Because there's really no limit to ego gratification when you've got a spot to spout with your name on it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

all i can say is please bitchslap me next time i get myself involved with some idiot who doesn't know his own limits and lives in a fantasy land where they're always right, regardless of what reality is screaming at them in capital letters! geez. not that i'll ever do that again!

when will people realize that completely denying reality despite overwhelming evidence is a luxury only superstars and megazillionaires can sustain for any length of time. what's that saying again? oh yeah, pride goeth before a fall. and that fall can be down a chasm with sharp rocks at the bottom. beware! ever see the fool on the tarot card deck? yep, that's what he's doing. one foot poised over the chasm, the other waiting to join it.

know what you don't know! he actually said that. hah! indeed. famous last words.very last. bye bye. solve your own problems now. when i tried my best to at least cushion the inevitable fall, he looked for more sharp rocks to fall on, because he thought he could outsmart them. but rocks is rocks. all that got him was even more sharp rocks. i'm sure he's blaming me for it instead of acknowledging reality for once.

how's this for twisted logic? and i use the word logic rather loosely. i go easy on the guy, trying to be fair and decent, he decides he's gonna get a better deal. believe me, there was no possible way to get a better deal than the one i made. in the end, he gave himself a worse deal, more trauma, more embarrassment than i would have ever put him through, ended up lying under oath, and looking like, well, a fool. not just to me, but to even more people than there would have been if he hadn't chosen that particular route. talk about shooting yourself in the foot! and now there's a public record of it. brilliant. how did i ever end up with this one?

never again! should be a major life lesson for both of us. well, it was for one of us. moving on...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Some Asswipe called Ian is screwing with Facebook

Hello Ian, age 23, from Pasadena, whose name keeps popping up when anyone tries to log onto Facebook and it is now automatically redirecting to MySpace thanks to you. Are you a troll or just an egotistical selfish bastard who is bored and alone (big surprise!) and gets what littles kicks he can still get from anonymously screwing with thousands of people he doesn't know. It's the penultimate form of self-centered egotism.

If I knew who you were, I'd come find your ass and smack the crap out of you. It's not like I care very much about getting on Facebook right this minute. It's more like I think people like you have unmitigated gall. There is absolutely no reason or circumstance when this sort of redirect is appropriate or just. Affecting people you don't know for no damned good reason is offensive beyond belief.

If anyone reads this, please do everything possible to screw with this asswipe Ian and get him kicked off the internet forever is possible. Find this mutha and destroy him. Get out of your mother's basement, get a job, lose 4 or 500 pounds, go for extensive psychotherapy, and maybe if you work very hard at that, in 15 years or so, when you'll probably be around 50, you might even be capable of getting a girlfriend. Maybe. In the meantime, screw you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I've come back for a bit...

So I haven't posted for a really long time because I got bored and annoyed with the whole thing. But then I got a comment from someone who thought he knew who I was (he doesn't) and thought I wrote a post targeted at him. I didn't. But some feelings are pretty common, so it obviously touched a familiar chord with him, and he reached out to whoever he thought I was talking about. I hope he finds the real person.

That said, on to my new rant. I hate the Northeast Corridor in the winter. Bloody snow. It's all right if you don't have to drive in it and can look out of the window at it. It is beautiful indeed. I don't mind having the occasional snowball fight. I might even make a snowman this time. But intelligent people with any possibility of finding a weather forecast at this time of year on TV, internet, radio, newspaper, or talking to someone who has, should stay the hell home when snow is predicted at more than a foot of snow unless they perform essential public services. Most people don't. Offices should have the good sense not to penalize people who don't want to risk their lives on the road with crazy people driving badly, either too slow or too fast, in the snow and call out. Retailers should allow people to go home when the accumulation gets bad enough to make driving dangerous, especially at night when temperatures drop. Screw profits. Close the bloody store already. No one in their right mind comes in anyway. Imagine the morons who end up coming in! No, you can't possibly. What's wrong with people? Plan ahead for chrissakes! Then stay the hell home. There's a chance of one or two feet of snow in my area tonight and I'll have to go to work and I know people are going to be lined up out the door like they'll never see daylight again, buying everything in sight. Come on people! It's only one truly dreadful weather day. Take your time digging out and then off you go the next day and you can go about your business again. Luckily, in my neck of the woods, it only really snows hard a couple of times and then we're home free, so what's a couple of days worth?

Once you've been banged up enough in life, there's no thrill in shoveling a couple of feet of snow, just a backache. Some people end up worse than that- falls, sprains, etc. SO not worth it!

Here's a simple concept for those of you who seem to be incapable of thinking ahead: it's bloody wintertime, fools! There will be horrible weather, if not today, at some point in the season. So it's probably a good idea to keep the house stocked with staples and just buy fresh things to supplement. Then you don't have to go into utter panic mode and freak out, driving retailers crazy. And how could you possibly live in the area for years, and not notice that this is how people get every time the dreaded "s" word (snow) is even muttered? Do NOT come in a half hour before we close and wonder why we don't have whatever your family can't live without and getting pissy about it, because, frankly, the smarter people have been coming in all day ahead of you and BUYING it! Geez! I'll bet you think milk appears magically on the shelves every day. Some poor shmo who works here has hauled some very heavy milk crates around all day long, trying desperately to keep up with demand,while every available warm body who managed to get there in the storm is probably manning every possible register as the lines snake down the aisles and people start getting angry at the wait. And if they're on the register trying to get you out the door quickly while they toil for hours without a break, hoping the line dies down long enough to finally get a chance to pee before it's too late, they probably can't be stocking shelves at the exact same time.

The only thing worse than coming in last minute and complaining that supplies are low is the even stupider people who come after the hour we close and demand that we let them in. Look, we're all waiting for the store to close so we can go home. If you can't find the' time in the thirteen hours we're open to shop, then it's just too bloody late. Give up and go home.

Monday, October 13, 2008

And Another Thing About The Damned Election...

Today, Christopher Hitchens had an article in Slate Magazine entitled "Vote for Obama. McCain lacks the character and temperament to be president. And Palin is simply a disgrace." Not that he has an opinion, mind you. If you're at all familiar with Hitchens, you know that he is a product of English public schools and can't quite shake the influence of Old Blighty. He hasn't been known to be particularly happy with Democrats in recent years and took particular exception to Bill Clinton. So the man is not exactly over the moon about the Democratic party or its candidates.

I certainly have opinions and have no hesitancy in voicing them, but I would never claim to be particularly well versed in the details of current politics and there are absolutely many, many people who could claim to be more educated or more intelligent than I am. Whether you agree with Hitchens or not, the man is obviously erudite and well-educated and well acquainted with both past and present world and U.S. politics. He essentially agrees with what I've been saying, which I based solely on what I could be sure were actual facts as opposed to slander thrown by the opposite number and on what I could observe myself.

Chris Matthews showed a clip from Family Guy on his show today on MSNBC, showing Lois pandering mercilessly to the public after advice to do so, using short sentences and no details, and her horror that it actually proved to be successful in her campaign to win the crowd over. The only real difference between Lois's character and Palin is that Lois is knowingly doing this and horrified that it worked, whereas Palin seems to be doing these things simply because some handler told her to do so. She's not horrified, so much as perplexed. I would be embarrassed to be represented as a woman in the White House by a vice president like Palin. It's not even that her view of the world is diametrically opposed to mine. I could see someone like Christy Todd Whitman, who is dignified, experienced, well-informed and intelligent. I don't agree with her either but at least she wouldn't be an embarrassment.

As for McCain, Hitchens is much crueller in his description than even I have been, but we essentially agree that he is an unacceptable choice. I wouldn't make a claim or even imply that he's senile and physically unprepared for the presidency, but I definitely worry about his impulsiveness and how uninformed and out of touch he seems to be, and that's more than enough to leave no doubt in my mind that it would be a mistake of epic proportions to elect him president and that the American people would suffer the most for such a decision. I can't say that I'm blown away by Obama, and frankly I would have preferred Mrs. Clinton, but I can imagine someone in the White House with his unflappable demeanor and both he and Biden appear to be erudite and well-informed. These are the kind of minds that I would like to be making critical decisions in an uncertain economic climate, and with regard to making positive changes in our educational and health care systems.

What really blows my mind is when I talk to people who still prefer McCain & Palin, despite everything we've seen. I want to know what debates they were watching, because you wouldn't know they were the same ones I saw when they describe them. I worry about evangelicals, who are supposed to be around 25% of the voting population, gaining control of decision-making processes involving science, education, the rights of the individual as regards sexual preferences, marriage and children, and birth control. I don't have to agree with what you want to do with yourself or with others, but it is neither religion's nor government's decision about what you do behind closed doors, with whom, how much, and what way and only you should be able to decide that. And I worry that this campaign and possibly the results of the election could increase an angry and disenfranchised part of the population's fear of Other, which could reinvigorate racism, which never disappeared, especially in some areas of the country, but which at least is less virulent in most places.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Vice Presidential Debate...

Hopefully, you saw it. We had a whisky and Palin night. You can probably figure out where my sympathies lie if you've ever read anything else I've written. I saw it as a bloodbath. Seemed like Palin was great at giving an impression of being folksy, spunky, and just one of us- joe six pack. And winking at the end of sentences, which I find annoying and phony personally. But she didn't answer several questions, which is what she agreed to do before the debate but found difficult to do at the event. She used generalities and faulty logic, while Biden seemed to have facts and figures and specific answers. Granted, both apparently made some mistakes when answering, but at least Biden actually answered all the questions. Palin appeared to string together key phrases from her handlers and hope they made sentences, but when you read her answers, they don't usually parse. Here's what has to say.

Well, I can't say it any better than Kitty Burns Florey, so I'm not gonna try. Here's what I'm wondering: I know I have a definite point of view, and I know that others are equally entrenched in the opposite point of view and they're equally sure that McCain/Palin is the only vote that makes sense. That boggles my mind. I keep trying to wrap my head around that, imagining what would lead me to agree with the McCain/Palin ticket if I had different viewpoints, but I just can't seem to get there, however much I try. I'm cynical enough not to believe any politician who wants to get elected, because I'm pretty sure any of them would say or do anything to get there if they've gotten this far.

A truly honest person would get lost in the system and never get to the final two. So I automatically ignore all media ads and all campaign promises as total bullshit. Doesn't matter which party. Listening to these people speak carries a lot more weight for me. I want to know if this person is even remotely coherent, especially under pressure, if they're knowledgeable about economics, science, history, law, education, health care, etc., the things everyone cares about except the top 1-5% of the population who are so wealthy that few of these topics even touch their lives. I want to be able to imagine this person successfully representing America in international diplomatic situations which require tact, dignity, intelligence and charm to win over world leaders and encourage them to work with our government for the betterment of all.

We need someone who will lead the world with our attempts to combat global warming and other environmental issues;encourage private sector and government research programs involved in finding,using and implementing alternative fuel sources to oil; who will give incentive to residents and world citizens to develop new businesses and employment opportunities right here; and increase U.S. presence in the fields of science, industry and education and bring us and keep us in the forefront of the latest research in cutting edge fields.

Given the purported attitudes and beliefs of McCain/Palin, I cannot imagine that these things would be as likely under their leadership, given what I've seen so far. I'm not entirely convinced of it with Obama either, but at least it seems possible.

Unlike in other elections, it seems to me that the vice presidential candidates carry a little more weight than usual (usually being none). However ugly the thought, we have to consider that McCain already looks tired and irritable, is aging and has pre-existing health issues, so Palin might very well end up in charge. And for a certain Stone Age element of our population, the thought of a person of color ending up in charge of the U.S. is simply impossible. Some people don't even consciously understand or acknowledge their uneasiness with this, and others are conscious of prejudice/bigotry/racism but are equally uncomfortable with saying this directly (and well they should be!) and make up reasons to tell themselves or others why they can't vote for Obama. If Obama should get elected, there exists the very real possibility that some part of this element may actively try to harm him while he's in office, in which case Biden would be called to take his place. He, at least, knows and understands what the office of Vice President of the United States entails and the limited power it entails. Tell Palin it's a lot like being the runner-up of a beauty pageant- you don't actually do much except give some advice, support the president, and wave a lot, unless something goes wrong with the winner. Understand now?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bailing Out The Millionaires?

I just keep thinking about this... the U.S. government is, at this very moment, working on a plan to bail out Wall Street. I've got a very simple plan that would save all of us poor shmucks who pay our taxes and who will have to pay for these millionaires to keep doing what so clearly didn't work before. It's hard to have sympathy for a guy who probably takes a helicopter to work from his mansion, but there are plenty of regular joes who work in the financial industry, and they'll suffer at least as much as the rest of us while the guys at the top go on like nothing happened. It's the regular joes who will end up losing jobs and health insurance.

So here's my plan to fix the mess: fire all the executives on Wall Street and in the financial companies the government is trying to bail out who make more than a million dollars a year. You wouldn't have to get rid of many of them to make a difference. Let these guys work at a minimum wage retail job, lose their homes, cars and health insurance and then let's see how they like it.

This would save the U.S. government millions of dollars right away. Then, just like we've established a minimum wage, let's have a maximum wage for financial industry executives. I know that at my job, you can work up to a certain amount per hour and when you reach it, that's as much as you'll get. Do that for the big dogs! I don't care about any other industry, but when it comes to the people holding your life savings, your pension or retirement fund, your investment portfolio that you've scrimped and saved for, and your mortgage, they damned well better not screw up so massively in the name of greed that our economy is in danger of collapsing. So don't pay the guys who did this incredible amounts of money so they can keep screwing up at the expense of the rest of us, who are just about making ends meet if we're lucky.

Do I think this is what will actually happen? Not really.

Monday, September 15, 2008

And Now For A Bit Of Irony, OR One More Reason Concerned Vegetarians Are Annoying

Remember Squeaky the piglet? I saw the image originally on this website. So I looked for the original article to refer you to, and found that plus this follow-up. Or should I call it a foul-up?

If you put lipstick on a pig...

but it's a darn cute one! My apologies to Ross Parry, who took this beautiful picture of the cutest piglet ever. Just thought one more person should overuse the phrase. You just can't have enough redundancy and repetition in an election, can you? Now, if we could only teach Squeaky to do the beauty queen wave, live in a small town, finally graduate from college after trying five different ones, all mediocre unheard-of colleges, run for local town mayor, get pissed off and fire or threaten to fire anyone perceived as a threat, help then deny helping building one or two bridges to nowhere, support then accuse Ted Stevens, run for governor of a small isolated state, then feel utterly qualified to run for second in command of the United States because she can see Russia from her house, THEN we'd really have something! Now wait a minute, that sounds awfully familiar...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What's going on, America?

Is this really what we want running the country if McCain blew a gasket while in office if he were president? Geez, I hope not! Hmmm, crazy Christian fundamentalist joins a guy with a lousy temper who shoots his mouth off, decides things impulsively and calls his wife the "c" word on national television? What a diplomatic core! These two could set America back about 1oo years. The whole world would be laughing at us. Oh wait, they're doing that already. Go Bush, yeah. At least Reagan had Alzheimer's as a reason to want to live in the 1950's again. What's Palin's excuse? I think I'd much prefer Michael Palin. Too bad he's not a citizen.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I still love lambies. And hats off to Bob & Mary, who have a self-sustaining real working farm. I'm so jealous. And they take great pictures too. Who couldn't love a lamb as cute as this?
From Bob & Mary's Milk & Honey Farm

Pardon My Hiatus, OR My Brother-In-Law Sucks

I took some time off to get over my utter disgust for the human race. Big pain in the ass, the lot of you. Snobby elitist though I may be, I only bother with people I consider to be the best and the brightest. I have now sworn off friends who make you feel like you're always walking on eggshells. There are very few people who are so amazing that you'll watch everything you say or do every moment you're with them or communicating with them. It gets very tiresome & you just want to relax after a while. Way too much work, especially when it seems like someone is just waiting for a chance to be offended.

True friends tend to be people who can take all your crazy moods and feel free to tell you to shut up when they hit the limit, and you can feel safe enough with them to know they're right and do the same with them. True friends feel free to tell each other anything without worrying about being judged. You can both be exactly who you are and love each other unconditionally, because no matter what happens or what either of you say or do, you know that you will always be friends, because once you love someone deeply and truly, whether relative, friend or love interest, that part of your heart permanently belongs to them.

True friends are the first ones you think of when something wonderful happens and you want to share it, when you need to be bailed out or life just sucks, or when you just want to have some fun. Each time one or the other of you gets a little freaky, you make a decision that it's worth it to put up with this bit because you love them so much and you both think the other one is the coolest, smartest, funniest person you could meet.

Some people may not have any friends like that. I feel very sad for people like that. If you have even one true friend, you can count yourself very lucky. I don't even know what the word is when you have several friends like that- ultra-super-duper lucky? Yep, that would be me.

My husband is also my true friend. He knows me so well that sometimes I forget whether I said something out loud or not because he usually answers me either way. A little scary, but nice.

I know someone in my family whose husband has so little compassion for her that when she ended up in hospital because she was so sick, all he wanted to know waswhen she was going back to work, never sat by her bed holding her hand, never kissed her or asked her how she was feeling, nothing. He makes me want to smack him in the mouth. I would be very surprised if this man could figure out even one particular thought my family member might be thinking at any moment, ever, after many years of being married to her.

That makes me sadder than I can even communicate. How can you be married to someone for years and still not have a single clue about what it's like to be you? It boggles my mind. It means you've learned absolutely nothing about the person who should be closest to you. I guess either you have no interest in gaining insight into that person or no capability of it. Both paint a pretty unflattering picture of him, don't you think? I couldn't possibly even consider spending the rest of my life with someone like that. I'd rather be alone.

Makes me even more grateful for all the joy in my life. Even though I whine a lot, I really do know how good I have it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sometimes I Don't Even Like Me

Have you ever written something to someone in an e-mail or chat room or in a response to someone's blog, with intentions of being witty, or teasing them or just communicate about something you had been discussing? You go about your business, not thinking about it, then when they respond, you find, much to your horror, that what you thought was entertaining or sympathizing or enlightening, was interpreted as insulting or cocksure or too snide or too embarrassing.

I'm pretty sure I remember reading an article somewhere about just such misinterpretations arising with the advent of e-mail. Sure you can make a mistake in judgement about how far is too far, or someone you thought would read and interpret your message as teasing or ironic did not read it that way at all.

The article I read said that without hearing the tone of voice and facial expression of the speaker, the listener or reader doesn't receive the nuances that the speaker intended and so it comes out quite different from the intended message.

There is an old actor's exercise in which they pick a random phrase, like " so good to meet you" or " what's going on?" and say it as many ways as they can. The result is a cornucopia of meanings ranging from a simple greeting to irony to anger to sensuality all the way to utter confusion. Human beings have a huge range of emotions which can be expressed with subtle changes of emphasis when face to face, and these changes in meaning just don't parse in the written word as easily. That can lead to an unhappy interpretation.

You may have guessed that this particular gaffe has occurred in a communication I sent recently, and with my obviously snide and sarcastic sense of the world, you could probably see that train coming. If you're the person who received such a missive from me, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Allergy Medicines Suck

So I've been fighting some kind of cold/flu/allergy thing for what seems like the millionth time this year and it's only March, and my doctor believes that I get this histamine kind of reaction- maybe a cold, then the reaction, maybe allergies that feel a lot like a cold, neither of us know for sure. He suggested, based on his own personal experience which seemed similar to him, a combination of an inhaler thingy to use once a day, which is usually prescribed for asthma; a pill used for seasonal allergy sufferers, and a capsule which is supposed to help chronic coughs. This is in addition to the other meds I take for a couple of typical middle-aged things. I hate pills. They annoy me. Seems to me that for every pill that's supposed to fix something, they create other issues from side effects, which are solved by- you guessed it- another pill.

Now, I'm sure EVERYONE knows that Claritin, for instance, has been shown to be effective for only 30% of the population, yet it's one of the most frequently prescribed allergy meds. Did you really know that only 1/3 of people are actually helped by this drug if you already take it? Do you know if it helps you at all or not? Do they mention this fact at any point during their television commercial? That seems like a pretty low chance that this would work, doesn't it? Doesn't it make you mad? I don't take Claritin, but someone once prescribed it for me a long time ago, and it did nothing for me, so I stopped. What really made me mad was that this is only one drug of many. How many others have been studied and found to be mostly ineffective, and yet get prescribed all the time?

Meanwhile, I was reading the literature that comes with one of the meds for this cold/allergy/histamine thing I've got. Keep in mind that it's for a cough, sinus inflammation in my eyes, nasal passages, laryngitis, etc. So what are the common side effects listed for one of the pills? Oh, and I've been popping antacids all week. Here's a direct quote from the manufacturer's literature: "the most common side effects include stomach pain, stomach or intestinal upset, heartburn, tiredness, fever, stuffy nose, cough, flu, upper respiratory infection, dizziness, headache..."

So how do you know if this stuff is treating the above symptoms or causing them or both? That's the symptoms we were trying to fix! Nowhere on the literature do they state what the effectiveness rate has been, and the drug companies are not required by law to do so. Why the heck not? I know why the drug companies wouldn't want to, but why are they allowed by the FDA ? If you knew that a medicine your doctor wanted to give you only had a 30% chance of helping you or less, would you think it was worth it? Would he or she prescibe it as often or tell you this before you tried it? Of course, you could be one of the few people who are actually helped by it. Personally, I'd rather know, decide if it's worth trying anyway, then decide if it seemed to help or not. What worries me is that there are actual statistics about the rate at which drugs are prescribed by doctors, and the more frequently they visit doctors with samples and giveaways, the more likely the doctor is to prescribe it. Big surprise, huh? The thing is, it's complicated, because people who can't afford to pay for the drugs because they don't have prescription drug coverage on their health insurance, or don't have insurance at all because they can't afford THAT, can only get the drugs from their docs as samples.

So here are all these drug company salesmen, getting seriously nice salaries, giving out lots of drug samples, toys and gifts, maybe even buying lunch for all the doctor's offices they visit, then there are the prime time tv commercials advertising the drugs. How much do you think the salaries, samples, and tv commercials cost? The drug companies say that we, the American public, which is being charged the most for their drugs, are absorbing the cost of research, but a lot of that research has been financed, partially or fully, by the U.S. government. And only the most profitable drugs end up on the shelves. Frequently, it's more likely that a Prilosec, for instance, gets tweaked a little and becomes Nexium, which is exactly the same thing except for one molecule which doesn't change the medicine at all. How much research did THAT take? Things that people don't have to take repeatedly over long periods of time- well, they're not that interested in developing those, are they?

So if we're being charged so much for drugs that many of us can't afford them, and if the government is funding the research that the drug companies say they're charging the American public for, why isn't our government insisting, like other countries, that we'll only pay so much for the drugs and no more, and why isn't the same government insisting on full disclosure of studies regarding those drugs which explore the efficacy and side effects of those drugs?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Just Thinking Out Loud...

This is for all you bible-thumpers of all religions:

Maybe it's just me, but I can't imagine letting people who sold each other their 12 year old daughters in marriage for sheep and goats and who lived in the desert in tents almost 6000 years ago govern all my daily decisions involving the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy. Even the Pope has decided once and for all to forgive Galileo (he didn't seem very sure until recently) for the outrageous sin of attempting to be objective and find some logic in the way the sun, moon and stars moved (or didn't move) about the heavens. They're even planning a statue to honor Galileo at the Vatican around the spot where he was incarcerated for this horrible plot. It only took hundreds of years to decide for sure. What could possibly take so long to figure out?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Living in a Reptilian Brain: My Lassie Sense

Recently, I've been stuck for topics I care enough to write about. But yesterday, it came to me: me and my Lassie sense. See, I've always had this theory about how my own crazy brain works: I seem to live in that brain stem area, which is sometimes called the reptilian or primitive brain area. You know, the one we share with lizards. I mentioned this to my husband and he looked online for a good description of the characteristics of this part of the brain, and sure enough, it's a pretty good description of me! You can go check it out too and see if you're a lot like this . Go here.

So what does all this have to do with Lassie and who or what is Lassie anyway? You can see her/him (there were many Lassies, all trained by the fabulous Rudd Weatherwax) here. My Lassie sense, which I suppose you could also call pre-cognition, intuition, empathy, etc., has only activated a couple times. The first was when my husband's appendix burst three months before we got married (a simple no would have been sufficient!). The way it works is that something just doesn't feel right when it seems that everything is normal. I don't know what, but it's important. In this particular case, my husband thought he had a stomach ache or something. But my Lassie sense ("aroo?", Lassie would bark, and then cock her head to the side. "What is it, girl? Is Timmy in the well?" would be the people response) told me that we'd better get him to doctor and hospital soon. Turned out to be just in time.

The second time my Lassie sense radar went up, we were driving home from a wedding and my husband had to pull over because he was dizzy. He thought it was an inner ear infection. But I switched seats and drove us home, rather badly because I don't really drive a stick shift, but I did get us there. Every fiber of my being said take him right to the hospital, but he said he'd be all right. This time it turned out that he'd had a massive heart attack. He's fine now, by the way, but he ended up having open heart surgery. That's a story in itself. Next time. I've had a Lassie sense for myself too. About a month after we started dating, we ate at a Chinese restaurant, where I enjoyed some soft shell crab. As we got back to his apartment, I told him he'd better get me home right away because something wasn't right. Sure enough, you guessed it, food poisoning. Felt like a mule in stilettos was using me for target practice, in between bouts in the water closet, where I seemed to always be 50% wrong no matter what end I tried. He said that if I was in space, I'd have been doing spin art. Very funny.

So what is my Lassie sense and how does it work? I really don't know. It's a kind of dumb animal feel or hunch like a finger tapping on your shoulder and pointing to something and you have no idea why. After a couple of times when the hunch seemed to be right, we've learned to pay attention. And my stubborn husband, who I had to drag to the hospital the first time under protest, now knows that if I tell him my Lassie sense is active, he should do what I tell him without question. You have no idea how rare that is for him! Geez!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Latest Read: Oliver Sacks

I'm currently reading Oliver Sacks's book, Uncle Tungsten. I'm no scientist, but I have a definite interest, albeit short attention span, in science, psychology, technology, ethics. They are all constantly expanding the borders of our knowledge, whether in inner space, like the brain and the body, or outer space, as in the earth, the stars and the universe we call home. "Facts" can be fluid things. I once read that if you look at an ordinary wooden table and touch it, smell it, even taste it, it seems so solid. But if you look at a slice of the wood closer up, it seems more delicate, maybe even fragile. Look in a microscope and you see the layers of cells. Further still, in the electron microscope or suchlike, and what seemed fragile and delicate barely seems to hold together at all, at best tenuous. To me, what we call facts are equally tenuous when looked at closely enough for real examination. Sometimes, we all believe in some particular thing that we're absolutely sure is a fact, and then some new piece of information comes in at some later date, and everything you thought you knew was true comes into question. Think about it. What do you do, what can you think when it's something that you have based your entire existence upon, pinned all your hopes and dreams to, and then one day, you find out that the thing you were absolutely sure about is as full of holes as swiss cheese. Do you stubbornly cling to the beliefs you held previously, without further questioning or pushing the envelope? Or does it cause you to fill up with questions, seek what answers you can, contemplate all the new information you now have and then ask yourself if this has to change your beliefs irrevocably or if you can make room in them for the new information? No one but you can decide what you should do.

Personally, I think that if I'm the one going through this particular process in my belief system, I have to seek what answers I can from people or sources I respect and/or who can prove the fact scientifically. I look for as many of these sources as I can and listen carefully to all of them, and then sit with it for a while and contemplate how I feel about it. How sure can I be that these people are trustworthy? Or that they have nothing to gain by a particular viewpoint?

If I have chosen my sources well, there will be much to think about. And if I decide that my strongly held beliefs need a drastic change, it takes a certain amount of courage to change one's beliefs, but if it's something that makes it impossible to see things in the same way again, there really is only one choice, isn't there? If you don't change, you become a hypocrite who pretends to still espouse the same beliefs, both to yourself and to others. And how can you respect yourself then?

In Oliver Sacks' fondly remembered childhood, growing up in London during the Blitz, he seems to be able to recall how his mind started questioning the world around him and his family's tolerance for his passionate interest in chemistry and metals. He lets you in on his secret world of chemistry experiments and questions about how things work in nature and in new inventions during his formative years. He comes from a bright and interesting family and Sacks's tale has manages to fascinate me with things that don't usually draw my attention for very long. He speaks of his love for different metals and stones and chemicals and tells you why he loves or came to love these things and the reasons are frequently poetic and sometimes romantic in a way removed from interpersonal definitions of romance.

This is the same man who wrote "Awakenings", which was based on his research and experimentation with comatose patients. He also wrote "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat", a fascinating and loving account of the awe he feels for the patients he meets who have learned to cope with devastating brain traumas and diseases which make normal everyday cognition impossible for them. But each one he discusses finds ways to make life make sense for them. One writes in a notebook all the time so he can remember the day that just passed. Another can sing but not talk. I imagine the expression on Sacks' face to be one of fascination and admiration for the huge effort these people make to make the world make sense to them at least a little. I like that in a clinician.

So here I am reading a book filled with chemistry and the history of chemicals, lightbulbs, scientific inventions and the background of the inventors- things I wouldn't normally be interested in, but when I catch Sacks' enthusiasm, I can see the splendor of the worlds he moves in, which are the less visible realms of the natural world. And Sacks's splendid, inquisitive mind, and respect for people and for the earth make it worth the slog through the chemicals. I have found out things which make them more interesting to me now, though.

Question your beliefs on pretty much any subject, especially the ones you hold onto tightly to get through the day. Ask yourself if there is something you aren't hearing or seeing as it truly is because it would disrupt your beliefs. Then if the answer is yes, see what you think about that. People have made amazing discoveries in this century in medicine, technology, communications, philosophy, etc. and they generally find these new things by getting beyond their belief structures and asking questions of themselves, their peers, and the universe and looking for the answers themselves. Shouldn't you?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I'm Baaaaaaaack!

Not only did my hard drive crash, but that horrible cold/flu thing that seems to going around my city/state/country/world. What a freaking week/2 weeks. See prior sick entries. Pretty much the same concept. But I'm finally better now, thank goodness.

And, thanks to my very handy hubby, I have a new hard drive in an old lappy. I lost a lot of info, but luckily, we had actually done a backup a season ago. Geeks that we are, we also have a wireless network, so some things were actually still in the system on another computer.

So here's my guilty confession. Want to know what info I lost that upset me most? My Sims 2 hacked objects! Yes, I'm a Sims 2 maniac. The game itself I find pretty uninteresting by itself. Maybe other people like playing god, but it bores the crap out of me. I don't care if the characters go potty or not. How tedious! What part do I really enjoy? The decorating! OK, I admit I love all those deco shows on TV, but I can't directly participate there, just watch. And I've tried several different interior design/home design software programs and they just don't cut it. Either they're too complicated to enjoy, or the walkthrough in real time is ponderously slow, or the choice of materials to use are horrendous and it's difficult to add new textures. I may try again, who knows. But in Sims 2, I can actually see in real time how the space works and how much room you need to leave around objects and structures and why. How the space flows is important. I've gotten so used to this tiny little world and so entranced, that when I'm driving around, I see houses and notice how doors and windows are situated in different ways and what choices they made for styles and types of the doors and windows. So I'm actually teaching myself the practicalities of architechture and interior design. I'm also learning how to landscape.

So when my hard drive crashed, I had amassed a collection of amazing plants, interior design objects, paint, floor, door and window designs and yes, even people, called skins. There are lots of download sites, free and for pay, where people are doing amazing things and sharing them. The original textures of the Sims2 characters and structures are pretty boring, and the faces are just plain bad. The stuff on sites like Mod The Sims 2, my favorite site for safe downloads, is so superior to the original game textures that I can't imagine why EA doesn't improve them as much as the gamers themselves have. Without the additional imported textures of skins and objects and build items, the game is really dull, at least to me.

I used to play Sims 1 and enjoyed it, but Sims 2 does have better dimensional design and you can place more things like doors and windows on an angle, so it's closer to real world designs, and the people skins had the potential to be more detailed and dimensional looking than Sims 1, so I decided to try Sims 2. Well, let me tell you, it's a lot more complicated. I find myself doing a lot more of going behind the scenes into the program itself and adjusting or adding things. OMG, I've become a gamer! Yikes! It does make the whole thing more interesting, though. I'm learning more about the programming, little by little. I'm still not all that comfortable with all the ins and outs of the program, but I have to say that my old habits have changed a bit. In Sims 1 I usually ended up putting the game on pause, adding lots of money to the game with cheats, and decorating the hell out of it till the house could have been in Architectural Digest, then throwing the Sim family out, keeping their money in the house, and re-decorating with the new money from the next poor Simslobs I threw in. I call it Sims slumlord.

Now, in Sims 2, thanks to all the downloads available from fellow gamers, the skins are so amazing for the people that I actually put the characters into play more often, to see how they move through the space. This game is not for dumb people. There are so many different goals to fulfill the needs of these sims that it seems relentless. Unless, of course, you cheat. Now in Sims 2, they actually include the list of cheats if you know where they are. They may have had the same thing in Sims 1, but I never found them if they were there.

So after much hunting, I have found most of the hacked objects I lost when my hard drive crashed. Not only is my lappy recovered, but my favorite things have come back. And now, I am definitely an expert on making regular back-ups of all the things I have lovingly amassed on my computer. Yay!

The next step will be when I feel familiar enough with the Sims2 program to start learning how to make my own obects and skins. I was an art student way longer ago than I care to think about, and my specialty was faces and figures, so we'll see if I can create new skins. I also hunger for things like George Nakashima furniture, the latest bathroom design ideas, furniture like the items from Design Within Reach, all the stuff I could never afford in real life.

Fact is, our house needs a LOT of rehab and we're waiting to be able to afford it. I'm talking bungee cord holding together a 45-year-old oven door! Meantime, I can dream and learn how to design a space in my little Sims2 world. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Headline: Hard Drive Crashes and I'm Oh So Blue

Yes, I am still here. It's funny what you get used to. I have gotten so accustomed to having easy access to internet, e-mail, blog site, graphics programs, image files. You would think that I was smart enough to back up all my important files, wouldn't you? Hubby kept telling me to do so, but never showed me how. So I never did. I've found a lot of stuff again, but some is lost forever. I had painstakingly compiled loads of images, interesting recipes, my own writing, and poof! One day everything was fine, and in the next moment, everything was gone.

I am fortunate that hubby knows how to fix sick laptops and figured out what was wrong with it. So help is on the way in the mail for lost setup programs. Lappy will probably live again soon. In the meantime, I am relying on hubby's computer in our very cold basement and our niece's computer, which is riddled with annoying pop-ups which she actually likes, so it's a real pain in the ass to use. Still, at least there ARE other computers in the house, so I should be grateful. Can't remember all the cool websites I found by accident whilst looking for something else, can't remember all the byzantine mnemonics I used to remember all my passwords, can't remember where I got all the neat images I found on Google, which were also usually found by accident. Sigh.

I solemnly swear that if Lappy lives again to perform its magic for the immediate future till it crashes again, I will regularly back up my files. For now, I'm trying very hard not to cry for my poor lost Lappy. Sniff.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Graham Norton- hooray for gay

I love BBCAmerica. Like most cable TV stations, 90% of it is crap, maybe even more, depending on your point of view. But when they're on, they're spot on. Graham Norton is one of the funniest people on telly. Thank you, beeb! How many American cable TV channels would support a character like this? Not a one.

I was jumping up and down for joy when I saw that there was a new season of his show. At least new for us on this side of the Pond. It was shown there in 2007. Still...

From reading his website and not being altogether stupid and credulous, I have deduced that much of the show is pre-planned where it seems spontaneous (uh, that's why they call it "ACTING"), but I am prepared to suspend my disbelief to play along. You never know, or at least I never know, what actor or singer or comedian is going to go splat and hit that wall of utter silence known as dead air. However they contrive it, the show is f@#$ing funny. Sometimes I don't even know who the hell the guests are, but it doesn't even matter. Graham and his minions can make something out of nothing, where necessary, and I don't care how they do it. It's interesting to see what goes into making the show seem so spontaneous though.

So far, my favorite episode ever has to be Alice Cooper and Sandi Toksvig, or something similarly Viking-esque. I don't give a rats ass about Alice & never heard of Sandy before, but she's as funny as Graham, and Alice was, surprisingly for me, entertaining in a way that I find absent in his musical performances, despite some level of talent and a lot of theatrics. Stop spitting blood and screaming to song lyrics Al, and talk about golf some more!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Abbie Hoffman

So what's with the sudden resurgence in interest in Abbie Hoffman? It's not just here in the U.S., but all over the world. I thought he was kind of important in the history of the U.S. in the 1960's. I did my own "Steal This Book" tour of Europe (sorry, Europe, but I was broke and wanted to see you before it all turned into one big Americaland- I like seeing the different things that make each place unique. It turned out to be my only opportunity to go and be there a while). Didn't ANYONE else do this or was I the only one? Not that I'm complaining.

What's happening now that makes Abbie Hoffman so much more interesting all of a sudden? Leave me a comment about what you think! Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

419 Redux (See "Where's Mine" entry)

So here's a new variation on an old theme. See if you can spot what clued me in that it was less than aboveboard. I have pasted it right in here so you can read it in its entirety.You just can't make up this kind of thing. Oh, wait a minute, they have made a feeble attempt to do just that! Shame, shame! I've included the actual internet header for your amusement.

Received: from ([])
(Sun Java System Messaging Server 6.2-6.01 (built Apr 3 2006))
with ESMTP id <> for; Mon, 07 Jan 2008 03:20:51 -0600 (CST)
Received: (qmail 9625 invoked from network); Sat, 05 Jan 2008 17:55:36 +0000
Received: from localhost ( by localhost with SMTP; Sat,
05 Jan 2008 17:55:36 +0000
Received: from ( [])
by (Horde MIME library) with HTTP; Sat,
05 Jan 2008 17:55:30 +0000
Date: Sat, 05 Jan 2008 17:55:30 +0000
From: "Scottish Textiles.LTD."
Subject: Work As A Representaive In Our Team This 2008. Dont Miss Out!!
X-Originating-IP: []
Message-id: <>
MIME-version: 1.0
Content-type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; DelSp=Yes; format=flowed
Content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printable
Content-disposition: inline
User-Agent: Internet Messaging Program (IMP) H3 (4.1.1)

Scottish Textiles Company.
Dear Candidate,
We have a job offer available for you in response to your Initial request in the Job search directory.We are a very small International trading company with our corporate headquarters based in Scotland.We deal on raw materials and finished personal care products including live long products.

Due to our competent records we have been recieving orders from NORTHERN AMERICA,AUSTRALIA,and EUROPE which we have not been able to process competently since we do not have a payment recieving personel in these Areas as it is difficult to have payments sent from foreign countries processed within a short time.We have decided to recruit payment officers online hence we will be needing a representative to process our payments in these areas - due to delays in processing payments from these areas.

For Example
you've got 3000.00USD. ! You take your income: 300.00 USD Which is the 10% pay rate. Send to us: 2700.00 USD. First month you will have 15-20 transactions on 3000.00-4000.00 USD or more. So you may calculate your income.
For example 18 transactions on 3500.00 USD gives you 4410.00 USD.

What we ask:Two free hours daily not including weekends, Internet access for sending and receiving e-mails,available means of cashing payments at your bank using your existing bank account.

You must be over 21 years of age.U.S,UK,CANADIAN OR AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP.If you meet these conditions please reply us by contacting the payment officer to receive a Representative Contract agreement do give us your personal informations as stated below,

1.Full Names
2.Full Contact Address
3.Phone/fax Numbers
6.Company Name

Send Your Details To;
Mr. Malanga Amos.
Payment Officer,Scottish Textiles.

Mr. Manlanga Amos, Will send you more details and the companies contact telephone numbers as soon as you contact him,Do get back with the above informations for quick delivery of payments

Wellcome to our Team!!!
Mrs Mary Allan.
Public Realations Officer
Scottish Textiles Company.

lambie of the week

Well, it's not Friday,but I'm home sick. Have the attention span of a gnat right now- haven't even looked at my computer in several days. Finally checked e-mail and found the best picture, sent to me by my good friend Freddy from Retail Hell Underground. He knows how much I love lambies and found this one for me. Cool! So I'm posting it before I forget. This will be one of the few times in my life when I'm ahead of myself. I was even born two weeks late! I can't help but think that I did that deliberately, though, because it was my mom's birthday.

The image was here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

To Dave Barry and Freddy from Retail Hell Underground with love

For some inexplicable reason, I was Googling around and found Dave Barry's (un)official website/blog and was overjoyed. I remember reading his columns in my local newspaper's Sunday supplement and laughing so hard that tears were running down my face and I was even more incoherent than usual, and that's going some. Dave Barry was one of my humor gods.

I took a writing class once and my teacher told me that my humor reminded her of Dave Barry's. What better compliment is there?

So I went to Dave's site to see what was going on. Not a whole lot, but it was amusing anyway. There's not much going on in my life either, but sometimes no news is good news, so I'm just going to look at it like that. Who am I to judge Dave Barry's life anyway?

The thought suddenly occurred to me as I was writing this that most, if not all, of my humor gods are, well, gods. Not many humor goddesses that I can think of. Sure, maybe Rita Rudner, Phyllis Diller. Whoopi Goldberg certainly. But when I think of humor writers, not many women come to mind. Why is that? Are there actually less women who are that funny? Or do they have more difficulty in finding a publisher/editor/audience? I don't know the answer. Do you?

Dave's FAQ had a question and answer that was one I've asked: can Dave Barry help me get published/find an editor/critique my work/tout my product or column or pimp my ride? Well, definitely not the last thing. And as for the rest, the site recommends The Writer's Digest to find publisher and editor information for sending submissions.

You know what I'm going to do for my New Year's resolution? I don't usually bother with anything so useless and hypocritical (does ANYONE ever follow them up?), but this year is gonna be different. I'm going to get a hold of a Writer's Digest and submit something. What have I got to lose?

And do you know who got me charged up enough to get off my arse and do something? My friend Freddy at Retail Hell Underground, who has a suggestion on their website to do just that and take a positive step towards something you really like to do. I went to check this fabulous site, which has inspired me many times when retail was ripping me a new one during the holiday season, and what did I see? Bless me if Freddy hasn't put me at the top of their Friends and Faves List. Wow! Thank you so much, Freddy! Seems like every time I'm ready to throw in the towel, there's my friend Freddy, encouraging me and all the other retail whores, not to give up. I'm sending you a big hug, Freddy.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Didn't I just say this?

If you've ever been to or plan to be in a non fast food restaurant,or if you are a server in a restaurant, this article is for you, especially the former category. I count my lucky stars that I'm not a server anymore, but I'm only one step removed from it, and some people certainly mistake me for a restaurant server, only there's never a tip! So go here, read, learn and respect. If you're out on a date, the best way to impress your date is to be polite to your server and tip generously while paying your full attention to the lovely person sharing your table. After all, you invited them! Believe me when I say that being cheap and/or rude is NOT a turn-on!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Almost out of the woods...retail hell

It's now officially the end of Christmas season- hooray! If I ever have to hear another bloody Christmas song again, there's going to be bits and pieces of bodies left by the Muzak radio dial in my store and the mute button will be shot in the on position, so that it can never be turned off again!

Please, all you other religio-spiritual denominations, put your best people to work and come up with a crapload of really awful, syrupy full chorus songs about YOUR major freakin' holiday and let's alternate between all of them for about three months-at least it would break the monotony. Come on, Hindus, Moslems, Native Americans, Rosicrucians, Coptics, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Pagans- where are the hit holiday songs to compete with Christmas classics like "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" or "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" or "White Christmas"?

Let's bombard the airwaves with new classics like "It's Devali Time in Old Karnataka" repeated over and over every fifteen minutes starting around May, then stopping in October after the season is over. Or how about that instant hit " Casting the Circle on Samhain Again"? Let's start that one around April and continue into the end of October. Make sure you have seventeen different renditions of each song available and play all of them within any given eight hour period. Gotta have a country one, the 101 Strings version, rockabilly, bubblegum pop, polka, blues, a really slow Yanni heartfelt instrumental, the Kenny G version, etc.

But that's not enough, people. Because when I get home from a full day of listening to crappy, shmaltzy Christmas songs which repeat all day long and crazy customers who are apparently incapable of thinking ahead every freaking year when it comes to holiday meals and who panic at the last minute like a herd of startled bison at a watering hole and buy everything in sight, and who insist on telling me their goddamned life story while angry mobs gather with their hands out, waiting to be fed...when I leave this madhouse exhausted and abused, the only thing I want besides a quick meal and my bed is to find nothing but shmaltzy, crappy syrupy Christmas specials on every freaking TV series and special shmaltzy, crappy syrupy Christmas movies, so that I can't possibly escape the merest mention of the damned holiday.

Oh, and don't wish me a Merry Christmas unless you're POSITIVE that I'm a fellow Christian (I'm not)-just say Happy Holidays and don't assume I'm you, or use my favorite retort "Merry/Happy Chanu-Kwanz-a-Solsti-Mas" and at least one of them has a high chance of being right. If you practice saying it, it gets easier.

And Happy Solar New Year to my Gregorian-leaning friends. My Lunar calendar friends will have to wait a while.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Time On The Winter Solstice

Well, yesterday was December 22 . This year December 22 was the shortest day but longest night of the year. That's the Winter Solstice. In pagan circles, it's the time when people draw inward and become contemplative, a time for ending things and finishing tasks. In pretty much every place where the climate drops, people draw inward into the house more and feel cozy inside while the weather blusters outside. I think of fireplaces with big overstuffed comfy chairs nearby, the warmth of candlelight, the smell of hot apple cider or hot chocolate warming on the stove, baking cookies while the snow flies around in a crazy dance. None of these things is actually happening where I live right now- it's unseasonably warm, I don't have a fireplace, there aren't any candles. I have not made cider or chocolate or baked any cookies this season. We do have an overstuffed comfy sectional near the warmth of the big screen tv.

We now have this crazy Christmas tree with that color wheel thingy my husband remembers from his childhood. His mother and I got it for him this year, because it was all he wanted when he went in for open-heart surgery several years ago and I promised him we'd get it for him. After much searching, mom found the one we were looking for at a decent price and grabbed it for us. I went all over the place finding ornaments that I thought would fit with that 1950's version of life and childhood that the tree represents for my husband. the most , Never having done all this before, it was a bit daunting deciding what to get for a silver tinsel tree, but I knew it needed to integrate with our living room decor, which is red, black and white, and the ornaments had to look retro enough but kind of postmodern. I even found some black ornaments ( those appealed to our niece's Goth aesthetics). I think I succeeded.

Initially, I had to try not to balk at the thought of a traditionally Christian symbol in my home, but after thinking about it, it was just a dopey fake tree with lots of shiny things on it which give off a soft warm light. So maybe it's a sort of fireplace replacement. Maybe for some people who were raised with this tradition, there's more to it than that, but it's not a tradition I understand or care about. So maybe for me, it's just about a cozy light and delivering on a promise I made to my husband, and perhaps giving him something that reminds him of the simpler, happy times of his childhood. And I think I did a pretty good job of decorating the tree, too, although the minimalist in me liked it better when there wasn't much on it. Apparently, minimalism is not appropriate to even silver tinsel christmas trees. Sigh. I guess that old Coco Chanel saying doesn't hold true here: pile everything on, then keep taking off stuff till it works.

Anyway, if I actually followed any tradition at all and it was a pagan one, completing the obligation of a promise fulfilled would be very appropriate to mark the Winter Solstice.

There's a guy named John Horgan who appears on Blogging Heads. He's written some interesting books, and he referred in his blog to an article he'd written for the New York Times about the Winter Solstice, which you can read here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

lambie of the week

Lambs? Uh, kind of. So if the lamb twins (there are actually two of them) are baby lambs, or lamb babies, then is the picture on the left a sheep/dog or a dog/sheep? I say both. Then I laugh a lot. It's one of my favorite pictures ever. Perhaps I've just anthropomorphised the dog, but it looks pretty pleased with itself to me. The babies look a little more confused. Dare I say it, is the dog just a wolf(hound) in sheep's clothing? Can grandma be far behind or did he eat her? Perhaps we'll never know.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Now who on earth is this guy??!!

This time I have no idea, but I like one of his particular posts, this being holiday time and everything, and my feelings about religion being that it should be avoided at all costs, because it will always end up costing you something, here's a guy I found kinda interesting, despite his horrible spelling and syntax errors. We'll let that slide, as I believe he's very likely not a native English speaker. Well, here he is, propounding his theory of Life, the Universe, and Everything...Srini. Take it,Srini.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Who On Earth Is Tom Baker?

This is actually not my title today, it's actually Tom's. Maybe you actually DON'T know who Tom Baker is, at least the particular one I mean. One of BBC's longest running shows, which stopped for many years, and then started up again, was/is Dr. Who. Originally done in black and white (that's how old the show is!), there have been a variety of actors who play the title role, one of whom was Tom Baker. I have watched the show and its various Doctor incarnations for quite a number of years, with varying levels of amusement and boredom. BBC spared every expense, mainly because they didn't have any money, when they created the show, and sometimes that made the sets, costumes, and frequently, the scripts, rather bargain basement. OK, I'll come right out and say it: cheesy. That was the accidental humor, at least for me, of the show. The villains were the same guys a lot, dressed in a new slapped-together getup and modulating their voices a little, bless them.

Then they found Tom Baker and the thing came to life for me. With a finger laid aside the nose, he was funny, cheeky, and a little overblown in just the right way. He made it so much fun to watch that I tried never to miss one of his episodes.

I have an uncanny (and utterly useless) memory for famous people's voices and faces, and an equally useless memory for their names. If only there were a way to make these things lucrative! Sigh. Ah well. Anyway, no matter how they disguise the bloke, or the bird, there are certain geometries of face, and certain idiosyncracies of speech in pitch, timbre and stresses that tell me exactly who this is, whether I want to or not. I couldn't tell you what those geometries and speech patterns were, but I recognize them. When some actor or actress intrigues me, I can usually spot them, even if they're in the background or a voiceover, and no matter what their age. My husband has learned not to bet against me anymore.

So since I first saw Tom Baker as Doctor Who, I've spotted him in some other productions. Sometimes he's exquisitely cast, as when he played Donald MacDonald on Monarch of the Glen, another BBC show which I adored for exactly the opposite reasons as Dr. Who- beautiful sets and locations in Scotland, realistic costumes, naturalistic direction of a very talented cast, and mostly witty scripts. Brilliant! Other times, the role wasn't quite as well-suited, or the director a bit less talented, or the writing not terribly moving or funny. I still enjoyed watching Mr. Baker. He has a kind of charismatic sparkle.

All this is by way of explanation of my latest enjoyable read. I had the honor to receive an e-mail response from one of my favorite authors, Jasper Fforde, basically after I kind of begged him to do so. Still, I had't really expected a reply, but was delighted when one came. He recommended Mr. Baker's autobiography, which in my ignorance I had never heard of, called..."Who On Earth Is Tom Baker?", written by the actor himself. Fforde had told me it was witty, poignant and funny, so I found it in the UK and ordered it. My husband is annoyed whenever I read the book at bedtime, because I laugh way too much. Baker is a delightful storyteller and gives you quite a picture of the specific times and location of his upbringing and life in the wide world, from bombed-out Liverpool and abject poverty to success and adulation the world over as one of the most popular, possibly THE most popular Doctor Who, which has an immense cult following.

Mr. Baker is happily living in England with his devoted wife Sue, and has done a variety of projects which include the voiceover for Little Britain, a crazy funny variety show on the beeb, but it seems doubtful that he has any plans to come to America to visit any time soon.

Perhaps it's my own vanity, or the charm of the writing and the man himself, but I thought my only chance to let him know how much I enjoyed it was to say so on his website, which it seems he at least occasionally looks at. Baker doesn't know me from Adam, or in this case Eve, still I figure everyone likes an occasional clap on the shoulder to say "well done". I read some of the fan comments and most of them nauseated me and many were accidentally funny in a poorly written, sycophantic sort of way. Perhaps we all have issues which drive us to see a specific personal meaning in things where there isn't any, and maybe I just can't see my own, but I really can't say that Doctor Who changed my life, or saved it, or that the script resonated with the emotional issues I was currently dealing with and was rich in symbolism (pleaaase!), or that I imagined the Doctor as the father/son/lover/brother/uncle/grandad/doctor/pet goldfish/lawn ornament/blancmange I never had, I just thought it was fun to watch when it was Tom Baker.

And it's even more fun to go along for the ride with Tom Baker as he describes how he got there with wit, style, humor, and self-deprecation. If you can find yourself a copy of his book, I highly suggest you get your mitts on it and devour it whole. I'm hoping that perhaps his publisher will re-print it now that Doctor Who is back on the air and as popular as ever. Baker was also gracious enough to send a congratulatory note to David Tennant, the current Doctor, who I also enjoy watching (the first one in a long time since Baker!). Seems like a lovely bloke to me.So please send Tom Baker all of your money. Just kidding. Just buy anything you can on his site. OK, how about smile at him if you see him on the road or mowing the lawn? That'll do nicely.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

There's a calendar for every taste, apparently

I don't know about you, but I've been shopping for holiday gifts for a variety of relatives, younger and older, seemingly forever this season. It's serious for me, as I like to do careful research about each of them, find out what their taste is, and target something towards that so that their little faces light up when they see their gift. This is not an easy task, and many, oh so very many, don't know how to do this very well, but I pride myself on it. The reason it's tricky is that in order to achieve the penultimate giftitude (yes, I know that's not a word, but I've just made it up, so now it is), you must step outside yourself and put yourself in the giftee's shoes. So if you hate the color orange, for instance, and the giftee adores it, well then orange it is, however much you might naturally balk. You must place your trembling fingers upon that deeply orange object and through gritted teeth say to the poor dear who is stuck working at whatever retail establishment you've selected for your purchase: "yes, I'll have this one, please" and then go vomit somewhere before you wrap it exquisitely for your beloved giftee. If you're very lucky, you may not ever have to see the object again. Of course, if it's not absolutely hideous to you, it's much easier.

Many people don't give it a second thought at all- they just buy what they would want, but that's all wrong. They may very well think YOUR taste is hideous and hate everything you give them. There is a certain relative I am stuck with who shall remain nameless, but they're not exactly my favorite, and I despise this person's taste 99% of the time, along with pretty much everything else they do, and this person has definitely not mastered the art of gift giving, but they are loved and adored by someone whom I love and adore, so... I have received things from this relative and just looked at them as if they must have had some entirely different person in mind when they bought this thing, and somehow mixed up the packages by accident. And then thanked them profusely and graciously through gritted teeth, assuring them that this is just lovely and exactly what I wanted, because one should be gracious about these things. Then I try to think of someone who might actually like this thing and won't come into contact with the relative in question and re-gift. Yes, that's kind of horrible, but I don't lose a wink of sleep over it. Better that than have the ugly useless thing staring me in the face every day. No, not the relative, the gift.

Anyway, I've probably gotten it wrong upon occasion, but it's not for lack of research or effort if I haven't exactly hit the mark, and frequently it was for lack of dosh, cabbage, money, whatever you want to call it, so it was down to two choices: make something, or buy what I could afford. Fortunately, I'm pretty creative, so I usually make something if it's possible. Better to come with something to give everyone than to arrive empty-handed, at least to my way of thinking.

This year, we have been more fortunate than most of the last decade, but we're by no means rolling in it. And for some reason, my retail hell schedule has been even more horrible than in previous years, so my time, while not any more limited than usual, has been scattered to inopportune moments. thus making it quite a challenge to get handmade things and shopping done. So I bought way more things than I would have normally, and didn't make much of anything. I also managed to steer clear of the dreaded malls, thank my lucky stars and the internet.

I did make baskets for everyone, and gave one a variety of lovely teas and a pretty teapot set for one, another got some special coffee and tea from their favorite vacation site with an authentic coffee set from that place, a marathon runner got a gift card from his favorite electronics store and some energy bars deemed the best by marathon runner websites, etc.
Several of them got gift cards because I know they enjoy picking things out themselves and I haven't got enough specific information to do it for them well, but I like fluffing the gift out a bit. A gift card may be appropriate to their interests, but it's a lackluster gift to open with everyone else, so I thought long and hard about what else to include so it's more fun.

Hmm, a calendar suited to their individual interests would be nice, and after further research, I checked online for what was available. OMG! We all know that there are pin-up calendars, but that would be really creepy coming from an aunt, so I didn't even consider those for the boys. Not that I care if they have one, mind you. Nothing advertising anything illegal or immoral, but fattening would be OK, if appropriate to the individual. I searched and searched, and was amazed to find the variety of calendars available. Apparently, there is one for every taste, no matter how vulgar, stupid, weird or wonderful. For instance, by now if you know nothing else about me, if you have seen any of my other posts, you know I love sheep. Maybe abnormal to some, but that's me, so I bought myself one. I can justify my love of sheep. But SQUIRRELS? The little bastards seen everywhere you don't want them?! The ones who steal the birdseed from the birds, eat your favorite garden plants to oblivion, wreak havoc on grandma's window screens? Bite the occasional U.S. president? Carry rabies sometimes?Or is that raccoons? SQUIRRELS? Squirrel of the month? Who would want twelve pictures of squirrels, for gosh sakes? You don't need a picture of a squirrel when they're always right in front of you everywhere you look, do you? Never mind, I don't want to know. To me, the correct approach to squirrels is a BB gun aimed out of your window at the little pests as they ruin yet another window screen. Not that I actually have a BB gun, but I do fantasize about it occasionally. I give them dirty looks and yell at them, though. That's at least somewhat satisfying. But don't even think about getting me a squirrel calendar, unless it comes mounted to a dartboard.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

lambie of the week

This is a screenshot from one of my favorite shows on telly: Shaun the Sheep. I found it accidentally on the Disney Channel when I was channel surfing (yes, I AM almost 50 and watch the Disney Channel!) and we TiVo it. Everyone laughs at me for watching it, but when we make them watch it, they love it too. It's the guys who did Wallace & Gromit, and Flushed Away as well. The show has a really cool website which is obviously geared towards children and they generously allow you to download some of the images of the characters and the backgrounds, which I did. The images are chrystalline clear and the attention to detail in the lighting of the characters and the set is amazing. The sets themselves are gorgeous. It all makes you forget that the characters and sets are pretty small when you see Nick Park and his cohorts in the midst of them while they're filming. If you hadn't realized it, the characters are done in claymation. I rather like that occasionally you can still see a fingerprint on the odd eyelid or body.

Last Minute Louies:

Do you know what a last minute louie is? You might even be one for all I know.

I learned quickly when I was waiting tables that the last customer of the night was usually the biggest pain in the ass and they wouldn't leave. You could turn off the music, then the lights , and beat them on the head with the ashtrays- they were completely oblivious . Well, maybe the ashtray thing was just a fantasy, but it would have speeded them up a little. They usually turned out to be the cheapest tippers too. I got cagey about it and started generously offering the poor innocent working the shift with me the last table. Sucker!

I have found the same or similar to hold true in groceryland. Inevitably, there is a $200-300 order about 15 minutes after closing. This is a last minute louie. This person also tends to be what a friend called an "arm-folder": people who just stand there at the register like a deer caught in the headlights, staring blankly into space with their arms folded across their chests. They casually shop after we close like they have all the time in the world. God only knows what time they think we close. The estimates seem to vary wildly amongst arm-folders of distinction, despite the fact that we're open at the same hours seven days a week all through the year except for three or four days a year.It's written in huge letters on our front door, and our hours are exactly the same as every other store in the whole chain. We're not allowed to throw customers out or tell them we closed a while ago and turning off the music doesn't even register for them, much like my restaurant customers. Even though they're shopping the very last possible moment of the evening, they're shocked and apalled that they can't seem to find their favorite things, and that the shelves are looking a little barren. Never mind that there are pallets full of stacked boxes all over the store which will eventually block almost every aisle so we can re-stock once we close. On top of all this, they frequently start tapping their fingers impatiently on the register while you bag their huge order without lifting a finger to help. They frequently haven't even looked for their credit card yet, and it's quite a hunt in that black hole they call a bag. If there hasn't been one of these customers yet, and it's about two minutes before closing, be assured that there's still one lurking in your aisles.

We usually assign an employee to act as bouncer at the door at exactly closing time, because if we're not ever-vigilant, a few slip through then and will wander aimlessly around the store until we herd them towards the register. We smile at them through gritted teeth and fantasize that we make them unload the pallets with us. They'd never be a last minute louie again, trust me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

" 'scuse Me While I Shoot This Guy"

My apologies to Jimi Hendrix and his estate. I haven't even had a chance to read my e-mail, let alone write anything lately. Well, 'tis the Season...we're reaching the crescendo of the crazy holiday shopper season. Why, oh why, do the slavemasters I work for seem to think that it's a good thing to destroy your entire day by scheduling us too early to do anything beforehand, and too late to do much afterwards besides collapse in a heap? Or better yet, how about working until about 9:30 at night, then waking up at 5:00 a.m. to leave for work again at 5:30 a.m. ? You might as well set up a cot for me at work. There isn't even enough time to sleep, let alone calm down from the night of hell and get something to eat either that night or the next morning. What did I do?!! There are 50 of us to schedule. Do you mean to tell me that absolutely no one else could do the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift? No one? And I'm not the only one this has happened to, apparently.

The only good things about this kind of turnaround shift is that you're so tired that you don't even remember the first three hours, and the customer contact is, thankfully, minimal, since you're there for three hours before they open, then you get a half hour break after they open, so from that standpoint, at least, it's optimal. But you're much more likely to have a cranky employee as a result, so don't blame me if I go a little postal. I promise not to shoot anybody, though. No one would be stupid enough to give me the ammo anyway.

Dealing with customers at this time of year is much like trying to train a really stupid puppy that you adore. They're sweet and lovable, some of them, but unless you stick their head right on the three different signs that state what the demo of the day is and show them the product right in front of their faces in stacks at the counter, they don't associate any of these things with the product that is being sampled with them. Maybe I've said this before, but I can't emphasize the obviousness of this enough to suit me, and I have to say what it is for 5 hours straight. It's not even a matter of literacy, because even an illiterate could look at the picture on the 50 boxes, bags and tins in front of me and notice that the demo looks just like it.

Most people don't even care what it is anyway. We always state the possible allergens in the product with a sign right in front of me and we tape an empty container with the list of ingredients right next to it at eye level. And yet, I actually had a teenager eat something called a peanut something right on the label of all the bottles stacked up on my shelves. She ate it without looking at anything or asking any questions about the product. Then her mother came up and said she was allergic to peanuts. I asked if she was the kind of allergic where people asphyxiate and turn pretty colors from ingesting peanuts and the mother said yes. And the teen ate another one! I wished them good luck that night. Personally, if I had a peanut allergy, I'd be asking some questions before I ate anything, even if I didn't see a three foot sign announcing the demo of the day behind the station, another sign stating that this product contains peanuts at eye level in front of the demo person, and an empty container on the counter with a label that says "Peanut..." next to the sample which she ate unquestioningly. Oh, and there were about 100 jars of the sauce on the shelf in front of the demo counter. Must have a death wish or maybe she likes living on the edge. Ever hear of the Darwin awards? I smell a winner.