SWAG-WEAR FOR ALL

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Just as self-publishing has redefined authorship for many people, so has the “design-your-own” clothing business changed what we wear. Specialty shirts for teams, schools, and organizations have long been an industry, but in recent years “swag wear” has become ubiquitous. It’s everywhere. There’s slogan clothing for anything you can think of. And a whole bunch of stuff you would never have thought of.

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You can find a commemorative shirt for movies, authors (living and dead), as well as every book and concert tour … not to mention TV shows and their individual characters, historical, alive, or fictional — and any combination of the aforementioned.

I don’t remember exactly when tee-shirts with clever sayings became the clothing of choice for everybody, but if I had to take a guess, I’d say about 30 years ago.

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

That’s the first time I remember buying a tee-shirt that had people stopping me on the street so they could read it. It gave humorous definitions of world religions as they relate to the word “shit.” The only problem was it took a while to get through all the words, so I had to stand there and wait for people to finish reading.

Since then, the world has burst into a blooming bouquet of slogans and logos on all kinds of clothing, though not yet (but never say “never”) on business suits. It will happen. Just please, not yet.

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Somewhere along the line there came into my world “CustomInk” who can make anything you want in the way of a tee-shirt, sweatshirt, mug, mousepad, pen, calendar, or poster. You name it, they can put your design on it.

Use a photograph, drawing, or use the company’s design tools to create something that says “me” or “you.”  I’ve done both. I’ve designed special shirts as Christmas and birthday presents … and of course for Serendipity because … well … why not? Of all the enterprises in which I’ve participated throughout my life, this one is the most “me.”

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There are hundreds, probably thousands of places doing custom design and printing. CustomInk happens to be the one with which I have worked. Despite sticker shock, I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of the product. I tend to reward companies that do good work by continuing to give them my work … however little it may amount to in the overall scheme of things.

Since the subject in this week’s “Discover” challenge is essentially “clothing that defines us,” what could possible define us more than unique clothing we design and create?

I should also point out what I kick I get out of designing stuff. I’ve always enjoyed design, whether it was illustrations for a technical guide, a book cover … or a tee-shirt. There’s a special satisfaction in designing apparel. It’s not high fashion, but it’s my fashion. These days, you don’t have to wait for someone else to come up with your perfect fashion statement.

You can make your own statement. Using your own words and pictures.

WordPress DISCOVER | OUTER LAYERS

ON BEING DISAGREEABLE

It’s a real thing and it’s a TV thing. It’s a local thing. It’s international, too.

People are rude. Not argumentative and contentious. They are also that, especially in the heat of battle, so to speak. It goes beyond that. They are rude because it seems that politeness, civility, and simple good manners are currently out-of-fashion. Saying please — and sounding like you mean it — and thank you (and really meaning it) are missing-in-action.

You see it on TV shows a lot.

Scenario 1: The reporter is interviewing a subject. Instead of asking questions, he’s acting as if he’s a cop with a guilty perp. He’s interrogating his subject. He won’t let him fully answer the question before he fires off another shot across the bow. Why?

Garry got great interviews by asking questions politely, then waiting for the answer. Listening to what the interviewee said … and then following up with relevant questions. Especially if you’re dealing with people you will have to get interviews from regularly — the mayor, the police chief, judges, politicians — what’s the point of antagonizing them? You get more from people who like you than people who want to throttle you.

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Scenario 2: The cop is asking people if they’ve seen a person and holds up a picture. (Alternate scenario, cop stops driver and asks the ritual question “Sir/Madam, do you know how fast you were going?”) The kid, guy, gal, whoever — and I’ve seen this in as many shows originating in the U.K. as in U.S. versions — snarls something nasty and surly.

Okay. I get that you don’t like police, but why rile up the man with the gun and badge? Now he’s going to take a much harder look at you. You don’t really want that, so if you don’t want to coöperate, why not be civil anyhow? It could save you a ticket. Or a bullet. Rudeness is always counter-productive.

You see it in everyday. You ask the person packing your bags at the supermarket to please not put the bread (or eggs) under the heavy stuff because squashed bread is hard to use for sandwiches. They sneer at you like you’re some kind of senile old bat. Bet they wouldn’t feel that way if it was their bread arriving home flattened and useless.

Half of the world’s problems would disappear overnight if everyone would be nice. Sounds simplistic, I know but there are plenty of horrendous life-and-death issues to grapple with. Saying “please” and “thank you” while omitting the sarcasm might go quite a way towards lowering the temperature of our over-heated world.

Manners are free, you know? Civility doesn’t cost a single penny. They would not increase the national debt or require more taxation. Being nice, kind, thoughtful, and polite to others doesn’t make you a sissy. It makes you a citizen. A good one.

I’m absolutely sure being disagreeable, snarky, nasty, and sarcastic never improved a relationship or a situation. And best of all, being polite, being nice feels good.

DISAGREE | THE DAILY POST

SLEEPING IN. OR NOT.

It’s raining. Not heavily. Not enough to make up for all the dry months this spring and summer.

It’s exactly enough to make the dogs unhappy. Our dogs — Gibbs and Bonnie — and for that matter, almost all the dogs who have gone before them (with a few notable exceptions) do not, did not, like rain. More accurately, going outside when it’s raining.

To sleep perchance to dream

I don’t understand their aversion to rain, especially in view of their fondness for pretty much anything else the weather can throw at us. They like dirt, they like digging in mud. Gibbs thinks paddling in his water bowl is an Olympic sport. Yet, irrational or not, they don’t like rain.

Snow? Not a problem. It can be blowing a full blizzard and they’ll go out to play.

Rain? No way, mom. We are not going out there. Yuck.

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Why? You’d have to ask them. What it means to me, is unless I get up and tell them to go out, then make them stay out long enough to “do something,” they will leave me pools and piles right in front of the doggy door. They get there, stick their little heads out, realize it’s raining and that’s as far as they go, unless I exert my authority. They’re sure that wet stuff falling from the sky is my fault and I should make it stop. Since it always stops … eventually … I guess it proves them right.

I was up at 5. I was up at 6:30. At 8. At 9, the phone began to ring. I have it set to silent nights, but my phone’s programming is inflexible on the definition of “night.” Night ends at 9 in the morning. Short of turning off the ringer completely, 10PM to 9AM are the maximum number of hours for which I can prevent it from ringing. It’s got such a raucous ringtone and is so near my head when I’m in bed, there’s no ignoring it.

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Between 9 in the morning and 11 when I reluctantly got up for the day, the phone rang six times. One-two-three-four-five-six. Garry has a cold, so he’s staying in bed as long as possible. It was raining. I had nothing planned. There was no reason on earth for me to get up early …

I don’t remember the details of each call, but none of them were personal or relevant. One was a bill collector for someone who hasn’t lived here for years. I would have told them to stop calling me (they call dozens of times a week), but it’s a recorded message so there’s no one to talk to. The next one, though, was someone trying to sell me an extended warranty on a car we sold a couple of year ago. She was a live human person, so I could say “Sold it, go away. Don’t call again.” Click. (Someone else from the same company called later anyway. So much for getting them to stop calling me.)72-Phones_04

One of the subsequent calls was a recorded message assuring me I’d won a long weekend in Bermuda if only I would agree to participate in their survey. No idea what kind of survey it was, but I don’t participate in surveys. All they really want is personal information they can use to target you for further phone calls.

It was a recording, but they left a pause during which you could say “NO!!” and I did. I swear the recorded messenger was baffled why I wouldn’t want a FREE VACATION IN BERMUDA. Right. There’ll be a real free vacation when pigs have wings. The recording said “You really don’t want a free vacation? You said ‘No?”

“NO” I yelled into the phone. Again. Then, I clicked off. I miss the days when you could slam the phone into the cradle. Pressing off is not nearly as satisfying.

I’m pretty sure the pace of these calls has recently picked up. There seems to be no way to dump them because most of the time, there’s nobody on the other end of the line. I am being hounded by robots.

Of course by then, I was up for the day. The phone only rang once more. The same company trying to sell me an extended warranty on a car I no longer own, and another call trying to collect money from that same former tenant.

It’s a conspiracy. It’s the only possible explanation. Unless you have a better one?

BLOGGERS AT PLAY

Garry and Marilyn finally — after three or four reschedulings — finally made it to Connecticut to visit Tom and Ellin Curley. Yes, these are real live friends who we have known a very long time. So long that Tom can remember the first house I lived in when Owen was still a rug-rat.

Tom has all his hair. In our world, that’s noteworthy!

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Tom and Ellin live in a lovely home in the woods with a stream in the back yard. And a boat called Serenity docked on the Housatonic River in Stratford, Connecticut. Pretty nice boat. Pretty big river. The boat’s transmission is currently MIA, having blown itself up some time back — not while we were aboard,  but it’s a great story, in case Tom (hint, hint) feels like writing about it.

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We spent last Thursday hanging out on the boat. It turns out, boats are a great place to hang out, even when they are tied up at the dock. Since Tom has a dinghy with an outboard in good working order, we could still motor up the river, even if the bigger boat is not currently able to do more than float.

Tom took me on a ride, while Garry and Ellin chose to hang with Serenity.

The Serenity is named (by Tom) after the brilliant Joss Whedon sci fi/western series “Firefly” that ran on Fox. “Firefly” lives on Netflix. There’s also a movie, aptly titled “Serenity.” Ellen liked the concept of Serenity which seemed (still seems) a perfect name for a boat. If you can’t find serenity on a boat, you’re hopeless. Many years ago, I had a (very small) sailboat and enjoyed some of my  most serene afternoons sailing her in the salt marshes off the coast of Long Island. But I digress.

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I had brought with me the newest in Serendipity swag-wear — the latest version of our tee-shirt. It’s hard to find gifts for people who don’t need anything. Garry and I don’t need anything either, at least not anything anyone can afford to get for us … so after I designed the tee-shirt, it occurred to me I actually could give them each a tee-shirt since both of them blog.

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Tom and Ellin were exceeding gracious by dressing in matching tee-shirts, something Tom had sworn he would never do — not ever under any circumstances because (in his opinion) it’s the final sign of senility. But I said I wanted pictures. I had a camera and a photo-hungry blog.

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It was a great little mini vacation. Thank you, friends, again for a really love time. And the weather was perfect too. Not too hot, not too cool. Absolutely perfect.

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Garry and I together shot more than 300 pictures, so you’ll see more pictures as I come up with excuses to post them. In the photo galleries, the first set are mine, the second are Garry’s. There are many more! Some days are just incredibly photogenic.

UNWORTHY THOUGHTS IN THE DARK OF NIGHT

It’s one of those moments. You can run, but can you escape?

From the other side of the bed, you hear a deep, wracking cough. The sound of your mate. He wasn’t feeling well earlier and is now manifesting the signs of a chest cold … or bronchitis … or …

I won’t write the word.

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Commonsense screams grab your gear and run. Wear a breathing mask. Start mega-doses of vitamin C. Because you will get it. Probably, you already have but symptoms won’t show up for a few days.

As quickly as those unworthy thoughts arise, you shut them down. What kind of mate abandons ship and shared bed at a time of need? A voice in your head is shouting “One who wants to survive, that’s who.” But you tell her to shut up too. Instead, you go to the kitchen, make tea, bring aspirin and deliver it to his bedside. Wondering how much tea will be delivered to you in the middle of the night after you get sick.  You remind yourself such thoughts are unworthy.

Finally, as you tuck yourself back in bed for a couple of hours, you ponder if you should cancel upcoming vacation reservations because you doubt you’ll get there.

Talk about dilemmas. Ouch.

DILEMMA | THE DAILY POST

STATE OF PLAY – THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD & GLOBAL WARMING

This is great. World history and global warming in one fantastic and funny timeline. Why didn’t I think of this myself? Why didn’t I write it? Gee whiz! Love it. Hope you will too. Take your time scrolling down. It’s worth the effort.

A Lecturers Life

I saw this today and thought how useful it was for teaching about the environment. It has some facts and importantly today for students, a bit of humour so they do not realise they are learning.

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