Stinky stories for you to enjoy

The title of this post sounds like a fart joke waiting to happen. As much as I love a good fart joke (and I do – I live in a “most farts are funny” house), that is not the story I want to tell today.

The first stinky story began on Wednesday night when I picked Flora up from daycare. Sean normally picks her up on his drive home from work, but he had to work late so it was on me to go get her. When I pick up Flora, I usually go by bus because we only have one vehicle and Sean and I work in opposite ends of town. Flora gets to have an adventure on a not-too-busy bus (a 5-10 minute ride) and we have walk or (if it’s a planned pickup) stroller ride home. Takes a little longer, but not a big deal since we’re coming home for the evening, not starting the day.

Pickup went as normal. I had a nice chat with my childcare provider and Flora and I headed off to the bus stop. She hadn’t finished one of her sippy cups of milk so I put it in my purse. We had a uneventful bus ride (Flora talked all the way home about the bus) and a meandering walk home, as toddlers like to do.

About halfway through our trip, I thought my leg was getting wet. Stink lines weren’t waving around Flora so I opted not to worry about it. Once we got into the house, I discovered that it wasn’t an off-kilter diaper that got me wet. It was the sippy cup in my purse. It had leaked and dripped down to the bottom corner and was hitting my leg. I quickly emptied my purse and gave the lining a quick rinse and left it dripping in the kitchen sink. Later that evening, I took my purse upstairs and sprayed the lining with vinegar and sprinkled baking soda on it and left it out to dry overnight. I worried that the milk had gotten in between the lining and the purse itself which would be difficult to clean and would cause my purse to get funky in a non-fashionable way.

The next morning I checked and the purse seemed dry and funk-free enough to try wearing it again. I put my stuff back in it and treated everything as normal.

Fast forward to Friday morning.

All three of us get into the car to start the day (Sean drops me off near the subway). Before we get going, I smell a stink.

“Did Flora soil herself?” I ask Sean.

“I don’t know. Flora did you poop?” said Sean.

“No Daddy”, replied Flora. I wasn’t so sure I trusted her answer as she sometimes fudges the truth when she fudges her Huggies.

Again, I opted not to worry about it and we carried on with our day.

Once I was at work, Sean called me to tell me that he checked the car and couldn’t figure out the source of the stink. He even checked the engine thinking an animal had shit in it. He had also wondered in the car if someone had put poop in our gas tank. (That was a little too WTF for me but I suppose stranger things have happened.)

A little later, Sean and I have the following email exchange:

From: Sean
Sent: October 22, 2010 10:02 AM
To: Melissa
Subject: Mystery Solved

I stepped in Dog shit and it was copious.. Tried to get most of it off in the bathroom..fuckin dog

From: Melissa
Sent: October 22, 2010 10:06 AM
To: Sean
Subject: RE: Mystery Solved

I’m sorry, but I did laugh at this email. Hope you got it off. Did it hit your pants?

Much more sensible than someone putting poop in our gas tank. 😛

Now we know why we need to pick it up right away. (ed. note: the night before, Sean had taken the dog out, but hadn’t cleaned up the mess, saying he’d catch it tomorrow. He certainly did!)

From: Sean
Sent: October 22, 2010 10:07 AM
To: Melissa
Subject: RE: Mystery Solved

I still smell the poop..I might have to buy new shoes at lunch

From: Melissa
Sent: October 22, 2010 10:09 AM
To: Sean
Subject: RE: Mystery Solved

You’ll probably keep smelling it long after the shoes are gone. Does anyone else notice it?

From: Sean
Sent: October 22, 2010 10:10 AM
To: Melissa
Subject: RE: Mystery Solved

I am not sure..Thinking about it I will now have to clean the brake and gas pedals and possibly replace the floor mat in the car

From: Melissa
Sent: Fri 22/10/2010 10:13 AM
To: Sean
Subject: RE: Mystery Solved

You’ll want to wear the old shoes when driving home if the pedals are poopy. Then you don’t soil the new shoes.

I ended up with a severe case of the giggles as the emails went back and forth. I was relieved to have the mystery solved though.

However, due to all the talk about it, I started noticing more stink myself. I worried that the poop had somehow jumped from Sean’s shoes to mine and I checked my soles for it. Nothing there. I chalked it up to psychosomatic phantom smells and left it alone.

Come lunch time, I discovered that there were no phantom smells. That stink was real.

I had opened my drawer to get my purse so I could go and get my lunch. The stink that came out of there was wild. Turns out the milk from Wednesday had stuck and around and funked up my purse just as I had feared. So I had probably brought my own stink into the car as well. I couldn’t blame it all on Sean (or the dog for that matter).

My coworkers got a big laugh when I told them the short version of this story. They tell me that they hadn’t noticed the stink so either they’re too nice or my desk drawer had contained it perfectly to my cubicle.

I’ve been purse hunting ever since. This was one time I did not want to go on a purse bender because I actually really liked this purse (when it’s funk-free) and I wanted to be sure I’d find something similar in style (and price). I must be getting low on patience because I decided to try out a cute little bag I saw on Etsy. Buying online makes me nervous because you can’t feel it out to make sure it’s the one for you. I’m choosing to be optimistic.

I’m also choosing to store Flora sippy cups in her bag from now on.

Sean chose to pick up new shoes, which he really needed anyway.

Nothing like a little stink to keep things moving forward.

Need inspiration for your blog posts? I have an idea.

Like many personal bloggers (and probably more than a few professional ones), I sometimes have trouble coming up with good ideas for interesting posts. When I used the now-defunct Vox blogging service and two of my favourite features of that service were the Question of the Day and the Vox Hunt. Both features provided prompts that encouraged users to write or share media related to the subject they posted. The questions were often user-generated so there was usually variety. You can see from my previous posts in these categories (QoTD , Vox Hunt , and several more posts that didn’t get categorized when I moved) that I answered several of them and they often led to writing on a topic I wouldn’t have considered had I not followed the prompt.

I also really enjoyed reading other people’s answers to the same questions.

I’ve been searching for similar writing prompt sites and my Google-fu is failing me – I keep coming back to the same sites over and over. They are usually static or long-abandoned and often only consist of one person’s ideas. The 30 Days of Truth meme going around right now intrigues me but that’s only 30 days worth of questions, and some of the questions on that list don’t interest me, which is why I haven’t started participating in it myself. I’ve enjoyed reading those posts immensely.

I’d like to create a site devoted to reader-generated blog prompts (in word or picture/media format), but I’d like to figure out a few things first:

  • I want lots of people to contribute ideas, because more ideas equals more content. If I opened up a site and asked for contributions, would you consider contributing an idea or seven? No idea is too small or too silly. Those are often the easiest to answer quickly.
  • If you looked at this potential site and found a prompt interesting, would you write about it and link back so everyone else can read what you wrote? Would you consider leaving a comment saying “hey! I wrote about this on my site!” or would you want to use one of those link widget things? I want to be able to read any posts that come out of this and it’s always nice to have a little promotion somewhere, right?
  • What is the best platform for this? I want this to be easy to manage for me as an admin and easy for any contributors that may want to share content. I also don’t want to spend a pile of money on hosting if I didn’t have to at this stage. I love the flexibility of WordPress and the simplicity of Posterous. How would you do this?

What would you do to make this work? I’d like to keep it fun, low-pressure, full of variety and completely opt-in. If you participate in every post, that’s awesome. If you participate in only one, that’s awesome too.

I’m always on the lookout for new things to write about and you probably are too. Would you participate in something like this, at least once in awhile? Let me know in the comments.

Daddy Daughter Day

It’s football season again which means that Sean is very focused during the games. Is that a nice way of saying he’s pretty much glued to the couch?

I on the other hand am of the “football is the game with the pointy ball” variety. I don’t get it and don’t try and explain it to me. People have tried and I glaze over and zone out every time.

Sean is also playing fantasy football online and in a point spread pool with some people I work with. (No, I’m not playing vicariously, but I do ask how everyone is doing. Concerned wife and all.)

So far, it’s been a rough season for Team Mitchell. He cheers for a perennial underdog (the Bills) and his picks have not done well this year at all.

He’s asked me my opinion a few times which makes for amusing conversations. My picks are based on any of the following criteria:

  • which team have I heard more about lately
  • which city I like better in general
  • what colour their uniform is
  • is there a player I’ve heard of playing for them?
  • Was there an article about that team in the Sports Illustrated that Sean left in the bathroom?
  • is the sun shining? What phase is the moon in?
  • You get the picture

Fortunately, he doesn’t take my picks too seriously, due to the lack of strategy and all.

I knew his picks were going really badly when he started talking about picking the opposite of whatever he wanted to pick. Then he started asking Flora who to pick. Flora, being two, doesn’t really get football. She likes throwing a football, and knows that Daddy likes football and watches a lot of it on TV, but that’s about it.

This morning when we were all snuggling in bed, Sean asked Flora who he should pick. Here is a paraphrased version of the conversation (paraphrased because my memory isn’t as good as I’d like)

Sean: “Ravens or Steelers?”

Flora: “Steelers!” (said in the most confident tone a football-ignorant person could possibly muster. Gotta love a toddler’s self-confidence)

Sean: “Good choice. Jets or Bills?”

Flora: “Bills!”

Me: “She may have picked them because we’ve taught her to say ‘Go Bills!'”

Sean: “I don’t know if I’d pick them right now. Seahawks or Rams?”

Flora: “Rams!”

Me: “I think she’s just repeating the last word you say.”

Sean: “I think you’re right”

Me: “Collapses in a heap of giggles at the futility of watching Team Mitchell picking out who will win at their sporting events of the day.”

We’ll have to see what happens when Flora is a little older and can actually grasp the rules of football. She may be able to help Team Mitchell make better picks and Flora and Sean can live out their own football-based Simpsons episode with a Daddy Daughter Day of their very own.

Or, given the way that Simpsons episode went, maybe not.

Playing with Posterous

So, as you’ve probably figured out, I’ve opened a Posterous account. As the title of the site indicates, I’m using it as a junk drawer section for, my main site. You can access it from this site by clicking on the Junk Drawer link at the top of this page.

“Junk drawer” to me means: items I want to save for myself (like all those recipes I posted last night), pictures that I want to post but not necessarily post on my Flickr page (I’d like to keep all the pictures I’ve been posting on various twitter picture hosting sites in one place that is searchable.), and thoughts/links that are too long for Twitter but too short (or inappropriate) for this site.

What I like so far about Posterous:

it really is as easy
as they say it is.

The bookmarklet
– I posted all those recipes last night by going through my Read It Later list (where the links to those recipes were originally stored) and highlighting the recipe. Then I just clicked the bookmarklet and it picked up the formatted text and included the attribution link. I did some cleanup in a couple of spots to get rid of “Send to a friend” type links, but on the whole it was really smooth. I only had issues with autoposting (which I’ll go into detail on below).

What I don’t like so far about Posterous:

I really wish I could put this functionality on my own (WordPress) site. Not sure if a self-hosted Posterous would work like a self-hosted WordPress site, but I like having control. I like knowing exactly where my files are and being able to access them via FTP. Given that this is for my junk drawer stuff, this doesn’t bother me as much as if it was for my entire site. This is my issue though – many people prefer that Posterous does all the heavy lifting. I may also prefer it too someday, but I love my plugins!

I want Autopost to be SometimesPost
. I added all my services so I could have the little icons under my profile. Then people can visit those places easily. I don’t want to autopost to those sites all of the time. I changed my autopost settings to say no one can autopost at all. My icons are still there, which is what I want. The problem with this is then I can’t click on a post after it’s been posted and autopost it because my services aren’t configured to autopost.

Then there’s the bookmarklet. Before I turned my autoposting off, I made a few posts last night with the bookmarklet but forgot to turn off the autoposting. Those posts then went to my various services in ways I didn’t want them to. Then I ran around (figuratively) deleting all the crossposts. The turn off autopost box is on the second page of the bookmarklet so it’s easy to forget to uncheck it.

To sum up I want to autopost some of the time, but I want to also be able to do it after a post has already made it to Posterous. I think I need to work on fine-tuning my Autopost options but any insight you have is totally welcome.

On the whole

I think Posterous will be lots of fun to play with. Any tips and tricks you have are totally welcome. For now, I’m going to look for Greasemonkey scripts to see if I can do some tweaking.

Update: See my update post (which was updated itself) to see how I figured out how I plan to work with these sites. It took some fiddling, but I think I can establish a good workflow now.

10 iPhone Apps I love right now: September 2010

It’s been nearly seven months since my last post talking about iPhone apps I love. I still use nearly all of those apps regularly (I’m a little burnt out on Bejeweled 2 at the moment), but it’s high time I shared more of my favourites with you*.

Favourite Notetaking App: Awesome Note

$3.99 (free version available)

iTunes link

This is my go-to notetaking app on my phone. I love that you can file the notes in folders by subject. There is also a “quick note” option for those scratchpad-style notes that you may or may not need later (there is an option to save quick notes as full notes until you choose to clear them).

There are multiple views for each folder: thumbnails, list, to do, detailed, diary, photo and calendar. It is also possible to set due dates/alarms for each of your tasks. You can also back up, sync or transfer your notes to Google Docs or Evernote.

I use this app all the time and I really only use the basic features. As you can see, I use Awesome Note to jot down little notes about things I’m thinking about on the go. (There are also folders for Sean and for recipes off-screen.) I still keep a paper notebook in my purse, but I find I use it much less than I did before I got this app. Totally worth paying for.

Favourite Delicious App: Yummy

$1.99 (free, pared-down version available)

iTunes link

This mobile Delicious (the social bookmarking site owned by Yahoo!) client is one of the few (if not only) iPhone app that allows people to sign into Delicious with their associated Yahoo! ID. (If you use a Yahoo! ID with Delicious, you can only sign in with that ID and not with your Delicious ID. I learned that one the hard way.) It’s simple and does the job. View and add your bookmarks on the go, add links to Read It Later (more about that app further down). The Safari bookmarklet makes it easy to send links you’re reading in Safari to Delicious without emailling to yourself to access from your desktop. Simple but very useful.

Favourite RSS Management App: Feeds


iTunes link

While I still use Byline for most of my actual feed reading, I didn’t like that it couldn’t add, delete or organize feeds for me on my phone. Enter Feeds. It does all of those things, and is a nice little RSS reader to boot. It syncs with Google Reader or can be used as a standalone reader (nice if you don’t want to use Google as your main reader) Feeds has a clean interface with choice of colours (hey look! I’m using orange!) It also does offline reading, but since I like Byline so much, I haven’t used this feature much yet.

Favourite Offline Reading App: Read it Later

$4.99 (free version available)

iTunes link

Read it Later allows you to save any website for well, reading it later. It is available as a Firefox extension as well as an iPhone app. There is also a web version and unofficial (user-created) apps for Android, Blackberry and webOS, so you’re not out of luck if you don’t have an iPhone/iPad.

This is one of those apps that you don’t realize how useful it will be to you until you start to use it. I use it most when I’m reading something and find a link that I want to read, but don’t really have the time to look at carefully.  Instead of emailling the link to myself for later, I can click on the Read it Later icon in my browser (or from the bookmarklet in mobile Safari, or from Echofon, my Twitter client of choice). Then, when I do have a moment, I can fire up my Read it Later list and catch up on my reading. Another great place to use this is when I am reading my Twitter stream and want to read the posted links. I want to read the links, but also want to catch up on the other 2034 tweets in my stream. Send that link to Read it Later and they’re there when I’m done. Read it Later syncs across all your devices once you have an account and if I make sure all the articles are downloaded before I go offline, I can catch up with my reading on the subway.

Then, once I’ve read the link for myself, I have the option of sharing it with Delicious, Twitter, Facebook, Digg and a whack of other places. I find I use my Read it Later list as a pre-bookmarking list. I may read the article once and decide I’m done and mark it read and never look at it again. Or I may decide I want to keep it and bookmark it to Delicious. Your usage may vary depending on what sites you use. The sharing options only come with the Pro version, and while this is one of the more expensive apps I’ve bought, the price is totally worth it.

Favourite Birthday App: Occasions


iTunes link

This app pulls birthday information from your contacts and Facebook friends and puts them into an attractive interface. You can also add occasions for the people in your lives who aren’t in your Contacts or on Facebook (like my two year-old daughter). You can also pull holiday information from 44 countries and six religions – super-useful if you’re like me and never remember exactly what day certain holidays fall on.

The interface is clean and easy-t0-read and you can choose from several backgrounds. Push notifications are available (and customizable) and you can contact the birthday person directly from the app. Great for those “oh crap! it’s so-and-so’s birthday! I need to call/Facebook/text them. Where is their @#$% number again?” The whole app is very customizable. You don’t have to have all of your Facebook friends’ birthday information loaded into this app. (I use it for my nearest and dearest only). The help/troubleshooting and tutorial sections are very well done.

Favourite Diary App: Momento


iTunes link

Momento is a diary/journal app that you can input “moments” into – brief thoughts you want to record. It also imports your “social moments” – your Twitter  feed, Flickr pictures, Facebook updates and songs. While you may not think you need yet another place to track those moments, I’ve been really enjoying the calendar-style interface, which shows me just how social I’ve been. I’ve been using this app as a mini-diary for the things I don’t want to (or shouldn’t) share with the world. You can tag places, people, events or create custom tags. Photos can also be added to your moments. Finally the moment itself can be rated from 1-5 stars. I find I’m not using a lot of these features yet, but I’ve only been playing with this app for a couple of weeks. I’ve heard that beta testing is happening for the next version and I’m excited to see what’s coming in that release. Moments can be backed up into an XML plist file, which is readable by a text editor. You lose the pictures, but if you saved those in your Camera Roll, you should be okay.

Favourite Task Tracking App: Streaks


iTunes link

Streaks is a motivational calendar that allows you to track how many times you’ve completed a goal by marking a big red X on a calendar. You can track multiple goals (each gets their own calendar) and there is a push notification option to see what your longest streak currently is. Right now, I’m using this app to track how often I’m blogging but you could use it for tracking exercise, diet or the days since your last smoke. This type of calendar can be very motivating so it’s nice to be able to create one on the go.

Favourite Flickr Upload App: Flickit

Free (pay version available)

iTunes link

The reason I picked up this app was because I wanted to do batch uploads to Flickr – the official app only allows one picture to go at a time. I like that I can control each picture’s set and tags individually. You can also set the pictures to be blogged or Twittered once the photo is uploaded. Simple, easy-to-use, and it works. A great app for all iPhone users who post to Flickr.

Favourite Game: Angry Birds

$0.99 (free version available)

iTunes link

I won’t go into big detail about this incredibly popular game. You fling birds towards pigs with the intent to squash them. It is very addicting and is totally worth the hype. I started with the Lite version and had to buy the full one so I could play more levels. Absolutely worth the 99 cents.

Favourite Dictionary App: Slango


iTunes link

I like It keeps me aware of how the kids talking these days. Slango is a portable version of the site that allows you to search for specific terms. I find it helpful when there’s a term in a book or online I don’t understand. It’s also useful if I just heard some kid say something that sounds filthy and I want to confirm it for myself.

That and the random word lookup often makes me giggle.

To all the other iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad users out there: what are your favourite apps? Tell me about them in the comments. I still have money on the iTunes cards I got for my birthday and now that you can use a gift card to pay for apps in Canada, it’s easier not to run up your credit card on iTunes.

*Disclaimer, no one paid me to review these apps, or gave me free apps to try out. These are genuine reviews of apps I use regularly that I paid for myself.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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