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March 21 - April 19 Aries
Sign of the Ram; you’re adventurous, courageous, spontaneous. And you’re really really ready for the Labor Day Weekend, aren’t you? Yeah babe - it shows. You just can’t wait to kick back and relax for a few days before entering the last quarter of 2008. Here’s some history: President Grover Cleveland instituted Labor Day as a national holiday in 1894, after workers for the Pullman company walked out when the company’s owners laid off hundreds of workers and forced those who were left to accept devastating pay cuts. The workers lived in the town of Pullman, Illinois, a ‘utopian community’ built by company president George Pullman. The lowest paid workers lived in row houses (rent was deducted from their wages), small Victorian homes were reserved for managers, and a luxury hotel housed Pullman himself and guests of the company. The Labor Day holiday was a concession that President Cleveland finally made in order to get votes during an election year (he lost).

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Taureans, I know you love comfort and stability and luxury and cleanliness. I know this, being a card-carrying Taurean myself. Well, this year is the 60th Anniversary of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap – yes, they’re still around and just as good as ever. Emmanuel Bronner was the third generation in a German-Jewish family of soapmakers going back to 1858. The liquid and bar soaps came to America in 1929 and Bronner established the company in its current form in 1948. Not only are the soaps (still) all-natural and eco-friendly and smell amazing, but each bottle is covered with densely packed, small text written by the original (now deceased) Dr. Bronner explaining his philosophy of life. Ergo: Love is like a willful bird, do you want it? It flies away! Yet, when you least expect its bliss, it turns around and it’s here to stay! Download the labels for all the soaps on the company website; read the timeline; watch the trailer for Sara Lamm’s film Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox (saving the world…one bottle of soap at a time) – buy the DVD and learn more about this interesting man and his vision. And go get yourself a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s!

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Gemini – The Twins. As in, the Twin Cities. As in, the world’s eyes will be on Minneapolis-St. Paul next week when the donkeys do their dance on the world stage. What a summer, eh? First the Olympics, then the Dems, and now the GOP. I wonder if Prince will be in town for this shindig, or will he jet off to Vegas for a few days? In any case, there are so many great things to see in Minnesota’s capital (St. Paul) and it’s sister Minneapolis, there really isn’t time and space to talk about them here. But I’d like to tell you about the storied Lakewood Cemetery on Hennepin Avenue, considered to be one of the most beautiful final resting places in the country. The chapel, designed by architect Henry Wild Jones in the Byzantine style, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The cemetery itself is chock full of famed Minnesotans: Frank C. Mars (creator of the Milky Way candy bar), John S. Pillsbury (founder of Pillsbury and also 8th governor of the state), H. David Dalquist (inventor of the Bundt pan), Hubert Humphrey (as in former VP and also Minnesota State Senator), Karl Mueller (bassist for Soul Asylum), and Tiny Tim (no explanation needed, I hope).

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
Cancers love to cling. Well here’s something to cling to, you crazy kids. O Ye Jigs & Juleps! is a series of essays written in 1904 by 10 year old Virginia Cary Hudson, then a student at an Episcopalian boarding school. The essays were discovered years later in a locked trunk and the book was published in 1962, after which it became a national best seller. The ten essays cover subjects such as Etiquette at Church (Never punch people in church, or giggle or cross your legs. Crossing your legs is as bad as scratching or walking in front of people or chewing gum or saying damn), Education (Education is what you learn in books, and nobody knows you know it but your teacher), Personal Appearance (Personal appearance is looking the best you can for the money), and Everlasting Life (I sure am glad Jesus is going to be in Heaven because if I get in trouble he will be there to help me out). In Virginia’s essay on Sacraments she notes sagely, When you are little and ugly somebody carries you in church on a pillow, and you come out a child of God and inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven. They pour water on your head and that’s a sacrament. When you are twelve you walk back in yourself with your best dress and shoes on, and you walk up to the Bishop, and he stands up, and you kneel down, and he mashes on your head and you are an Episcopal. Then you are supposed to increase in spirit.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Lionhearted Leos are creative, generous, and extroverted. You’ll no doubt love the new website for The Girlie Girl Army – Your Guide to Glamazon Living, in which Chloe Jo Berman and her posse break it all down for us. CJB is a writer, animal rescue heroine, radio host, ethical fashion expert, and the site describes her as straight up Prada, with a side of Patchouli and every intention of being the green Rachel Ray. She will soon have her own television show and she also has a book on eco-friendly beauty coming out later this year. The Girlie Girl weekly newsletter clues you in to all kinds of necessary information from gourmet food (usually vegan) to vintage clothing stores to great books to wacky news stories to interesting jewelry items and so much more, it makes my head hurt. Sign up for the weekly newsletter. Visit the archives. You’ll be fascinated for days.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Intelligent……meticulous……and above all, reliable Virgos will love the terrific Martini Loft Alcove located on the mezzanine level of Kansas City’s Aladdin Hotel. I know KC has a plethora of other fun places to visit but I was recently there for 24 hours (don’t ask, don’t tell) and I didn’t get to see much besides the Martini Loft Alcove – however I did see enough to know that this is a place I really want to go back and spend some time in. The Aladdin Hotel is listed on the National Historic Register and underwent extensive restoration in the Spring of 2007 to bring back the original art deco ambiance, now married passionately to a vintage hip ethos. It’s also right in the heart of downtown KC, just steps away from the ultra-groovy Power and Light District. The hotel rooms have been spectacularly redesigned and are at once classic and fabulously stylish. The hotel also has a brand new spa.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Urbane, sociable, easygoing Libra ladies – have you ever had a problem finding a bra that really fits? No, I mean REALLY fits. There is absolutely nothing that feels so good as wearing a bra that fits correctly. Thanks to Alan and Lori Kaplan’s Bra*Tenders, a cozy den of undergarments of every size and stripe, you too can achieve this wonderful feeling. Aside from their 30 plus years of experience with theatrical, bridal, and full-busted custom-fittings and sales, the store also has an overflowing stockroom with panties, accessories, and hosiery in a vast price range. The other thing that makes them special is their one-on-one service. Because they spend so much time with each client, custom-fittings are only by appointment (call 888-GET-A-BRA). The only exception is for theatrical clients, of which there are many. Bra*Tenders is a staple for wardrobe supervisors and costume designers for Broadway shows, feature films, and hit TV shows.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Being the magnetic, compulsive, mysterious Scorpio that you are, you have an insatiable need to have the newest gadget as soon as it hits the market. Therefore you have – naturally – the coolest cellphone du jour, the iPhone. You probably bought the original model and then upgraded it recently to the new 3G. Am I right? Of course right! Members of the tribe – I’m talking chosen people here – please to check out a couple of new iPhone apps targeted specifically for youse guys (thank you Kati, a blessing on your keppele!). There is the ParveOMeter - a timer that figures out the amount of time our kosher friends must take between eating milk and meat products. And there’s also iBlessing, which is an ingenious way to keep straight all the different blessings for whatever food or drink you happen to be ingesting, plus bonus blessings for after the meal and washing your hands. The best part? Both of these awesome apps are free. Oy! Such a bargain!

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Sag, you saucy wench you. You’re intellectual, optimistic, and you love to live the high life. If I may quote Smokey Robinson, my mama told me you better shop around. Deborah Mayer is the brains behind Shop Around Tours. After a lucrative career in entertainment Ms. Mayer completely reinvented herself to create this service catering to frugal fashionistas. Oh if only Carrie Bradshaw and her gang had known about this when Sex and the City was on the air. Basically it’s all about going to Italia, staying in four star hotels, and dropping cash on amazing bargains (think Prada, Gucci, Fendi et al). The November 8-15 tour of 3 Italian cities is completely sold out, but you can sign up now for next spring’s tour of Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome. And a tour of Tuscany is planned for October 2009. What are you waiting for? Andiamo!

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Even the practical, careful, patient Capricorns among us will be amused by the website of the week –, which was founded by software engineer Aaron Peckham in 1999. Time Magazine counts this among the 50 best websites of the year, and they’re a pretty reputable source. Literally hours of fun can be had here looking up crazy terms like mis-wave (To return a wave to someone you think is waving at you, but is actually waving to the person behind you. Usually results in embarrassment and introversion), deface (To remove a ‘friendship’ from facebook due to having either accidentally adding him/her as a friend or actually adding them and reconsidering later), and ideagasm (The physical manifestation of an idea so wonderful that it sends waves of ecstasy from the ears to the tips of the toes). There are even two books for sale that are compendiums of the material on the website, which is all contributed by viewers like you!

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius ~ you GO, water bearer! You’re moving and grooving and surfing ze web, and someone sends you a link and you’re all excited to check it out, and bam! it goes nowhere. Quel pain in the ass! Well, now there is a site that you can go to check if the problem is your computer or not. Down For Everyone Or Just Me? is a brilliant little site that will tell you instantly where the problem lies. It was created by Alex Payne, a software engineer from Twitter. From Alex’s blog It’s running off of a tiny Gandi VPS and the code is a couple hundred lines (including templates) of Ruby, powered by the Sinatra micro web framework. I’m running four instances of the application behind Nginx, and save for the occasional slow request it’s been standing up pretty well (low load on the box, response times are usually fast). God I love it when they talk like this – it’s like Latin or morse code. Sexy!

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
The download of the week is for our romantic, sensitive, ichthyological Piscean friends and trends toward the ritual of the holiday weekend back in the olden days when people could afford to fill up the gas tank and travel for four days. Trains and Boats and Planes is Laura Cantrell’s first recording in three years, the first since the birth of her baby daughter. The digital EP contains Cantrell’s interpretations of a number of travel-themed classics like Merle Haggard’s Silver Wings, New Order’s Love Vigilantes, and the title song by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. Laura is quoted on her website: “I love these songs, and though some are a bit melancholy, that was part of the process. The songs allowed me to explore the emotional spaces created by some big changes in my life that had left me unsure of my bearings. And I’d always wanted an excuse to record a Bacharach tune.” Elvis Costello stated, “If Kitty Wells made Rubber Soul, it would sound like Laura Cantrell.”

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