Ask a Font Creator: Yes, I even obsess about fonts on vacation.

00-vacation-header

We just recently took a short vacation to Las Vegas. It’s cheap and close to get to, and we hadn’t been there in around 15 years. But of course, I can’t just turn off the fonty part of my brain, so I was looking at typography the whole time. It doesn’t help that there is typography all over that whole town.

I’ve shared some of my thoughts about the good, the bad, and the ugly fonts and typography treatments I saw over at this week’s FontBundles blog post.

Read “Ask a Font Creator: Do You Ever Stop Thinking About Fonts?” over at the FontBundles blog!

An epic wad of spam!

Hi Basicinstructions Team,

I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough organic & social media traffic on your website.

I would like to update you that your website is still not ranked on the top pages of Google SERPs for your popular keywords (Products). Your loss is your competitor’s gain i.e. the traffic which could have generated quality sales for you goes to your competitors as they rank well in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) organically.

Reasons:

1. HTML and other on-page errors are present on your website.
2. Low number of internal and external quality links present on your website.
3. Duplicate or low quality contents present in your website without any regular update.
4. Need to update fresh contents on your website and blogs as per the latest Google guideline.
5. Broken Links and Poison words might be present in your website.
6. Social media profile needs to be updated regularly.

Long gone are the days when Google used to give priority to websites of keyword based domains or websites with huge number of links. Now Google counts each and every detail to verify if your website is relevant to the keywords you are promoting for. A single un-wanted link or a duplicate content can lead your website to be penalized by Google.

We are a leading website promotion company providing online promotion, SMO, Reputation Management, Content (both web and promotional content) fixing services to clients. We have a team of 240+ SEO professional working 24*7. Our team of dedicated Google Analytic and Adwords certified professionals excel in promoting and increasing the visibility of a website in various search engines (including the latest Google Panda and Penguin updates), which will directly help in increasing traffics for your website.

Unlike other SEO companies we do not believe in talking rather we believe in delivering what we promise to our clients. We provide guaranteed services or money back-guarantee to all our clients who consider working with us.

If you are getting rigid by paying a huge amount in PPC then Organic listing by using white hat technique will be definitely a right choice for you. As the rate of conversion is more in organic listing as compared to PPC, eventually it will be an absolute gain for you.

This email just tells you the fraction of things we do, our optimization process involves many other technical factors which can be sent to you on your request. If you would like to know more about our services then please write us back else you can give us a call us in our number below.

P.S: – This is our marketing strategy that we use the Gmail account. Once you reply us back, the next communication I will do is from my corporate email ID.

Let me know your thoughts and looking forward to work together.

Best Regards,
[Name Redacted]|Senior SEO Advisor
PH. No: (555) 5551212
Skype: nameredacted888
——————————————————————————————
Note:
1: This is a onetime email and you may ask us to “REMOVE”.
2: If you are interested I will send more details on our “corporate identity”, “company profile”, “why you should choose us?”, “Price list”, “money back” etc. in my next mail.

So first off, you’d think this message came in the form of an email. But you would be wrong. This message was left as a comment on one of Scott’s comics. So right off the bat, they’re lying about their “marketing strategy” using email, and I can’t exactly respond with “remove” to a comment left on a blog. Also, they never once mentioned the company name. Nothing scammy about that at all.

Nextly, many years ago I was the webmaster for a store. That store had a small physical location, as well as a larger web presence. A lot of the products they sold were drop-shipped from the manufacturer, so while a lot of things were sold, very few were actually shipped from our location. An intriguing way to run a business, certainly.

When I took over as webmaster, I re-did a lot of the pages with search engine optimization in mind. And soon enough, we were getting good Google results for a lot of our keywords. In fact, there was a brand new product that I somehow managed to SEO well enough that we were the number one search result, and Amazon.com was the number two. Traffic was up, business was up, and then suddenly, we were on the radar of crappy SEO companies like this one.

The boss at that job received come-ons from two different SEO companies, offering the moon and the stars. He asked me which one I thought he should use, and I opted for “neither one”. Because at the time I refused to (and I still refuse to) do business with any company that blindly sent out generic emails asking for my business. Boss disagreed, and hired one of the companies. They promised improved search engine ranking, five new pages of keyword-rich content, and edits to our twenty top pages to make them more search engine friendly.

They were a grind to deal with — nobody ever got back to me in a timely fashion. Then there was the “content” they sent. Basically, lists of keywords, only some of which were vaguely related to our business or products, that they wanted me to include not just in the HTML tags, but also in the actual page content. They didn’t deliver the five new pages, and when we mentioned them, they denied that it was part of the deal until we dug out all of the old emails. (I don’t know that there was even a contract signed; just a huge payment from Boss to the SEO company.) They provided one page, and it was a ghastly piece of word salad. None of it made sense, and it was just a keyword-riddled nightmare. Of course we didn’t use it.

I was finally able to convince Boss that they were scammers. I believe he did a chargeback on his credit card and filed with the BBB (not that complaining to the Better Business Bureau ever did anyone any good, but Boss thought it was a perfect way to “take them down”). They fought it and declared their intent to sue, so then I got to put together a record of their emails and a timeline of missed promises and lies.

So, in conclusion, forgive me if I don’t call you to get your SEO expertise, [Name Redacated].

I love bacon, but I hate Spam

Despite the fact that I don’t blog all that often right now, I’m certainly fielding a lot of comments. I mean a LOT of comments. Unfortunately, there’s nothing of substance in the whole lot.

I thought that including a simple CAPTCHA would help cull the spam, but it’s done nothing but speed up recently. Here’s three days from my inbox:

Three days' worth of spam comments in my trash folder

Three days’ worth of spam comments in my trash folder

That was a fairly light three days; it’s been two weeks since I’ve cleared out my pending comments, and there are 140 sitting in there.
Clearly, these are real people posting comments, not just spambots. But they may as well be bots, for all the originality they show. Comments tend to come in a few oft-repeated flavors.

The Praise Comment:
Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your design.

You should take part in a contest for one of the finest websites on the net. I will recommend this site!

I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I stumbled across this during my hunt for something concerning this. (This comment was left on an American Idol recap post. From 2011.)

The “I Want to Blog Too!” Comment:
Ηοwdy! Τhiѕ іs kіnd of οff topiс but I neеԁ ѕomе help fгom an eѕtаblished blog. Is it haгd tο ѕеt up your оwn blοg?
Ι’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinkіng about ѕetting up my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Thank you

Ηi wοulԁ yоu mind letting me know ωhich hostіng company yοu’re utilizing? I’ve loаded your blog in 3 completely ԁifferent web bгοwѕeгѕ and І must say thiѕ blog loads a lot faѕtеr then most. Ϲan you recommend а good hoѕting ρroνidеr at a fаiг price? Thanκ yοu, I appreciate іt!

The Broken Blog Comment:
Hi just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

Hi there, I believe your site could be having internet browser compatibility issues. Whenever I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, great blog!

The What? Huh? What? Comment:
If your fiсtіtіous сharаctеr is lοω on hеalth ρoints, you can fill again it οr fifty-fіfty turgid grοuрs and mаnу weeks can be needeԁ to pass thгough and thrοugh, depending on instrumentаlist skills.
ωаrcгaft thе warcraftak_200604-30 04:52 PMB ettеr ask youг Online plot, it is the virtually poρulaг Оnline plοt іn the chronicle of On-line play. Why should one be penalіzed thіs mіѕchievouѕly if their ship’s company/lawyer decided to grade 15, with a combining of quests and someone sucking grinding.

The safest temperature for just about any electronic device is a lot less than 75 degrees, consequently itrrrs likely relatively good if you are uncomfortable, your machine can be as well. Apple. i – Pads are now the in-thing and having one is a status symbol. (This was on a post about banana bread.)

The Multiple Choice Comment: (I’m only going to give a partial here — the entire thing was four pages when I pasted it into Word)
{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. {It’s|It
is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content as you did, the {internet|net|web} will be
{much more|a lot more} useful than ever before.|
I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting. {Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
{I will|I’ll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch} your {rss|rss feed} as I {can not|can’t} {in finding|find|to find} your {email|e-mail} subscription {link|hyperlink} or {newsletter|e-newsletter} service. Do {you have|you’ve} any?
{Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know}
{so that|in order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe.
Thanks.|
{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make some plans for the future and {it is|it’s}
time to be happy. {I have|I’ve} read this post and if I could I {want to|wish to|desire to} suggest you {few|some} interesting things or {advice|suggestions|tips}. {Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write next articles referring to this article. I {want to|wish to|desire to} read {more|even more} things about it!|
{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make
{a few|some} plans for {the future|the longer term|the long run} and {it is|it’s} time to be happy. {I have|I’ve} {read|learn} this {post|submit|publish|put
up} and if I {may just|may|could} I {want to|wish to|desire to} {suggest|recommend|counsel} you {few|some} {interesting|fascinating|attention-grabbing} {things|issues} or {advice|suggestions|tips}.
{Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write {next|subsequent} articles {relating to|referring to|regarding} this article.
I {want to|wish to|desire to} {read|learn} {more|even more}
{things|issues} {approximately|about} it!|

Really, a lot of the shorter ones could be lifted wholesale out of the larger ones. At least they’re putting some time into making their multiple choices, as opposed to Lazybones McBigComment here.

Is it any wonder that I’m full of the desire to just nuke this blog from orbit? It’s hard to get back into writing anything when I know that any new post will just be assaulted with this crap.

Spammers, be warned — I’ve taken up a new little hobby. One you may not like.

Pew! Pew! Pew!

Pew! Pew! Pew!

Google Voice: Transcribing Voicemails Like a Boss

I use Google Voice for my main phone number. When someone leaves you a voicemail, it’ll then use its high-quality algorithms or whatever and transcribe the message for you.

Usually it’s word salad.

Lately, I’m getting mostly political calls, and one of them tickled my fancy:

Hello, this is weapon Pam Powell and I’m calling to advise you that your boning this chick has been changed to 46. I’m calling to respectfully ask for your belt but they Representative August 14, 2012 authorized to support More Jobs Education, thank you bye our communities. I will be positive passionate process that patient sample so we can meet chocolate first advance, but I would like to raise rather than the agony of defeat. If you go. I think I’ll let you know what the green envelope and please help parents house and house and how for State Representative August 14th. Thank you so how much and I’ll see you left with you. Okay, that’s why I won’t all of us today. God Bless you.

Well, then, weapon Pam Powell. I’ll have to watch out for boning this chick. Although I do like the idea of a chocolate first advance.

In related news, roughly half of our mail these days is huge postcards from politicians. I think for the next election come November, I’m going to keep a record of all of the postcards and phone calls, and just vote for the people who haven’t wasted paper or my time or both.

Compu-Crafts: More Phone Hijinks!

Yes, I just spent a good portion of last weekend monkeying with my phone. Not only did I do things to the user interface to make it look pretty, but I also installed new software on it.

That software was awesome.

Then, this last Monday, the news came out that with Cyanogen (the new software we’d put on our phones), our phones couldn’t dial 911.

It’s not a problem with all phones. It’s not even a problem with some phones. It’s a problem specifically with this one model of phone, the Samsung Vibrant, which just happens to be the one model of phone that Scott and I both have. But this is the kind of freaky fluke thing that happens to us all the time. We’ve had these phones for a year and a half. We’ve thought about changing the software off and on for over a year. We finally do it, and the very next day, the software developer says sorry, no longer supporting your phone, because Samsung has it wired in some totally wack way that we can’t work around.

GREAT.

So I made it through the week without needing to call 911, thank goodness. This weekend I researched putting the original Samsung software back on the phone, which kills my soul a little bit, because they loaded it up with dozens of crappy programs that I don’t want, don’t use, and can’t delete. That’s right, they filled it up with tons of bloat and don’t give you the ability to get rid of it. At least Windows lets you delete the AOL setup software if you don’t want it, am I right?

Fortunately, you can re-install the original Samsung software and then root the phone, which gives you deep-down access to everything. Of course, rooting the phone voids the warranty, but I’d already voided the warranty by installing the Cyanogen software, so what the heck.

So it’s back to stock Samsung Froyo, but rooted. And with root access, I can delete programs that Samsung wants me to keep. Goodbye Layar, and Gogo, and MobiTV, and The Sims 3, and the movie Avatar. Don’t want any of you, don’t need any of you.

I also added in a new launcher, since the stock TouchWiz launcher is also a stinker. I’d used Launcher Pro before, but saw that Go Launcher EX has a ton of themes to choose from.

And the developer offers a theme-making program.

How could I not?

Here’s my first attempt at my own theme, to get comfortable with the program. I based some of the icons off of another theme that I mostly liked, but wasn’t 100% in love with.

I also made a new battery widget. Although this is not my weather widget; I found this one that was already in the Beautiful Widgets download section, and liked it a lot. (Please don’t hate on our weather; we tolerate four ghastly months in the summer and this is our reward.)

Here’s inside the app drawer:

Now that I’m familiar with the theme-building program, I’ll have to think about what icon theme to build. I have two three-day weekends coming up, and Scott’s working all of those days, so I’ll have some time on my hands. Maybe a full Basic Instructions theme, although I can’t quite see yet what the icons would be.

Gut Doctor, Car Doctor, Throat Doctor

Gut Doctor

I visisted my brand-new gastroenterologist yesterday.

A recap: I was originally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1997, and had been in medication-free remission since 2003. I had a Crohn’s flare in 2009, and hadn’t found a new gastroenterologist in Floriday yet, so my HMO referred me to Doctor #1. Had a colonoscopy and started on the meds that I know put me in remission (immune-suppressors), although they started me at a lower level. After 3 months, Doc#1 opted to put me on a second medication, Cimzia (one of the new “biologic” drugs that specifically targets something called Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha) as well. He said after 6 months, I’d stop with the immunosuppessants.

Two years later, Doc#1 never did stop one of the medications. I’m still on both. I had to go in for a visit every three months because he enrolled me in a 10-year clinical study for the Cimzia. Every visit, I complained of dry, grainy eyes (I can’t wear contacts anymore)and horrible cystic acne, among other issues (occasional fatigue and arthritis). All of those things started when I started the Cimzia. He’d always wave them off, or tell me to see a dermatologist and an ophthamologist for additional creams or drops or pills to deal with the side effects. When I said that I still had occasional joint pain (because I probably have permanent joint damage from all the steroids I took when initially diagnosed with Crohn’s). He’d also wave that off, saying things like, “Well, that shouldn’t be happening.” Sometimes he’d act like I was lying. Sometimes he’d even roll his eyes.

I knew he had a terrible bedside manner, but my last visit took the cake. Once again I complained about the side effects of the Cimzia, and also expressed concern about the long-term possible side effects: cancers, brain injury, even death. He looked me square in the eye and said, “If you can’t stop worrying about these things, I recommend you seek therapy.”

After making me cry (not for the first time), he left the room. And while I was standing at the counter making my next grueling follow-up appointment with the receptionist, I got to overhear him complaining about me to his staff. Because I’m in remission, and other people aren’t, and I just don’t appreciate the great doctoring he’s done to get me healthy.

Awesome, right?

Finally I’d had enough. I went to my HMO to get a new referral to a new gastroenterologist. First they gave me a referral to Doctor #2, but then I got a call from one of the ladies at Doctor #1’s office. Doctor #2, it turns out, is in a different branch of the same practice that Doc#1 is in. She warned me that Doc#1 would most likely discuss my case with Doc#2, since they’d just be handing my records over inside the same practice. So I called the referral folks and asked for someone completely separate.

Got an appointment set with Doctor #3. Then I went to get a copy of my records from Doc#1. The ladies in his office were very understanding, and didn’t charge me for the big stack of paper. (They’ve always been lovely.) It was an interesting read, to be sure — nowhere in two years’ worth of records is there a single mention of the side effects I’ve had. There’s also no mention of any joint pain, nor of when I reported that I had a stubborn inner ear infection (when on immune-suppressing drugs, you have to keep a close eye on any infections). There were no mentions of anything — according to these records, on every visit I was healthy and free of symptoms or side effects, with no problems at all. After reading through everything, I was horrified and angry, but so happy I was going to get another doctor’s opinion.

I just hoped he’d have a different opinion. I was very nervous to see Doc#3, because for all I knew, he’d agree with everything Doc#1 said, and he’d keep me on what all my research told me was too much unnecessary medication.

I went over my 14-year Crohn’s history with Doc#3. He asked if I’d ever had a small bowel x-ray, and I told him no, never. He seemed perplexed, and asked again to be sure. Nope, doc, never even heard of a small bowel x-ray. I’ve only ever had colonoscopies.

I told him about the two medications I’m on. He asked what others I’d tried before taking the Cimzia. I asked, what do you mean? He listed other biologics — Remicade and Humira — that apparently people are supposed to start with, because Cimzia is a medication that people move to after others stop working. I told him no, I started with Cimzia.

Then I told him about the side effects I’ve had ever since starting Cimzia, the horrible embarassing cysts on my face, the gravelly dry eyes, and when I told him that my old doctor advised me to see a shrink, I started to cry.

I apologized for crying. And Doc#3 quietly put his hand on my arm and said, “You have nothing to be sorry about.”

He told me that the eye problems are absolutely due to the Cimzia. And that he hadn’t heard about cystic acne, but it’s absolutely possible because of the Cimzia, or perhaps the combination of drugs. He told me that for Crohn’s disease, which affects the entire digestive tract (as opposed to ulcerative colitis, which is only in the large intestine), a small bowel x-ray is essential to see if there’s any damage in the small intestine. And he said that if my small intestine looks good, then there’s absolutely no reason I should ever be taking the Cimzia.

Then he asked if I’d been put in a clinical study for the Cimzia. Yes, I told him — some 10-year thing. He asked if it was the Secure study. Yeah, that’s the one.

THAT,” he said, “is the reason you’re taking the Cimzia.”

And I burst out crying. Because all of the studies on Crohn’s I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot) made me think that because I respond beautifully to a less dangerous medication, I should never have been put on the Cimzia. That it’s the next step for people who aren’t helped by other medications. But Doc#1 insisted that he knew best, both meds were essential, and that I should remain on the combination of meds “until a cure comes along.”

I dried my face and left with orders for some blood tests and a small bowel x-ray, which I’m doing next week. It’s a 4-hour procedure where you drink barium and then wait for it to make its way down into your innards, then they take snappies of your barium-coated guts. If all that comes back looking good, I’ll be able to go from two dangerous medications down to one, and potentially down to zero at some point in the future. I might be able to wear contact lenses again. And hopefully the acne scars should fade … in a year or two. I also left feeling like I have a doctor who listens, and who cares about what I think and what I want.

Car Doctor

In less my-innards news, Scott’s car died in a clanking, clattering, puff-of-smoke way the other day. He knew his clutch was getting squishy, and had just called around to see what it would cost to get a new clutch put in. He was planning on dropping his car off before his tonsillectomy, so they could take their time. But last Thursday, the clutch decided to give up the ghost.

He had something like a 3-hour wait for AAA to send a tow truck, and then had some crappy service from the rental car company. But on the plus side, we dropped the rental car off yesterday, and the guy who helped us was the branch manager. He asked how the rental process was, and we both smiled and made “ehhh” sounds. Told him about the rental guy who tried to charge us more than we’d reserved for, among other things, and the manager took forty bucks off the bill. Nice!

Scott has his car back, and he says the clutch feels great, but now it’s idling rough. They had to replace a couple of hoses and gaskets and such that were underneath the engine, so we figure something just didn’t get tightened down the right way. I think he’s going to take the car back tomorrow to see if they can get it smoothed out.

Throat Doctor

Friday, Scott’s going in for his tonsillectomy. I had my tonsils out when I was five, so I have no real memories of the pain or how long it took to recover. All I remember is that I got an injection in my butt, and that really hurt.

We’ve heard a wide variety of stories, but for the most part it sounds like recovery takes longer for adults, becaust they have more nerve endings and blood vessels connecting to the tonsils than kids do. So he’s going to be out on medical leave for 10 days, and we’ll play it by ear if he’s still feeling bad after that. Meanwhile, he has bottles of hydrocodone at the ready, and we’re going out tomorrow to get ice cream, popsicles, protein shakes, and any other cold, soothing thngs we can find.

I can’t wait to see what kind of writing he gets done. I’ve told him he should write a diary. Neither of us knows how loopy the hydrocodone will make him.

Scars, Jobs, and Underpants

SCARS: My stitches are out! Of course, the wounds still look kind of angry. But I did get hearty kudos at the dermatologist’s office — they said I’d done a great job with my wound care, and had kept everything (everyone’s favorite word) moist. The stitches came right out, smooth as silk.

All that for a little mole. Seems a bit drastic!

The good dermatological news is that on all three things that were excised, the margins are clear — they got the whole mole out on all of them. I go back in three months for another lookie-loo, then settle into an every-six-months visiting schedule. Most people go once a year, but because I’m so massively freckled, I get to be part of the more frequent group.

Please note that the dermatologist’s office won’t “except” bills larger than a $20. With picture, in case you’re not sure which one is the $20. I was excited to find an except/accept gaffe, because they’re one of the more rare homophone mixups. (Are they really homophones, though? I pronounce them slightly differently.)

JOBS: It’s still kind of amazing to me how many places I applied to that haven’t said one peep to me. I’m sure they get tons of applicants, but even a quick e-mailed “Thanks but no thanks” (like I just got from Best Buy, to whom I applied 3 months ago) would be nice. I mentioned earlier a “working interview” I did at a vet clinic, wherein a woman brought in her deceased pet and called us all motherflippin’ beaches. Only she wasn’t that coy with the cusswords. Anyhoo, they never called me back with a yea or nay. Seriously, there were probably only a scant few people who went in for their half-day interview process; why not a word back?

This is my last glorious weekend of unemployment. On Monday I go in for orientation at my new Disney job. I’m scared and excited at the same time. This is going to be very different from the rest of my Disney experience — entertainment is such a separate beast from everything else. But I can’t wait to get into the front lines, actually talking with guests directly, going by my own name (And wearing my name tag for the first time!), and helping make the guests’ vacations better.

The hardest thing is finding shoes. Disney is very strict about footwear — my job requires “dress shoes”, black, polishable (no suede or stretch), no contrasting or decorative stitching, and no decorations (buckles, buttons, bows). You try to find shoes that meet those requirements. Not that easy! Every pair of plain flat mary-janes seems to have white stitching, or a big button or buckle on the side. I did find a pair that I think will work; they’re a little pricier than I’d hoped, but I have to remember that when you’re on your feet all day, good shoes are an investment.

UNDERPANTS: Those cold-hearted jerks at Victoria’s Secret have stopped carrying the hipsters I liked. Besides which, their entire underpant focus these days seems to be on being “cheeky”, which appears to mean showing the bottom edges of your butt. Which strikes me as damned uncomfortable. Exhibit A:

In what universe is that full coverage? Look at how much cheekbottom is showing! Even on that model, with her model-sized butt! That thing would practically be a thong on me.

So on a whim, and because they were having the same 7-for-$25 deal that VS often has on their underdrawers, I stopped in at Aerie. It’s part of the American Eagle family, and I used to think it was just for the young people. BUT NO! Not only do they have a great selection of undershorts with great ass-coverage, but they also are my new brassiere purveyor of choice.

Usually at VS, there are two models of bra that come in my “weird” size. Which is 32C (if you’re a 32 band, they expect you to only have size A or B boobs). That’s two models out of the what, 40 or 50 in the store. But at Aerie, they had eight models of non-pushup for me to choose from in my size. Add in pushup and other styles, and I could have chosen from 15 brassieres. They fit great, and cost less than VS.

Aerie is, right now, doing their 7 for $25.50 sale both online and in-store. So if you’re blessed with a junk-rich trunk, check out their boyshorts and boybriefs. Although I can’t imagine any boy or man I’ve ever met wearing underthings the shape of any “boyshort” I’ve ever seen.

Breaking News: More TV Junk Merchants

I get the TV Guide RSS feed, so there are always little breaking news tidbits about new shows. Today there’s a post about The Great Big American Auction, which will be hosted by Ty Pennington (who looks more and more like a troll doll every time I see him).

This is a great example of how small cable shows start a trend, and then seasons later, the big networks pick up the concepts. Because auctions and memorabilia shows have been showing up all over the cable channels. Oh, I’ll totally check out this Ty Pennington one (that hopefully, Ty Pennington won’t ruin for me), but I totally dig quite a few of the other shows about junk merchants. At least with their ginormous title, this new ABC show won’t be as easily confused with some of the others.

Here’s what we watch:

American Pickers (History): Frank and Mike scour the country, looking for people with eight barns full of collected junk on their property. They buy various things (that always seem to include oil cans, bicycles, motorcycle parts, and giant old tin signs) and turn them around for resale at their store, Antique Archaeology. The show is a full hour, but there’s a lot of filler that can be fast-forwarded through — mainly the stilted phone conversations with Danielle back at the shop, and anytime Mike talks to the camera with a discomforting sales-huckster tone.

An episode of American Pickers showed some of these folk art paintings of skeletons over the top of old portraits, but they didn’t talk about them at all. The guys were more interested in their tin signs and bike parts. I wish I knew who this mysterious “BA” is, so I could acquire some of these.

Auction Hunters (Spike): Allen and Ton buy up auctioned-off storage units, then find all sorts of magnificent collectibles inside. They actually did a really nice special episode all about how they gauge how much they’ll bid on a unit, and what they’re looking for. It’s a tight half-hour show, and they almost always come up with some really cool stuff. My biggest issue is that Allen is 30 years too young to be tucking his t-shirts into his jeans the way he does. But both guys are decent, and this is the only junk show in which I don’t dislike anyone.

Auction Kings (Discovery): The day-to-day workings of a real auction house, Gallery 63. People bring in their junk, professionals are brought around to appraise, and then we see the auctions. Most of the team seems tolerable, except for the office manager — her “funny” antics are the most cringe-inducing part of the show.

Storage Wars (A&E): This was the first of the junk shows we tried. It follows a set group of storage-unit auction buyers, and the stuff they find. The buyers all have different angles (the collector, the thrift store owners, the consignment dealer) and are all looking for different things, but frequently enjoy screwing each other over in the auctions. A couple of the buyers we dislike all the time, and a couple of them we just dislike some of the time. But I still like seeing some of the cool collectibles get appraised, and it’s always nice when a character you don’t like gets stiffed on something.

We tried watching an episode of Oddities, but it didn’t capture us — the pace was too slow. We still catch the classic Antiques Roadshow now and again, but that’s pretty slow-moving too. Though you can always count on Roadshow to show you something ghastly hideous, then appraising it at $10,000.

Anyone have any other collectibles shows to recommend? Since I don’t want to live in a thrift store inside a Russian submarine, I’d like to live vicariously through other people’s junk collections.

Words Salad

I have an Android phone, so up until recently, I’ve had to scratch my fake-Scrabble itch with a game called WordFeud. It’s been good, but it seems like you can’t be alive without hearing about how great and amazing the fake-Scrabble game for the iPhone is.

Well, now we Androiders can enjoy the same game as those iPhoners (and play against them) in rousing rounds of Words with Friends. That’s right, there’s now an Android version!

I do have to wonder, though: does the iPhone version not allow you to shuffle the letter tiles in your tray? I’ve gotten used to that WordFeud feature. Oh, and can you set a specific ringtone to let you know when it’s your turn? Because the Android version of WwF doesn’t have that. Although they do have sound effects when you play. I guess there were some complaints about those sound effects, because right after the game came out, an update came out that included the ability to turn sounds off.

Oh, and does it crash every other time you use it on the iPhone? Just wondering. Because it’s the only app that’s ever crashed on my phone.

Also! How long did it take you iPhone users to figure out that to delete old finished games, you have to gently swipe your finger over the game in a leftward fashion until a red “delete” button pops up? Or is that a standard iThing that you all knew about already? Perhaps I’m just silly, looking for some kind of delete feature on the menu.

Oh, and do you iPhone users get a menu? We don’t have that.

Lastly, I want to praise a feature that makes me laugh. It’s when Words with Friends puts two game boards on top of each other, so that you have to pop out and then back in a few times until it gets its words straight. I don’t know if it’s a bug or a feature … or maybe just one of those sneaky “rearhax”.

Come On, Google Reader!

I read a bunch of blogs, and use Google Reader to consolidate them all onto one page. But while Google Reader has its good points, it’s also kind of an idiot in a lot of ways.

A huge portion of its idiocy comes from the “recommended sources” section — it sees what blogs you read, then recommends other blogs based on (I believe) what other Google Reader users read. But I wish it wouldn’t recommend:

– Blogs I already currently read (at the exact same address)

– Blogs I used to read, but unsubscribed

– Blogs that haven’t been updated in over six months (bonus points for blogs like one of today’s recommendations, which had an “I’m closing down the blog” post as the most recent item)

– Blogs it has recommended before, and I’ve already clicked “no thanks”

How hard is it to keep track of stuff I read now? Or things I’ve already turned down? I mean, if cookie technology has made it to the point where banner ads can target products I browsed weeks ago at Overstock, surely Google Reader can have some sort of memory for what I’m reading.

Also, when I decide I don’t want to follow a blog anymore, I go to that blog on the left-hand list and pick “unsubscribe” from the choices. Dearest Google, that doesn’t mean I then want to go to the main feed page for that blog. Why do you take me there?

So hey, out there in the internets — is there a better feed consolidator than Google Reader? Has someone developed a magical site that pays more attention to its users?