Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Let me begin this account with its conclusion: Worst of all, we had no flaming cheese.

It all began when I came across a recipe for spanokopita. It seemed so simple. So I picked up some spinach and feta cheese intending to make it some night when I felt ambitious. Shortly thereafter, we found out that friend Todd was having a birthday, so why not invite him over for dinner—Greek style! Hoopah!

I learned several things from this experiment. First, never plan a menu around an untried recipe. Second, assume that everything will take three times longer than you ever imagined it could take. Third, when a 6-year-old insists that she doesn’t like spinach, believe her.

I suppose you could say that the spanokopita wasn’t exactly up to standard. But by the time I was through wrestling with the unruly ingredients, I really didn’t care anymore. Who knew phyllo dough would have such a mind of its own? "Brush butter between layers" my ass. So it was a little soggy. A little sogginess never hurt anyone. Except Kaitlyn, who valiantly took a good-sized bite, struggled with it, but just couldn’t quite get it down. So it came back up. That’s exactly when my husband gave up on it too, and while Kaitlyn ran from the table still gagging, he followed her and they shared a tearful bonding moment over "mom’s horrible spinach thing."

Todd kept insisting, "It’s not that bad!" Which is a great thing for someone to tell you about the dent in your car door, but kind of disheartening when it refers to food.

And, well, you know the rest.

But speaking of foods best forgotten…

I was handed an interesting memo at work. Apparently, someone had taken the time to compile a list of words that are spam "flags" for certain email programs like Outlook, which have so-called spam filters. These are seemingly innocent phrases like "satisfaction guaranteed," "nothing to lose," and of course advertising’s little golden word: "free."

Hmm. As a frequent recipient of spam, I have to question whether my email filter is trying very hard. Lazy sonofa...

As a sender of spam (oh, we don’t call it spam… it’s an email campaign), I almost feel like I’ve been handed a challenge. Can I possibly write an email that uses all 80+ spam flags? What havoc would such an email wreak with the filters?

By far, my favorite phrase on the list is this one: "This is not spam." I think I’ll start every email I write from now on by assuring the reader that it’s not spam. I might even start conversations that way. "Good morning, Bob! This is not spam. Did you hear about that awful pile-up on 44?..."

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