To the jenth power ...

I read the books. I watched the show. I unflinchingly wore a sunbonnet to second grade. What started as a childhood obsession has developed into .. well, an adult obsession. I'm going to visit some of the sites depicted in the Little House series of books. Go west, (not-so-) young woman, indeed.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Stop! Grammartime.

Ever heard of Glamour Bombing? I hadn't either until recently. From what I understand, it's a sort of guerrilla performance art. A sneak attack of cute, if you will. While I can appreciate the sentiment behind it (God knows I dig the absurd), I think there's a far greater need for something else:

Grammar Bombing.

I've been anticipating this movement for years. When I find glaring errors in the local newspaper, I've been known to red-pencil them and mail the page back to said paper anonymously. If the mistakes are particularly bad, or if I'm in a foul mood, I'll add a "shame on you" to the top of my missive for good measure. The most heinous instance was the repeated use of the word "trusties" in the place of "trustees". In a headline. On the front page. I had no choice but to Grammar Bomb.

The most common instances of language abuse seem to involve misplaced apostrophes and quote marks. Daily special's. "Fresh" flowers. I know I've waxed poetic about this before, but, dammit, it's just getting worse. Occasionally, I'll run into a sign or a menu with striking errors, and I sometimes try to point them out, often using humor. I ran into a whiteboard martini menu last week that read, simply: Martini's. Martini's what? Martini's socks? Martini's philosophy? Martini's shattered dreams? The suspense nearly killed me. If there had been an available whiteboard marker I might have posted these musings. I might have had to Grammar Bomb.

Does this mean I'm nuts? Probably. Do I care? Not a whit. When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one gal to dissolve the steadfast hold of the misused apostrophe ... well, she has to go for it. She's got a moral imperative to Grammar Bomb. Right? Right.

I suppose that I'm most bothered by the fact that many of these newspaper articles and signs must pass through the hands of several people during production. Here's an example: the sign on a local hair salon reads "Cuts For Men and Boy's". Now, somebody had to figure out the wording on that sign. Perhaps they sketched out the basics. Then they approached a business to manufacture the sign. I'd imagine that the design and layout were approved by the original author. Then the sign had to be made. It had to be installed. And nobody, nobody, noticed the bad punctuation? Nobody even tried to tactfully suggest, even from an aesthetic perspective, that the apostrophe might not be a good move (never mind the random capitals)? That's what astounds me.

I won't even go into the wholesale slaughter of there/their/they're.

Now, I'm not a hypocrite. Well, okay, maybe a little bit. I know there are likely countless errors on this very blog. This entry alone probably contains fifteen grammatical missteps. However, I'm not a writer. I'm not an editor. It's not my job to produce perfect prose. I do my best, but - hey - I know my limitations, and I welcome correction. Besides, I suspect my readership probably lingers in the lofty single digits, so at the very least my carnage is contained. But a newspaper? Don't they hire people to edit and fact-check? Wouldn't a signmaker double-check these things?

I may be guilty of all sorts of moral shortcomings. Thankfully, misplaced possessives don't generally appear on that roster.

So their. How about them apple's?


Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Well, Arbor Day bit me in the ass with its now-you-see-it-now-you-don't routine. I was beginning to think it was a figment of my imagination! Maybe it's like Tinkerbell - if you don't believe in it, it ceases to exist? Perhaps it's a manifestation of all those trees that I planted in the oft-mowed back yard, led like lambs to the slaughter? Both? I don't know.

But, apparently, Arbor Day does still happen. It just hides itself well. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it's celebrated on the last Friday of April. I had to Google a bit to find this out, because the suspense was killing me. So we get Earth Day and Arbor Day in rapid succession, a sort of wham-bam-plant-trees-ma'am. Okay, then.

Why do I keep on harping on this? No real reason. But it did get on my radar again this week when a friend and her four-year-old son invited me to participate in an Egg Drop contest in honor of Earth Day. Let's celebrate the environment! We'll chuck some eggs from a cherry picker! Wahoo!

I kid. But just a bit. Sure, I'll pull a world-weary, sarcastic attitude. I'll do this because .... well, *clears throat, gets shifty eyes* because science scares me. And any sort of engineering feat is far beyond my ken. I want to participate in this, but I'm not really good at the rational, planning aspects of things. Shocking, I know. Still, my four-year-old buddy already managed to design and carry out his plan for unbroken eggs. Me? I'm lucky to crack an egg on the side of a bowl without getting egg yuck all over the place. But my competitive nature is kicking in, so I will attempt to build something that will protect falling eggs everywhere.

I have to admit, though, that every time I hear (or type) "Egg Drop", my mind goes immediately to soup. Yum.


So we'll be making the trek to Ithaca, NY to throw some eggs around. I have a sneaking suspicion that my best bet will be the "splat" category, but I'm trying to be optimistic here. I've got some ideas. I mean, wouldn't a sunbonnet make a fantastic parachute? It protects from the sun! It saves delicate eggs in a single bound! It makes thousands of julienne fries! It ... yeah. Creative process. Brainstorming and all that.

It will be fun to have a challenge. My trip is mostly planned out and paid for, now I'm just waiting for July to happen. I'm getting pretty adept at the water-fitness thing. Work is a festering black hole of yuck but, then again, does anyone "fun" for forty hours a week? Nuh-uh. Didn't think so. They pay you because you'd never show up otherwise. So it'll be fun to try something different, smash a few eggs, and omelets be damned.

Days until trip: 92
Money saved: $425.00

Friday, April 06, 2007

Peep Show

You know what I really get a kick out of? Peeps. I have a unholy love for those little marshmallow chicks. Especially the yellow ones. I find them hysterical in a way I can't define. But is has to be the chicks. I'm not too fond of the bunny shapes. And the Christmas trees? An abomination. But I really do love me some classic yellow Peeps.

I'm not a tattoo person, but if I were, there'd be a small Peep somewhere on my body.

I don't like to eat them, really. I mean, I give them the old college try every Easter, but I generally end up snarfing back just one or two and feeding the rest to the dog (or sticking them to him. Try it! It works!). I just happen to be more of a salty snack kind of gal. So it's a good thing that Peeps are available for purchase in small packages (the dog thinks so, too).

Since I like to spend my internet time on sophisticated and weighty matters, I found the Peeps home page and joined the Peeps fan club last week. I did this in order to get unfettered access to exclusive Peeps avatars and e-cards. Because, really, nothing says "I've got important information to impart" quite like images of frolicking marshmallow chickens, right? Right.

While Peeping around, I found that fate does, indeed, work in mysterious ways. There are, apparently, raving masses of people out there who share my Peep fixation. And, surprisingly, some of them have a similar fondness for Spam. Yes, that Spam - the kind that was a Monty Python muse. Even better? There's a Spam museum.

Best of all? That museum happens to be in Austin, Minnesota. I'm going. I have to.

When I look at my schedule, I have the first day of the trip pretty much open. I'll be landing in Minneapolis rather early, getting my rental car, and hitting the road. With my mad Mapquest skillz, I find that I can proceed directly to the museum, spend some time among the cheese of it all, and have plenty of time to get my sunbonnetted ass to the town where I've reserved a hotel for that night. It's a little out of the way, but not much. And, well, it's a Spam museum. how could I resist?

You might ask yourself this: how can our gal reconcile a trip to a Spam museum with her planned prairie pilgrimage? Well, the truth is ... I can't, really. There's no spiffy way that I can tie it in with my mission. It's like apples and oranges. Or Peeps and canned meat.

But it's my destiny. The little marshmallow chicks showed me the way.
Days until trip: 96
Money saved: $425.00


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Arboring Resentment

For some reason, I was thinking about Arbor Day today. I looked at a calendar to see when, exactly, Arbor Day would happen, and - Lo! - it seems to be a thing of the past. We do Earth Day these days, apparently. Either that, or I've got a shitty, tree-hating calendar. Or both.

We used to get small pine trees in school on Arbor Day. They were little seedlings with their roots and some dirt carefully wrapped in a plastic bag. Here in Scrantonland, each tree had a little tag attached to it that told us it was a gift from the Globe Store. (Now, before you think that we were especially environmentally aware in these parts ... well, no. The Globe Store simply happened to be the name of the local Wanamaker department store, nothing more.)

Those tags were touching little epistles, especially designed to tug at the heartstrings of sappy kids like me. I can't remember exactly what they said but it was something like this:

"I am your Arbor Day tree, a gift from The Globe Store. Please take care of me and plant me in a sunny place. If you remember to give me plenty of water so I can grow, I'll put carbon dioxide into the air and give you shade on a sunny day."
The helplessness touched me deeply . These poor little wisps of trees were depending on us! Looking to be nurtured and loved! Just asking for a sunny spot and some water! I'd read my tree's tag on the bus ride home, and my mind would hear it in a childlike voice - a voice, in fact, that sounded an awful lot like Rudolph from those Rankin-Bass Christmas specials. I'd know in my fifth-grade heart that my tree was lucky to have found me. Carefully shielding it from the jostling middle school crowds, I'd cradle it in the palms of my hands. I may even have talked to it. At any rate, I took my tree obligation seriously. My tree needed me and, dammit, I wasn't about to disappoint.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the other kids on the bus. Especially the boys. They'd grab the sprig of tree and swat at each other with the Baggie-encased root ball. Several especially unfortunate trees sailed out of the windows of the moving bus. I was mortified, and I felt the sting of tears in my eyes. Those poor trees! They never had a chance!

Every year I'd plant my tree in the back yard. And every year my father, Philistine that he was, mowed it down as he cut the grass. He didn't mean to wantonly pillage the environment, he simply didn't see the small stick with its four pine needles sticking out of the ground. He apologized each time, but it was no use. None of my trees ever survived.

I've never forgotten the trees that became whips, or the ones that were flung out the window. But it occurred to me now (just today, in fact) that the tossed trees, the ones I felt so sad about, probably live to this day, happily populating the rural area into which they were tossed. Mine just mulched the backyard. Oh well.