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December 14th, 2007



Our litigious society: A warning on a small tractor that reads "Danger: Avoid Death" has been chosen as the nation's wackiest warning label by an anti-lawsuit group. The $250 second place was given to Carrianne, Jacob and Robby Turin of Greensburg, Pa., for a label they found on an iron-on T-shirt transfer that warns: "Do not iron while wearing shirt." Richard Goodnow of Lancaster, Mass., earned the $100 third-place prize for a label on a baby stroller featuring a small storage pouch that warns: "Do not put child in bag."

Honorable mention went to Cyndi LaMonde of Traverse City for a label on a letter opener that says: "Caution: Safety goggles recommended." Ann Marie Young of Fillmore, N.Y., took the second honorable mention for a warning she found which cautions users: "The Vanishing Fabric Marker should not be used as a writing instrument for signing checks or any legal documents."

Speaking of litigation, how can someone possibly only get 9 to 11.5 years for stabbing someone seventy times, and committing what is described as "one of Durham's most gruesome killings"? Tell me it wasn't because the victim was "just" a prostitute. An outrage.



This is quite the dilemma:

Dear Prudence,

I'm a woman in my 40s who comes from a close-knit, honest family, but a recent visit to my aunt and uncle opened a huge can of worms. My father, now in his mid-70s, was quite an athlete in his youth. He was so good at his sport that he was invited to try out for his hometown's professional sports team. He was over the moon and went to the tryout, and gave what he thought was a professional grade-performance. Yet he never heard back from them, and so went to college, married, and had us kids. He continued to play his sport at the amateur level, where he was the star of every team and league he played on, but he was sorely disappointed he never played professionally.

My aunt informed me several months ago (while my uncle hung his head in shame) that my grandmother had intercepted the phone call from the sports team offering my dad a contract. My uncle, who was about 8 at the time, was standing by when she told them, "My son doesn't have time to play ball with you boys. He's going to go to college. Please don't call again." She swore my uncle to secrecy. He only told my aunt after my grandmother's death years ago.

Now my aunt wants me to tell my father the story, to tell him that his beloved mother lied to him and crushed his dreams. She says that he has a right to know that he really was good enough. I also think she's got an ulterior motive because she passionately hated my grandmother, who opposed her marriage to my uncle. She'd love to make my dad think the worst of his mom, who worked three jobs after my grandfather died to support her sons. And at my father's age, what good could possibly come from knowing he "coulda been a contender"? I want what's best for my father, but I'm honestly not sure what that is.

—Contender's Daughter


Read Prudie's response.



We were up and at 'em this morning, and I dropped Robert off at United at a little after 9:00 for his flight to Madison to visit old friends and to attend a memorial service this weekend of a dear friend who died a few short weeks ago.

I spent all day preparing for a party for 10 people at my home tonight. Errands and tasks included:
  1. Shopping at Target:
    • Paper plates (dinner ones and dessert ones)
    • Paper cups
    • Napkins (dinner and cocktail)
    • Cashew Halves
    • Peanuts
  2. Ran into two other stores at Crossroads (A.C. Moore and Michaels) looking for a hand bell, which Target didn't have either. No luck.
  3. Ran into the Honey Baked Ham place, which I had no idea was there, but was very fortuitous. Bought a $21 Honey Baked Sliced Turkey Breast. No equivalent in ham was available. No comment about the name of the store.
  4. Stopped at Food Lion where my order totaled $165.00.
  5. Made a Pistachio Nut Cake (note: the "instant dessert topping" they're referring to in here is Cool Whip—at least is when I make it) and its icing. Iced it.
  6. Peeled and boiled one more bag of shrimp.
  7. Sliced Havarti dill, cheddar, swiss, and pepper jack cheeses to use on the sandwiches and on one of the appetizers (sesame cracker, slice of Havarti dill cheese, and two slices of a Gherkin pickle).
  8. Sliced cucumbers, mushrooms, celery, broccoli, and a red bell pepper, a yellow one, and an orange one for the vegetable platter.
  9. Sliced some Gherkin pickles to use on an appetizer.
  10. Cubed 12 ounces of Velveeta cheese to make two other dips.
  11. Mixed some clam dip.
  12. Sliced the rolls so people wouldn't have to futz with them when making their little sandwiches.
  13. Mixed some cashew halves and raisins together and mixed some peanuts together.
  14. Set all the bowls and plates on the table and labeled what was going in each to 1) make sure to remember to put everything out, and 2) to not have to think about where to put it when it was time.
  15. Swept my deck in case someone needed to stop out there for a smoke.
  16. Hid the rest of any junk laying around in closets. God help me find this stuff again over the next week or so. God help anyone who opens any closets. (That reminded me of the marbles-in-the-medicine chest antic.)


Eight of 10 people who RSVPed to the party came, and we had a good time. This party was for the folks with whom I worked this semester as the leadership team of the NCSU student community of the Society for Technical Communication. Quality folks. There was no lack of conversation at a party full of technical communicators, albeit a lot of the talk was decidedly not technical.

Throughout the night, I announced each person's favorite holiday song as I played it on my iPod, and in one case, a CD on my laptop. That was a nice way to learn a little bit more about each other, and we all discovered some holiday songs we'd never heard of even. :-)

Sarah had to come late, and i was delighted to have her as the last guest, and she very generously helped me clean up so I could zip down to Flex and meet Joe. Thanks, Sarah!



Showtunes was going gangbusters when I got there. We spent most of our time, in addition to playing some free pool, talking with Joe, Phil, and Rob. On the way out, Joe had a congratulations card (for finishing grad school) for me, and a little gift: a 12-pack of pocket rockets of GoldschlagerSweet.

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