Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Instant Mess

I used to think of instant messaging as something the kids use, with generous helpings of OMG, ROFL, TTFN and smiley faces.

Now it's invaded the workplace - including mine.

My company requires us to log into IM during work hours. I ignored it for the better part of a year, until the whining became too loud. Since I happen to like getting paid, I gave in.

It wouldn't be so bad if I could limit the people who can see me online. Or if I could prevent it from going to “inactive” status every time I go to the toilet.

Normally these settings could be altered, but like many corporate applications, it's locked down and the settings can't be changed easily. (Yep, there's always the registry, but let's not go there. I try to “play nice” with our LAN Desktop people.)

Instant messaging is particularly aggravating when you're working against the clock to resuscitate a server that just ate itself, and Joe Smith on the other side of the country is IM'ing that he'd like a new field on his TPS report.

It doesn't matter if I set my status to “Busy” or “Away”.

“Away” as in “Not Here”.


“Casper the Ghost”.

How am I supposed to answer? I'm good, but I'm not telepathically tied to my laptop.

LOL, I say.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays !

Sorry posting is light this week. So much going on between getting ready for Christmas and my office trying it's best to make me insane.

I'm working on a Laura Mercier post for December 26th.

In the meantime, here is this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special from Children In Need:

Have a wonderful holiday!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Have You Tried Turning It Off And On Again?

The first time I experienced the joy of being “on call” was around 8 years ago. It was a weekend riddled with code installs, data conversions and other minor disasters. I literally didn't sleep or shower for 3 days.

Back then, we weren't staffed 24x7, so when something blew up, you immediately got called. This wasn't a big deal during the day, but sucked royally at 3:00am. Nowadays, the only time I lose beauty sleep is if there's a huge problem that night shift can't handle.

Unfortunately, we have one guy that calls no matter what. The conversation invariably goes like this:

ME: “Mrrrgh.”

Mr. Vagueness: “Ah, yes. Hello. The application is getting an error.”

ME: “Mrrrgh.....error? What error.....what application? Can you give me some details?”

I support 10 applications. There are literally thousands of errors which could occur. It never occurs to him to provide any coherent details.

This is the equivalent of going to the doctor and telling him you have a pain. Somewhere.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bad Hair Of Youth

I grew up in the 70s and 80s when huge, bad hair was the norm. When I say bad, I don't mean Michael Jackson “Bad”. I mean really, really dreadful.

It all started with Farrah Fawcett's trend setting “feathered” hairstyle. It looked great. On her. You see, Farrah's hair wasn't stiff and weirdly shaped. Somehow when this style translated to the rest of us, it morphed into solid tubes of hair. Here's my depiction of that glorious 'do:

Here in Northeast Pennsylvania, we took this to another level:

1.) Begin by getting a curly perm, then blow it out with a round brush to get a whoosh of feathers.

2.) Spray with Aquanet.

3.) Set curling iron on High. Proceed to curl the feathers into giant rolls. Repeat until you get the perfect roll, or your hair begins smoking.

4.) Spray with Aquanet.

5.) Slowly brush hair from the back end of the curl tube, moving horizontally, pulling the tube of curls to the back of your head.

6.) Spray with Aquanet.

Usually we concentrated so much on perfecting the sides, that we neglected the back. Sometimes it left a big, flat spot back there - which made the sides even more wing-like. Or the side curls circumnavigated the entire head, leaving the back looking like a cross between Darth Vader's helmet and a duck's bottom.

So in an attempt to make my hair do the impossible, I had split ends, bad perms and crunchy hair. I also drove my parents insane with the amount time it took to perfect this look each morning. Thankfully, I learned my lesson about 20 years ago.

What goes around comes around.

Now I know how my parents felt, and how ridiculous the entire styling process was. I get to see it every morning when my own daughter gets ready for school.

She just loves that flat iron.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Silvertown is more than a memoir. It's a fascinating tale, and a tribute to human spirit and endurance.

This book came from author Melanie McGrath's research on her grandparents, Jenny and Len Page, who lived in London's East End at the turn of the century. Jenny is the main focus of the story, which begins with her birth in 1903 London. The story follows her through an impoverished childhood, her first job at 14 in the sewing sweatshops, WWI, the death of her sister to typhoid, and the loss of all her teeth on her 17th birthday. What follows a rough childhood, is an even rougher marriage to Len Page. Jenny raises her family, manages to live through WWII and the London Blitz, and her husband's infidelity.

The most poignant account was Jenny's 17th birthday. Her mother took her to what I believe was the equivalent of the local butcher, who proceeded to extract all of Jenny's teeth without any pain medication. Afterwards, Jenny was fitted with a set of porcelain dentures. What McGrath manages to eloquently convey is that it wasn't done to be cruel, or without her mother's sympathy. This type of tooth extraction was common practice back then; done to avoid the medical bills involved with dentistry. It also had the added benefit of making the young lady easier to marry off since the prospective husband wouldn't need to worry about her dental bills.

I'm sure this sounds incredibly depressing, but it was not. The manner in which McGrath tells this story is uplifting. It made me feel good about the strength and tenacity of human beings. Not only that, but McGrath paints a vivid picture with her words. I felt I could really see the old East End, and the characters in my mind.

The only complaint I have is that we didn't get to see how Jenny's children fared. Obviously they survived and did well, since Melanie McGrath is here to tell this tale. According to Amazon.co.uk, there is a sequel being released in 2009, so hopefully that book will fill in the blanks.

Silvertown, An East End Family Memoir was written by Melanie McGrath and published in 2002 by Fourth Estate (Harper Collins). It's a shame this book is only a few years old and it's already out of print. However Amazon has it available from several used book dealers at good prices. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


The frost crystallized in a really weird way this morning (click on photo for better detail):

It's hard to believe that's the hood of the car. It looks like feathers or palm trees. Maybe the Winter Wench is thinking of sunny Hawaii?

On the way: Maybelline Define-A-Lash, Rimmel Shock Gloss, and possibly a book review.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Surviving Dinner

argument Pictures, Images and Photos

The bird was beautiful. The farm produces a turkey that's practically 25 pounds of breast meat alone. Every year when I stuff one, it amazes me that there's almost no body cavity. I end up stuffing what I can into the main section, between the drumsticks, and in the neck. As unglorious as it sounds, the bird often looks like it's oozing bread dressing.

I wonder how these birds survive, since there's apparently no room for innards. Gives new meaning to wearing one's heart on one's sleeve. Or in this case, a wing. How do they move, being so top heavy? Are they fitted with little skateboards to get around on? Maybe a jet pack?

Ah well......no matter. It was delicious.

We've hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 8 years now, and look forward to it every year. It's so lovely spending the day with family and friends. It's been an extremely successful endeavor for the better part of a decade now. I should have known our luck would eventually run out.

This article from Slate would've been useful before serving the food.

I am thankful the dinner remained on the table and made it's way to our tummies, instead of decorating the walls or guests.

I am thankful there's an acre of land between our house and the neighbors; putting them out of earshot.

I am thankful no one had a heart attack or stroke.

I am thankful for wine and pie. And wine.

I am thankful there's always next year.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving !!

turkey Pictures, Images and Photos

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I'll resume normal posting tomorrow :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

i has leaves

The yard is filled. Filled to the brim with leaves. Every nook and cranny. This is one of the many items on my To Do List that didn't get done, having worked all weekend at my real job. With the economy being what it is, real work takes priority. At least the wind is slowly whipping them into the woods.

Got a few things percolating and should be posting soon: Rembrandt Whitening Kit, Guerlain Tajine, and Silvertown - An East End Family Memoir.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Don't Fight The Duck Fart

PROBLEM: Sandy thinks her system sends a report to AppSupportGeek's system. Sandy also needs to add a column to this report for 'number of duck farts per region'. So Sandy sends a request to the MajorManager to see if this is okay with his team.

MajorManager: “Can you jump on this problem and get a response back to Sandy?”

AppSupportGeek: “Sandy is mistaken. We don't receive this report. But it does sound like a report that the Department Of Avian Gas receives. Maybe it's theirs.”

MajorManager: “So..... are we okay with this?”

AppSupportGeek: “It's not our report. *sigh* Alright, I'll contact AvianGas, verify it's their report, and introduce the two parties so they can sort it out.”

....five minutes later

AvianGas: “Yes! This is a report we receive daily.”

AppSupportGeek: “Great. Can you get with Sandy? She needs to add a column to your report.”

....ten minutes later

MajorManager: “Do you have an update yet? Have we decided if we want the new column for duck farts?”

AppSupportGeek: “Dude, the report isn't ours. I told AvianGas to call Sandy and sort it out.”

MajorManager: “Yeah well, Sandy's boss called and he said it is our report. I need to know this is being handled.”

AppSupportGeek: “Fine. I'll call Sandy and have her talk to her boss. Or I'll talk to her boss. AvianGas should've been in touch with her by now.”

....fifteen minutes later

Sandy: “No, I haven't heard from AvianGas yet. Are you sure it's not your report? My boss swears it is.”

AppSupportGeek: “Well, you know, I've only been working on this system for 10 years now, wrote every interface for incoming reports, and I can honestly say I've never seen this one. There's also the much ignored fact that AvianGas said this report belongs to them. But then again, what the hell do I know? I'm just the geek.”

Sandy: “But MajorManager said you'd help meeeee.”

AppSupportGeek: “Good God, woman. Just tell your boss it's AvianGas' report! I have proof!”

Sandy: “Ooooh.... I don't know what I should do. Do you think you might need the extra column for 'number of duck farts per region'?”

AppSupportGeek: “Sure! Why not? I think it's a lovely idea. Glad you had the foresight to include our team in these discussions. I'll send your boss a nice email detailing how incredibly helpful you've been.”

Shifting Focus

Sorry for lack of posting, things have been busy and work has invaded my private life again. We've also had a series of small disasters which make me believe *Hestia enjoys having everything in the house break in immediate succession.

That, along with the economy being in shambles, this blog may gravitate more towards other things, with less focus on cosmetics. The beauty stuff will still be there, you just might need to tolerate some work related ranting, book reviews, and other anecdotes.

I promise I'll try to keep it interesting :)

*Hestia - Greek goddess of hearth and home

Friday, November 7, 2008

Stuff & Things

TotalBeauty has a new Beauty Myth quiz posted.

Sasa has a new eyeshadow set from Kose Visee that looks really cool.

Vicki's Secret is having a great sale on jammies.

TopShop USA (yay!) Kate Moss Christmas Collection is out now.

And words fail me here......this is simply bizarre.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Life On Mars: Take 4

I've written about the new, American version of Life On Mars here, here and here. I have to admit, it's improving. Besides, I'm reliving my childhood with all that early 70's music. Dug out all the old T-Rex that I hadn't listened to in years. Forgot how great they were.....and it still holds up today. Good stuff in both the original and new versions.

In last Thursday's episode, Sam Tyler meets his mother in 1973. The story is very similar to the original British episode. There were small changes, but nothing that really impacted the story. The oddest thing was that they renamed his mother. In the original, she was Ruth Tyler. In the new one she's Rose Tyler. I sort of cringed, suspecting a Doctor Who connection. A bit of googling found that it was, actually.

Overall, I'm giving it a B+.

The ABC website for Life On Mars can be found here. The original BBC production can be found here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Route 22 in Allentown

This post is dedicated to the asshat on a motorcycle that nearly became a squishy, red bit of protein on my rear quarter panel.

Mr. Impatient on his crotch-rocket couldn't wait for me to pass the car next to me. Tailgated as I made the pass, then slid in between the rear of my car and the front of the other car. Once I passed the other car, I attempted to pull back into the right lane and couldn't. Dickweed was already there, causing me to swerve back into the left lane again. He must've made this smooth move at the exact same time I went to pass. Never mind that I had my signal on and was already doing 65 in a 55 - it's not as if I was Granny putt-putting my way along the highway.

Dude, at least take it down a notch and pass on the shoulder like the Jersey kids do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First Storm Of The Year

In case anyone's interested, here's an article about the October snowstorm. The photos are from locations 5-10 miles from here. The baffling thing is that the storm dumped up to 15 inches of snow in some places, and then nothing but rain in others (like here).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Snow And Turkeys

I woke up this morning to the sound of turkeys ululating, and snow whacking the windows. It's usually not a good sign if the Winter Wench shows up in October.

The temperature must have dropped considerably overnight, as it was raining buckets when I went to bed, but turned over to thick, wet snow by morning. None of it stuck; the ground is still too warm, but the weather service is calling for up to 6 inches of snow in the higher elevations.

Our house isn't exactly in a “higher elevation”, being just to the south of the Pocono Mountains. However we're wedged in a valley between 2 mountain ranges, so the wind and cold are funneled in between like a flash flood of frozen air. Hence the snow whacking the windows.

The turkeys are another story. We live in the country, so there's an endless array of critters motoring through the backyard. This time of year the wild turkeys come out squawking and waving their wings at the crack of dawn. I assume this is some kind of mating ritual - but I would've thought they did this in Spring, not Fall. Maybe they're Australian turkeys.

It's always the same 3 birds, all puffed up. They look like the Rat Pack. Frank, Sammy and Dean crooning to the ladies in wild turkey speak: Bluhualuhluh.... Bluhualuhlurp.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Off Topic

Yes, I'm off topic again. Maybe I'll spread more into the "miscellany" area on this blog.

The brilliant Mr. Gaiman has a new book out. It's called "The Graveyard Book", and you can watch him read each chapter here. Love the way he does the character voices. Highly recommended.

The book is currently available at Amazon here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Paris Hilton Is Not My BFF

Has anyone else heard of this shallow piece of crapola currently running on MTV? (Yes, this isn't cosmetics or skincare related, but it's annoying and needs to be mentioned. We'll file this under miscellany, then. Or maybe I'll create a new category and call it “crapola”.)

My teenage daughter and I found this accidentally; MTV being something teenagers gravitate towards – God knows I did, waaay back in the early 80's. “Video Killed the Radio Star” and all that. As a side note, I lost all interest in MTV, as did many others of my generation, once MTV got away from actually showing music videos, and instead began airing shite.

The premise of this show has a dozen or so young ladies (and one or two man-ladies) vie for the position of “Best Friend” to heiress Paris Hilton. They're given tasks each episode, like the one I watched where they had to create a commercial for Paris' products, and rat on each other for being “most fake”. Which is intrinsically hilarious. The most fake? On a show like this?

I realize the whole point is to get the most outrageous people to be on this show, otherwise it might not be, well, interesting – for lack of a better word. I assume these characters are playing it to the hilt for points and attention; as with any game show. This isn't, or shouldn't be, real life.

After watching a few minutes of this program with my daughter, my initial reaction was to tell her it's garbage and to watch something else. Instead, I think I've managed to use it as an example of what not to strive for in life.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Life On Mars American Style, Again

I considered writing a full review on the second episode of Life On Mars, but decided against it. This reinterpretation is good; I even suspect it'll be a success. I know I shouldn't keep comparing it to the original.


There are so many pieces missing from the new version: the bartender, the test pattern girl, the messages over the radio and television, the subtlety.....


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Zits !

Okay this is gross and cool at the same time. TotalBeauty has some excellent videos on everything from new makeup looks to my personal favorite, zit zapping:


Friday, October 10, 2008

Life On Mars: UPDATE

I went back and watched the first episode of the British Life On Mars. Wow, what a difference. There were so many little things that I forgot about, especially the ending scene with Annie's friend the psychology dude, and Sam on the roof of the police station. For some reason, I thought this occurred in a later episode. In the American version, Raimes is the modern day killer (with a twin) copying the original 70's killer. In the British version, the 70's killer was both - the lapse in the crimes being when he was in psych hospital, and then beginning again once he's released. The neighbor Raimes was only writing in his journal about killing, in order to emulate the killer who lived next door.

The dialogue and the acting in the original series is phenomenal. I get the feeling Hollywood thinks it needs to dumb down the dialogue and keep the plot moving quickly, or they might lose the attention of us slow-witted, action-addicted folk. Like the scene in the original with the bartender. Does he know Sam is in a coma? What special knowledge is he privy to? He seems to know something - and that draws us in. What about the test pattern girl on the television, who speaks to Sam throughout the series? These subtle pieces missing from the new version are what made the original intriguing.

In the original, John Simm relays the emotion and the feeling of near insanity at being back in 1973 in a way I just did not see in the new series. That, along with the fact that Harvey Keitel is simply too old and short to play Gene Hunt. Gene Hunt is supposed to be a man of about 45, tough guy, and tower over Sam.

The new show wasn't bad, just not the same quality. It was like seeing a wonderful Broadway show with the people who originate the roles - all the great actors - then going to see the same show at the local playhouse theater. Good show, just not the same. However, I understand that the writers/producers received permission to take liberties with the whole “coma or time travel” thing, so it's bound to be somewhat different.

Like I said, I'll definitely tune in next week, but mostly to see how the rest of the series is interpreted, and where they go with the plot.

Life On Mars American Style: Travesty Or Treasure?

Just a quick one here......

Anyone see the premiere of Life On Mars last night? I've been dreading this one for months now, since I am a HUGE fan of the original British version. I was fairly certain Hollywood would manage to ruin this show, but now I'm not so sure. There have been several travesties in the recent past when attempting to adapt British shows to American television. Coupling and IT Crowd to name a few. Somehow they got lucky with The Office, which is now a huge hit - but the humor just isn't the same.

The first episode followed the British version almost exactly - even down to some of the lines, camera shots and music. I found myself wondering, "Why don't they just run the original then?".

Obviously, they revised some of the story to fit America, like the NYC setting, standard use of handguns by the police, and the term "cell" versus "mobile" - just to name a few. The most impressive being the opening scene in 1973, where Sam Tyler finds himself in an empty lot, and the camera pans up to show the Twin Towers still standing. (The original takes place in Manchester, and Sam finds himself in a lot with a huge sign advertising the new highway to be built.) Call me a sap, but it did give me chills, and wasn't cheesy.

The ending was slightly different, but not hugely so. Based on the previews for next week, it appears the second episode will also be quite similar to the British version, if not nearly identical.

I'm actually looking forward to the next episode. In the meantime, I'm breaking out the British Life On Mars DVDs and watching the originals again.

Even if this show is a hit, NO ONE could compare to Phillip Glenister as Gene Hunt. He is the coolness :)

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Granny Glasses, Or Why 40 Sucks

I will be 40 years old this week. Yay me. This sucks because I don't feel 40 years old. Maybe 30. Definitely not 20, but that's mainly because I don't remember how 20 feels, since I am so ancient now.

I tried to dismiss the upcoming event, but was thwarted by my eyeballs. For a few months now, I've been unable to read the back of the aspirin bottle. Or fine print. One of my dearest friends who had the pleasure of turning 40 before me, happened to mention that “things happen” when you hit forty. For instance, your eyes suddenly decide they do not want to see anything up close anymore.

So when my husband asked me for the date on my watch, I had to own up to the fact that I had no freaking idea what the date on my watch was, because I couldn't see the damn thing. Sure, I could tell the time, but that tiny little date? No way. It was cautiously suggested I try out a pair of “reading” glasses the next time I hit the grocery store. I have now marked my decrepitude with a brand new pair of granny glasses. See photo above.

In fairness, they're not that bad and definitely help. I may look around for a more stylish pair. Like ones with flames on the sides to match my walker.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nicomide Me

Grrr. My pharmacy tells me my Nicomide is on backorder, but they have no idea when they'll get it. Apparently there's a problem at the supplier. (You may recall I wrote an article a while back about cystic acne, and how I benefited from Nicomide .) I emailed Sirius/DUSA Labs, the maker of Nicomide, asking what the problem is and received this response:

from: CS-Inbox CS-Inbox@dusapharma.com
to: me
date: Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 10:43 AM
subject: RE: Sirius Labs Nicomidemailed-by: dusapharma.com


I must say, I was very impressed with how quickly they responded. Good service there. However, I did some digging on the internet and found the info the lab sent me is actually from a press release in July, which can be found here:


How crap is that? I really don't want to go back to topical creams or tetracycline.

It would be awesome if this was an over the counter vitamin. Wishful thinking though. Well, I guess we're high and dry til the FDA meets with the pharmaceutical company and a decision is made. In the meantime, it's pizza face time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pet Peeve: Disposable Razors and Refill Cartridges

Am I the only person who has problems with the lasting ability of multi-blade razors? It started with the double blade razors about 30 years ago – yep, I'm old enough to remember the Trac 2. Then we got the Mach 3. Now with the Fusion, we're up to 5 blades on one stinking razor. Is it possible to make just ONE decent blade on a razor? I know, I know....there's supposed to be a benefit to having more than one blade, as the first blade apparently does an initial strafing run and then one behind it comes along and cuts the hair even closer. Or something like that.

But why do they wear out so quickly? Gillette Mach 3 refill cartridges are around $18.00 for a pack of 8. The Schick Extreme 3 disposables are about $7.00 for a pack of 4. Now, there's the Fusion which has 5 blades at a whopping $28.99 for 8 refill cartridges. No matter which brand of multi-blade razors I use, women's or men's, with or without an aloe strip, I get maybe 2 good shaves out of it before it begins to dull. It's frustrating and expensive.

I became so disenchanted I decided to give the old Bic single blades a shot. You can get a 12 pack for around $2.00 to $4.00 at the local grocery store. Even if they only last 2 shaves, I'm still ahead.

Turns out they're not bad. Not bad at all. They're good enough that I'm not planning on going back to multi-blade razors any time soon. I'm getting about the same number of shaves, if not one or two more out of them. They're also extremely sharp. So sharp that I cut the heck out of my leg before I started going a bit slower, and with a lighter hand.

I also found the quality of the shave is about the same as the multi-blade. Maybe I'm just tougher on blades than other people, or maybe my stubble is made of steel wool.

Either way, I'm sticking with the Bic.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Latest Excuse

Did you know there's punishment for going on vacation for 2 weeks? This punishment is officially called “your office hates you”, and “you will have no personal life until you get caught up”. However, there is no such thing as “caught up” when working in IT. It simply means that instead of working 14 hour days, you're quitting at 10, otherwise your brain would turn to tapioca.