Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cousins Night and the Dangerous Morning Double-Header

The evening of December 23rd, punctured and tired from a lot of couch wrestling atop a minefield of savagely pointy Barbies, ping pong paddles and randomly discarded shoes, we were ready for bed.

Ahead of me, Tom crept through our quiet, darkened bedroom illuminated by an eerie glow. It took me a minute to realize someone had abandoned a lit flashlight under a fort of blankets and mounds of Mardi Gras beads. Nerf gun ammo began static clinging to the bottoms of my feet which is why I noticed the stuffed raccoon under the small pile of silverware. Our bedroom was like a woodland refugee camp after a Fat Tuesday dust up. 

The finger points to a certain set of culprit cousins. All under four feet tall and high on Christmas. That’s right. December 23rd is one of my favorite nights, otherwise known as Cousins Night. The niece and nephews sleep over and we make them wear safety goggles so we can properly shoot them with submachine nerf guns. We also play a little ping pong.

Most parents out there are probably shrugging all jaded and cynical and no big thing right now, but fuck you. You would probably write a blogpost if you happened to be sitting in a Kielbasa joint at 3am in Gramercy and noticed a whole bunch of old frazzle-haired baby dolls coyly strapped onto decorative pine boughs and dangling from the ceiling over the bar where you are surrounded by drunken Germans pounding pints of eisbock and singing at the tops of their lungs. I would also write such a blogpost except I never got around to it.

We’ve hosted two or three Cousins Nights so far and each one has left me in a buoyant spirit that is slightly wrinkled due to exhaustion. Mostly because one of our nephews has slept on an air mattress at the foot of our bed and he has this Christmas habit of giggling at odd intervals the whole night.

Then of course there is the crack-of-dawn celebration. This sunrise event is always the same. Our bedroom door slams open, high-decibel shrieking ensues as well as a thorough pummeling by a flail of skinny little elbows and knees. Luckily I sleep through most of it and wonder where the bruises came from later. Tom, sadly, is a much less skillful sleeper. He gets to get up and play High Card for hours.

Nothing for nothing, but this year I had another excuse for my bedraggled condition. The morning before, i.e. the morning of Cousins Night, I dragged my ass out the door at seven thirty to make a breakfast meeting. As if that weren’t bad enough, the cops pulled me over almost immediately. This was quite taxing even though the cops let me go with a verbal fingerwag not to drive around with a wildly expired registration and no registration card.

It’s dangerous out there before nine AM is all I’m saying. Two days in a row proves it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

One angry mammal thing I put a finger on in 2014.

I was listening to this podcast where James Altucher interviewed Sam Harris. Sam Harris said anger burns off really fast. It’s like Sugar Smacks: you get a short sharp jolt and then it turns into nothing before lunch.

So, says Sam Harris, if you want to stay angry, you have to re-up. How you re-up is to run through the sequence of events that made you angry. Again. And again.

This is probably why they say love and hate are only a whit apart. Because in order to hate, you have to invest a lot of effort. You have to nurture that righteous anger, every day. You have to nurse it and fondle it and rub its belly. Meanwhile, your life slips by.

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do With your one wild and precious life"?
- Isadora Duncan

It is so ironic that people who uncompromisingly refuse to get over it for years aren’t winning any fights. They aren't winning anything. By wasting untold hours stewing in their anger, they sacrifice their lives to their nemesis. And that's why I believe that people whose upset has a long tail or a frequent case of the trots really need to find themselves a fucking hobby.

I was reading something about binge donut eaters. It’s easy to become addicted to donuts because donuts squeeze a tiny little drip of dopamine out of brains. Even if donuts turn into flab and everybody knows it and hates themselves for eating donuts, people eat donuts.

I made this up myself but I think it’s possible to get addicted to upset and anger. Maybe upset and anger squirts a little dopamine, I’m no scientist so I wouldn’t know.

But I do know that we humans are sociable mammals. We like to feel a connection with fellow members of our herd. Firing off an angry, upset or sad salvo is a fast way to connect. It forces someone else to fork over a dollop of attention or show the love. And when I say "fast way", I mean fast as in fast food. As in we're fooling ourselves if we think what we've got there is good for us.

Dredging up a spoonful of anger or upset might also spice up what David Foster Wallace called the “actual life routine, day after week after month after year. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides.”

David Foster Wallace committed suicide. Maybe he needed to practice transforming his anger and upset into golden strands of genuinely real human connection. Please note for the record I really have no idea what I'm talking about.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Enjoying the Thanksgiving Afterglow in a Good Pair of Pants

Photo credit:
Everything is better when overpowered by wafts of voluptuous Thanksgiving turkey roasting nearby. Especially my new pants. I purchased these pants at REI on Wednesday, full price. Although no one would admit it, we all piled in the minivan and hustled off to REI because we knew if we continued to lush about the house, Grandma would connive us into raking the yard and digging up Azalea bushes. She’s a 99-year-old Type A gardening machine.

My new pants came with a small instruction booklet because they have so many features. For example, a pulley system stowed in the cargo pockets runs down each pant leg so I can hike them up while fording streams or showing off a really bold sock. It was all good until Samantha caught me rolling up my pant legs old school and I had to admit that operating pulley system exceeds my capacity for mechanical engineering and/or fashion. Plus I’d already chucked the instruction booklet in the same garbage can as all the turkey gooplets.

If you must know, I purchased these pants to lift weights at the YMCA. Everybody knows if you lift weights in spandex you look like an unacclimated immigrant from the cardio room. I will refrain from all but a minor comment on my sneakers. Although extremely comfortable, they are pink and black. My only other color option was pristine white. The young hipster who sold them to me at Paragon favored the white, but I told him, “If you aren’t cool enough to pull off a white sneaker, you will look like an octogenarian power-walker.” Unfortunately, I’m not cool enough to pull off a white sneaker.

After my aunt, uncle and cousins showed up on Thanksgiving Day, we indulged in several longstanding holiday traditions. First, we played brutally cut-throat Chinese Checkers. Tom did not participate. He quit the tourney after Granny kicked his ass in the exhibition round.

Next came a spirited game of blow-ball. Newcomers are always a tad scandalized but we force them to play anyway.

Thanksgiving has always felt to me like it exists in some kind of welcoming, light-rinsed microclimate where time is hand-cranked and lulling. It’s peaceful and wistful and requires a quality trouser.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Buffets and Tiny Forks and Skid Row

Just because you can find the best buffet line doesn't mean you can operate it. I learned this at the Health Information Technology conference last week. I was inordinately pleased with myself for spying a little annex buffet nestled behind the interoperability booth. No one was over there. Meanwhile, the main buffet suffered a line out the door. 

I took a plate and attacked the olives. Slippery little suckers. It was hard to hold a plate, a napkin and brandish a tiny fork like a spear. I became deeply involved in the attempt to capture a medley of olives. A time check boomed over the PA system and everyone started to filter back into the session room for the next speaker. Obviously I couldn't be bothered. I would not let the olives win. 

Finally. I pinioned 4-6 olives and grinned like I'd caught lightning in a bottle. I tossed a couple of pita chips next to the olives and grabbed an attractive blue bottle of fizzy water on my way into the session which had already started. The room was packed. Earlier, I'd seen a guy who was late get himself a seat in the back row by simply pulling back one of the chairs instead of crawling over everybody. I decided I could be just as debonair.

Except when I pulled back the chair all those scheming slithery olives rolled right off my plate and bounced across the carpet amidst a topple of pita chips.

Although he kept his eyes locked on the speaker behind the podium, the gentleman on my left nudged his chair away from my insta-mess. I could tell he was thinking that the back row used to be a very respectable part of the seating area and I'd turned it squalid in a nanosecond. He pretended not to notice when I began to kick pita chips under various nearby chairs with my shoe.

Meanwhile, the lovely woman on my right smiled kindly and patted my hand. I felt like I'd just joined a support group. Maybe I should try to get VC for an app to track suboptimal buffet outcomes. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Review of An Introduction

Photo Credit:

A few weeks ago, we were in the Verizon store picking up a new phone. It took four (4) hours. Midway through recalculating the cost of our data plan, Allen, the Verizon guy, stops, his pen poised in the air. He exclaims, "Hey, I have a deal for you. If you get an Android tablet and you get 2 gigs of additional data, then it will cost you $120 less."

Tom's eyebrows take on a curl of suspicion. He confirms, "you're not just giving us an Android tablet and 2 extra gigs for free, you're actually paying us $120 to take them off your hands." 

Allen nods his head. 

Later, when we told Andy about our Verizon-filled afternoon, he surmised, "So basically you spent 1/2 hour getting the details of the deal straight and 3 1/2 hours trying to figure out the catch." 

Well put, Andy. And as result of the Verizon Suss-Out-The-Truth-in-Advertising Challenge, I have become attuned to catches. I've been looking out for them and just this morning, I  spotted one. I attended an event where everyone had to write a little introduction about themselves. Most people wrote about their interest in the topic of the event, The Limits of Human Reason, but Carine wrote, "I'm a rose with thorns, but I'm worth the effort."

Aha, I thought immediately. Finally some ad copy where the catch is front and center. 

A Review of the Introduction of Carine Showcasing the Catch.

I'm most familiar with the pharmaceutical industry, so I start there to model my review framework. In drug ads, there's always a catch— anal leakage, weight gain, irregular heartbeat, suicidal thoughts, death, etc. But the catch always hits you after the sunlit pasture scene where the lovely young thing cavorts through wildflowers after overcoming the heartbreak of scoliosis. You gain an appreciation for the pro before the con smacks you in the spine.

With this reference point, I study the Introduction of Carine in search of the Pro. She is a rose, which I take as a metaphor. And she's worth the effort. There is some begging of the question going on here. Is a rose really worth the effort? Who the hell is a rose anyway? Let's speculate:

A Rose is Someone who:

  • always has candy in her purse and she will give you some if you ask nicely.
  • will come over and fix your awning if it falls off your house.
  • will enrich your life with her stunning grasp of Immanuel Kant and the German Idealists.
  • will swap omelettes with you if you really don't like yours.
  • will overlook all your grammatical errors
  • can be counted on to show up at your magic party with a feisty trickosaurus.
I detect a problem. At an hour long event, there's plenty of time to rub up against a thorn and become a boy/girl with a thorn in his/her side (morrissey shout out), but not enough time to i-spy a rose. I will state for the record that metaphorical roses take a while to bloom in the garden of my red bleeding heart.

So here's my catch: I officially refuse to "make the effort." Thorny event attendees can keep their blood and their roses. Unless they are willing to give me an original Smithereens concert T-shirt, in which case I may or may not reconsider whether they're worth it.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

How to Write an Entitled and Shiftless Personal Non-Essay

There's a website called CourseHorse with like ten thousand adult school classes. You can learn to make kasha varnishkes or ride a horse or reupholster your couch. There's a whole section for writing classes. I decide to take one, mainly because I've never taken a writing class before and, judging by the curlicue of my so-called writing process, it's probably fairly evident I have no idea what I'm doing. 

Most of the class listings I discard based on my only two selection criteria— a solid mid-morning start time, and a location that does not require me to board a subway line I find annoying. I settle on a 10am class that is eighteen blocks from our apartment. Perfect. 

Energetic and Motivated Gotham City Writers
Photo credit:
The class gets off to a rocky start. A Gotham City Writer guy tells me "goodies" are for the taking in the lobby. I envision coffee and maybe a tiny muffin with raisins. My hopes flatten like a dead pigeon on the street. There is nothing on that pristine white table top but orderly rows of logo pens and pads. With a black look befitting someone so cruelly led astray, I slump into a seat in the classroom. The woman next to me crinkles around in a shopping bag and pulls out a slice of warm buttered bread and some kind of delicious fruit smoothy. I doodle morose pictures of coffee mugs on my new notepad with my new pen.

Melissa the Instructor shows up and writes An Introduction to the Personal Essay on the white board. Ah yes, the personal essay. I have no idea what a personal essay is, but it has a ring to it. Soon, I will proclaim, "Behold the personal essay I have penned" instead of "I cranked out this blog post and it's all about MEEEE." It will be a legitimate cover for the glorious narcissism I so enjoy. I am all ears.

We go around the class and introduce ourselves. The woman next to me was up at 4am to catch a train from DC to take this class. The two across the room come from Toronto and Melbourne respectively, both gobbling up a month in this city taking classes and inspiring themselves visa vis cultural pursuits and minor clubbing. The lure of this town brought the dude in the black T-shirt here by way of Michigan. Two locals sit by the windows, Manhattanites born and raised.

Every single one of my classmates is here for reasons more to do with personal essays and less to do with logistical convenience. This becomes obvious when Melissa the Instructor scribbles a topic on the board and tells us to write about it for 15 minutes. Immediately I begin to write about something else. A prescribed topic transforms every other topic into forbidden fruit and I am helpless to resist. At the end of the 15 minutes, Melissa the Instructor wants us all to read what we've written aloud. This is unanticipated. 

Everybody else wrote a few paragraphs bordering on worthwhile. I announce that I had approached the topic more metaphorically and pass. It occurs to me that this is a genuine class with genuine students. I feel a little sweaty but it might be because I had hauled ass up the sidewalk the whole way to midtown instead of riding a Citibike. I just didn't feel like going through the incredibly minor hassle of docking so near Penn Station so early in the mid-morning.

Is this squirrel farting noxiously?
photo credit:
After that, Melissa the Instructor dissects the personal essay. There is one essential ingredient. She writes Nut Graf on the board.  I snicker like my spirit animal, which happens to be a fourteen-year-old boy. While Melissa the Instructor explains the Nut Graf, I picture some sort of perverted EKG machine.

Eventually, Melissa stops talking and announces a lunch break, I still have no idea what a Nut Graf is but do not have time to worry about it because my attention is immediately diverted by the chick from Toronto.

Her name is Theresa and she says loudly, "There is a bodega up the street I like, if anyone wants to join me there to grab a bite." My eyebrows skyrocket. She's been in this town for three weeks and is sitting next to two people who have lived in NYC for at least sixty years by the look of them. This is apparently irrelevant. Theresa has had 21 full days to evaluate the vicinity and qualify a DELI she likes better than the other fifty on the block. I am not surprised. Earlier, she had taught us all where to find the best soul food in Harlem so I am already aware of her subject matter expertise.

I go to lunch with one of the New Yorkers who took this class because she's writing a memoir about living in Harlem in the 60's and how much it's changed since then. On a scrap of paper, she jots down for me the names of her two favorite soul food joints. 

Four hours later, Theresa has produced a half-decent personal essay and I remain confused by the Nut Graf. I can say I learned enough to know the words you see before you are not a personal essay. My new aim is to become the Grandma Moses of prose. The work I produce shall be somewhat pleasing if you overlook all the blobby paintwork.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Things that are Disappointing


Since when do they taste like chalk with a crunchy exoskeleton? It's like eating a handful of flashy beetles that have been dehydrated with their legs amputated.

That 2nd bag of Vanilla tea from Harney & Sons. 

The second bag did not live up to my memory of the first bag. 

The new Karen O disk.

You'd need to be really into Pippi Longstocking cosplay to get it up for a second listen.
(Nonetheless my girlcrush on Karen O stands strong.)

Jeffrey Campbell Boots from NastyGal.

The city ripped them to shreds, the posers. Online, they looked stoic enough to take on this town. Nothing doing. They wilted like a bug-eyed tourist completely unraveled by a sweltering 6 train platform at rush hour. Such a disappointment.
Completely disappointing
Jeffrey Campbell
boots purveyed by NastyGal

iPads and iPhones and Computer Monitors.

All this blue light terrorizing my humanoid biorhythms. Tom said there's an app for that. I'll be looking into it.

A podcast I thought was about audio gear but turned out to be a DJ music show.

It took 45 annoying seconds to delete the 3 episodes I'd downloaded before the truth came out.

Rock hard Lip Balm.

Lip balm is unsatisfactory when a swipe of it pulls your lips right off your face. Lip balm should offer moisturization, not a way to jowl in slow motion. 
Jowler photo credit:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Photo credit:
The first time the home brew tour was mentioned, we were told that "Tickets sell out fast." I logged on 3 minutes after the virtual ticket window opened. Already sold out.

Personally, I was done. Offline, I don't wait on line. Online, I don't participate in "refresh" skirmishes. Tom, on the other hand, succumbed to the whispered lure of malt liquor begat upon the stove in a stranger's domicile. After three months of trying, his nimble fingers scored us tickets. Saturday at the crack of noon, we were on an F-train to Brooklyn.

Josh, the tour organizer, proved a righteous shepherd of drunken beer aficionados and those of us who were more like just drunk. He marched at the fore bearing a long stick with a beer can stuck on the end of it. Over the course of four hours, he guided us to the apartments of three home brewers with plenty of product. 

Mostly, my fellow beer marchers talked about APV and sugar content while they lovingly caressed hops in plastic baggies. There was a lot of finger smelling. That's what you do after you touch hops, you smell your fingers. Next time I see someone smelling their fingers I will ask them if perchance they recently fondled a hop. 

Completely unqualified to discourse with people wearing "Brewklyn 2014 Award Winner" T-shirts, I participated in several sidebar conversations. I met a grad student named Erica studying technology for the home, like thermostat apps or ones to fire up your disco ball while you're still over at Duane Reed buying snacks. Erica called this "mobile home technology." You could tell she grew up on East 23rd Street. She had no idea that those of us from the shtetl might think she spent her days out in the trailer park wiring up double wides. 

I spent a good ten minutes in wondrous awe listening to Erica talk about this mobile home technology of hers. Last time i enjoyed an evening in a trailor park, I recall old Milwaukee pounders and Tang with grain alcohol and as a rule, baggies did not contain bespoke hops. My world did a little twerk as I studied what I thought was a new kind of trailer folk. One who had cut off her mullet, turned off Nascar and now attended tres fancy nerd events in south Brooklyn. I was sad when things got cleared up.

Soon after that, I told Josh he had a nice voice for podcasting. He was singularly unflattered so I skulked off and picked a small fight with a doctor about electronic health records.

Then the DSTAKK crew ate some great noodles at this Italian joint in Park Slope.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Old Enough to Count

Aside from burns and deafness (so prosaic they don't even count), the most common blacksmithing injury is getting cracked in the head by the back of your hammer when it bounces off the anvil. A good anvil, one with a forge-welded rolled steel face plate, packs a fierce kick. It can knock your block right off. This is what I told my nephew Jackson yesterday. He's a newly minted 1st grader and certainly should know these things by now. 

I gave Jackson a helmet and safety goggles and told him to put them on. I gave him one West Chester 6030 Grain Deerskin Leather Top Reverse MIG Welding Glove so he wouldn't lose his grip and fling the 3lb Norwegian raising mallet I also gave him across the shop and possibly take out a wall. Then I gave him some earplugs, mainly because of Sharon. 

We banged on a piece of pipe for a while. We worked on throwing our body weight into our swing. Good form packs way more juice than arm strength, I informed Jackson. And right then I should have known. I should have thoroughly analyzed his slack jaw, his head tilted slightly to one side and the extreme concentration cooking his beady little eyeballs. The kid was paying attention.

Next up, we discussed the blow torch. We merely looked at it because I had already told my nephew 400 times he was too little to fire it up. Nonetheless, we took some time to inspect various items lying around the shop and talk about whether it would be possible to cut them in half with a blowtorch, or if they would just instantly disintegrate into a pile of ash, possibly after a small and noxious explosion.

Jackson asked when he would be big enough to cut things in half with the blowtorch. I said, "in five years." Five years has been my stock child-friendly euphemistic response to indicate, "A really fucking long time, kid." It's never failed me. Five years is a lifetime when you're five. Except Jack is now 7. Old enough to count.

As we trotted across the yard with our hammers to smash a hunk of sheet metal into a flatter hunk of sheet metal, my nephew says, "Aunt Stacey, when I turn 12, I'm going to cut a lot of stuff in half with your blowtorch."

Great. Somehow I suspect I won't be winning the Aunt award this week.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

One Thing About Men

Let me tell you one thing about men. Later. 

First let me tell you one thing about me. Moderation is not my middle name. I commit. This is not news. It runs in my family. All you people out there who only buy one bottle of grape juice when the sale price is a veritable steal?

You are lackadaisical and complacent. I take after my grandfather. He liked grape juice. During a clearance situation, Grandpa Frank would buy as many bottles of grape juice as could fit into his Datsun. He would haul them home, carry them into the house and duct-tape them to the walls of his hall closet so he could fit more in there. If you're going to do it, you might as well do it right.

By now, you must know I'm into audio equipment. Let's start with my passion for headphones. Currently I own three pairs I actually like.

My Earbuds: After destroying 18 pairs of earbuds over an 8 year killing spree, I finally found the Klipsch x11i's which I adore. I got these after I ruined the Klipsch X5s although I was highly satisfied with the X5s since it took me a record 3 years to do them in. 

My Closed Ear Headphones: A few years ago, I picked up the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones. I like them for listening to music in loud situations or for listening to loud music in quiet situations. They don't play so nice with my glasses. That's why I also have:

My Semi-Open Headphones: I went with the Sennheiser HD 558 Headphones. I purchased these after thoroughly considering the Beyerdynamic DT-990s. I did not get the 990s because reviews said they run hot and I hate hot.

I use a headphone amplifier. More Americans go to the ER each year for injuries resulting from sound equipment than for injuries resulting from chainsaws. Headphone amps can prevent this medical catastrophe in case you were dangerously unaware. Besides a safety first attitude, an amp makes music sound fucking great.

In my podcasting studio otherwise known as the closet in the guestroom, I just upgraded to a new Electro Voice RE320 Dynamic Microphone. It's an XLR so I need to plug into my DBX 286s Microphone Pre-amp Processor which has a great de-esser and a noise-gate that saves me hours of editing. From there, I use a Shure A15AS Switchable Attenuator (15, 20, 25 dB), Passes Phantom Power, which I found out the hard way is what's needed to lower the noise floor on my Zoom H4N Handy Portable Digital Recorder. Balanced Cables are also super key otherwise you get feedback, I have learned.

Over dinner, I complain to Tom that I did a pre-interview with a man who asked me how I record my podcast. To keep it simple, I just said I use an external recorder. The man replied that he uses Sound Recorder Free. It's a free app he installed on his computer and he likes to use it to record research interviews so he can transcribe them. He recommended it to me.

I said we use Ecamm Call Recorder in our office sometimes for shorter podcasts, but I prefer my set up for what I'm doing. The man then took it upon himself to attempt to convince me that Sound Recorder Free is really the right way to go about this. He also suggested I consider picking up a nice headset with a microphone.

I end my recounting to Tom with a quick show of jazz hands.

Tom shrugs and puts down his fork. Then he says in a grave voice, "Men like to give technical advice." 

Thanks, honey. Now I know.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

RIP The Popcorn Popper

Our crotch-height Polish landlady hobbled down the rickety stairs of our walk-up, banged on our door and treated us to a moment of high-pitched hyperventilation. She had pulled this stunt every night for a week.

The landlady did not enjoy the stench of burnt microwave popcorn. Neither did my college roommate. This was 1988 and I was in the middle of my popcorn phase. I have gone through a lot of culinary phases. Here are the most notable:

  • The carrot phase
  • The garlic toast phase
  • The peanut butter ball phase
  • The brick of frozen kale phase
  • The Cheerios phase
  • The naan bread phase
  • The chicken liver phase
I enjoy a great capacity to eat one food for weeks. Many of you may be daunted by such dedication; you will need to find the light on your own time.

Meanwhile, my college roommate feared we would be evicted, so she purchased for me a Black & Decker Handy Pop 'n Serve. It remained functional for 2.5 decades. Until last week, when the engine shrieked like a little girl and ceased to administer a pop. 

I unplugged the unit and plugged it back in just to check if sparks would continue to shoot from the electrical outlet. But alas. The Pop n' Serve had passed on. 

I kind of miss the old guy, but Tom insists that our new Great Northern Hot Air Popper produces a crisper kernel which he favors, the traitor.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Review of Steve's Review of his Blind Date

My most favorite thing about Steve is his mean streak. He is so charmingly the opposite of self-aware. It is irresistible. 

Steve's ideal date is "Going to her room and getting naked." What a coy little sex pot! I can picture it. He kicks closed her bedroom door and flings off his 50% polyester tartan plaid button-down. Wafting from his slender white chest is so much animal magnetism that a girl could stretch out her two hands, wring it from the air, and mop it back up with a swiffer picker-upper. At least Steve will imagine the scene this way.

Ariana: “We didn’t stop talking until we left. It wasn’t awkward. He was kind of like a male version of me. My chemistry tends to come from personality, so that was definitely there.”
Steve: “She was talking a lot but wasn’t earning the real estate her mouth was snatching. I’d rather find a conversation topic naturally, not just keep the motor spinning so things don’t get silent.”

In the conversation portion of the evening which apparently was quite extensive, Steve had sufficient downtime to craft a terrific metaphor. "She wasn't earning the real estate her mouth was snatching." SnapSteve's motor was spinning for a different kind of snatch. Steve's ideal date night certainly does not include vapid chatter spewing from a chick so self-absorbed she doesn't realize she's being played by a lusty young natural conversationalist.

Steve: “Girlfriends aren’t like lemons—you can’t just go pick one up.

From this, I deduce that Steve's dream girlfriend is lemon-scented and can be returned like a Ford Pinto if she repeatedly fails to meet standards of quality or performance.

In three words
Ariana: Steve is " Witty, attentive and an instigator."
Steve: Ariana is "Jovial, talky and big.”

I love these two. They should cage fight. Ariana will bosom Steve's face, going for auto non-erotic asphyxiation. And Steve, with narrowed eyes, will calculate, as best a liberal arts major can calculate, how big a waste of time this hand-to-hand combat shit is.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Welcome to the Cocktail Party

This evening, Tom declares the two of us could write a better sitcom than Welcome to Sweden. He says the dialog is awkward, the acting is a shitshow, none of the characters are likable and Bruce the American is a real boob. Tom says everybody learns Day 1 you take your shoes off when you walk into someone's house in Sweden. He wonders how it was even possible for Bruce overlook everybody hovering around the doorway hopping around on one foot trying to get their shoes off.

Personally, I think Bruce probably did see the shoe-shucking fandango. Bruce's eyes grazed over all the socks just like a clue nobody noticed except Columbo. I think this happens a lot. Like when I corner people at cocktail parties and thoroughly cover one of my favorite topics, such as blog monetization or the magic of a well-balanced compost pile. I might pause briefly at several intervals to insure my victim is still nodding politely, but I tend to disregard their wild darting eyes and murmured prayers for rescue.

The foot in the mouth is the worst, even if the foot is shoeless. It's a minefield out there. Simply exclaim over how much you're looking forward to soccer season... with an injured soccer player. Or despair over your boring job with someone who just lost theirs. Anyone of us can go horribly wrong without a pinch of effort. Or maybe because of it.

Here are some classic dust-ups I'm keeping a keen eye on:

Kissing Friends Right Smack on the Lips
Is it an affectionate greeting, or
A great way to swap cold sores?

Bear-Hugging while Sweaty
Is it a friendly display from someone who just wants to be loved, or
A prelude to 10 sticky minutes in the restroom toweling off the front of your shirt?

Asking someone 'what do you do for a living?' while playing flip cup at 2 o'clock in the morning
Is it a totally traditional way to kick off a conversation, or
How drunken elitists reveal their judgy underbellies?

Shaking hands with your god-daughter
Is it a crafty way to convey your unhappiness with the birthday present she didn't bring you, or
Laughable for its snarky simplicity?

So much clusterfuckery to untangle on your average Saturday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sportsmen like Me

It all started with this email from my friend Michael about this new iPhone app for podcast listening:

From: Michael
To: stacey
Sent: Monday, June 17, 2013 11:26 PM
Subject: New Rogue Wave

iCatcher will overwhelm you with options and configurability. I love it. Like to listen to WTF at 1.5x speed but Sound Opinions at 1x, no problem. Download all new episodes of Song of the Day but want to pick and choose episodes of Bieber Aficionado, no problem. Options galore. It's great.
Of course, I immediately bought iCatcher and checked how fast I could listen to podcasts. I'm a playah. Andrew is not a contender, in case you were wondering. Michael discussed iCatcher with Andrew but Andrew fully poo pooed the whole idea. Andrew does not understand the finer points of frenetic media consumption. He said as much while power walking back to our apartment after the Swedish Midsummer Celebration in Battery Park at two o'clock in the morning.

Of course we needed to get in some solid late-night cardio because Anna and Karen threw down a proclamation. They said they planned to walk the whole way from FiDi home to Brooklyn. I took this as a challenge. It was also a challenge to convince Tom and Andrew a wee hour 4 miler hauling a lawn chair, empty coolers and a SSCNY flag on a flagpole was a good idea. Luckily the strength of my conviction bewildered their drunken sensibilities.

The one place I do not compete with anyone is in the weight room at the YMCA. The spirit award there goes to chubby middle-aged white men. They compete with me. I just go about my business and if one of them happens to invade my space with his matchy-matchy outfit and his little white towel, I will, with great ceremony, move the pin down. I can't say I don't enjoy it.

Sometimes I race people on the sidewalk. Only elite pedestrians though. It is a contest of both fitness and razor sharp instincts. Who can weave around the plodding tourist family and all their coordinated Vera Bradley tote bags and manage to get into pole position at the next corner.

After a whole lot of podcast practice, I am pleased to note that I can now listen to some podcasts at 1.25x speed. I listened to one the other day at 1.5x and became very cocky but then the conversation intensity picked up and I had to dial it back down to 1.25. I was not discouraged. No pain no gain.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Review of the Real Estate Agent Junk Mail I Received Yesterday

     While dining al fresco with Tom last evening, I had the sincere pleasure of opening up this letter. We had carried an armful of unread mail over to the restaurant with us. We sipped minty cocktails and we ate neat rows of handmade pickle spears and we poured over val-packs and condo board audited financial statements. That's how we roll.
     Then my world comes to screeching halt as I study The Suit, the centerpiece of this print out of a Word document letter I received. The Suit screams bespoke and fresh from the cleaners. I wish I could catch a glimpse of the jacket lining. Undoubtedly, I think, the silk pattern would be something unexpected. Something dashing but ironic and cavalier. Like little watermelons or grenades on a royal purple background.
     I wonder who the random dude in The Suit might be. To my great delight, the letter clears that mystery right up, while unleashing upon the world a treatise as press-perfect as his suit. This will be good, I know it immediately.
I skim the letter and light upon the following paragraph first:

     Two Ivies and a half-decent other school. In my chair, I jitter with the anticipation of reading more. Tom's forehead wrinkles in the iPhone glow of a Tour de France recap video. Although he doesn't ask, I can tell he is desperate for a thorough report. His eyes had flickered over the letter on the table between us. He had spotted what I had seen earlier. Economic charts and graphs. Which one of us loves to stare at for hours.
     I go back to the beginning of the letter, eager to absorb the full weight of what the Suit can teach me. He launches with a provocative question: What do you do if you have stocks that increase 24%? (Why, you sell them of course.) So what do you do when your home value increases 24% You sell and take the profit. Obviously. There is no difference between stocks and homes, even though you live in one of them.
     Then The Suit brings out the big dogs. He writes that he owns JWF Capital, which owns JWF Reality, making him not only a real estate mogul but also a man of the Street. It takes some serious cred to run down to the courthouse and fill out the form for a sole proprietorship with the word "Capital" in the DBA. 
     Holy Crow, I am bowled over by the authority that rings from these Times Roman 12 point words. My hands begin to perspire and I have to order another drink.

Chart One

     I'll admit, it takes me a while to cotton onto the depth of intellect displayed by this chart. I like a  stylish boxy pattern as much as the next average citizen however, so I study the diagram intently while I half eavesdrop on a skinny guy at the next table impressing his date with commentary on why a Bald Eagle can ultimately fly further than Superman. 
     Let me cut to the chase. Chart One says you should sell everything. There is no sector left to buy, except perhaps Energy and Consumer Discretionary. Everything else, withering in your gaberdine pocket. Especially real estate. 
     This is because my apartment is in the same equity category as "financials/home builders" as well as the "utilities" stocks. Ok, got it. Everybody knows that when financial/home builders and utility stocks go up or down, housing prices across the country do too. I sit back in my chair in awe and accidentally hear the skinny guy on the date incorporate the words, "lament," "acutely aware," and "misogynist" in one sentence and I am momentarily, but deeply, impressed.
     My attention quickly reverts to the letter. The letter states without a shadow of any tenuous supposition: "The small orange block indicates where … home-owners should be looking to sell." And there is a SMALL ORANGE BLOCK that is somewhere on or about 2014.
     Because I'm not as smart as The Suit, I'm a little confused by the horizontal axis, which seems to accelerate as the present unfolds. We go from 2010 to 2016 in a sort of horizontal tesseract, so it is unclear what year the SELL needs to happen, except URGENTLY.
     As the Suit writes after a quick Great Depression recap: "Not selling [RIGHT THE FUCK NOW] certainly entails a great amount of risk for investors of all types, especially those investing in real estate."
     The TALE CONTINUES. Holy shit.
After listening to my play-by-play unraveling of Chart 1, Tom hands me the second page of the letter and says, "Maybe this will clear things up."

Prepare Yourself for Chart 2

     Only the smartest of the smart could understand this Chart 2. And by smartest of the smart I mean people who didn't sleep through the first day of microeconomics. My husband, a proud graduate of a Top 50 Party School, is able to comprehend this amazing bit of economic wizardry while paying mostly no attention to me prattle on endlessly about how this is the best attempt I have ever seen to make the simplest supply and demand chart look as complicated as possible.
     What does this have to do with the SELL SELL SELL conclusion from Chart one? 
     As best I can cobble together, The Suit invokes Adam Smith to explain that housing prices will rise, and then they will fall. There is an equilibrium point which is noted but you can disregard. It is a decorative element.
     The step-by-step logic is so compelling!
     Not only does the Great Depression linger around the corner, but prices are high because of STARTLING MICROECONOMIC EVIDENCE. I had previously thought housing prices were some kind of conspiracy but now I see the social science behind it all. Such heady stuff.

The dark side. Ironically depicted in sunny yellow. 

     When the housing market tanks, as it will any minute now (see the CHART 1), prices will tumble! Egads. "A recessionary market will… lead to a drastic fall in the price of the home that you own (as indicated by "P").
     I wipe my brow, dig into my Monkfish and regale Tom with my LEARNINGS. Thank God for people like the Suit who so selflessly take the time to educate the rest of us.

     Tom and I are going to sell everything we own and we will live like Bedouins in the forest. Every day, we will long for a bespoke Suit, just like The Suit's. A jacket, a crisp pocket square, a beautiful tie and tailored Smarty Pants with a hand-sewn and massive codpiece.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Pride and Produce

A short story could easily begin here...

My twin sister Meredith's lawn was green. Green because her husband Max fertilized with the passion of a man with nothing better to do. Meredith slipped her squat, middle-aged body through a break in the hedge between our properties. She picked her way over to my garden patch. I watched her out of the corner of my good eye, but I didn't turn my head. I wrestled with handfuls of weeds and plucked a strawberry by mistake. Damn. It was still white, only the tip had ripened to pinkish red. But the strawberry was big and perfectly formed and grown in good soil. I knew after half a day on the window sill it would transform into pure sweetness.

Meredith watched me gingerly lay the strawberry aside. She smiled and snorted, "What a sad little white strawberry." I didn't immediately reply. What did Meredith know of strawberries? She was more of an indoor type, an admitted "brown thumb." 

I suppose that is my point. My sister had no business judging my produce and yet she did. Because judgement allocates power and Meredith knew this even if she didn't. With masterful precision, my sister nipped my pride and shoved me back into line. She protected what she considered her rightful spot as the Alpha in our family. 

But I won't let anyone make me their fool. "I saw Natalie this morning," I replied. At the mention of our younger sibling I saw Meredith's lazy grin fade into an alert expression. As I knew it would. 

"She needed someone to confide in about her job at the law firm
and…" I stopped and slipped a hand over my mouth. "Now I've said too much," I sighed. "Natalie specifically told me not to tell anyone else about our conversation."

Meredith wheeled around and stalked home. I grinned and carried my white strawberry into the house. I should have known that day my sister would die my enemy. But I didn't recognize the signs for what they were until later.

I think the rest of this story would have to do with sacrifice. What some are willing to sacrifice to prove that they are in the right. Or maybe to prove they are in control. 

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Disappearance of Stars

editors note: Hey! I wrote a short story!

The Disappearance of Stars

    One night last winter, Carla bought an astronomy app. A star chart. She wobbled her face up at the stars and down to her iPhone. She studied the pinpricks of light trembling far apart in a black velvet sky. 
     Carla stared until she could trace The Big Dipper, the most famous serving utensil in the Milky Way. On it, Carla's imagination forged a shiny copper finish. She let her mind hammer decorations along the handle and tint the ladle with a shadow so it felt more comfortable and real. Afterwards, whenever Carla looked up into the night, she saw her Big Dipper. She never saw the stars again. 

     Carla has looked forward to this evening all week. Even more so when she re-reads the text from Joan with the name of the restaurant— Ursa Major. Ursa Major, the star constellation otherwise known as The Big Dipper. The corners of Carla's lips curl into a self-congratulatory smile. The restaurant is a fondue place. Where lots of dipping goes on. Not many would get the joke, but she does.
     Dabbing pressed powder on the lids of her light blue eyes, Carla thinks about her favorite photo, a close-up. Her face squashed cheek-to-cheek between Sandie's and Peta's and Joan's. The fabulous foursome hadn't managed a dinner date since last spring, schedules being what they are. 
     Effervescence ripples through Carla's chest just thinking about how great it will be to reconnect with her old friends. Some say "to think is to exist," but Carla recommends a change: "To be listened to is to exist." And Carla can always count on Sandie and Peta and Joan to listen. She grabs her clutch off the table by the door in her apartment, checks she has her keys, her wallet and her new lipstick. She is the second to arrive at the restaurant. 

     Carla hugs Sandie, perches in the chair beside her and folds her napkin across her lap. The air is not quite humid. Autumn is stronger than the sun this time of year.
     "I've been so busy!" exclaims Sandie. She had gone to DC and stopped at a fruit stand by the highway in Maryland. Sandie says she wanted to squeeze the plumbs, but there was this woman standing with her husband and their dog totally blocking the plumb bin. 
     Sandie said, "excuse me," but the couple didn't move. So Sandie waited. And they still didn't move, not even an inch. So Sandie decided to just lean in and grab plumbs. She almost had to stand on the woman's foot. 
     Then, at the cash register. This woman, she cut in front of Sandie. Marched right up the register. Sandie fumed at the back of the woman's yoga pants. Namaste, my ass. Her ass, whatever.
     The woman took forever to jam her credit cards back into her wallet and clear her bags of fruit from all over the counter. After that, the woman remembered she'd also wanted to get a bottle of water and started yelling at the cashier for Poland Springs.
    Sandie felt the sun shine bright and mean. She strode up to the counter and put her bags of fruit pretty much on top of the woman's bags of fruit. While the woman waited for her water and paid for her water, she didn't realize she'd been boxed in. When she turned to leave, Sandie didn't trouble herself to move, not even an inch and the woman earned herself a hip-check.

     Carla laughs and sputters, "Some people are such fucking narcissists!" Sandie gives her an approving look for correctly identifying the woman's problem. Sandie is always on the lookout for narcissists. They are everywhere, she says. Narcissists are the ones who don't follow the rules of etiquette. The ones who aren't self-aware enough to observe common courtesy. 
     "Reminds me of the tourists who ram right into everybody getting off the subway instead of just waiting five seconds. One time…" begins Carla.

     Sandie stands immediately when Joan arrives and gives her a hug. Carla does too. Peta shows up moments later.

     Carla pecks Peta on the cheek and hopes all is well between them. Truth be told, Carla felt a little rebuffed by Peta earlier that summer. Carla accepted an invitation to Peta's lecture. It was called "Social Attention and the Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex." Carla had signed up online and then gone the whole way downtown on a sweltering Tuesday evening. She had been right in the middle of a writing a report, but left work anyway so she'd be on time.  
     The audience all around Carla clapped after Peta finished going through her slides. Slides covered by kind of disturbing autopsy photos, by the way. Carla rushed up to the stage to congratulate her friend on a job that appeared well done. At least everyone who knew what was going on seemed to think so.
     Colleagues, undergrads, adjunct professors and even the department head clustered around Peta. It was hard to push through the crush. When Carla finally reached her friend, Peta gave Carla a hug and thanked her for coming, but then let herself get dragged into a conversation about neurons or convolutions or cells or something. 
     Carla had nothing to contribute to the science babble. Peta knew that Carla couldn't follow along but she didn't explain any of the terminology. Carla wanted to complement Peta on how amazing and smart she was up on stage, but she felt weird doing it in front of the others, people she didn't know. So she left. Maybe she had said four words the whole night. It was such a waste of time. Peta clearly didn't appreciate that she had come.
     Later, Carla sat down to write Peta a note. She didn't want to get herself in a situation again where she felt so alone. So invisible and awkward. She'd had high hopes that it would be fun, maybe they'd even share a bonding BFF moment. But Peta couldn't have cared less about that.
     In the end, Carla deleted most of what she'd written. The note simply asked if Carla would be welcome to Peta's talks in the future. Carla felt like crying when she clicked send.
     Peta almost immediately emailed back saying of course Carla was welcome to anything, anytime. 
     Carla replied that she didn't blame Peta, but that she had felt unwelcome at the lecture. She felt like no one had really paid attention to her. 
     Peta answered with a one-line email, "If I get the opportunity to speak at TedMed, you'll be the first one on my guest list!!!" 
     Carla considered the reply a touch cold. If Peta really valued their friendship, she would have put in a little time and written a paragraph, maybe two. She would have apologized for not spending enough time with Carla at the lecture. Then she would have thanked Carla for being her friend for so long, for supporting her. 
     Maybe, Carla thought, Peta should have given her a shout out from the podium. Carla earned that public thank you. She had listened to Peta complain endlessly about her professors and university policies and the shitty lab equipment and that time her briefcase got stolen right out of her cubicle. Nobody else in that room had known Peta as long as Carla had.

     Cocktails are served. Joan gets her signature drink, a Bloody Mary, even though it's dinner time. Everyone always teases her when she does this— orders a brunch drink at dinner time. 
     Sandie fake rolls her eyes when the waiter drops off the drink and quips, "Save that celery to cleanse your palette. It'll be a new trend. Goodbye Sorbet!" Joan gives Sandie's hand a little squeeze and they both laugh like this is some kind of Oscar caliber comedy routine.

     In the pause that follows, Carla yanks out her iPhone and opens iPhoto. She went out with her friend Jonathan in Chelsea and snapped selfies of the two of them standing in front of porno shop windows. The pictures are hilarious. And Carla is proud because she knows they showcase her talent. Lately, she's been thinking about getting business cards: "Carla Turner. Freelance Photographer."

     Joan begins a sentence it is clear she isn't sure how to finish, as Carla fully anticipated she would. Of course Joan will try to upstage her. And Joan always jumps into conversations at the exact second she figures out she has a point to make, even if she has no idea how to connect the current conversation to that point.
     Carla knows Joan wants to make sure everyone remembers she is an artist. A good artist and maybe even famous in some circles. Carla cringes when Joan continues to talk. Or speak might be a better word to use. Speak with a capital S. Joan's tone is overloud and strident.
     Joan monologs about the watercolors she's just finished, something about Hurricane Sandy and the important people she contrived to meet at some weekend retreat. She talks about an incident at Dick Blick Art Supplies, downstairs in the discount section. She sure set the clerk straight. He called a sculpture with moving parts a "Connecticut" sculpture. Joan pounced on his blaring stupidity. She told him the correct term is "Kinetic." Connecticut is a fucking state in New England.
     Carla stops paying attention to Joan's words and listens to the cadence. There's no ebb and flow. Or no ebb at least. Joan fills every pause, and mostly fills it by repeating herself. "Connecticut is a fucking state in New England. I mean. CONNECTICUT is a fucking STATE. In NEW ENGLAND!" 
     Joan, thinks Carla, is petrified of dead air. Of the loss that comes when a story ends. So she drowns us inside a fevered whirlpool of words to feel the warmth of our skin and hold onto the volume of our love long after we've stopped listening.
     Carla rolls her eyes and waits for someone to turn Joan off but no one manages to shove into a pause with enough force. It's like defying gravity. Carla orders another drink. Impatience burbles. She checks her watch.

     Finally Peta cuts in. With little finesse, she says, "I broke it off with Marlene."
It's a statement heavy enough to halt even Joan's momentum. Peta starts talking in that clipped voice she always uses to relate her point of view like it's scientific fact. Problems started when Peta bought Marlene tickets to a show for Marlene's 30th birthday. An actor friend of theirs was performing off broadway but the tickets were expensive even with the discount. And non-refundable.
     But Marlene had already made plans to celebrate the big "three oh" at a bar in the East Village. Marlene always celebrated her birthday in the East Village with this group of pals. It was their tradition. Long story short, Marlene went to the show with Peta, but she had been totally unappreciative and cold.  Peta was upset. Marlene ruined her own birthday. She ruined Peta's night, too. They had a big fight about it.
     "Didn't you break up with that last girl, Sheila, for the same reason?" asks Joan.
Peta looks confused. "I broke up with Sheila because she was careless. Like when she loaded her dishwasher, bowls clattered against each other. Every one of her dishes had a chip in it. I pointed out what was happening, but she kept doing it anyway. I knew there was no future for us. I can't be with someone too thoughtless to keep their things from breaking."
     "Maybe she was saving water?" interjects Sandie, her voice flipping up at the end into a question mark.
     Peta scrunches her face into an expression that says exactly what she thinks of Sandie's ridiculous comment. Carla catches Sandie's eye and they share a look. Carla gets what Sandie is thinking. Peta's stories are always the same. Chock full of scabbed over wounds that Peta loves more than anything to catalog and obsess over.
     Everyone pats Peta on the hand, "Poor poor Peta," they all say. "You're better than Marlene and Sheila put together and multiplied by ten. They didn't appreciate you, either one of them. How dare they not recognize you were trying to help them."

     The waiter circles by, Carla hears him rustle behind her. In the space next to Carla's arm, he slides across the tablecloth a black lacquer case embossed with a constellation of metallic stars.  The case lures Carla's focus away from Peta and Peta's new tip calculator iPhone app and Joan's conspiracy theory that such apps do not account for city tax and they should double-check the math to be sure they don't overpay.

     It takes an odd, half centered moment for Carla to realize the silver stars she's seeing are the Big Dipper. She traces the shape with the tips of her white fingernails and sees the stars for what they are— tiny speckles she had connected together to form something she understood. No different than all the fragments of unrealized love, pain and happiness, disquiet and apprehension and joy floating around in the universe. All these twinkling and drifting bits, Carla thinks, waiting to be plucked up and twisted into something we say we believe to be true.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Latest Money-Making Scheme

As many know because I've been complaining incessantly, a large problem has beleaguered my very existence: there are no Swedish t-shirts. When I say "no Swedish t-shirts" I mean t-shirts I would actually wear. For the record, I would not wear a t-shirt with a giant Swedish flag emblazoned from neck to belly-button. First off, I would not wear anything emblazoned at that scale because I do not endeavor to look like a human lollipop with a head. Second off, I'm not Swedish. 

Last year, I was in Sweden and the only T-shirts widely available were ones that said, "New York City." I did not find this advantageous in any way. At one point, I spied a mens t-shirt featuring the Gothenberg lion. Although it was kind of cool, I refused to purchase it because, first off, it said "Gothenberg" and not "Göteborg." As a rule, I do not purchase tourist gear. Second off, I'm not a man.

After three years of pathetic online and offline shopping with nothing to show for it, I decided to make my own fucking t-shirt. And as long as I was making my own fucking t-shirt, I would make it exactly the way I fucking wanted to make it (just so the whole start-to-shopping cart didn't take more than 15 minutes because I am very busy today.)
The Ultimate Swedish Blacksmith T-shirt
"For the smithy, the most important tools are the hammer and the anvil."

It is brilliant, I know you're thinking right now because that's what I was thinking when I hit "submit." And then a wondrous thing happened. A pop-up window inquired, "Do you want to sell your design?" Ho ho ho, but of course.

The website asked if I would enjoy writing some ad copy and I dove right in. Here is my ad copy:

The ultimate gift for Swedish Blacksmiths! 

"For the blacksmith, the anvil and hammer are the most important tools." 

Order now and be the first on your block to own a Swedish Blacksmithing t-shirt! 

This is the t-shirt for blacksmiths to proclaim their love for hot-rolled steel. Order now if you happen to be a Swedish blacksmith. 

You can also order if you are a non-Swedish blacksmith with a thing for sill och potatis, or a non-blacksmith Swede with a thing for blacksmiths.

If you are none of the above, no worries. People who are not Henrik Lundqvist wear t-shirts with his name on the back all the time.

I am totally on to something big, I know. I keep hitting "refresh" in case the orders start rolling in. Any minute now...