Friday, December 11, 2009

I <3 Josh Brorby, UofND student and sensitive dude extraordinaire

Am I so wrong for wanting to hug this University of North Dakota student, who first wrote what he intended to be a satirical piece about rape in his college paper, then responded to the following criticism with the most moving, provoking, and sweet apology ever?

This young man embodies a sense of empathy and seeming selflessness that we should all take a long lesson from.

"Rapists aren't monsters in dark alleyways, true; they are the person walking across the street, that guy in Spanish class, the man you saw fist-pumping at a party last week. And these men aren't born rapists, monsters within waiting to pounce out. No, they are created by the notion that it is okay to view women as nothing more than an achievement, a challenge, or an object to be used during a one-night stand."

Write-up and comparison here:


Afraid your honey is pulling a "Tiger"? ... and other attempted sales gone hilariously wrong

"First, let me give you a tip for free: If you're so convinced your partner is cheating on you that you're moved to indulge in technology-assisted snooping, unless you are living in a madcap romantic comedy, you are probably not going to learn that his strange behavior is part of an elaborate engagement plan and/or a plot to demonstrate how much you mean to him. So "peace of mind" might be a bit of a lofty goal here. A more realistic aim would be "finding out the truth you already basically knew in a way that makes you feel like a huge jerk, at least if you have a soul." But if you're still interested, let's take a look at the totally not stalky suggestions for spying on the person you ostensibly trust most in the world."

I love all things that denigrate the complete unreality of romantic comedy movies, and this article is a double-whammy for *also* denigrating the weirdness that is our obsession with celebrity sexuality. Thank you Broadsheet.

As Dan Savage would say, if you're really concerned enough to employ such privacy invading tactics to snoop on your man, consider that you might need to DTMFA. Oh, and then go get some counseling.

Other product pitches gone hilariously wrong:


What could I possibly have in common with successful women? Oh, right: Arm fat. Fuck you. Wait! This one comes illustrated, with a helpful red arrow:"

and also:


I found your address on the web, and thought you might be interested in purchasing an emailing list of Freemasons…"

Both from jezebel

Friday, October 30, 2009

one great tip for your marriage

I don't usually like to link to other blog posts about articles, but in this case one of my favorite blogs extrapolated a gem from a NYT article about the Obamas' marriage that I thought was spot-on:

" Just as one's accomplishments shouldn't be limited by birth, marriage isn't about who you are, it's about what you do."

People spend a lot of time considering who they are, how they're defined, and trying to define themselves in a lot of different ways. But when it comes to relationships, your actions and choices are what matters, and this is how to make or break a marriage.

The Obamas actually paint a pretty unglamorous portrait of their marriage, but it works because they're both committed to making the choices that are necessary to keep it together. What a great, unselfish example of commitment!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Degrees of Success: Automating Finances

Remi Sethi has a great chart laying out what fully automated finances would look like.

While I really aspire to reach that level of automation, I'm really happy with a *nearly* automated system that's been about a year in the making.

What is Automated
  • income is direct-deposited into our checking account, monthly for me and weekly for the hubby
  • my retirement contributions (15%) are automatically deducted from my check before I ever see it
  • savings is scheduled once a month from my check (12%) and once a week from hubby's check (7%)
  • started a Roth IRA for hubby with small monthly scheduled deposit, will ramp up when the truck is paid off
  • most of the bills are automatically paid: electric, gas, cell, student loan, child support, truck loan
  • credit cards are automatically paid in full at the beginning of the month

What is Not Automated
  • some bills are manually entered into billpay because the amounts change from month-to-month or they are not delivered electronically: cable, water, insurance, mortgage
  • union dues for the hubby are paid by mailing a physical check and are due monthly
  • church tithes are paid with a physical check each week
Our savings aren't broken out into several sub-goals yet. There are currently two piles, emergency savings (untouchable) and regular savings (spendable). The goals I'd like to set up as separate funds are: next car, gifts, and home improvement. I'll try and set those up in my Ing account soon and report back with the math for setting those goals.

Julie Pickett-Hall

You also might be interested in:
- another post from Remi on how to set up sub-goal accounts using your Ing account
- comment or email me to get a $25 bonus when you sign up a new Ing account

Sick Leave, and Why I Fail to Use the Closet

Wow, I was really sick last week and missed a few days of work. Since I'm mostly working on my wardrobe challenge, this didn't leave me much to blog about (since I wasn't dressing for anything other than sleeping on the couch).

The break from the challenge was nice, and it's also made me think that maybe I'm beyond the big wins at this point. My work clothes fit in the closet and I've sorted and culled dramatically. I'm also starting to recycle clothes that I've already posted about!

My main challenge right now is keeping my clothes hanging in the closet. I consistently fail to hang my clothes back up every night, until I have a large pile of clothes in a basket at the foot of the bed. This is because I have a bad bed-time routine.

I pile my clothes up at the end of the night because I've gotten distracted by something or maybe even fallen asleep on the couch while watching tv or reading. So by the time I go to bed, I rush to the bathroom, brush my teeth, and then pile up my clothes and crawl into bed. I don't want to turn on the light or mess with the closet because I don't want to wake up the hubby, who goes to bed early.

By the time I'm up in the morning, I'm rushed to get to work and leave the pile where it was last night with it's additional layer of yesterday's clothes on top.

I don't really have a good solution to this at the moment, but I'll think it over and look for a usable alternative. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

wardrobe challenge weekend update

I really have to share about this weekend and the challenge. On Saturday morning I took *4* bags of clothes and a box of jeans to the mission store in town. To think that I had so many clothes, much less ones I don't wear or like very much, was very inspiring. All of my work clothes now fit in the closet since I decided to attack my collection of pants that morning. I ended up keeping 3 jeans for work, 3 jeans for weekends, and only the nicest of my dress pants.

I did not manage to find any jackets to donate this weekend other than blazers from my work clothes, so I may have failed on that count :P

The woman at the mission store really liked a lot of the clothes I brought in, and gave me a good deal on the items I picked out while I was there: a cute grey wool cardigan, a butter-yellow wrap sweater that I loved, a flattering knee-length jean skirt, and a basic red long-sleeved tee. I also grabbed a few jeans for the hubby to wear to work.

I also finally received a blue cardigan I had ordered online with a coupon as well as the dark pink wrap-scarf that I was able to get free at the same time. I completely love them both and have been wearing them since. The scarf goes nicely with both of my coats, and the cardigan is lightweight and a great color. It's so nice to have things that I really like to wear! Now I just have to be careful to not get carried away and blow my clothes budget filling in wardrobe gaps.


Yesterday was my first wedding anniversary with the Dear Hubby. We didn't end up having either of his kids for dinner (customary on Mondays), so we went out. The dinner wasn't actually all that great, but it was nice to do something together. Afterwards I went and helped paint a friend's nursery for a while, then went home where Hubby and I had some champagne and year-old frozen cake.

The cake wasn't that bad. The frosting still tastes good, but there was a metallic aftertaste to the whole concoction, probably from being frozen for a year.

An odd tradition, but worth it in the end if it gives us any amount of luck.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

wardrobe challenge update 10/15/09

The wardrobe challenge is going so well! Tuesday night I went through the upstairs closet, brutally culling skirts and dresses. I babied a few of the printed skirts momentarily, thinking of possible ways to wear them... until I tried them on and they didn't fit. Duh, maybe I should have tried some of this stuff on years ago.

In the end I saved 2 black skirts: an A-line heavy velvety skirt good for church, and a suit-like skirt for work. How simple! They are now in my actual closet, ready for wearing instead of hiding upstairs. I packed everything else up in a bag, along with the first round of discarded shoes. Either Friday or Saturday morning I'll take the bag to the local mission. It has begun!

I was in such a mood that I gave away a nice winter coat to a friend who stopped by. I love the coat, but I have several and don't need it... so I gave it away right then and there. It felt fabulous.

I'm starting to think that my goal should be to have at least all work clothes (if not all clothes) hanging in my half of our bedroom closet. That's more than enough room for a work wardrobe. I've also inspired the Dear Hubby to cull his massive collection of t-shirts.

As for my outfitting the past few days:

Wednesday I really wanted to wear my vibrant pinkish trapeze top, but it's sleeveless so I had to find something to coordinate on top. I'd just worn my black cardigan the day before, so that was a no-go. In the end, I wore a blue pinstriped blazer that I don't feel great in, and should probably go in the giveaway pile. I also wore my tall dark jeans and blue ballet crocs for the rainy conditions. Not very flattering shoes, but invaluable in my walk to and from rehearsal in the drizzle. My red mary jane crocs are much better, and I should have just held off on the awesome top until I could coordinate it better a cardigan and shoes. Maybe the blue ballet crocs need a new home, as well.

Today turned out much better! I'm wearing a dark blue cable-knit sweater over a white collared polo. I started wearing this last year and it's a nice look. The sweater is lightweight and fitted. Also wearing my tall dark jeans (others are in the wash as we speak), my green wedges, and silver hoops. I've also refreshed my gunmetal silver nail-job, and it all works pretty nicely. I wish I had thought to grab my silver peace bracelet this morning.

All-in-all things are moving along. I'm figuring out that I should only keep the things I really love to wear... hopefully I have clothes left at the end!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

to do this week

In the interest of picking the low-hanging fruit of decluttering useless clothing, I vow to do these things this week:

1) Find the rest of my shoes and cull them. There are some in the hallway, a few upstairs, and some hiding in the closet. I only need a few pair of tennis shoes, a few pair of workhorse shoes, and my shoes for work. I don't need 10 pair of dress shoes hanging around that I can't wear to work, and I don't need another 10 pairs of shoes I only wear at home for working out/gardening/walking the dog.

2) Go through the closet in L's room and cull all the skirts I haven't worn in years. They're not my style, and I'm never going to wear them. The only exceptions are costume-worthy things like belly-dance skirts.

3) Track down my coat collection, pile it all in one place, and give away 70% of it. I hate this one, but it must be done. For the sake of my marriage, this one really matters. Maybe when I get this done, I can look for a trench coat without provoking certain ire.

wardrobe update (looooong)

I need to quickly catch up on my outfits, thereby noting what clothes I actually wear and should keep.

Last week:

Thursday I tried to get a little creative. I wore a turquoise blue jersey dress, with black leggings and my black tall boots. I also wore a black cardigan, since it's chilly here. I don't normally wear dresses to work, but this effectively dressed it down for me. I added a very long silver chain dotted with pearls and pearl-stud earrings to keep it nice but simple. I realized that only having a black cardigan kind of limits me... I have a black jersey dress that I could more easily wear if I had anything to wear over it, and it would be nice to change things up, so I used a B1G1 free coupon online to order a long-sleeved cardigan in blue and a bright wrap-scarf that should get a lot of use this winter.

Friday I decided to wear a blazer, so I paired an eggplant-purpley tank underneath a navy and white damask patterned blazer that has an awesome fit. It was nice to be a little bold and this is probably the only pattern I've worn all week. I also wore my dark bootcut jeans and my dark brown pointy-toed low heels. I bought these heels at the local thrift store for $3 and wear them to death. Accessories were my silver hoops and a silver-toned stone medallion necklace.

The weekend:

Weekends are not immune to wardrobe doldrums, and I have a lot of clothes that I categorize as ostensibly "weekend" clothes that I probably don't wear. So I'll be noting them here as well.

Saturday was a busy day, and a lot of it was spent outside at the downtown street fair, so I had to hit the layers and keep it flattering. For most of the day, I wore my go-to long-sleeved gray shirt under a dark red hooded sweater jacket. The sleeves are nice and long and can be cuffed, and the hood has a faux-fur trim. I also wore my dark bootcut jeans with gray woolly socks and brown mary-jane Dr Martins. As it got colder in the evening, I added my blue corduroy peacoat.

After dark we left the fair to go to a birthday party out of town, so I ran home and swapped out my docs for the brown pointy-toed heels, and my gray shirt for a white strapless top leaving the dark red sweater over. After the party I went straight uptown to hang out with a few friends. I wore my silver hoops all day.

Sunday for church I wore my dark blue twill skirt with black tall boots, and a light pink boatneck sweater. Didn't love this outfit, but I was in a hurry. When I got home, I changed into my black yoga pants and pulled my gray long-sleeved shirt back on over a pink tank top. This looked fine for lounging and errands for the rest of the day.

This week:

Monday was cold, so I wore a dark brown cowl-neck sweater over a black tank and my long dark jeans. I also wore brown leather mary janes with a chunky heel and added some gold dangly earrings that looked nice with the brown sweater. The neckline of the sweater paired really well with my blue peacoat, which was handy when I stopped by the football game after work. I also switched purses to the red leather one I snagged at the church rummage sale. My green and white purse is a little summery for now, so I'll pack it away for a while.

Today (finally!) I wanted to represent one of my go-to outfits that I've worn a lot this year, so I chose a funky top with a small black, teal, and pink print (almost stripes) that also has a placket of ruffles. It's a sleeveless, lightweight top that I chose on a whim for summer, and then somehow ended up wearing quite a bit. This pairs really easily with my black cardigan, so I wore that as well. I'm wearing my wide-legged trouser pants and some black heeled loafers, and finished off with some nice silver earrings I won in a drawing and my chunky silver stone bracelet.

That's it for now! That seems like a lot of clothes, and I'm not quite to a week yet! When I do laundry I'll start setting these clothes aside and see how many outfits I can make. After a few weeks, I should have enough clothes for 99% of my needs, and can start thinking about the hard stuff.... what to give away.

In the meantime, all I've managed to sort thus far is some shoes. I'm going to bag them up and stash them in the truck so I can give them away.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wardrobe Inspiration Challenge

I love watching "What Not to Wear", and I love the new part that they've added at the end where you see everything that the woman is taking home. They spread it all out on two clothes racks, and it looks like the woman has like, 27 articles of clothing, tops. But then they list what they've got and tell you how many outfits they can make.

That's the really inspiring thing to me... They usually have around 20 outfits to take home. It doesn't sound like much, but how awesome would it be to have 20 outfits that you *LOVED* to choose from when you get up in the morning? Your choices are limited enough that you don't tear your hair out coming up with something, but then 20 outfits is a whole month's worth of clothing, work-wise. Who really needs more than that?

I also found this great article that's really inspiring me to toss things that just do not fit my style anymore, mostly things from college:

So here's the challenge:

Part A) I'm going to work on paring down and giving away things that I really will *never* wear again. This is a process, and will take me a little while to finish since I don't get a lot of time at home or in the closet to do this all at once.

Part B) I'm going to log my favorite outfits over the next several weeks, trying to only wear things that I really love. This way I'll have a list of outfits that work whenever I'm drawing a blank, and also I'll know what to keep!

What I've worn this week:
Monday, I wore my mauve boatneck sweater, since it was a little chilly. I've been wearing this with my ivory lace cami lately, but decided to change it up and layer a dark blue collared shirt underneath instead. The short collar stood up and had a little bit of ruffly-feminine detail. I paired this with my nice khaki pants and my pointy-toed dark brown shoes (about a 1/2 inch heel). I don't remember what jewelry I wore. This was a simple look, with an unexpected combination on top. I don't know that I would put those two tops together again, but it looked sharp with the tan pants.

Tuesday, I wore my favorite Ann Taylor button-up shirt, long-sleeved, white with faint scattered stripes. Over this I wore my kelly green lightweight cashmere v-neck sweater. It's starting to pill under the arms a little, so I need to fix that, but I love this combo. I also wore my wide-leg London Blue trouser jeans, which are completely flattering, as well as my AE green wedges. These are my go-to shoes for anything that needs a little height. I topped it off with some generally uninspiring gold-toned dangly earrings with green stones and a gold drop-necklace. The nice thing about this look is that was able to run around town with lovely L after work and feel like a well-dressed mom. Not overdressed, just put-together and professional.

Wednesday, I'm wearing a bright blue button up shirt, 3/4 length sleeves, with my awesome grey vest. I love this combo as well, it's a really classic menswear color/texture combination, but with very flattering fit. I'm also wearing dark slouch boot-cut jeans with shiny silver flats. I painted my nails a very posh silver last night, so I went with it, adding some good-sized silver hoops and a fairly bold bracelet with strands of silver stones. No necklace today, to change it up from yesterday's uninspired jewelry pick. Loving today's look a lot, and my hair looks nice.

I also bought a pair of gorgeous short-heeled sandals at the vintage shop today. They're a dark blue-grey in an almost crushed-velvet material, with a tulle and jeweled detail on the strap. No idea what I'll use them for, but for $9 and exactly my size I can come up with a reason to wear them eventually. I'm going to set these on the bed until I've purged all the old, cheap, unflattering shoes I need to get rid of. These shoes are heretofore my inspiring symbol of not accepting haphazard, make-it-work style anymore.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Hawaii Chair

Really? You would use this *at work*???

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prevent Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are commiting a crime--no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

These handy-dandy tips should work wonders. Via Broadsheet:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

open letter: health care

I'm a little shocked at some of the opinions I've been reading about health care reform. I can't understand why this is such an emotional, hot-button issue. It seems pretty simple to me, health insurance is NOT serving the needs we have now. Premiums are much too expensive for most people, lots of jobs are no longer offering health insurance as a benefit, people with long-term health problems or pre-existing conditions are not covered, and the insurance company gets to decide whether you get the care you need.

The result is that fewer people than ever are insured, including millions of children. It's easy to be smug about health insurance if you have good benefits, I know this. I am covered by my own insurance as well as my husband's union benefits. But when I was in a motorcycle accident and broke my arm, my emergency surgery was not covered, as "out of network." When I had to go in for a follow-up surgery, my claim was denied again, because they didn't view my second surgery to remove the screws that were damaging nerves in my wrist as "necessary."

What are we so afraid of? People with Medicare universally love the coverage they have. Do you think insurance companies are going to lower their prices and become competitive if there isn't a much better, free option out there for people who need it? History tells us no. Defining pregnancy as a pre-existing condition so you don't have to cover it should be a crime. This goes double for cancer treatment.

We need to get over our selfishness about health care. Everyone deserves basic care. I don't want to live in a country where people die because they can't get simple care that would save their life. This is not the 3rd world, we can afford to do this.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Is the internet useless?

Apparently 12.7% of US households would answer "yes" to this question.

That may seem high to some, but in reality 29% of US households don't have access to the internet. While that number is unfortunately high, it's encouraging that even among people without home internet access, majority of them recognize that it is important and useful.

Mostly, I find it very encouraging. I estimate that 30% of all people in this country willfully believe things that are demonstrably untrue (based on the last decade of our political climate). Anything less than 30% is therefore a significant victory.

That the internet is useful and sometimes even necessary has no real cause for a powerful backlash of opinion is very comforting to someone who has chosen to make a living online. So thanks to all the wingnuts out there for not posing much opposition to the acceptance of the internet. We really appreciate it.

Rummage Sale Update: the pom-pom

Our Rummage sale had made $1400 as of Sunday morning, and there were still some contributions to be made. Thanks to everyone! All this money will be sent to Jamaica to help Friends ministry there, though we haven't settled on details of how the money will assigned yet.

I love doing this sale every year. We see a lot of donated items walk out the door, and people give us a free-will donation based on the whole of what they want. It's so much more effective than trying to price individual items, we see more items walk out the door, and we end up making more money for the church's missions! Everyone wins.

I didn't get to help as much as I probably should have, but I did spend some time there on Saturday helping people load up items, sorting and folding, and the like. I also found some must-have items for myself: two board games, an over-the-door hanging rack, an adorable zip-up sweater, some picture frames, and the most exciting of all... a single gold pom-pom!

This pom-pom is awesome. It's fluffy and gold, and will be loved and revered for the next *7* years as I cheer in the stands for lovely L and darling C at every home game of probably every sport offered at our high school. I debuted it at the football game on Saturday after the rummage sale, and I know it will be making many, many more appearances.

I'd like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the child (or her mother) who donated that pom-pom. You made my day.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Church Rummage Sale

Church Rummage sales are the best kind, and this one is no exception:

Rummage Sale for Missions

Saturday Sept. 19, 8am to 1pm

Winchester Friends Church
124 E Washington St

All proceeds go to Missions in Jamaica

We like to sell on a donation basis. We'll have lots of plastic-grocery bags for you, you fill them up, then pay us a few dollars per bag or whatever you feel like donating. This method moves a lot of items and really serves the people who need it most.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 11, 2009

remap your dvr remote to skip commercials

Update: I've done this to my remote, but have not had a chance to sit down at the TV and try it yet. My friend N reports that it works fabulously and she loves it.

Ok, I'm really posting this on my blog so I can find the instructions later, but this hack should enable my Comcast remote to skip commercials in 30-second intervals (on programs that I've dvr-ed).

I am soooo excited to try this, and give my utmost thanks to the folks at!

Skip Ads Easily with a Standard Cable Remote Control

The basic premise is this: your average Motorola-made DVR, the one that your cable-TV provider gives you, should come with the ability to skip ads in 30-second increments. And yet, in most cases, it doesn't. I'm not going to go into the reasons for that here, but it's obviously related to money and advertiser pressure. Anyway, some clever dude has figured out a way to remap your remote control to enable this feature. I tried it on my Comcast remote and it worked like a charm. Here's what to do:

1. Press the Cable button at the top of the remote.

2. Hold the Setup button until the Cable button flashes twice.

3. Enter 994 on the keypad. The Cable button will flash twice again.

4. Push the Setup button once.

5. Enter 00173.

6. Finally, push the button that you want to use as the 30-second skip; I chose the A button since I don't use it for anything else. The Cable button will flash twice.

To restore the original functionality to that key, follow the first steps described above, but after entering 994, push the remapped key twice. The Cable button will blink twice if your input has been accepted.

There are some other tips on there as well, but this one excites me greatly. I'll try it soon and post results.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

movies out on video!

Two movies just came out on video that I'm dying to rent...

Sunshine Cleaning, with Amy Adams and Emily Blunt about getting a job cleaning up after crime scenes.

Adventureland, with Michael Cera, Ryan Reynolds, and Kristen Stewart, about working a crappy summer job as a carny.

Yay for movies on video this week! And why I am all about messed-up occupations today?

100% fool-proof way to prevent pregnancy

I just had to share this funny of the day...
Listening to Dan Savage today. In an older podcast, he's expounding on Bristol Palin's statement (no, not the one where she says abstinence is unrealistic) that abstinence is the only 100% foolproof way to prevent teenage pregnancy.

To which Dan Savage says:
"Gaaaaaaaay Seeeeeeeeeeeex."

Which is also a completely 100%, foolproof way to prevent pregnancy. Thank you Dan.

He also lists a number of other things that people can do that are not abstinent, but are also not penetrative vaginal sex, and therefore would also completely prevent pregnancy, but I'll let you to your imaginations for that one.

It's an extensive list.

L.A. is burning

In a recent issue of Linux Journal, Doc Searles wrote in his EOF column about the "mania of owning things." I liked the title more than the column itself, which was about the threat of his home to a wildfire in California. His theory was that it's possible for people to be freed from the above-mentioned mania when they lose their possessions to a fire or other disaster. This is more noticeable in people who have lost their belongings multiple times.

I can see this, having struggled with the mania of owning things, namely too many things, for quite some time. There are few good, satisfactory ways of dealing with this struggle without the extreme intervention of nature. How many people really methodically pare down their belongings at will?

Anyway, this is all in the context of the current fires in L.A., which threatens the home of another columnist that I adore:

The current Station Fire is terrible to behold, and a good collection of images is here:,0,2039975.photogallery

As you consider the devastation of these events, it's hard to not think of what it would take to pack up your life and flee. Maybe those beloved things you've chosen in your hypothetical evacuation should be liberated from all the clutter in your life. It's impossible not to consider, but nearly as impossible to actually carry out (short of a hard push by the hand of God).

Worth thinking about. I ponder Voluntary Simplicity a lot, and so I am inclined to see that vein of meaning in a lot of different contexts and stories.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Friday, August 21, 2009

Iced Coffee Jello

I don't even like coffee, but I saw this and thought I might try it for the hubby:

Iced Coffee “Gumdrops”
Makes two dozen 1-inch cubes

4 cups coffee
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on your desired level of sweetness)
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

In a small saucepan, bring the coffee to a boil. Once it is simmering, whisk in the sugar and gelatin. Stir until they are completely dissolved. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Pour the coffee mixture in a shallow pan. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm.

These are apparently very strong unless you eat them with some whipped cream or something similar.

Spork, meet Splayd

This blog also has some other really entertaining entries, including the history of the McGangBang, which I guess is a very poorly named McChicken sandwich in the middle of a Double Cheeseburger. All things I cannot eat, but find wildly entertaining.

The Spife wins "most useless" in my book. A coworker noted that any of these utensils is still better than chopsticks, but I personally don't hate on the chopsticks.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Last Abortion Doctor

This is a very touching, human profile of Dr. Warren Hern in the aftermath of the abominable murder of Dr. George Tiller. There's not much more to say, except to express my sadness for the loss of Dr. Tiller and to implore people to see the need for care of this kind, for anyone who requires it.

It's well-written and really puts a point on the need for abortion care:

Julie Pickett-Hall

facebook high

I cannot possibly be alone in getting this weird, excited high when you find someone on facebook. I'm becoming quite the addict... always finding more people on there from high school, college, extended family. It's shocking to realize you know so many people!

Very exciting.

Though just today I found an old dear friend of mine, but I cannot add her or send her a message. There is just no button to contact her in any way. Does this mean I'm somehow blocked from her? It's very strange, I've tried to contact her several times over the years.

Facebook has failed me today! How sad. I won't give up though... addicts rarely do.

Monday, August 17, 2009

movie wish-list

I frequently think of movies I want to see, and then forget all about them come time to actually watch a movie. So for posterity, these are movies I would like to see:
  • Cadillac Records
  • Rachel Getting Married
  • Wanted
  • Benjamin Button
  • Single White Female
  • The Way We Were
  • The Deal
  • Then She Found Me
  • Dreamgirls
Now I can throw away the little slip of paper on my desk with random movies scrawled across it, in the fear that I will forget.

Had to add some coming-of age movies to my wishlist:
  • Adventureland
  • Kicking and Screaming
  • Reality Bites
  • The Graduate
St. Elmo's Fire is also on this list, but I'm pretty sure I've already seen it.

Julie Pickett-Hall

literary classics, zombies

I recently picked up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which has thus far been pretty entertaining. It's a re-edit of the classic, plus a repressive zombie hoard. I feel like the zombies really add forward motion to the plot, and it's entertaining to hear elongated discussions as to whether the strange plague is more troublesome in the city or out in the countryside.

The characters remain much the same, though most of the descriptions have been greatly condensed, so it's good to know the more elaborate characterizations of the original. The choice as to who is an effective and skilled zombie-killer and who is not is also interesting.

As with the original, there is a bit of a "why her" issue with Elizabeth, who doesn't do much to distinguish herself, but somehow becomes the early interest of Mr. Darcy. To this extent, you can see where Twilight was inspired to have such a bland leading lady with very little reason to catch the interest of the ill-mannered leading man. At least in this version, Darcy is drawn by the thoughtful expression of Elizabeth. It's something, I suppose... and certainly more believable than the unexplained "personal brand of heroin" draw to Bella's blood that is the basis for that whole abusive brand of sudden ownership/relationship.

In any case, it's definitely entertaining enough to read, and I should finish it sometime this week or next.

Mad Men!

My last post was about waiting for Mad Men, and then I happened upon the season opener last night, which was good. I really loved how they made Salvatore's intentions really unclear with the whole bellhop-thing, and then who would have thought that Don Draper, the repressed skirt-chaser that he is, would be so open-minded. Good for him.

Peggy seems totally confident and comfortable in her own skin, which is great. And Pete is the same entitled man-boy that we all love to hate. Usually we want to see a character grow in some small way, but Pete actually seems to be regressing.

Is Joan really going to leave Sterling Cooper? I can't see it.

A commenter on Feministing pointed out that Sal being late to the meeting the next morning could imply that he did, in fact, meet back up with his sexy bellhop. A possibility that hadn't even occurred to me... go Sal!

Julie Pickett-Hall

Monday, August 10, 2009

eagerly anticipating Mad Men

I really like the show Mad Men, and I'm excited that it's coming back on. One thing that I like more than Mad Men, though, is Heather Havrilesky. Heather is a TV reviewer for Salon, and I totally love her writing. Very snarky:

" with responsibilities is just like one of those mazes made of bushes they put in British gardens for self-hating Brits to torture themselves with. One minute you think you're strolling along at a leisurely pace like the heroine of a Jane Austen novel, the next minute you're confused, bleeding, sobbing and covered in thorny brambles, and the last five hours are a complete blank. That, and you're surrounded by dirty laundry, hungry children, resentful domesticated animals and a drunk stranger who claims to be your spouse."

I especially love the notion that domesticated animals would resent you. She must have cats.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Friday, August 7, 2009

wealth porn

I was reading my beloved Broadsheet today, and happened across the this term, "wealth porn". I love it, really. It says a lot about the way we portray life on television and fantasy wealth as the new norm.

It's interesting that the average TV family has changed so much over the last 50 years or so. TV families used to be modest and average, weighing the possibilities of buying a second family car in a realistic way. These days, nearly every family on TV is unrealistically wealthy and far out of pace with the norm.

I just had to share my delight with this term.

Julie Pickett-Hall

when mysogyny meets homicidal narcissism

If you haven't heard the sad story of the man who walked into a fitness club, killed or wounded over a dozen women, and then shot himself, you may want to miss out on this particular episode of rubbernecking. If you'd like to hear some thoughts anyway, here goes...

The main story is that this man has been lonely for 20+ years, and blamed the hot women of the world for causing his misery. Story here:

It's very possible that this man was simply nuts, and that he would have found some reason to resort to mass murder eventually (insurance salesmen, a company who fired him, etc). In any case, his particular poison was trying to find a hot woman to love him. He sought advice from various pick-up artist communities, but didn't have much luck.

It seems that the pick-up community, while claiming him as one of their own, is primarily painting his actions with contempt, which is hopeful:
"If anything, it's a sad example of why people labelled a "nice guy" really aren't, because they're covering up a lot of ugly truths about themselves. This was someone's mom, someone's sister, someone's daughter. Just your run of the mill average to hot women trying to keep in shape, fighting age. How angry do you have to be to want to destroy a family out of pure hate and selfishness, and not be around to take the responsibility for it?
Women are pretty savvy about a guy's body language. Sometimes people give you an unsettling feeling even if they did nothing bad to you."

This man was unable or unwilling to grasp that his misery was the result of his own actions, instead placing the blame on women in general for not being attracted to him. To any woman, this sort of creep factor is the kind of thing that broadcasts itself to anyone within a mile radius, instantly negating his chances for 'conquest'.

Mostly I find myself glad that this man didn't manage to draw a partner into his web of creepiness. What would have happened then? Maybe fewer people would have died, but I expect that violence and loss would be much the same.

I'm also reminded of one of my favorite sites of all time, Heartless Bitches International. Their section on "nice guys" is immensely thought-provoking and well-written, and serves as a useful primer:

Give the site a glance if you have time. It's both educational and hopeful, and I think very relevant to this tragedy as astutely identified by poster
"sdnightfly" of

Thursday, August 6, 2009

holy cow, it's Thursday

Things have been *so* busy at work this week that I haven't really had a chance to read anything interesting to link to. So I'll sum up the past week!

Friday N and I had a little adventure in UC. Heritage Days necessitated blocking off several streets in what turned out to be a pretty haphazard, unpredictable way. So our jaunt to the bowling alley was more interesting than it had any right to be. I gave up at one point and jumped out of the car to move some barriers out of our way (I did put them back). I'd never been to the bowling alley there before, but it was a happening place... a fistfight nearly broke out on top of our table. Fun.

Saturday was *awesome*. We went uptown, knowing that some people we knew would be there, and it turned into a party! N and L were both celebrating their Bday, D was there with her cousin, N's cousin was there, some old high school friends joined us, and my husband invited a few friends to stop by as well. We had a blast and took up most of the room. There was much dancing and merriment.

Not much else of note has really happened this week, other than lots of working. I did finish the last Twilight book last night. It was purely accidental and I was up way too late. We also moved the hot tub over onto the new patio, so it's ready to be refilled and back in action. If we're in town this weekend, we may have to cookout and partake of the new patio goodness.

My BIL is pulling tonight at the Preble County Fair, so I'm meeting them after work to catch a ride to Eaton. Should be fun, and S really loves fair food. Go AC orange, woo!

Julie Pickett-Hall

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

a pause

My 3-day break in blogging gave me a chance to make sure that my online life doesn't stress me out or take too much time out of my other interests and responsibilities. Ok, mostly responsibilities.

It's really a good thing to take regular internet vacations, which is why I don't blog on the weekends. I've lost too many friends (and had too many friends lose their college sponsorship) to the siren call of the interweb.

It's not the same for everyone, but I know that I start to feel stressed out physically, and anxious mentally, when I feel like I need to get back on the computer to do this or that. When this or that is a game or a promotional something or twitter or email... I know I need a break.

So, here's to taking a deep breath and gaining perspective on our habits. May we all have the strength to maintain a healthy relationship with our browsers. Cheers.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Friday, July 31, 2009

a link, if you please

This is a great flashback in the history of sexist body image. In 1909, this woman lost 31 pounds to 'wear a really fashionable gown' and was subsequently divorced by her husband. The court sided with the husband.

Too funny:

Julie Pickett-Hall

Thursday, July 30, 2009

and now for something completely different

Yes, that is Will Ferrell. Posing suggestively. On his self-branded sunscreen.

What else is there to say?

Susan B Anthony of Khartoum

First up today is a story about a woman who arrested in Sudan for wearing slacks. The punishment for a woman wearing slacks is 40 lashes and an unlimited fine. Lubna Hussein is fighting her punishment in court, turning her arrest into a "test case" for whether to uphold or denounce this law in Sudan. Hussein has been publicizing her case and has invited journalists to her hearings to create some press about the issue.

She seems determined to fight this out and force the court's hand to do away with dress code laws. I was especially impressed that she is willing to resign as a UN employee so that her possible immunity would not affect the outcome of the case.

Mostly what encouraged me was this:
'Scores of women, some wearing slacks and jeans, attended the case. Some waved small placards with the slogan "Lashing people is against human rights."'

Way to be inspirational, Lubna Hussein!

Julie Pickett-Hall

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

whaaaa? tanning is bad?

This doesn't seem like much of a revelation to me, but maybe it is to some people. Hard to say. In any case, very few people are going to stop tanning because a friend or family member prints out an article from CNN and waives it in their face.

If it were me, and a friend were trying to dissuade me from tanning, I would really appreciate a compassionate conversation. And maybe a free bottle of self-tanner ;).

Food for thought.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


A commenter over at The Park Bench coined this term and I think it's awesome. I too am a committed (Nathan) Fillionaire!

Just for funsies, a video.


Julie Pickett-Hall

Monday, July 27, 2009

weekend recap

Did we ever have a busy weekend! 6 kids, 2 movies, and a patio later it's back to work.

C's had his last baseball games on Friday, so that gives us some more time to finish up the patio, which is now ready for concrete. I did learn how to drive the bobcat this weekend, which was interesting. Not altogether hard, but a little unnerving when you lift the load up high to dump it. We spent all day Saturday digging, but it was a lot easier in the afternoon when things dried up.

Saturday night we rented "Confessions of a Shopaholic" which was a cute movie. Love Isla Fisher.

Sunday we went to church and lovely L brought a friend with her, and they talked about the mission trip they took last month. Everyone was reapply impressed with what they did there and what they had to say about it.

S spent the afternoon and evening Sunday dumping gravel, forming, and compacting everything for the patio so that we can have concrete poured next weekend. It will be so nice to have it all done and be able to relax back there, but I'll always know how much effort he put into building it.

Last night, D and I finally got together and watched Twilight. It's better than the book, I think. Edward is less of a creepy abuser in the movie and Kristen Stewart is very likable. Next on our list is Harry Potter 5, but we keep saying that we need to get to the library. S and I don't have kids next weekend, so we might be able to manage to get over there before next week. I also wrapped up Eclipse last night, so I'll have to start in on the last Twilight book this week.

Overall a busy weekend, but actually quite fun.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Friday, July 24, 2009

f!#@ing rape culture... grrr

So, by now we've all heard about the Roethlisberger rape case. There are so many things to hate about treatment of this case, I don't even know where to begin.

Suprise! ESPN didn't find the story worthy of news, "We don't think it meets our standard of reporting." -Vince Doria, ESPN news director

Really? This seems like a pretty big news story to me (and all other media outlets). It also seems like the kind of story that is necessary to examine so that we don't inadvertently condone rapist behavior among rich, powerful, famous sports stars. That would send a very unfortunate message, dontchathink?

Not only are we condoning this behavior in this way, but we're obscuring the fact that it happens, it's a problem, there should be certain consequences, and we need to talk about how prevalent it really is.

"When our media won't talk about rape, people think it doesn't happen, and the rapists face no consequences. That emboldens rapists." - Jaclyn Friedman
This Is What Rape Culture Looks Like

Next on the list of ire-inducing reactions: the victim blaming. Right out of the gate, you're going to get a proportionally huge number of people and media theorizing that the woman is a lying goldigger. That's original. This type of reaction makes women much less likely to come forward with serious accusations. To come forward like this is to expose yourself, your history, your mental state, your body, and your name to all manner of venomous attacks and continued victimization. The alleged perpetrater, on the other hand, is given the benefit of the doubt.

"It's her word against his, and really, who are you going to believe? The guy's a national treasure. The woman's just somebody willing to subject herself to public humiliation and intense scrutiny of her entire life in order to hold a man accountable for allegedly raping her. I think we can all agree it's obvious who's got the greater motive to lie -- that golddigging bitch! Case closed." - Kate Harding
When sports culture meets rape culture

When are we going to realize that the way we talk about rape greatly affects the possibilities for reporting and holding rapists accountable? At the very least, consider whether your teenage daughter is in the room when you call Andrea McNulty a lying slut, and then consider what you would want her to do if she were sexually assualted. I know I do.

Julie Pickett-Hall

The quick brown fox...

I'm generally a fan of woot, and I love shirt.woot for the hilarious memes and descriptions. This one was just too precious:

Bonus point for mentioning Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Quote of the Day

"If God had wanted man to play soccer, he wouldn't have given us arms."
Mike Ditka

Thursday, July 23, 2009


My awesome husband S has arranged to borrow everything we need to build out our patio over the weekend.

I'm so excited... this is a home-improvement project that we've been thinking about for a long time. The gist is that we have a concrete patio behind the house, but it's only big enough for the hot tub to sit on. No table, no chairs, just the hot tub. You can't even really open the back door without hitting the hot tub actually.

I've really wanted to expand the patio so we can move the hot tub away from the house and put our patio table out there. Just to be able to sit outside and read or eat dinner sounds so great! Plus the hot tub will still be right there, albeit on the other side of the back door.

Maybe S feels like I've been nagging him about it, but in any case he decided (in his typical impulsive way) to start in on it after work today. Sometimes his impulsiveness drives me batty, but in this case I just feel really lucky to have such a sweet hubby who would move earth for me ;).

In the end, he's got a bobcat lined up from some friends a church, a dumptruck borrowed from another friend, a load of stone coming tonight, a compacter from the plumbers on his job, a place across the street to dump the stone, AND a place to dump the dirt we dig up in the process. We have to pay for the stone, and obviously for the concrete, which will be the biggest bill of this venture. If it rains this weekend, we may have to wait until next weekend to get the concrete in, but we can dig, fill, compact, and form everything ourselves and have it all ready. I'm so excited!

We'll be having a hot tub and cookout party very soon!

Julie Pickett-Hall

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

not to belabor the point, but...

I was reading some background on what led Vyckie, of No Longer Quivering to the Quiverfull movement when I came across something that really tied into a conversation I was having with my friend A yesterday about Twilight.

The Quiverfull movement is a Christian Fundamentalist movement that encourages families to have as many children as God allows. They also stress patriarchal divisions in the household and homeschooling.

Vyckie and her husband, who were already fundamentalist, attended a "Bold Christian Living" seminar by Jonathan Lindvall:

"...he was quite radical ~ going so far as to explain that he did not allow his wife and daughters to leave the home unless they were accompanied by himself or one of his sons ~ and he also would not let his girls have driver's licenses because he wanted to protect them from the possibility of having to serve on jury duty which might entail their being forced to listen to all the sordid details of the lawbreakers' sin and debauchery. Interestingly, at the time ~ Lindvall's isolation and control of his wife and daughters did not come across as abusive at all ~ he seemed genuinely loving ~ protective and considerate ~ hearing him speak inspired me to wish I had such a strong, decisive, capable husband to take care of me and my children."

This was so reminiscent of the Bella-Edward dynamic that I couldn't help myself. Every time something like this popped up in Twilight, I had to set the book down for a moment and encourage myself. So I was especially shocked when A hadn't seemed to notice the damaging relational undertones to the situation. She didn't pick up on the underlying potential for abuse, and that really confused me. Maybe I'm more sentitive to the precursers for abuse, and maybe that's why I've never ended up in an abusive relationship.

Growing up in a small, conservative, rural town, it seems like a lot of people I know have endured at least moderate abuse of some form or another, and I've always felt so greatful that I've avoided this particular pitfall.

It really makes me wonder, are certain people more able to naturally detect abusive patterns, or is this something that can be learned? Shouldn't we be teaching teenagers these patterns? Whether it does any good or not, I really hope to use Bella and Edward as a teaching tool for the teenagers in our house.

I'm determined that if it's a learned skill, then these children will learn it now, before they set their own patterns for life.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Twilight, New Moon

Just finished up New Moon (Twilight was last week), and wanted to get some thoughts down before I read more and get the books all muddled in my head.

I personally find that the whole Edward-Bella thing is very strange and unhealthy. To quote one article, "one of modern fiction’s best candidates for a restraining order."

I'm right there with this reviewer. I didn't connect to Edward at all, and instead was constantly put off by his sparkly, manipulative tactics. I do really worry that young teenage girls who moon over these books are getting a really bad impression of a realistic relationship.

I'm also sick of reading about how "grown up" and "mature" Bella is for her age, when she clearly acts like a petulant ass of a child most of the time. Girls, really: you should not moon endlessly over someone you met like a week ago. You should never choose to spend every waking moment with a boy, or even think the words, "You're my whole life now." BARF! If I ever hear lovely L or her girls say anything like that I'm going to go all Buffy on any teenage boy within a 5-mile radius (just to make sure).

Also girls, you are smart and beautiful and perfect just the way you are. Bella is as boring as a cardboard box, and boring, self-conscious people don't stand out in a crowd. Dreamy, otherworldly boys are going to be drawn to confident, smart young women like yourselves, so live it up.

Lastly, you will go through breakups. It happens, and it's not the end of the world. Pick yourself back up and go play with the throng of other handsome, otherworldly (wolfy) boys that follow you around like puppy dogs.

Up to this point, Jacob is a great character. He clearly makes Bella feel less broken as a person and gives her butterflies in a natural, unmanipulative way. I'm sad to hear that he gets an asshole-personality transplant in the next book, but what can you do.

One more link to share:

I'm not saying that books are a bad read or that they "suck" persay, but they should be consumed with a balanced diet of actually strong heroines and a critical eye to damaged relationships. The story is compelling, if nothing else.

"... and then Buffy staked Edward. The End."

Julie Pickett-Hall

worst week

This has been a comically bad week so far, which is notable for only being Tuesday. It seems like every so often, I just have a series of memory lapses that are pretty troublesome. A few months ago I had the household accounts completely screwed up because I kept forgetting to pay things and transfer money from here to there.

This week so far, I've locked my keys in the car with the headlights on... leaving me stranded in the parking lot of the store with two gallons of milk, one of which was badly leaking. I then tripped and hurt myself, which I never do. When I finally got home I sat down to read a book, and the dog peed on me, which is also incredibly unusual. Our dog is very well-trained for a lapdog and goes out several times a day.

Lastly, this morning I managed to somehow lose my wedding ring. I can't even remember the last place I took it off, but I'm about 75% sure that it's in the house somewhere. I grabbed a replacement from my jewelry box before I ran out the door this morning, which made me realize that I also don't know where I put my mother's wedding ring. This could be a problem. I may be spending the next week tearing apart the house and every purse or bag I own looking for both rings.

So far I've managed to stay positive, but I can only anticipate more problems over the next few days. What other terrors will this week bring?

Update: I've actually found both rings. Mom's ring was actually in a reasonable and easy-to-find place, and my ring was behind the headboard. I must have lost it in my sleep, which stinks... it doesn't normally slip off.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Monday, July 20, 2009

weekend update

No luck getting the first Twilight movie this weekend, my friend D hurt her back and wasn't able to hang out. I did see my sister, watch C play baseball (while my hubby coached), went to a big local tractor-pull where my BIN was pulling his A-C in the 9k stock class for the first time this year. I think he was pretty nervous, but he did really well and got 2nd place.

Sunday we went to the 4-H fair where lovely L was showing the alpaca that she has been training with all summer. They won 2nd in showmanship and were Champions of the obstacle course! She also got a champion ribbon for her photography exhibit, which really was beautiful. Also while we were there, my nephew Cm won his tractor pull. We watched from the hill and he did a really great job, I think he won his class by 40 feet, and he's always the youngest one there (12).

Anyhow, it was a busy but very nice weekend. It's nice to be able to hang out with the hubby and actually do things together.

Hopefully I can get with D this week and watch HP 5 or Twilight1. I did have some time this weekend to blast through most of New Moon and hopefully I can finish that up in the next few days... more on the Twilight series later.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I heart Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter has an opinion piece in the Guardian, and it makes want to love him to pieces:

Titled The words of God do not justify cruelty to women, Carter speaks of his own struggle to release himself from the bonds of the Southern Baptist Church when they used specific verses from the Bible to ordain that women are lesser in the eyes of God.

"This was in conflict with my belief - confirmed in the holy scriptures - that we are all equal in the eyes of God."

Carter goes on, talking about religion in general as well as accepted, ingrained cultural attitudes that have the same effect and are driven by a willingness within the upper echelon of all religious groups to maintain this status quo:

"This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. It is widespread... Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries."

"The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter."
(emphasis mine)

He goes further to talk about the effects. Besides the obvious: rape, slavery, mutilation, differences in education and earning ability, Carter notes that this is a problem that affects everyone in profound ways.

"It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for everyone in society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family."

Carter, along with a group called the Elders including the likes of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Muhammad Yunus, Kofi Annan, as well as Gro Brundtland, Mary Robinson, Aung San Suu Kyi, Graca Machel and Ela Bhatt, are calling for religious leadership to take a promonent role in ensuring equality and human rights.

"We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share."

What a great way to end the week. It's nice to go into the weekend feeling inspired and strong!

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

Go in Peace and have a great weekend.
Julie Pickett-Hall


On Dead Like Me (which I've been watching on Hulu), they imply that pet reapers are all children. That makes some sense to me, since I think a child would have a hard time coming to terms with taking the souls of people. But on the other hand, doesn't that seem cruel? A lot of children have a hard time with the loss of a pet. Maybe it's nice for them that they get to see the pet move on, but watching a bunch of pets die just seems like it would be sad for a child.

Nevermind that this means pets have souls, and the whole thing really raises the question of how these pet-reapers are replaced...

Maybe just dealing with cute pets all day would be nice though, unless you have old, angry lapdogs and the like.

I love the show anyway, but I hate being reminded that my pets are going to die.

Julie Pickett-Hall

movie night

Went and watched Public Enemies last night with D. It was a fairly good movie, and mostly historically accurate. I like how the public was so adoring of John Dillinger in the movie, but I'm not sure they went too deep into why that was.

D noticed that much of the movie was in extreme close-up, and I agree with that. It sort of made you feel like leaning back through most of it. All-in-all there were a lot of close-up and car scenes, and not very much development of characters other than Depp and Bale.

My absolute favorite scene was in the jailhouse between Depp and Bale. They had a short conversation, but it was very smart and snarky.

D and I might try and get the first Twilight movie this weekend to watch, since neither of us has seen it and we've both read the book. We might also look for Harry Potter 5, which D has never seen, so we can see 6 sometime soon. I haven't seen so many movies in years! It's so nice to have friends in town again.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jillian Michaels free video

I really like Jillian Michaels, and have 3 of her videos. The way she combines moves is really hard, but it makes a huge difference. Here is a taste of her style and some moves you can try:

Julie Pickett-Hall

...more court shenanigans

Turns out that story about the lawyer and his shoes is more interesting than I thought. The link I included then links to a Palm Beach newspaper, where we have the following two articles:

It appears that the discussion of the first article about the shoes of the defense attorney gave him the out to claim a mistrial on the basis that he was defamed by the article.

There's a lot going on here. The hand-wavers claim that the issue at hand is the dissemination of information about the case. The writer points out that this information is not private:

"Why? Because the court's are open to the public, and with rare exceptions, what goes on in the courthouse is not subject to whims of trial participants who may or may not want anybody looking over their shoulders."

Anything that's filed in the clerk's office and not marked specifically confidential is public record. The fact that people don't generally know, and that they don't walk down to the courthouse and inspect those public records, does not mean that publishing those records is a bad idea, or that the case "should" be closed before that information is revealed. Public inspection of those records has always been central to the very creation of these local offices, and the fact that it's inconvenient to carry out those inspections is probably a bad thing, not a convenience or a quality to be lauded.

There's another claim here, that the writer was wrong to publish anything about the case, and that it was his responsibility to prevent the jurors from seeing the article.

Lastly, I think the writer does a great job of pointing out that the defense attorney was simply using the tools and circumstance available to him to avoid a $2.2 million personal injury verdict. Because he's smart, and that's his job.

I find it hard to believe that the defense attorney would stand behind his assertion of defamation in any other circumstance, given his initial reaction to the writer. Also the fact that this was circulating around the legal community well before the writer posted his article, really leads me to think that the legal community thrives on a false secrecy, and would really prefer court proceedings to be completely confidential to protect themselves.

What would happen if the public at-large inspected these records regularly? I suspect we would have a more accountable legal system, they way it was intended.

Julie Pickett-Hall

shoes in court

A number of completely different stories about shoes in the courtroom have landed in front of me lately, which is terribly odd. Simply had to share!

This is an article about a motion to force counsel to wear shoes without holes in them, which is kind of funny:
The holier-than-thou shoes were apparently 'lucky'.

Next we have an article about women's attire in the courtroom, which includes railing against impractical but fashionable shoes:

The last one is my favorite for a number of reasons. This is an article about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, capturing her reactions to criticism of Sonia Sotomayer:
In it, Ginsburg responds to the notion that the men of the court will be unable to 'kick off their shoes' with women around, which she notes is unlikely, given that she is also apt to kicking off her shoes behind the bench. In fact, if she is slow to rise from her seat on the bench, people seem to worry that she's frail while she's actually searching under her desk for a lost shoe so that she can stand.

I'm not immune to the siren call of gorgeous but unlivable shoes, but I like to think that I keep it fairly reasonable. Wedges are a girl's best friend. In the end, it really seems that we like to think shoes *mean* something about the person or what they're trying to present, at the very least we try and construct that meaning for ourselves in our own wardrobe.

Do our shoes define us, or do we merely want them to? Do we judge shoes as harshly as we judge the cars that people drive? Really, just what's up with all the shoes in the blogosphere these days?

free stuff

Ok, it sounds hokey, but I troll around all over the internet for free stuff, coupons, whatever....

A few sites I really like (because I just cashed in on both of them) are swagbucks and epoll. Epoll is a survey system, they send you survey links via email and you build up points for each survey you take. I've just ordered a $10 amazon certificate with my points, so it works well, but the points take a while to build up. Since it's all email-based though, it's really worth it.

Swagbucks is a big thing right now, and the $5 amazon certificates are really easy to get. You should be able to get about one a month, but I haven't been that lucritive yet.

It's sad, but I also troll for online giveaways and such. I did actually win a workout DVD from sparkpeople earlier this year, but I think that's the only thing I've ever won! Sometimes it feels so dirty, selling out my email address for a chance at free stuff, but I've found a lot of sites I really love. Sparkpeople is quirky, but they have some great articles, motivation, and a really interesting blog. Check it out sometime.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

to do or don't

It seems like people are endlessly trying to quantify what makes a marriage last and what prompts a marriage to fail. I don't really think it's that simple... There are some things that only a stranger can observe about your relationship, and some things that nobody else will ever grasp or understand.

This article is a little depressing for me, with a hubby who is older, with children from a previous (failed) marriage. These researchers would claim that we are doomed to fail, but obviously I don't think so.

In any case, I think it's fascinating how much we are willing to do to quantify what makes a good marriage with research and statistics, but sometimes we're so unwilling to do the simple (ok maybe difficult) things that keep a marriage viable, like communicate well. I do this myself sometimes, so it's not shocking, just telling.

Not trying to make a point about culture at-large, just musing to myself about where this all fits in the marriage debate.

Julie Pickett-Hall

pop quiz

Who plays Young Simon in a flashback episode of Firefly? (Hint, it's this person's very first acting cred on IMDB).

I was watching this episode last night with the hubby and can't believe I'd never noticed that actor before. Actually, he seemed oddly familiar, and then I caught his name in the credits.

Anyhow, I've been trying to slowly introduce the hubby to Joss Whedon... and Firefly is the most manly of the really good options. He's getting into it I think, so hopefully someday soon we'll be sharing a mutual love of all things Buffy. Baby steps.

Hulu has all the episodes of Firefly right now, which is awesome. If you need a refresher, indulge yourself:

Julie Pickett-Hall

hello world

Welcome to my blog. This is a new, general, multi-purpose blog, for my rantings and to collect information and thoughts that I want to put out there or keep around for a while.

Topics I'm interested in:
- classic and contemporary literature
- sewing
- jewelry-making
- finances
- couponing
- learning in general

I don't plan to spend a ton of time updating, but I love to write. Hopefully my life is interesting enough to have things to write about.... otherwise I'll just be posting links to external interesting things!

Julie Pickett-Hall