Friday, March 27, 2009

Calling all car geeks

I've been holding off on buying a Prius because I think it's an ugly car. I don't like its back end at all. I much prefer a standard (yet sleek!) sedan look.

I just saw an ad for the Ford Fusion Hybrid. 41 mpg city? That's not as good as the Prius, but it's a midsize sedan (which is what I'm used to after nine years in a VW Passat) with better mileage than the hybrid versions of the Camry and Accord. And it looks kinda cute.

Consumer Reports rated the non-hybrid Fusion a good bit lower than its top-rated midsize sedans, but still calls it "recommended." It costs about $27,000 for the hybrid model, and if we buy right now (before March 31), there's a $3,400 federal tax credit waiting for us.

Is this the car for me? Is there any reason to avoid the Fusion Hybrid? Tell me, o car geeks!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A bleg for love life advice

On behalf of my friend Anne, I need to ask the internet what the best way is to handle a knotty romantic situation.

Here are the details: Anne met Brad online a few months ago. Neither of them was looking for anything long-term, and he's coming off a bruising divorce. But they hit it off and are quite compatible together. They can both see this turning into something long-term, but nobody's looking to get married here.

Brad's got some commitment issues at present (see: bruising divorce), and his communication tends to be spotty. It can take him two days to respond to a text message, for example. But when he does get in touch and they get together, it's wonderful.

Last night they had a particularly wonderful time. Walking outside, holding hands in the warm spring air, sharing a meal, and having a splendid roll in the hay. Around midnight, Brad went home, and Anne figured she'd check her e-mail.

Within a half hour of Brad leaving Anne's bed, he was making a let's-get-to-know-each-other overture via a hook-up website (the site where Anne and Brad had first met). Unbeknownst to him, the woman he was contacting was Anne under another screen name. She'd set up a second account to be able to set her mind at ease, being able to check out the activity for Brad's profile without having it look like she was spying on him. And now, so soon after a fantastic evening with Anne, he's putting the moves on Fake Anne!

So now Anne is in quite a spot. She is honestly OK with him reaching out to people on that website because their relationship isn't exclusive—but to do so within a half hour of cuddling with her is a huge slap in the face.

What should Anne do? Talk to him candidly and explain that he just contacted her other alter ego, and that this was so hurtful? Ignore it? Contact him as Fake Anne and see where he tries to take that? (She's not much inclined to play games of that sort.) Anne needs some advice and boy, I haven't a clue what she should do. Anyone?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The truth about Obama's income tax plans

There's been much ballyhoo about President Obama's plan to roll back the Bush tax cuts and restore the tax rate for top earners to 39.6%, up from 35%.

Assorted Republican and Libertarian types have hurled themselves into a full-blown tizzy, swearing that they'll work less and take on fewer clients so they can keep their annual income under the $250,000 cutoff, thereby avoiding the increased tax rate. Mind you, this is ludicrous—if you make $300,000, even though your tax bill is bigger than that of someone making $250,000, you still end up with more money in the bank.

Furthermore, these folks are running around like Chicken Little, freaking out about Obama's "socialism" and the huge tax increase. Oh, really? During Reagan's first term, the top tax rate was 50%. And during Nixon's presidency, it was 70%. During the Eisenhower years, 91%. Even with Obama's repeal of Bush's tax cuts, the rich people still have it made in the shade. Here's a graph from that lays it out. Feel free to share pass it along to your relatives and friends who may be railing against the supposed tax apocalypse that will destroy them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I have nothing to say

I haven't posted in nearly a week. "Oh, that Orange, she must be too busy to write anything. What a whirlwind life she leads! Those crossword celebrities, they're in the big time, you know."

Uh, yeah. I have the time. I just can't think of anything to talk about. There's some stuff that, you know, violates relatives' privacy. So I won't go there.

Shall I stoop to talking about the weather? Dang, it's cold. Spring is almost here, and yesterday and today the temps didn't reach the freezing point. Yo, that's too cold for March. Could be worse. I could be in central Canada, or in North Dakota or Montana where the temps were below zero this week. That is just insane!

My car's in the shop. There was a little accident last Friday. You wouldn't think a little bump would cost $2,960, would you? Then maybe you don't own a Volkswagen. On the bright side, last Friday it was sunny and 62° when I spent that hour on the curb waiting for the cop and the AAA tow truck, and nobody was hurt. But I miss my car. I don't drive it far, but I like to have it available. (Sigh.)

I saw a Canada goose sitting atop a three-story building the other morning. Say what? Since when do geese park themselves on top of buildings and honk madly? I asked my mom if she'd ever seen such a thing, and she had—just last week, for the first time in her life. The geese, they may be plotting something big. That U.S. Airways plane that landed in the Hudson was just the beginning for the geese. It's war! If they band together with the squirrels, we humans are done for. I'd say "our goose is cooked," but now I'm afraid to. You never know what the geese are monitoring.

Guess what's for dinner? (Not foie gras!) Leftover carryout pasta. Gotta love having food delivered that feeds you for three or four days straight, eh?

Found out the other night that Ben has always thought the word migraine was "my-brain."

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Plagiarizing my own damn self

I've been writing more bloggy stuff over at Facebook lately than here. So you know what I'm gonna do? Copy and paste, edit to remove certain identifying information. They call this "25 Random Things About Me" at Facebook.

1. When I realized that book I wrote would be published a month before my 40th birthday, I set a retroactive life goal of "publish first book by age 40." Hey, why set goals you won't reach?

2. I have never wanted to write a novel, but if I could come up with a good topic for a nonfiction book, I might pursue it.

3. I never went to grad school because there wasn't anything I wanted to study more. I briefly contemplated a master's degree in science writing, but realized I already had a paying job doing just that.

4. In my next lifetimes (mind you, I don't believe in reincarnation), I will pursue two careers: infectious disease epidemiology and lexicography.

5. I'm right-handed, left-eyed, and right-eared.

6. Princess Diana was my eighth cousin, twice removed.

7. Mark Twain (born Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was my sixth cousin, five times removed. And yet I have never read any of his novels.

8. I was the last relative to see my paternal grandmother before she died. She was out of her head and kicked me.

9. I have been an atheist since birth.

10. I'm jealous of my son's Mowgliesque hair, but have grown to accept my own. Well, except I get highlights to mask stray grays and to have a little fun with my hair.

11. I stopped eating red meat at age 12.

12. I won a $1,000 scholarship in a high-school spelling bee. I went down in ignominy the following year, and hold Sargent Shriver responsible.

13. The best things about freelancing: No staff meetings, no office politics.

14. My first name was so popular in my age group. I almost take it personally that parents these days shy away from the name, because it's such a perfect name.

15. I was a shy and quiet kid, a bookworm. My son finds it hilarious that I was too shy at his age to place an order at the McDonalds counter.

16. Editing crosswords may be more up my alley than creating them.

17. Five or six years ago, I bruised my kneecap and learned why a bruised kneecap is enough to keep an NFL player out of the game. It still hurts like a mofo if I put pressure on just the right spot.

18. I need to buy new jeans, but finding jeans that fit well is a more daunting task than finding the perfect bra or finding a new swimsuit. Sometimes the Gap has the perfect pair, but they always discontinue the cut that fits me perfectly.

19. Wow, I need seven more of these? The meme should be "20 Random Things About Me." I mean, really. Going to 25 is too self-indulgent.

20. Spring is my favorite season. The gradual rebirth of everything green inspires me year after year.

21. My absolute favorite floral scent comes from crabapple blossoms. Lilacs are lovely, but can be a bit much at times. I like the pepperiness of carnations (but those aren't outdoor springtime flowers here). The cloying stank of hyacinths tries to ruin springtime every year. Why do people plant hyacinths? Eww.

22. My son has inherited my fondness for kicking and crunching fall leaves and for stepping on thin, crackly ice. Sometime we fight over a particularly appealing patch of ice.

23. I love living in the city. I want my kid to be a city kid because my college classmates who were city kids—whether Manhattanite scions of wealth or South Siders from Chicago—had a cool confidence that set them apart from the suburban and small-town students.

24. I don't have the hand-eye coordination to excel at video games, but if there were a Wii speed crossword game? I would kick butt.

25. I have always been a procrastinator.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Which kind of iPod do I want?

I just got these fancy new "hearing instruments" with Bluetooth capability that will allow me to use an iPod for a change, without having to use earbuds or headphones. (If you already have things plunked in your ears, there's nowhere for earbuds to go.)

The Shuffle is out. I want to be able to choose what music to hear.

There's the Nano, which has the advantage of coming in ridiculous colors. (And no, I don't want orange. Contrary to popular suspicion, it's not remotely my favorite color.)

The iPod Classic looks big and dumb, and it doesn't come in fun colors. Am I right? Does anyone like the iPod Classic?

The iPod Touch is what Mr. Tangerine has. Big enough screen for video, all sorts of apps, definitely a fun toy. Does anybody use the Touch just to listen to music at the gym? Will it take over my life? Will the iPod Touch become my new boyfriend? Do I need to stay simple and just get the Nano?

Tell me what to do, o wise internets.