Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pencil Me In!

I’m a nerdling. I love pencils. And pencils are extremely versatile; they can do so much more than write.

Some obvious uses for pencils include:
  • Back scratchers
  • Chop sticks
  • Pointers

Pencils can also be used in a crunch for extending your reach in the cupboard, opening a stubborn bag of Cheetos (although the pencil tip will likely break) and for cleaning food out of your computer keyboard. 

Pencils are also useful tools for styling hair. You can part your hair with a pencil (careful if you’re blond). You can use pencils to hold your Aunt Bee Hair bun in place. And you can also use pencils to curl your hair.

I originally learned of this technique while in graduate school. I got the idea from an article a magazine and decided to give it a whirl. I remember painstakingly wrapping pieces of hair around pencils. I don’t recall how long I kept them in, but the outcome was amazing. My hair was quite curly and unusually cute when the pencils were removed. 

Years have passed since that pencil-hair experiment. But for some reason, the memory randomly entered my brain and I decided to re-enact the 1982 experiment on Sunday night.

I gathered up all the pencils and bobby pins I could find, washed my hair, and began. The first thing I noticed is that my arms have weakened in the past 25 years or so. Rolling hair onto pencils is quite a strenuous activity. But even more strenuous is the challenge of holding them in place with bobby pins and getting them to stay put.

Inevitably, as I would be tipping my head sideways to jam a bobby pin between the hair on the pencil and the hair on my scalp, a pencil from a row or two higher on my head would slide out.
(It wasn’t until the next day that I realized that a more effective strategy would have been to use putt-putt-golf pencils and binder clips to keep the curlers in place.) 

When I finally finished, a glass of wine was in order. I subsequently lost a few more pencils when I tipped the glass back to take a drink. I lost some more when I tried to blow dry my hair. I took the remaining handful of pencils out when my hair was completely dry.

I looked like a poodle.

No fair. After all that work I had to take a hair straightener to my coifs so I could go out in public. 

But like any failed project, I decided to do a post mortem and identify process improvement opportunities. Of course the putt-putt golf pencil/binder clip methodology topped the list. But sometimes you have to look outside your sandbox for insights.

I found some invaluable instructions on the internet for curling My Little Pony hair. One owner achieved excellent results with straws. 

I’m not sure how she got them to stay in, but it’s worth a try.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Taste for Yourself...If You Dare

Pop Tarts have been around since 1964. When first introduced there were just 5 flavors: strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and apple currant. Now there are 28. I'm writing today about their newest flavor: "Frosted Wild! Grape".

Here's the description: "Wacky purple and green frosting and emerald green sprinkles top a golden crust packed with a mega-yummy, grape-flavored filling. There's nothing tame about this toaster pastry."

Have you ever seen something so unsettling that you could not tear your eyes away from it? Like the cover of a National Enquirer showing Kirstie Alley's cellulite? Or some customer in Walmart arguing loudly with her overly tattooed boyfriend about what kind of potato chips she wants? You find yourself staring uncontrollably, perhaps wondering what it would be like to be her (or where she bought her tank top).

Well, when I read the description of the Frosted Wild! Grape Pop Tarts I felt a similar irrational desire. Seeing the picture was not enough. I had to buy a box. I had to see for myself if these pastries were just as wild as they claimed to be.

The box now sits in front of me. It is my intent to sample the product for my readers..after I have a bit more wine to work up my courage.

I wonder if I should heat it up? I will try it both ways. In fact, I will try it cold, heated in the toaster, and heated in the microwave...after I have a bit more wine to work up my courage.

The box says that these Pop Tarts are 'Made for Fun!' They are a good source of 6 vitamins and minerals and of B1, B2, and B6 vitamins. They are cholersterol free and have 0 grams of trans fat.

I'm a bit concerned that the box doesn't say anything about tasting good.

I take a swig of wine and open the box. Am I seeing things? On the foil pouch there is a picture of a dinosaur singing into a microphone to two girls who are doing the John Travolta Saturday Night Live dance (right below the warning to not microwave the pastries in the pouch.)

I rip open the foil. It is very purple. Look! There are the lime green stripes and emerald sprinkles. Just like on the box.

Ready. Set. Go.

Not quite yet. I need another sip of wine.

Ready. Set. Close my eyes and go.

It tasted purple. The toaster version tasted like warm purple. The microwave version tasted like soggy warm purple.

Wild? No. Just purple.

Is it just me, or do other people think that if a flavor would work for Kool Aid or jelly beans then it should not be a Pop Tart flavor?

I'm done taste-testing Pop Tarts.  Until they come out with the Chardonnay flavor.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Poor Kevin

He was unsuspecting. Just like Gilligan and his shipmates on the Minnow who went on a "4-hour tour". Kevin went for an innocent car ride yesterday morning with not a care in the world. He came home 8 hours later minus 4 baby teeth and 2 teeny testicles and with a new microchip implanted in his shoulder. 

The vet gave Kevin pain medication for his discomfort.

But that's not all she gave him. She gave Kevin a lovely doggie lampshade, to prevent him from licking his wounds. And he is supposed to wear it for 10 days.

Kevin does not like this lampshade. The vet said he would get used to it, but Kevin would trade his left nut to get rid of it. Of course, he doesn't have one to trade, so he's stuck with the lampshade.

Truth be told, we took it off him about an hour after he got home. It was a judgment call. We decided that he was far more likely to injure himself bumping into walls and tripping down stairs than he would be by licking his incision. (It also helps to litter the floor with distractions like dirty socks and used Kleenex.) 

Now, just in case Kevin starts to get self conscious about his missing anatomy, I have researched a solution. Neuticles. Yes, they make artificial testicles for dogs.

On second thought, he'd probably have to wear a lampshade after Neuticle surgery. 

I'll send him to a doggie shrink instead.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I was at a campfire party last night and my friend Becca asked the hostess where she should leave her purse while we were outside enjoying the fire. I suggested she leave it on the counter.

I must note if you look up the word 'diplomatic' in the dictionary you will see: "the ability to avoid offending others or hurting their feelings".  Next to the definition is a photo of Becca.

So, with utmost diplomacy Becca said that she didn't think it was a good idea to put her purse on the counter, because purses were a breeding ground for bacteria. She mentioned that purses are often placed in many dirty, germy areas.... including on the floors of public restrooms.

My mind immediately flashed to a vision of my daughter's purse, which is the size of South America. It is consistently dropped on the kitchen counter every time Kimmy enters the house.

I gulped and said with a shaky voice, "Kimmy always puts her purse on our counter." Becca replied, with a combination of empathy and guilt, "I know."

After 2 hours of Lysolling my counters that night I did a bit of research, hoping, with great hope, that perhaps Becca was being a bit of a germaphobe. I mean, how many germs could the bottom of a purse hold? What I discovered turned my stomach.


In fact, purses have become subways for micro organisms, being transferred from one location to another, getting off at will. And then I thought about all the places Kimmy and her purse go. I about vomited.

But I'm a glass-half-full kind of nerd. I see this this "germ-mass-transit" issue as a marketing opportunity. And I can clearly see a solution: Sanitary napkins secured to the bottom of women's purses. (I'm visualizing the post-1970 version with adhesive, although the pre-1970 version with belts could serve the added benefit of converting a clutch purse to a shoulder bag.)

The pads would be replaced as often as necessary, making the market potential for this product huge. And, of course, they would be available in all sizes (not just slender, regular and super). We would also provide Coach, Prada and Gucci brands of the SPPs (sanitary purse protectors.)

Better wrap this up.  I need to find a venture capitalist who shares my vision.  

And if that doesn't work, I'll make an infomercial.