Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from November 2004

Packing: Standard Operating Procedure

November 21st, 2004 · Comments Off on Packing: Standard Operating Procedure

Last minute–wear or carry!
Passport, visas, driver’s license, etc.
Enough money, credit–travelers checks?
Layered, loose comfortable clothing, inc. shoes.
Earplugs or earphones and inflatable neck pillow

General travel supplies to have ready beforehand
Itinerary list printed out by home computer.
presents for people you’ll visit
camera, maybe binoculars?
guidebooks and maps
notebook and pens
Credit cards and ATM card–check with your bank about fees when you use these abroad.
extra plastic bags for laundry, wet bathing suit, etc.

Clothing–general considerations
How long is the trip?  Or, how long is the interval between being able to wash clothes?
How will clothes be washed — Laundromat, hotel valet, hotel sink, friends’ washing machine?
Special occasions to pack for–Dress-up?  Hiking?  Old clothes?   Shoes for these, too!

Clothing–generic list
walking shoes, dress shoes
trousers with shirts to match
dresses–(simpler and more comfortable than skirts)
sweaters and jackets
underwear including socks and stockings–and long-johns if needed!
outerwear, inc. coat, gloves, boots, etc. if appropriate
bathing suit

Toiletries and meds — generic
If 1) you might need it on board or 2) you can’t replace it easily, pack it as carry-on.
Any prescription (enough for trip), plus Advil, Sudafed, Immodium, Dramamine
pkg. Kleenex, pack 10 Q-tips inside to keep them tidy.
small shampoo, toothpaste, and toothbrush, all tied up in plastic bag to prevent leaks
2 bandaids, tube Lanabiotic ointment, and cough drops to fill up the rest of bandaid box
Don’t bring too much–there are probably drugstores at your destination.

Pack more stuff!
Bring some Cheerios, nuts, dried fruit, etc.
Bring logic puzzles to help you fall asleep.
When these are used up, you have extra space in your luggage to take new things home.

Tags: Stories · Travel · Useful

Do good, smell good

November 20th, 2004 · Comments Off on Do good, smell good

  • Would you like your aura to glisten with vibrant white musk? 
  • Or
    would you prefer a sweet “bat-friendly bouquet”?
  • Do you want to smell like ozone and mountain thunder?
  • How about chocolate, deeper musks, fig, and rum?

Tempted? Then you won’t turn your nose up at the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.*

Besides, each of these four perfumes also helps some good cause–the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Bat Conservation International, Adopt-a-Native-Elder program,  and the Animal Assistance League of Orange County, respectively.

What kind of smells would fit your own good causes?

I might just wear the last of these, but then, who nose?

* Via Neil Gaiman–thanks, Neil!

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Harry-met-Sally boots

November 20th, 2004 · Comments Off on Harry-met-Sally boots

I once spent a week on jury duty with John Nash.
I’m glad I was smoking back
then*, because it meant I got to hang out with him next to the gritty
Trenton courthouse. (No lawyer wanted either of us for a jury.)

This was after he won the Nobel Prize in Economics
but before A Beautiful Mind was written (let alone filmed), so he was a celebrity to nobody there but me, which suited us both just fine.

I wish I
remembered more of the things he told me about his Nobel adventures. I asked him if he had bought
something great with the money–he said the best thing was a
cordless phone!  He loved being able to have the phone with him when he
was taking a bath. (This was before anyone had  mobile phones.)
On the way home that night, I bought Frank a cordless

Boot: Merrell Yeti high boot<br />“></td>
<td>My<br />
favorite luxury since Frank won the Nobel Prize has been a<br />
pair of <a href=Merrell Yeti high boots. And two more pairs, one for each of
our daughters.

On the weekend my wonderful sister Marie came to help us all buy ballgowns,
the Tannery shoe store was having a two-for-one sale . This required a
quick detour from ballgowns…

Amity, trying on Merrell Yeti boots, said, “Oh, these feel so good. I
love walking in them. They feel so warm and so soft and so

Marie looked at me and said, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

you get these beautiful boots, wear socks inside them. The black fleece
lining leaves your ankles and feet a dusty gray. Not the best look to
go with party shoes!

* And I’m even gladder that I quit later that year.

Tags: Nobel

Talkin’ ’bout my generation

November 19th, 2004 · Comments Off on Talkin’ ’bout my generation

In a move “sure to ignite debate“, Rolling Stone Magazine just picked 500 top rock songs of all
times–their number one choice is Bob Dylan’s 1965 “Like a Rolling Stone.”

What a great choice–the song that kicked down the wall separating
“folk music” from the excitement of rock.  How gorgeous it felt,
to the folk purist I had become, to get
Dylan’s permission for music I secretly longed for.

Even more important were the lyrics–and not
just because Dylan rhymes “didn’ you” with “kiddin’ you.” He was yelling a wake-up call to a generation of kids drifting
into deep water, all telling each other that nobody ever drowned.

I can remember so many kids from my generation who just went under
and never came up again. I
remember the doctor’s son in my grammar school class, one of the
cute-naughty boys the rest of us sighed for. He decided to “try” Viet
Nam, died there of a heroin overdose. I remember Linda, teaching her
parents a “lesson” by hanging out with wild and crazy guys–I was
in college when I heard one of them shot her. Less
spectacularly, I remember many kids who partied away four (or five, or
six) years of college, until Mom and Dad decided to stop wasting money.

remember Lucinda*, the night before a test, telling me, “I wonder if my
middle-class fear of failure will force me to study.”

It would have, if she’d been listening to Bob Dylan.

* She was a psych major.

Tags: Sister Age

“Tell a friend about Bloglines”

November 18th, 2004 · Comments Off on “Tell a friend about Bloglines”

If you used to subscribe to my blog using Bloglines–they just unsubscribed you. They unsubscribed 51 people, including me.

If you want to read the whole frustrating interaction, with frequent
appearances of the Bloglines sig “Tell a friend about Bloglines,” I posted it here.

If you want to keep up with the latest Betsy news and funny stuff, please subscribe to
my feed:

Tags: Metablogging

Tell a friend about Bloglines–okay, I will.

November 18th, 2004 · Comments Off on Tell a friend about Bloglines–okay, I will.

Bloglines is a free web-based aggregator created by Mark Fletcher. It
was the first newsreader I tried, and I like many of its features. But
I’m very frustrated they lost all my subscribers! Here’s how it
happened– I toyed with the email addresses to frustrate spambots.

From: Subject: Web Form: [Feeds] Date: 29 Oct 2004 15:10:56 -0000

Hi–Bloglines shows the RSS feed for my blog as defective or missing,
and has for about the past 24 hours. My RSS feed is fine, and I’d love
my friends who subscribe to it in Bloglines to be able to read my
latest post (yesterday). I don’t know if this is a problem with Manila,
with, or with Bloglines, but I’m hoping you can fix it
anyway. BTW, that was great you gave $ to BloggerCon 3! Thx, Betsy


From: “Bloglines Customer Support”
<> To: Subject: Re: [#10889] Web Form:
[Feeds] Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 13:45:53 -0700 Hi there

Thanks for the bug report. We’re investigating it and hope to have it resolved soon.

— Kate Bloglines

Tell a Friend about Bloglines!

From: Betsy Devine [] Sent:
Monday, November 08, 2004 6:12 AM To:; Subject: Re: [#10889] Web Form:

 Hi Kate and/or other supporters–

Whatever “fix” was applied caused my feed to lose all its 51 Bloglines subscribers including me.

Please give me back my subscribers, I worked hard to get them to like my blog.

In related news, I re-subscribed to my feed (so did 1 other person) and it isn’t updating in Bloglines.

Unhappily yours, Betsy “Making trouble today for a better tomorrow.”

To: “‘Betsy Devine'”
<> Subject: RE: [#10889] Web
Form: [Feeds] Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2004 18:08:51 -0800

 Hi Betsy,

Oh no, sorry about that.  Let me see what I can find out for you.

Thanks for your patience.


From: “Betsy Devine” <>
Subject: RE: [#10889] Web Form: [Feeds] Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2004 10:50:44

Hi Kate–

I want the 50 people you unsubscribed from my feed to be re-subscribed,  please.

If this isn’t possible, I would like Bloglines to use some other way to
help  me get my subscribers back–maybe by adding my blog as a top
Recommendation  for people who subscribe to the same blogs I
subscribe to.

If this isn’t possible, I will have to blog about this very bad
experience with Bloglines as a way to notify my former subscribers that
they are no  longer subscribed.

I hope to hear back from you soon about this problem. Betsy “Making trouble today for a better tomorrow.”

From :  Bloglines Customer Support <>

Sent :  Tuesday, November 16, 2004 6:12 PM

To :  “Betsy Devine” <>

Subject :  Re: [#11477] Web Form: [Feeds]

Hi there Betsy,

Unfortunately we have no way to recovering that information.

Your site will most likely show up as
a recommendation for other people subscribed to the same sites. That’s
how  the system works.

Please accept our apologies.

Thanks, — Kate Bloglines

Tell a Friend about Bloglines!

Tags: Stories

Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at Harvard

November 17th, 2004 · Comments Off on Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at Harvard

In an unmicrophoned and intimate space behind the Agassiz Theater,
Harvard’s Early Music Society presents L’Orfeo, Monteverdi’s 1697
“fable in music.”

I went to the dress rehearsal tonight–real tickets have sold out for
all but opening night, and no wonder–Harvard has excellent word of
mouth. Music director Thomas Kelly and stage director Zoe Vanderwolk
(yes, that Zoe, the multi-talented blogger at Greenpass) have created a
seamlessly transparent, honest staging of this classic.

From the opening fanfare (sackbuts and cornettos baroque trumpets*) to curtain calls with
the young cast taking their bows, you are under the spell of Claudio
Monteverdi. Costumes and scenery are scaled to enhance the opera’s own
magic–nothing is pretentious, nothing is tricksy–if only the ART**
could stage classics so well!

Among many talented players, some are especially good. Lovely, grave,
clear-voiced Erica Brookhyser personifies “Music,” bare-armed and
bare-footed in heavy silk classical drapery. (It gave me a start to see
her at intermission in blue jeans and clogs, chatting with one of the
lutanists. “I only come onstage during the happy acts,” she explained.)

Paul Guttry as Charon (“Caronte”) maintains fine control of expressiveness and tone way down into some very deep bass territory.

Samantha Franklin sings an irresistibly flirtatious Persephone
(“Proserpina”)–and Nick Vines (“Pluto”) convincingly falls for her
wiles, going from pouty to patriarchal with dignified grace.

All in all, it was a marvelous evening of music and theatre–congratulations to all for a job well done!

*  Memo to self: don’t blog at 2 a.m.
**Cambridge’s American Repertory Theater (ART) is famous for avant
garde productions of classics, an ultramontane version of bait and
switch where (for example) Uncle Vanya is performed by actors engulfed
in overcoats, or Pericles is enlivened by nude videos of its principal

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Angst of a modern Hamlet

November 17th, 2004 · Comments Off on Angst of a modern Hamlet


IM translator via Joi Ito

Tags: Learn to write funny

Fun and games with any identity crisis

November 16th, 2004 · Comments Off on Fun and games with any identity crisis

Your name as a rock star, if you become one…
(Favorite candy / Last name of favorite musician ): Reeces Pieces Clapton


Your “fly boy” nickname, a la J. Lo?
initial / First two or three letters of your last name): B. Dev (or
maybe R. Cla, if we start with Reeces Pieces Clapton.)


As a famous fashion designer, you’d call yourself…
(First word you see on your left / Favorite restaurant) Thesaurus Temple Bar


If the CIA recruits you as an exotic foreign spy, you’ll need a cover identity…
(Favorite spice / Last foreign vacation spot): Oregano Geneva


If you become a billionaire socialite, tabloids will call you…
(Silliest childhood nickname / Town where you first partied): Betsy Boo Manhattan


As a hard-boiled detective, you’ll be called…
(Favorite baby animal / Where you went to high school): Kitten Concord Academy.


If you walk into a bar on a regular basis, your fellow barflies will say “Here comes…
(Last snack food you ate / Your favorite alcoholic drink): Mixed Nuts Margarita!”

All things considered, I’d better stick to blogging as Betsy Devine.

Thanks to the Redhead, who’s about to get married, for her variations on the theme of name-changes.

Tags: Heroes and funny folks

“All you need is #384″

November 14th, 2004 · Comments Off on “All you need is #384″

WordCount* is an
online toy based on word popularity. (It ranks common English words
from #1 –“the”– to #86,800–“conquistador”.) You can use it to:

* Embellish short quotes or poems by giving each word its own popularity number:

“All (#41) you (#14) need (#158) is (#9) love (#384).”
The (#1) Beatles (#12851)

* Play silly word-race games: “love” is only #384–slightly less
popular than “economic”, which is #383.  The word “Beatles”
(#12851) is more popular
than “Beatrice” (#12867)–I bet that would annoy the hell out of Dante

* Play the vanity word-race game–you know you want to. I confess I did, says Betsy (#19932) Devine (#32630).

* Thanks to Jonathan J. Harris for inventing WordCount!

Tags: Learn to write good