Friday, November 30, 2007

another great used clothing resource!

Swango is a new clothes swapping site based on a system of credits. I'll be trying it out the next time I want to do a clothes purge. Anything I don't think would belong on there will go to the thrift store or the Baltimore Free Store.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

apropos of nothing

And because I am still feeling a little stressed out...

This is Sharon Jones, Soul Sister #1. She will rock your world.

As Sharon would say, "If you can't feel the music...then you must be a dead ass!"


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

feelgood holiday shopping

Almost December.

I am taking a break from freaking out about the impending end of the semester to indulge in some holiday consumerism.

Okay, so not quite. The stupid conscience is at it again. True, on this year's "Buy Nothing Day" (i.e. Black Friday) I was at my in-laws' in West Virginia, several ridges away from anywhere one could possibly hope to buy anything. But I often have Buy Nothing Day here at home. It's pretty easy when you don't have a whole lot of disposable income.

Still, the holidays are upon us. Somehow Chanukah is next week already. And I admit it, I actually do like holiday shopping. I've even been to the mall on Christmas Eve Day on several occasions for last-minute gifts, and I haven't killed anyone. But these days I figure, if I'm going to buy a bunch of stuff, maybe I should know where some of it is made, or at least feel like I'm giving something beyond the scope of my friends and relations.

Here are a couple of my suggestions for gifts you can feel good about buying:

  • Check out Etsy for handmade gifts from people like my friend Xiane. If you don't have any friends who are vendors, try using the Geolocator feature to find out who's near you.

  • If you live in Baltimore, stop by the Woman's Industrial Exchange for gifts made by local consignors.

  • Another Baltimore opportunity (sorry, my brain still kind of lives there): the Greater Homewood Adult Literacy and ESOL Program, where spent a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer, is having a great fundraising event at the Barnes & Noble in Charles Village this Saturday. Buy books you would have bought anyway and support a great cause!

  • Look around your own neighborhood for holiday craft sales. There are at least two around here this weekend.

  • And, of course, Craigslist. And for that matter, eBay, the thrift store, the flea market. You have to be a little discerning, but know what they say about one man's trash? You buy (or get for free) something for your loved ones. Someone else gets rid of it. It's a win-win. Last year I drove out to Owings Mills and picked up a big ridiculous stuffed dolphin from a couple who had absolutely no use for it and wanted it out of their house. It ended up being a certain five-year-old's favorite Chanukah gift, and remains camped out as the only stuffed animal in her bed to this day. It doesn't matter to her what I paid (or in this case, didn't pay) for it.

  • Making your own gifts never goes out of style!
What are your suggestions for a reduced-guilt holiday?


Friday, November 9, 2007

love on two wheels

With the price of oil at $96 a barrel, I've been thinking now might be as good a time as any to make a serious effort to cut back on the driving. Since the spring, I've been keeping my brother's bike around, but I have to admit I haven't really been using it. It's a big-box mountain bike and I find it a little hard to ride in any useful capacity.

On top of that, the neighborhood food co-op is only a few blocks away. Walking there is easy...walking back with the groceries, not as easy. But I feel like such a tool every time I drive there.

I knew what I wanted. A basic, all-purpose bike for getting around. Not too cheaply manufactured, but not an expensive newfangled city bike with lots of bells and whistles. Well, actually, a bell might be good. But anyway, what I wanted was a simple and tough vehicle like the ones people use in cities with lots of bike traffic (e.g. cities in China and some parts of Europe). Fenders to keep the mud off, a chain guard to keep my pants leg from getting caught. For me, it's not a sport; it's a way to get from one place to another wearing normal clothes without burning up some more fossil fuels.

The better bike manufacturers all have some sort of "city" or "commuter" model available. And I'm sure they're great if you have a few hundred dollars or more to throw around. Trek recently unveiled the iMac of bikes, an automatic shift machine called the Lime. I have to confess that I think these are really cute, and they've sort of got the right idea with their "everyone can ride!" ad campaign. And the idea of automatic shift (powered by an on-board generator) is pretty neat. But oh, the sticker shock once again! Guess not everyone can ride.

You knew where this was going...Craigslist to the rescue! Today I took the bus and the Metro down to Alexandria during off-peak hours and picked up a 70s-era steel-frame Schwinn Collegiate. Not the fanciest, not all-terrain for sure, but it's got fenders, a chain guard, and a kickstand. I rode it home from the Metro in a chilly drizzle and I wasn't miserable. And it's my favorite color!

Pictures forthcoming on a prettier day. I've got some big basket panniers to attach, too. Perfect for all those groceries.


Sunday, November 4, 2007


it's as if this cartoonist snuck into our house, slept in our bed for a night when we were out, and made a cartoon about our cat. seriously. kneading the face and everything. it's uncanny. so uncanny that maria pretty much laughed until she cried.


Friday, November 2, 2007

so this guy walks into the bar...

If there is one professional violation that the guild of American lawyerdom cannot stand, it is UPL: Unlicensed Practice of Law. Translation: You've got to get bar certification (a very expensive and exhausting process!) if you're going to hold yourself out as qualified to give reliable legal advice or to represent someone in court. Bar authorities like to think of this as a quality control measure, a handful of cynics might call it protectionism. They can fight it out if they want.

Regardless, my fresh memories of professional responsibility class and bar lectures gave me ample cause for UPL worries when I saw the sign below next to my office door. I was proud and thrilled, sure, but I wasn't about to post it on some ol' blog for all the world -- potential clients and bar examiners alike -- to see.


Yes, that means I passed!