Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Yes, I admit it. I have an obsession with the Mini Cooper. It started with one sized down version that sat on my desk for a few years. I actually bought my own. I designed it and it was a work of art. I remember the first scratch. It was silver with a black top. It was my spy mobile. Then I was given a hot wheels version of my car. Someone else game me another. Then I met the husband. He started buying them every time he saw a small version of my car in every color they came in and in varying sizes. The collection grew and grew.

I stopped counting once my Mini collection got over 30. After a while you loose track of which ones you have. I am guilty of buying doubles. The great thing about Hot Wheels/Matchbox are only about one dollar in most stores. How can you not get something that only costs a buck.

Then Mini had to go and come up with newer versions. The Clubman. Bigger, longer, better. Ah. It looked odd. Now they come out with The Countryman. I am not sure where they get these names. But the Countryman looks like a beefier version of the Mini with 4 doors and optional 4 wheel drive. Although I am not anywhere near buying a new car (had to trade the Mini in for something more reasonable) this one is catching my eye. But I am a sucker for looks. That's how the original Mini got me.

Plus with the new version of the Mini comes new advertising. Mini is well known for their humorous ads, billboards and commercials. These new commercials are more subtle and kind of funny.


Three men and a Baby. Not as hilarious as someone thought when they made it. http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif


Suishi. I still don;t get the point of the center rail, except in this commercial.


Flight attendant. This one is good since when a Mini gets going you feel like flying.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What is wrong with me?

I have a problem. Ever since I moved. Ever since I decided not to go back to school. Ever since I started thinking about what to do with this house. Ever since the husband works weekends and nights and I have nothing better to do than numb my brain online... I have been looking at a bunch of home decorating sites, shopping online and looking at pictures of home stuff. Maybe it is just nesting. Maybe it is just because I want this house (the rooms I get to decorate) to look better than my last house. Maybe it is because I picked out a sage green for the living room and it just snow balled from there. I have this retro/1960s/mid century modern thing going.

I worry about myself. I have never been all chick-like and into interior design. At my house I only painted one room and it was gray. I know what you're thinking - SWEET. And it had checkered black and white tile floors. That was my decorating experience. So when after we moved out of my house into the "had to be cleaned out a second time" house of the husband. We removed the renters pile of junk and it was a clean slate. My father in-law, the ultimate handyman, said we should paint before moving in. I finally got the sage green I wanted in my living room. We used the left over "malted milk" paint from my house and the husband picked out a "chocolate truffle" brown trim color. Thus became the Milk Dud dining room. That led to a search for a chocolate scented candle (which was found 6 months later in a North Carolina Bass Pro Shop).

Anyway, I put up my posters, which ironically all but one is from a movie from the 1960s. That got me going on the 1960s living room. At the old house I wanted a 1960s bedroom since a friend gave me the furniture and it was from the '60s. I was already cool with the '60s even though I wasn't even born then. I do like the style and having things that are weathered and interesting. That explains the allure of the husband :)

So I have been thinking more about what to put in the living room to go with this 1960s theme. I have been talking about my parent's console radio/record player/reel to reel. Then we check out the Salvation Army that is always closed when we drive by it. They had a 60s console stereo/turntable. It was priced at $60. I thought, too much money. Then we went to the Habitat Re-Store and they had much uglier console stereos for much more money. I wanted to go back and buy the first console I had seen. I couldn't since we were in the small car and I don;t have money to throw around on my hair brained design schemes. But I have been thinking about it ever since. I tried looking up web sites for console stereos. Not much luck. I did find some cool pictures of some. I have yet to go back for it even though I have convinced myself that it was a good deal and I know exactly where to put it.

Yet at the ReStore I found a cool 60s looking hanging light - amber colored glass. I did buy that. The husband had to remind me that we are putting a fan/light in the living room, but he thought it would be cool as a decoration. I bought it. We took it home and plugged it in to see if it worked. Of course it blew a breaker and popped its cord, leaving a smoldering smell behind. The husband says he could rewire it easy. I was happy to hear that.

Well, back to my obsession. I continue to look at design sites, I watch far too many remodeling your home shows on TV. I actually enjoyed going to the Good Will and Salvation Army stores looking for finds. I just hope I don;t get into fashion next. Like that would happen. The husband has been more into design too. Since we moved to his house he has been able to bring his long awaited design idea to the master bedroom. After the layoff he got a gig at a home improvement store. It was there that he found Mossy Oak paneling. He paneled all the walls of the bedroom (and covered that stupid third window). It is like sleeping in the forest. There is talk of making the ceiling like the night sky and the carpet a green forest floor color. Thank goodness we already had the antler candle holder.

Maybe I am not too crazy, just a chick trying to make a new home their own. I just worry about how much of my net time it is taking :)

Replacing Books

I read this article and it made me think...

Why My E-Reader Will Never Replace My Bookshelf

by Amy Preiser, Posted Jan 3rd 2011 9:15AM

I could tell you that I chose my e-reader based on its screen quality or the extra-long battery life. But I'd be lying. I made my decision to buy Barnes & Noble's NOOK over Amazon's Kindle based on one thing: Possible covers. The NOOK is sold alongside Lilly Pulitzer and Kate Spade covers that look like old-fashioned book cloth.

It may not make much sense: If I'm purchasing a device to keep me away from paper and ink books, why should I care so much about the cover material? (Which for the record is cotton canvas.) But my connection to the familiar feel of a cloth case -- similar to the size, shape and material of a traditional book -- goes deeper. I've loved books ever since I got my first library card at four years-old. I misspelled my own name and covered the mistake by doodling a flower; even then I was conscious of aesthetics.

When my boyfriend and I moved in together, one of the most fraught transitions was the combining of the bookshelves. It was our first order of business upon unpacking the boxes. Oh, yes! Those boxes that we groaned carrying into the U-Haul, out of the U-Haul and around the narrow hallways.

We stacked our books together in the new shelf in a totally democratic way -- by color. But the bookshelf took on a life of its own as we started to get more comfortable in the apartment. Books were taken out and put back in new places, new books found their way in via generous friends and boxes on the street marked "Take me!" The shelf filled up with vertical filing and then horizontal stacking began. And know what? It looked better than it did when everything was neat. It looked like people lived here, people who used the bookshelf as something other than a display case.

Because each spine, whether it's neatly tucked away or haphazardly stacked on a chair, also stands for a story aside from the one inside. The autographed Salman Rushdie novel, my boyfriend's beloved collection of bright blue, dog-eared travel books, my father's favorite book about American History that I still haven't returned to him after six years of borrowing (and still, not reading). They're all there. They all remind me of accomplishments. Each urges me to do new things and nags me about unfinished business.

But the bookshelf doesn't just serve as my own well of sentimentality, it's a point of connection. It's the spot that people are drawn to upon entering the apartment. We all call teapots and chandeliers "conversation pieces," but the bookshelf is the real deal. When my new neighbors moved to the building, we sparked a friendship based on the fact that we had a dozen books in common. Party guests have made fun of my collection of "The Babysitters Club" books (What? They're sentimental).

When a friend tells me they're itching to rearrange their living room, I'm quick to hand them "The Comfortable Home"; if they're looking to shake up their repertoire of recipes, I'll hand them "A Homemade Life." Feeling like they have the most dysfunctional family on earth? Try "This is Where I Leave You." In a way, my bookshelf is also my own little pharmacy. Though I'll admit I can be a shady pharmacist: I hoard the best things for myself: There's no way I'm giving out my new, cherished copy of Maira Kalman's "And the Pursuit of Happiness."

Technically, my e-reader has the same ability. It can hold 1,500 e-books and has a "Lend-Me" feature, which lets me zap those e-books to friends for a two-week borrowing period. But my e-reader is new; I only have six book so far, and how's anyone supposed to know what I'm reading when it's always hiding behind my adorable Jonathan Adler Peace/Love case? While there are obvious benefits to hiding your reading material from the outside world --- "Babysitters Club," anyone? -- it's also a shame to miss out on the spontaneous conversation that can spring from it. Even as I read through the e-book of what was perhaps 2010's buzziest book, Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom," not a single person, friend, neighbor, boyfriend made a peep.

In a piece for Slate, Mark Oppenheimer makes a case against the e-reader because of this disconnect, citing the sentimentality of the paperbacks that he and his wife traded early on and the old girlfriend who was seduced by his bookshelf. I have another thing to add to his list: Books have the unique characteristic of being both journey and prize: Once you make it through a novel, you have the object to file on your bookshelf as a sort of trophy. E-books just don't lend the same fanfare. When you get to page 1,400 of the hardcover version of "War and Peace," you get to slam the heavy thing shut and celebrate. With the e-book, it takes you to the "About the Author page" and then you aren't able to click ahead anymore. Hardly very satisfying.

Then again, anyone who's ever carried the hardcover "War and Peace" in their backpack can attest to the e-book's advantage. Not to mention the fact that the e-book of "War and Peace" costs nine dollars less than the paper version. On the NOOK, if you're trying to remember a specific quote from the book you can use the "Search" feature and find it within minutes. There's also a button to look up words in a dictionary -- I'll admit that it's responsible for the fact that I now know the definition of "eminently." These advantages have surely contributed to the fact that e-reader users buy and read more books. Amazon says over three times as many and my personal reading frequency has increased four-fold. As a true book lover, shouldn't I care more about the amount of books read than the aesthetics of those books on my bookshelf?

Yes, yes, I do. But don't tell my bookshelf. Because I swear that things aren't over between the two of us.

The last two e-books I read were by authors that were already well-represented on my bookshelf. And know what? Neither of the stories were as good as the ones that are still filed away by color. So I'm putting down my e-reader for a few days to revisit "Don't Get Too Comfortable" and "Then We All Came to the End." Once I finish them, I'll place them back on the bookshelf, near the front, so people can comment on them, ask to borrow them or just admire (or insult) my taste.

I don't mind being judged by my covers. In fact, sometimes that's exactly what I want.


It made me think of my own book shelf. I too have always loved books. When I was little I loved when the class went to the library. I purposely bought a used book that I used to look at often as a kid. It is a big book about the 50 states. Sure, much of the information inside is irrelevant by now and it has a lot of cheesy pictures in it, but it reminds me of those elementary school days at the library.

As I got older I enjoyed going to used book stores. The smell of the worn pages, even that moldy water logged smell gets me every time. I enjoyed wandering around book stores looking for a hidden gem. For a while in the early 90s I would find a neat book just by the cover or the description on the back paperback cover, take it home and devour it. Many ended up becoming movies- the first movie Crash based on JG Ballard's dark book Go, and some are still trying to get there - Confederacy of Dunces. I has a few authors I leaned toward, but I often free styled my way toward all types of books. Therefore my collection is ecceclic - books on film while I was switching around majors in college, a bunch of southern writers after a short stint living in New Orleans, biographies of authors I enjoyed reading - Dorthy Parker, Truman Capote... whatever struck my interest.

Like the author of the article my books are a history. They show much of my teens and twenties. The sad thing is it started getting sparse in my 30s. Between finishing college and work I read less and less, I bought less and less. Last year I think I bought about less than 10 books. I thought after graduate school that I would read more in my free time. Nope, I tend to read junk online. Why must I be drawn to trivial pop culture? I have a stack of unread books awaiting me. This article reminded me of my failed resolution to read more.

The ironic thing is I read two books while on my last vacation. I did not watch any television for those two weeks. I spent more time outside and I had limited use of a computer. So why is it when I am at home I am drawn what I avoided for two weeks?

Although my book shelf, the one (I thought I would have a room full by now) is overflowed with books that I arrange by subject and author, it is dusty and ignored. I did weed out a few books when I moved last year. It was difficult and painful. I couldn't just throw them out. They are in a pile for Goodwill. They didn't get far from their friends yet. Also like the author of the article I had to finally combine my books with the handful the husband had. Thank goodness he isn't into books or reading, otherwise he would have to get his own shelf.

Fortunately I have no e-reader to threaten my books. I have only myself to threaten them.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Check This Out

I have become annoying with all the silly things I come across online. Or at least I annoy myself since no one at home has an interest in what amuses me.

This article is so hilarious. It covers the gammet of what honey buns involve in the prison culture. I am banned from honey buns for breakfast - super sugar rush and the inevitable CRASH.

Honey buns sweeten life for Florida prisoners

By Drew Harwell, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Sunday, January 2, 2011

The honey buns enter lockup the same way anyone else does: bound, escorted through halls and sally ports, and secluded in small boxes solely opened from the outside. From there the honey buns languish for days, maybe longer, until they're gone.

They are a lowly, sturdy food designed for desperate cravings and vending machine convenience. They can endure weeks of neglect and even a mild mashing in a coat pocket or backpack. They are, it should come as no surprise, especially beloved by a similarly hardy but disrespected population: Florida's prison inmates.

Inmates in the Florida prison system buy 270,000 honey buns a month. Across the state, they sell more than tobacco, envelopes and cans of Coke. And they're just as popular among Tampa Bay's county jails. In Pasco's Land O'Lakes Detention Center, they're outsold only by freeze-dried coffee and ramen noodles.

Not only that, these honey buns — so puffy! — have taken on lives of their own among the criminal class: as currency for trades, as bribes for favors, as relievers for stress and substitutes for addiction. They've become birthday cakes, hooch wines, last meals — even ingredients in a massive tax fraud.

So what is it about these little golden glazed snacks? Is it that they're cheap, which is big, since the prisoners rely on cash from friends and family? That their sugary denseness could stop a speeding bullet? That they're easy, their mise en place just the unwrapping of plastic? What gives?

Maybe considering the honey bun can help us understand life behind bars.

• • •

Jailhouse cuisine is a closely calculated science.

A day's meals inside the mess hall must be hearty enough to meet the 2,750-calorie count, healthy enough to limit fat and sodium, easy enough for prison cooks to prepare and cheap enough to meet the state's average grocery bill — about $1.76 per inmate per day.

With all criteria met, meals behind bars achieve an impressive level of mediocrity. The portions are reasonable, the nutritional content adequate, the taste ordinary, the presentation dull, the blandness as inescapable as the facilities themselves. The meals are made to guarantee very little except survival.

Problem inmates don't have it any easier. Their punishment: "special management meals" of Nutraloaf, a tasteless lump of carrots, spinach and grits that resembles a sad fruitcake.

Compared to that, honey buns are a revolution. Honey buns are fried dough in a bag. Honey buns meet next to none of the human body's needs and are impressively unhealthy.

The 6 ounces of a Mrs. Freshley's Grand Honey Bun, the favored pastry of Florida's prisons, serve up 680 calories, 51 grams of sugar and 30 grams of fat. The icing is sticky and frost white, like Elmer's Glue. The taste bears all the subtlety of a freshly licked sugar cube.

"As you can imagine," said Janice Anderson, a spokeswoman for Flowers Foods, which owns the Mrs. Freshley's brand, "this product is for those folks that feel like having something very decadent."


Inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women used honey buns as the base for a Christmas apple pie. Inmates at the Robeson County Jail in Lumberton, N.C., mixed in honey buns to sweeten a wine they fermented from orange juice. During his two-month stay in an Illinois jail cell, NFL defensive tackle Tank Johnson gulped down, after hearty meals of beef sticks and summer sausages, 40 honey buns for dessert.

Prisoners on death row have even turned to the sweets for their last meals. Charles Roache, lethally injected in North Carolina in 2004, chose a sirloin steak, popcorn shrimp and a honey bun.

George Alec Robinson, an unemployed sanitation worker and father of three, paid his public defenders in honey buns after they saved him from Virginia's electric chair.

"He said, 'This is all in the world I can give you guys,' " attorney James C. Clark told the Washington Post. "They were good, too."

• • •

In September, the day after the New Orleans Saints beat the San Francisco 49ers in a Monday Night Football game, a fight broke out in the Alpha Pod of the Hernando County Jail.

Inmate Ricardo Sellers, 21, had punched Brandon Markey, 23, in the face, sending Markey to a Brooksville hospital, according to Hernando deputies. Sellers was angry that Markey hadn't paid up after losing a bet over football.

His debt? Four honey buns.

For all their sweetness, honey buns have a history of involvement in prison violence. In 2006, at the Kent County Jail in Michigan, inmate Benny Rochelle dragged his cell mate off the top bunk, killing the man, when he could not find his honey bun. And last year, at the Lake Correctional Institution west of Orlando, two men were sentenced to life in prison for stabbing with crude shivs the man they thought had stolen shaving cream, cigarettes and a honey bun from their footlockers.

Yes, murder over honey buns. Was it their decadence, or their status as jailhouse currency?

In Texas and Pennsylvania, inmates bartered honey buns for tablets of Seroquel, an addictive antipsychotic abused on the street as a sleeping pill.

In Sarasota, a millionaire businessman charged with child abuse earned the nickname "Commissary King" after fashioning honey buns into birthday cakes for inmates he felt he could sway to his defense.

In Naples, a bail bondsman was accused of giving an inmate hundreds of dollars' worth of honey buns over 13 years as rewards for referring him business.

And at the Graceville Work Camp, in the Panhandle, a Jacksonville trucker known for sharing his faith called it one of his great joys to sneak honey buns under inmates' pillows.

In some cases, honey buns have proven too seductive for inmates' own good. At the Stock Island Detention Center, outside Key West, scheming inmates offered overnight arrestees in the jail's drunk tank an irresistible deal: their Social Security numbers for a honey bun. Using the numbers, they filled out tax forms with phony information — a scam that cost the IRS more than $1 million in fraudulent refunds.

As a retired Monroe County sheriff told the Miami Herald, "They were eating a lot of honey buns on the taxpayer."

• • •

After Ryan Frederick took the stand last year during his capital murder trial in Virginia, prosecutor James Willett made a strange request.

Stand up. Open your jacket. Turn sideways.

When he had been arrested for shooting a detective during a drug raid, Frederick had weighed 120 pounds, according to the Virginian-Pilot. After a year in lockup, he ballooned to 185.

Exhibit A: Frederick's gut.

"You're not exactly wasting away from regret and remorse now, are you?" Willett said.

Frederick's behavior at the Chesapeake City Jail was central to prosecutors' argument that he had bragged of the killing. His weight gain, they said, further proved his shamelessness.

But during his testimony, Frederick said the extra pounds stemmed from something else.

To deal with the stresses of jail, he said, he ate.

"I have a bad habit of doughnuts and honey buns," he told the jury.

Some inmates use honey buns to combat cravings deeper than a sweet tooth. At the Hernando County Jail, where honey buns are regulars atop the bestsellers list, the sweets have served as substitutes for other vices.

"Many people in jail are addicts or abusers of substances," said jail administrator Maj. Mike Page. "Alcohol is based in sugars generally, and the human body will receive some satisfaction of cravings from the honey bun as a substitute for the sugar."

Armon Power, an inmate at Alabama's Holman Correctional Facility who earned 30 cents an hour stamping license plates at the prison tag plant, explained it to a TV crew in simpler terms:

"I crave honey buns. I buy honey buns," he said. "I can't buy no wine."

• • •

Convicted murderer Michael Caruso is a canteen operator at the Zephyrhills state prison. His is a prestigious job. Of all the tedious prison work, his pays the most ($75 a month) and affords him the sweetest office: front and center to the boxes of honey buns.

He sells about 60 sweets a day at this sprawling, razor-wired campus of mostly elderly prisoners in east Pasco. The men like to smother the honey buns with peanut butter Squeezers packets. Some inmates, he said, try to "manipulate" him into handing them over for free, though most think their $1.08 price tags, cheaper than foods like the $2.75 Big AZ Bubba Twins chili cheese dogs, are easier to stomach.

"It's the same as on the street," Caruso said. "When you get paid you drink Budweiser. After that you drink Black Label."

In prison, as in life, thrift wins. In 2009, when Florida upped its canteen prices, 60 families called and wrote letters to complain. Most of the anger, according to the Associated Press, centered on the price of honey buns, raised from 66 cents to 99 cents. (To, now, $1.08.)

But something funny happens, Caruso said. On Fridays, inmates will buy up honey buns for the weekend, when they gather in the dayroom to watch football. The prisoners share. Seems to happen all the time.

Maybe that's what it is with honey buns. They're sweet, when nothing else is.