Monday, March 30, 2009

Mail goggles and other life savers

This just in: Google creates idiot-proof Gmail. Love it. Too bad even though we use Gmail for work, I feed it through Entourage. Potentially even considering switching back to it's pure form 'cause these features are priceless:
  • Five second send delay - in case you spot an awkward typo or accidental.
  • "Are you sure?" reply all - so that (potentially snarky?) response intended solely for the sender doesn't reach all of those unintended recipients.
  • The ever popular "Mail Goggles" (Doesn't this sound like one of their April Fool's jokes?)
  • Facemail... corresponding photos with emails showing up in the to: line so that you don't accidentally autofill the wrong name...
  • Attachment check. I do this at least three times a week. "Hmm. Sorry - here's the attachment." And I always catch it seconds after the darn thing sends.
[...]the lawyer for Eli Lilly who wanted to e-mail her co-counsel Bradford Berenson details of a negotiation but instead sent them to Alex Berenson, a reporter for the New York Times. The result was a front-page scoop revealing that Eli Lilly was talking with the government about a billion-dollar fine for improperly marketing its anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa. (And so much for the effectiveness of those lengthy legal disclaimers at the bottom of corporate e-mails.) - from Slate
Because sometimes doing something as easy as activating "Undo Send" in Gmail Labs under Settings, and you’ll see a new “Undo” link on every sent mail confirmation. Click “Undo,” Gmail grabs the message before it’s sent and take you right back to compose. Woohoo! Check out the full post here.

Now if only they'd create similar features for Facebook...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The cooking and eating post.

I've been catching a lot of interesting food stories lately:

Cultural Tourism D.C., one of my go to resources for things to do in the city (sign up for their e-newsletter if you're planning on a trip anytime soon), had an Embassy Chef Challenge as part of their fund raising gala last night. What a cool idea for a fundraiser... CTDC hosted all of the embassy chefs in a judged competition where they presented hors d'oevures, main courses and desserts. The panel of judges were
Chef Carla Hall, Alchemy Caterers and "Top Chef" finalist
Chef Rock Harper, Ben's Next Door and winner of "Hell's Kitchen"
Chef Ris Lacoste, ris (coming summer 2009)
Chef Kaz Okochi, Kaz Sushi Bistro
Chef Michel Richard, Michel Richard Citronelle and Central Michel Richard
Gail Scott, author, Diplomatic Dance: The New Embassy Life in America
Chef Art Smith, Art and Soul
Joe Yonan, The Washington Post Food Editor
So, pretty much, all rockstars - especially Michel Richard. Such a clever gala idea. Need to keep this in mind if I ever work somewhere that's not all science, all the time... The event was open to the public. I'd be interested to see what their attendance numbers were.

And in more local news, Frank Stitt of Bottega, Highlands Grill and Chez Fon Fon, among others has been nominated for (another) James Beard Award. Highlands Bar & Grill has been nominated for Most Outstanding Restaurant of 2009. I'm more of a Chez Fon Fon person, purely for financial reasons, but this news has inspired me to save up and check out the nominee next time I'm in Birmingham. Apparently the Highlands Web site is frantically being rennovated... which I find comical from a marketing standpoint. "Crap! We've been nominated! We need to get this site going so people will want to come visit." Wonder if they offer some sort of prix fixe menu...

Last food thought for the day... Slate ran a piece about the dilemma of what to do with the random veggies people get in their CSA (community supported agriculture - doesn't everyone know that? Cause I didn't have to look it up or anything...) boxes at the end of winter. W
hich, while comical, highlights the fact that instead of having a similar dilemma, I have the problem of having no veggie box at all. I wonder if we get those in Huntsville. I did a cursory Google search without a satisfying result.

I think I've heard a rumor about veggies getting dropped off at Lowe Mill, but have been unable to find anything about that on the internet. Maybe you need a password or a secret code or something there on Saturday mornings. Like a vegetable speakeasy or something. Now that would be exciting. The thrill of the chase. It would take so much work to get them that you'd be thrilled to figure out how to cook a bunch of turnips. Well, maybe not that excited. But I digress... If I find something out I will post it.

Is it time for lunch yet?!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ca$hville in photos

I've been feeling more visual than literary lately. So, here's Nashville in photos. Friend Michelle told us about cheap Opryland Hotel rates. Once we got there we were able to upgrade our room to an atrium view... lovely. If you get the chance to go, you should try to finagle an atrium room. It made the stay.

View of the Cascades from our room balcony.

Balcony view #2 - the waterfall. We originally were in a third floor room and asked to move because we were directly at eye level with everyone walking by on the walkway. Awkward.

We (and by "we" I mean "I") took a lot of time farting around in Opry Mills. Found a bunch of cute stuff... Just about made J terminal until we hit the end - the Bass Pro Shops outdoor store. That place is huge. And terrifying. Totally packed with taxidermy critters of all shapes and sizes. While J was examining the kayaks and gear I spotted this little beaver vignette that someone cleverly enhanced. It's hard work hacking logs with your teeth. Every beaver needs a value-sized Diet Coke to quench its thirst every once in a while.

So, the outdoor store was just terrifying on the whole. Behold, the biggest effing catfish I have ever seen. Apparently it's not unusual for them to get this large. Who knew? I was sharing my newfound knowledge with a kickball buddy, who then told me about catfish noodling (!!!) WTF. One more note about the great outdoors. J informed me that all the stuffed (and live) critters were strategically placed to remind shoppers what the real outdoor camping/hiking/fishing experience is like. And on that note, I've decided that my as yet unrealized camping career will never come to fruition. How about a block party instead? Or some bocce. These outdoor activities are more my speed.

Eventually we made it out of Natureland (alive and unscathed by the ginormous bottom feeding fish). After another prolonged wine and cheese session on our balcony, we headed out to eat. When in Nashville, check out Sunset Grill. We had an amazing prix fixe three course meal there for $20. It was quite the recession friendly vacation.

I am thoroughly enjoying traveling in this economy! You can do so much for so little expense. I'm thinking girls' weekend soon. The end.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vanity Fair does West Side Story

Another fun post. This one reminded me of two things:
  1. A consistent appreciation of almost Vanity Fair photo shoot I've seen... enough so that I finally realized I should just go ahead and subscribe to the magazine. I need a replacement for the recent lack of Domino in my life, anyway, and
  2. How much I need to re-watch West Side Story. Consider it added to the Netflix queue. (Which my movie picks seem to be dominating lately... sorry J.)
Anyway, here are some of the highlights. I recognized lots of faces... some of which I couldn't exactly place. I sense more Netflix adds in my future. Sorry J.

J.Lo as Anita, Camilla Belle as Maria and that guy from Lost as Bernardo

love this scene...

I totally agree with J.Lo's quote in the piece... Anita was always my favorite character, too. She had the best outfits by far. And dance moves.

Check out the rest of the slideshow!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Beware the Ides of March

Ever since we started reading Shakespeare in school - pretty early, because as I recall... Julius Caesar was one of the first plays that was hit, I've been thoroughly amused by my birth date.

I mean, it's no St. Patrick's Day, but I still appreciate the quirks of being born on the Ides of March. I'm a pretty upbeat person and appreciate the irony of being born on the day that Caesar was assassinated by a group of pissed off colleagues.

I follow @someecards on Twitter - HILARIOUS e-cards that my friend Morgan got me into when we were roommates - and found this gem of an Ides of March card:

They just think of everything, don't they?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

God's gift to women

In case you were unaware, Sunday was International Women's Day. Slate did a slideshow of famous women in the literary world. Stories of women gathering to observe the occasion (that I had no idea even existed) worldwide popped up on my Google reader all day long.
And then comes this article from The Independent about the Vatican getting in on the act.
As International Women’s Day is celebrated, the Vatican had a novel message for the women of the world: give thanks for the washing machine. This humble domestic appliance had done more for the women’s liberation movement than the contraceptive pill or working outside the home, said the the official Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano.

"In the 20th century, what contributed most to the emancipation of Western women?" questioned the article. "The debate is still open. Some say it was the pill, others the liberalisation of abortion, or being able to work outside the home. Others go even further: the washing machine."
Lovely! I mean, I get that the Vatican would not be any sort of proponent for the Pill. Or legalized abortion. Those are all topics that I fully believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion about...

But what about suffrage?! Or the right to equal work for equal pay - a privilege for which Alabama's own Lily Ledbetter fought all the way to the Supreme Court?

I'm uncomfortable with the word feminist because of the spectrum of different meanings it insinuates. But really - WTF? You don't have to be a feminist to find this laughable... or insulting?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Did you know that the massive U.S. economic stimulus plan has a Web site? And a logo?! I did not, until just now.

Going to have to check this out further when I am not up to my eyeballs in work projects because I am woefully under informed as far as the stimulus package goes.

Upon initial glance, though, I'm impressed with the site. I'm sure that a lot of it is pure PR, but as a PR person myself, I'm appreciating the language used on the site, timelines and graphs.

This is your money. You have a right to know where it's going and how it's being spent. Learn what steps we're taking to ensure that you can track our progress every step of the way.
The site includes, among other things, a scrollable timeline with milestones, a place to share recovery stories, a link list of state specific recovery sites (only available in 12 states so far...), the full bill for reviewing and a message from the president.

Checking it out more thoroughly soon... What does everyone else think? Do you buy this? Are you skeptical? At this point for me, any sign of transparency and progress is better than nothing at all - and the approach taken here with an interactive Web site updated regularly is a great way to start.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Italian lawmakers are sleazier than ours!

I have been a negligent poster lately, mostly because I don't have a second to think about anything not work related, and when do come up for air, the last thing I want to do is spend more time on the computer.

This was too good, though. And it makes me feel better about our entire political system here in the U.S. - bank bailouts, bipartisan bickering and all.

On my way home from work yesterday, I heard this lovely piece about how Italian members of parliament were protesting a proposed fingerprint ID voting system because...

...they would actually have to be present to cast their votes. Um, SERIOUSLY?!

These guys apparently skip all the time (probably to conduct steamy affairs with Sophia Loren lookalike mistresses - in my head, anyway) and have their buddies lean over the table to hit their electronic voting button for them. Lawmakers are concerned that they will have to spend too much time in the chambers. The lawmakers. Don't want to waste their time. Casting their own (the public's?!) votes. And making laws. The lawmakers.

But they've reached a great compromise! In return for being so flexible and compliant with, oh, agreeing to complete their civic duties as lawmakers and being there for all the votes, they get an extra hour long coffee break each day! And a two hour break on Wednesdays! Gah, we all know how pesky those hump days are - they definitely call for a two hour break to make them more manageable.

So, let's not feel too badly about our politicians... It'd be interesting to see what state of affairs Italy is in right now. If they're better off than we are, perhaps we should consider coffee breaks for all!

Fingerprint voting not popular in Italy’s parliament (1:00) | PRI's The World

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