Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Special Delivery

Dear USPS,

I just wanted to send you a quick note of support while you contemplate halting Saturday delivery.  Now, I like my mail just as much as anyone else, but I understand that lower mail volume = lower income for you. At some point you have to cut back on something.  If we're not sending enough mail, then definitely, cut a day of delivery service.

I think people are complaining because they don't like change.  I've lived in Germany and Austria, and they don't have Saturday delivery.  It works fine.  Worried about a deluge of mail on Monday?  Offices with Monday-Friday mailrooms already deal with that.  They learn to manage.  We'll learn to manage.  Even the people in rural areas who will supposedly be at a disadvantage will learn to cope with having a full two days with no mail delivery

It's a tough choice to make--and it may not solve all of your budgetary woes, but it's a step in the right direction.

Good luck!

Your pal,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mass Mailings

Dear Ford,

Hey, we got yet another mailing from you yesterday.  Cool to hear about the 2011 models; however, I wanted to remind you:

We bought a new car last year.

We're still paying it off.

Therefore, we do not need another new car this year.

I would think that somewhere in your massive database system you know that last year we were first-time car buyers (i.e.--we had zero cars when we bought our Ford).  I'd imagine that you probably also know that since we bought one of your cheaper cars, we probably did that because that's all we could afford.  We're not the type of people who buy a new car every year--and how many of those do you have in this economy, for goodness' sake?

I realize you're excited to share all the new model info with us, but can't you tell we're just not in the market?  Please stop it with all the mailings.

Thank you!

Your pal,

P.S.--We do love our Ford--it's been an awesome car for us!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Creative Constipation

Dear Readers,

I'm feeling guilty for not blogging much--though one might say that there are too many blogs out there anyway.  I've just been in my monthly funk of not feeling productive/creative/worthy, and I haven't wanted to pass the funk on to you. Add the general crabbiness I have about not drinking (that "no booze = weight loss" thing is really starting to look like a big ol' myth to me...either that, or I'm eating more to compensate, or I never drank so much that it affected my caloric intake in the first place), and you get a person who's not so pleasant to be around.

Granted, you might think that crabby Jill is a fun Jill who pokes at general stupidity, but I haven't even been able to come up with that lately.  It's as if my creativity is completely constipated--it's stuck somewhere inside of me, and I'd really like to find it and move on.

I'm trying to not dwell on the problem--and I'm trying to find ways out of it, like other creative pursuits:  baking (cookies and pretzel bread were on the docket today), reading books (working on Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country, Rita Rudner's Tickled Pink (which is totally enjoyable), and a stack of other random chick lit), and trying to stay active (watching "Heavy" helps motivate me there).  I'm also hoping to start having more adventures again--get out and explore, and maybe that will inspire me.

I also hope it will make me more regular here too (pun intended).  Thanks for tuning in and sticking with me!

Your pal,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Counting Down

Dear Readers,

I don't often give up something for Lent, but this year I decided to participate--to see if I could jump start some healthier behavior and see if I could stick with a short-term project.

I've given up booze.  All of it--beer, wine, liquor.

It's not fun.

At first it wasn't too bad, but after a week, the Boy and I had a hard workout day.  Last week was the first time the Boy could really walk to and from the train station without wading through somebody's unshoveled walk, and in an attempt to get some exercise, I walk with him to the train station and then I meet him there at the end of the day.  This means I went from almost no movement to a minimum of 4 miles walking a day (it's a mile to the train station). On Thursday I also walked to and from my volunteer gig at the library, which is another 20 minute walk that involves a pretty steep hill on the way home.  Plus, the Boy and I did a run at the track near our field (which involves running home up that steep hill).

Needless to say, I was wiped out and really wanted a recovery beer.  Since then I've thought way more about booze than I normally do.  I'm not going through massive withdrawals or anything (thank goodness), but man, do I enjoy a good adult beverage!

The Boy is doing his best to help me out and is systematically drinking all the beer that's currently in our fridge.  You know, so I don't get tempted.  We're not cooking with wine, since that would mean opening a bottle and having to dump 2/3 of it because he won't drink the rest.  Thank goodness liquor is easily measured, which means I'll let myself cook with it (hello, bourbon pecan pie!).

Still, it's not an easy task, and I hope I'll manage to stay on track.  Should I succeed, there's a bottle of bubbly with my name on it, chilling in the fridge.

Do you give up anything--or do anything special for Lent?  Let me know!

Your pal,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Postcard from Vermont

Dear Readers,

Last weekend, the Boy was out of town, so I wrangled some friends and went to Vermont for the day.  Vermont's the last state in New England I had to visit, so I was excited to cross it off of the list.  The day involved two breakfasts, two factory tours (Cabot Cheese and Ben & Jerry's), and some snowshoeing.

And it involved me learning how to pronounce "Montpelier."

Montpelier's the capital of Vermont; however, with less than 8,000 people, it's the smallest state capital in the country.  We drove through the city fairly quickly and saw the pretty golden dome on the statehouse, and once we were out of town, I brought up the pronunciation.

See, I was traveling with a German, a Brit, and a Japanese (there's a joke somewhere about us walking into a bar...if you can come up with a good punchline, I'll send you something good, like whoopie pies or something) and we all pronounced it differently:  The German pronounced it very French (Mon-pell-ee-AY), the Brit pronounced it almost the same, but less French and more "t" sound.  The Japanese...well, wait a second--I don't think she ever said the name of the city.  Hmmmmm......

Me?  I said, "Mont-peh-LEER."  To various peals of laughter.

Well, I had a mystery to solve!  Soon thereafter, we arrived at the Ben & Jerry's factory for a half-hour of snowshoeing on the grounds, plus the factory tour.  Almost immediately after we got on our snowshoes, our guide asked if we have any questions.  I responded, "So, how do you say the state capital?"

Granted, I think I was supposed to ask about snowshoeing, but our guide was pretty game. "MONT-pell-ee-er," she replied.

"Oh.  OK," I said.  To more laughter.

Then I had to get all Midwestern defensive on my friends.  See, you learn things from your parents or at school.  Ma Jaracz is not the most accurate enunciator in the world--she occasionally slips up and says things like "worsh" ("wash"), "Worshington," or "wauship" ("worship").  And since Vermont is a small state far from the Midwest, it's probably easy to mispronounce it.

My German friend was sympathetic.  She'd gone to school in Carbondale, IL.  It's near Cairo, IL (pronounced "KAY-ro").  She got it.

Still, that didn't stop my brain from repeating "MONT-pell-ee-er" on a loop for the rest of the day.  Now I'm determined to go back there for a proper visit--with proper pronunciation.

Have a good weekend, everyone!
Your pal,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Wee St. Patty's Day Story

Dear Readers,

While it's still St. Patty's Day, I'd like to share a little blarney about the life of the great St. Patrick.

Before Patrick became a saint, he was a slave.  A slave to a hard-drivin' lord o' the manor who had some pretty rotten teeth (so rotten that when he cried for "Patty"--Patrick's least favorite nickname--it actually sounded like "Paddy").  Now a lad of nearly 16, he'd been a slave on this manor since he was 4.  He'd worked his way up through the various levels of child slavery, from digging potatoes out of the ground and feeding the herds, to shoveling up dung in the road and cutting bricks of peat.

Slavery wasn't a pleasant lifestyle, but it was all Patrick knew.  Being a fairly cheerful boy, he tried to make the most of his dire situation, and that's where he stood out from all the other slaves.  Patrick was a rare breed called a Neatnik.  He loved order and despised chaos, which unfortunately for him, was pretty much par for the course in 399 AD.  Homes were haphazardly built, dirt went everywhere, and the basic organizational system included piling your goods together (if you had a lot of stuff, you separated your household goods into piles and heaps).

Patrick took it upon himself to set his master's manor right.  He washed the buildings.  He got the planting slaves to sow their seeds in nice rows.  He put animals in their own pens and made sure they were groomed.  If something was broken, he either repaired it or purged it.  It was a lot of work for a boy his age, but as he put it, it was better to make a clean sweep of one's possessions than to live in a cluttered manor.

The lord of the manor soon noticed his propensity for tiding things up and said, "Paddy, I'd like ta ged me fields organized so thad tha sheep don'd go astray."

Patrick took a look at the fields, where the flocks of sheep and cows were randomly milling about.  He noticed that his lord's herd was mixed in with other herds, and that come sheering and slaughtering time, there would be one big fight among the animal owners over whose flocks these actually were.  He took on his master's challenge to create a more organized grazing area.

Patrick's first step was to properly mark each one of his master's animals, which he did through a gruesome, medieval variety of ways--some so heinous that they can only be shown in hideous medieval torture museums.

Once this task was over, he set about securing the fields.  Back then, fields were marked off by huge boulders--the bigger, the better.  Landowners could see the boulders from miles away, so they knew how the fields lined up.  Unfortunately, the boulders were well-spaced apart....sometimes markers would be a quarter-mile apart.  Naturally, sheep and cows didn't respect the boundaries, so they just wandered wherever they pleased, creating all kinds of chaos.

Patrick knew he had to make a better barrier, and large boulders weren't going to cut it (let's face it, he could barely move one by himself).  That's when Patrick noticed the abundant supply of smaller rocks and stones all along the property.  He realized if he stacked them up properly, he could create a solid wall that no animal could get through or hop over.

Over the next several months, Patrick created stone fences all along his master's property.  They worked just as he hoped, which pleased his master very much.  Other property owners took notice too and asked to hire Patrick to help him design stone fences for their properties as well.  Patrick's owner gladly hired him out--and even allowed him to keep a portion of his earnings--and Patrick soon had erected his stone fences all over the western part of Ireland.

Patrick's work caused great peace throughout the land.  For the first time, herd owners didn't fight and kill over who owned which animals.  The herds stayed safely behind their own fences, with plenty of room to safely graze.  And Patrick, with his little nest egg, was able to buy his way out of slavery, paving the way for his future work as a snake-rousing priest.

Today when you visit Ireland, you can still see some of the fences St. Patrick built snaking across the country, bringing civilization to an untame land.

Your pal,

p.s.--If you liked that story, let me see what I can whip up for the upcoming holidays.  My "Cinco de Mayo Sisters" is sure to please!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's Time

Dear Neighbors,

Today is March 8.  You can take down your Christmas decorations now.

Now, I can imagine what you might say--the lousy weather kept you from getting at them.  I understand that--to a point.  I mean, the neighbors who have the green garland with big red bows wrapped around their porch pillars have had a clean porch for some time now.

For the rest of you:  We've had balmy weather for a little while, and the piles of snow that have plagued us all winter are just about gone.  Please get out to your yard, take down the lights/ornaments/deflated inflatables, and put them away until next year 9 months from now.

Please and thank you.

Your pal,

Friday, March 4, 2011

Update on American Airlines

Dear Readers,

Thanks to the ever-astute madgal72, we have an update on American Airlines' voucher-redeeming procedures!  The US Department of Transportation is fining the airline $90,000 for not disclosing the fees.

Compared to what AA makes in a year, this is chump change, but it is the cost of at least one decently paid employee (with benefits).  In my book, it's at least something!

Thanks again, madgal!

Your pal,

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Today Is the Day!

Dear Apple,

Thankyouthankyouthankyou for releasing the new MacBook Pros! I've been babying my poor little six-year-old PowerBook G4 for a few months, waiting for the new release. My skills in patience have finally paid off. The last time I bought a computer, I believe the editions with the Intel chip were released a few months later.  Doh!

This time, I read the rumor sites to figure out when a new release would come out. I waited. I saved up money. I waited some more. But I don't need to wait any longer.

Today I will have a new laptop.

Today I will not see the "spinning wheel of doom" every time I try to load a website.

Today I will be able to work at speeds that will blow my mind away. I won't know what to do with all my free time!  [Oh, wait....maybe I'll blog more.]

Thanks again, and warn your stores that I'm coming!

Your pal,