Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Something all Psychological and Stuff

Because Xolo did it, and doing things like a PhD impresses me with myself, I got a Johari Window of my very own. I don't know what it all means, either, but it's a nifty computer thingie and you can play with it, or get one of your own.


Discoveries

The dog has chosen the refuge of sleep. Yay.

It seems that, since I started reading online journals and weblogs, there has been a constant "fear of discovery" punctuated by assorted online writers feeling the ramifications of their writing as those they never expected to read "find the blog". Sometimes the "discovery" is pushed along by someone else's intervention in passing along a website address to a parent or boss who would otherwise never wander there. Sometimes the person wished ignorant of the blog goes looking for it. Sometimes the discovery is accidental.

There are always ramifications. Putting one's personal thoughts and feelings out for public consumptions means, inevitably, someone will read who won't like them, and that someone will be important to you.

Some people try to head this off by telling those important folks ahead of time, even running posts past them for approval. They self edit, euphemise, code, omit, avoid, and sometimes cease writing altogether. Other people set up rules about what they will and won't write about, so that to someone reading, there seem to be huge empty spaces in their lives. Others don't write about their personal lives at all, keeping friends, family and work off limits, and writing only about "detached" subjects like software, movie reviews, and politics.

Most of us write about our lives, one way or another. I certainly do. I'm fortunate in that my husband and I have agreed that we won't say anything in our respective websites about each other or our lives that we wouldn't say to one another. For me, this has forced a lot of honesty into my life. I'm an excellent liar. I am a queen of passive aggressive sniping, and I can hold a grudge for things you didn't know you did. I can play "If you don't know what you did to hurt me/make me mad, I'm not going to tell you" with the best of them.

However, keeping a weblog has forced me to toss all that out the window. Oh, it's not that I'm suddenly a perfect person. I just can't play those games anymore because my outlet here, and my desire to maintain this weblog as my outlet for whatever I want to say (with my hands on my hips and my lips thrust out with my best "You ain't the boss of me" pout) is greater than my desire to handle my relationships like that anymore. This isn't altogether a positive thing. I'm now trained to say what I think when asked (and occasionally when not asked). I'm working on the "when not asked" part.

This means, of course, if you ask me my opinion about something, that's what you get. If you ask my opinion and what you MEAN is "tell me something good about this", you'd better own up and ASK for just that. I've got no problem with it. It comes out of writing workshops -- sometimes, as you grow as a writer, what you really need to hear at a given time is NOT critique, but positive reinforcement. Sometimes you just want flattery, because you feel scared or bruised. Too many times, new writers will ask for one thing when they really want something else, and they end up hurt, defensive, even hateful because they got what they asked for and not what they wanted. And, of course, it takes a certain amount of self awareness to be able to parse those things out. It takes a fair bit of self-acceptance to make it ok to ask just to be told nice things. In day-to-day life, if you were to ask or hear someone asking for just positive responses, you'd think it a little weird. It runs counter to what we are taught, after all.

You aren't allowed to ask for love. You aren't supposed to request kindness. You have to earn it, to work for it, to have something to exchange for it, even demand it when you think you've got the balance on your side.

The Husband and I were talking about that last night. We've had spats (not fights, just spats) on occasions when he's asked me my opinions on something and then didn't like what I said. He's been hurt when I didn't like what he wanted me to like, which is understandable, but I tell him over and over, if he wants approval, he has to ask me for it, because I will not mystically divine it. If he wants my opinion and can weather the risk I might not like what he wants me to like, then ask my opinion. Otherwise, either tell me what he wants or don't ask. I'm ok with not being asked.

He finds that hard to do, because, in part, he isn't always aware of when he just wants love and when he really wants what I think, either way it goes. And he's not used to thinking in those terms, either. Most people aren't. I wasn't. I'd say I've been learning over the last 6 years or so, and a slow process it has been. I'm still learning it.

So, that's the problem with weblogs and the "discovery" of those thoughts. Nothing on the interwebinet is a secret. If you post it, it will be found. Just be sure that you meant what you said. We may feel all safe in our anonymity, but (unless you are pulling some illegal/annoying spam or scam) you will be found out by those you wish wouldn't.

I just assume that everyone already knows.



Doggy Morning

It's 8:55 AM and so far, Tuesday sucks.

I woke up with a sore throat -- never a good sign. But sore throats go away, so that's no so bad.

After a weekend with the vet, the Dog, devil of my dreams, is home, and is continuing her old "I will control you" ways. I have not lost it on her yet. I've tried the old standard of holding her off the ground (on my lap, on her back) for a half hour, which usually enforces that I am pack leader and she is but a peon in the doggie heirarchy. You know, she's not in control, I am, she can't touch the ground, blah blah blah. Got that from a pro dog trainer, and it's worked in the past. I tried this twice. She racked her cement filled head into my jaw and raked those claws she won't let us trim across my left breast.

I let both of these events go. I didn't even yelp. 60 minutes later, she's not convinced of her pack status.

She went outside 4 times, pretended to pee twice, forgot how to come back inside once. When she finally remembered how to walk through doorways, it started again -- the wet nose shoving my arm up, the petting session turning into a climb-on-me session. This is because, once she's ON the couch, she won't lay down next to me, even if I pet her. She wants back down after a few seconds, so she can bug me to get back up. After she climbed up and down the couch 16 times and shoved my computer off my lap, I picked her up (one armed, which is pretty good considering she weights 50 lbs and I'm a weakling) and PUT her on her big, soft, fluffy bed. Ok, so I put her there kinda HARD. It didn't matter. Unphased, she was back under my elbow, clawing my leg, in seconds.

So right now I have her back leg bungie corded so she can't stand up, and a shooting pain from my right shoulder through my neck to my right eye strong enough that my eye is watering. She's sitting just at the end of the couch, panting at me. It seems to be a sort of compromise. Detente, at the least. We are peacefully coexisting.

Oh, the crate? tried that. As long as I stand in front of it, all is well. Once I leave, she starts tearing up her bedding. I've taken the bedding out, and she starts on the crate itself. She'll hurt herself tearing up the crate.

I've got meds from the vet for her, and homeopathics from my accupunturist (I'll try anything). Short of stuffing Valium down her throat, I don't know what to do. She now completely ignores the Husband except when she REALLY has to go pee or if he has food. She won't come when he calls or stay with him in a room.

I should point out that, for most of her life, she was HIS dog, pretty much not giving a damn if I was around. I'd be happy to give her back to him, but she won't go and I'm not sure he wants her, either.

I find myself missing my old Golden Retriever, Xany. In so many ways he was a superior dog. He would spend hours chewing on a toy. He liked to chase birds in the back yard, and had to make a daily sniff-investigation of the fence, which usually took an hour or so. He liked long naps, too. He'd play "fetch" in his own goofy way, and tug of war. He came over to get pet, and once he was done, he had things to do. He liked the cats, mostly because they had butts and butts were a big ol' hobby of his. He'd sniff every cat, every time one wandered by. He was a goofy, sweet dog.

I miss the Golden I had before him, Gandy. Gandy was a dog with definate interests and lots of business. He had a collection of chew toys that all needed attention each day -- burying them in his sand box, digging up the ripe ones, checking to see how they were progressing. There was tossing the ball onto the patio and waiting to see which way it would roll off so he could run, catch it, and toss it up again-- this was good for an afternoon. He was happy just to wander around while I read a book, or lay with his head on my lap. He had squirrels to chase, birds to get out of the yard, and places on the fence that had to be peed on every day. He had to bark at cars and talk to the neighbors. Of course, no day was completely without sniffing the cat's butt (I think it's a Golden Retriever thing). He was a dog with a full life.

Calico has none of this going for her. She doesn't care about toys. The yard is a toilet. Her life is about being in one of the three rooms in the house she likes (office, bedroom, library) and making me miserable if I don't stay in them. She doesn't even sniff cat butts - she mostly ignores the cats, even the cats who think she's the most wonderful thing since tuna. She isn't interested in much at all. Sometimes I think she really isn't a dog. She's a fur covered demon designed to enrage me and make me feel guilty, to cause me pain and frustration.

I've never actually looked forward to a pet dying. I've mourned every cat and dog and bird and goldfish I ever owned when it died, sometimes for years. But Calico has killed any love I felt for her. She has hurt me and angered me and destroyed things. She has caused me endless frustration and pain, and very little joy. I don't enjoy her, the way I have my other pets. This bothers me, too, endlessly, because I love animals and have always believed I was a good pet owner. I don't know if that's true anymore. My dog has mental problems I can't solve, cure, or work around, and they are taking their toll on me. She's old and senile. She's also healthy as hell (according to the vet) and likely to hang on for quite a while yet, beyond her normally expected lifespan.

I'm obviously supposed to learn something from this, but, like most life lessons, I won't know what it is for a while.

Right now I think my head will explode, so I am going in search of pain killers.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Reality Bomb

My physical condition is, in a word, sad. I can't blame age so much as my enormous attachment to my couch and my chair. Even after a good night's sleep, I am tired this morning. In part, it has to do with too much close contact with a cement floor (There was no chair for me on Friday at the con, so I got to sit on the floor. Eh, so what.) Some of it is from too much time driving in traffic, which is unusually exhausting.

But mostly it's fat assism. I need to start moving around.

Not so many years ago, walking a few miles every other day was a regular occurance. Then we stopped doing it. The Husband started his massage business and was booked most evenings, and I hate to walk by myself, even with headphones (which actually make me nervous, as there are no sidewalks around here and I don't trust 3 of every 5 drivers). I get bored and irritated and just go home. The result? My jeans are too tight and when I need to walk, I wear out fast.

So now I have to formulate some plan to get over this. Big obstacle is that you can't do too much else when you are walking for exercise except talk or listen to something, and those are both problematic.

I'll get back to you when I figure something out.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

No Stories to Tell

Megacon is over. And there was much rejoicing.

Not much really happened. The convention center is HUGE and parking is a long way from anywhere. We walked and walked. Then we sat and sat. I looked at some stuff. I took some rotten pictures with my phone camera. I saw a very short yet very good Darth Vader and a variety of Princee Leias on Tatooine. I learned I have a really weak computer battery. I bought a pitcher full of dice to fulfill my inner geekgirl We took Jennie Breeden to dinner (sushie and Uberbot) We didn't sleep enough. We were in the car far too much.

No real stories to tell. Tiki was fun and now he's flying back home. The Husband and I are tired and are quietly playing on our computers, digesting dinner and thinking about bed.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Just Roll With It, Baby

I deleted a bunch of sites from my blogrolls today.

Deleting links to other sites is like breaking up with someone who may or may not know you were ever dating.

I imagine that "love links" or reciprocal links have existed forever in one form or another. It probably predates the interwebinet, back when Ug promised to mention Tog was a great mammoth hunter if Tog would say Ug really knew his fish. Linking is a recommendation to others, a statement of "I read this, so should you." So, whenever I delete a link, there's a chance I'm kicking someone in the teeth, so to speak.

There's also a (much larger) chance the linkee will never notice. It's like that guy in highschool on whom you had the major, hearstopping crush, and he couldn't even remember your name when he signed your yearbook. He never asked you to sign his, either.

Yeah, I've got as much ego as the next person, and the idea that a certain number of people like this site well enough to put a permanent link to it on their site is a lovely one. Who wouldn't want to get a million hits a day, become "known", get interviewed in the paper, and have hundreds of people get upset or elated over what they do or don't think you said/did/are? I mean, FAME, baby.

Not Gonna Happen.

This site is just like hundreds, maybe thousands of other sites -- good sometimes, not so good others, varied, unfocused -- my weblog, in other words. I'm not making a commodity that will sell. I don't have that in me here. Like so many other people, it's a journal, a record of my minutes.

So, yeah, when I delete a site from my blogroll, I wonder if I'm gonna lose a popularity point. But, really, chances are good the person dropped will never notice. They didn't notice me when I had the link, they aren't going to notice it being gone. Anyone who does notice will most likely be someone more like me, who doesn't have a lot of links and looks lovingly at stat reports for signs of possible popularity.

Really, when I think about it, I feel pathetic.

So anyway, there's a "why" behind the statement. Mostly I cleared sites that had stopped entertaining me, for whatever reason. I cleared one site that had just irritated me with hubris one time too many. I cleared others that had stopped posting. At least one was a site I'd thought about keeping or deleting a number of times, because while I liked some of it, other parts of it just wore me out. Incompatiple personality types, you might say. And some I cleared because I hadn't been to them in weeks and I didn't miss them. So that's it. Let the repercussions begin. Or not.

I've got even less important things I can be doing.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Because the World is Round

Because I just lost my mind, my arms hurt, I hate my dog (more on that later), I need to calm the hell down, and because Lazygal tagged me, here is the latest 4 by 4 meme.

Four jobs I've had:
convenience store clerk
janitor
Alzheimer victim respite worker
executive secretary

Four Authors, Books, or Series I read over and over:
Jane Austen (P&P mostly)
Anne McCaffrey (Harper Hall trilogy)
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Sherlock Holmes stories (Doyle)

Four movies I can (and do) watch over and over:
The Philadelphia Story
Holiday
All About Eve
The Replacement Killers


Four TV shows I love(d):

Star Trek (The Original Series)
Mythbusters
M*A*S*H
Monty Python's Flying Circus


Four places I've lived:
Orlando, FL
Ocoee, FL
Eustis, FL
North Miami Beach

(I don't get around much)

Four places to vacation in:
Toronto
London
Galway
San Fransisco

Four sites I visit/use daily:
Yahoo News
Blogger
UComics
Almost every site on my blogroll

Four people I'd like to meet in person, based (only) on their blogs:
Scott
Erick (& Sara)
Brendan
Steel Buddha


Four foods I yearn for:
real macaroni and cheese
my mother's chicken and dumplings
cornbread in milk
dark chocolate cherries

Four inventions I'm grateful for:
laptop computer
printing press
air conditioning
CD players

Four musical choices for my personal soundtrack:
Tori Amos
Steely Dan
Chemical Brothers
Ella Fitzgerald

Four nouns that describe me:
writer
singer
catmommy
orphan

Four Bloggers I'm Tagging:
I spare you all because everyone I know has already done this, or will resent being tagged, and after the episode with my dog today, I'm not up to it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Just Another Tuesday

Sort of having one of those days where I'm casting about for something to do -- not that I don't have things to do, but none of them area really holding my attention.

Mostly I'm thinking about the damn draft I'm not revising. I dunno why. I've been looking over the feedback and thinking "yeah, this is good, not worried about that, this is a problem" and then my brain just shuts down on it. My mind is going everywhere else -- mentally thumbing through other stories I've been ignoring or putting on the back burner, writing a few words here and there, and, at the bottom of this, poking myself for not having anything ready to submit, nor any idea where I'd submit something.

Because I just don't do the prep work. I don't get it done.

I know there's this big amorphous fear monster still lurking around, but I can't blame the fucking depression forever. At some point I have to put on my big girl panties and deal. And I spend a lot of time -- too much time -- being frustrated with myself for not doing what I know perfectly well I need to do. I even have the steps mapped out, since any little delay or frustration will pop the circuit breaker in my head and shut everything down. Still, I don't do anything. Even now, this very minute while I'm whining, I'm thinking "Hey, pull this story open, do the tweaks you were thinking about, and get it ready to send somewhere." I could do all that.

Then I have to write a cover letter. A stupid, simple, cover letter. I wish I could describe just the exact sick, twisting sensation in my stomach that happens when I think the words "cover letter". I may go throw up right now.

Writing is not for cowards.

I can stand up in front of a crowd of a few hundred people and sing my heart out while everyone around me loses key, the mic spikes with feedback, and gels burn up in the lightes -- no problem, no sweat. I've performed after having costumes fall off me, having guitarists fling picks and break strings, I even swallowed a bug on stage once (not part of the act, just an extra) yet kept on.

Why can't I do this?


Monday, February 20, 2006

Just a Traveling Side Note

This week Tiki comes to visit and to join The Husband in pedaling their comic book wares at Mega Con. I'm excited :>

And it's 21 days (and counting) until Canuck Girl and her husband, Runs with Beer, will be venturing from the frozen tundra for a (not nearly long enough) visit.

After that, The Husband and I will be traveling -- Richmond, VA for RavenCon, then (I hope -- it's not confirmed yet) to San Diego for Comic Con. There's a strong possibility we will be going to GenCon in Indiana AND we're also trying to get it together for another trip to Toronto to attend Word on the Street with Canuck and RWB.

Which would mean skipping DragonCon all together, since we can't really afford to go if we aren't working it. That's a downside, as we have friends we always see at DC we'd miss this year.

But everything is a tradeoff in life.

And I announced to The Husband last night that I REALLY want to make a trip over the Atlantic again sometime before I turn 45, getting Ireland and England into the trip. There are other places I'd like to visit, but those are top of the list. I did NOT get enough of England when we were there in 2003.

Beyond that, I'm not terribly ambitious ;>



Sunday, February 19, 2006

Of All the Crazy Ideas

I've had a teeny lightening bold idea I'm poking at. Shall I tell you? Of course I shall! That's what we are all here for, yes?

Long ago (and by that I mean the mid 90s) The Husband and I were heavily involved in online RPG -- that is, we ran and participated in roleplaying games like AD&D, Champions, etc., using online chat rooms and message boards instead of the usual kitchen table/living room venue. This meant that games were unusually word reliant, and also that we could play with people in distant locations. Our favorite games, by far, were the message based games we ran. These were more interactive, cooperative storytelling and were a lot of glorious work.

I'm thinking of starting one up again. It all depends on whether the people I've asked are interested, and whether other interested people pop up. Everything is dependant on other people.

There's something particularly satisfying and challenging about running these kinds of games. For the game mistress/master, it's a lot of work because you are not only running the game, but editing and splicing together the writing of other people into something more or less cohesive. It's an unusual way to run a game, too, since it requires a lot more from players than rolling dice (as they never see or touch dice). Of course, such games move quite slowly as well. However, they read like stories.

The Husband still has the files from the games he ran (and I played). The files from my games are long lost in the ether. I've spent this evening reading back over them, remembering the fun and frustrations of the game, missing the people I played with (certain ones were constant members of the games we ran and played. I really regret not having them around anymore.) Mostly, though, I admire the story that arose from the game. It would need a lot of editing to make a real novel out of this stuff, but even reading it as is, I get carried away with the characters and events.

That's what makes it so tempting to try again.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Significant Songs

Mac at Pesky Apostrophe was considering the whole "Our Song" thing and thinking of songs that brought up particular memories.

There have been a LOT of songs in my life, ones I've heard and ones I've performed, but few have any real significance for me. The first popular song I can remember recognizing was Wings "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"

I also remember John Denver's Take Me Home Country Roads because of the old stereo we had. It was this huge 1950's console thing with a turntable and a tuner un a wooden cabinet. Two speakers were built into the cabinet and there was a third speaker hidden in the side that could be pulled out and set a few feet away. My babysitter had a 45 of the Denver hit, but it was pretty scratched. To make it play on our stereo, she would tape pennies to the arm, which damaged the needle. I don't remember her in particular -- she had dark blong hair, straight and parted in the middle and she'd have her boyfriend over while she was at our house.

So, I guess I came to musical consiousness in 1971, when I was 6.

Whenever I hear the ELO song "Don't Bring Me Down", I think of junior high and my then best friend Chris Conrado. She and I would sing along to that record with hair brush microphones. We liked Trans Ams better than Corvettes, too.

The only other popular song that has particular significance for me is Tears for Fears Everybody Wants to Rule the World, in part because it was a big hit when I was 20 and EVERYTHING was significant. That was the year I saw Real Genius, in which the song was featured. I felt like I could do most anything that year. Now, when I hear the song, I start thinking about returning to school. When I went back to college to finish my BA, I'd watch the movie and listen to that song to encourage myself to stay with it.



A Lotta Night Music

Last night's performance went reasonably well, at least from what I was told by audience members and Mr. Hottie the Director (and our Beautiful Accompaniest). We had sound system problems -- well, at least every time I was near the microphone we did. Apparently I cause feedback by looking at a mic. It was ACTUALLY the mic set to pick up Miss P AND her guitar (not an effective idea in hindsight). It made me crazy because I felt like I could not hear anything and I didn't know what was causing it. I've oversung mics before so I was paranoid.

Still, the audience seemed pleased with the show. I heard a lot of compliments from our almost full house, and a few were directed at me, which is always soothing to the ego. Even Mr. Hottie gave me a couple of his devastating smiles (he does have a devastating smile, if you didn't know. He's not the most classsically handsome fellow in the world, but it hardly matters. His smile will melt ice cream at 20 feet. High Wattage smile here, folks.)

Still, all in all, the performances were wonderful. Especially good were Mr. Hottie and Beautiful's rendition of "Bess, You Is My Woman" from Porgie and Bess. We had a minnie Gershwin interlude. Beautiful has operatic soprano pipes to kill for, but Mr. Hottie has one of these voices I could listen to for hours.

The sole irritation is with The Husband. I asked him to take pictures of the event, since I was wearing an evening gown AND performing, and therefore was not in a great situation to take pictures. Despite the fact he is a very good photographer, he got very self consious about taking pictures (I don't understand why, usually he is quite good) and refused to get close enough to the stage area. Thus, all the pictures he took are too dark and basically wasted. What you can see looks like they would have been very nice, but you can't SEE. And the state of our aging digital camera is also a factor. I hope the other person assigned to photographic duty got better shots, although I didn't see him taking any pictures of the performers -- he seemed mostly interested in the audience and staging "photo opportunities" with various groups. So, I am dissapointed there are few, if any, photos of the performances.

Of course, The Husband may just have been irritated to be put on duty and chosen this method of saying "I hate doing this, you're ruining my evening". And there's also a chance he can photo correct them on his computer (he's got the good software. I don't even bother. I do horrible thigns with photos.) He didn't take many pictures, either -- he said he was just getting into the music and forgetting. Hmm.

However, the test photo I took of Pooty to make sure the camera was working came out nicely. He's so photogenic.













Friday, February 17, 2006

Where There's Smoke...

The comments on this post brought up yet another thing for me to blab about -- the smell of cigarette smoke.

I abhor this smell for some very specific reasons. Something in the way cigarette tobacco is treated and processed (with a variety of chemicals) produces a smoke that I react to badly. If I'm around a lot("a lot" being subjective) of it, my sinuses begin to drain, my throat closes and I get wheezy (I do not have asthma or other lung problems -- in fact, my lungs are amazingly healthy). I'll start coughing, then choking, then hyperventilating, until I pass out. It's just not pretty. (There are a few other things that will cause a reaction, like concentrated paint fumes and ammonia -- big surprise, eh?) Even a little of it can make my nose run or start me coughing. Yes, I may be hyper sensitive to it. I few up with smoking parents. My father stopped when I was 8, my stepfather stopped when I was 14, but my mother continued until her death when I was 16. At that point, I already had a long history of refusing to go anywhere in a car with her unless I could have the window open.

For the longest time after when smoking indoors was forbidden by law, smokers gathered at entryways. Nonsmokers like me had to pass through a fog of smoke to get inside a building, which meant we not only breathed the stuff, but it clung to our hair and clothes. This was true about the place where I now work until the owner one day pointed out that smokers were lighting up within 10 feet of barrels of flammable chemicals (I work for an industrial printing company and the chemical locker is near the loading bay doors) , in full defiance of signs saying "NO SMOKING THIS SIDE OF BUILDING". Then he pushed the two designated smoking areas away from the building. And if you get caught smoking near the chemical store, you are instantly unemployed for being stupid (Florida is a "right to work" state, which means, yes, they can do this.)

I have many friends who smoke, and who are very understanding about my situation. They usually take steps to accommodate me whenever we do anything together (They all agree it is easier for them not to smoke for 3 hours than it is for me not to breathe). I rarely visit them in their homes if they smoke inside because it's just not worth it to me (or to them). I avoid venues where smoking is permitted (which means, until recent Florida laws were passed, I avoided all clubs, pubs, bars, listening rooms and some restaurants) because even with "designated smoking areas" there's no way to keep the stuff in one place. Because smoking laws differ from state to state, I try to keep up with them so I don't put myself in an uncomfortable situation (Florida has strict laws on where people may and may not smoke).

Now, over the years, I've learned a lot about cigarette smoke and the smell -- it is one of the stickiest, nastiest things to get rid of ever. I once worked in an office that had a small workroom where I spent a lot of time. The door into the main office faced the outside of the workroom wall, and the workroom door was not visible from the main door. One of the men who worked there was a heavy smoker. I would amaze him by calling out a hello to him, using his name, from the workroom when he walked in to the office. He'd try to sneak in, making no noise, yet I still knew when he was there. He couldn't figure it out.

It was the smell, of course. It was in his clothes and hair and he was breathing it out every second.

My husband, a part-time massage therapist, occasionally has to do outcalls (massage in people's homes) and has smokers as clients. Typically these clients do not smoke while he is there, yet his clothes still smell of cigarette smoke when he comes home. He's gone to clubs with friends (I stay home) where smoking is allowed and, even though he doesn't smoke, he comes home reeking so badly I won't go near him until he has changed, showered and washed his hair.

My brother and (ex) sister-in-law were both smokers. When I lived with my dad, they moved back for a while. Dad had stopped smoking years before and my brother quit, but my sister-in-law smoked fiendishly. At first, Dad insisted she smoke outside, but eventually she began smoking in their bedroom. The smell filled the house, even getting into my room at the opposite end. The house was older and had plaster walls. When they moved out, my brother thought he would have to repaint the bedroom, but tried washing the walls first. He took out bucket after bucket of dark yellow-brown water -- residue from the smoke. The room had hard terrazzo floors, so a good washing got most of the smell out, but it was still present for a good while afterwards.

And I'm sure most everyone who doesn't smoke has experienced that peculiar combination of "smell to cover the smell" -- breath mints and cigarette smoke, perfume or cologne, candles burned, incense, spray air freshener. Usually the masking scent is quite powerful, but it doesn't remove or cover the cigarette smoke. It COMBINES with it, creating a new and sometimes even more noxious concoction. The only solutions I know of will lessen but not remove the smell -- smoke outside where the air moves away from you. Wash your hands, brush your teeth, and skip the perfume and breath mints.

So, to all those people reading this who smoke -- many of you are important to me and at the least are people I'd like to spend time with -- quitting is the only real way not to smell like the burning funk. And I know that, like my mother, many people find it impossible to quit, not because they lack willpower or are weak, but because this is a serious addiction with real physical, mental and emotional withdrawal symptoms. It's a hard battle, and I congratulate you for each hour you manage not to smoke, even if you can't stay away from it for ever. I will hope for you that you can quit, because it is dangerous to your health and the health of those around you, because emphysema is a horrible way to die (among other horrible, tobacco related ways to die), and because you have people who love you.

And you won't stink.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Found Treasure

Hey, I found TWO whole packages of Stella d'Oro treats in the pantry -- the Breakfast Treats and the Annisette Toast. I love these things, which is why I buy them so rarely.

I first found them when I was a teen and attempting to move my taste in food to a more "sophisticated" level -- something better than putting ketchup on my steak and turning every baked potato into a mashed potato, and shrieking when threatened with sour cream. These were the most sophisticated looking thing in the grocery store then. They were ITALIAN, sort of. Sure as hell none of MY friends knew what they were, which automatically made them exotic. I'd make a cup of tea (I had also just discovered Celestial Seasons) and put a few of these on a plate and feel oh so very...whatever it was I was trying to feel. Calm, collected, refined, knowledgeable about the world -- all things I definately was not at 15.

For that matter, I don't feel that way at 41. However, I have stopped looking for it in a cookie.


The Smell of Irony

One of the women at my office has what I shall term an olefactory malfunction. I'll just call her "Stinky". She's a pleasant enough older woman with a serious perfume habit. I've complained about her before, I'm sure, but somehow it just never grows old because...damn!...she STINKS.

It's not bad enough that walking behind her into the office -- standing in the open air -- she leaves vapor trails behind her strong enough to knock over grown men. No, that she bathes, eats and drinks whatever cheap fragrange she buys (in caseloads) from Wal-Mart isn't the main issue. Oh no. You see, Stinky is a smoker. Each time she goes outside to indulger her habit, she RESPRAYS herself with perfume before coming back inside. So, she smells like cigarette smoke AND death-by-flowery-perfume. I cannot follow the logic by which she determined this is an IMPROVEMENT. I can only conclude that long practice has destroyed any sense of smell she ever possessed.

I've gotten to the point where, if I see Stinky in the hallway ahead of me, I just automatically hold my breath until I'm past her. I won't go into the bathroom if she's just been there (and you can ALWAYS tell). Her office door is right beside the door into the plant and is almost always open. Thus, if you want to go into the plant (which has its own set of special chemical odors), you will carry the waft of her with you. I cannot picture being trapped in an elevator with Stinky. Sharing a 20,000 sqaure foot facility with air handling equipment is trial enough. I can't imagine how the two women who have the office adjoining hers tolerate it. It does explain to me why one of them spends every possible moment away from her desk. Even a sentence in Inventory is a step up.

It's not as if this particular problem has gone without comment over the years. On the contrary, not long after she began working in the office, several of us made a (polite) complaint to her supervisor, and he spoke to her. For a while it was quite tolerable -- you could still tell when she had walked through the hallway, but you weren't in danger of instant asphixiation or toxemia. But now she has returned to her old ways and, I gotta tell ya, it's killing me. A good noseful of her eau de chemical overload is enough to make my eyes water. Two whiffs, and my throat starts to hurt. Three, and the headache is shoving spears through my eyes and I'm ready to drive to the sewage treatment plant for some fresh air.

I usually associate this problem with older people -- my father was a serious violator of the Rule of Scent and overdosed on aftershave in a serious way. He didn't do it for smell, however. He just thought that he should put on a certain amount, no matter the scent. What you can get away with using a weak aftershave is a completely different story when you move to actual cologne. That was my fault -- I bought him a gift set of his favorite stuff one year. And it took me a little while to figure out why he always got stinkier as it got closer to his birthday, and then, within a few weeks, would be back to normal.

But Stinky isn't more than late 40's/early 50's tops, and despite the endless parade of matching polyester doubleknit pant/top/jacket combinations and a slight nasal whine in her speaking voice, isn't really an annoying person. She generally does what is asked of her and isn't more than normally slow about doing tasks she doesn't like. She takes great care in her appearance, what with the manicured nails, daily makeup applications, and hair upkeep (she's gotta be an Aqua Net woman). It's just highly ironic that her obvious desire to smell GOOD is the very thing that makes me call her Stinky.

But she's very foolish to persist in holding open flames near her person.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Everything in its place

I feel so busy, yet I don't think I actually am. It's perception -- I'm used to being rather lumpish, while today has been unusually active.

For example, Bosszilla today decided I should help do the end of year inventory in finished goods. Now, I've worked at this company for 10 years and I've NEVER been involved in inventory. Today, though, I was suddenly the only person who could do it. There was some roaring and nuclear fire breath in Sales before he came after me

It wasn't difficult work and since I have a natural bent for organization, I had it all done within 4 hours. It's just that it is yet another example of 1) how Bosszilla thinks and 2) How varied my job is. Finished goods is next to shipping, and while I was working, he was on the phone with a customer talking on the shipping area phone. At some point in the conversation, he decided he needed some information from a website, so he turned to me and asked me to jot down a note -- which I did, because I would later have to go online to find what he wanted. It's just that normally I get those notes in my office across the plant. He seemingly relocated himself from his office to the plant floor because I was there.

And he kept coming over to "help" me, until I finally said "Stop it! You're messing with the system and I'll cry!" That worked. I got all the parts in finished goods labeled, listed, organized and moved around, and I hope I got everything because I don't want to do it again. Reasonably physical for a woman who spends 2/3rds of her life on her ass in front of a computer. My knees and knuckles, surprisingly, feel it most.

And this afternoon I've been getting together some things to mail (I lack a proper box), ran through music for rehearsal tonight (Yes, I'm in on the quartet -- with a minimum of Drama, as it happens.) and once more I feel like "hell, I can't SING" because my sinuses are draining (it's dusty in Finished Goods) and I sound like shit. Ah, well. There's a solo for one song (Danny Boy, and yes, it's that one) for a mezzo soprano -- that's how it was originally arranged -- and I thought about trying for it, but I was testing it today and I think I sound poor on it. C is not my key and the song runs right across my break. But I'm going to offer to play recorder to Mr. Hottie the Director (well, he is, gay or not, and that's half the fun. Three quarters on a bad night). Probably won't want it, but I can offer. It's the right sound.

Then I have rehearsal tomorrow and performance on Friday. I have to buy...argh!...tights or pantyhose for the dress, just cuz. It's a floor length dress, maybe I can get by with knee highs...I hate wearing hose so much, but, dammit, I can't wear socks with heels, not even ultra cool kitty socks from Canada.

Oh, and I'm wearing expensive Valentine's Day perfume from The Husband (Calvin Klein's Escape, because it doesn't give me a headache, doesn't follow me like a ghost, and doesn't make me itch).




Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What Pictures Are Worth

From Steel Buddah's post of his friend's message, I quote these significant words

Mirrors in this context are not the things we use to groom ourselves. I'd say few people really look in the mirror anymore. It's a dying art, and that's saying a lot for an art form that never had much traction in human lives. The introspective life, where we practice brutal self-analysis with scathing honesty, is not a popular one to live. Hence, it becomes the job of philosophers, muckrakers, iconoclasts, and cartoonists to hold up the mirror of self-examination once in a while.

Some people bomb in the name of Allah and Muhammad. They proudly call themselves slaves to their god. Such being the case, they should be able imagine their god act in the very manner they are acting. If they can't, then they are acting improperly. If they can, well then we all have a far greater problem on our hands: they have the wrong god.

The italics are mine.

The writer extends this idea to members of all religions -- if you perform an act, especially if you perform it in the name of your god or spiritual figure, you should be able to picture your god or other spiritual figure also performing that act. If you cannot condone the image of your god doing it, you are not acting correctly, be you Christian, Jew, Hindi, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, or any flavor of spiritual belief. If you find offensive the image of your god or spiritual figure doing something you yourself do, you need to look at yourself and your god more closely.

I only wish more people could grasp the concept Sankara Saranam is presenting here, and moreover, that they would take the look in the mirror he recommends. I wish I'd seen it so clearly as he's put it, for it is wisdom. That's for you, me, him, them over there -- everyone. Still, I'm glad I saw it now. This is something that needs to get spread around, folks.

Thank you, Steel Buddah, for sharing this.

Food Coma of Love

The Husband, being the splendiferous fella that he is, arranged for a delicious Valentine's day dinner. Rather than going out to eat (since we will be grabbing dinner at 7-11 more times this week than is tecnically healthy, what with 3 rehearsals and a performance all in Orlando) he did carry in -- but oh! what carry-in!

There's a fabulous breakfast/lunch place in Mt. Dora called Laura's Bistro (I live to have Glynne's chicken salad sandwhiches with rosemary mayo -- I donate rosemary from my bushes to the cause). The Husband ordered us a dinner of stuffed flank steak (mushrooms, spinach, cheese, garlic) with broccoli pasta, brie, salad, and chocolate cake with strawberries.

There are copious leftovers for tomorrow. Oh goodness, it was lovely! He even found something called a "White Shiraz", which is red wine but without the tannens that make me want to shave my tongue. Sort of a very peppery reisling. Candles, flowers, cats and dog begging at tableside -- so romantic!

I'm done now. Must roll towards a comfy spot and stare at the TV until I can breathe again.

The Only Poem I Ever Memorized

Sonnet # 63

Against my love shall be, as I am now,
With Time's injurious hand crush'd and o'erworn;
When hours have drain'd his blood and fill'd his brow
With lines and wrinkles; when his youthful morn
Hath travell'd on to age's steepy night;
And all those beauties whereof now he's king
Are vanishing or vanished out of sight
Stealing away the treasure of his spring;
For such a time do I now fortify
Against confounding age's cruel knife,
That he shall never cut from memory
My sweet love's beauty, though my lover's life:
His beauty shall in these black lines be seen,
And they shall live, and he in them still green.

-- William Shakespeare

Monday, February 13, 2006

Virtual Reality

From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Real -- Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, real, relating to things (in law), from Middle French, from Medieval Latin & Late Latin; Medieval Latin realis relating to things (in law), from Late Latin, real, from Latin res thing, fact; akin to Sanskrit rayi property
1 : of or relating to fixed, permanent, or immovable things (as lands or tenements)
2 a : not artificial, fraudulent, illusory, or apparent : GENUINE <real gold>; also : being precisely what the name implies < real professional> b (1) : occurring in fact <real life> (2) : of or relating to practical or everyday concerns or activities < real world> (3) : existing as a physical entity and having properties that deviate from an ideal, law, or standard <real gas> -- compare IDEAL 3b c : having objective independent existence real> d : FUNDAMENTAL, ESSENTIAL e (1) : belonging to or having elements or components that belong to the set of real numbers <real roots of an equation> < style="font-style: italic;">real matrix> (2) : concerned with or containing real numbers < real analysis> (3) : REAL-VALUED <real variable> f : measured by purchasing power <real income> <real dollars> g : COMPLETE, UTTER real fiasco>
3 of a particle : capable of being detected -- compare
VIRTUAL 3


Virtual -- Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, possessed of certain physical virtues, from Medieval Latin virtualis, from Latin virtus strength, virtue
1 : being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted virtual dictator>
2 : of, relating to, or using virtual memory
3 : of, relating to, or being a hypothetical particle whose existence is inferred from indirect evidence <virtual photons> -- compare
REAL

Lazygal, one of my favorite sources for thoughts, is thinking about Real vs. Virtual Lives today, especially in the lives of children growing up in our overconnected culture.

I was already (legally) an adult when the idea of a virual life came into being. I can remember my early experiences with online chats, meeting people online, getting involved in emotional whirlwinds only possible in the high-speed, no-nuance communication of typeface and emoticons -- love affairs, jealousy, fights, anger, "cyber-sex" -- it was all there. I even had one woman "cyber-stalk" me before the idea existed (she thought I was after her online boyfriend). All of this took place before 1992, folks.

But I was in my 20s when this went on, with a long history of Having to Deal with People. I'll be the first to say that there is a distinct difference in dealing with people online and dealing with people. I've met face-to-face with many people I'd met first online with various levels of success. Most of the successes, I have to say, happened when a firm grip on "what's online isn't what's offline" was maintained. What happened over the computer was distinctly different from what happened away from a keyboard.

Is that difference maintained today? Do we know for certain? And how do we keep that separation? Do we really NEED it?

I think of a conversation some years ago when a friend and I were discussing why the term "real life" came into being. I kept countering with "Well, what else is there? Fake Life?". We were using examples from television and movies, since that's usually where the term showed up, as in "That's the movies, not real life." But it bears more thought now, because the lives we lead online have a reality all their own. When we use the words "real" and "virtual", I think we are trying to say that there is no substance to the communications and interactions we have online. I think that's true if that's the value you place on it, but because so many of my "virtual" relationships have crossed the line into "real", yet still maintain a high "virtual" factor, I think that's a matter of choice (and one, honestly, I think people can do without a computer).

I don't have a good angle at which to run at this and no conclusions to offer. I'm just presenting my thoughts, which still need picking over and poking at.

What about you? How real is your "virtual" life, and how virtual is your "real" life? Is all this stuff floating around in electronic media "real"?



I Ate Some Of The Yellow Cake Thing

It tastes just like yellow cake mix smeared with vanilla pudding and sprinkled with cheap candied orange peel. There's good candied orange peel, and their cheap candied orange peel. The cheap stuff looks like hunks of orange peel in jello. You can see the pits in the skin and the little flecks of...I dunno...dirt, I guess.

My response? Eh. It looks like something made from one of these recipe cards. Tastes about like it, too. I recommend giving it a big skip if you see it in the store.

And don't even THINK about the Guava Jelly Roll. Looks the same, has candied guava. Cruel, cruel fate.



Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Birthday Report

My 41st birthday was a very quiet and comfortable affair. Nothing emmense was attempted -- no party this year -- but I had fun. Because of high winds we spent most of the day indoors. This morning I opened presents. Quite a haul in books, CDs, and DVDs, I must admit. I feel all loved :>

What's this peeking over my loafers?















One of my new wardrobe of Kitty Socs from Canuck Girl! My feet will never be the same. Hot pink and pale lavender -- I'm so fashionable! (I don't care, they are WARM, and this was definately a warm sock day).








While wandering through the grocery store in search of Birthday Feast ingredients (I settled on meatloaf and mac-n-cheese instead of a fancy dinner out -- I didn't want to change my socks), husband and I came across this scary confection.


It's called a "Custard Roll" and is much much brighter yellow (and red, orange and green) that my camera can pick up. It had a longer name in Spanish on the lable and is obviously a stab at the Hispanic/Latino market.

Actually, it looks rather like what a very Southern, Very White person would think a Latino person would like. The Husband says it tastes ok -- a little odd, but ok. I haven't been brave enough yet.










So far 41 (or 4-squared 5-squared, as I am prepared to tell the overly curious - let'em do the math!) feels pretty much like 40 did, only a little better. This year I have to make some promises to myself about my health, my ambitions, and my responsibilities. I'm happy, I'm lucky, and I'm not that bad a person. So, here we go into middle age!



Saturday, February 11, 2006

Where there's Drama...

One of the inevitable results of belonging to any group organized around a particular interest is the drama. Belonging to a gay chorus exemplifies this. Not that gay people are any more prone to drama than anyone else (although several gay members insist this is so), it's just in a mixed chorus, most of the guys are trying their best to avoid anything smelling like drama, and in a women's chorus, a little low key drama is just the status quo. With a gay chorus, you have many people who are accustomed to defending themselves vociferously against offense, insult, and attack. They are on the lookout for possible encroachment because, honestly, they have to be. They leap to each other's defense very quickly. This kind of conditioning creates a different level of drama.

I spend a lot of my time trying not to get involved in that kind of drama, although it occasionally forms around me. I do this in part because, well, I'm the straight girl and I feel my behavior reflects on armies of other nice, gay-friendly, equitably minded straight people (yes, folks, I'm representin'!) I do this in part because I've got a real history of getting right into the shitstorm and I think I've outgrown it now. It bored and irritates me now when once it would involve me completely, giving me all kinds of emotional outlet. And I avoid it because, in the end, it's a lot of work keeping up with all that shit. Really.

So, anyway, I've got a little musical talent and I'm fairly easy to get along with, so I've gotten involved in two ensembles that are part of the group. I was invited as an addition to one group, and I filled in for another when the soprano was "removed" from the group by the director for being "difficult to work with". When that director departed and a new one came (the hottie I remarked on earlier) there was a potentially dramatic situation, because she felt that she should get her old spot back. I even offered to bow out (because I'm a nice person, and, besides, humility makes people like you more) and had this offer refused by the other group members, who find me easy to work with. This person has made some moves toward rejoining the chorus and she shoots me the occasional pointy glance, but none of this has anything to do with me, so I smile and keep right on going.

So, for our next concert, a large part of the show is made up of small ensembles and solos. I'm already involved in the two ensembles who are both doing medleys, and I'm auditioning a duet. Today I was officially asked to join a quartet putting together a barbershop number for auditions as well. I'll be singing with my usual partner in crime, Miss P, and I like the arrangement. No sweat, right?

Except they want me to replace someone they already tapped who isn't working out. Do you see a potential drama situation? I do. All kinds. The person in question is a very nice person, but well known to be a bit...touchy? Drag Queen Touchy. That's what he is, by the way, so yeah, like that. Really, I like this person and he does have a fine voice, but not much of an ear, and barbershop takes a lot of listening for the close harmonies and such. Everyone knows there are eggshells all over the place.

I'll put it out again, it is entirely possible this person might work out the musical problems and remain with the group. However, the two members who approached me aren't holding out hope for it. In fact, they hold so little hope they emailed me the music tonight so I could work on the song. I'm in a complete other county, and I can feel the tension from here. It's supposed to go down tomorrow and I opted not to attend the rehearsal because it could be ugly and, damn, it's my birthday and I don't want ugly on my birthday.

These are the things that make me keep my head down. I'm not good at competition -- never have been, because I'm never convinced that I am "the best choice" in any competition. Whatever it is that makes someone a winner, I don't have it. It's why I don't try auditioning for solos very often (and make myself nuts when I do). I know that as soon as I start thinking I have a good voice, or a strong talent, or something else like that, the universe will assign some person to inform me to the contrary.


In other news, I'll be performing with Miss P this coming Friday in A Lotta Night Music, along with a number of other talented performers. This is the OGC's big fundraiser for the year, so if you'd like to join us for an evening of food and music, get your tickets soon! And our upcoming Spring concert is "Don't Touch That Dial", featuring music from the 30's, 40's and 50's.

TeeVee Memoree

You can blame this on Scott and Severina (mostly Severina). It's all their fault.

If you have a delicate constitution, you may not want to read further. You are warned.

Central Florida, despite Disney and Sea World and every other world, was basically a rural area when I was growing up in it. As such, our local television station carried Hee-Haw every Sunday evening. Being as there weren't a lot of options at the time, I watched it all the time.

Yes, it was chock full of embarrassing cornball "humor" and TONS of stereotypes. It also featured some of the best bluegrass, country and gospel music of the day. My deep love of bluegrass music stems from those shows, I think (although I cannot abide today's "country" music and won't listen to anything produced after the mid 1950's --earlier is better).

My dad -- a Nebraska/Wyoming tranplant to the Sunny South -- and my mother -- a regular hillbilly out of the Appalachians -- both loved the show, the bad jokes, the music, and everything. My dad in particular repeated the jokes and songs from the show.

I stopped watching it probably in my middle teens, although I caught it occasionally when I lived with my dad, since he still tuned it in now and again. When I think of the show, I think of my dad (just like when I think of "Dallas", a show I NEVER watched, I think of my mom, who loved the damn thing). And I think less about the jokes and slapstick in favor of the music. I can't really say I'd want to watch the show today, but I can't say that I hate it. It is part of my past, like so much television is, because I was raised in front of a TV set.





Friday, February 10, 2006

News in Teef

Today was Retainer Day. I spent a fast 30 minutes at the dentist having little pieces of plastic fitting over my smooth, straight, lovely teeth so that I never again have to have bits of metal and wire cemented to them again.

The upper isn't so bad. It's very much like the Invisaligns you see advertised. However, I tell you now -- they ain't invisible and they ain't all that comfortable. You see, in order to affect any change (or to prevent change) to the alignment of teeth, you must use pressure, steady, constant pressure. It's UNcomfortable, but you get used to it.

The lower, however, is a unique contraption that wedges my teeth between two pieces of plastic attached to each other with a heavy guage, springy, wire. I swallow wrong, it pops out. It's gonna be annoying.

The rules are to wear them 24/7 except when eating or brushing (or singing -- these things will NOT stay in place while I sing). I'm waiting to see how the sleeping thing goes -- that's what killed my retainer the FIRST time.


UPDATE: The top retainer has already cracked from nothing more than being worn, and the bottom has become a new kind of torture device, since 1) it keeps popping out and 2) apparently one tooth down there already started moving BIGTIME and now is very unhappy about being corralled into line again. *sigh*

Congratulations and cake all around



To Canuck Girl

Ok, you can open your BOX now :>



Thursday, February 09, 2006

Nothing in particular

I've been casting about for inspiration this morning, but nothing is striking sparks. It's a beautiful morning outside my window, that blue sky and bright sun just about postcard perfect (except for the weeds and dead leaves...not quite postcard quality), but I can't shake the headache that woke up with me, nor the vague drippy nose and slightly scratchy throat -- none of which is REALLY unusual on the morning after a long reheasal.

There's laundry and ironing to do, which I really should get to. The writing is plodding along. I want to be at it all day, but when I'm actually in front of the keyboard, nothing happens and I wander off, as if I could find the perfect paragraph on the interwebinet somewhere, or if I poke through enough blogs the next step in the plot will appear.

It's just cool enough that the space heater feels good. My feet are cold (betcha didn't think feet got cold in Florida? Well, they do, occasionally, although usually it's because the A/C thermostat is set too low).

I'm developing a regular school girl crush on my choral director. Well, ok, it's not THAT bad, because the general consensus is that he's a hottie, and anyone I stare at so attentively for hours at a time is BOUND to make an impression on my soft little psyche. But still. I'm not QUITE as in awe of him as I was last rehearsal period, in part because he's starting to relax with the group and in part because he's a Star Wars geek and is happy to take some of my old Star Wars stuff I no longer want (all part of the stuff cycling I'm trying to make a habit.) Some might see it as brown nosing, and there might be some of that, but I already offered a few items to other Star Wars Geek friends and they refused on the grounds they didn't have room, so, no, not really. El Director has a sort of warm, goofy smile, too, which is nice to get. Hell, what's so wrong with having a mild crush on the director? He's gay and I'm happily married, so it's not like I have anything to worry about. I can crush away all I like and still cuddle with The Husband. In fact, I checked with The Husband and he was fine with it. I have permission to crush on any member of the chorus I like. It gives us something to talk about on the long drive home from rehearsal.

Which reminds me -- have I mentioned how much I love and adore my husband? Yeah, even if I stole his cool, new-and-improved flashy thing pen, really, he's just a pushover for me. Those are HIS shirts I'm about to iron and hang up. That's worth a pen, isn't it?



Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Soapbox Moment

Ok, I've added a button to my site that requires some attention. Check that pretty face in the upper right corner and give it a click.

I've been reading Rob Rummel-Hudson's various online journals for years now, pretty much since I discovered such things existed on the Interwebinet. He's a classic old timer, still coding his pages and doing his thing in fabulous smart assery. He's reported his life with humor and honesty (even owning up to having posed as his own comment stalker for a while -- hey, even good people get caught up and make mistakes).

His daughter has a congenital disorder he calls Schyuler's Monster but has a long latinate name. Among other serious problems she may face, she has great difficulty speaking. It's the kind of problem that taxes any family. Rob is, in one respect, lucky, though. He's been entertaining and educationg the blogging world for a long time, and people were willing to help his family.

Now Rob has been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, a disease to which he attributes the death of his own father. He's facing it with his usual smart assery, although the added burden is about all he can handle. It's tough in the US to be employed just enough to keep your nose above the water without anyone tying another anchor to your foot.

I put the button on my site so you can go there to learn more. Perhaps you can help. I threw a little money toward the problem, since I can't really do more. I've thought about it for the year or so since Rob first swallowed his pride enough to ask for help (Yes, he has pride. He also has a daughter he loves more than his pride, for whom he's fighting tooth and nail to give a chance). I had my own inertia and, yes, laziness, and a few other flaws in my character that just let me let it slide, even though every time I'd read his writing, I'd get a kick of guilt.

There have been all kinds of hoaxes and money raising schemes on the ol' Interwebinet over the years, and charities are rife with cons and swindles. Giving anything to charity is now less an act of generosity and more an act of trust. So, what I'm saying is that I trust ol' Rob and I gave him some money because I wanted to. He doens't really know me, and I only know him from his writing. I can't say we are friends, even online friends. He played trombone, I played flute and sang -- completely different sections of the band. Doesn't matter.

I see so many faces on the news, on the streets, in the papers and on TV, the faces of people in trouble. I can't know or don't know what all their troubles are. I can't do much to help without depending on an intermediary which may or may not actually do anything. Yes, I could do the martyr thing and give up all I have to help others, but, honestly, I'm too involved in my own life to give it all away for others. I've got a lot of thoughts about that, but I'll put those elsewhere. For now, I've chosen something to do. I'm going to lend a little help to one family -- one mom, one dad, one child. It's only a little help, but I believe deeply that what one puts into the world goes around and comes back to you. So I'm putting a little faith and hope out and I'm inviting you to do the same thing, if that's the direction you are moved to go.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Boxers or Briefs?

If you type Japanese Underwear Expert into Yahoo, this weblog comes up as number 3. I have such cachet in Asian lingerie, ya know.

Actually, I'm no underwear expert, but I know one.

How do people without trackers on their sites entertain themselves?

Because it's too damn funny


There's a new wave rolling through the Interwebinet and Mandar at Ink Scrawl is handing out the news.


Just thought you should know before the panty-wad patrols get upset.



And on the Nifty Pen Front

A couple of birthdays ago, I got a nifty pen with a built in LED and some fiber optic threads that made it flash and glow various colors inside the barrel, which, of course, just fed my geeky little stationary-phile soul. I've kept it carefully preserved since then, not using it too much so I would't lose it or burn it out. I called it the flashy thing pen.

Then The Husband put a comment in my post about my stationary lust and teased me about having a new and improved version of the flashy thing pen. He even took it out and waved it around in my face. The optical fibers in that pen are twisted and the flash works differently. Mine will hold one color, while his has a disco flash feature.

You KNEW I'd get it, didn't you? Yup. He whined and pouted and made some protest-y noises, and he whimpered some when I beat him with a Post-it note pad, but I got the pen.

I am the Flashy Thing Pen QUEEN.



Revenge

Take THAT, you big bully!

So now, an Iranian newspaper wants Holocast cartoons (typically enough) to "test" Western attitudes.

No, they aren't "testing" anything. They are getting back. If they wanted to test, they'd be running cartoons about Jesus or various saints and other figures sacred to Christianity. As far as I can tell, Israel didn't run any cartoons of anything -- Denmark did. And in burning the Danish Flag (where did all the Danish flags come from?) they are burning a Christian symbol.

And did anyone notice this is all about symbols? Symbols -- images and things that, in and of themselves are meaningless, and are only containers for the variety of beliefs, atttitudes and thoughts people attach to them, which can vary widely and be in complete opposition to one another (the ideas as well as the people). It's a war on who is allowed to think what about someone else.

I hope and I hope strongly that everyone will ignore this Iran paper's taunts and behave themselves, and not escalate this sandbox namecalling contest any further. I doubt that EVERYONE will have the strength, the self assurance, and the faith to manage it, but I hope it fervently. And I hope it as well for all those people of Islamic faith who are not involved and wish no involvement in this conflagration, who feel their religion is far above anything so petty and powerless as an insult, who know in their hearts that faith and their own actions are all they need to sustain.

Faith is not shaken by cartoons. If it is, it isn't faith.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Middle Ages

In a matter of days I shall reach my 41st birthday. I never expected this, actually. I'm trying to grasp what it means. It doesn't seem anything like I thought it would be when I was 35, or 23, or 15. At 10, I couldn't even envision it.

What's weird is how much I don't feel all that much older, although I understand from cultural milestones I'm now middle aged and should therefore feel like a 'grown up'. But I'm not at all like my mother was at this age, or my father, or any of the adults I knew when I was growing up. I no longer believe in the mythical "grown-up". If they exist, they don't live around here. I don't know any.

I do feel rather guilty for not having accomplished more. I look back and see all the chances I had that I let fear -- so many things I feared, so many that are still with me -- that I let fear keep me from doing. If I could go back and talk to myself at 15, I think that's what I'd say. I'd tell myself that failure isn't all that bad, that looking foolish is a local and temporary thing, that not risking is a lot more dangerous than taking the risk, and nothing happens to you if you don't go get it.

Not that, at 15, I'd have listened to anyone 41 years old. So maybe I'm where I'm supposed to be, and all those chances I feel I missed are really just choices other than those I made to make me who I am where I am. I can live with that.

(me, age 15)








Hijacked

I find myself seeking understanding about the whole Cartoon Mess. I'm a proponent of free speech -- what one may do, others may do -- and while I don't condone "hate speech" as I understand it, I find the definitions of it are often wooly and difficult to corral. Are the cartoons "hate speech" against Islam or are they an expression of how Islam is allowing itself to be perceived? And does the violent response do anything to disprove the messages of the cartoons? Do non-Muslims "owe" respect to Muslim icons? (Does anyone "owe" respect? I don't believe respect can be earned. It is given, or not, and that is in the control of the giver, and not the recipient. The trick is knowing whose respect is valuable to you. It's not a tradeable commodity.)

My immediate response? Hypersensitivity. Childish temper tantrums over someone else doing things one is also guilty of doing (Many Islamic newspapers run cartoons insulting Israel, Jews, Christians, and anyone else they don't like.) Revenge. Grand Entitlement. Cultural immaturity. Tribal behavior. Second Chakra issues. Not to say any and all people, one time or another, aren't guilty of these things, but in general, no embassies get burned down and no lives are threatened about it.

I'm not terribly educated in the matters roiling in Islamic nations, although I do try to read and listen to discussion. I know that everything is a matter of perspective and belief. I am none too proud of the actions of my own government, whom I feel has steadily, even deliberately, undercut any ground upon which I might stand, but speaking only for myself (and by extention, anyone who feels concord with my statements), violent protest is not the best method for getting one's way. It tends to make others react in much the same way -- it reduces everything down to the primative idea of "fairness" as being "eye for an eye". Any historical review will show that the equation doesn't add up, because the perception of injury is never so easily reduced, and the need to "prove" something always ups the anty. The cycle of revenge and violence just escalates upward.

Honestly, playing the violence card does not stop insults. It may drive them underground, but it doesn't stop them. If anything, it increases them. I can point to the actions of the US as a perfect example. Even under highly repressive governments, insults thrive in whispers, proliferating like mice, and just as difficult to eradicate.

I wish I could generate in myself the kind of self righteousness and conviction that lets anyone stand on one side of an arguement and say "Oh yes, I'm completely right, you are completely wrong, and thus I smite thee." I can understand in some way the forces that have created this reaction. Many Muslim people feel powerless to protect themselves, either on the world stage or in their local area, from the forces that seem determined to destroy them. They may feel powerless, ignored, and unregarded, discounted and endangered. These feelings are an explanation for violent action, but they are not a reason nor an exuse. This applies widely, to white supremasists, Christian extremists, and any group who feel that physical violence is their best option to get across their ideological point.

It comes down to a temper tantrum for not getting their way when they want it, how they want it, only far more destructive and more likely to thwart their own purposes.

Is it a tennet of Islam to promote the idea of revenge and retribution? I've heard many people say Islam is a religion of peace, but I know little about it. Just as Christianity is supposed to be a religion of peace, yet has fostered so many wars and so much divisiveness, hatred, and death, has Islam been hijacked the same way?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Perfectly Good, Boring Day

Today was a very nice day, inasmuch as nothing happened that was outstandingly stupid, angering, annoying, humorous, or wonderful. Which means there isn't much to write about.

However, having nothing to say has never stopped me before. I just thought I'd point that out.

We spent the day at the Mt. Dora Art Festival. After yesterday's long grey rainstorm, today was crisp, with a dark blue sky and enouigh chill in the air to make wimpy Floridians wear jackets or sweaters. The Husband and I met up with MIL and a friend of hers to wander the stalls. Mostly Husband was checking out the displays used in the jewelry booths because we want to do shows like that and our current set up just ain't gonna cut it. Investment time -- either we buy them or we build them. However, we spent our MONEY on pottery: two vases by Michael Cho, some switchplate covers for the house from C.C.Lee, and jewelry from Metallic Art and Kadrmas Jewelry Design. Last off, The Husband bought hisself a fancy-schmancy Hat.

Any day where I get to spend money is a good day. And I got to eat Cinnamon Almonds.

The evening has been spent in my office, listening to the radio, writing, reading, wrestling with cats, and other perfectly peaceful, quiet, boring activities.

Oh, I put some kitty stickers on my new three hole punch.




Saturday, February 04, 2006

I'm in it for the Office Supplies

Have I ever mentioned that I like stationary and office supplies? No, I mean really LIKE, as in geek out all over? No? Ooops.

HI, I'm Sherri and I'm an office supply junkie.

Yeah, I'm one of those weirdos who can spend 10 minutes comparing pens, looking for the perfect fine point gel roller ball in BLUE, with the comfort grip. The smell of paper just makes me drool. Staples and paperclips are more than just methods of binding pages together...they are a means of self-expression. Notebooks, printer cartridges, date books, manila file folders -- I love it all.

I've been this way since I was a small girl and got my first tablet of ruled line newsprint -- you remember, the one with the broken line in the center of the solid lines so you could tell the lower case from the uppercase? You wrote on it with the extra big pencils. I graduated to wide ruled paper in second grade, and a number 2 pencil with the erasors you put over the pencil's erasor, just because you could. Much later, I got my first actual dip pen and a bottle of india ink. I still have such things, only now I have many more colors and the lovely thick paper and pens made of glass as well as metal. I've gone through scented marker phases and paper brad phases and construction paper phases. I've made sculpture from binder clips.

I loved school because it meant I could go with my dad (who would buy me most anything) down the stationary aisle at the local store to get supplies. Pens, notebooks, erasors, folders -- I wanted it all. When they first introduced the colored lined papers when I was in third grade, everything I turned in was on blue or purple paper. I had a four color pen in 7th grade and did all my English homework in green. I had Bic Bananas, those multicolored markers -- white with the colored caps that they called "ink crayons". I had more folders than any 12 year old really needed. Spiral bound notebooks (college ruled -- I got over the wide ruled paper early on) with sections. I collected memopads and three ring binders, from the plain blue cloth kind to the ones with the zip-lock pockets on the outside.

When, at a former job, I was in charge of the supply cabinet, I was in heaven. That's when I learned about transparancies and computer disks and nifty things for chairs and desktop organizers. I get chills remembering.

So, The Husband just made me very happy on a trip to Office Depot where he bought me not just a Post-it Pop up notes dispenser, but the fancy DESIGNER one. And I got myself a pack of the highlighters. I'm excited. I remember when these things first hit the office world. It was love at first sight. I covered everything with little sticky notes. I love those damn flags, and I have just about every color of Post-It there is. And they keep making more different ones all the time. I can't really say I have "enough" of them. I got some multicolored index cards and a new three hole punch, too, but they aren't as exciting as Post-Its. Very little is as exciting as Post-Its.




For the one or two people who asked

I finally have the list of books in my library fixed. You can see it right here.
Or you can use the link in the right sidebar.

At least, it was working the last 57 times I tried it. It didn't work the 432 times I tried it before that. I don't know how it got lost, as everything was still there, just like before, but somehow something got confused and I had to redo it all.

Sometimes I really hate computers.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Isn't It Ironic

One of my recent finds with the Magic Next Blog button is The Dirt Field. I've been enjoying her adventures in young adulthood, her humor, and her cute-as-a-button puppy pictures.

Yeah, I'm a sucker for cute, easily entertained fuzzy critters. That's why I have The Husband.

The latest post tickles me in particular on several levels. First, you have to enjoy anyone with no dignity or self-control who's willing to write about it. Then, the dares themselves are fun to imagine (I'm rarely around enough people to notice me to get any fun out of them). Still, they amuse me.

But most of all, despite her request to contact her, she has absolutely no contact information anywhere on the site (that I've been able to find). She doesn't have any visible site tracking going on either, so chances are she will never see these links.

I'm pondering if this is simply the oversight of a blogging newbie, or some deeply symbolic, perhaps post modern or deconstructionist (insert literary/art mumbo-jumbo jargon of your choice) statement. Perhaps , along with her humor and honesty, she's underlining how, like all bloggers, she's talking into the void, a monologue, all powerful, like a god, with no one able to respond to her.

Maybe she's just dumber than she writes. I dunno. Still, she's funny and she's got a damn cute puppy.


Big Announcement

After 18 months of
(don'tcha love really blurry photos? Well, those little glints are braces on my teeth)













I now have THIS

I've waited a long time for this. I'm going to go floss now.














And isn't is a LOVELY morning?

I woke this morning to thunder, lightening, rain, and the radio announcing a tornado warning (not for my immediate area). A cold front is moving our way, and it got quite warm this week, so we get the fun weather. It's grey and rather ugly out there. But I've other things to keep me going.

For instance...

It's the birthday of the avant-garde novelist and poet Gertrude Stein, born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (1874). She went to Paris to live with her brother Leo and he introduced Stein to a promising new artist named Pablo Picasso. At the time, Picasso was in the process of inventing a style of art called cubism, depicting objects from multiple angles at the same time. Stein decided she wanted to do the same thing with fiction.

It is from her words that I named this weblog, because I identified with the quote and heard an echo of thoughts I had 20 years ago. I've never read one of Stein's books, just bits about her and bits from her. What a wonderful idea...to depict an object from multiple angles at the same time in fiction.

Honestly, I'm not a Picasso fan. I like Cezanne, though.

The flashes of lightening are causing the radio to static out occasionally, and while the rain isn't heavy, it is steady and cool. It will not daunt me, however. I have an appointment with the orthodontist in 25 minutes.




Thursday, February 02, 2006

Comforting Reminder

Lest you think I have gone all addle pated and soft, I just gave my dog a Wheat Thin dipped in the Lemon-Wasabi sauce I've been snacking on.

Is that cruel?

She licked off the sauce, then ate the cracker, and keeps eyeing me and wagging her tail when I rattle the cracker box.




Empassionata

Don't think me completely downcast. No, when I say I don't care about something, it only illustrates all those things about which I do care, passionately and deeply and constantly.

I care about my world, and that means the world I experience and the world I imagine. I cannot, for example, get to Tibet right now, but I do care about it and what happens to its people. I have little power to affect it, but I care, and I send my energy toward it. There are many places and people for whom I make that small effort, almost daily.

I care about my husband, family and friends (most of whom are one and the same, for my friends are, to great extent, my family). I care about friends I've never met in the flesh, and my mind turns often to them; their problems, their joys, their mundane events. If you are among that group, know I think of you and send to you also a wish that things turn for you, if not exactly as you wish, so that you achieve ultimately the best possible result.

I love my cats. By default, and perhaps out of weakness, I love all cats somehow, and all dogs, birds, ferrets and other companion animals. I love horses and donkeys, even cows, goats and sheep. Whales, wolves, owls, lions -- I love wild animals, too. No, I'm not an animal rights activist -- I don't agree with many stances they take -- but I do believe in treating even animals killed for food with respect (not tormenting them nor wasting their bodies).

I do have a mammelian/avian prejudice, but I've nothing against fish and snakes as a rule. I'm less generous toward other reptiles (I tend to go on a case by case basis). Not a spider or insect fan. I passionately HATE cockroaches, fleas, ticks, mosquitos, and other bloodsucking insects. It's a personal thing. But I really HATE them.

I care about the life of the mind. I care about books and writing. I care about music, in many varied forms. I care about art, even if I don't like it. I care about drama and dance, poetry and painting, philosophy and science and exploration. I care deeply about having the freedom to learn what I want to learn and to explore where I want to explore. I believe strongly that one should not control or limit another's learning, but give instead the mighty gift of knowing how to learn and taking responsibility for it one's self. Sharing one's thoughts and knowledge without believing it to be anything more than a finite portion of an infinite universe is important to me.

I care greatly about personal and group responsibility, that it is taught to the young and accepted by adults (or anyone who wishes to be considered an adult). Accountability is very important to me. Giving up the overwhelming desire to be proved always right for the gift of seeing clearly the self and the other is so overlooked, and yet so essential. The world may buffet the soul around, but we are responsible for each step that brings us into the wind or takes us out. Others may act upon us, but once we are no longer children, we make the choice to allow it to affect us and how it will affect us.

I care very much about having respect for other people, even if I do not agree with them. I do not feel I should impose my way of life, my beliefs, or my choice of actions upon them, even if I feel I am gifted with divine guidance and the will of providence to know what is best for all people. I wouldn't like others doing it to me, so I will resist doing it to others. In the same vein, I believe that I should treat all people, as much as I can, equally. This doesn't mean I will be fair, for fair is in the eye of the beholder and is a much debated thing. I have not observed much that is universally fair, but I believe acting with an even hand is possible. What one person may have another may have. What one may not do another may not do. That's the best I can do. Beyond that, everyone has to make their own choices.

Now that I'm thinking about it, there are many things about which I care very deeply. I know that there are other people who care about the same things -- perhaps in different amounts and in different ways. But I do care, passionately.

Especially about dark chocolate and my birthday (which is coming up soon! I just updated my Amazon wishlist, although I'm not HINTING or anything. Not me, nope, not at all, uh uh.)