Friday, September 30, 2011

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

In an alternate universe, Charles Babbage's difference engine was built and utilized by him and Ada Lovelace to fight crime.

Similar to Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant, Sydney Padua's 2D Goggles or The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is all about making history AWESOME.

History, it should be noted, is already great. Padua did not, for example, make up that Ada Lovelace was raised on a steady diet of mathematics to counteract the dangerous poetic influence of her father Lord Byron. That is all true, my friends. And Babbage's difference engine was eventually built (a century or so later), and it totally worked. Ada Lovelace was the world's first computer program with not nary a computer in her possession.

Some things are stretched. Lifespans, for example. But you have to read the notes underneath each comic. The things you think are historically inaccurate often are not.

Together, Lovelace and Babbage take on the economy! They are called upon by Queen Victoria to fight crime and make kittens! Their adventures thrill their readers!

Read The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage online! Your life will never be the same.

Yours mathematically,


Thursday, September 29, 2011

History Is Very Serious

Everything I know about Canadian history I learned from three sources: Anne Shirley's adventures on Prince Edward Island, American history class if they ever cared to mention Canada, and Kate Beaton.

Kate Beaton's webcomic, Hark! A Vagrant, is not just about Canadian history, however. It is about all kinds of history! Also literature, superheroes, teen detectives, ponies, and TESLA!

I would put a comic panel here but I feel bad about breaking them up. TESLAAAAAAAAAAA!

I think that pretty much sums it up.

You can read Hark! A Vagrant for free!

And you can buy clothes and prints at the store. Which item do you need in your life?


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Your Own Personal Dance Party

I love the radio. There are some things about the radio I hate. I hate radio edits of songs. I hate hearing Lady Gaga's "Yoü and I" and "Nebraska" has been changed to "North Carolina." (It's distracting.) I hate going on long trips and changing the radio station partway through and as a result hearing the same song three or four or five times in a day.

But overall, I love the radio. I love music. Sometimes I even enjoy ads. Occasionally there are entertaining or informative shows. I can put up with a bunch of ads if I get to belt out at least one terrible pop song while I drive.

My only problem with the radio is that I gave my clock radio to my little brother years ago when I found an alarm clock with two-inch letters. I'm nearsighted. And as a result, I can't listen to the radio without my car.

My solution: Pandora Internet radio! (Other solutions include streaming the local radio stations, but Pandora is better except it doesn't tell me the weather.)

Pandora's history has been a little crazy, but now they seem to have come to an agreement with the party-pooping music business running people. For free, Pandora listeners get forty hours of music a month and a few ads. You can create a station based on a song or an artist, and then Pandora gives you songs that it feels you would like based on which ones you tell it you enjoy.

It's a neat little system. There are some kinks to work out. As far as I know, there is no way to tell it that while I like this song I don't care for the live version with the crowd. But I can put together a station whose basis is Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys and relive my childhood. And I can have a station full of Spanish artists that Pandora recommended to me. Now I can proudly sing about two lines of Shakira's "She-Wolf" in Spanish while doing dishes!

Oh, and for a mere $36 a year, you can get unlimited music with no ads. I'm not going to pony up for it, personally, but you may feel like it.

Check it out yourself at!

Signing off,


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Easier than Getting Blood from a Turnip

There is a blood drive in town today, and it got me thinking. Blood is pretty cool. Visually, it often means something's wrong--like that time I cut myself on broken glass. "There is blood everywhere!" I cried. "Terrible things are happening!" In truth, there was blood in only a few places, and the most terrible thing was that I hadn't realized there was broken glass there sooner.

Blood is actually cool. It delivers oxygen. It can be used to solve crimes. It's handy for metaphors. And it's not stingy--you usually have some to spare.

So because blood is so rad, I want to covet blood donors today. Thus far I haven't needed any donor blood, but if I ever do, I hope the world has my back. I want to believe it does! Even if a donor does it for the free juice and cookies or the smug "I saved a life" sticker, it still makes a difference. So consider, readers--have you had quite enough cookies today?

Locate a blood drive near you at the Red Cross web site.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away

As the weather turns cooler and wet stuff falls from the sky, I find myself thinking how nice it would be to have a pair of rain boots. I don't mind getting wet so much, but there are times when I want my feet to be warm and dry. That is where I would love for Converse rain boots to come in.

Rain boots! That look like Chucks! That only come in kids' sizes.

This, truly, is something I can never have. But if I ever reproduce, I'll be sure to dress my offspring the way I wish I could dress myself. Wouldn't you?

Buy through Zappos for $35.00.

Image via Zappos.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

People We Covet: Bill Nye

Bill Nye was my favorite science teacher. As a child I watched Bill Nye the Science Guy on PBS, along with other very educational TV shows. I don't remember what I learned in elementary school science class, but I do remember that inertia is a property of matter.

I watched Bill Nye long after cancellation of his show--I distinctly recall getting excited in eighth grade when the Bill Nye LaserDisc (LaserDisc!) came out and we watched that for part of science class.

Bill Nye doesn't just educate kids about science. He advocates science knowledge for all the people. I have to say I agree with him, because there are too many scientific claims out there that the general public cannot evaluate. Some are unwilling to evaluate scientific claims. I like to think more science education would open their minds a little.

Now, as you all go about your daily lives, I want you to remember: SCIENCE RULES!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Tightly Wrapped

Apparently tights are a thing again, so I've decided to start my search for a great pair. I like the idea of these Apt. 9 jewel-toned tights:

The best part is that these tights come in 13 different colors to suit all of your fashion needs. My favorites are the Mystic Teal (pictured above) and Italian Plum, which are both day-to-night colors that would work well at work--assuming that you work in a fashion-friendly environment--and on a fun night out on the town. Plus, tights keep you warm in the winter, so bonus!

Image via Kohl's.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Let There Be Light

During our hurricane, the power went out for, oh, a couple of days, and then intermittently after that.

Now, as long as you don't open your refrigerator, you will be fine during the day when your power is out. At night is when things get annoying. I can make it through a place I know by feel easily enough, but I can't feel a mass-market paperback. This is where other light sources come in.

The obvious one is the flashlight. But flashlights shine a beam in one direction. You can't cook by one or read by one or play charades by one. Candles are a little better, but they don't cast much light.

So you might need a lamp.

The kind that runs on kerosene. My mother has had kerosene lamps for as long as I can remember, and they provide enough light to do whatever you need to. A few lamps will do better than one, of course, but one will do better than a couple of candles. They don't smoke up the house, and so far not one has set any of my stuff on fire.

Also, when you light one late at night, you can imagine that you are a historical figure writing an important document or plotting revolution. Who would you choose to be?

By the above model through Vermont Lanterns for $17.97, but feel free to be picky!

Image via the Vermont Store.

Yours, &c.,


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Crescent Moon

As autumn approaches and my wardrobe choices change, I'm still trying to hang on to summertime accents--which, frankly, isn't that hard in North Carolina, but still. But since I don't want to overdo it, I'd like to stick with small touches, like a nice pair of earrings:

The pale turquoise pairs well with black, blue, and purple, and the earrings are work-friendly as well as ready for nighttime. How would you wear them?

Image via The Russian Store.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ladybird, Ladybird

Once, I saw a fancy little patterned contact lens case in a store. It was four dollars or so, and I scoffed. "Why would I pay extra money for something I get for free with my contact lens solution?" I asked. I wouldn't, of course. I have even gone on day trips that turned into overnight ones and ignored the call of the patterned contact lens case, choosing instead to buy more solution and get the included boring case.

You understand, then, why I covet this rather than own it:

Ladybugs! Ladybugs are cute. Yes, sometimes they inconsiderately get orange ladybug stuff on you. But these have probably been trained only to sterilize soft contact lenses.

It's cute and bright. My bathroom is boring, and this would make my trips there a little more exciting. But for right now, I'm afraid my bathroom's pop of color will only come from toothbrushes.

Image via



Monday, September 19, 2011


I love clutches, but sometimes you need to keep your hands free. For a clutch-sized option that allows for maneuverability, why not check out this M Missoni small leather shoulder bag?

It's a nice, bright color that will add a splash of fun to any outfit, casual or otherwise. Plus, since it's available through the Outnet--a great online outlet for high-end fashions--it's totally affordable. Check it out today.

Image via the Outnet.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Boot Camp

Although I have no plans for going into combat now (or ever), I like a good combat boot. Even better is a stylish and well-made leather option, such as the Veronica combat boot from Frye:

You may recall that I wrote about a pair of Frye sandals last Halloween, and since that time, I've really come to appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into a Frye shoe. This pair is no exception. The beautiful degradé gives these boots just the right amount of character and a pre-loved feeling that would balance well with a chunky green sweater and boyfriend jeans or a floral dress and blazer, no?

Buy through Zappos for $268.00.

Image via Zappos.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Through the Grapevine

North Carolina can put an awful lot of effort into trying to be special. That effort is not always wasted in, for example, the university system. It also makes a big deal of all the people who died or vanished here. Lost a colony? Special! Notorious pirates? Extra special! James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson? Uh.

But today we are talking about alcohol. North Carolina really wants to get into the wine scene. If you had asked me a few years ago where wine is made, I probably would have said, "I don't know. Somewhere over there?" and waved my hand in the general direction of either the Arctic or Europe.

Now, after watching a lot of Top Chef, I know that grapes don't grow at the North Pole and that wine is also made in California. But just on the other side of the country, there is little old North Carolina, and in North Carolina we have the muscadine grape. This grape, I am told, is often used to make sweet wine that makes connoisseurs of fine wine gag.

I don't know anything about wine, but I do know that the Duplin Winery is a cool place to learn!

Located in Duplin County, which is made up almost entirely of the middle of nowhere as far as I can tell, the Duplin Winery is one of eastern North Carolina's classy claims to fame. They offer free tours of their facilities ending in a free wine tasting (a grape juice tasting for minors). They also sell jams and jellies made from muscadine grapes, along with knickknacks and the sorts of things you find in stores attached to restaurants. (There is also a restaurant. I have never eaten there.)

So as long as you are old enough, dear readers, you should head down to the Duplin Winery, take a tour, and find out which wine you like best. Then come back and tell us!

Visit the Duplin Winery's site for all the information you could ever want about it so you can plan your visit.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Not everyone knows this about me, but I love catalogs: SkyMall, Acorn, even Doheny's Water Warehouse (I'm totally not kidding about that last one). But Hammacher Schlemmer probably takes the cake. I've written about their R2-D2 robot before, so that should give you some idea of the cool-but-maybe-useless wares available through this fine catalog. Today, I bring you something so much better: the 20-foot animatronic Triceratops.

The question isn't, "Who needs this?" The question is more like, "Who DOESN'T need this?" Maureen and I certainly do. In fact, not too long ago, we hatched a plot to obtain a triceratops for ourselves. I couldn't even make this up. Observe:

Maureen: We could try stealing the Triceratops [from a museum which shall remain nameless *cough*The Creation Museum*cough*].
Cate: Oh. Oh, Maureen. This is a terrible plan. TERRIBLY GENIUS.

Someday, when What We Covet is world-famous and we're making loads of money off of it, we can abandon our proposed heist and purchase our very own Triceratops to place in our blogging world headquarters. Meanwhile, we'll just have to dream.

Oh, and hey--look at what else they sell.

Image via Hammacher Schelmmer.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why Maureen Doesn't Have a Design Show on HGTV

I don't have a guest room, but if I did, this is where my guests would spend their nights:

Toast! It is shaped like toast! What could be cooler?

Because Cate and I are young and hip, we're allowed to put our guests up on toast-shaped air mattresses. One day we won't be too broke to buy toast-shaped air mattresses. Maybe on that day we will still be young and hip.

Image via Archie McPhee.

Sleep well!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Belted Blocks

Here's something I've never seen before:

It's a color block belt from ASOS, and I like it. Imagine the possibilities: you can pair it with a work outfit to make a subtle fashion statement, break up a swath of LBD for a night out on the town, or use it to unify disparate elements in a printed shirt. Sadly, ASOS does not offer this in plus sizes, which bums me out, but maybe I have a skinny reader out there who will buy this so I may live vicariously through her?

Buy through ASOS (USA) for $27.44.

Image via ASOS (USA).


Friday, September 9, 2011

Pheasantly Vintage

If you have an extra $12,000 sitting around, I have the perfect thing for you to spend it on:

I'm a little bit in love with this piece myself, not just because I enjoy emeralds (the emerald is my birthstone, after all) but also because there's something really lovely about the way the jeweler has captured the spirit of the pheasant here. Wear this vintage beauty with a smart suit and you're set for a great day.

Image via Shreve, Crump & Low.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ultra Nerd

Here in the United States, we love foreign food. I'm a fan of Japanese and Chinese food (among others, but those aren't important), and whenever I go out to such a restaurant, I enjoy using chopsticks.

"Maureen," you say. "Are you calling people who eat Asian food nerds?"

No. Some people are, but not all. I may fit into the "some" category there. I don't eat Asian food because I think Asian culture is so much cooler than American culture, but I am a nerd, and whenever I eat ramen noodles I try to tell myself that Naruto eats ramen, so it's cool. I don't watch Naruto, though, so I usually am not convinced.

At any rate, I would become extra nerdy if I used these chopsticks for my ramen:

These are Star Wars chopsticks. They come in Luke, Yoda, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and Mace Windu.

I don't think anything more needs to be said.

But feel free to tell me whose light saber you would choose to wield! I'm still undecided.

Buy your own pair for $9.99 through ThinkGeek!

May the Force be with you,


Image via ThinkGeek.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Backup Plan

Since it's back to school time again, I can't let all these handbag posts go by without mentioning at least one backpack. Earlier this year, I shared a JanSport model with you; this year, after much debate, I've chosen a more high-end--and, quite frankly, less practical--model (but not this one; I can't even begin to address that situation and how messed up it is): the Coach Studio Legacy Leather Backpack in Tan:

It's not really big enough for school books or notebooks, but it's so sleek and lovely that you might not notice or care. And if you're not a student--or at least not the kind who is required to tote giant history or literature textbooks around--it could come in handy when you're out and about. Plus, it has a totally '90s vibe, which apparently is my thing this week. Go check it out today!

Buy through Coach for $258.00.

Image via Coach.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fine Art

I feel that in many cases art is best appreciated in silence. Gaze, then, upon this image for a few moments:

Yes, that is Bea Arthur wrestling a dinosaur.

Brandon Bird does not only paint Bea Arthur wrestling extinct animals. He also paints Abraham Lincolon, actors, cartoon characters, and whatever else he feels like painting or is paid to paint.

Bird's unusual paintings are a delight for me. My older brother gave me a print of Elysium a while ago, and I have been hooked ever since. If my friends don't watch out, they will receive Special Valentine Unit cards from me next February.

What more can I say? Go check out the rest of Brandon Bird's art at his web site.

And you can buy your very own print of Killing Machine for $20-$65. What a bargain!



Monday, September 5, 2011

"It's, like, a Totally Important Designer"

We all know I love wildly impractical shoes, right? Right. And far be it from me to give up that streak. Ladies and gentlemen, the Azzedine Alaïa Zebra Print Fur Shoe Boot:

There is nothing even remotely tame about this bootie, and that's why I'm so drawn to it. It's like Alaïa said, "How many outrageous things can I do here?" AND THEN HE DID THEM ALL. Fur? Check. Animal print? Check. Platform? Check. Obvious nod to the 1990s? Check. Disregard for Anna Wintour? Check. So I bow down to the master and weep at the sight of his awe-inspiring work.

Image via Farfetch.


PS In other news, all you children of the '90s know Alaïa whether you realize it or not. For proof, start watching this video at the 0:19 mark and it will all come flooding back. (Watch the entire video for a really good time.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Madonna, Madge, Esther, and Dita

This is going to be one of those posts where I don't say much, because there isn't much to say. What I will say is, look what I found:

You're welcome.

Image via Madonna's Official Store.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Creme of the Crop

First, everyone, I'd like to apologize for missing my usual Tuesday. I got hurricaned over the weekend, and that does not mean that Eric Staal came for a visit.

At any rate, because Cate has been recommending cosmetics to you, I thought I'd do something totally wild and out there for me. I'm going to talk about skin care.

I know, right? Maureen and skin care? Who knew?

Well, for the longest time, I got really, really dry skin in the winter. Mostly on my hands. It was awful. It would get painful. And because I am so bad at caring for myself in any way that could be remotely considered cosmetic, yes, my skin did crack and bleed.

But then someone from the Internet told me about an amazing product:

This Eucerin stuff is like magic in a tub. I don't use it during the summer, but when my skin starts drying out in fall or winter, I slather it on before bed like I'm supposed to slather on sunblock but inevitably don't. It's thick and cool and soothing, and by morning there is a marked improvement.

So if you, too, get horrible dry skin, try Eucerin! It could change your life. Or at least make you willing to wash your hands more often.

Buy through for $5.29-$13.79 (for various sizes). Or at your local drugstore.

Image via

Smoothly yours,