I am a freelancer in the publishing industry, so words are very important to me. I'm a leftist living in a world gone mad, so politics are very important to me. I'm an environmentalist living in a degrading world, so pick up your damn trash, get rid of your gas guzzlers, and don't touch ANWR, you self-absorbed capitalists!

Do leave comments: let's make this a conversation. If you prefer, you can contact me at friuduric at yahoo dot com.

31 July 2007

How to Be Popular *and* Get Your Kids to Clean Up!

As a comedian in the 1980s put it, “The mind is a terrible thing.”

Imagine all the stuff that goes on without your conscious self being aware of it. Sure, there are the old standbys like breathing, heart pumping, digestion, and the like. But scientists have been playing games with ingenuous study participants for years. And now they’ve got a pretty good idea of how we can “prime” someone’s subconscious.

For example:

[S]tudy participants, college students, had no idea that their social instincts were being deliberately manipulated. On the way to the laboratory, they had bumped into a laboratory assistant, who was holding textbooks, a clipboard, papers, and a cup of hot or iced coffee — and asked for a hand with the cup.

That was all it took: The students who held a cup of iced coffee rated a hypothetical person they later read about as being much colder, less social, and more selfish than did their fellow students, who had momentarily held a cup of hot java.

I know what you’re thinking: “Hogwash.” But really, it isn’t. Researchers have done it with competitiveness (a briefcase vs. a backpack at the end of the table during a game can make you more or less cutthroat in your choices), helpfulness, bias, and—my favorite—cleanliness:

In another experiment, published in 2005, Dutch psychologists had undergraduates sit in a cubicle and fill out a questionnaire. Hidden in the room was a bucket of water with a splash of citrus-scented cleaning fluid, giving off a faint odor. After completing the questionnaire, the young men and women had a snack, a crumbly biscuit provided by laboratory staff members.

The researchers covertly filmed the snack time and found that these students cleared away crumbs three times more often than a comparison group, who had taken the same questionnaire in a room with no cleaning scent. “That is a very big effect, and they really had no idea they were doing it,” said Henk Aarts, a psychologist at Utrecht University and the senior author of the study.

From now on, I will walk around with a cup of hot coffee, handing it to new people as I am introduced to them, ensuring my new reputation as a warm, social, and friendly person. I will also place a cup of citrus-y smelling cleaner in my daughters’ room, guaranteeing myself free cleaning staff for the next several years. Hah!

Get a free login at bugmenot, then go read the entire article at the New York Times.

30 July 2007

The Stuff A Bureaucrat’s Dreams Are Made Of

1. The Consort’s co-author, who teaches at Bouche de Dard College (not its real name, you know what university is in Hanover), was able to get him an (unpaid) Visiting Researcher appointment. That way, he gets an office, has library privileges, and is eligible for a parking pass. When he went to get an ID for the gym, they said he “wasn’t on their list.” They called around, and checked some more, then said, “Oh, you’re a visiting researcher – VRs aren’t eligible to use the sports facilities.”

2. The rental agreement for the housing we were assigned begins on September 1. School for the girls begins on August 29. So for the first three days of the school year, we will drive them from the apartment we are staying in (another town, another district) to their school. Over that weekend, we’ll be moving in to our permanent housing for the rest of the 2007-2008 school year. I was told today that I have to send a copy of our rental agreement to the school district’s supervisor, so they can issue a waiver for the girls to attend their school (since we will be out of district when they begin school). Did I mention, this will be the case for THREE DAYS??

Look, I’m all for following the rules, but really, I think the risk inherent is giving a visiting researcher library privileges (where he can borrow and potentially lose hundred-dollar texts) is much higher than any risk of allowing him and his spouse to use the gym. Are they afraid of the cooties we’d leave on the equipment?

And really, do they think it would make more sense for the girls to attend the local school for three days, and then transfer into the town school district after the weekend? Really?

People always joke that midwesterners are staid, have no sense of humor, and are lacking in creativity. I beg to differ.

27 July 2007


Originally uploaded by friuduric.

This is Cooper. He’s my sister-in-law’s* toy poodle.

Cooper does not like me.

While we are staying in my SIL’s apartment, I have no washer and dryer, so I’ve been using hers. I try to do my laundry when she and her family aren’t around (we’re already so underfoot, I don’t want to cramp her style overmuch). Last Thursday, they left for a weekend-long horse show, and had taken the dog with them. So I did our laundry in silence.

This Thursday, they were at another horse show, but because it was more local, they left Cooper at home for the day.

Cooper did not appreciate my constant coming and going. He made sure I knew it, too.

But I still did my laundry. ;-)

*Yes, I realize it should be sister's-in-law. And while I do say "sisters-in-law" when I'm talking about the plural (I have two sisters-in-law), it just sounds downright wrong to say "my sister's-in-law dog".

26 July 2007

Oh, the Joys

From an economics paper on manager-employee communications on my desk at the moment:

Although managers try a wide variety of communication strategies, ... the most successful strategy is quite simple: Explicitly request that all employees choose a high effort level, emphasize the mutual benefits of coordinating at a high effort level, and assure the employees that they are being paid well (although it is not necessary to actually pay them well).

Sometimes, copyediting makes you feel dirty --'cause you're working for The Man.

(Surprisingly enough, except for stuff like this, I really like this project.)

24 July 2007

The Pets

Split Sister wondered how the pets were adjusting to their new home. How about we ask them?

Zephyr, what do you think of New Hampshire so far?

"It wasn't me!
"...Uhhhh, I mean-- Hi!
"Yeah, we like the glider chair, and -- as you can see -- Loki and I share it very well. We love to share. Yep. We do. Because I wouldn't force him out of it if he were in it first; even if that is what my people do to me every. single. day. here.
"Oooh! and I love the long walks they take me on. The other day, they even took me for a walk in the woods. Down a dirt road. And when a car drove past, I ZOOMED after it. Hah! My first chance to chase one of those things where I wasn't stuck behind a stupid fence. I eventually returned to my people. They didn't seem worried about me taking my time. They're good people. (Even if they do kick me out of my favorite glider.)"

Loki, how about you? The change has been more drastic for you: You used to be an outdoor cat, and now you've been kept inside, seeing as the apartment is on a busy street.

"Mmmmm, it's been fine, man, fine. I'm still working my way down that incredible high, so spending time inside is cool.

"Man, did I hallucinate on that trip. I felt like I was in this big plastic box for -- like, days on end, man. The box kept shimmy-shammying for hours. It seemed like every couple of hours, we'd stop, and a bowl of water would appear -- POOF! -- and I'd look at it, and it would look back, and I could, like, drown in the ripples, man. It was so ... intense!

"But I'd blink and -- POOF! -- the water would be gone, and the world was all shimmy-shammying, and the plastic box was everywhere, man. It was like an existentialist nightmare, man -- even ... an existentialist nightstallion -- yeah, that's what it was. Unbefuckinleivable.

"So, yeah, it's cool, man, it's cool. The loco dog keeps flipping out when the folks leave the house and all, and once they even left this door open? And I looked at the opening? And the dog was right there next to me, man. And she's all 'Let's go!' and I'm like, 'Where?' And she says 'To follow the people, man!' And I'm like, 'Duuuuuuuuude. That, my friend, is the door to Hell, man. We just got to stay the hell away from it.' You know?

"Peace out, man. I'm just gonna chill on this glider for a while.


And there you have it. In their own words.

23 July 2007

Getting Graphic

Check out my sidebar. It's getting so crowded, soon you won't be able to find anything worthwhile there!

I put up one of those flickr badges that cycles through my recent uploads [oooh ... aaaah].

I also added a new section called "1,000 Words" (as in: A Picture is Worth...). I plan to create photo sets for each of our hikes/explores [neato!...]. I started by compiling the two from this weekend.

I also thought I'd try to document this upcoming sabbatical year by keeping a photo diary [cooooool!!!!]. You're supposed to post one picture for every day of the year. Being a family where not only the kids but the adults count time via the academic year, I've started this technically about seven months late. (I also don't stay-stitch pattern pieces before sewing them together, OR have ever done a full 4-inch knitting swatch, OR back up my computer on a regular basis, OR floss every day. I do what I can, when I can.)

If I keep this up, you are welcome to browse over there whenever you like. And you'll get MORE Imperatrix for the price of one!

22 July 2007

Catching Up

Everyone deserves a lost week here and there, don't you agree? Especially a week where 1) the person whose floor at home is perpetually covered with Barbies, Legos, American Girl doll paraphernalia, and books has a breakdown because the apartment, in the midst of the unpacking, is "too messy" for her; 2) every time you notice your teen eating, she is eating a slice of beer bread (hmmmmmm); 3) you had to spend the first few hours in the temporary apartment clearing out the fridge of month-old food and removing the mold growing in there, cleaning 7 years of food spillage from the cabinets, and finding space for four people's things (three people's, really: the Consort took care of his own stuff) in a small space; and 4) adolescent angst decides this would be a great time to take up residence with the family.

How could I not flip out? And on Friday, I did. (Note to self: A good maternal explosion does wonders for clearing out attitude. Don't look too closely and you won't notice the look of fear and trepidation which replaces the frowny faces. [Fear looks very much like contentment, at a glance.])

We went for an Explore of the creek down the street:

and talked about making biscuits when we got back. Oops. No shortening. So we made peanut butter muffins instead, which we had for lunch:

Then we walked up to Grandma's house, spent time playing with puppies (I did mention Grandma is a dog breeder, right?), then drove in to Hanover (where we'll be living come September) to peek through the windows at the (teeny tiny) house we'll be living in (but the girls were happy to see it, and have already chosen which room they will want; PLUS! they noticed a space we could [possibly] fit a portable dishwasher). We swung by the school they will be attending and happened upon a guidance counselor who gave us a quick tour of the school, and now the girls are very excited about school, too. (That's all it was: stress at the Not Knowing what the house and the school would be like.)

Yesterday we broke in our new hiking boots and climbed Mount Cardigan. It was a gorgeous day (as all days are here: it goes up to about 85 degrees duringh the day, but at night the temp drops down to the 50s -- nice sleeping weather). The girls had lots of fun, and the views at the top were fabulous. You can see a few shots (we're not great at remembering to take pictures all the time) at the flickr photo set, if you like.

Things are settling in. Halleluiah!

17 July 2007


We are survived.

We are enmessed.

We are exhausted.

But -- we are here.

PS: What the heck sort of friends suggest taking valium when one is supposed to be driving 20 hours across the country? You guys are crazy crazy crazy.

15 July 2007

Travel, Day 1 Complete

When I logged on, I thought I'd write about how valium worked like a charm on the cat. Or how we didn't leave until 11 am yesterday, and I was so tired from packing and cleaning the house. Or how we found a real steal of a motel room ($40, including pets!) . Or how a "real steal" actually means your money, considering the LOUD MUSIC AT 3 AM that the front desk girl said she couldn't do anything about. Or how the cat was fine during the night, but the dog whined and whined (may have had something to do with the [loose] cat choosing the top of the [not loose] dog's crate as the perfect hang out spot). Or how I'm not so sure the cat swallowed the valium this morning, but I can't find the pill anywhere, so I'm afraid to over-dose him, so today's travel with cat may not be so mellow.

Instead, I have to tell you that the rental truck doesn't have a way for us to plug in our iPods, so the Consort said he wanted to burn some music CDs to play in the CD slot of the truck. And what type of music does he choose to keep himself awake for this second, longer, day of travel? Vienna Teng! Her songs make him cry, people! She's not a heavy metal chick or rock queen, she's a balladeer!

I cannot believe this man.

10 July 2007

Not For the Weak of Heart

Sorting through one's belongings for an extended time away is difficult. It would be so much easier if we were actually moving to NH. Because then we'd just pack everything up, and tell ourselves, "We'll go through these files on the other end. We'll have much more time, then!" (Which wouldn't be true, so that 3-in. stack of user manuals for appliances/electronics we no longer own? We'd still have it in our files six months down the line.)

So, okay, there is some good about this process. But what a pain in the ass. Thursday is looming, and I still have tons to do. And it doesn't help that, because of the miniscularity of our temporary summer digs, as well as of the house we'll be living in in town, I've got to make some harsh decisions. Like: We can't bring both the food processor and the blender. Which should it be? The food processor is much more versatile, except for pesto. (And how many times do we make pesto over the course of a year? Maybe 7? -- But still: pesto!)

We've also decided that it would be silly to bring our fondue pot. But what about our raclette grill? Sure, we only have one raclette a winter (that's enough of a cheese overload in itself), but quality of life, man! That's important, too. Isn't it?

No wedding china (makes sense), but no French onion soup crocks (which I often use for individual pot pies in the winter), either. No ice cream sundae coupes. No pasta maker. No waffle iron.

Very few books. (That's OK, we'll just buy more, and that's a plus.) No Christmas decorations (the Consort said something about "making a paper tree" -- I have no idea what he meant, and I really don't care to know, either).

We are, however, bringing the contents of the liquor cabinet. That's us, you know, *tap tap tap* using our noggin for the important stuff.

(And for the love of sanity, don't anybody mention the incredibly thick layer of dust there behind the bookshelf. I didn't even notice it until I was cropping the picture for this post. [And to be honest, that bookshelf is normally packed with books, so no one can see behind the books at all, under normal circumstances.].)

07 July 2007

Music Soothes The Savage Beast

Packing is kicking into high gear here, and I can feel the stress mounting.

So, I have an offer for you, my faithful readers. I need something to look forward to. I need something to be able to do during my packing "breaks" (which will be too few and far between, I already know).

Who would like to exchange music mixes with me? I don't like to brag (well, yes I do), but I'm a pretty kick-ass mixmaster, I've been told.

Here's an idea I've had for a while: I trade music mixes with folks who I "know" in the blog sense (that is, if you've commented here, if I've commented on your site, etc.) Any genre is fair game: classic (of all flavors), folk, electronica, rock, blues, ... WHATEVER.

To make it fun, how about each interested reader picks a theme (for each individual, not all of us together). It can be as complicated as you like ("Sunrise on Betelgeuse") or as simple as you please ("Summer Mix"). Then you and I make a mix for each other following that theme (and "follow" in the loosest sense of the word, of course; I don't want to CREATE stress, I hope to ALLEVIATE stress).

Let's pick a length. I propose 45 minutes - 1 hour (my mixes tend to go long, so I'd be happy to extend the length [or shorten it], let's discuss it in the comments).

If we've exchanged mixes in the past, you're still eligible. If you don't think you have any cool music, you're still eligible. If you live in another country, you're still eligible.

Tell me what you think in the comments. E-mail me with your address, and I'll reply with my (new) NH address. I may not get to all of them before I leave, but how about we plan to have the mixes sent out by the end of July?

Who's in?

06 July 2007

Finishing Up Loose Ends

Mizmell asked what pattern I used for my skirt. I used the Sew What! Skirts book I bought in the spring. About a month ago I bought some brown flowery print that caught my eye:

I washed and ironed the fabric, but then put it aside when things got busy. I really wanted to make an A-line skirt with it, to go with a brown t-shirt I got for myself. Here's the result:

I also finished up the secret things I planned to make with some quilted fabric. Remember that stuff?

They became casserole carriers, for our potluck buddies:

I really ought to get packing, but I detest packing. I did go through Trixie's room with her yesterday, so we've sorted out two big bags of trash, a large pile of recycling, and have made "to stay" and "to come" piles. I just have to box things up.

Then, I have to box up the office stuff I'll be taking. Yuck. I've voiced the wish that I could just blink my eyes and skip the next 10 days, and find myself in New Hampshire already. But the rest of the family think that living throught this week of Hell will be fun.

Clearly, they don't share genes with me, those loons.

PS: The FedEx man just delivered an envelope to our door. So I can now say, with no worries of any trickster gods hearing, that we have renters for our house. They'll be arriving in August for a one-year law clerkship. Yahoo! The only worry I have is that the house will be empty for six weeks. But everything should work out fine (crossing my fingers). Plus, they would prefer to bring as little as possible, so we'll be most likely leaving our dishes and our bed for them, as well as most other furniture. We'll have lots of garage sale-ing and thrift store shopping to do during the peak of garage sale season. How many people get a chance to redo their furnishings from scratch, I ask you? The adventure begins.....

04 July 2007


I could say something about a situation, but I would prefer not to until I have the signed paper in hand. (Wouldn't want to count my chickens and all that).

I should be packing right now, but it's the Fourth of July. I think I'll make a skirt, instead.*

*Hey, it's not that random, you know: Once the skirt is made, I am officially done with any sewing for a while, so I can pack up whatever sewing stuff I plan to bring to New Hampshire. Which includes the sewing machine, because damned if I'm going to live in a white box for 12 months.

02 July 2007

The Thing About Surprise Parties

Is that, in order to protect the secret, you end up having to act like a Grimm stepmother for a while.

When your child comes to you for comfort, mentioning that because of a July family move, they’re a bit sad that they won’t be able to celebrate their August birthday with their friends, you can only reply, Don’t be silly, you’ll have your cousins there.

When they mention that they’d love to have one last “playdate” with friends, but some of them are not around very much, because of summer camp, and visits to fathers, etc., you can only reply, Oh well, we tried our best, the scheduling just didn’t work out.

Then, the day of the party rolls around. And you can see your baby smile again.

And all the cold-hearted acting is over. (Thank goodness!)