Tuesday, April 29, 2008

rain and earthquakes

Ever had one of those days where it's overcast, the promise -- or threat -- of rain is heavy in the air, but no real relief comes? Yesterday was like that.

The clouds were heavy and fat with water, demanding attention as they threatened to pour out their contents in a fury. But they never did. I watched the sky, smelled the air, and turned my attention to my ankles. Neither hurt with the barometric changes that always precede a rainfall.

I knew it would not rain. That saddened me. It's been a long time since it rained here. The ground is dry and the spring green grass is already turning brown. But it's not just the ecological need for water that saddened me.

I love the rain. Oddly, one of the first songs I can remember at all is "I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbit. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to credit Eddie for my love of rain, however.

Today the sun is out again. Today, I experienced my first earthquake. It was a 3.9, and I didn't even feel it. Apparently tectonic plates do nothing to affect the arthritis in my ankles. Had the news not told me that there was an earthquake in my county, I never would've known it. Apparently it will take more than a 3.9 to move the earth under my feet and have me know it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Juicy Fruit

Forget the gum by Wrigley's, I'm talking about strawberries here. Big, red, sweet, juicy berries.

As a Louisiana native, I was raised with home state pride in the strawberries found in and around Houma, La. They were succulent things of fantasy for a kid that had to rely on grocery store strawberries to satisfy her taste buds; grocery store strawberries -- in every state I have ever bought a strawberry in -- do not satisfy. They are hard, flavorless, and even the best aromas are met with a sense that the growers have not mastered the art of growing a tasty berry.

Every year I bought the brightest, best smelling strawberries in the grocery store, and a tub of whipped cream to wash them down. You see, my love of berries is as strong as it ever was, even it I could not eat them as I liked -- rinsed with water alone.

When I was in Houma, La, I purchased strawberries from roadside stands and gobbled them down. When I was in Augusta, Ga I acquired them by the pint or by the flat straight from the source and gorged myself on them.

Now I have California camarosa strawberries available to me locally and I am in berry heaven. Just yesterday I went to a festival in Santa Maria dedicated to the strawberry -- my kind of festival. There was strawberry tasting (and rating), strawberry shortcake, strawberry daquiris (and the most expensive non-alcoholic drink I have ever purchased, made with syrup instead of strawberries.... grrr), and strawberries to ride in. I left having learned something about the berry I so love and a new appreciation for the growing season and my relative geographical nearness to my favorite fruit.

While I doubt that grocery stores will soon be offering strawberries for sale by variety (considering they generally offer barely edible berries as it is), if you get the chance to sink your teeth into a camarosa or camino real variety of berry, I highly recommend it.

If you're stuck purchasing grocery store berries because no one grows them anywhere near you, let me make a few of my favorite serving suggestions: Use whipped cream or a light sprinkling of sugar on your berries. Slice them and add strawberry syrup and place over shortcake. Blend them into shakes, smoothies and daquiris. But my best advice would be to skip the grocery store and road trip to a roadside stand or local grower.

Then again, if you don't like strawberries, you just wasted three minutes of your life reading this. I'll get off the berries for the next blog, so come back for more jaded objectivity.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Popular 'Iron Man' Trailer To Be Adapted Into Full-Lengt

If I were going to be a journalist, it would have to be for The Onion. Don't get me started on how much I love irony, parody, and satire.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

white screen of doom

Many people fear the blue screen of death. I don't; a hammer and/or practicing my shot put out an open window fixes that up quite permanently. So do computer gurus, down at the local shop that equates to 3D Greek-to-me.

I fear the white screen of doom. That would be a notepad, office document, or even big empty window in blogger before I start filling it with words, strung together in compound complex sentences, the occasional dangling participle, some unnecessary and potentially redundant adjectives and predicate nouns, and the infrequent ambiguous verb. In other words, my utter nonsense.

In the past I've referenced Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, because it's filled with many inspirational tidbits that encourage writers to just get to work and push letters down into words and words into sentences, until they've written something -- anything -- every day.

To keep from being a complete hypocrite, I'm pushing letters around today. It's been tough for me to blog of late because I'm too numb to come up with anything to be jaded about. That numbness is a mix of emotional stress, exhaustion, and bad habit.

Surely being "just a mom" can't be to blame for it. I mean, that's only a 24/7 job with no salary, no benefits, and no severance package. Hell, some might even claim it's just a volunteer position anyway.

And it can't possibly be relationship issues at fault. I mean, if the guy's a jerk just one day, it's grounds to kick him to the curb, right sisters?! To think that I actually WANT to contribute to the relationship by cooking for him, or cleaning the kitchen without bitching that he should be in there doing his part or cleaning it FOR me as thanks for cooking for him in the first place.... well.. I'm setting the entire Women's Lib movement back 50 years!!

And my selfish commitment to myself, where I spend time of each day improving some hobby/craft/art/talent of mine, with the forward thinking goal of building a career for myself once my kid doesn't need (or want) me around 24/7... well that's just too cold-hearted for words.

oh well.

My grandmother raised me to not talk about sex, politics, or religion... at the risk of offending someone. I'll try to include all three in my next blog.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Impress Her With Your Goods

This is for all those spam advertisements about enlarging male genitalia.

This is the answer to "Does she want a bigger penis?"

The answer is "don't be stupid."

(and you thought it was 42, didn't ya Dach!?)

If you have a 3 inch penis, then yes, I'm sure she would like it bigger. Unless it has the girth of a coke can, and then perhaps she doesn't care. Or if you use any assortment of adult toys. If you have one of those monsters that belongs in the porn industry, chances are she either 1. hopes you're very good with it or 2. hopes your very careful with it or 3. wishes there were less of it.

Here's the honest truth about size: girls think that either extreme is pretty undesirable. Middle of the road is better. But even then, what the real secret is to making her mad with desire is this: know how to use it.

Skill will go a very long way with a woman. And not just the parts that can be enlarged with any variety of cream or pill that can be acquired right now through your inbox and the spammers that lurk there. It's a whole body experience -- tongue, fingers, penis.

In the bedroom, how you use your equipment is far more important than what equipment you're sporting. A woman would rather have her body worshipped and ravaged at the same time, and a good lover is never remembered in inches. Any woman that tells you differently is either 1. shallow beyond belief, 2. lacking in good experience with a good lover or 3. lying.

Monday, April 14, 2008

good reading

This is a plug for the book I've recently stuck my nose in -- Death Sentences by Don Watson. "How cliches, weasel words, and management-speak are strangling public language."

I recommend it for anyone that looses their minds trying to read, write, or listen to over-fluffed up, jardon-filled nonsense that reminds one of Walter Mitty or Newspeak.

When I was a child, I detested the King James Bible, Shakespeare, and all pastoral poetry. Now as I read this new book, I miss the days of words having purpose, concise meaning, and the writers that could put together a string of words to move your soul. Now it seems I am exactly where I was -- but with more respect for the King James verse, and the great poets of the past -- and the world has shifted around me.

It's strange to look back now and reflect on "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", 1984, The Giver, and so many others and begin to realize that they are frighteningly more accurate than I ever thought they could become.

Some theorize that science fiction imitates culture and others contend that culture/society patterns itself after science fiction. Perhaps it is both, perchance it is coincidence. To play the "what if" game for a minute, if I were given the opportunity to ask George Orwell any one question, it would be this: "Did you ever think that the current language used in corporate settings would ever get so ambiguous, meaningless, and useless?"

Here's a random example of the language I mean, as cited by Don Watson in his book: "Third generation strategy maps have been designed to overcome the limitations that have made balanced scorecards notoriously difficult to fully implement.... The strategy map begins with a strategic goal, is followed immediately with a strategic value proposition and end with a cause and effect systems diagram that outlines what needs to be done to achieve results." (Watson quotes from the Oregon Health and Science University).

What the hell is that anyway? A bunch of gibberish to claim that somewhere, someone is paid to come up with graphs and charts reiterating that there are in fact graphs and charts to make claims to cause some board of directors, CEO, or pompous pigs in suits somewhere... to smile and pat themselves on the back for a job well done? It's like proving that 95% of all statistics are made up on the spot, isn't it?

But the absolute uselessness of that paragraph, beyond "we've got evidence to support our claims" in over-fluffed, over-stuffed language, is that is doesn't even lay out any claims. It just occupies space on a page and discourages anyone from reading it, let alone thinking about it. And this empty language is what Watson claims in his book is infiltrating "public" language, or the everyday conversation. He begs the reader to pick up a paper, listen to the news, the sports, or commercials, and look for it. So I have been. And God help us, he's right.

I'll come back another day to how if I'd written something that vapid, I'd have failed 8th grade and senior Engligh. Thank you to those two educators that taught me the value of words and made me write stuff that made sense. Thank you to both of them for forcing me to write over-fluffed stuff as assignments to teach me the difference.

I recently had to rework my outdated resume into something a little more current. When I was done it would make any PR or HR guy proud. It is so over-the-top over-inflated with important and impressive sounding crap that I nearly vomited a bit in my mouth. But it has to be done that way, because "at-home mom" sounds like I was a failure as a post-childbearing adult, while "executive associate in child development with 8 years of research in the field and in a laboratory environment, overseeing and implementing practices in learning-based education with an emphasis on autonomy and cognitive thinking, with the forward-thinking goal of producing positive patterns that can be replicated indefinitely" sounds far more lucrative. How sad is that?
All of this has led me to borrow from a popular song with a slight twist:

"WORDS! Huh. What are they good for? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!"

I am a holdout. My words still have meaning. They always will.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

theology according to Yossarian

I'm a big Joseph Heller fan. So much so that I refer lovingly to a friend of mine as "Yossarian" based on his striking resemblance to the character of the same name from Heller's book, "Catch 22". As I'm rereading it for the third time in my life, I have been amused almost to the point of reprinting the whole thing here. Since that would be awfully time consuming and probably illegal, even with proper crediting of the source... I'll just share this tidbit from pags 176-178 of my paperback version dated 1990, printed by Dell Publishing. And if all that's not enough to properly credit Joseph Heller with the following excerpt from his book "Catch 22", then let me reiterate that the following quote is NOT originally written by me.

Yossarian speaks about God:

"And don't tell me God works in mysterious ways," Yossairan continued, hurling on over her [Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife] objection. "There's nothing so mysterious about it. He's not working at all. He's playing. Or else He's forgotten all about us. That's the kind of God you people talk about -- a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His diving system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatalogical mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?"

"Pain?" Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife pounced upon the word victoriously. "Pain is a useful symptom. Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers."

"And who created the dangers?" Yossarian demanded. He laughed caustically. "Oh, He was really being charitable to us when He gave us pain! Why couldn't He have used a doorbel instead to notify us, or one of His celestial choirs? Or a system of blue-and-red neon tubes right in the middle of each person's forehead. Any jukebox manufacturer worth his salt could have done that. Why couldn't He?"

"People would certainly look silly walking around with red neon tubes in the middle of their foreheads."

"They certainly look beautiful now writhing in agony or stupefied with morphine, don't they? What a colossal, immortal blunderer! When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering. It's obvious He never met a payroll. Why, no self-respecting businessman would hire a bungler like Him as even a shipping-clerk!"

Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife had turned ashed in disbelief as was ogling him with alarm. "You'd better not talk that way about Him, honey," she warned him reprovingly in a low and hostile voice. "He might punish you."

"Isn't He punishing me enough?" Yossarian snorted resentfully. "You know, we mustn't let Him get away with it. Oh, no, we certainly mustn't let Him get away scot free or all the sorrow He's caused us. Someday I'm going to make Him pay. I know when. On the Judgement Day. Yes, that's the day I'll be close enough to reach out and grab that little yokel by His neck and--"

"Stop it! Stop it!" Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife screamed suddenly, and began beating him ineffectually aout the head with both fists. "Stop it!"

Yossarian ducked behind his arm for protection while she slammed away at him in feminine fury for a few seconds, and then he caught her determinedly by the wrists and forced her gently back onto the bed. "What the hell are you getting so upset about?" he asked her bewilderedly in a tone of contrite amusement. "I thought you didn't believe in God."

"I don't," she sobbed, bursting violently into tears. "But the God I don't believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He's not the mean and stupid God you make Him out to be."