Friday, October 31, 2008


Cow bought a little something to bake in the oven last night. It being cold, a warm meal seemed just the thing.

Imagine her surprise when, opening the oven door, she saw a covered casserole dish already residing inside.

After trying to remember just how long it had been since she used the oven (weeks? months?), Cow carefully donned her largest, thickest mitts and carefully carried the dish outside to the raccoon feeding area. And left it.

Checking the area the next day, Cow concluded either 1: raccoons/possums are picky eaters; or 2: they're not fans of her cooking; or 3: she's already feeding them well enough.

So, taking a deep breath, Cow dumped it on the grass. And left the dish.

Cow still pondering whether the dish should just go in the trash. Luckily, a storm is expected next week. She will wait till after that to examine the dish again and make the final decision.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Waiter Rant

"Waiter Rant" is a book which had its genesis in a blog of the same title.

Cow found the book to be surprisingly heartfelt and philosophical, not just a bunch of stories about waiting tables. Cow, being a fan of Raymond Chandler herself, liked the allusions to that author.

Down these mean streets a Cow must walk.

Other weekend reading included "Biography of Versailles," not recommended because of the concentration on Louis XIV and lack of Napoleonic-era detail, and "The Impulse Factor."

"The Impulse Factor" by Nick Tasler, had some interesting points interspersed between shameless plugs for his company and his for-profit website. Case studies found in any given situation, most people will be security-minded in their behavior and decision-making, but there is always the 25% who are risk-takers, making impulsive and sometimes foolish choices.

Now that this book shows foolish choices are genetically encoded, Cow feels much better about the foolish choices she's made. And, more to the point, feels no need to retain Tasler's professional services.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Office Bullies

There's a bully at Topiary headquarters. Cow is not the target untrimmed shrub is. Cow wonders how much she should speak up about it. What does the Net have to say?

"Bullying is anger or fear displaced onto whoever is the target" says one.

"It's office politics and maneuvering and gamesmanship. Bullies are aggressive people who are very astute at reading the cues." "Workplace bullies share a common goal: to advance their position in the company at the expense of a co-worker, the target."

Workplace bullies want to drive out colleagues they view as threats: the technically competent, independent, those with good social skills and strong ethics."

"Traditional conflict resolution is based on rationality. Bullies are not rational. They will sit right in a meeting and lie."

"In fact, they will come to that meeting with their case made that they've been singled out, they've been picked on, they've been discriminated against."

"Bullies hate a fair fight. They tend to hassle specific people, usually when they are by themselves. There is often strength in numbers" says another.

"Is there any way to end the bullying? Nasty e-mails, abusive notes and conversations overheard by co-workers can all help to document the problems created by the bully. Don't get mad, get evidence."

Topiary wishes people were nicer and that management would pay attention to what is going on and that justice were swift and sure, the good guys would always win and that the world were a kinder, gentler place.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Travel expenses for kids

Everybody knows that you can bring kids or spouses on government trips. It is an accepted thing. BUT if you do that, they share your room, you pay for their airfare and meals and anything else. The only benefit they get is from sharing the hotel room and sharing taxi rides or something where they don't add to the state cost.

What is astounding to this Cow is not only that Sarah Palin billed the state for separate rooms and airfares for her kids, but that only Alaska newspapers are reporting it.

Nobody else seems to be covering it.

Were a normal state employee to do this they would be billed for the kids costs and then fired for filing a false travel expense report. Cow thinks this is a really big story, and illustrates that somebody thinks the rules don't apply to them.

Which tells you something of their character.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Paparazzi are the Jolie-Pitts

Cow was considering paparazzi after reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh's biography.

Yes, even back in the 1920's celebs were chased and hounded by photographers. When the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped the press became a third, unrestrained player in the crime.

There is a huge market for photos and prices commanded are sky-high. But the lengths and expenses stars must go to, trying to protect themselves or even just have a dinner out at a restaurant, are extreme and probably horribly expensive.

Cow thinks the best way to solve this would be government regulation. When every pap has to take a test, and get a license, pay fees, and request permission to fish a certain pond, and have their equipment examined for safety at regular intervals, and attend "continuing education" classes and take tests on sanitation procedures followed, and be subject to new regulations every year (international, of course)....their numbers would quickly dwindle.
Just as hairdressers must be licensed to use scissors, paps should have to be licensed.

Just regulate them as fishermen are. If stars only faced a couple paps instead of bloodthirsty hordes of them, it would be better. Not ideal, but better. It would also conserve the stars from being over-fished to extinction.

See! The Land of Topiary has an answer for everything.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Weekend reading

Cow tries, really tries to keep a positive, Topiary-friendly attitude. Cow admits she's been slipping lately.

So, for the weekend, a snippet of humor from David Sedaris, Barrel Fever.

"Today was the official opening day of SantaLand and I worked as a Magic Window Elf, a Santa Elf, and an Usher Elf. As Magic Window Elf, my job was to say, "Step on the Magic Star and look through the window, and you can see Santa!"

I was at the Magic Window for fifteen minutes before a man approached me and said, "You look so stupid."

I have to admit he had a point. But still, I wanted to say that at least I get paid to look stupid, that he gives it away for free. But I can't say things like that because I'm supposed to be merry.

So instead I said, "Thank you!" as if I had misunderstood and thought he had said, "You look terrific."


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

More from Mlodinow

"Fermat had not gained his high position through any particular ambition or accomplishment. He achieved it the old-fashioned way, by moving up steadily as his superiors dropped dead of the plague."

Ah. So there's still hope for Topiary to advance....

From "The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives" by Leonard Mlodinow. 2008.

Photo of Pascal just for the heck of it.


Monday, October 06, 2008

The British

Cow blew off a bit of the weekend and watched some DVDs of TV shows. Silly, fun shows. Such as Coupling. To the Manor Born. Red Dwarf. A few Avengers. And a little Robin Hood.

And what do these all have in common, besides the ability to sweep them into their world and entertain you?

They're British.

And so, seemingly better written, funnier, better plotted, have better actors and supporting actors. Better swordplay, if swordplay there is.

Almost all of Cow's favorite shows, the ones she will watch more than once, are not American. If plodding action, complete lack of sprightly dialog, predictable plotting, meaningless car chases, wooden supporting actors, films which are an insult to intelligence are what you're looking for, far too often, Hollywood delivers. And delivers. Repeatedly.

Perhaps Cow is too severe. But in general it just seems the British get it, and Americans don't. Unless, of course, you are a 13-year-old boy. In which case the Hollywood moovies are the cat's meow.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Tagged by Watercolor

Tagged by Watercolor for a book meme, Cow admits to procrastinating most of the week.


Because the books she had around just weren't interesting.

So (bending the rules just a bit) here are bits from a better one:

"Sir Anthony Ferndale sat before the dressing table in his room at the White Hart. A gorgeous silk dressing gown lay over the back of his chair, and, behind him, Jim was attending to his wig, at the same time hovering anxiously over the coat and waistcoat that were waiting to be donned.

Ferndale yawned and leaned back in his chair, a slim graceful figure in cambric shirt and apricot satin breeches. He studied his cravat for some moments in the mirror, and lifted a hand to it. With extreme deliberation the hand moved a diamond and emerald pin the fraction of an inch to one side. "

From "The Black Moth" by Georgette Heyer.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Pirate Name Quiz

From esteemed blogger Doghouse (link on right) comes the charming and thoughtful

Pirate Name Quiz

From yours truly,

Red Charity Flint Topiary Cow

Passion is a big part of Cow's life, which makes sense for a pirate-TOPIARY COW. Like the rock flint, TOPIARY COW is hard and sharp. But, also like flint, TOPIARY COW is easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Argh matey!