I knew it was time for a new (gently used) car when I drove by East High School and saw that my car, a seasoned Volvo wagon, was older and shabbier than all of the vehicles in the student parking lot.
The first step was finding out how much my car was worth as a trade-in. Although you can get a better price if you don't mind the hassle of selling your car on Ebay or Craigslist, I wanted to trade mine in, so I went to the Kelley Blue Book and the NADA Used Car Pricing websites. In addition to offering a detailed account of the worth of your car for trade-in, you can also find wholesale and private-party prices.
Our last dog, a docile German Shepherd, lived to be 13 years old, so it had been a while since we had to shop for a new canine companion. In those long-ago days, we simply went to a shelter (in this case the MaxFund) and picked one out to take home.
Today, not only does every shelter have a website, so do all of the breed rescue groups, prison dogs and guide-dog school dropouts. Then there's Petfinder, a sort of clearinghouse that allows you to specify breed, gender, compatibility with children, cats and other dogs, and geographic proximity to your zip code.
After learning that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had teamed up with a winemaking family in Provence and created the award-winning Chateau Miraval Rosé 2012, my first thought was what kind of cheese the fabulous couple would pair it with.
It turns out that a Rosé is best complemented by a milder, soft cheese, such as Brie or Camembert, according to Fiona Beckett's Cheese Course (2009). This beautifully photographed volume also includes over 40 recipes, as well as tips for entertaining with, selecting and storing cheese.
Although the amount of homework assigned to American students has fluctuated over the years (for example, it increased in 1957 after Russia launched Sputnik, then in the mid 80's and once again in recent years), no one can agree whether or not there's been an overall increase -- or if hours spent on homework equal a better education.
Some people collect bottles or baseball cards. Denver author Joseph Nigg collects mythical beasts, such as the sea swine, the ziphius, giant worms and other creatures lurking in his new book Sea Monsters: A Voyage Around the World's Most Beguiling Map.
The earliest accurate map of the Scandinavian countries, the Carta Marina, or "sea map," was created in the 16th century by Swedish clergyman Olaus Magnus (1490–1557). It's fancifully illustrated with humans performing every day tasks on land -- and chimerical sea creatures showing their big teeth and humongous tails out in the forbidding waters. Magnus created the map in Rome while visiting his brother Johannes; copies of the map were printed from 9 woodblock panels, and were produced from 1539 to 1551.
Earlier this summer, my veterinarian invited me to a screening of The Paw Project, a documentary about the practice of declawing cats.
Although it's considered inhumane and is illegal in most countries, it's a procedure that's still commonly performed in the United States. This heartening new documentary chronicles veterinarian (and now filmmaker) Jennifer Conrad as she leads a courageous grassroots movement to enact legislation in California to ban the procedure, city by city. She started out big, doing corrective surgery and rehabilitation on Hollywood lions and tigers who were maimed after being de-clawed so that they would be less dangerous while making films.
And when the heavens open I saw
I heard her say "Asucar turn this on."
Tito Puente's dressed in white
Playing timbales while the angels
Sing with Selena
Ay Mamma. Is you carnival shoes on.
--Wyclef Jean, "Selena"
As a depression-era child in New York's Spanish Harlem, Ernesto Antonio (Tito) Puente enjoyed banging on pots and pans so much that the neighbors convinced his parents to give him music lessons.
His Puerto Rican immigrant parents obliged, with lessons for piano, percussion, saxophone, vibraphone and timbales, and Tito became a professional musician at 13. Following an apprenticeship in the Machito Orchestra, he served in the Navy during World War II.
After doing extensive research for last week's blog, Craft Beer: Good for What Ales You, my thoughts turned to Lucky Jim, the cultish, post-war novel written by Kingsley Amis (pictured) in 1954, and its iconic description of a hangover.
Jim Dixon, aspiring academic in medieval literature, tries to further his career at a weekend faculty party, but instead creates romantic entanglements and drinks far too much: "Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning.