Thursday, July 31, 2008

Please, Don’t Hurt ‘Em Hammer

*Can I tell you how embarrassed I am at having to Google MC Hammer to get the name of his famous album for the title of this post? On the embarrassment range, my current level is at “Can’t Touch This” which is somewhere beyond “You should have never admitted this publicly” but just short of “You shouldn’t leave the house until the shame dies down.”*

As I have mentioned here I was unemployed over the winter. I left my last job on October 4th, and did not start my current job until June 9th. In that span of, what, seven months I went on tons of job interviews. I was averaging at least an interview a week either on the phone or in person, while most interviews were normal, some of them were these wacky experiences that I couldn’t possibly write about here but was dying to. Of course I couldn’t write about any of that here for fear that a prospective employer would read it and I wouldn’t get hired. But now that I’ve been hired I can share with you some of the experiences I’ve had while interviewing.

After I got home from every interview I would call Todd when I got home and he’d ask how it went. There were a few occasions that I would simply say “Oh, now that was a complete waste of lipstick.” The first of these happened last fall. I’ve gotten quite adept at cranking up my crap filter and weeding through the postings that just look fishy—you know the ones that say something like “Make a kajillion dollars working from home sampling chocolate and petting puppies.” But occasionally one will slip by my crap filter’s goalie and will actually look legit but really be a crap job. So I got all dressed up, slapped on some lipstick, printed out a clean copy of the resume and headed in to get interviewed.

I’ve been to many interviews over the course of my career at which I am interviewed by more than one person at the same time. I like to call these “Interrogation style” interviews. In this scenario the interviewers are sitting on one side of the table, while I am alone on the other. They fire questions at me in a very well orchestrated manner that ends up feeling like an interrogation, but all that is missing is a bright light and a crime. Last fall I went into an interview that was the exact opposite of the interrogation style interview. Instead of two interviewers interviewing me at the same time, the hiring manager was interviewing two candidates at the same time—myself and another woman. In all the interviews I’d ever been on, I never experienced this. Of course I viewed it as a competition, and knew that I needed to up my game so I could have outshined the other candidate.

Interviewer: So, tell me about yourselves.

Other Candidate: Well, I am 35, I am a single mom. I just went through a divorce, and I live in Snarglepuss, RI… (At this point I was surprised she didn’t say “I am a Gemini, I like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain…”)

Interviewer: (facing me) How about you?

Beej: Let’s see… I have a Masters degree in marketing communications from (insert name of bitchen’ grad program here) I have 12 years of marketing experience, primarily online but I’ve done some PR and lots of project management… blah blah blah.

The interview went on, and then the hiring manager pulled the bait and switch. The position was actually a door to door sales position. But the way it was worded in the ad, and in the pre-screen interview on the phone, that was not made evident. The Gemini-pina-colada lady was fired up about selling this company’s product door to door. Not only was it a door-to-door sales job, it was also a “And when you become a director of a sales group in your region, you’ll get a percentage of the commission for every sale your group members make,” scheme, which was what got Gemini-pina-colada lady fired up. I could just see the wheels turning in her head “OMG! I am going to make money even when I am not working! WOW!!!” I, on the other hand, was less than amused by the idea. I stood up, thanked the interviewer for his time, wished Gemini-pina-colada lady luck, and left the office irritated that my time had been wasted.

Months later I went on another interview with a different company—an impossibly large corporate office for an insurance company. I went into the interview, which was conducted interrogation style. I answered all the standard questions “What are your strengths and weaknesses? Describe your best boss and your worst boss? Do you prefer to work in a group or independently?”

Then toward the end of the interview the hiring manager said, “This next question is one I always save for the end. I like to call this one ‘the hammer.’” He went on to describe this question as ridiculously impossible to answer, I began to get a bit nervous and wondered if he was going to ask me something ridiculous like “What is the square root of 4,893,535?”

“OK, are you ready for the hammer?” he asked.

“Sure,” I let out the breath I’d been holding.

“OK, here goes,” he cleared his throat for dramatic effect. “Why should I hire you?”

“Um,” taken back at the let down of the overly dramatic buildup of this ridiculously simple question, and resisted the urge to actually say “That’s it? That’s the big hammer?” and then laugh in the guy’s face.

So there you have it. The hammer.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Branded, Part 2

My girls Heidi and Cece were good enough to fill me in on the idea that it’s the quality of a Coach handbag that has caused women all over the world to fork over the moolah to own one. While I appreciate the response, I really don’t think that it’s just the quality of the bag that makes women gaga over these bags. There is a very strong emotional appeal for these bags as well, and it’s much harder for Coach fans to qualify that emotional appeal than it is to qualify the craftsmanship that goes into manufacturing a Coach bag.

Have you ever observed a group of women talk about handbags? One of the women mentions Coach, and a dreamy look falls over the eyes of the rest of them women, and they say “Ooooh! Coach!” Or “That is such a cute bag! It’s Coach? Ooooh!” It’s this very response that manufacturers and marketers dream about. Not only do marketers want the public to know that their brand is available but they strive for the public to have a positive attitude about the brand. It’s this positive attitude that makes people wait in line for four hours on the day the new iPhone hit the stores. It’s this positive attitude that makes women gaze longingly at a Coach bag.

So, why Coach and not some other brand? I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s this very phenomenon that has fascinated me all through my marketing career and through grad school as well. Marketers take classes in consumer behavior to try to understand the motivations behind the consumer and then align their marketing strategy with what they’ve learned about the behaviors of their target audience. Over the years companies have tried to develop a favorable attitude toward their brand by tying the company with a cause or a concept. For example, Coca Cola launched their fruit drink “Fruitopia” to compete with the popularity of Snapple by using creative packaging and naming the drinks silly names. And Fruitopia was wildly popular until another marketing campaign for bottled water told people that the ingredients in Fruitopia were crap and people stopped buying the drink.

If you take a utilitarian look at a purse, it is something to use when you are walking around and you have stuff you want to bring with you. Ultimately that is what a Coach bag is, a vessel with which one carries around their stuff. Coach hit the marketing formula nail on the head and caused women all over the world to view this handbag as something more than a basic bag used for carrying stuff. Coach understands that women develop strong attachments to the thing they use to carry their stuff, and they have come up with a way to sell this very basic item to the people and to conjure strong emotions about it.

I am not saying that women who buy Coach bags are suckers. I know loads of women who have bought these bags. I also know loads of women, like me, who cannot be bothered to buy a Coach bag. I often wonder what the difference is between the Pro-Coach group, the Anti-Coach group, and the Ambivalent-Toward-Coach brand. Is there some kind of magic trait that the Pro-Coach group has that the others do not? And I suspect the Coach marketing department knows what that trait is.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bruise Watch 2008

On July 19th I went swimming with Griffen. When dogs swim their claws tend to stick out a bit further, as they are batting at the water when they paddle around. Griffen is an especially enthusiastic swimmer. He loves swimming and cannot contain his excitement when he's in the water. As a result we have to be careful with his claws when he heads toward either of us, vacant stare in his eyes, and goofy grin on his face.

He managed to claw me when went swimming that day. This bruise was caused by one of his claws scratching me when he dumbly swam at me with his "Oh I am having such a good time I love you" expression on his face.

Today, July 29th, 10 days after the incident, I still have a nasty bruise. You can actually see the line in the center of the bruise where the claw made contact with my skin.

I look hot.


Sunday, July 27, 2008


Right now I am in the midst of the second round of edits to my book, before Todd does the third round. Once he’s done with his edits I’ll begin “Agent Quest 2008.” I am an avid reader, and have this terrific list of excellently written books I am dying to read. The list contains Pulitzer winners, and other beautifully written books that really should be called “pieces of art” and not insulted by the mere mortal word “book.”

In May, just before I finished writing my own book, I was reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s new one called “Unaccustomed Earth” which is a collection of short stories about people who emigrated to the US from India. Of course, Lahiri is an impossibly gorgeous writer, and while reading this book I got very bummed out. While I enjoyed reading her work, it depressed me only because it was so beautifully written. As I turned each page I was simultaneously absorbed into her amazing descriptions, and depressed because I doubt I could ever write as well as she does.

I vowed at that point that I would only read trash until I was finished writing my own book. This way I could turn each page and say “Oh man, this writer is a hack. If this moron could get published then I will totally get published too.” As a result I’ve been reading a lot of chick lit. It would seem that each story I’ve been reading lately has been about some woman in her 20’s-30’s who lives in a major metropolitan area, her dating life is insane and she ends up dating a bunch of assholes until she finds Mr. Right in an unlikely place. Or she stumbles across her best friend’s husband cheating with some bimbo and almost ruins the relationship with the best friend because she has to tell her. But all these women are shopping junkies and they all drool over expensive shoes and handbags, specifically Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks.

Now, I like shoes and all, in fact my mother in law started calling me “Imelda” due to my impressive shoe collection. But I honestly don’t think that I would recognize a pair of Choos or Blahniks, even if they bit me on the face. (Though I would be naturally suspicious of shoes that have teeth, I am not completely ignorant.) My girlfriends go bonkers over a Coach handbag, but I wouldn’t know one without the “Coach” logo on it or the word “Coach” that is stamped into the side of bag. The bags themselves don’t look like they’re such a big deal, yet so many women go crazy over them and spend hundreds of dollars on them. Everywhere I go I see women carrying these bags that say “Coach” on them, and I just don’t get the appeal. They don’t look like anything more than what I’ve seen in the handbag section at Target. What I also don’t get is why would someone pay hundreds of dollars for a handbag and have the “Coach” logo stitched all over it. Basically the people who carry these bags have just spent hundreds of dollars to be a walking billboard for the Coach company, right?

Maybe I need to surrender my membership card to the girl club, because there are a few certain things about being a girl that I don’t understand. I have one purse. It’s a black pleather backpack that I bought at Target for about $10. I will continue to carry this thing until it falls apart, and then I will buy another similar nondescript handbag, preferably in backpack form, so I can always keep my hands free. My last purse was a red cloth bag that I got for free for donating blood. It was an awesome bag that I carried around for a year until the lining on the inside disintegrated and my stuff on the inside got wet when it rained. Yet I hear of women who have purses for this outfit and that outfit, and I just don’t have the patience to bother with that stuff. I don’t think I could look at someone and know where they bought something like some women do. And you know what? I don’t think I actually care where someone bought what they are wearing.

Now this is supposed to be the closing paragraph where I am supposed to go on some rant about how shallow we are for caring about brand names when there are starving children in the world. But I am not going to do that. Just because I don’t care about something doesn’t mean that I should expect others to not care just because they take the time to read my blog. To each their own, right?

So why bother writing about it? Because I want to be enlightened. I am genuinely curious about why people are so interested in Coach handbags and why they are drawn to Manolo Blahnik shoes. Please tell me, what is the big deal?


Friday, July 25, 2008

The Boy has Got Me Pegged

Allow me to reenact a conversation between Todd and I last Friday night as we drove to Vermont for the weekend. This conversation precisely demonstrates how well this man knows me, and I want to share it with you in honor of tomorrow’s “Beej and Todd’s 5th Wedding Anniversary Extravaganza.”

Todd: Hey, on the way home let’s try that other route that my Mom told us about. I want to see if it’s faster.

Beej: Sure. We’ll have to remember to take exit 10.

Todd: How do you know it’s exit 10?

Beej: Because I am the knower of all things good and evil, that’s why?

Todd: Good and evil? Ha. Try obscure and ambivalent. You are the knower of all things obscure and ambivalent.

Beej: What is that supposed to mean?

Todd: Well, only you would know which exit to take for a route that we’ve never gone on. You know more random tidbits of information than anyone I’ve ever met. I mean, you know how to sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” in Swedish. It doesn’t get more obscure than that. Hell, I could walk into a store right now and point out a shirt and say “I want to buy that shirt” and you’d say something like “Oh, I saw that shirt at a Sears in Albany, NY in 1992. It was cheaper then,” without batting an eye.

And you know what? He’s absolutely right? I remember the phone number for my Dad’s company, the kicker is that that he sold that company when I was 6 years old. If you put a saxophone in my hands I will still remember how to play, note for note, the solo I played in “Blowin’ the Blues” in sixth grade jazz band.

Over the years Todd has come up with methods for dealing with my penchant for remembering the obscure and ambivalent. You would not believe how many conversations we’ve had that have gone something like this:

Todd: Hey, do you remember when we bought that gum you really liked?

Beej: Yeah, we were in Newport. Man, that was really good gum.

Todd: Well, do you remember the name of the band we saw at the bar the night before?

Beej: Of course I do, it’s blah blah blah…

Now, keep in mind, just because I bought that gum in Newport doesn’t necessarily mean that we saw that band in a bar in Newport. We could have been in an entirely different state. But because he knows that I would associate the great gum I bought in Newport with an entirely unrelated event from the night before he knows the right questions to ask. (Side note: I probably wouldn’t remember the brand name of the really delicious gum if he’d asked me. Maybe if he asked me what the name of the band was, I might remember the gum. My weird associations are not always reciprocal, however.) If he’d asked me, “Hey, do you remember the name of that band we saw that night?” I would probably say “No I don’t remember. How the hell do you expect me to remember that!?”

It’s for this reason that he was able to call me up when I was on a business trip in Saint Paul, MN and ask me “Where is our copy of Pirates of the Caribbean?” and I can answer “It’s on top of the TV upstairs,” and be exactly correct. If I was home and he asked me that, I probably wouldn’t have known.

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary, we were together for six years before making it legal, and Todd married me anyway knowing full well about my knowledge of the obscure and ambivalent

Happy Anniversary.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dry Spell

I used to write songs. Whenever I was particularly moved by something (usually when a guy broke up with me) I’d pull out the guitar and write some gut-wrenching tune that I would brokenheartedly howl along to. I’d perfect the song then play it at the open mike night, or whenever I’d play an actual show, and watch the people in the front row wince as I crowed about some injustice that some loser boyfriend committed against me. I went through periods of cranking out songs (and blowing through bad boyfriends) and then I’d hit a dry spell, otherwise known as contentment.

During my song writing dry spells I would write about my inability to write about something that moved me. For example, a song I wrote in 1996 started with “I’m only writing this song in this key because I know you like these chords…” And later on, in 2003 when I wrote our wedding song as a surprise for Todd it started with “I tried to write you a sappy love song, complete with poetry and riddles and rhymes. But the way I feel there’s too much to say, I couldn’t write it all down on time…”

I remember reading the liner notes from the Deborah Conway CD "Bitch Epic." She said that she had composed most of the songs on the CD by filling a hat with slips of paper that had random words on them. She would draw the slips of paper out and try to write something using the words on the slip--which was how she had come up with the name of the CD and with the hit from the CD "Alive and Brilliant." I remember thinking then that this is a fantastic idea, one I've yet to try.

Right now I am experiencing a bit of a blogging dry spell, so I am employing one of my old songwriting methods—writing about not being able to write. I’ve been busy, I’ve been tired. I’ve been hanging out on my boat; I’ve been picking the blueberries off my bushes and eating them by the handful. I have plenty of incomplete blog entries rattling around in my brain, but haven’t been able to get them into any sort of meaningful story for you to read. I’ve been working on my book during my lunch hours, wishing I had an entire afternoon to myself to put all the edits into the manuscript and print it out and read it again. So the dry spell continues.

While I am writing about dry spells, let me tell you about another kind of dry spell. The scuba kind of dry spell. My wetsuit remains folded in the gear bin, my reg and dive computer are coiled up in the padded carry bag. We haven’t been on a dive yet this season and I am starting to get itchy to be underwater again.

Maybe this weekend, then I’ll really have something to write about. Either that or the only diving I will do will be into a hat filled with slips of papers.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

A Week in Review

Sorry about the silence, my loyal readers. Life has been busy here in Podunk, RI, as it usually is for us in the summer. Work was crazy last week, we went sailing on Wednesday night and had a wonderful time, then over the weekend we went to Vermont to see our nephew Alex, who turned three years old on Friday.

Until I can get my head together to write a more meaningful post, I'll have to entertain you with some pictures.

Here's a nest of birds under our deck. I can see the nest when I walk out from the basement under the deck. On Thursday night I was in the basement doing laundry. When I pulled the drying rack in through the basement door, one of these baby birds flew into the basement. It sat on the frame of the window and chirped until I caught it with a dish towel and brought it outside to free it. It just barely flew onto the railing of the deck and chirped. A second later another chirp came from the tree, and my little friend flew toward the chirp and perched itself on a branch and chirped again to get a closer reading on the other baby bird in the tree.

This is Griffen jumping into the water near our mooring. I took this on Wednesday night before we went sailing.
This is Alex on his brand new bike. He's very serious as he rides it.

Uncle Todd and Alex walk up to the end of the driveway, where they cross the street so Alex can ride his new bike in the church parking lot. This is quite possibly my new favorite picture.
This is what happens when I swim with an overjealous Labrador.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Now I Understand Road Rage


I’ve never experienced true road rage. Sure I’ve experienced road mild irritation, even full out road irritation, but never road rage. I’ve flipped off other motorists, and I’ve been flipped off. I’ve blown kisses at other drivers who have flipped me off, in an act of “Yeah, you’re mad, and I am going to kill you with faux kindness because it will be hilarious to see the confusion on your face after I’ve just pretended to be affectionate toward you.”I’ve heard the stories in the news about people who do crazy things on the highway and blame it on road rage. There was a case in the 90s about a man who shot another man with a crossbow in Attleboro, Massachusetts in the name of road rage. I’ve heard of people deliberately crashing into another car while traveling at highway speed because of road rage. I hear these stories and think to myself “Man, what the hell is wrong with these people? What is so important about what another driver has done that makes someone that mad?”

Then this morning a sour-pussed old lady made me understand why people get so mad on the highway, because she made me mad, though I turned it around because I didn't want to start my day being angry. I was driving into work this morning, and left early so I could stop at the BJ’s to full up the gas tank on the jeep. I got back on the highway and saw a few cars coming up the onramp, in reverse. I drove around the bend in the onramp and saw that traffic had come to a stand-still on the highway. I knew that I would only be on the highway for two more miles so I didn’t bother to kick it into reverse and join the other backwards drivers. I drove along the right side of the highway until the merging area ended, and stopped at the cluster of cars trying to merge.

There was an 18-wheeler that had been in an accident, its hood was tilted forward, front grill parts were strewn on the highway, and it blocked both lanes of the highway. All the cars from the two lanes were merging into one, and going around the truck on the breakdown lane at precisely the spot where the cars from the onramp (that I was on) were merging into the highway too.

The sour-pussed old woman was in the car to the left of me, and she was hell-bent on not letting me merge. She nosed her car up, aggressively, and barely left inches between her front bumper and the back of the car in front of her. The car in front of her moved, and she sped to immediately close the gap so I wouldn’t have the opportunity to even think about merging. This went on for a few minutes until I was beginning to run out of road.

I saw that her window was rolled down, so I rolled down my own, and hollered over to her, “Hi, will you please let me in?”

“No,” she bitterly responded, and glared at me.

“Oh, well thanks anyway. Have a nice day,” I smiled at her with my best passive-aggressive smile that really said “I hope the highway opens up and swallows your car and sends you right to hell where you belong.”

Then karma did her thing. Sourpuss and I jockeyed for position, my car remained ahead of hers yet she still kept me from merging, until we got to the point where all of the lanes of cars had to merge into the breakdown lane, where I was, to get around the smashed up truck. Sourpuss then tried to merge into the breakdown lane, in front of me—despite the fact that the nose of my car was well ahead of hers. So she had to speed up and try to jam her front end before my car to get into the break down lane. I inched up; blocking her access, then turned to her and gave her the smile and shrug, as if to say “Whoopsie! Did I do that?” She glared at me again as I kept the smile plastered to my face.

But I gripped the wheel as I smiled, bracing for her to pull some sort of crazy road rage attack on me like shouting “Tawanda!” and plowing into my car repeatedly. Because that’s the thing about road rage, you never know what somebody else is going to do.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

This is the best town EVER !!!

I really love living in Podunk, and just when I think it can't get any better all I have to do is go for a drive!

This is the Tru-Value hardware in our town........

.... and this is the sign in front of the Tru-Value....

....Now that is convenience! And I don't care who you are... $7.99 is a good deal!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Part of the Solution

My pal Crazedreamer was 100% absolutely right in her comment on my last post about being a Greenabe—if each person makes one green choice it will make a difference in the state of our environment. My past post has been bouncing around in my mind a lot lately, and all the articles I read about the state of our environment always have me thinking about how our world is going to hell in a hand basket. And it bums me out. I’ve always been so aware of enjoying the beauty that is in our world—I pay attention to the fresh smell of the air when we’re sailing, the orange and magenta streaks in the sky produced by a sunset or a sunrise, the glow of a full moon, the bushiness of the trees when they are full of leaves in the summer. I love it all. And I’d hate to think of all of that going away someday.

I like to think of myself as an optimistic person. I’ve learned that to be the part of a solution to a problem, you need to have a positive attitude. Instead of being stressed out about the destruction of our environment, why not look at it in terms of what we are doing to halt that destruction? A positive attitude is contagious, and when I am positive about something I am doing to benefit the environment then someone one else will catch on and then they’ll be inspired to do make a change in the way they live too. I don’t want to be stressed out about it anymore. I want to fix the problem instead, which is the very core of what being a Greenabe means to me.

So, here’s my little dose of optimism for all of you to take with you. Here’s my list of just 5 green habits I’ve adopted in the last few years. I have adopted these habits because I sincerely feel that they are going to help our earth continue to be a beautiful place to live. And with this, I spread my optimistic idea that I too am making a difference:

  1. Recycling. The last two towns we lived in have decent and easy to follow recycling programs. But it’s gotten to the point where I’ll bring home recyclables from work or if we have something recyclable in the car I will hold on to it so I can recycle it at home. If we recycle that reduces the demand for goods that are made with new materials.

  2. Green cleaning. I have been avoiding the use of chemical based cleaning products in our home. I like Method cleaning products because not only do they smell very nice, but they also use renewable energy in their plants and offices where they make the products. I like that I can support a company that makes a conscious choice like that, and want my purchases to encourage them to continue to do that.

  3. I bring a reusable sandwich wrapper for my lunch. It’s a wrap-n-mat, and it’s great. I eat a sandwich almost every single day, imagine how many baggies I saved. Before I bought this wrap-n-mat thing, I was using foil for my sandwiches that I could bring home and recycle. But now I do not have to use anything else other than a reusable package and I am not disposing of anything so that I can eat my turkey and Monterey jack.

  4. I am known for my lead foot in the car, and passengers in my car have had their faces pulled back from the speed at which I drive. I have since slowed down to about 55-60 when I drive, to conserve fuel. Yes, it is agonizing for me to go that slow, but it’s worth it to save on the gas. I may be imagining it, but I think that other people are driving slower as well. I mentioned yesterday that Todd and I have been commuting together to save on gas. It’s been working out well, and while we probably won’t ride together every single day because his work schedule is different than mine is some days, it still counts for gallons of gas that we are not consuming.

  5. I pay extra attention to the packaging of the products I buy in the supermarket. I don’t buy things like tubes of shampoo anymore; I buy brands that are contained in plastic bottles made of 1 and 2, because those are the only ones we recycle in our town. I will not buy a dozen eggs contained in styro, and I pay attention for things that are made out of recycled materials.

Here are 5 green habits that I plan to adopt in the very near future:

  1. Todd mentioned in the comments yesterday that we're putting solar panels on the boat. The power on our boat comes in the form of 8 big batteries. Six of these batteries are used to run things like the lights, the fridge, running water and all the creature comforts that we enjoy aboard. The last two are reserved on a separate circuit just for starting the diesel engine. We either have to run the diesel generator or the engine to keep these batteries charged, which causes us to use fuel and pump exhaust to close to the ocean that we love. This summer we will install solar panels on the boat that will help us keep the batteries topped up, and the diesel tank full. Imagine if every boat in our mooring field did this, we’d save so much fuel.

  2. Todd has built a clothesline for me, but we have yet to install it in the lawn. I am hoping that we will install it in the next few weeks—I am trying very hard not to turn this into A Life of Nagging, but I’d really like to get this done soon. (To be fair, Todd has already tried to install it, but we have very rocky soil on our lawn and we need a more powerful post hole digger to get through those rocks.) But imagine if everyone dried their clothes on a clothesline in the summer. Electricity use would decrease dramatically and we wouldn't face things like roving blackouts.

  3. Get my car tuned up and inflate the tires. I know for a fact that the oxygen sensor on the Jeep’s engine is not working properly. If I get the car tuned up it’ll run more efficiently.

  4. Replace the light bulbs in my house with more energy efficient ones. I am doing this as the light bulbs die out.

  5. Keep some reusable shopping bags in my car. I have a ton of reusable bags at home that I take with me when I do the big grocery shopping. They hang on hooks at the top of the basement stairs so I can take them with me on my way down to the garage. But that doesn’t help me when I am stopping at the market for a few things. Just the other night I brought home groceries in three plastic bags. I do reuse those for trash bags, but still, if I stop twice per week and get 2-3 bags each time? That’s a lot of plastic that I’ve just created the demand for.

See? I am part of the solution, and becoming more so all the time. Seeing it all laid out here makes me feel a bit less bummed out, and I am hoping that anyone who reads this will see that being a Greenabe really isn't that hard.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008


I am inventing a new word: Greenabe, which is like “wannabe” but green. As in “I would like to live a greener lifestyle, I am a green wannabe," or “greenabe, if you will.

Over the years, I’ve become rather concerned with the state of our environment and wonder what kind of planet my nieces and nephews will inherit after I am done with it. As a result I have become a bit of a recycling nazi at home, and am constantly hassling Todd about what he throws into the trash. I make a loud, dramatic huffing noise as I reach into the trash bin and fish out whatever offensive, but recyclable, object he’s tossed in there. Then I passive-aggressively sigh as I open the back door and toss it into the appropriate bin on the deck outside. Admittedly he’s not bad about separating the trash by any means—it’s just that I am a pain in the ass about the very few times he forgets and lobs something recyclable into the trash.

But with all my concern, and all my huffing about recyclable items in the trash, am I doing enough so that my nieces and nephews will be left with a clean planet to live on? The answer is probably no—which is what makes me a greenabe. But the concept of being a greenabe has its own issues. A whole market niche has formed around being green. There are house paints that are made with green pigments, there are cleaning products made with green ingredients; there are canvas bags to be bought for carrying my groceries, notepads made with recycled paper, building material made out of sustainable bamboo and clothing made out of organic cotton and hemp. So it leads me to the dilemma of will buying more stuff lead me to dispose of even more stuff when I replace the non-green stuff I have. Which is greener? Buying green products and supporting the people who make them or sticking with the non-green stuff I currently have and not producing the demand for more stuff?

I don’t know the answer, but I do know that I can make simple changes in our lives, and take the changes one at a time. I’ve switched to a brand of cleaning product that is manufactured in a plant that uses sustainable energy. I carry reusable bags to the market, and I drive slower on the highway so that I use less gas. The current greenabe change we’re making is to our commute. We live in a town that I like to call Podunk, RI due to the fact that it’s in the country. Todd works in the big city, Providence, and I work in a waterfront town. My workplace is on the way to his, kind of, so Todd and I have been commuting in to work together. Because our marina is a few blocks from where I work we leave the Jeep there, so I can use it during the day if I need to. It’s saved us on gas a great deal because we only have one car traveling the one route we’d both normally be on, and his bitchen Acura is more fuel efficient than my Jeep.

The next greenabe thing I want to do is to recycle when we’re on the boat. At the moment we don’t recycle beer bottles and soda cans while on the boat. They call go into the same trash bin only because I haven’t found the space where I want to keep a recycling bin or a trash bag for the recyclables. And when we’re on a longer trip I don’t often see recycling bins at the marinas we go to, so then I am stuck hauling bags of empty bottles and cans around until we do see a bin. But I comfort myself with the idea that it’s only a few weeks out of the entire year that I don’t recycle those things and my inner nag pipes up with “But if the whole world took a vacation from recycling, where would we be in a few decades?”

Are you a greenabe? What greenabe habits have you been keeping lately?


Monday, July 07, 2008

Let the Games Begin

Over the 4th of July weekend the weather was cloudy, hazy and all around "meh." Todd and I took advantage of the weather that normally makes us want to go out and play and got Sabine ready for her season.

I am happy to say that in the days since the launch the repair has held, and the ocean is staying on the outside of the boat. We cleaned the interior, Todd replaced the bottom of the pantry, and we replaced the fuel filter on the diesel engine as well. We put two of the three sails on, the third went on tonight after work, and we moved the boat from the winter marina to the mooring where we keep her in the summer.

That first short trip from Brewer's Boat Yard in Cowesett to the mooring in Greenwich Cove is always my favorite trip. It takes less than an hour from the dock to the mooring, but that trip is always filled with possibility. It's the first time in each season when we get to feel the vibration of the inboard engine as we power from the dock. It's the first time in the season when we get the chance to feel the breeze against our faces when we motor to the mooring. It's the first trip when the dogs run excitedly up and down the deck in anticipation of a new boating season.

It's also the first time in each season when I get to see the smile on Todd's face, as he grips the wheel at the helm, excited at the prospect of a new season--which is my favorite expression that I've seen on his face.

Goodbye, Brewer's Boat Yard. It's been real.

Hello Greenwich Cove.

Will somebody please untie us so we can run around like idiots? Please?

We've booked in our vacation time for this year. This is my calendar on my desk at work. It reads "Big lucky vacation time!" We're only taking a week this year because I've just started this job. Next year will be longer.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Ladies and gentlemen! Behold! Sabine is in the water. She went in today, and she is not leaking. She happily sits at the dock, and it's likely that tomorrow we'll take her to her summer home, a mooring in Greenwich Cove, RI.

This is Sabine in the slings on the travel lift. This bit of machinery is the dream of every man, as it is controlled by a remote control. They lower the boat, which is held in place by the slings, into the water. Then when the boat is all the way in the water they pull the slings out and the boat is left floating. In the last 10 years I've seen the boats we've owned launched with a travel lift at least 10 times, and it never ceases to amaze me.

This little propeller moves the whole boat, that is when the sails aren't doing it.

This is the fix that the fabulous men of Brewer's Marina in Cowesett did. You can see the stern tube toward the top of the picture, in the center. Then they poured fiberglass resin over the tube to seal it in there. In a boat you have to be creative with your space. All this stuff, the stern tube, the black exhaust tube at the bottom of the picture and whatever else is in there that I cannot identify with words other than "thingy" all sits under the bed that Todd and I sleep on. Between the stern tube and the bed is a compartment that holds six batteries as well--these batteries are what makes cold beer in the fridge, lights at night, and running water when we want to brush our teeth.

The shiny substance in this picture is ocean. Ocean beneath the boat. Not in the boat, beneath the boat--this distinction didn't exist last summer.

Sabine at her temporary slip.

All we need to do now is finish cleaning the interior, flush the antifreeze out of the water system, change the oil in the engine, and move to our mooring.
Can I get a hell yeah?