Wednesday, April 30, 2008


News was never so fun before the Internet.

Used to be, Cow would read the paper and get all flustered and angry, alone with her thoughts of "how stupid is this?" and more.

Now, if you read about Prince William flying around in official aircraft, there will be lots of people saying exactly what you think, repeatedly, literately, illiterately, but also contributing opposing views.

In fact, it's kind of like school, only the teacher isn't having to call on people to express opinions. Nope, they're volunteering them, without a quiz or a test or a grade in sight. And nobody is ever flunked.

Cow is impressed with those Speaking Up.



From time to time, Cow makes efforts in Photoshop. Small, leafy efforts.

Imagine her joy at finding Photoshop Disasters filled with people's work even more awful than hers, such as this example showing the too-enthusiastic use of the clone tool.

Photo courtesy of Photoshop Disasters.



A little visit to Topiaryville Library yielded mixed results.

Murder mysteries, magazines, and DVDs were in ample supply. As far as advice on selling houses, the single biggest investment of most middle-Americans: not much.

A brief sashay into Freakonomics did yield a useful essay on asymmetrical information usage by Realtors, and the tidbit that Realtors selling their OWN houses waited an average of 3 weeks longer and gained $10,000 in selling price over houses they sold for others.

Although there was a Dummies guide to Buying a House, there was nothing on Selling a House.

Nevertheless, Cow left contented, after placing some inter-library loan requests with the helpful Branch Manager.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Cow spent a relaxing weekend. Watching Jane and the Dragon, a charming series from New Zealand, about a girl who wants to be a knight, and has a friend who is a dragon. And then watching Torchwood.

Tired of this reality? Stressed? There is nothing like a weekend-long marathon of other worlds. Worlds with monsters and dragons. Worlds with alien technology and the ability to bring the dead back to life. Worlds with cool clothes, good-looking people, and fast cars and spaceships.

Worlds where really handsome men dance with equally gorgeous women on top of their invisible alien crafts, where time is just something to travel through and if Topiary makes an appearance, it is strictly nothing to do with houses nor Realtors.


Friday, April 25, 2008


Cow had a little consultation with an attorney and backed out of the sale, which also probably means kissing off the job offer and sucking it up and staying put in Mississippi.

"Where did I go wrong?" wailed Cow after telling her story.

"Don't use those realtors again," growled the attorney, surrounded by hefty tomes of non-Topiary learning. "They influenced you to accept the offer, which they shouldn't have."

"You didn't do so badly," offered Attorney as Cow padded out on quiet Topiary hooves. "Could have been worse," consoled the learned man.

Cow is living and learning, apparently. As are we all.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ever feel like a sheep? Small, fuzzy, and vulnerable to predators?

After receiving a flattering job offer in the Far North, Cow listed her home with long-time friends who also happen to be Real Estate Brokers.

A neighbor who also happens to be a Real Estate Broker, immediately offered on the house.

Her realtors advised Cow to take this offer, which was 15% lower than the appraisal value.

Realtors enumerated the advantages: Buyer was paying most closing costs, offer was not contingent on home inspection, buyer was ready to close within 10 days, buyer was known and wouldn't flake out of the deal, and the market is slow and down right now and Cow should feel lucky to get an offer at all.

So Cow signed.

The next day, Cow talked to a few wise friends including the Appraiser who had set the value of the house. All recommended against taking such a low offer, so quickly, and advised her to pay the financial penalties to back out of the contract rather than get ripped off so badly.

So Cow has just learned a very expensive lesson. Unfortunately Cow is still trying to figure out exactly what she has learned. Maybe when she's done licking her wounds from playing with the big dogs, she'll figure it out.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Cow has noticed many fiction books regularly have their protagonist delighting in meals. And when you're sitting there reading, every time the character has a little snack, you want to get up and rummage in the fridge too.

So, logically, books themselves should be edible and just cut out the middle step. As you turn the page, you can eat it. Think of how efficient this would be for travel. Instead of having to bring back books you've packed, once you've read them, they're gone.

Cow is a little dismayed to learn that the International Edible Books Festival has been going on since 2000 and this is the first she's heard of it.

Thanks to Kevin Musgrove of Helminthdale for bringing this to Cow's attention.


Monday, April 21, 2008


Cow came across an elderly "Pocket Book."

Not only did paperbacks used to be cheap, they also used to actually fit into pockets. Yes. True. Cow tried it.

Now instead of 25 cents paperbacks are 8 bucks or more, don't fit into any pockets at all, and still have the problem of being bound so tightly you have to cram it open to read the inside parts of the lines.

Cow is working on a solution. Books will be leafy, green, have plenty of white space in the margins, and if dropped, will grow into trees.


Friday, April 18, 2008


Researchers have found that too many choices can be mentally exhausting.

Now, Cow struggles with this every day. Should she read the Daily Mail or PhysOrg first? Should she dink around on the blog or walk to the snack shop? Should she look at the papers on her desk and do some work, or design a new hat for the Topiary Bunny?

"Participants who had to make important choices spent less time and made more mistakes in solving assigned math problems, and spent more time in distractions such as playing video games or reading magazines."

Hey, did somebody take my COWToday paper? And where's my COWmopolitan?


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Did you miss me?

Back from points north, some observations:

-American airports need more immigrants, especially from Mexico. Why? Because when you deplane carrying, for instance, a cat in a carrier, and find that you have to traverse the entire airport to get to your next flight, if this were Tijuana, there would be a brace of young men offering their strong arms to carry packages and competing for the honor of working for you for ten or twenty bucks and you would be overjoyed to hire them given the complete absence of carts or transport.

-Bring on the de-icing. The more the merrier. Better living through chemistry.

-Snack-paks. The $5.00 meal of the future. You don't get a lot of food but it's really fun because there are about ten different packages in there, all with pretty pictures. By the time you've unwrapped them all you feel like it's Christmas.

-It would help to be shorter. At 5'6 the Cow felt about 3 inches too tall for whoever the airlines were designed for.

-Perhaps there's an inverse relationship between distance to the job interview and recompense. The farther you come, the more they're willing to pay you, apparently. Plus all the extras.

-No one tells you ahead of time that if you're carrying on a pet, at security you have to take it out of the carrier and hold it walking through the metal detector while they x-ray the carrier, then get it back into the carrier. Scary.

-People are astoundingly nice at airports. Complete strangers will help you get your cat carrier through security. Complete strangers will sit with the cat while you run to the bathroom. Complete strangers, in this case, soldiers returning from Iraq, will give up their seats in crowded waiting areas to make room for a small female and her cat and then entertain you with stories while you wait. Airport personnel are outstandingly caring when you travel with a pet.

- Sherpa cat carriers are excellent (unsolicited endorsement). They are sturdy, have zippers in all the right places and survived an 18-hour trip in excellent shape.

-American Airlines got a lot of bad publicity but everything ran smoothly and on-time despite their MD-80 travails.

-Topiary travels well, but did need a spot of ironing upon arrival.


Thursday, April 10, 2008


Cow has been following the story of the American Airlines flights grounded for repairs. What Cow wonders is why the airlines can't have a cooperative agreement similar to that used by power companies.

When Mississippi has a tornado, all the surrounding power companies send men and equipment to help...guess there's just no cooperation between airlines, only competition. Cow thinks that is too bad.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Surfing Samarai Robots

Cow has been reading the trio of books by Mel Gilden. As always, you can find anything on the Internet, even a review by somebody else who just read them too.

If you are a Raymond Chandler fan, you might enjoy the adventures of Zoot Marlowe, alien being raised on 1930's radio shows, come to earth in the 1980's because Trouble is His Business. And 1980's earth welcomes him with all the hallmarks of the time including surfin' in Malibu, hanging out and chillin' with a Brewski.

There's even talking, gun-toting Gorillas, sure to interest a certain member of Cow's readership.



Spring started with a bang-up storm Friday. Pictures of the damage have been sent in by viewers to WAPT-TV, click on the slideshow link on the page.

Cow was very pleased that storm damage was limited to property. Although a few Topiary got their leaves ruffled, no one was injured.

It's always amazing how fast it can change from a sunny day to, one second later, rain going sideways, branches flying and running for your life. Cow hopes everyone who experienced this storm is safe too.


Friday, April 04, 2008


Topiary had the dreaded Fortune 500 company interview. And amazingly there were only two chemistry questions, fewer than expected.

It is interesting to compare differing interviewers. These guys were quick, fast, and rolled with the answers, extrapolating more questions ad hoc. Other interviews Cow has had seemed to follow "scripts" where the questions were set in advance, no deviation allowed.

Don't know which gives a better result for the company. Easier to compare when all the questions are the same, but probably get less of a feel for the candidate that way.


Thursday, April 03, 2008


Cow delved deeply into the Special Cow Feed DVD last night. Cow thrilled to the beauty of fluttering butterflies. Cow marveled at the incredible frog pond. Cow felt as if she were at the Idiotarod. Cow panted and puffed in sympathy as the Lanterne Rouge tackled vertical paths to bike nirvana. Cow waxed nostalgic for the merry-go-round (must find one around here to visit).

And Cow giggled herself silly at the allegations of manufactured injury flung by Dwight at his competitor, who, alternately, had spots and a swollen leg, yet still managed to trounce the competition in Big Runs.

Cow was astounded to learn that her correspondent, in addition to his other talents, is a video producer. Thank you very much for an enjoyable evening, Senor Galbi! And for those of you wishing to see some of the above-mentioned spots, they are at Purple Motes.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mail Call

How lovely. Cow has received the most intriguing package in the mail.

Why, it's a Special Cow Feed DVD! How flattering! Plus a personal note! Cow is overcome!

(taking a moment to compose herself, rustle, rustle, must straighten all Topiary)

O mi goodness! It's from somebody who knows how to create really cool menus! Cow must delve into these fascinating titles, will report after chewing over all these fun things....


Men in Suits

4:30 am. Swimming up from sleep because of that noise again. It's regular. It's rhythmic. And repetitive. Yes, it's thunder. Again.

Stumbling to the tv, there they are. Men in Suits. They're talkative, they're informative, plus they're wide awake. How do they do it?

With their graphics and pointers, they say the magic words: no warnings. No watches. Heavy downpours. Hail. That's okay. Cow can live with those.

Cow sure has the utmost respect for the Men in Suits.