tend to bypass the pictures and head straight to the news and commentary.

Today there is a post that reminded me of why I love that blog so much. Take a moment to read it all (why aren't you there now?).

Conrad expressed some concern for the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo but quickly put it all into perspective with this line. And then I compare this to the terrorist's treatment of, say, Daniel Pearl, and I really don't give a fuck.
This is my new response to all discussions of the ‘inhumane’ treatment of those in Guantanamo.

Thanks Conrad.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Respecting those who have served

The BBC reports that the US is planning on issuing electronic bugles to be used in military funerals. I personally think that it is a very good idea.

Less than a month after September 11, 2001 I lost an uncle who had been a Marine in WWII. Tommy had fought in the South Pacific at (I believe) both Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He was a fairly small man and one of his jobs was to go into the Japanese tunnels and ‘dig out’ the entrenched Japanese fighters. I cannot imagine what horrors he saw in the tight hand-to-hand combat that he participated in.

In his last years Tommy was a very sick man but like a good Marine he just wouldn’t give up. He had a triple bypass and three different bouts of cancer and a very hard last few years. Though everyone in the family was very sad to lose him even his sons were happy that at last he was without pain.

I am certain that his funeral would have been very moving no matter what the world situation. However, I have to say that as the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was played for the recessional there was not a dry eye in the house.

Unfortunately, when Tommy was laid to rest at the new Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery there was no bugler available. There was a Marine honor guard and representatives of the VFW but unfortunately no bugle to be seen. Instead “Taps” was played on a boom box. I understand that is the only way to do that however, considering exactly where my uncle’s Marine service was… as my cousin said – ‘did it have to be a Sony?’
Best laid Plans

I intended to write an entry last evening while I was working at the USO. Unfortunately it was a busy night and I never really got a chance to stop and sit in front of the computer.

I really enjoy working at the USO. It is the happy situation where I am now getting paid to do something that I would have done for free! I started out volunteering one evening a month and when I asked the head of the office for more volunteer hours (because it was so much fun) she said that she didn’t have any open times for volunteers but would love to hire me for two nights a week.

Evidently, that supplied me with some good ‘job karma’. I was also hired yesterday for an actual (full time) job. I am really happy because evidently at a certain point the cash machine will stop giving you money if you never put any in. The bad news is that this is not a job that I really can get excited about… I will be an accountant.

My father was an accountant, his father was an accountant, and his father before him was an accountant. On my mothers side there is a similar line of teachers. I knew ever since I was a child that no matter what – I would not be an accountant or a teacher. This fall I have had to face a hard choice, the only jobs that I had found were teacher (long term sub) or accountant. I choose the lesser of two evils.

There is an old saying ‘it is a recession when your neighbor is out of work, and a depression when you are out of work.’ I have to say that one holds true. Just knowing that I will start to get a regular paycheck is a wonderful thing. The sun seems a bit brighter, the sky a bit bluer and the advertising less mocking of my poverty. Now I will have two (three if you count wedding photography) jobs – I call that an economic recovery!

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

I’m Back!

Not that I ever announced that I was taking an August hiatus – it just sort of happened. I apologize for my absence to my two loyal readers. I will endeavor to earn my place on your blogrolls again!

Let me start with a bit of a round up of the issues I have missed in the last couple of weeks…

France heatwave deaths –Did they not hear about what happened in Chicago in 1995? I know that we are very far away from the center of their universe (Paris) but Chicago is not a backwater and as far as I recall the weather emergency here was an international story. Why did France not learn from our sorry experience? I remember that year vividly – my friends who worked for the city were virtually all sent out to do door to door checks of the elderly, and I volunteered at a ‘cooling center’ that those without AC could go to. Why did France not institute these procedures? Obviously the answer is because they are French.

California governor race – Am I registered to vote in California? No. That won’t stop me from pontificating on the issue though…. I know virtually nothing about the candidates except this – Bustamonte is a racist and if he is elected it is a sad day for California.

FoxNews lawsuit against Al Franken – All of them are idiots (big, fat, or otherwise).

Responsibility – Bill Whittle is a god.

Car bombing at the UN in Iraq – If the UN turns down protection from the evil Americans… they reap what they sow. Who would turn down protection in a chaotic post-war environment – and then hire members of the former regime (who have nothing to lose) to protect you? Only the UN would be that naive.

Judge Moore and the Ten Commandments – Am I registered to vote in Alabama? No. I will point out that as far as I can tell Judge Moore is a populist ass that is using this issue to try and promote his political career. It simply doesn’t seem very judicial to me.

BBC Bias – Duh. If you don’t know that any media organization or individual writer comes to the table with a bias then you are hopelessly naive. The key is to use your brain and filter through the bias. Perhaps get your news from several sources with a diversity of opinions. I know this sounds elementary but I have recently talked to several people who only read one newspaper and watched one news channel – of course their views were a bit one-sided – they only were exposed to one side!

I am sure there was more that I should have written about but… That catches us up nicely for now.