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Note to New Web Sites


I know you, the small business owner, spent a gajillion dollars on your web site, dollars you probably didn’t have in your lovely little small shop’s budget until some friend of yours or (more likely) some consultant friend of a friend of yours dropped by wearing a trendy scarf and very expensive shoes and convinced you that to stay competitive, to stay current, to make a statement, you needed to have a web site with lots of sensual images and flowing movement. She said it was essential that you build this site in Flash. She said all the cool kids were doing it. And you fell for it.

You probably know nothing about how to develop web sites and maybe you don’t want to. Maybe – probably – you just want to go about your business of selling specialty teas or lipstick made out of ground up fairies or balsa wood harmonicas. You had a dream, a small business dream, and your web site was not part of that dream. Your web site was like that trivet you bought before that party that one time: it’d be nice if it were pretty but mainly it just had to preserve the finish on your coffee table.

I’m sorry to have to break it to you but you blew it.

I know it’s Monday and I know it’s raining and you were probably hoping to just sort through your grey day and go home for a nice cup of tea without anyone getting all up in your business, but there it is. You made a mistake. You dropped the ball. You took the wrong tine at the fork in the road and the end of that road is your very expensive, extremely irritating web site.

Unless you are either a game-crazed teenaged boy or a deranged person with a lot of time on your hands at the residential facility where you live, a Flash home page is a blight.

When you build a Flash movie into your home page (e.g. here), your visitor’s very first experience of this business of yours – the one that you have so carefully planned and built – is of waiting. Waiting while you get yourself together. Waiting while you go get your slide deck and set up the projector.

I hate to break it to you, but a musical slideshow of your best features is not of interest to anyone but your beloved and even then, s/he is probably only being polite. I know it’s hard news to get, but your customers do not want to see your slides or your movies. (At least not until you’ve gotten them drunk or offered them a shiny object and maybe not even then.)

Let me give you an analogy. You see a store. You go into the foyer. There is a clock in front of you blocking the door into the store itself. The clock starts counting to 100. You wait. You have no choice. The clock is at 17, then 23. You wait some more. There is nothing to do but wait or leave. If you are me, you leave. If you are not me (or a more patient version of me), you wait. But you are getting progressively more impatient. By the time the clock gets to 100, you are annoyed. Then you get to go into the store. But since you’re annoyed, all the nice things in the window look annoying now. To make things even more scream-out-loud frustrating, the actual store doesn’t have an address, only the foyer has an address. So when you come back (not that you’d want to but maybe you have short term memory loss) you have to go through the whole thing all over again.

See? Not good, dude, not good.

It’s time to get back to basics. Pull the plug. Strip out the Flash and build a usable site with clear navigation and no pop-up windows (you’re not selling porn, are you?). If you must, take your pretty pictures and create a gallery that your customers can visit if they want to, but no more countdowns and mood music and movies of flower arrangements.

I don’t even know you yet. That crap is not first date material so just cut it out.

You Need This

Don’t argue with me, just get one.

It’s a knitted coffee cup sleeve. It keeps your fingers cool, your latte hot and your sense of social righteousness toasty.

You say you don’t need one. You say it’s silly. You make smart alecky remarks when you see mine, but secretly you are filled with envy and wish you had one of your own.

There’s no need to be sad and twisted inside: just go get one. It’s a little, happy sweater for your Starbucks and it will make you happy and sweatery too.

Me and You


Here’s me. I am an efficient grocery shopper. I have a life. I have places to be. I am buying groceries with a plan and would like to continue on with the rest of my life as soon as possible. I believe that the people in line behind me would prefer to move on with their lives too.

Here’s you. You are a dawdler. You have no place to be. You are creating purpose in your life by taking way too long to do things that do not take long to do. You are holding up other people’s lives.

Here’s me. I was a waitress. I worked at a store. I believe that waiters and checkout girls are people too. I swipe my credit card while the girl swipes my stuff. I bag my stuff while she gets my receipt. We are a well-oiled machine. We are buddies.

Here’s you. You stand perfectly still. In line and while the girl rings up your groceries into a pile, you stand perfectly still. You do not look for your credit card before she is done because you are standing perfectly still. Instead of bagging your own groceries in the bag that you brought, you stand perfectly still while the girl waits on you like you are a princess.

I have news for you: you are not a princess and life is not a straight line of one event following another. You have a tiny negative effect on the world around you because you are so passive and not helpful. You should stop that because it makes us not like you. Also, it will very slowly make you not an interesting person. So stop it.

OK. Now let’s all move on with our day. Have a nice afternoon.

Want Dat


I need these things. I do. Really.

  • First, I will buy a Soo-Per Cap which I will wear while I go shopping. I might buy a back-up Soo-Per Cap in case things get tricky and I lose the first one.
  • I’ll round out the outfit with this excellent T-shirt. “Everything you like I liked five years ago.” Boo-yah.
  • Then, I will get a Z√úCA Pro, the most fantastic piece of roll-on luggage, to carry around my loot. When I am overwhelmed with self-satisfaction at my purchase, I will sit on my new luggage’s little built-in seat platform.
  • When I’m back from my hat-centric outing, I’ll print the photos on the Epson Artisan 800. Then I’ll scan the print-outs and fax them to myself. Because I can.

Books to Buy

The winner of the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year has come out and I can’t wait to lay down $1,139 for it. Yes, it’s “The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais”.

I’m hoping the outlook is good, because I do love fromage frais.

Other titles I will be tracking down:

  • “Waterproofing Your Child”
  • “The Large Sieve and Its Applications”
  • “Strip and Knit With Style”
  • “Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Nude Mice”
  • “How to Avoid Huge Ships”

If you want to experience the full force of the Bookseller/Diagram Prize, you can get the lists, photos included, in this lovely volume. Which I already own. Naturally.


It’s been a busy week Chez Emma: my birthday was Thursday and on Friday we headed to Vegas for the Deranged Running of the Casinos. I’m mostly recovered but woke up with a phantom hangover this morning out of habit.

I know you’re wondering how the birthday went, and I’ll tell you: it was excellent. R took me to lunch at Serpentine, a new-ish restaurant in the Dogpatch that we hit over the holidays and have been wanting to go back to, mainly because I didn’t try their butternut squash bread pudding then and have been wanting to since. And you can’t have that sort of thing on any old day because it’s just too damn rich and obviously full of things that are bad for you. But on your birthday, it’s time to bring it, don’t you think? So I did and all I have to say is that savory bread pudding is the way to go, people.

Weird menu glitch though. See that first photo up there? What do you think it says? Puree of Celery Root Soup? With…I’m sorry, what? Peanut butter? “Glob of Jiffy with your yuppie soup, miss?” Oh. No wait. That’s “pinenut butter.” Never mind.

Then we picked up cupcakes (which you should always get from Kara’s Cupcakes instead of Miette*) and went to the California Academy of Sciences (more on that later) and visited the little seahorses and the alligator. (The alligator didn’t eat anyone while we were there, so that was a bit anticlimactic – it was my birthday – but maybe next time.)

Recently, I’ve been getting myself presents for my birthday and I recommend it to anyone who asks (which no one does, because it’s odd and why would they? But there you go: now I’m offering it out there for the taking). This year, I got myself a Nest Egg. I couldn’t resist. It’s a white ceramic egg about 4″ high, it comes in its own nest (see photo), and it has a slot for coins or folded up bills. Since it only has one opening, there’s no cheating: you have to break it to open it. Brilliant. I haven’t decided what to save for and on what deadline, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it? Yes. It is.

(I got it at Rare Device, a store I’d never been to but will definitely be going back to because it has all kinds of wonderful things from small designers: jewelry, books, stationery, glitter elephants, and the like.)

Also got myself a knitted coffee cuff, which matches my egg, and which R says undermines any edgy bad ass vibe I had going, but I don’t care because it’s cute and effective.

Speaking of R, he gave me a beautiful necklace by Evfa Attling from Hus (which has closed their West Village store – so, so sad – but whose online store still has some of their products for sale). It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? So lovely. What a great fancy.

Then we had dinner with a few friends at Dosa‘s new location on Fillmore. (Same great food, but a much swankier space than the original Mission location, plus a full bar.)

All in all, big birthday fun. Hooray! Thanks everyone!

*I don’t love cupcakes because they get dry, like Miette’s. Somehow, Kara’s avoids this and theirs rock. You have to try the Java (mocha frosting) and the Chocolate Velvet (absurdly smooth frosting) and, if they have it, their new Meyer Lemon filled one is a dream.

Must-Have T-shirt

Get this. We all need one for those off days. Not today. I don’t mean today. Today is fine. I’m just saying: be prepared.

Kitchen: What?


Chuck Williams, the 94-year-old founder of Williams Sonoma, was asked by a magazine a couple of years ago what the one thing was that every kitchen should have. Cuisinart food processor? $300 KitchenAid mixer? Sabatier knives? Nope. He went with the, um, potato ricer. Search me. I didn’t know what it was either and I worked there.

So I bought six and gave them away for Christmas.

Basically, it smushes boiled potatoes to make mashed potatoes and does not require you to dislocate your shoulder using an old-school hand mashers.

I will admit that I have never used the one I bought for us. A.) It is heavy, and b.) mashed potatoes take too long to make. However, two people have recently assured me that the gifted ricer makes bad-ass mashed potatoes, so I guess this is a recommendation for the potato ricer. Sort of.

(And please don’t ask me what makes Williams Sonoma’s version “deluxe.” Maybe that’s their tactful way of saying that it’s overweight without hurting its feelings…)


Question: do you buy birthday presents for yourself? If so, how nice are they? Do you feel selfish, like when you bought that very expensive bag for yourself instead of feeding your 12 kids who lived in a shoe? Oh…hang on…different thread…

Last year, I bought a piece of artwork for my birthday from my friend Molly Meng and I love it.

It’s a good backstory – let’s digress. I saw an exhibit of Molly’s work in Candystore, and the one I wanted to buy for R was already sold. Sadness. Then I saw mine. So I bought that and kept it wrapped up until my birthday. Yay birthday!

But I couldn’t stop thinking about the sold one, so I got Molly’s name from the store owner and tracked her down and asked her if she’d make another one for me to give to R for his birthday. She said, “Yes,” (as they always do in lovely stories), I met Molly, she’s excellent and now we’re friends. Yay friends!

So here’s the thing: was buying the artwork the right choice because birthdays are awesome and we all deserve our day or am I happy about it because I got the artwork and a friend? Because that’s gonna be a tough mark to hit again. “Hello, yes. I would like to buy this handsome necklace. Also, do you have any interesting people in the back? If so, I would like to meet them. Could you wrap him/her up with the gift? No, I don’t need a bag.”

Wedding Bands


I have a weakness for jewelry with print on it. It’s my version of tattooing. Depending on the day, you might have to read for a bit when we run into each other. Jeanine Payer. Serge Thoraval. Eva Attling.

Naturally, I’d like our wedding bands to be a little off the beaten path. I saw these rings with EKG tracks etched into them a while ago. Fantastic idea (albeit maybe expensive). Yesterday, a friend sent on these, which I like even better: rings with your beloved’s fingerprint etched into the surface.

What do we think? Worth the cost even if it’s just us who knows?