Saturday, May 31, 2008

can we all just agree that mattel should stop picking on special education?

mattel, the giant corporation that manufactures barbie, hot wheels, fisher price, and other popular toys has been battling a small, south carolina-based manufacturer of special education materials called super duper publications over super duper's use of the words "and say" in the titles of some of their theraputic toys for children with autism.
Since 1987, the Webbers [super duper's founders] have used the words “AND SAY” and “SAY AND” in the titles of their speech and language materials, including workbooks, card decks, and games.

In March, 2004, Mattel opposed a trademark registration the Webbers had filed for use for the name “SORT AND SAY” on a line of special education magnetic games. A year later, Mattel filed to cancel three other Super Duper registered marks , FISH & SAY, FOLD AND SAY, and SEE IT!, SAY IT!.

Super Duper then filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking a finding that its 15 SAY trademarks did not infringe on any of Mattel’s trademarks. Mattel responded by claiming Super Duper’s use of these SAY marks on its special education products amounted to trademark infringement and dilution of the Mattel’s SEE ‘N SAY electronic pull toy. Mattel asked the court to prevent Super Duper from publishing any of its materials using the 15 marks, and sought $10 million in damages. (full article here.)
remember, super duper sells resources for use by educational professionals and parents for children with autism. and mattel is upset that super duper uses the word "say" in their educational and theraputic games. "say." does the use of the word "say" in the name of the game "see it! say it!" really dilute and infringe upon the see 'n' say? and, given that characteristics of autism include difficulties with speech and conversation, what else should a game that involves seeing and then saying words be called?

this comes down to a simple question that is either absurd to the point of hilarious, or terrifying. or both. do corporations have the right to own words like "say?"

as a side note, there is no way that super duper's products constitute a threat to the market dominance of mattel. for example, super duper's website indicates that there is a sale on the phonological awareness fun park set—not exactly poaching the barbie purchasers, right? i'm sure mattel would like to hear your perspective on the issue. here's their contact page.

edited: clarity

can we all just agree that a call from the brother bear is a fantastic thing indeed?

"0000000123456" is apparently nokia for "hoo-doggy! you're definitely going to want to answer this one! yes-sir-eee bob!"

Friday, May 30, 2008

can we all just agree that dreams can offer a useful sense of perspective to waking life?

because last night i dreamed that i had to cut out thousands of fish-shaped pieces of buttered raisin toast. the fish-shaped pieces of buttered raisin toast, as well as some other foods (which i can't remember now, because they weren't as interesting) were refreshments for a huge wedding shower, but the shower started only a few minutes after we began preparing all the food. and there were at least twenty people there as guests and as members of the wedding party. they were all wearing identical giant purple dresses.

and folks were getting really upset that it was taking so long to get all the food ready. then i realized that the cookie cutter i was using for the fish-shaped pieces of buttered raisin toast was kind of bent, so the fish were sort of misshapen. then i had to go back and trim one side of each of them.

and then i woke up. i had a lot of things to do today, but gosh it was a breeze compared to what i had to do all night while i was sleeping.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

can we all just agree that "Henrí" is a pretty good movie about a cat?

henrí is a haunted kitty, they say.

(this movie came to c.w.a.j.a.?. by way of the brains behind THE ADVENTURES OF THE GREATEST PAWS!, which is wonderful and which doesn't get updated nearly often enough.)

can we all just agree that waking up GRUMPY is no way to begin a new week?

i don't even know what was wrong—i ate well and exercised yesterday, and today's going to be a fine day. i think it could possibly be that funny letdown after some really fun times; the last week has been exceptionally good. but there's plenty of exceptional good on the horizon too. a shower helped.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

drivers and cyclists, please be careful.

last weekend mamacita called me when i was getting ready to go to the farmers' market. i had overslept, so i was in a hurry, but when she told me she was calling from the emergency room, i had all the time in the world to find out what had happened. mamacita and her partner had been riding bicycles when a car overtook them and turned right, directly in front of her partner (who had absolutely no time to react, and who slammed into the car, flipped in the air, and landed flat on his back in the road.) he's going to be okay, but he spent the entire day in the emergency room, busted his helmet, and is taking serious pain killers right now.

a couple of weeks ago a dear friend was hit by a police officer. his bike was totaled, but he's going to be okay.

today a bicycle messenger in san francisco was hit by a truck. he was pronounced dead at the scene.

if you ever ride or drive, please be careful.

drivers, look for cyclists. you won't see what you aren't looking for. cyclists belong on the road too. use your turn signals. make eye contact. give cyclists some space. don't honk. it's really startling (cyclists don't have windshields to absorb the noise.) above all, remember that every cyclist is someone's baby. imagine that the cyclists you see are your kids. do you always need to pass them, or could you relax and give them some more room?

cyclists, wear your helmets. every single time. they don't always save your life every single time, but neither do seatbelts or airbags, and they're still worth using, every single time. look for drivers. run a brake on your fixed gear. you don't have to use it (i rarely use mine), but you should have it. ride predictably. use lights when you ride at night, a red blinking one on the back, and a white one on the front (blinking or not.)

if you usually drive, ride a bike once and awhile. pay attention to how the cars make you feel and how drivers interact with you. remember these feelings when you return to your car. should you be doing something different?

if you usually bike, pay attention to cyclists when you're in a car or on a bus. are they being safe? considerate? do you ride like they do? should you?

i want to stop writing about bike accidents. like other kinds of accidents, they'll keep happening sometimes, but especially as we continue running out of oil and baking our planet, we all need to work to make cycling as safe as possible. cycling is an environmentally and economically sound mode of transportation, great exercise, and in the top five most enjoyable physical activities on earth. but it needs to be safe.

we're all just fragile bodies. the strongest bones and tendons and muscles in the world are no match for bumpers and asphalt and curbs. please, be careful. please.

this is the most amazing movie i have ever seen that is about pants.

Monday, May 19, 2008

can we all just agree that unclogging one's shower drain without the use of nasty chemicals is a pretty satisfying accomplishment?

as you may remember from the other times i've written about cleaning my shower, between the large amounts of hair that i shed and the fact that the person with whom i share my shower goes through an astonishing amount of soap, our drain is frequently kind of slow.

i try to pretend it isn't happening, and then when i get tired of rinsing the soap suds off of my feet and ankles at the end of a shower/footbath, i remove the drain cover and dig around below the drain for large disgusting hair clumps. i hate doing this. it is gross, especially after i mentioned to audra that i thought it was strange to find so much lint in the shower drain and she told me that it was actually dead skin cells. yuck. (i am pretending that this isn't true, because it is gross.)

i know that there are several products for dealing with this sort of problem, but i don't want to use anything toxic unless it's absolutely necessary. and it's not! because i successfully unclogged a really slow drain!

i put some baking soda down the drain as far as i could (and since the big box of baking soda that we use for cleaning and keep under the sink had started to clump up from getting damp, there were big satisfying chunks to use! yes!) and then poured some vinegar down after it. after that, i poured a pot of boiling water down the drain...and it all drained right down. aw yeah. (also, the baking soda/vinegar combination is very fizzy, and the noise it makes is nice.)

can we all just agree that the flight of the conchords' "ladies of the world" is pretty excellent?

i especially appreciated the shout-out to "presbyterian...laaaa-deh-heh-hehsss." and the roller skates! it is true. women do appreciate the rhythm of the movement of the feel of the wheel.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

can we all just agree that mike huckabee's "joke" about barack obama is totally reprehensible?

in case you hadn't heard, huckabee was giving a speech to the NRA when there was a loud noise backstage, and he said,
"That was Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair. He's getting ready to speak and somebody aimed a gun at him and he -- he dove for the floor."
disgusting. huckabee later "apologized" by saying,
"During my speech at the NRA, a loud noise backstage that sounded like a chair falling distracted the crowd and interrupted my speech. I made an offhand remark that was in no way intended to offend or disparage Sen. Obama. I apologize that my comments were offensive. That was never my intention."
but being sorry that your comments were offensive is fundamentally different from being sorry that you made them. "i'm sorry you're upset" is not "i'm sorry that i made such a horrendous, inappropriate, unfunny comment. i am ashamed of myself and i apologize for my actions."

i don't like fake apologies. i dislike jokes-that-actually-seem-more-like-fantasies about assassinating young, hopeful politicans even more. i'm truly disgusted.

from the la times

Friday, May 16, 2008

can we all just agree that this weather is intense?

i rode my bicycle home tonight at 12:45 in shorts and a t-shirt. and now it's 1:30 in the morning and i'm sitting in the living room, with all the windows open, in a tank top and shorts with bare feet. wow.

it feels like the central valley over here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

can we all just agree that "sleep is the new sex" has the best movies on the internets?

seriously, aerobars on a tricycle? thanks, sleep is the new sex! (i didn't see any of the tour of california, but i heard it was pretty cool and there were lots of free energy bars there. but i kind of wish i had seen this guy.)

edwards endorsed obama.

i'd be lying if i said this didn't make me at least a teeny bit excited and hopeful.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

can we all just agree that "the engineer's guide to cats" is pretty excellent?

happy mothers' day!

to the mothers on the birth certificates (hi, mamacita and the nephews' mama!)
and the mothers who step in when somebody else's kid needs some mothering
and to all the folks, of any gender, at any time who love and nurture and cherish and challenge and encourage and appreciate and feed and hold and cuddle and play with and sing to and tuck in anyone's kids, anywhere:

thank you.

i hope you get a chance to say thank you to someone who has been like this for you today.

and also that you remember that science promises that one caring adult can make all the difference to a kid who's got all kinds of other tough stuff going on. you can be that person.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

my dreams. let me sing you them?

for the last week or so, i've been having extra-complex dreams. i've been multiple people at once, i've been famous people (yeah, it was beyonce.), i've won some sort of american idol-like contest show (partly on the basis of my good manners), and i've been waking up with entire songs (that i've never heard before, that i'm almost totally sure are completely original) in my head.
i think i'm going to start writing them down, because i could sing them from beginning to end when i awake, but after a couple of hours i start to forget most of them.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

can we all just agree that two year olds can be hilarious?

today i was talking to the nephews' mama on the telephone, and nephew #1 was hanging out being awesome. she was telling me about an abandoned dog, and all of the sudden, nephew #1 starts singing (to the tune of "the farmer in the dell," in that funny, super-high voice that the tiny ones have) "ABANDONING THE DOG! ABANDONING THE DOG! HI-HO-THE-MERRY-O, ABANDONING THE DOG!"

the nephews' mama was pretty surprised. but nephew #1 wasn't done. once silly mommy and silly auntie sarah had stopped laughing about the first song, he switched to "THE FARMER IN THE TEA! THE FARMER IN THE TEA! HI-HO-THE-MERRY-O, THE FARMER IN THE TEA!"

and then he started making himself laugh (almost hysterically) with his own funniness. man, i wish i didn't live so far away from those folks.

Monday, May 05, 2008

the bear

the brother
the birthday
i hope it was wonderful!

here is a birthday picture that answers the age-old question: "what could be cuter than an otter?"

(the answer, obviously, being "an otter that is holding a tiny baby otter like, 'here, i got you something!'")

love you.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

and speaking of greenwashing,

did you hear about the sierra club's exciting partnership with clorox? they're making environmentally friendly cleaning solutions! hooray clorox! clorox loves the earth! also, environmentalists!

(here's what's happening: the sierra club is promoting and endorsing a new line of cleaning products, manufactured by clorox, that is much more environmentally friendly than, say, bleach. [a highly competitive field, yes.] the sierra club's logo is on the packaging, and they are receiving an unspecified amount of money in exchange for their support.)

this is greenwashing. the sierra club is lending its venerable(ish) name to clorox, a company whose environmental impact and history is pretty dismal. i am not impressed.

i used to have so much respect for the sierra club. now, i don't.

update: edited to bring the snark:analysis ratio a little more equal.

can we all just agree that thomas friedman + pie = pretty satisfying?

thanks to html mencken at sadly, no! for letting us know about this. and also for using the exceptional phrase, "the altogether inadequate but still somehow satisfying flying pastry of cosmic justice" in the aforelinked post.

thomas friedman is one of my very least favorite commentators ever. and the fact that, in the last couple of months, he's decided that he's always been a huge environmentalist is even more infuriating.

i think that anyone with half a brain can see that totally unregulated global capitalism is bad for the environment (to say nothing of its effects on actual, um, you know, people), so for totally unregulated global capitalism's biggest cheerleader to simultaneously attempt to position himself as some sort of renegade, no-b.s., pragmatic, cutting-edge environmental thinker is incredibly offensive to me.

note that the pie was green. this post, from rising tide north america, explains the greenwash guerillas' specific motivations for the pieing. (hint: they have a suspicion that corporations are not necessarily going to save us from the problems that they have created.)