Monday, August 23, 2010

Placement of Books

I recently finished reading a hard (yes, signed) copy of Jennifer Weiner’s Fly Away Home (see my previous blog from July for information on that) and now I have to determine where to put it because where you place reading material (books and magazines) in your home can tell a lot about you. People put reading material in their living room, their bedroom, their kitchen, hallways and even their bathroom (I won’t comment on that). Reading material is on coffee tables, book cases, shelves, magazine racks and sometimes just stacked on the floor. And I guarantee you that when someone comes into you home there are two things they are going to look at: photographs and what books you have on display.

I have books in my living room, bedroom and kitchen (kitchen consists of three cookbooks and a three ring binders with my own collection of recipes). I have bookcases were I place books (among other things) but I also place books on any table that might have shelf with it. And all these books are organized in a certain way.

In the living room, where I have my biggest bookcase, I have most of my hard bound copies of commercial fiction (some signed) and some non-fiction (mostly biographies) that I have read (this is where the signed Jennifer Weiner book is going). To me, that’s important. I don’t buy book to put on display just for decorating purposes. If someone asks, “Did you read this?” I want to honestly say yes because the minute you lie you know that person, who has read the book, will start asking questions that you can’t answer. Now, that’s not so say I don’t have books that I haven’t read, because I do. They are either piled on the nightstand or the floor next to my bed or in a bookshelf in my bedroom.

I also keep some books that would be considered “coffee table books” in my living room. I don’t actually keep anything on my coffee table but I have a shelf under it and that’s where I keep magazines and fun little gift books I’ve been given as gifts over the years.

I have two and a half book cases in my bedroom (the half is a stand I have a television on that just happens to have room for books). These are organized together by category and size. It is here that I have my books on writing, various paper back, political books that I haven’t gotten around to reading and various other types of books. I do have a few old (over 100 years old) and possibly rare books by Charlotte Bronte and Lucy Maud Montgomery (of the Anne of Green Gables series) that I will prominently put on display one of these days. I wish I had more of those, but old and rare book collecting is a very, very expensive hobby.

And I need to work really hard to keep the purchase of books in check. Because I can see things getting totally out of control to the point where I’m living in my car with just a pillow, a black Hefty bags of clothes and piles and piles of books all around me. It’s not a pretty picture.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Addiction

It was my friend Nancy's fault. She's the one that got me addicted. She's the one that gave me my first taste and after that it was all I could think of. At $4 a pop my habit could get up to $16 to $20 a month. What am I spending all this money on? Peanut butter.

Yes, you read correctly, peanut butter. But not just any peanut butter, White Chocolate Wonderful by Peanut Butter & Co. Good Lord, it tastes so good and I had to tell my friends about it.

"What do you put it on?" one friend asked.

"My finger," I replied.

Now I have to tell you that I have never before been a big peanut butter person. I like a good PB&J as well as the next person but I usually buy a jar, have a couple of sandwiches and then throw the half eaten jar out several months later. But not this stuff. No, with this stuff I lick the container clean.

After realizing I had a problem I went cold turkey. Weeks would go by and I'd walk down the peanut butter aisle at the grocey store and mustered up the will power not to grab a jar. At $4 a jar I couldn't justify the price. But this week was different. It was on SALE! Fifty cents off! That was two days ago and the jar is almost empty.

My local grocery store carries three varieties of this peanut butter but there are tons of other stuff on their Web site:

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Just What IS That?

Today I was watching the U.S. gymnastics championships on TV and there was a lot of talk about the London 2012 Summer Olympics and it got me to thinking about Olympic mascots. A couple of months ago the new mascots for the London 2010 Summer Olympics, Wenlock and Mandeville, were unveil. What the hell are these things? According to organizers, they are fashioned after droplets of steel used to build a new stadium in London for the event. Is it just me or have Olympic mascots just gotten weirder and weirder over the years?

The use of an mascot to first raise money for Olympic organizers began in Los Angeles (surprise, surprise) with the 1984 Summer Olympics and Sam the Eagle (there were Olympic mascot before San but they had not been used for marketing purposes). At least we could tell what the mascot was. Some years have been good. For the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics there was Howdy and Hidi, polar bear siblings. For the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics there was Hodori, a tiger. For the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics there was Powder (a snowshoe hare), Copper (a coyote) and Coal (an American black bear). But it seems that every couple of Olympic years the mascot has been morphed into something that isn’t even identifiable.

Remember the 1996 for the Atlanta Summer Olympics? The mascot was Izzy. To this day nobody knows who or what Izzy is. And for the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics there was Neve (a snowball) and Gliz (an ice cube.). Really, an ice cube as an Olympic mascot? The Fuwa from the 2008 Beijing Summery Olympics (supposedly good luck dolls but really just look down right strange) are now known as “The Curse of the Fuwa.” (see story at And what the heck were the mascots for the 2004 Athens Summer Olympic? Named Athena and Phevos, nobody seems to know what the Olympic organizers were going for that year (they have been some references to them look like a certain part of the male anatomy with feet).

Here’s the background for the 2012 London Olympic mascots: Wenlock was named after the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock that helped inspire Pierre de Coubertin to launch the modern Olympics, and Mandeville was inspired by the Buckinghamshire town of Stoke Mandeville, where the Paralympics were founded. There is always a story behind the mascot that is designed to make the Olympics relevant to the whole world. But I’m not sure how droplets of steel do that. Anyone? Anyone?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Love/Hate Relationship

Is with my computer. Even after working at a job for 8 hours a day, five days a week where 95% of my time is spent looking at a computer (I even have two monitors) I still come home and turn on my computer, to write or get on the Internet. Almost every day I check my e-mail, Facebook and a handful of blogs.

But my computer can sometimes be very, very sloooooooow. My computer is actually a refurbished laptop that I got about five years ago. In other words, it's old (see photo). It's slow and it's heavy (so I don't normally take it around with me). Some days it's fine, I'm able to have two programs open at the same time. But most days it's slow to open documents, it's slow to load Internet pages, it's just darn slow.

Yes, I'm complaining because I don't get immediate results from my computer but isn't that what a computer is supposed to be? Fast?

I know that at some point in the near future I'm going to have to get a more updated computer, one that costs money. That's what is holding me back, money. Thankfully I haven't encountered any computer virus that have incapacitated ey (knock on wood, knock, knock) so I probably will end up keeping this computer and enduring the slowness until it no longer works at all. It's kind like what my family does with cars. We drive them into the ground until they no longer run. It's the Robinson way.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Good Friend

I think everyone has a different idea about what this is. For me it’s someone who is going to be there for me during the good times and the bad. Someone who, when they say they want to help, actually come through and help. A good friend is someone who has seen me at my worst and still wants to be my friend. A good friend is someone is going to support me emotionally, spiritually and sometimes even physically as well as someone who will cheer me on in whatever my dreams in life are. A good friend is also someone who will tell me when they think I am doing something wrong, that I’m acting like a jerk or making a seriously bad decision.

Right now I’m struggling a lot with that last part in trying to be a good friend. It’s really hard to see your friends making bad decisions (or maybe it’s just what I consider to be a bad decision). How do you express your concerns without making it seem like you are judging them? And how do you express your concern if you’re not sure your friend wants to or is ready to hear them? I do know that if you do express your concerns, do it once and let it go. Don’t harp on them to that person. They know what you think and how you feel and they can take it or leave it.

I do know that having a good friend and being a good friend takes a lot work, just like any relationship, there is give and take. Are you a good friend if you stand by someone who treats you like crap over and over again because you have a history? And does that make you a good friend or just an enabler to their problems?

I know I expect a lot from my friends (which may be why I don’t have a lot of really good friends) but I’m sure they know that I am fully capable and willing to be a good friend in return. I don’t say things I don’t mean. I’m not flakey about getting together with my friends. And if I have to cancel something, I better have a really good reason and a good apology. And I don’t like to see my good friends being treated badly by other people, especially people who are supposed to be friends themselves. Unfortunately I see that a lot.

So there you go, I’ve put it out there. This is what I expect from a good friend. Take it or leave it. Next to my family, good friends are the most important thing out there and the people I want to share my life with. And to all my good friends out there, thank you.