Monthly Archives: March 2007

5 Ways to Use Twitter

Sharonista has a post over at 9:01 AM:

The Top 5 Ways Smart People Use Twitter

#4. Breaking news & getting scoops. People let their guard down on Twitter, and if you’re in the tech news reporting field you might get some juicy leads via Twitter. The kind of news that’s likely to be broken via Twitter is tech news, and in order to scoop it you need to be Twitter watching the movers and shakers in the tech world. (In order to Twitter watch someone, just add them to your “friends” list.)

Gary Kamiya: How Bush Made the GOP Commit Suicide

This from my buddy Kevin:

Democrats should give two cheers for George W. Bush. He and his political mastermind, Karl Rove, dreamed of achieving a permanent Republican majority. Instead, his disastrous presidency has dealt a devastating blow to the GOP, one from which it may not recover for many years. That’s the inescapable import of a major study of American voters’ values and attitudes by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, released March 22. The study finds that voters have turned dramatically away from the GOP since Bush took office…. But even more troubling for Republican strategists is the fact that underlying attitudes and beliefs are trending against them. The study’s implication is that the GOP, especially in its current far-right incarnation, was facing serious structural, long-term problems anyway, and that Bush delivered the coup de grâce.

Why ‘24′ Suddenly Got Boring

While at home last week I realized why 24 got boring all of a sudden. It stopped dealing with ‘real’ people. 24 succeeds when it has many more regular civilians involved in the plot. Like the dad that had to go get the bomb trigger from a guy he never met while that guy held his family hostage. 24 isn’t just about villians suffering – it is about us suffering along with the civilians.


From Pam’s House Blend:

Corey Andrew had his profile and resume posted at, and it caught the eye of Army recruiter Marcia Ramode, who contacted him. When Andrew informed Ramode that he is gay, and believed that the DADT policy was wrong, the two engaged in a three-day email exchange that included statements by Ramode, in her official capacity as a recruiter, that boggle the mind.

Ramode tells Andrew to “migrate to another country” if he objects to paying taxes to support the military, which discriminates against gay and lesbian citizens, and “if you do not like me writing in caps then delete my email and do not respond I think it scared you to death.”

My favorite part is when she says that our freedom of speech is given to us by the military. Um now, that’d be the Constitution.

Lincoln Park Trixie Model

Jake writes:

Girl standing on the bus a few people away from me: “I have a modeling job tonight, and as soon as I’m done modeling I’m gonna have to walk home from my modeling job in the clothes I modeled in. DID EVERYONE HEAR THAT? I’M A MODEL.” (Words in caps may or may not be my own sarcastic addition.)

I’m assuming that means that she wore her own clothes to a modeling gig which means it wasn’t for clothing modeling – but a different product/industry. I really doubt photogs and stylists would let a model take the clothes home.

Testing Tags

Testing 1 2 3 with Ultimate Tag Warrior with Robin Lu’s hack – let’s see if this baby works.

HOWTO: How to Attend a Midwestern Funeral

The funeral went just fine.

Grandma was well prepared and wearing one of her signature bright red-salmon dresses with a rosary folded into her hands. Her face may have been a bit ruddy but I like to think she’d been out gardening – or maybe had some latent Cherokee no one ever knew about.

The visitation was for about 6 or so hours and over 250 people came through from all generations and locations. Maria, who I’ve known since pre-school came in and it was fantastic to hang out with her. All 15 cousins made it (not all spouses) and many of the great grand-children. What susprises most of us is how we all look pretty much the same, skin a little looser, maybe a bit bigger (or as we say in our parlance ‘bulked up!’) but still the same.

You know how in Tetris when you complete a row it falls away? That is sort of how I picture the family tree. That as Grandma’s generation falls away there is the next generation in place – the Boomers in this case.

My brother-in-law was able to come with my sister so it was fun to talk to them for a while.

The small-town mentality was present in that Heather and I had gone to high school with the family that owns the funeral home. I remember driving out of the parking lot after school and seeing the son with the track team practicing their long distace running. Or the super-hot sister on the cheerleading squad. Now he was helping guide the pallbearers and is expecting their first baby next week. Heather’s friend Kate and her family came in as well and as they seemed to stay for a long time until Kate informed me that her parents knew the woman who was being presented on the other side of the funeral home – the other visitation for that day. This had me clapping my hands and chanting, ‘I! Love! Indiana!’ So it is a good idea to always check to see who else may have passed away recently because you just never know…

I had forgotten that when grampa died that there were two days of visitation – that was a while back so there were more of the old guard still kicking around to visit – plus all of the customers from the jewelry business – and the Knights of Columbus. I remember the visitation seemed interminable and featured a complete praying of the rosary (when you pray the rosary in a group you can’t speed through it) and then a full ceremony with the Knights of Columbus including swords and other pageantry.

There are a few iconic images that I think echo through every time and place and people. One is touching the casket of a loved one – when your warm hand meets the cold wood or metal. Another is seeing the surviving children usher the casket into the house of worship. Seeing my mom and her sister hold hands as they accompanied the casket – with their two brothers on the opposite side – down the aisle to the front of the church echoes through pretty much any culture at any time. As they all four turned to move inside the main area of the church their heads turns and all their profiles lined up at the same time and revealed the shared geometry of generations (Heather was also next to mom so that was a bonus). Noses and chins and brows and lips from various regions all intersecting for a brief instant. The church service smartly synchronized at noon so as we got to the church from the funeral home, the church bells clanged noon as they moved the casket from the hearse and into the church. We all carried carnations down the aisle and laid them atop the casket.

St. Anthony’s always has a nice church smell. I never liked the architecture (kind of modren and angular – I like the old school cathedralesque). But how many hundreds of masses had they attended there (often accompanied by us). We sat down, Brooks, Heather, mom, dad and I and realized we were sitting in the second pew on the left (house left) – and this was usually the pew that grandma and grampa sat in (often arriving in church just as the bells were ringing for the turning of the hour).

Heather did the first reading (‘a time to plant, a time to sow’ etc) and she said she’d change the gender of God in the reading for a small sum of money. We thankfully didn’t entertain such shenanigans for very long. One of my cousins did the second reading (Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, Verses 1-8). I wasn’t very attentive during the gospel and homily. We were all holding it together pretty well. We aren’t a screaming crying type of family – mostly sit and push the tears out with as little noise or visible shuddering as possible. I did get a bit misty when I started to imagine the countless pictures of grandma and I next to eachother blowing out our respective birthday cakes.

I then got up to read the petitions and tried to say them in a slow lilt instead of my usual Chicago-go-go brevity. Communion came and went, I drank the wine offered by my aunt Joyce who was sitting behind me and we held hands during the Our Father. After communion a few cousins got up to say things. Heather helped me with the one I delivered – partially based on the post I wrote a few days ago:

When I think of grandma I think of that healthy hearty laugh echoing down the hallways – or a yellow Chrysler barreling down a dark country road towards Lancasters – a robins-egg blue bowl full of potato chips – chocolates hidden away in the closet for an emergency sugar rush – a pressure cooker full of porcupine meatballs – a ledger that seemed to track everything – and a magic candy dish that was never empty.

Her devotion to her family and her faith continue to amaze me. Hard work wasn’t talked about or implied – it was demonstrated. Sacrifice wasn’t a burden to be shown off but the necessary tactic to survive nearly a century of history and change – all from the central command of the kitchen table ornamented with plastic flowers and fruits (almost good enough to eat).

Grandma would say she was from a simpler time – a self-described ísimple country girl from NíAlbany,í – when real women cleaned with pure ammonia and there was always time for drinks and friends at the Knights of Columbus.

Grandma loved education and got excited every fall watching us go to school. She’d go to Walgreens and buy us notebooks and pencils and reminded us that if we ever ran out we just had to tell her – even when we went off to college. She’d say: My sister and I had only one pencil for the whole year. For her education was a ladder.

Grandma saw no limits. There was nothing that couldn’t be done. And if a challenge seemed insurmountable she’d tell you that you ‘to offer it up.’ We used to suspect that grandma had a gleaming white phone in that back bedroom because when she prayed – things happened. You do not underestimate the power of Tuesday Novenas.

Underneath the mild exterior and a thick white head of hair (I pray I have hair that thick and healthy when I’m that old) was an immovable force tempered with immutable love. She was a titanium bolt wrapped in Oil of Olay and rose petals. Tough as nails, smart as a whip, and warm as a busy kitchen at Christmastime.

And where she’s at now I can only imagine the joy of a certain gentleman on seeing her arrival as he says to Agnes, "Hot daggety!"

That final exclamation was a declaration of joy her husband used – often in the middle of a hot poker game – equivalent to ‘We’re cookin’ now!’

I still don’t feel I got the warmth part right. Grandma was warm but had a certain coolness to her as well. Not a lot of touching – you knew you were loved – no need to get all indulgent about it (though we gradually wore her down to much more expressions of affections later on). I couldn’t find a ‘cool as a…’ metaphor I liked though. I also didn’t want to relegate her to the kitchen so much – that seemed like it minimized her impact.

It was great to see many of my cousins. Everyone has sort of mellowed out. Their kids (my first cousins, once removed) for the most part are looking like they are turning out well. One of my cousins said he’s even hired people from Elance.

The service ended and they moved the casket back up the aisle and we all took our carnations back. The motorcade began featuring cops on motorcycles running up the sides to ensure the lanes stayed clear (ultra-Kennedy). I called them Hell’s Angels of Agnes. I never knew grandma ran with a posse. The motorcade drove from the church to the cemetery where the headstone – engraved years ago save for a final date – lay. Two grandchildren who had died in birth have been interred on either side of the headstone and are engraved on the sides. The family last name is engraved big and bold on the stone – matching the typeface of the family jewelry store. Grampa was here already – I think he passed away back in 1992.

A nice not-too-windy day and the siblings sat in front while the rest of us stood behind as a monk in robes did the final readings. We each passed by and laid our carnation atop. Right before that I’d notice the one wink of the day. In every funeral there is a wink – a small flash of humor that reminds you to keep things light. In this case it was the last name of a nearby gravestone:


I knew I couldn’t point this out to Heather until we were well-cleared of the casket for fear she’d start laughing and that would make me start laughing. But is was nice to know that even for the family of


that things were at peace. Of course I’m echoing Seinfeld‘s episodes in my head, ‘You’re the assman!’ ‘According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, you’re the assman.’

We made our way back to the cars and then off to my aunt and uncle’s for lunch.

There is always food leftover from a funeral visitation or post burial meal. We call it Griefmeat.

In this case the Griefmeat was deviled eggs, various potato salads, barbecued meatballs and ham sandwiches.

This is the midwest, there’s no need for any vegetables – you’ll get your fiber from the baked beans.

I contented myself with the neverending calvalcade of cookies that was present at all times. I even had a glass of red wine that really took the edge off and was probably why I slept well when I got home.

I was disappointed Ron couldn’t get off from work. I would have loved for him to meet the whole huge family. This will probably one of the few times we are all together until mom’s generation start to kick off – and I hope that isn’t for a very very long time.

Evidently some of my cousins have now found this blog so I may have a whole new crop of readers – for better or for worse! – I hope they don’t freak out too much as they read it. Our side of the family was always ‘Those crazy Wibbelses’ so I’m guessing they’ll take it in stride. Except for my cousin that wore the "I Love Jesus’ earrings. Nah, she’ll just laugh.

I did do some corrections to that earlier post – evidently grandma and grampa did always vote Democrat but I remember grandma telling me once that they voted differently – I think that was for Reagan maybe. Plus I was mixing up the number of grandkids – there’s 15 (I’m youngest) not 17.

I was glad a lot of people came to support mom and dad.

As we waited for the second day festivities to begin my cousin Kelly (laid up in a bright pink leg cast but almost as plucky as her two kids), ‘Andy when are you gonna move home!?’ Luckily the same question was asked of Heather. I don’t know. I do know that if mom or dad had health problems I’d probably move home or if Heather had some sort of emergency I’d move to her or have her move to me.

The other deft question of the day was:

‘Andy, when are you gonna get married?’

And my reply:

‘We’ll get there.’

Goodbye Grandma: Hmm hmm hmm

Sad to report my grandmother (mom’s mom) just passed away.

She’d been fading for a few weeks but after 99 years she’s ready to go raise hell in heaven. Mom’s side lasts forever – I think it is the TB and polio that strengthened and thinned the herd.

Grandma was famous for her tri-tone prod of disapproval – no need to berate you – just a well-placed descending chromatic hum let you know that you may have done something she didn’t approve of but there was no need to be as gauche as to verbalize it.

A self-described ‘simple country girl from N’Albany,’ she got married in the middle of the Depression (they came home from the honeymoon and all the banks had closed) and started a luxury business in the middle of it all (jewelry – now run by Uncle George).

Agnes was the original bad ass matriarch. She may have stayed at home to raise kids but she had her pulse on the family business and was always ready for dancing and drinks at the K of C. And she sacrificed for her family. I think of her huge family, childhood homes burning down, being raised by nuns, siblings dying of TB… all of those things. She was titanium wrapped in a Oil of Olay and rose petals shell.

And the work ethic. When Heather and I would spend the weekend at their house we’d be reading a book and laying on the bed. Andy are you sleepy do you need to take a nap? (Because why would anyone ever sit on a bed if they weren’t intending to sleep?) Same for taking a nap on the couch. (Couches aren’t for sleeping. They are for sitting.)

Grandma’s birthday was the day before mine and we always got to blow out the candles on the cake together. Well cakes. She liked coconut on her cake. I liked chocolate on mine. I was the youngest of 17 grandkids.

I always remember her and grandpa dancing on the ballroom floor during their 50th anniversary party. Simplicity and elegance and they may have fought like crazy sometimes but they were so in love – for better – for worse – the whole shebang.

And I swear she had a white phone in that back room because when she prayed, stuff happened. Never ever make light of Novenas – that stuff is Christ-craft.

Towards the later years when she was still verbal we always challenged her with a goodbye ‘I love you.’ For years she could only bring herself to say, ‘Well you know the feeling’s mutual.’ But finally she gave in to the warm fuzzies and would say, ‘Well I love you too.’

I had a minor cry last night – mostly worried for mom and dad. I know this can be very draining for them.

Oh and she cleaned windows and the glass cases of the family jewelry business with pure ammonia. Because Windex is for wusses.

Not to mention the can of lard next to the sink. Though she liked her toast brown – her husband liked it blackened – encased in carbonite. And we won’t even talk about the gravy ladle.

Oh and she always voted Democrat. Unlike her husband who always voted Republican. Except for Kennedy I think. She did like Nancy Reagan and had the Kitty Kelley book as well as the Jackie O biography on the table next to her. JFK’s picture was on the wall  next to a picture of Jesus, a cross and palms from the most recent Palm Sunday knotted into a cross.

Unshakable faith. The only time I saw her cry was when her husband was first brought to a long term care center and we hugged her out in the hallway as we heard him shout ‘I don’t want another needle,’ in the room nearby.

But make no mistake. Mom’s side does funerals up right (everyone has pre-arrangements and jokes that It is too bad you won’t be around to see how it’ll turn out). If there’s anything they do better than a wedding is a funeral. We’re talking Coppola, folks. Without the pasta.

More memories are coming to me – one our favorite phrases she’d use would be when she’d see the news or hear of some gross injustice or malfeasance and she’d turn the TV off in disgust and declare ‘You gotta have watchdogs!’

Warm Ice Water

Recent family events may mean grief is on its way.

For some reason this has cast me into a very emotional mood tonight (well morning, it is 3am). I typed my best friend’s name – the one from high school that died a year after graduation – and stumbled onto an essay his mother wrote about her grief. It was so odd to find relics of a person that was gone before all this technology came about and to find their footprints across the digital world. A bit more sychronous is that his birthday would have been one week from now. It has been over 13 years since he passed. His mom writes:

We planted flowers at the high school where rehearsals were going on in anticipation of the play that will start next week. … One time earlier in the winter, I had stopped by to clean up around the memorial and a man and his son, who was probably 7 or 8, were waiting outside the school door to enter for basketball practice. As I worked, I saw the man watching me. He finally said, "Who was Jeremy Hardin." I told him, "He is my son." How distant I felt telling a stranger who was only mildly interested that it was my son who had died and was memorialized at this school. He asked no more, but merely said that that explained my gardening activities. I wanted to tell him more, to tell him the great things about my son; what a loss it was to me, to the world, but I instinctively knew this man didn’t want to hear anymore and I chose not to share my story with him. I am very protective of Jeremy’s memory and share it now only when I feel someone truly cares.

Hypo-Allergenic and Cat-Safe Plants

I’m wanting to get some plants in this place and so I cross referenced a list of low-pollen hypoallergenic plants with a list of cat-safe plants. Output:

  • Begonia
  • Pansy
  • Petunia
  • Snapdragon
  • Sunflower
  • Rose
  • parsley
  • Thyme
  • Spearmint
  • Sage
  • Spider plant