Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Self-Reflective Post

Loyal readers that you are, you may have noticed the addition of labels on the left-hand side. They may move on the page (I kinda want to see them on the right, instead) but I think the concept is here to stay.

I wonder sometimes what happened why Right Gapesnest makes it big. Somehow, someway, it gets linked to from Salon or some other site that's ridiculously popular. All of a sudden, I'm flooded with new readers, eager for my words of wisdom. Where will they go? What will they do?

Now that I've finally become a blog reader myself, I realize how useful labels can be when you arrive at an existing blog and want to wander around previous posts. So, to help my hapless future readers, I'm adding them here. So far I only have a few months' posts labeled. If you can't find your absolute favorite post, never fear. And if you have any suggestions for labels, let me know! (Keep it clean, kids.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dollar Dog Night

For my dad's birthday yesterday, we (me, Keith, and my parents) went to an Indians' game. Although it rained earlier in the day, it turned out to be great weather in the evening--cool, with a slight breeze.

The Indians lost a close game to the Red Sox. But it was enjoyable because the stadium was full and the crowd was rowdy. Of course, the reason we were all there: Dollar Dog Night.

After last night, there's two things I'd like to share with you:
  1. My friends, I ate wayyyy too many hot dogs, all covered in spicy stadium mustard. Seemed like a good idea at the time. And probably will next time a Dollar Dog Night rolls around. I have a short memory for the ill effects of a food coma.
  2. Just in our small section, we saw two women wearing pearls with their t-shirts and jeans. What's the deal with that?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Geeked Out on HP

Friday night, we did go to a small local bookstore for the arrival of Harry Potter Book 7. And I loved it!

Originally, we had planned on going just to experience the HP book release mania for the last time. (Well, our first time, but the last chance.) But on Friday afternoon, Keith broke down and decided to reserve a copy of the book. I pre-ordered mine from Amazon.co.uk about 10 years ago, but it won't arrive for another week and he decided he just couldn't wait that long.

So we weren't just spectators--we were also participating in the big event. And it was a big event, I thought. Hundreds of people were there. They showed the first HP movie on a large outdoor screen, on a grassy hill between a school and the library. A nature center brought several owls and other large birds. There was a Sorting Hat, a House Cup trivia tournament (Slytherin won, unfortunately), hat making, and more. My friend had finished judging the costume contest when we arrived, so the three of us got some food and meandered a bit.

The best part was all the people wandering up and down the street, many in costume, all talking about the book and its characters and what will happen next. I've heard people argue that the books aren't well written and they're bad for society (because, you know, anything that the masses enjoy is bad for us). But seeing everyone there enjoying themselves, I just wondered how this could be anything BUT great news for bookstores and libraries. I doubt the bookstore owners had ever imagined, in their wildest dreams, having hundreds of people queue up at midnight waiting for a book release.

But actually, that wasn't the best part. The best part is that we got in line super early since 1) we're geeks, and 2) we had all brought reading material with us, so reading in line was just as good as reading anywhere else. This meant that my friend was #2 in line, and Keith and I were #3. For quite a while, it was a sad, short little line. But slowly it grew until, by midnight, we couldn't see the end but had heard rumors it wrapped around the end of the block.

Right: So, the best part was when they counted down the seconds, opened the door, and ushered us in one by one to pick up our books. All of the first few customers (ourselves included) had prepaid for the book. It was just a matter of walking up to a little folding table, surrounded by boxes of pristine copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and giving your name, receiving your copy in return.

When we left, Keith and Susan clutched the mammoth tomes tight. We had to walk by the entire line to get to our cars, and were joking about the chances of someone in line tackling us to get the books. I mean, we were mostly joking, but also keeping an eye out.

As we walked past the line, a murmur went through the crowd. Hundreds of eyes behind fake Harry Potter glasses turned to us. "They have the book!" Someone shouted. "Hold up the book!" Susan did, and people cheered.

So this is what it feels like to be famous, I thought. It was absolutely crazy. Everyone was watching us. Everyone was jealous because we had The Book.

Of course, this lasted about 3 minutes, until we passed the end of the line and continued onto our cars. But it was a great feeling, and a fantastic night. Even though I'm not what you would call a "joiner" I'm glad I did it this once, and got to experience the full Harry Potter mania once.

Now I just need to read the book.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The End of Harry?

Even if you're not a fan, it's hard to avoid hearing about how the last Harry Potter book comes out tonight at midnight.

I am most definitely a Harry Potter fan. I think I started reading about when Book 4 came out--ever since then, it's been hard to wait for the latest books to be published. But of course, the wait for Book 7 has been bittersweet. And it will all be ending shortly.

I may have to wait a bit longer, because I ordered the Adult Edition from amazon.co.uk. But it will arrive soon, and I'm torn. I don't want to read it right away, because I want to make the anticipation last as long as possible. I keep saying I'll re-read the first 6 books before I read 7 ... but I haven't started that yet, so once the new one arrives the temptation might be too great.

But I'm also quite swayed by the argument that Harry Potter is currently a cultural phenomenon because we're all readers waiting to find out what happens. Once that's gone and we all know, it'll change. I think that's true to some extent, and that makes me feel like I should really be a part of it and read it as soon as the book comes out, when the rest of the world does.

So maybe I should read it right away and go to the party and participate in the Potter festivities, because I have the opportunity to and my children won't. A friend is judging a costume contest at a small local bookstore, so we'll probably head over there. My Mom had The Beatles, and I have a book party for Harry Potter. Such memories!

Plus, if I wait to read it, there's a very good chance that I'll find out what happens. Who dies?!? I don't want to know that in advance. But how can I avoid it? Stay off the Internets? That just won't happen.

Or maybe it should .... I have been pretty terrible about blogging lately. Maybe A Right Gapesnest will dark for a while, while I try to maintain the illusion that the wizarding world of Harry Potter is real, and I'm not a muggle after all.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Good Web Design

Whew! After that last post, I'll keep this one short.

Keith and I have been hard at work on our web design/development business, and it should be ready to officially "launch" soon.

I think one of the areas that--how shall I put it?--offers me the greatest growth opportunity in terms of knowledge and skill. (aka my weak point) is web design. So I've been reading up on it, experimenting, and also spending a lot of time looking at other websites to see what works and what doesn't. The majority of my design experience is in print, so it's been challenging/interesting to learn how to apply that to the web, and also finding out what doesn't translate.

I was just wondering: In your opinion, what makes a website attractive or professional and why? What are some examples of your favorite site designs? What are the worst designs?
* I know the image doesn't have a lot to do with this topic, exactly. But when I searched in Microsoft Word on "design," the results were all sorts of cool, abstract images. This was one of my favorites.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Save Net Radio

Okay, this is a post I've been meaning to write for ages, but I kept putting it off. Mostly because I don't feel qualified to address the issue in a holistic way.

But I need to try anyway, so here it goes. As most of you know, I'm a big fan of Woxy in particular, and the concept of Internet radio in general. It has introduced many people to all different bands and types of music that they may never have heard through their limited, terrestrial radio stations. Personally, since I've started listening to Woxy, I've pretty much stopped listening to normal radio because I only really like maybe one song an hour or so, and it's just not worth it. With Woxy's niche audience, the playlist can actually be tailored to what this group enjoys and is also not tied to payola and just repeating the top 20 countdown playlist.

This would seem like an excellent development for the recording industry. More people listening to more music = more music sales, right? With the Long Tail theory of economics, even bands with a very small listening audience should be able to get played on Internet radio and attract enough worldwide listeners to make a decent profit. Everyone wins!

Except the recording industry doesn't see it that way. I don't understand all of the nuances of this issue, but from my reading it seems that the industry is not concerned with these smaller webcasters who have a limited audience. They're just focused on huge ones, like Yahoo, Pandora, AOL, etc., and all of the royalties they could be getting from these huge web streams.

So in comes SoundExchange, who collects and distributes musicians' royalties. They proposed a different fee structure for terrestrial radio and Internet radio. Traditionally, terrestrial radio stations pay NOTHING to play songs on the air, because it's considered advertising for the artists and is, therefore, exempt.

Presumably due to the vast audience (aka revenue) that can be reached by the Internet, the RIAA chose not to view Internet radio stations as exempt but instead is attempting to charge the hell out of them. Directly from the Save Internet Radio website:
  • Broadcast radio, an industry with $20 billion in annual revenue, is exempt and pays no performance royalties to record companies or recording artists.
  • Satellite radio, which has approximately $2 billion in annual revenue pays between 3 and 7% of revenue in sound recording performance royalties.
  • The six largest Internet-only radio services anticipate combined revenue of only $37.5 million in 2006, but will pay a whopping 47% (or $17.6 million) in sound recording performance royalties under the new CRB ruling. In 2008 combined revenues will total only $73.6 million, but royalties will be 58% or $42.4 million.
  • Small Internet radio services are essentially bankrupted by the CRB ruling, with most anticipating royalty obligations equaling or exceeding total revenue.
What it comes down to is: small Internet radio stations cannot afford this rate increase. They would cease to exist, and the offerings on Internet radio would end up being the same as what's available on terrestrial radio, because only the largest corporate Internet radio could pay the royalty rates and continue operating.

I really, really don't want this to happen. There's currently legislation for consideration by both the House and the Senate to repeal these new royalty rates. Because the Copyright Royalty Board has approved these rates and denied any appeals, legislation is the only option left. Visit Save Internet Radio, call your representatives, and ask them to sponsor the legislation. I'm also writing a letter this weekend, so if you would like me to send you the letter to copy and put in your own contact info, I'd be happy to do that.

For more information, visit:
"Save Net Radio" blogs at Wired
Save Net Radio: About

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Croc Discussion Continues

Why is it that people only seem to remember the posts where I rant and rave on completely inane topics?

Almost a year ago, I blogged about my hatred of Crocs. Surprisingly enough, even though I pronounced them an abomination, they're still around and ridiculously popular. And people are still writing articles about them (including me, I guess) and I've received a few links lately.

I was reminded of them when Keith and I went to Cedar Point this past Saturday. As we walked up to the front entrance, I began scanning the crowd to play one of our favorite Cedar Point past-times--spot all of the couples who have dressed alike. Why is this so popular? I don't know. But it always happens at Cedar Point, and it gives you something to think about while waiting in line for rides, which is very, very important.*

This year, Keith also suggested we count all the pairs of Crocs that we see infesting the park. I was surprised to notice that most of them were sported by young (adolescent and under) kids. Does this mean that adults have seen reason, but that Crocs will continue to live on because the younger generations have embraced them whole-heartedly?

Either way, they're still ugly and I hate them. Recently Amy sent me an article from the Washington Post called "By Executive Order, Crocs Aren't Chic." If Bush wears them, that is NOT changing my attitude.

After Croc-spotting at Cedar Point (which is a sport, unlike line jumping), Keith saw an article this morning at Slate.com about "How Crocs Conquered the World." Apparently everyone agrees that they're ugly. The real question is whether the comfort is worth it. But this article quotes podiatrists as saying they're not good for your feet--their fabulous comfortableness is just an illusion of supportive footwear.

So, in conclusion, Crocs are still the ugliest footwear around and now you don't even have the excuse that they're good for your feet. Don't wear them. End of story.

* Surprisingly, we didn't see all that many couples dressed alike, or a platoon of Crocs. Instead, everyone was wearing shirts with "Hollister" emblazoned across their chests. Who knows what will be the de rigueur Cedar Point garb next time we go?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

No Need for Novocain

I had a dentist appointment the other day. The dentist is a really nice guy--coincidentally, also the husband of my boss. It was kinda a risky move, going to him, but I think it worked out for the best. He really is good at what he does, and my boss has definite proof that, when I say I have a dentist appointment, it's true.

I had gotten the semi-annual check-up a few weeks ago, but had to go back and get some indents at the tops of my teeth filled in/smoothed over. I won't get into the dental mechanics, but pretty much I clench my teeth a LOT and that's made some of the enamel break off at the tops of a few of my teeth, near the gumline. Because the uneven surface could gather germs / cause decay, he wanted to fill it all in and smooth it over.

He commended me on taking excellent care of my teeth. (Anyone who needs some pointers, read the comments on this post. My former co-worker's tip about flossing just the week before your visit has worked like a charm!) He said they were in such good shape that he didn't even need to clean them before the procedure. In fact, it would be such a simple procedure that I wouldn't even need Novocain.

If your dentist every tells you that you don't need Novocain, in my experience, you should politely disagree with him. I didn't. I figured no big deal. By the time it was painful enough that I decided I REALLY wanted some numbing action, it was too late. I don't think he noticed the grimace of pain on my face as I tried to tough it out.

I didn't cry at least, which is something. But next time you're at the dentist's, TAKE the Novocain. I know I will.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Honeymoon Envy

I have to admit, this is a tough week for me. Sunday Jessi and Jeremy left on a fabulous honeymoon in Mexico. But not just in Mexico--they're staying at the same resort Keith and I stayed at for our honeymoon.

We had an amazing time on the honeymoon. We loved the resort, and the beaches. I loved getting to sleep in, take an afternoon siesta after laying on the beach all morning, and reading by the pool in the afternoon. I don't know if there's ever been a time where I was as relaxed as I was on the honeymoon.

So all this week, I come to work and think about the resort and being on our honeymoon. I know that Jessi and Jeremy are having a great time; I picture them laying by the pool or eating in one of the restaurants, and think about how I wish I was there. (Not with them on their honeymoon of course, that would be creepy.)

Jessi did have a great idea--we all go back to that resort in 5 years. We've also been working on Keith's brother and fiancee to honeymoon at the same resort (It's a tradition!) but I don't think they're going for it. So while I'm jealous this week, I'll console myself with thoughts of being back on that beach and by that pool 5 years from now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Running in Louisville

The wedding ceremony was beautiful, taking place in the garden pictured on the left. And of course the reception was a lot of fun.

But for me, I really enjoyed getting to see a bit of Louisville. I've only been there twice before, and both times we didn't get out much--just hung out with friends or family.

This time, we had plenty of free time during the days. Friday morning, several of us went for a run in a nearby city park. We got a little lost, as happens, and it took us a while to even find our way into the park. But once we were there, it was gorgeous. We ended up asking a local runner for directions to find our way back (I had visions of the mother-of-the-bride being unable to attend the ceremony following heat stroke from an accidental 10-mile run).

He kindly told us the right direction, and even left off his run to escort us to the right place. We learned that he lived just outside the park and had been running in it for 30 years. We were all jealous--how wonderful to have this amazing green space right outside your door.

Friday afternoon I went to the zoo with some more family. Then Saturday evening there was a casual wedding reception at a local bar in downtown Louisville, right by the Bats' stadium. It was a gorgeous evening, and we enjoyed sitting outside in the city. Sunday morning, Keith and I got one more run through the park in before leaving for the drive home. Hopefully we can get back to Louisville soon so we can see more of the city, and get to run in that park again.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Wedding in Louisville

So apparently I've been a very bad blogger of late. Apologies! We can all hope it's not a trend starting, but one never knows....

As many of you are aware, we were in Louisville last weekend for Keith's sister's wedding. It was a really beautiful ceremony and it was great to see all of his extended family. Even better, his brother is getting married in October, so we'll see everyone again in just a few months!

As Jessi was working through the details of wedding and reception planning, I remembered just how much work goes into planning a wedding. Keith and I said to each other several times, "I'm so glad we're already married and done with all of that."

But then, when it came to the ceremony, it brought back so many good memories of our wedding that it made me want to do it all over again. Jessi compared it to childbirth--once it's all over, the pain and anguish fades, and you just remember the beautiful result. I would have to agree with her about the wedding planning, although I can't speak to the childbirth experience.

Maybe we'll have a rededication of vows ceremony at some point. Nothing too big; maybe just 50 people, I'm picturing something indoors this time, with a live band ....

Congratulations to Jessica and Jeremy, the newlyweds!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

As happens in the summer, our backlog of TV shows to watch has just about dried up. So last Sunday night, we were relaxing after the cook-out and cruising the channels for something to watch.

I saw "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" on the guide, and asked Keith to stop. There was only about 15 minutes of the show left, but I wanted to check it out. I knew the basic premise--something about good people in bad situations and Ty shows up and suddenly they have a brand-new, fabulous house. But I'd never actually seen the show.

I thought I'd like it. I like home improvement shows, and through in the angle about helping these worthy people .... it's the sort of thing that would bring a tear to your eye, and get you hooked on both interior design tips and feel-good emotion.

Yeah, I hated it. They tore down this family's house, and actually BOUGHT the lot next door because the existing lot wasn't big enough for the ginormous palace they created in its place.

The whole thing was just so ridiculous. Hard wood everywhere. Recessed lighting. One daughter's room had a "boutique" theme, and all of her clothes were hung on a revolving rack. The other daughter's room included a life-sized dollhouse built into the room, complete with three floors and furniture. The son's room included a lot of camouflage and a slide. (The picture here is from the show's photo gallery--there's many, many more pictures if you're interested.)

I understand that the wife/mother is a cancer-survivor, and she has dedicated her life to eradicating cancer. That is, indeed, very touching. But I couldn't be happy for the family about their new house. I just kept thinking that the show seemed to say that rampant consumerism is the answer to all the world's problems, and I'm just not convinced.

So now they have a house that's roughly 3 times bigger than their old home. I'm sure I'm not supposed to mention this, but ... they still have to pay the utility bills. Which are going to be substantial. And what happens when dollhouse daughter gets older? That "life-sized dollhouse" is built into the room. Not very easy to remove. Nor is the moving closet, when it breaks.

What is this family's children learning? That if you're a good person, you'll be rewarded in this life? That's not necessarily the case, and often the opposite is true. Or have they learned that spending lots of money always makes you feel better? That may be true, but it's usually not sustainable.

In a way, I was glad to realize that my tolerance for reality TV can be exceeded, and that's one show that's off the list.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


On Sunday, we had a cook-out. It served dual purposes--to celebrate Keith's birthday and also the fact that we've been in the house for a year. Saturday I realized that it also served a third, important purpose: to get me to actually clean around the house and the yard.

Between working full-time, starting our business, joining the writing group, and the everyday busy-ness that is life, I don't think I'm very good at just taking time to relax. Whenever I sit and watch TV or read a book, I feel guilty because there's so many tasks left on my to-do list. I really should be more productive.

But on Sunday, with the cook-out, I really did relax. We'd done most of the prepwork on Saturday, so on Sunday we slept in and still had a leisurely morning to do some light cleaning and cooking before guests arrived. The music played in the background, good food was plentiful, the dogs (Beckett plus Erin's golden retriever and chocolate lab) raced around the backyard, the cornhole competition heated up, and the conversation flowed. And I relaxed.

I wish I could claim that I actually took an entire day off. But I did sneak in some writing and business time before getting ready for the cook-out. And, after it was all over, I of course felt guilty for all the lost hours of productivity.

But I think that the delicious food, great company, and relaxed atmosphere of the cook-out was good for me. I need to better about taking time off to slow down and enjoy life .... It's on the to-do list.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Happy House Anniversary!

It's hard to believe, but we've now been in our house for over a year. Just 29 more years of payments to go!

That picture is actually from move-in weekend last year. The house doesn't look very different from the outside; we took out the two bushes next to the front steps, and trimmed the rest. And a UD flag is proudly flying from the front porch.

It's a great feeling to have been there a year, and also know that we'll be there for many more. Ever since graduating from college, we've spent so much time and effort moving from one apartment/city to the next. I'm ready to be settled in the same place for a while. I hope to one day be here long enough to only receive mail addressed to us and resident--no more missives for former residents.

I know! It's probably just a pipe dream. But I can dream....