Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Card 2008

This was the Christmas card sent out by my family in 1970. In the interests of recycling, I think it makes a perfectly adequate Christmas card for 2008, don’t you?

Plus I’m WAAAAY cuter in this picture than I am now. (I'm the one standing.)


Dear Friends and Family,

I’m not doing my usual Christmas letter where I give you far more information than you probably want on my hobbies and employment; in a nutshell, I am busy, healthy, and reasonably satisfied with my life. Despite the current economic crisis, I am unaccountably hopeful for the future, and looking forward to 2009.

I turned 40 this month, and as I turn this corner, it is the last time I plan on openly announcing my age. As I venture onward into Old Maidenhood, I plan on living a productive & engaged existence and keeping the number of cats I own to a reasonable number. I will probably continue to have a new hobby every year or so (For 2008 it’s amigurumi—wikipedia.org/wiki/Amigurumi).

Here’s hoping for joy and happiness in the New Year for all of us; God bless and keep you and your family safe and well in 2009!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

More on Change

For anyone who has a conservative Christian background, you probably know of Francis Schaffer and his son Frank. Well, Frank has taken a pro-Obama stance despite his pro-life background, making the argument that Obama is better for the pro-life movement than the Republican pandering of the last 30 years, since he seeks to change the failed systems that tend to encourage abortion. I'm inclined to agree with him!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/frank-as-a-former-pro-lif_b_119435.html

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Resolution for This Christmas



Not just water, but there's groups like Heifer International, and Samaritan's Purse, which allow you to buy farm animals like baby chicks, ducks, goats, etc. that will be given to poor families in Third World countries.

Instead of buying a generic gift basket for your wealthy relative, do something like that, or
If you're as sick as I am of the pointless gifts we give each year, then at least give something potentially life-saving to someone else. You'll get a card saying "a donation has been made in your name..." that you can wrap up and give them. And if that doesn't touch your heart at all, look at it this way; it'll make you Look Good. Selfless. Green. And you're safe from simmering resentment, because no-one is allowed to be ungrateful for a gift like this without looking like a total ass.

Most of the charities I linked here are Christian organizations, but there are plenty of others like Heifer that are secular-based. Imagine giving a Trio of Rabbits, or a Flock of Chicks - how fun is that?!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Generic Electoral Blog Posting

So very, very glad... I got weepy several times once they announced Obama had won. I was watching The Daily Show Indecision 2008 when it was announced, which is appropriate, since they have had the educating of me politically for the last 8 years. And this is something I take pride in, because comedians, as a rule, are most interested in making people laugh by pointing out the ridiculous and the inane as opposed to a liberal or conservative agenda (save Al Franken and Brad Stine). So they are equal-opportunity offenders.

As a result, they have helped me THINK. When week after week you see video clips of the current administration making statements, and then the top-notch researchers of The Daily Show pull out a hilarious older clip of them saying the exact opposite, eventually you do get the point! After the hundredth author/historian/journalist interview where they give specific instances of blatant disregard for the rule of law and moral decency, it's hard to let your opposition to abortion be the ONLY thing that would bring you to vote for a conservative candidate.

So I was watching Indecision 2008 with Stewart and Colbert commentating amusingly, and then there was one of those rare moments where they forget they're playing a role and they respond emotionally (the first show after 9/11 was one such time). This time, after Jon Stewart said that Barack Obama was now the 44th President of the US, and the audience burst into cheers, he and Stephen Colbert took almost a minute to compose themselves. They fiddled with desk props and pens and a laptop, trying not to weep for joy. This, of course, made me cry too.


I got the feeling that for these 2 guys, who had spent 8 years revealing every single disappointing move on the part of the Bush Government, this was a relief beyond what most of us feel. I think they may know better than most what appalling abuse of democratic power has been in sway for almost a decade. Sure, they're both liberals and would want a Democratic candidate to win, no doubt. But Jon's respect for McCain (and apparent disappointment over seeing him choose the Rovian path to nasty campaigning) and the fact that he prefers to think of himself as a Centrist, while Stephen is a strong Catholic Christian, famed for having taught Sunday School, makes them more moderate and thoughtful than the typical liberal newsman.

They are, after all, comedians. And comedians look for the truth, because that is where you find the Funny. That they have become well-informed on current events and political history as a result gives them a credibility greater than Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly, in my book.

I Love Me a Good Parody

Friday, October 24, 2008

Early Voter

So I went to vote a couple of days ago, and was flabbergasted by the line; the parking lot was full, it was 1:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday, and the line snaked through the Brentwood Library almost to the lobby!

I wasn't alone in my befuddlement; everyone seemed surprised by the 15-20 minute wait. I have always provided for potential distraction with my Palm Pilot which has some nice solitaire games on it, so it was an easy wait for me, but if I had not, I would have just found a book on a shelf and started reading, which I expected other folks to do. But no-one in front or behind me did so, which I thought was rather sad; why not combine a visit to the library with voting!

As we drifted by, I asked the nice information desk lady (she WAS nice; she spoke cheerfully) if the library staff were annoyed by the invasion; she was perfectly fine with it, and said she looked upon it as an opportunity to put up signs about library services to a captive audience - brochures and posters were placed within reach of the line. I asked her if it was always so crowded, and she said that it tended to thin out after 5 pm. But she also said that the day before, they'd had 1,313 voters come through, and that was an average day!

I wonder if anyone will be left to vote on the 4th...

What's interesting is that despite the fact that my electoral responsibilities are done, I am still listening to coverage and candidate statements and developments as though I still have a decision to make! I am DONE, and yet the dang campaign lingers.

It feels like it will never be over... like a Reality TV Show that seeks to give the audience weekly footage from the 4 final contestants. It IS Survivor/Big Brother/Project Runway/America's Next Top Model. Depending on who the editors decide to label as a villain or as the hero that week, we get some of the same jumping through hoops, competitions, and speeches to the audience and their fellow contestants. Sleep-deprived, isolated, pushed to their physical & talent limits, they will never get off the island, they will always have to make one more dress.

This is why I find I just can't get interested in Survivor or the Amazing Race the last few seasons - because every day I am forced to watch reality programming that uses all of the same show elements, but with infinitely higher stakes. And I am FULL. I have consumed enough of it.

What makes it discouraging for me is the knowledge that these voting machines are so easily hacked. I feel like my vote has no real value. I fear the election is going to boil down to which party has better hackers on the payroll.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nothing Better To Do

So my friend Anna has dragged me into the Chain Mail equivalent of blogging. But it is rather fun, as can be seen by her bizarre 7 Facts. And I do like talking about myself.

Fact #1: I was in the original cast of the Friends... Forever youth musical produced by Word Records in 1987. My secular friends will not probably know this, but it was, in Youth Group circles, the High School Musical of its day. I also was allowed to add a tidbit of the song Louie, Louie to the script, which ended up costing them more for copyright permission than the actual Michael W. Smith/Amy Grant song the musical was based on.

Fact #2: I was a Japanimation junkie in my teens and 20s. More precisely, I was a fan of anime and manga. This was when there was none available in the bookstores, and only a handful of comic book publishers was translating and reprinting them in flimsy comic book format. I have over 100 videotapes of subtitled and untitled anime series and movies in a box under my bed; not that I will ever watch any of them again, now that I can get good DVD copies, but acquiring copies in the pre-internet days was such a struggle (3rd and 4th generation, grainy copies notwithstanding) that I hate to just toss them out!

Fact #3: I was in a ballet with Rudolf Nureyev when I was 12. PBS was filming 3 Nijinsky ballets starring Nureyev, and one of them was Stravinsky's Petroushka. I played a grimy Russian peasant girl in crowd scenes, along with a number of other Nashville dancers. For some unknown reason, they chose to film it at the Grand Ole Opry (this was before TPAC was built) and the Joffrey Ballet provided the principal dancers. I still have the autographs of Nureyev and the 2 other leads. In addition, I was gently pushed out of the way by Ron Reagan Jr. (a member of the Joffrey company at the time) who was trying to get to his mark for a dance sequence.

By the way, if anyone by some miracle knows of a copy of this production on tape, I would pay good money to get it - I only saw it once.

Fact #4: I am very fond of Sports Movies. I can endure the occasional football game, and like the girlie sports like skating and gymnastics, but otherwise have absolutely no interest in watching sporting events. But sport movies? Love them. I have seen Angels in the Outfield numerous times, along with a bunch of other baseball movies like Little Big League, Major League, Bull Durham, etc. I can get sucked into a sports movie faster than anything else when channel surfing.

Fact #5: I am on my 3rd Dad. My biological father (Al Lynds) died of leukemia when I was 3, and my mom remarried 14 months later (Chuck Houston). He eventually adopted me and my sisters, and they divorced when I was 17. He died 10 years later, and my mom married Tony Morreale, who is proving to be a very nice and supportive dad, even though I am well past the age when I generally need a Dad.

Fact #6: I have 7 nieces and nephews. (This is not a random or remotely weird fact; it is, in fact, the one thing that I am prone to trumpet on any and all occasions. But I am running out of ideas.) 3 Nephews, 4 Nieces, ranging in age from 15 to 5. I am arrogant to the point of annoyance about my Auntly skills, so please do not hesitate to tell me to shut it the next time I start to waffle on about them.

Fact #7: I have a double major in History and Theater. Which is the perfect complement to my career in Computer Support, don't you think?

And now, for my 7 Blogging Friends!
Shellee - http://iamnotasoccermom.wordpress.com/
Rachel - http://martiniministry.wordpress.com/
Mike - http://hakomike.blogspot.com/
Kathryn - http://thenorthnode.wordpress.com/
Darren - http://darrentyler.blogspot.com/
Beth - http://bethlovesbollywood.blogspot.com/
Taryn - http://t-hype.blogspot.com/

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Societal Collapse Anxiety Syndrome

I just invented that. Although someone else out there has probably got a better name for it.

I have always tended towards a fascination/dread of what I grew up calling The End Times. Raised as I was in a conservative Christian Fundamentalist household, we were well-versed on the biblical signs of Armegeddon, the rise of the Antichrist, the chances for being Raptured to safety pre, peri, or post-7 Last Years. At 13, I was convinced I would not live to be 20. Eventually the New Age Movement of the 80s with it's rainbows, crystals, and the dire prophecies of Constance Cumbie against said mysticism faded away, and I slowly realized that the world wasn't going to fall apart just yet.

Jump ahead about 15 years, and the Year 2000 is looming, as is my 30th birthday. Apparently decade birthdays are an opportunity for my psyche to go postal. Anyway, doom and gloom and dire warnings of technological failure are all the rage, and I suddenly became convinced that the nationwide power grid could disintegrate, and society would be reduced to absolute anarchy. I was haunted by nightmarish visions of wandering in the wilderness looking for food, shelter and water. Eventually, Elder Brother-in-Law reassured me that he had "done the homework" and the power grid would not fail, and I began to rise up from my fears. January 1, 2000 comes and goes without a blip on the screen.

I should mention that I have been exposed to the occasional apocalyptic movie, either in part, whole, (or detailed spoiler description online), which has done nothing to curb my vivid imagination as regards a dystopian future. Mad Max, nameless B and C-grade futuristic films, the zombie films of the last 4 or 5 years. Enough to help fill in the blanks of what my mind hadn't invented on its own. See, THIS is why I don't watch horror movies!

Now it's 2008, the economy is in the toilet, and it looks like the Fourth Turning has come. We may well be on the brink of a societal upheaval to equal the Great Depression, the French Revolution or the Civil War (or, it might prove to be like the collapse of the Stock Market in 1987 which also passed without a blip on the screen). If it is really a Great Upheaval, it'll probably be a mercifully slow rollout (time to adjust to shortages and financial difficulties). And when they're over, those upheavals can bring forth an amazing and dynamic new generation (Greatest Generation, anyone?)

But I'm still worried, although being unable to focus on what specifically to be worried about does make it hard to be as anxious as I was in 1983 and 1999. Plus I have better coping mechanisms and hopefully, wisdom. But my mind still wends its way along overgrowth paths in the wilderness, or in trying to anticipate what comforts I might have to lose (air conditioning... running water... a steady supply of food... prescriptions... transportation...) and how I might adapt. Notice I'm thinking of the worst - of a societal collapse (although not necessarily as bad as my Y2K and End Times fears). The gas shortages in Nashville these last 2 weeks have been particularly ill-timed and fed that anxiety.

Hardship has a way of strengthening a nation, especially when there is precious metal in our citizenry to be refined. I take encouragement from that thought. Having the arrogance and laziness squeezed out of us by difficulties may be the saving of us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why I Plan on Voting For Change

Note that I did not say I am voting for Obama, or I am voting Democrat. I am voting to clean house.

I have no great confidence in Obama and I actually think McCain is a pretty good guy with strong ability. I have waffled back and forth in my mind for MONTHS about where to bestow my vote. I have, as Brian Unger has put it, suffered from Political Dementia.


I am pro-life, but don't think we can get rid of abortion. Statistically speaking, for decades, our economy has been strongest during Democratic presidencies. I think that we have become a welfare nation, which appalls me. I think that climate change is being affected by mankind and we need to work to turn it around. I'm dismayed that we went to war in Iraq for such shoddy reasons (although I cannot be sorry Saddam Hussein is gone), but don't think we can just leave without potentially disastrous consequences.


See my dilemma? I have no firm adherence to either platform. I have no great confidence in either candidate, or their VPs. I think that our nation is steadily becoming more politically corrupt, and that we will eventually duplicate the decline of the Roman Empire in our complacency and laziness.


So I am looking at the bigger picture from a historical standpoint, and looking over the last 8 years and what the current administration has wrought... I want what's going on to STOP. The Bush administration has shredded their way through the constitution, has done whatever they bloody well pleased, has made political loyalty their benchmark instead of ability, and has been thoroughly immoral while claiming Christ at the same time. Cheney is destined to be vilified in centuries to come as one of the most corrupt and audaciously grasping administrators in the history of this country. I honestly think Bush is oblivious to how he has been played; that Cheney and the Republican leadership have been running this country into the ground and using him as an clueless mouthpiece.


And I voted for them. Twice. I admit this in shame and self-recrimination, and with a determination to never again let myself just go along with the Conservative Christian political line.


But after all that vituperation, let me just reiterate that I have no confidence in the Democratic party either. I just want the current administration to be rooted out, and no matter how much a maverick that McCain-Palin may be, they will have no choice but to have Republican staffers from the current administration in their White House, and that corruption cannot be allowed to continue under any circumstances. All of the staffers who served their candidacy, all of the high-end donors, the party leadership... they will all have to be rewarded and that means positions in government, and a continuation of habits and political machinations that have been in play for 8 years.

So to that end, I am voting against the Republican party. My family and some friends will not be pleased with me, and I hope they can accept that this is simultaneously a difficult and an obvious decision for me. It is not a knee-jerk reaction based on liberal media, or The Daily Show. I have agonized over this for years. This morning when I woke up, it was finally clear to me that the one thing I was certain of was that I didn't want our government to continue down the same path, and that meant a change in administration.


Period.

9/26/08: A really excellent, well-reasoned interview from a Christian author on why he's openly campaigning for Barack Obama - thanks, Allison!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gas Crisis in Nashville

I've been very concerned for about a week now with the situation in Nashville of widespread gas shortages... we supposedly have another week of it. This just feeds into my fascination/phobia of societal collapse. I have to drive a LOT for work, so I can go through a tank pretty fast (even in my fuelefficient car, which I so wish was a hybrid...)

This is one of the most brilliant little videos I have ever seen; it's funniest if you actually know the Nashville-Brentwood-Franklin corridor. Perfect!

http://blogs.nashvillescene.com/pitw/2008/09/inside_the_metro_bunker.php

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Why Kittens are Therapeutic

I actually recorded this on my cell phone whilst visiting a litter of foster kittens. All available for adoption in Williamson County, Tennessee; contact me if you're interested.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why you should pick a fat girl

Because they actually do stuff.

I was just reading a rather fascinating post about a kind of woman I have never been; the
Amazing Girl. The sort of artsy, spiritual, "dance like no one is watching" female that men tend to go all soppy over. I bear them no malice, really; one of my best friends was one, and her un-judgmental, fond appreciation of me was an anodyne after years of minimal friendships. They serve a genuine purpose.

But it made me start thinking about the frustration I have with another large portion of the female gender - the Prettyskinny Woman. I'm not referring just to every woman who is thin and attractive; rather, the smaller percentage who figured out years ago that nothing would ever be required of them, and as a consequence, make no effort to be able to do anything useful.

Here's an example of what I don't mean. I know one thin, beautiful woman that on first glance might be considered a primary candidate for the Prettyskinny label; but she is a public school teacher who helps care for a sibling who is confined to a wheelchair, in an uncomplaining, gracious and calm manner that awes me. I doubt I could be so unflappable in the face of such a commitment.

No, the sort of woman who is a Prettyskinny is like one of the girls who I sing with occasionally - she shows up late, is inattentive, makes no effort to keep her music in order so she can move from song to song in a reasonable manner... and yet has the voice of an angel. She must continually be "brought up to speed" while making no actual effort to do so herself. She is popular and lovely, and as far as I can tell, incapable of practical application.

This is the sort of woman who has always had the admiration of others, and as such, has not needed to develop any practical talents or skills; no, someone else will always take care of it for her. She would like to do something "artistic" with her life, but rarely makes the effort necessary to actually succeed in the arts. She can't really clean, cook, handle tools, scrub, change diapers, lift heavy boxes, or sew. That all sounds like stereotypical domesticity, but really, even in this modern world, you need to know how to do most of those sorts of things to live life. We're not yet in Logan's Run.

I had a Prettyskinny roommate once who drove me up the wall - working on her 3rd BA degree, coming up with a new idea for an easy and yet glamorous occupation every other month or so (travel photography... modelling... acting in an national commercial so she could live off the proceeds for a year... getting into the chorus of an opera company...) and living in a state of such slovenliness that we were continually finding ants in the kitchen. I'm no pristine housekeeper by any means, but you couldn't see the floor of her room.

We butted heads early on, and I realized that we should have parted ways on the day we moved into a larger apartment with a third friend. I had arranged to pay 2 friends to help us move, and as we three carted loads of boxes and stuff out to the truck, she sat on a chair in the living room and watched us. I have never fought with anyone like I did with her. To this day, I believe that our mutual animosity continues unabated, although occasionally I am overcome with remorse for my unchristian behavior and judgmental spirit towards her. I haven't seen her since we all moved out 8 years ago. But for me, she became the prime example for that sort of semi-useless woman.

So let's then look at the other end of the womanly spectrum - the Highly Accomplished Fat Girl. Never worshipped like a Prettyskinny or appreciated (unless she is funny), she has learned a number of skills to make her useful, and hopefully, absolutely necessary. Amazing cooks, seamstresses, babysitters, masseuses, accountants, designers, set builders, teachers, comedians, etc. She has developed every talent, every skill she can so that she will find a place in society. She has to be twice as good just to register as acceptable.

And she has the added bonus of Depth. Years of sorrow and disappointment at being passed over or disregarded has made her stronger, more patient, more self-aware and wise than a regular woman. Particularly when fat from her youth onward, she doesn't mind growing old and losing her looks that much, because she never had the looks to lose. You don't miss what you never had.

So when torn between a slender beauty and a fat woman, after examining their general qualities of personality and skills, if all things are equal... pick the fat girl. She will be a greater benefit in the long run, be it as wife, employee, or friend. She may not inspire you to write poetry, but she will know how to squash spiders on her own without calling for help.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gifts

My friend Kathryn Stinson and I have been working on a book for about 6 months now about Gifts and Gift-Giving. We decided that part of the process (and as a way to build up interest) would be to start a blog where we could work out some ideas, and maybe collect stories from people that would help illustrate our points.

I should mention that this is NOT a Martha-Stewart-Real-Simple-Style-how-to sort of book; there will be ideas, but we also want to address the historical, philosophical and psychological aspects of Gifts and the traditions (good and bad) surrounding them. And to be funny whenever we can, as well as incoporating such concepts as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

So I beg you to please visit the site, and make comments and share your own stories of the best gifts you've ever gotten, as well as the worst. We promise to blog at least twice a week, so please check back! (and scroll down to the bottom so you can read the earlier posts...)
http://thebestpresentevah.blogspot.com/

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Fascinating Search

I think I may be geeking out about economists!

I have been tasked with finding the birthdates of all 112 presidents of the American Economic Association, and it has been hard going. Some were easy - Wikipedia filled in that info on about 50% of them. But some we only had the year, not the date, and others were as though they had never existed.

I have to detail the search I did on just one of them... E. Goldenweiser, president in 1946. No clue on his first name, year of birth, etc. I found several economics-themed sites with the initials E. A., so folded that in... then discovered some with E. Alexandrovich... then one with Emmanuel Alexandrovich, still in economics. I then found a citation from congressional hearings with the Federal Reserve Board that implyed he was an employee, which gave me more background.

I then went on Ancestry.com (using a 2-week free trial) and did a search on the full name. I found a list of various records with variations on his name, and then found this draft card for WWI:
A Statistician for the government. And his birthday. I cannot tell you the THRILL I had when I finally discovered this; a little like finding the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Someone who has not been thought important enough to develop a Wikipedia page for, or to have an online obituary for, and yet here he exists again in the world of 2008, even if only for me around lunchtime on a Friday. I also found his draft card for WWII, where he lists that he is working for the Federal Reserve. I can't find his obituary yet (he died in 1953), but I have found an index online that lists it... just not the actual text!
It took me almost an hour, to find all these little tiny bits of information, and this was my reward. He emigrated from Kiev, Russia, became a naturalized citizen and americanized his middle name to Alexander.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Honest Truth Can Be Ugly Sometimes

Or selfish.

I love this article, and I have done many of the suggested techniques in conversation, but not with any conscious awareness of feigning sincerity... but under closer evaluation, yes. I have feigned sincerity. I apologize.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Kitten + Ferrets + Bag = LOL

Absolutely delightful! You can almost see their little thought processes...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Valuable Lessons Learned

  1. It is important to be careful when removing the oil cap on your car, as you may drop it into the engine.
  2. Wadded-up paper towels are not a safe or suitable replacement for a missing oil cap.
  3. Wal-Mart does not carry replacement oil caps.
  4. It is ill-advised to go within a mile of Wal-Mart on Tax-Free Weekend in 90+ degree weather.
  5. Artichoke hearts are never where you expect to find them in a grocery store.
  6. A rolled-up sock serves reasonably well as an oil cap in a pinch.
  7. The Toyota dealership Service Department on Hwy. 96 closes at 5 pm on Saturdays.
  8. There is a well-stocked AutoZone located on Columbia Avenue in Franklin.
  9. A replacement oil cap can run around $5.

I have come to deeply appreciate AutoZone. They always end up giving good advice, and helping me make cheap repairs on my own. I literally drive away feeling a palpable sense of Joy: I always learn a new skill or useful piece of information (i.e., one can actually replace their own headlight lamps!), I'm relieved that a pressing repair/replacement has been made, and I feel strong and capable for having managed a car issue on my girly own.

Cars can make me more anxious than almost anything else (except my tendency towards hypochondria); I have actually had a panic attack and passed out at one point when my car was in the shop after a long, incomprehensible period of overheating (and ended up being a massively expensive repair). So to go and take the steps to successfully fix something on my car myself always is a combination of relief and pride.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Killing Time Productively

I am at the office, and I am hamstrung. There is a Trojan Horse virus on my office computer, I spent 2 hours running a full scan that failed in the end, and I am now about halfway through a full scan in safe mode to try and isolate it there. I am writing this on the spare computer on the other side of my office.

I have read all my daily blogs, visited the various Cute Animal sites I frequent, checked my Facebook for updates innumerable times, and have exhausted all forms of typical time-killing activity.

8 minutes before I can leave.

Ooh, I can check my Vandy mail online! There won't be anything there, but it will kill a few minutes.

Nope, about 70 seconds. *sigh*

Tonight Project Runway and So You Think You Can Dance are on. That'll be nice.

It's my stepdad's birthday today. I wonder what I should get for him? I already have a card...

Ooh, I can rinse out my coffee cup! Back in a mo.

Three minutes left. Are you as bored reading this as I am? Good. Shared suffering, and all that.

I have a client out in West Meade this afternoon. Probably won't take a full hour; I should figure out some productive activities for this afternoon.

One minute. Bye!

Monday, July 21, 2008

What I Won't, and What I Wish

I cannot remember the last time I so longed to be granted an escape from my current condition. The tasks on my plate right now are so unappealing, but I cannot simply scrape them off into the trash. Everyone around me is taking off for vacation for a week or more, going hither and yon, and I am stuck here in the incubator of Nashville, doing a job that I generally like, but which is made unappetizing by a couple of wonky clients who manage to drain the joy out of my work.

The thing is, I could conceivably drop them... but as usually happens, I'm in the midst of a slowdown in my workload, and I need the income.

I can't stand it when I have no clear-cut idea of what I'm supposed to be doing, but the client is pressuring me to do SOMETHING. Plus, it's not an area of expertise. Sometimes I feel like people come to me because I'm affordable and available, despite my protestations that I don't have enough experience for that particular task. You do NOT want me to try and set up a Windows Server for you, just because I'm cheap! I have a particular skill set and a definite market, and although I'm willing to learn new things, there's generally enough work for me in making house calls to people's homes. So I don't WANT to learn how to configure a server!

You wouldn't want your chiropractor to perform brain surgery on you, would you? No. So why do I feel like I must accept whatever people ask of me, even when I know it's over my head, or that I simply don't like doing it? As I get close to Year Three of my business, I have made some definite decisions:
  1. I don't want to do web design work for individuals anymore. I'll keep maintaining for the clients I currently have, but I simply don't like the development process. It requires me to work on it when I'm at home, and there is nothing I'm more disinclined to do when I'm home than work on websites.
  2. I'm not going to feel bad when I don't have the skills to do something. I know lots and lots of things; there's no reason for me to feel guilty that I'm not a computer guru.
  3. I'm not going to feel guilty when I refuse service. If I'm going to put up with the inconveniences and difficulties of working for myself, then I reserve the right to avoid unpleasant clients. Pervy old men, this means you.
  4. I'm not going to feel guilty when I name the price for the 2 hours of working on a dusty, carelessly maintained desktop, and they stop smiling and talking and quietly write out a check. I named my price on the front end, or they didn't bother to ask, so it's not like I'm cheating anyone. I'm still cheaper than most solutions on the market, and I'm much more compassionate and friendly than the guys at Best Buy.

Some obvious issues there. I don't like hearing that kind of harshness from myself, but right now I'm not particularly happy or joyful, I'm frustrated, and I need a proper vacation.

If I had the money, opportunity and connections, I would go by cruise ship to England, visit my friend Teresa in Glasgow for a week, bounce around on BritRail to Edinburgh, Cardiff, London and Bath. Go see Patrick Stewart and David Tennant in Hamlet at the RSC. Go to Evensong at Westminster Abbey. Take the Circle Line. Walk over the Hungerford Foot Bridge. Go to the Tower and St. Paul's and the school on the edge of Kensington I stayed at one summer and The Orangery for tea.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Beautiful

I don't know why, but this brought tears to my eyes - make sure you watch the last minute.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Doctoral Dirge

At what point does perpetual loss and tragedy in a fictional narrative become too much? I ask, because I am in the midst of my seasonal obsession with the latest series of Doctor Who (Series 4, if you're counting) and once again, in a finale that combines the overcoming of a mighty villain with tragic loss on the part of the heroes, I come out of it depressed and discouraged.

I should mention that the finale has not aired here yet, but in fear that I might accidentally stumble over key spoilers on the web, I took it upon myself to temporarily acquire viewing copies (don't ask how, please) so that I might be able to watch spoiler-free for a change (having been too curious to wait with the first 3 seasons). I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say the bad guys are beaten and the universe saved, but at a personal cost. Some of the heroes end up happily, some are lost, and the Doctor is again alone.

The difference this time is that the writer/producer Russell T Davies, who has tweaked this storyline since the series revival in 2005, has made the losses more palpable, and made no effort to alleviate the Doctor's loneliness. And this is ostensibly a CHILDREN'S SHOW. Granted, loads of adults like myself watch with great interest, but it's still marketed and advertised for the youth.

So I can't help but wonder if RTD isn't being self-indulgent - his work is traditionally racy, dark, and undeniably mature (as is illustrated by his adult series Torchwood) and I think he has ended his 4-year run with DW (he's moving on to other projects) with a real downer of an episode. I know he's clearing the deck for the next writer/producer Steven Moffatt (who has done some of the best episodes of the last 4 years, and has a reputation for NOT killing off characters!) but I came out of it feeling undeniably sad.

They've made the series that aired for decades into a considerably more dramatic and weighty vehicle; previous doctors never got particularly emotional, and moral dilemmas never seemed to be all that much of an issue. But that is now the heart of the series, and although I can appreciate the artistry and how easily it can make me cry at times, I wish sometimes they could just let it be Fun and Adventure, and not so much Tragedy. A good cry is great once and a while, but it seems like I've been doing a lot of it this series! And I can't help but wonder what children make of this; if they are made depressed by this recurrence of grief. I'm not one of those people who think kids should only ever hear happy stories and should be shielded from all of life's difficulties, but there's just so much sorrow one can take in an entertainment before it's too much.

There were happy moments; some great comedy, and some lovely resolutions. But I've been feeling melancholy all weekend after a Who Marathon of the last 4 episodes, and that hardly seems like a desirable result for a TV series!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Controversial

Goodness gracious, I've gotten more readers and comments after my Regional Differences and Eddie Izzard posts than I have in weeks! Why is it that I never noticed that the big blogs are popular precisely because they will court controversy? I don't like it in general; I don't like making people angry, and I don't like the way they get when they are angry.

My brother-in-law has picked up on this tendency of mine over the years; he might be having a battle with Elder Sister in my presence, and I will blend into the furniture, or start chivvying the children to clean up or snap to... and B-I-L will turn to me and say something like "It's ok, you know; no one is in danger just because I'm angry!" Which I know, of course; but when you've learned to deal with an angry father over 13 years of childhood, you try and do whatever you can to alleviate anger, to placate, to pour oil on troubled waters. I will grow very quiet... I will start to tidy up... I will speak in a subdued fashion, to indicate my appreciation of the situation.

I have been fortunate to have friends who will disagree with me, and have spirited arguments over things like religion and politics... it has taken time, but it has allowed me at least some understanding that disagreement and argument do not mean someone will hate or hurt you when the debate is over. But even with all of that, I find myself adapting to the opinions of whomever I am with. I leap to find common ground, to express a sympathy and comprehension of their opinion.

This is why I cannot endure the rants of the Bill O'Reillys, the Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs. (I know they have liberal counterparts, but I don't know who any of them are, for some reason.) I might agree with some of their opinions, but their absolute inability to see any good in liberalism troubles me. I wish there was more of an appreciation in this country for the Moderate and the Centrist, and that they could be allowed to have their own voice in the media. I don't think it means that someone is any less compelling, just because they can see both sides of an argument... I mean, wouldn't you want to have that kind of respect in a discussion? Instead of just being lambasted as an idiot?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Disappointed by Eddie

I do not like to go out at night, in general. Maybe to a cozy friend's house, or to my family, but most evenings I would much rather stay home, especially when I have been home for an hour or more, and have to get up and go back out. There are exceptions of course, and last night was one of them - I had tickets to see Eddie Izzard live at the Ryman.

I loooooove Eddie Izzard. I have watched or listened to everything he's ever done (stand-up), and seen most of his movies. I think he's brilliant. He's the only comedian I know to have figured out how to combine history so effectively with comedy.


The place was packed; at one point the audience started chanting "Cake or Death"; they obviously knew his material by heart. When he came out, it was the loudest audience response I have ever heard. The poor man could hardly speak for the screams of delight, and got into the habit of regularly shushing us whenever we would cheer for a particular line, just so he could get through his material. He performed without intermission for almost 2 hours straight, which has GOT to be exhausting, and my face got tired from smiling and laughing.

But.

I don't begin to be able to articulate my disappointment in what he obviously thought of us. There's usually some kind of overarching theme throughout one of his shows, and tonight, it appeared to be Why Religion is Stupid, and I'm Here to Straighten You Out. He's touched on his dissatisfaction with the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of organized religion for years now, so it wasn't unfamiliar... but last night, I felt like he was on a mission to disabuse us of our blinkered and illogical devotion to God. It felt like he had tailored his show specifically to this Bible-Belt audience to correct us in our irrational habits. Every 5 minutes or so, he'd take a step back and make a little disclaimer about how there WERE things he admired about religion, like the sense of community and whatnot... but then he'd jump right back into mocking various stories in the Bible, the proliferation of gods throughout world history, the fact that some don't believe in evolution, etc. It felt like he took every single stereotype of Southern Christian culture as true across the board, and riffed on how foolish it was off and on for 2 hours.

I am NOT hypersensitive to this in general. I am used to it in almost every form of entertainment media I can think of, and I often agree. But I paid $59 for a ticket to have a good time laughing, and I came out of there feeling a little depressed, as thought I'd been gently scolded for more than an hour. Even my friend A. M. who went with me, and who generally shares his same opinions on religion and Middle American (and particularly Southern) culture said that she felt "patronized," as though he had come on a mission to try and fix us. I don't mind stand-up shows that use comedy to teach certain principles, such as Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman... but Eddie doesn't do that in general, so to have him try and correct what he thinks is wrong with American culture in his show here in the Bible Belt really made me feel disappointed, and for the first time in a long time, defensive.

I don't generally feel offended by that sort of thing; when it's addressed to an audience in San Francisco, and I watch it on a TV screen, it's not directed at me. But this WAS directed at me, and as I think of the supportive, genuine people at my church who help take care of each other so well, of the kind-hearted, generous, open-hearted relatives I have in Georgia who would do anything for a stranger, I was hurt. Because Eddie obviously thought they - we - were foolish and misguided.

AND YET, he was a little bit hypocritical himself, last night... despite gently mocking the religious culture we live in, he dressed down for the occasion - he wore jeans, boots, and cutaway coat - and barely any makeup. I have NEVER seen him wear jeans in one of his shows; he doesn't wear dresses, but he'll wear really gorgeous silks and brocades in beautifully cut suits, loads of makeup, nail polish, etc. But last night, he dressed for a Nashville audience. Perhaps it was meant as a sign of respect for what he perceives as a more conservative crowd, but I suspected that it was more of a "don't scare the crackers" choice.

The ridiculous thing is that, for the most part, he was preaching to the choir last night! The audience was made up of the most liberal-minded elements of Nashville society, with a huge majority agreeing with pretty much every word out of his mouth. So it was a wasted effort - I would venture to guess that 75% or more of that crowd would be voting Democrat this November anyway.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Regional Differences

I don't know if it's possible to write about this without sounding judgmental. We'll see.

Bearing in mind the differences in population (urban vs. suburban) and urgency (dire vs. steady increase), it's hard not to make comparisons between the devastation of Hurricane Katrina (ie: New Orleans) and the flooding along the Mississipi (ie: Iowa).

Similarities:
  • lots of water
  • destruction of personal property
  • breaking levees
  • typical for area - it's happened before

Now let's think about how people responded. New Orleans was one long series of "Who's responsible," with local, state, federal government, FEMA, and the population all getting a portion of blame. Iowa seems to be more about "How can I help preserve my city?" I know, they have more time to fill sandbags; their flooding has been a slow and steady increase, while Katrina was a matter of only a few days warning, right? But if you look at it from the perspective of what we can see in media coverage both then and now, New Orleans was all about what the government was supposed to do to fix the problem, while Iowa is all about what the local residents are doing to try and save themselves.

I do see that getting millions out of the path of a devastating hurricane with not enough time is a vast deal more difficult than what's been going on along the Mississippi, and it's not something that could have been stopped with sandbags. But I never seem to hear anyone in news stories talking about how the government has failed the Midwest in this flood season; it's just lots and lots of v-roll of hundreds and hundreds of people filling sandbags, trying to keep their own levees from breaking.

Is the difference that people in urban areas are more dependant upon the government, while the more scattered populations of the midwest are more self-reliant? Yeah, I think so.

I'm sure everyone can think of their own set of rational excuses to be made for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and how it responded in the face of natural disaster. But the bitterness and blame of Katrina is curiously absent from the Midwest, who have lost as much, and will continue to lose more for some time to come.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

What I Learned This Pre-Summer

  1. A lake house is nice, except when it's in the 90s and the AC is broken.
  2. AC filters need to be changed periodically so that the AC can keep working.
  3. There is such a thing as a 24-hour emergency HVAC repair service.
  4. Just because you and your friends say over and over that the AC WILL be fixed, it doesn't necessarily produce the desired result.
  5. It is possible to sleep in an oppressively hot house, as long as you have a fan and a damp towel to drape over your legs and forehead, and you dose up on Benadryl.
  6. My car loves to kick off its hubcaps.
  7. There is always something useful to be learned in trying situations.
  8. I have more endurance and adaptability than I thought.
  9. It's not always a good idea to force through a vacation trip, because sometimes God doesn't mean for you to go.
  10. Even in the midst of trying situations, there are treasures such as fine regional cheeses, and excellent country meat-and-three restaurants to be found.
  11. Just because a store advertises itself as an Amish market does not mean that you will actually find any Amish people there, nor that they will necessarily have any locally produced Amish products.
  12. There is a time and place for makeup, and a lake house with no AC is not one of them.
  13. It is possible to fit more activities into a 29 hour trip than initially thought possible.
  14. Giving up and going home early because you're melting from the heat is not weak; it is sensible.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

How I love the internet!

Do you remember how you always gave up on trains of thought when you were younger, because finding the source of something you remembered was well nigh impossible?

Lying in bed, trying to go to sleep, this little snippet of what I THINK was Herb Albert and the TJB won't go away, then I vaguely remember the little Muppet sketch of over 20 years ago I associate with it... gosh, that was pretty funny...

5-10 minutes of google searching, refining search terms, and YouTube later, I present Java:


OK, That's done - back to bed! I have nursery duty in the morning...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Good Lord and Butter, Has it Been That Long?!

Has it been almost a month since I last posted?! Shame on me! But I must excuse myself on the basis that since May 1st I have been Official Typist to Shane and Anna Caudill, on a trip to pick up their new son Thien Yo (called YoYo) in China. Google Blogs are apparently inaccessible there, and so they have had to resort to emailing updates to me, which I would format and post along with pictures. They have lived through some high drama, let me tell you! They were not untouched by the earthquake, although mercifully far enough away to escape harm. And YoYo is a special needs child with catheters and a colostomy bag, although he seems to be blissfully unaware of any need for caution!

They are due to return this weekend, but now that it is so close, I am terrified that something will occur to hold them back, or deny them YoYo, who has bonded with them as much as a 3-year-old child possibly could in 3 weeks. So many little bits of paper and permissions and natural disasters and birth defects with medical issues and national pride... It is no easy thing to go through. I think they must long to be left entirely alone upon their return for a week or so, just to sleep and eat and recover from the massive rollercoaster of emotion they have been on for the last 8 months... so many near misses, so many failures of communication, and the heavy weight of 14 years of trying to have a child of their own.

Shane and Anna are the kind of couple that never met a stranger where children are concerned. They are the sort of people who should have an enormous family, but instead have had to unconsciously settle for being the best adult friend of every child in their circle of acquaintances. No one can playplayplay better than they. The amount of preparation they went through before going is unimaginable; taking medical supplies, clothing, preparing for certain nutritional needs, learning how to install catheters and colostomy bags... all the sorts of skills they would have learned slowly over time with a new baby, is thrust upon them in one fell swoop in the form of a very active 3 year old.

I have cheerfully demanded to adopt YoYo as an aunt; I'm not going to be having my own children, in all likelihood, and so here is a child who will have adoptive aunts and uncles and grandparents, but there's no reason why he can't squeeze in one stray spinster aunt whose own niblings are growing up and away.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why I Can't Tell You

Why, whywhywhywhywhy, is it so difficult for me as a Christian to witness to my faith with as much passion and delight as I tell a friend about an amazing movie I just saw? This was a revelation to me almost 2 decades back; I was in a Bible study, and someone made the point that modern American Christians talk about a new sushi restaurant with more enthusiasm than they do their faith.

Of course, this might be because even as Christians, we know that ANY audience is more willing to accept a movie review than a witness. If anyone starts to share their faith with me, unaware that "I already have a subscription to that magazine, thanks," I feel that same sinking feeling, that same dismay as even an atheist might feel in such a confrontation. It has become impossible to witness in this country.

Well, that's not entirely so. People on the brink of disaster, of immense loss, illness or depression, might be willing to hear. When you're in pain, you're willing to entertain any possible solutions.

But it is this instinctive shrinking back, this fear of alienating others, that keeps me silent on the subject. I reassure myself that it is because it is better to "live out my faith," let my actions speak louder than my words. An ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words, my acting teacher always said. But the silent guilt of "you really should be doing more" still wafts around me (and many of my Christian friends).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Settling Back to Normal...

Everything is finally tidying up, but it feels like this April has been the longest month in a very, very long time. I've been working many 10-12 hour days (for those of you who do so on a regular basis, shut up. It's a lot for me, and that's all that concerns me at present!), taking on extra web work for Booksamillion.com but taking care of my regular clients at the same time. I've just returned from a 4-day visit to Dear Friend and Baby Pudgekin in Denver. The Landerses have just brought their sweet Baby Maggie home after a very tense time involving surgery and the PICU. And the Caudills have been cleared to go get their little Yo-Yo in China after years of runarounds and metaphorical bureaucratic plane crashes.

I resume the 10-12 hour days tomorrow for another few weeks, and although I am grateful for the work and the income to follow, I am pining for some Beach Time for a week or more in the near future. Just sitting on the beach, reading and napping in the shade of that really awesome portable cabana I saw in SkyMall.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Very Long Wait

Some of you have heard me speak of Shane and Anna Caudill, an amazing couple that has been working their way through the China adoption maze for a few years now. They chose to seek out a "special needs" adoption, and their hearts led them to Tien Yo, a little boy with cloacal exstrophy, the most severe birth defect compatible with human life. He was rescued by nuns when he was 5 days old, and last July, he traveled to the US for life-saving surgery at Johns Hopkins.

The adoption process has been, to put it mildly, difficult. And miracle child that he is, Yo-Yo will always need special medical care and treatment. But Shane and Anna have been longing for a child for 14 years now, and on April 30th they are finally flying to China to pick up their new son, and to learn how to take care of his medical needs.

Anna has been writing a blog about the frustrations and exhilarations she and Shane have been experiencing since they started the adoption process a while back, and now that they have been given final approval, she is letting the public read it. And to my chagrin, she refuses to ask for assistance, but they still need about $5000 for travel expenses. Fortunately, I am shameless enough to ask FOR them.

"Waiting Child" (
http://flossiemae.blogspot.com/) Please take a look! I'd recommend going back to the very first post, and reading backwards from there. There is a Paypal link for donations on the right menu.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Shamelessly Stealing from Garrison Keillor

I don't care what some people think about Keillor, I adore his writing. And some of the attributes below do not seem like any Episcopalians I know, but maybe it's because I'm from the South, and jello is no longer popular. But several of these things are spot-on, especially the comments on singing. Apparently my instinct for singing a third above or below the melody means I was born to be Episcopalian, despite my essentially fundamentalist upbringing!

(Adapted from an essay by Garrison Keillor; I suspect it has been added to by persons unknown...)

We make fun of Episcopalians for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese. But nobody sings like them. If you were to ask an audience in Des Moines, a relatively Episcopalianless place, to sing along on the chorus of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," they will look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their underwear. But if you do this among Episcopalians, they'd smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach! ... And down the road!

Many Episcopalians are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony, a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person's rib cage. It's natural for Episcopalians to sing in harmony. We are too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When you're singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of you, it's an emotionally fulfilling moment. By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other.

I do believe this, people: Episcopalians, who love to sing in four-part harmony are the sort of people you could call up when you're in deep distress. If you are dying, they will comfort you. If you are lonely, they'll talk to you. And if you are hungry, they'll give you tuna salad!


  • Episcopalians believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud.

  • Episcopalians like to sing, except when confronted with a new hymn or a hymn with more than four stanzas.

  • Episcopalians believe their rectors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don't notify them that they are there.

  • Episcopalians usually follow the official liturgy and will feel it is their way of suffering for their sins.

  • Episcopalians believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate.

  • Episcopalians feel that applauding for their children's choirs will not make the kids too proud and conceited.

  • Episcopalians think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the peace.

  • Episcopalians drink coffee as if it were the Third Sacrament.

  • Episcopalians feel guilty for not staying to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall.

  • Episcopalians are willing to pay up to one dollar for a meal at church.

  • Episcopalians still serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color of the season and

  • Episcopalians believe that it is OK to poke fun at themselves and never take themselves too seriously.


And finally, you know you are a Episcopalian when:

  • It's 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, and you still have coffee after the service.

  • You hear something really funny during the sermon and smile as loudly as you can.

  • Donuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee.

  • When you watch a Star Wars movie and they say, "May the Force be with you," and you respond, "and also with you."

  • And lastly, it takes ten minutes to say good-bye . . .

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Where on earth is THIS?

Stepdad Tony took this picture in the 60s while travelling through Europe, and has no memory of the location. He suspects it may be Alsace-Lorraine, but has no idea.

Anyone recognize it? Would welcome any comments...


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Positively Electrifying

I have a theory.

As I have been working with people and their computers for over 10 years now, I have had a small but memorable percentage of users who cannot get a computer to work for them consistently for love or money. Christa, Valerie, Dana, Denise, Alexa and Eric know what I mean.

It's the most bizarre thing... you could give each person a new computer every six months, and somehow each person's system will slow down to a crawl, have the most un-reproducible errors, have bugs that disappear when I sit down at their computer, with no discernable pattern. Except that it is, simply, THEIR computer.

I would say it's about 1 in 20 people who have this kind of random, inexplicable dysfunction. It's not a dislike for the technology - in fact, some of them have been my most ardent users. But Technology seems most reluctant to serve them!

Since we are not yet to that stage of technological development where we can interface with computers by any but the most direct means - pushing buttons - I have racked my brain to figure out what sets these unfortunates apart. It's not like they ooze a substance that jams the machinery! My theory is that it has to do with their magnetic field.

Each living being generates a low-level magnetic field. And I have not enough science to know if it is in any way related to the body's ability to build up an electrostatic charge of as much as 20,000 volts. We've all had days where every bit of metal we touch shocks us; well, it makes sense that we could be releasing energy through keyboards into computers, in such immeasurably small amounts that no significant damage is done, but it's enough to make things (in my favorite scientific term,) wonky.

We're still in the first generation of widespread computer technology, and 100 years from now, it will probably be possible to measure such tendencies, as organic bodies continue to increase their interface with the inorganic.

But I want it established that I thought of it FIRST. :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Moral Outrage

How does an essentially lazy person filled with righteous indignation at the state of American government (on the verge of, if not immersed in, tyranny) do something about it? Those annoying low-level politicians who would come and speak to your government or civics classes would always tell you to run for office - that you can't complain if you're not willing to make an effort to change it yourself.

But even though I'm lazy, I'm also brutally self-aware, and I will tell you this: there's no way in hell I will ever be elected to public office. I'm overweight (therefore unattractive), I frequently say awkward, embarrassing or uncomfortable things, I'm blunt, and I'm a frequent introvert. I drive to the middle of the road and stay there, only to be swayed slightly off to the right or left based on the comments of the last intelligent person to talk to me.

This does not make for an effective politician. I think I would do far better as a member of royalty, put in place without benefit of election. My talents would be an advantage, and my failings would merely be an inconvenience. If I was only moderately good at my job, everyone would proclaim me a paragon and be relieved that I wasn't some perverted egomaniac and sadistic despot.

I've been watching the John Adams miniseries on HBO, and I tell you what, it really does open your eyes to the downward decline of the American experiment. We're the next Roman Empire, Eddie Izzard says, and he's not far wrong. It scares me to see how very, very close we are getting to the period of the Caesars in our political development - how many ordinary people even know that Rome was once a Republic? All anyone remembers is the Emperors and their excesses.

More later. Must go babysit.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Old but still funny...

Well, I must have seen this a half-dozen times over the years, but it still makes me laugh, so enjoy!

Airline cabin announcements

All too rarely, airline attendants make an effort to make the in flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:

1. On a Southwest flight (SW has no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"

2. On a Continental Flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."

3. On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something we'd like to have.

4. "There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane"

5. "Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."

6. As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Ronald Reagan, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"

7. After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a Northwest flight announced, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."

8. From a Southwest Airlines employee: "Welcome aboard Southwest Flight 245 to Tampa. To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."

9. "In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."

10. "Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines."

11. "Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and, in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."

12. "As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."

13. And from the pilot during his welcome message: "Delta Airlines is pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"

14. Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City the flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."

15. Overheard on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, Texas, on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain was really having to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"

16. Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

17. An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the Passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline." He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?" "Why, no, Ma'am," said the officer. "What is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down?"

18. After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal."

19. Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of US Airways."

20. Heard on a Southwest Airline flight. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing and if you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."

Monday, April 07, 2008

Hide from Reality

Do you ever have that feeling that you'd just like to cancel everything and go home and stay in bed for a week? But then it's immediately followed by the knowledge that none of those things would actually be going anywhere, would still need to be done eventually, and you'd probably lie in bed and obsess about all of it?

What makes it worse is the knowledge that over 75% of it could be fixed by money. They say that money doesn't bring happiness, but not having it can really stress you out, and I don't find that particularly happy.

Too much work, too many commitments, demanding clients, health anxieties and no insurance, too many bills, no savings, taxes... I can't think of anything that would fix any of this more simply than money. And I hate that such a thing is possible.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Keith in Comedy

This is my friend Keith Alberstadt, who is working his way up through the comedy world of NYC. He does appear down here in the South sometimes, so catch him if you get the chance!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Litany of Ailments

So... historically, when I am stricken with melancholy, my body responds with a rainbow array of twinges, distresses, and pain. This, of course, adds to my anxiety, since I am a hypochondriac to a certain extent. But I have always been either scared of doctors (not so much at present) or uninsured (at present), and so I am forced to worry in private since I cannot prove that all the ailments are false. Over the years, when a physical distress fails to add to my anxiety, it is replaced by a new one. Intestinal distress switches to lower back pain (kidney cancer!), twinges in my right side (appendicitis! ovarian cancer!) now manifest as a lump in my throat. Tennis elbow, tendonitis in my left shoulder with odd pain radiating down into my chest, and a "how'd that get there?" pain in the ball of my right foot - all suggest suitably disastrous and terrifying ailments or conditions.

None of them are legitimate - they disappear when I am happy or relaxed. I take a weekly dance class, galloping around for over an hour, and although winded due to my exceedingly poor physical fitness, nothing hurts the entire time. But they appear like clockwork each morning to give me something to mentally chew on, spit up, examine, and then chew again, like some cow who want to know what their cud looks like.

I wish I had a friend who was a doctor, who could give me a quick once-over when these physical anxieties crop up; someone who could say with all authority "nope, that's nothing, it'll go away on its own." Maybe if these pains were denounced early on, I might be able to crawl back out of melancholy sooner.

On the other hand, the most profound growth in my life usually happens around this time. These thorns in my flesh usually scare me into self-examination (Where am I with God? Where am I going with my life? Do I need to work on something?) and I am always better for it in the long run. Over 20 years of an assortment of ailments that never lead to anything... but personal growth.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills

This is a really important article, I think - I've been worrying more and more about modern kids, and how regulated and scheduled their lives are; well, it is starting to appear that certain cognitive and executive function is being stunted as a result.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19212514

Your own childhood was better than you think!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Squeeeeeeee!

humorous pictures

I LOVE this website. Check it everyday... it's a happy place.