Monday, December 17, 2012

Unreserved Enthusiasm


There are so many things to love about kids.  Their enthusiasm and their spunk can be rather contagious.  We should watch these kids more so as we can learn a thing or two.

For example, each (and every) time one of my Yahoos phones a friend to request some play, that friend will arrive faster than The Flash.  Not as fast as The Flash, mind you, faster.  It goes like this:

"Hi this is the Yahoo, is Joey there?"  Brief silence while Joey is summoned.  Phone is fumbled, dropped, picked up, and fumbled again.  "Can you come over?"

We stand in silence as Joey races around, finds the parents and asks permission.  Joey gets back on the phone, hollers a boisterous "Yeah!" then.... one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand... arrives without shoes or coat and a half-eaten dinner mulling about in his chaw.

I love that.

When was the last time you had that kind of unreserved enthusiasm?


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Books!


Since my brain needs exercise, I've been forcing myself to exercise. I force myself into some exercise clothes, then I force myself into the car, then I force my car to the gym, then I force myself into the gym, and finically, I force myself onto either the escalator machine or an elliptical.  It's a small miracle when it happens, because it is so not my idea of a good time.

To pass time during these exercise-machine torture-sessions, I read.  I'm rather amazed at the kind of reading I can do.  Perhaps it's not all torture?  Perhaps.

Here's a run-down of what I've been ready while schlepping about, just like a rat on a wheel.


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City of Ember
by Jeanne Duprau

Doon Harrow, a pipes worker, and Lyna Mayfleet, a city messenger, are a couple of 13-year-olds living in an underground city.  Lyna stumbles upon a secret set of instructions; instructions that direct the underground dwellers out of the dark and dreary.  Ember is running out of power and food so Doon and Lyna are all over it.  They depipher the secret message – which really did need deciphering because Lyna's littler sister tried to eat it – and find the way out.  But a way out to what...?

This book is entertaining and great for what it is – young adult science fiction.



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The people of Sparks
by Jeanne Duprau

During this City of Ember sequel, Doon and Lyna have rescued the Ember folks (also called Emberites) from the inevitable doom of their underground living.  Above ground, they discover that the earth and it's many civilizations were destroyed by war.  Emberites follow Doon and Lyna to a newly formed town called Sparks.  The Sparks folks take them in with reluctance; worried that their limited resources could barely take care of their own, let alone the addition of 400 refuges.  Squables over resources and a few egomaniacs nearly get them into another destructive war, when – Surprise! – Doon and Lyna save the day (again!) by stepping in making peace.

Another thumbs up for what it is.  I hear there are two more in this series.  I shall check 'em out.  Also, this book was returned to the library with a considerable amount of sweat dripped upon it's bind.  Maybe you can check it out and see!  Or smell.  Whatever.



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Helping Me Help Myself
by Beth Lisick

Lisick, like lipstick?  That's what I say each time I read that Lisick last name.

After a rowdy New Year's celebration, Beth, a self-proclaimed self-help skeptic, decides she should make some resolutions for once.  She decides it's high time she do the splits, a lofty goal indeed.  But then she decides to add to it – why not devote an entire year to the teachings of a few hit self-help gurus?  Okay!  Fun!

The first month Beth spends with Jack Canfield's "Success Principles," where she develops the ritual of reviewing the day each night, then she spends a month with Stephen R. Covey and his "7 Habits of  Highly Successful People" stratagem.  Covey stresses character development and she likes that.  After studying some go-get-'em theology, she decides maybe it's time to exercise and books a cruise with Richard Simmons.  All of this is followed up by some financial fantasies with Suze Orman, astronomy in the form of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus," and a few other dandies, including the one and only Deepak Chopra.

At the end of the year, Beth says she grew some, but it was difficult.  She never learned to do the splits though.

I loved this book.  It was heart-felt and hysterical and honest.  I'm a Lisick like Lipstick fan.



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Spark
by John J. Batey, MD

This one is a few hundred pages about how exercise is good for your brain.  Hullo?  Duh!  That's what I said throughout it's entirety, while reading each detailed test and trial.  It is rather interesting, however, to see how exercise affects the brain biologically.  Basically, exercise keeps norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine floating about in the brain space longer, so as it can be used for longer.  As it turns out, the longer you exercise, the longer the neurotransmitters keep floating.  Totally explains why I'm a distance junkie.



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The Screw Tape Letters
by C.S. Lewis

In this series of letters, C.S. Lewis spends some time as Screwtape, a disciple of satan, wherein he instructions his direct report Wormwood on the angles in which to tempt their "patient" from converting to Christianity.  Screwtape has many ways to twist, turn, and distort with the use of family, love, war, and even the guise of selflessness.  None of it works and they lose their patient to the Enemy.

 "What is He up to?!" They say often about this Enemy.

Being a Christian, I found this very interesting and rather mind-bending.  I'm curious to hear what a non-Christian might have to say.  Definitely a "read again" and my copy is marked up to the max.  With both pen and sweat.

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Everybody Into The Pool
by Beth Lisick

While in New York, Megan arrived with a copy of "Helping Me Help Myself."  See above.  "You should read this," she said.  "Her writing style is a lot like yours."  Imagine my thoughts.  Megan just said that I have a writing style.  Wow.  That is something else.  Megan is kind of a big deal, what with her prose prowess.

While reading "Helping Me Help Myself," I felt nothing but flattery.  Beth is funny.  Am I funny?  Beth combines words in a clever fashion.  Do I combine works in a clever fashion?  Beth is a great story teller.  Am I a great story teller?

I've tried not to let this writing style mention go to my head.  Honest.  But Megan did it again.  Using the medium of text, I asked Megan if she'd like the book back or if she'd like me to pass it along, as we are known to do with books.

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I have fallen for this Beth Lisick like Lipstick.  She is equal parts cynic and home-spun softie.  (Like me!  I'm equal parts cynic and home-spun softie!)  I'm on the verge of writing her some fan mail.  Thought I'd start by telling her about how Covey died from complications brought upon by a bike wreck while Spouse was in the hospital because of – get this – a bike wreck.  Woa.  Right?

"Everybody Into The Pool" is a collection of True Stories (!) that range from Beth's San Francisco upbringing during the height of the Hippie, to the period she spent living among drug dealers and junkies near the mission.  This one, again, is hilarious and honest.  My favorite?  She was walking out of her warehouse "pad" while some kid wouldn't let off the heroin pushing.  The kid just kept at it.  Without thinking, Beth turned around and whispered "SPFD.  Keep walking."  Or something like that.  The kid left her alone and Beth was feeling proud of herself until she bragged about it to her roomies.  The roommates freaked and they all decided it was time to move, cause, like, those drug dealer types are known to kill people 'n stuff.


There you go.  Six books on an exercise machine.  I really like this book report stuff.

I don't know which is more disturbing, six books on the machines or the fact that I really (I mean really) like to do book reports.



Saturday, December 01, 2012

Lost My Dickens


This year has scared the Dickens right out of me.  Which is a bummer because everyone needs some Dickens.  Dickens is a genius.

You might think I'm about to wax Scroogey – you know, due to the  Season of Christmas and it's attached Season of the Scrooge – you might think this.  Today, however, I'm not talking about Scrooge and his array of set-your-ass-straight ghosts.  Today, I'm talking about the mighty Dickensian invention of "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Let's get that bad boy in it's entirety, shall we?
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way."
Isn't that brilliant?  Yes it is.  In fact, if I were a judge at the Literature Pageant, I'd crown that hot 'n tarty piece of verse the Miss Universe of Literature.  Or Mister – if that's how you like your tarts.

This year has been great in so many ways.  But in other ways, it has been unbearable.  The Yahoos are healthy and smart, we have a nice house and nice food.  We have cars that work and money saved if they break down.  Spouse has a great job and my job has blossomed into the McDreamy of tax jobs.

We live in a great town with an even greater row of neighbors.  Luxuries around here abound.  We are taking piano lessons from the best and Spouse bought us a grand piano to match. We have heat and air; electricity and water.  We have more clothes than we know what to do with and three full bathrooms, complete with a lifetime of mold.  And if all of that doesn't seem overly improvident, add two – count 'em – two plane rides for the family in a year's time.  We have everything before us.

Then there's me, who in this year's season of darkness, has lost hope and allowed the winter of despair to swallow me whole.  That winter of despair is a scary place.  It has scared the Dickens right out of me.  It's not sadness, really.  It's just... nothing.

So what's the trouble?  Well, on the surface it seems the problem is running, and the lack therof.  I've spent most of the year injured and haven't been able to run.  My mileage for the last few years has been in the ball park of 2500.  This year I'll be lucky to make it to 1000, and that counts walking the Yahoos to and from school.

I mull over the situation often.  I spend a lot of time alone, so naturally, I mull.

Is my "identity" attached to running?  Not really, I tell myself.  (Other than I have a blog and a nickname with "run" in it... har har.)  I don't require that people know I run.  I don't include running or races or anything running-related in any conversation with those who do not run.  I don't hang my medals for show, or boast of any PR, and my car will never have a running sticker on it.  Ever.  I'm kind of weird about stickers on my car anyway.  As if I want complete strangers to know anything about me.

Do I miss the races?  Not really.  Racing isn't really my thing.  I'm not all that great at it.  It's great to meet new people, and become reacquainted with those you don't see often, but the racing is not essential.

Is it the friends?  Yes, it's the friends.  Not going to lie.  I miss the conversation.  I miss knowing what is going on in their lives.  I miss the giggles and the things we'd see while most were still asleep.  I miss the problems we'd muddle through and the many available solutions.  I miss the various insights and I even miss some of the arguments.  I spend a lot of time alone.  I work alone.  And now I exercise alone (if you want to call it that.)

Is it the endorphins?  Yes, it's the endorphins.  Running produces dopamine.  I need dopamine and I'm getting none.  I also have this fairly extreme hormone problem with which no one in the medical community seems to be able to help.  "Here take this!" they'll say, and "Here take that!" After 20 years of taking side-effect-inflicting thises and make-it-worse-than-ever thats, you give up.  "It's only two weeks!" they'll say.  "You'll be fine a few days!"  One doctor even said, "I feel bad for your husband."

Those two weeks? They add up to SIX years so far.  Six.  And we're just getting started!  And the feeling bad for the husband bit?  Spouse gets a nice long break from me every day.  Barring an out-of-body moshing, such an amenity is not available to me.  'Sides, I cook him dinner and service his dickens.

Running has always kept that in check.  Running provided that extra push needed to get me through the rough patches.  It's worked like a charm for 15 happy years.  Tragically, this luscious 'n loving endorphin elixir has been MIA for close to 10 months.  What's worse, is I'm feeling okay now but the prospect of a re-injury has terrified me to the point where I don't dare start again.

See?  Dickens has been scared right out of me.

So what do I do?  Great question.  There's nothing anyone else can do (and if you try you'll find I'm less than affable.)  I just have to figure it out.  Replace the despair with hope...that's what I need to do.  That, and figure out how to put back my Dickens after it was scared right out of me.

Perhaps I'll start with "A Tale of Two Cities" and a book report.  I guess I could also find a "Christmas Carol" showing.  But I'm all like, "Again?  Like, I have it memorized."


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Soup Every Night For Dinner!


Yahoo #2 had some nightmares the other night.  It caused some significant wailing and gnashing.  The next morning his mad scientist bed-head rolled out of bed and said, "Mom.  I had some nightmares.  I dreamed that you and dad abandoned us and we had to live with the Filthy Nelsons."

"And guess what?" He delivered with puppy-dog, you-just-ran-over-my-favorite-toy eyes.  "They had soup every night for dinner!  It was awful."

That's right.  My child's worst nightmare is not one of abandonment.  His worst fear is along the lines of having soup every night for dinner.  Can you imagine anything more awful?  I can't.  Er.  Actually I can.

The kid hates soup like its poop.  True story.  And That's why today's Tuesday Tunes are all about soup.


Soup Stick Men
Pumpkin Soup Kate Nash
Memphis Soul Stew King Curtis & The Kingpins
Soup Parry Gripp
Soup Blind Melon
Life Is a Minestrone 10cc
Prime Audio Soup Meat Beat Manifesto
Minestrone Fujiya & Miyagi
Rainbow Stew Jason Boland & The Stragglers
Chowder Ben Hewlett & Paul Lennon
Broth Platinum Monkey
Consomme (feat. Loup Solitaire) Double Dragon
Chicken Noodle Soup Webstar & Young B
Rad Gumbo Little Feat
Brain Stew Green Day
Rock 'N Roll Stew Traffic
Gumbo Jimmy Buffett
Chicken Chowder Nan Bostick & Tom Brier
Who Threw The Overalls In Mrs. Murphy's Chowder? (Single) Bing Crosby
Gazpacho The Brass Ring
Mulligatawny Man Astrofly

Friday, November 16, 2012

I wanna run! (RUN!)


I wanna rock!  (Rock!)

This is the song I'm singing yelling at my injury today.  Except I'm saying run where it says rock.  I cannot take it any longer.  Which is a funny thing to say... "I cannot take it any longer!"  That phrase is always a lie, isn't it? Because, like, duh, you have to take it longer.

This is where I tell myself to put my big girl panties on (or hair band playlist and some Dee Snider makeup) and just deal!

Deal, Rabid, deal!

(P.S.  Those lyrics of the 80s... weren't they.... like... something else?  In addition to everything else from the 80s being... like.... something else.  I heart the 80s.  Will always heart the 80s.)




I wanna run (Run)
I wanna run (Run)
I wanna run (Run)
I wanna run (Run)

Turn it down you say
Well, all I got to say to you is time and time again I say
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no"
Tell me not to play

 Well, all I got to say to you when you tell me not to play I say,
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no"
 So, if you ask me why I like the way I play it
 There's only one thing I can say to you

 I wanna run (Run)
 I wanna run (Run)
 I wanna run (Run)
 I wanna run (Run)

There's a feelin' that I get from nothin' else
And there ain't nothin' in the world
That makes me go, go, go, go, go, go, go
Turn the power up

I've waited for so long so I could hear my favorite song
So let's go, go, go, go, go, go, go
When it's like this I feel the music shootin' through me
There's nothin' else that I would rather do

I wanna run (Run)
I wanna run (Run)
I wanna run (Run)
I wanna run (Run)


Friday, November 09, 2012

I Went to New York After a Hurricane...

Here's what I saw.


Tourist trap opportunities.

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Lots of generators.

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Charging stations for those without power.

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More charging stations for those without power.

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Empty streets south of 26th.

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But a normally crowded Times Square.

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Firefighters called to smoke and other dangers.

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Sun shining over Stanton Island (from the Brooklyn Bridge.)

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Many shops closed.

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Probably the lowest prices in the city.

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People getting married.

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The Freedom Tower.

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The power restored and people shouting for joy.

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A city without a subway.  And then a city with a subway full of drowned rats.

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Sun shining through the New York Stock Exchange.

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Election cookies.

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A Marathon Expo.

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And then a Marathon Canceled.  (Which I was too injured to run anyway...)

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I also saw these two.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Sweet Surrender!


"To some people, surrender may have negative connotations, implying defeat, giving up, failing to rise to the challenges of life, becoming lethargic, and so on.  True surrender, however, is something entirely different.  It does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it.  Nor does it mean to cease making plans or initiating positive action.

"Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.  The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.  It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is."

- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

Here's to celebrating the Flow of Life and what IS!

And for the first time ever, I think Bill Clinton might have been on to something when he wanted a definition of "is."


Sweet Surrender  – John Denver
Surrendering – Alanis Morissette
Sweet Surrender – Bread
Surrender – Cheap Trick
Sweet Surrender – Sarah McLachlan
Your Surrender – Neon Trees
Moment of Surrender – U2
Surrender – The Presets


Monday, October 15, 2012

Helium, MRIs, and Us!


It all began with the need for some balloons.

My sister had just received her Masters of Music and I was throwing a little surprise party.  No surprise party is complete without balloons, and balloons that float, so I made it my mission to acquire some balloons that float.

As you'll recall from your last Chemistry course, balloons are filled with an element called helium; atomic number two, located at the top right of the period table.  It's the second lightest element, a noble gas, and is non-toxic, colorless, tasteless, odorless.  It doesn't react to much, except vocal chords when inhaled, and its low atomic number makes it difficult to boil or burn.  Scientists believe that all available helium was created at the time of the Big Bang.  None has been created since.  Most of the helium we use is mined from beneath the flatlands of the United States.

Yahoo #2 and I went for balloons.  "I would like three dozen red balloons," I said.

I did not leave with three dozen red balloons, instead I left with only one dozen because my request for three was met with, "I'm sorry, but due to the helium shortage, I can only give you one dozen today."

What the?!  If only I had one of the electro magnetic cardio brain gamma ray machines available, so as to see the movement.  My brain was a-working!  That brain of mine hadn't had that much activity since, like, April.

"You mean to tell me that helium is used for more than balloons, and midget voices in movies, and inspiration for Led Zeppelin?!  Well.  I'll be!"

It's true.  Helium is used for more than balloons and voice-altering jokes and rock star blimps.  Turns out that helium plays a crucial role in medical field as a cooling agent for the MRI machine.

Thanks to an outlandashly long wait in a doctor's office, I had plenty of time to learn of this helium and MRI machine phenomenon.  MRI machines are giant magnets.  The human body, being mostly water, is made up of a lot of hydrogen – for each water molecule has two hydrogens and one oxygen.  When a human is placed in the magnetic field of an MRI machine, it causes the hydrogen atoms in the body to flip and sort of spin.  This flip and spin creates a contrast in the electromagnetic field that can be captured.  Mathematics and whatnot are then used to generate a 2D or 3D image.  All of this magnetic energy, this flipping and spinning, generates heat on the machine that must be diffused.  Helium is added to the MRI machine to keep the magnets from blowing up.  Or something like that.  (Blow-up drama added for effect.)

Helium, then, is used to cool off the heat generated from magnetic movement.  Helium, also, is in short supply.

It occurred to me just recently, that our (not so) little society has many MRI machines.  Our society has issues and controversies and opinions that cause each of our nuclei to flip and spin.  This flip and spin does a great job of showing contrast, yes?  Sure does.

Right now we have two doozies: the 2012 Election and the USADA/Lance Armstrong situation.  Both issues have been known to bring out the polarity in all.  We are fighting about parties, and fact checking, and tax returns, and spending binges, and budgets, and tax cuts, and millionaires, and drug tests, and witch hunts, and doping, and being clean, and....  the list goes on.

I've seen a fair amount of heat generated by fights that involve these two hot topics.  There's name calling and attacks; red faces and steam blowing out the ears.  Don't you think some of these fights could use a cooling agent?

It's too bad that due to the helium shortage, we can't suck helium when we fight. That'd cool things off for sure.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Toilet Training


Toilet Training; Training in the Toilet; that is today's topic.

Before you emigrate elsewhere, be sure to remember that all things around here aren't as they seem.  I don't intend to recap, recount, or rehash the plague associated with persuading little people to drop their duties in a privy.  That is a horror I don't intend to honor by remembering much less hash over again. It's more like I'm here to confess that my own training – and not of the outhouse ordination – is in the toilet.

As of today, at 11:11am, I'm in a petulant panic.

Why the sudden solicitude?  In exactly 24 days, I'm registered to race and am scheduled to suffer through, the New York City Marathon.  If this were a normal and healthy training cycle, 24 days would be party time because I normally have at least three 20+ mile runs under my bounding belt and get to focus on staying healthy.  That's normally, but this year has been nothing near normal.

It all started with some achilles trouble that ultimately lead to a tear and three months without activity.  After some promising rehabilitation, I was able to run some.  Training was going okay.  Not great, but okay.  All  of that was threatened when I smacked my knee cap during a bike wreck.  No problem!  I said.  But that was three and a half weeks ago and I still can't run more than 10 miles.  And when I do run those 10 miles I have to "pretend it doesn't hurt."

"Pretend it doesn't hurt."

Yes, "pretend it doesn't hurt" brings me to the next chapter of the story. About 10 days ago, I was sure that I had cracked the kneecap and decided to see a knee specialist.  Turns out I was referred to the big-time knee-cheese for a local football team.  Great!  Thought I, while waiting in the lobby for almost two hours.  This guy must know how to keep people active.

Long story short, and after two hours of waiting and a few x-rays, this doctor of knees, who's ego could be smelt through the door, told me to "pretend it doesn't hurt."  

(As an aside, I don't like "cool" doctors.  I like my doctors geeky.  I like geeks for all things.)

This morning I didn't run because I lacked the wherewithal for pretense.  It takes a lot of energy to pretend it doesn't hurt, you know, and today I was fresh out.  If the knee would heal somewhat, I could crank out a 15 this weekend, and an 18 the next.  Having an 18 would allow me to waggle and finish this mess of a NYC marathon.

The knee doesn't appear to be healing, however, and I'm in a particularly petulant panic.

It's not all that bad, really.  Worst case scenario, I go to New York, wake at the crack of dawn, ride a bus for two hours, stand shivering in a coral for two more hours, then run while pretending it doesn't hurt until I can't pretend anymore.  At that point, I'll pull out a a few Franklins*, summon a cab, and meet up with the primary reason for the trip: Megan and Jessica.

Megan and Jessica... is there a better consolation prize anywhere?  Absolutely not.  A trip with them is worth all 20 of my marathons combined.

(*As another aside, I won't be carrying Jacksons because we are staying in Chelsea.  Sarah Vowell lives in Chelsea and she hates Jackson.  I mean hates him with venom and vice.  So, in honor of  Sarah Vowell, I'll be leaving my Jacksons at home.  Just kidding.  I'm not that kind of Sarah Vowell fan.  However, Jackson is a controversial figure.  We visited his Hermitage while in Nashville.  Quite a guy, that one.  And not in a jolly-good-fellow kind of way.)


Monday, October 08, 2012

Vagenda


I like TV shows.  A lot.  Prolly even more than movies.  With a TV show, characters and attached dialog can be expanded upon in clever and unique ways, stories can take more twists and turns, and all of those many seasons can equal hours of entertainment.  I like sitcoms, standcoms, sci-fi, drama, comedy, and go bonkers for anything with historical costuming.

One might say that I've wasted a lot of my life watching these TV shows.  One might say this.  But not this particular rabid one, 'cause, like, she totally has no regrets about the time she spends watching the many TV shows.  If I have regrets, I just turn off the tube before they happen. I can be so futuristic like that – what with seeing my regrets before they even happen.

Thanks to Netflix, Hulu and other on-line providers of the streaming variety, I've had many a terrific show at my disposal, and on demand.  As in, I get to throw a fit and demand that a show appears magically, on my TV, all the time!  To date, this is the one area of my little life that demanding actually works.  Sometimes, however, I'm forced to go old school and must request the DVDs for rental through the snail mail.  This is what's happening with my latest TV show fascination: Fringe.

Fringe is a Sci-Fi, mystery, quirky 'n humorous thriller.  It pretty much tickles all of my TV-watching fancies.  This Fringe has a character named Walter.  Walter is a hippy-gone-scientist, somewhat on the mad side, who frequents pudding and licorice while he dissects the deceased.  Walter receives inspiration from an occasional – if not daily – dose of a mary jane blend he likes to call "Brown Betty."

Walter has some great dialog. I live for Walter's mumblings. Many of which need rewinding and watching again. And again.

In addition to this TV thing, there's another item I frequent, almost romantically, and that is the portmanteau.  I LOVE the portmanteau.  Portmanteau!  I love you!

Walter, bless his heart, has exposed me to my new favorite Portmanteau: vagenda.   Vagenda, you say?  What's a vagenda?  Why, let us allow Walter to use it in a sentence:

"It's all because of that temptress. She tricked my son with her carnal manipulations and he fell right into her vagenda."

Folks, I'm here to say that every woman has a vagenda.  Be ware.  Be very ware!

(Oh, and you can watch the whole thing here.  It's better when Walter says it.)


Monday, September 24, 2012

Abrasion Covers are Magic!


I wrecked on my mountain bike a week ago.  Did it hurt?  Not at the time.  Did it hurt an hour later?  Oh my stars did it hurt an hour later.  I went over the handlebars, slapped the right knee cap (and good), bruised the left side from hip to foot, and trophied myself with an honorary elbow scrape.


Exhibit A: Elbow Scrape

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A friend of mine gave me the get-yourself-some-abrasion-covers-and-get-them-fast lecture.  I said, wah-wah-wah-wah for a day, then conceded, because I didn't have any laying around and they're somewhat hard to find.  So I put in some healing Effort and traipsed about town looking for Abrasion Covers.

Exhibit B: AbrasionCovers

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I kept the wound covered for about six days.  Look at the wound after six days.  Magic, yes?  Magic!

Exhibit C: Six Days Later.

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Now if only someone could provide me with some similar magic for my knee.  Frownie face.



Friday, September 21, 2012

The Friday Fights


I yell at Yahoo #2 every Friday.  I yell at him other times too, but this Friday thing has become a noticeable pattern.  Yahoo #1 is also a recipient of some yelling, but it's more of a random holler instead of a weekly episode.

Both the Yahoos are taking some piano right now.  At this point it's more of a forcing – I've inflicted my piano-loving will on the poor dears.  Piano is the tool I've chosen to teach them some work and discipline, and being as I see that teaching work and discipline is among my primariest of parenting roles, I'm going to say I'm forcing them for their own good.

Getting the Yahoos to practice is quite an ordeal.  First, I bribe with points; points that lead to real cash. Second, I sit down with them; I sit down with them for as many years (yes, it takes years!) as it takes for them to figure out how to focus and practice on their own.  For Yahoo #1, that was roughly four of those years.  Four years at five hours a week (give or take) is a lot of hours (1040, give or take.)

Yahoo #2 has been taking piano for just under two years.  His focusing skills have yet to reach maturity, so my services are required to keep his eyes on the music plan.  (That was my nice way for saying, "He's a boy.  He's eight.  He's got a deficit of attention.")

Now Yahoo #2 has some talent.  When he wants to focus, he's amazing.  He's pretty dang good at site reading.  He'll open something up and play it through with awesome accuracy the first time through.  If he's able to play something through with some accuracy, then he decides he's done and quits paying attention.  Or, he thinks he has it memorized.  Therefore, you ask him to play that something again, to refine and make even more accurate, and the kid produces a wide-eyed 'n blank stare that goes through the piano and the wall behind it.

Yahoo #2's propensity to play something well then tune out lends me to say things like, "look at your music" and "read your notes" and "eyes up." I say this a lot.  A lot.  For at least 30 minutes each and (almost) every day.  I remain somewhat patient until Friday.  But on Friday, something happens and both of us flip.  He quits listening altogether, and  I say "look at your music" and "read your notes" and "eyes up" until I loose it and start yelling.

At this point, I have three options:  1) Start the practice yelling – I'll get there anyway,  2) decide Friday is not our day and take it off, or 3) read this book that I bought a while ago but have yet to crack:

How to Get Your Child to Practice – Without Resorting to Violence!!
by Cynthia Richards


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As an aside, I totally know this Cynthia Richards lady and she has raised a whole slew of music disciplinaries herself.   Totally makes this book a source to trust, yes?  If I choose to read this book then I could do a book report!  Yay!  Goody!  Yay!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Effort. Capital E on Purpose.


Being as Spouse and I have worked in technology a collective – wait for it – 43(!) years, we talk shop.  A lot.  These discussions generally begin with "wouldn't it be cool if..." and occur when one or both of us discovers a perceived problem that could be solved (easily!) by the invention of our new, improved and ultra brilliant web site or app.  We do this often.  We've dreamed up all sorts of software gadgets.  It all stops, however, when the dreaming phase morphs into the where-do-we-get-the-funding phase which is then murdered violently by the realization-of-human-hours phase, which is then buried by the no-one-would-buy-that phase.

It goes without saying – but I'm going to say it anyway – that both of us are still working for other software visionaries who have figured out the funding, human-hours, and the gettin'-folks-to-buy phases.

Last night, in between episodes of How I Met Your Mother, we had another one of those "wouldn't it be cool if..." conversations.

*As an aside, I do believe we watched the funniest episode to date.  They're all funny, but this one was particularly funny.  It's the one where the gang goes to a fat-cat bash at the Museum of Natural History, Ted explores the architectural anomaly of whispering things like "booger" and "poopoo platter" and the high-brows with top hats and monocles across the room can hear.  Meanwhile Lilly gets bent because Marshall turned into a corporate sell-out, and Barney and Robin get busted for running around touching and even wearing the artifacts.  Gasp!  (I'm sure no artifacts were harmed in the making of that episode.)

Today, I'm not going to tell you about the "wouldn't it be cool..." part of the conversation.  Because, like, duh, you never know if last night's "wouldn't it be cool..." might turn into tomorrow's latest internet craze.  It could happen, you know.  All it needs is some Effort.

Which brings me to the point of today's post: Effort.  Spouse and I were discussing the onset of social media and I had just asked, "What do you think will dethrone Facebook? Blogging was so fun there for a while.  I miss blogging.  Lots of fun people were blogging, and now they're not.  What gives?"

He replied with, "Blogs are dying because it requires Effort.  Now people just spew out some fart of a tweet and call it a gold post."  He followed this statement with a shoo-fly gesture, a fart noise, and a bitter-beer face.

He's on to something.  It's all about Effort – something in which I'm in short supply.  This blog is dying because it's gettin' none.  The house is a mess because it's getting none.  Running's a bust, the yards a wreck, the laundry's altogether hell, I don't see my friends or family much, the food we eat is boring,  piano's a struggle, and my work activity is just so-so – all because they aren't getting any of that thing called Effort.

Effort is not something I'm hitting.  It's been a dry, desolate few months for my love Effort.  If I were to receive a grade on Effort as of late, I'd be lucky to get a C-.  True story.   In the past I've been tagged a type "A" personality, not sure if that's true, but being an A and getting a C- is bad news.  Bad news, indeed.

After Spouse's comment, however, it became clear that maybe it's not just me.  I mean, the way of the (internet) world is to go with the path of least resistance.  Facebook took off because it requires little Effort; you type a few characters and click "post."  No need to worry about formats; the gomers at Facebook won't even allow italics!  No need to phone your friends for a decent conversation; read their facebook feed!  No need to send hand written thank you notes or invites; throw up one of those activities or broadcast one gushy collective "thank you."

We create apps and web sites to minimize Effort.  That's the point.  Solve a problem or make it easier.  But are we (I) expecting too much of this Effort to be taken out of the picture?  And do we (I) expect to get all this no Effort business without paying for it in some way?  Get your money for nothing and your chicks for free.

The irony of it all, I suppose, is that it's going to take this chick a fair amount of Effort to keep out of the no-Effort movement.

Let it be said here and let it be written: all things worth while require Effort, and a lot of it.

Here's to Effort!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Will The Circle Be Unbroken - Tuesday Tune, vol 116


In honor of September 11th and others who have passed, Today's Tuesday Tune is Will (Can) The Circle Be Unbroken.  This particular tune is a tribute tune of the country music foundation, that is played often at funerals and such.  It's a song of celebration.  And a tune I register and position among  my list of all time favorites.

While visiting Nashville last month, we made sure to stop on over ta' the County Music Hall of Fame.  It was terrific.  Truly.  The very last room you see is the "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" room.  It's a circular room; one that wraps and commemorates those country music greats who have passed.  It was quite a sight.

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Will (Can) The Circle Be Unbroken is a traditional hymn that was released and made famous by The Original Carter Family.  It's been covered hundreds (maybe even thousands) of times since.  Here's the original as well as some of my other favorites.  Enjoy!

Can the Circle Be Unbroken – The Original Carter Family
Can the Circle Be Unbroken –  Cisco Herzhaft
Will the Circle Be Unbroken – The Neville Brothers
Will the Circle Be Unbroken (my second favorite) – John Lee Hooker

And my very first favorite:

Will the Circle Be Unbroken – Mavis Staples

Vera and I saw Mavis Staples perform this tune with Bonnie Raitt last week.  Wow.  All I can say about that one is wow.

I know you're dying – but hopefully not enough to become part of the Unbroken Circle Rotunda – to see what's inside the Country Music Hall of Fame, so here's a little taste.


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This is where Spouse explained to the Yahoos that, "This was the first ipod."


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Look!  My reflection.  Take a picture.


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How 'bout a little Dwight Yokoam?  
(Guitars! Cadillacs! Hillbilly music!)


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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Nashville Skyline Rag - Tuesday Tune, vol 116


Today's Tuesday Tune is Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline Rag because WE ARE TOTALLY IN NASHVILLE!  AND IT IS TOTALLY AWESOME!  Wish y'all were here.  Also wish we had, like, another week.

Who knew it would be so fun?  (Me.  'Cause it's fun everywhere I go.  I'm a walking fun house.)


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