Tuesday, October 30, 2007

About I probably like technology too much

Yea. And spend too much money on it. And it makes me happy that I live in 2007, because, well, I love technology, and I wouldn't have wanted to miss any of this.
Disclosure: My birthday is next Sunday.
Further Disclosure: I will be 52.
Full Disclosure: Even though I'm old, I'm on Facebook.
I've had arguments--discussions, anyway--about why some people embrace technology and some don't. Some old, and some young.
I think it's a function of personality and interest. And sometimes, need. (Those arguing think it's because somebody's old--showing their prejudice, in my opinion.)
People who are scared of learning, people who don't like change, people who aren't confident--those folks, those "older" folks--are the ones saying, "I hate computers." They don't have one, they might not even have cable or a cell phone, and they don't want to hear about what they're missing.
Other older folks, like my dad (84), can't get enough. He went out and box an Xbox a couple months ago and was frustrated because one...ONE...of his computers was not showing up on its network list. (Oh, yea, he has three computers: one for my mom (mostly games), a media computer (like a DVR) and his working computer.)
Sometimes it's need that drives people to computers--an illness, a need to research a business, or wanting to communicate with family members. And sometimes they learn just what they need to to get by, and sometimes they go crazy (often when they discover eBay).
I will admit, kids who have grown up with all this technology in place--no learning curve. Their brains are wired and trained, starting with their babyhood LeapPads.
You know what I bought last week? I love this little thing. It's a ionizer that plugs in to a USB port! It makes me feel GREAT!
Oh and guess what! I can get a new cell in December! I'm goin' to Verizon and check out all the new models.
Okay, so I'm a pathetic Gen-X wanna be baby boomer. That's why it so great to be old! I don't give a rip what anyone thinks!
Well, except you. Because we're thinkers. And I want to know: What little tech gadget are you wantin'? And how much time are you spendin' on Facebook?

About The Last King of Scotland

No more baseball 'til March. I know the months will fly.
So that meant it was Monday Night Football on TV last night, and the Brett Favre love fest--er, sorry, the Packers/Broncos game--just failed to capture my interest.
(Although, the almost manic hype of the upcoming Colts/Patriots game was mildly interesting, if only because 1) we are Colts fans, and 2) as an example of how sports media can make a plain, old, regular-season football game [as Tony Dungy calmly, and rightly, pointed out] can become the apocalypse of the season. Until the next big game.)
So I grabbed the Blockbuster DVD that had been sitting on a shelf for way too many weeks (part of my online membership, it wasn't late!) and threw it in the laptop and put my headphones on.
I rarely manage to see all the Oscar movies BEFORE the Oscars, but I try to see them at some point...and you can see how long that takes me.
I knew The Last King of Scotland contained Forest Whitaker's Academy Award-winning performance, and I also knew it contained, as the warnings say, "gruesome violence." So I should have known better than to watch it just before bed.
Oh well--thank God for the fast-forward feature.
It was really, really well done. I loved the scenes that set the atmosphere of Uganda--the people, the music, the stunning country.
And Whitaker was excellent--his physical resemblance to Amin striking, too.
The actor who played the Scottish doctor gave an excellence performance; his character, however, is terribly flawed (as flawed as Amin?) -- he just makes one weak moral mistake after the other. And, just talking movie-wise for a minute, it was pretty dang obvious that nothing good was going to come of sleeping with the dictator's wife. That's just never a good idea.
I did a little research to discover what parts of the movie were real and what parts made up--Wikipedia tells about that in its entry on the novel, here»
Unfortunately, the worst parts are not made up. 300,000 died in Uganda under Amin's regime.
So I went to bed and I woke up thinkin': How do we save the world from despots?

Monday, October 29, 2007

About politics

Hell of a way to wake up on a Monday morning, huh?

Indiana is not exactly a hotbed of presidential activity--no visits, no fundraising, no analysis of "what way the Hoosiers might go." So consequently, one feels as if one is watching an election happening in another country, not one's one. Kind of disconnected.

I used an online tool a week or so ago that let you answer a few questions on the issues, then it spit out the candidate you matched most closely. My political twin? Chris Dodd.

I had to go look him up. Didn't even know he was a senator from Connecticut. My bad. I need to listen to NPR harder in the mornings.

Locally, it's more fun, and more interesting. The mayoral race has been one of those juicy contests with a Republican primary upset, a new-kid-on-the-block campaign Republican vs. a veteran, experienced council member, a potential felony conviction, and then of course the cake controversy.

All politics is local, excerpt for presidential contests in Indiana, when we might as well be on Mars.

Well, what are you thinkin'? How many more debates can we stand?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

About the new Sunday Survey!

Here's your chance to weigh in! We were talking this morning about how the Red Sox have ended up being the team on the hot streak--NOT the Rockies, whose hotness seems to have faded with their eight-day layoff. I said I thought the Sox dominance over the Rockies should make the Indians feel better; others weighed in that it would make them feel worse, since the Tribe was within a game of ending their series.
Well, what do you think? Who's feelin' less love? Tribe or Rox?

Friday, October 26, 2007

About how to help people

How to help fire victims - Los Angeles Times: "Charitable groups responding to the Southern California wildfires are seeking donations to assist residents affected by the disaster."

Well, the other day I posted a picture to my other blog of a sunset on our street. I described it as "the sky being on fire."

But of course sky was not on fire--it was red and orange and beautiful, but it was just clouds and sun. Not fire.

In California--well, there the sky was really on fire. And the earth.

So take a minute to click over to the LA Times site--you'll find links to organizations you can help.

Well, it's Saturday. Start givin', start livin' and quit surfin'.

About fittin' my feet in your shoes

Since Taylor learned to talk a month or so ago, she's been easier to get along with. She was one frustrated human being there for awhile. As I would watch her try to communicate before her verbal skills caught up with her cognitive ability, I'd think of stroke patients, who, I think, have the same problems. As frustrated as a two-year-old gets, it was easy to see how hard it must be to learn to talk all over again for a grownup.

Sometimes, still, when she is tired especially, her emotions win out. Like last night, when she was wailing inconsolably, and no one could figure out just what she wanted, or was mad about. And she worked herself up so much that she lost that new ability she has to communicate.

Snack? we asked.
Wahhh! she said.
Drink? we offered, holding out her sippy cup.
Wahhh! she said.
I tried to sit down with her and calm her down.
Upppp! she cried.
What!? we asked.
Wahhh! she said.

Well, as normal household chaos ensued, stuff was happening, and people/kids coming in and out, and she started to get distracted, and then she decided, yes, she did want her drink, and little by little she came around, and in about 10 minutes, was ready to resume life as a functioning human being.

In another situation, I think I would have just set her down in a quiet chair, and let her calm herself down. Because ultimately, it's what she needed to do.

I thought about when her mom was around one or so, and teething with one-year molars. I happened to be teething at the same time...with wisdom teeth. It itched...and bothered me...and helped me understand a little of why the baby was cranky, or drooling (I managed not to drool), or chewing on stuff all the time. Because I felt like that too (as I said, except the drool).

My gramma was 101 when she passed away in 1993. Her mind was still sharp and her blue eyes bright. But it was so, so easy to look at her and see the little girl she once was--she had the vulnerablity that the very young, and very old, and very sick share.

We're hard on each other, aren't we? We want the baby not to cry, the parent not to get old, the hurt to go away. And it's hard to cram our feet into that other set of shoes, to walk even a half-mile, much less a mile, and sample what they might be going through.

Well, about you? Can you put that other set of shoes on, and walk a bit?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

About the nature of weddings

My friend had good news last week. Her son is engaged! And since she is the mother of the groom, she assumed all she had to do was write checks for the next year.
Au contraire, I told her. It's not just writing checks.
Yes it is, she said. I'm staying out of it.
You think, I said. You're forgetting what a wedding really is.
It's talking.
And talking.
And talking.
I'm staying out of it, she repeated.
You'll see, I said.
So, of course, the first thing that happened yesterday was, her son called. And called. And left messages. And desperately needed her help to write a letter last night -- it just couldn't wait! -- to the prospective church.
The conversations have begun.
Weddings are one long decision-making process. And of course some families are bigger talkers than others (and better decision-makers), but still -- it's a rare bunch that doesn't end up thrashing around SOMETHING ad nauseam, whether it's do we get married in his church or my church? or should the bridesmaids wear black or chartreuse? or should we have chicken or beef at the reception? to do we really have to invite Aunt Ethel? Because she's really annoying.
To say nothing of the really dicey stuff, like who's paying for the reception, and do we pay for the booze or have a cash bar?
Oh, weddings are plenty stressful and tends to bring out the best (Yes, of course Aunt Ethel should come. We love her.) to the worse (see any episode of Bridezilla) of folks.
And if you're planning a wedding this year, I have just one bit of advice for you: if in doubt, go classic. If you need convinced, email me, and I will show you my '70s wedding pictures. Those baby blue tuxes still glow in the 30+ year old pictures. I look damn good, though. Wish I'd have put my hair up, though....
Well, how 'bout you? What wedding conversation do you remember?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

About how I spend my days, sometimes


If you call me at work,
The phone will just ring until
You hear my voice mail, not me--
For I have an important meeting today.

If you send me an email,
You shan't get a timely answer,
Just an automatic reply,
For I'm in a mandatory meeting today.

If you stop by my cubicle,
Needing information, you won't get it--
My chair will be empty,
For I'm in an imperative meeting today.

If the sun shines brightly
Outside in the dark blue sky,
And a soft breeze blows, and birds sing,
I'll never know it--for I'm deep in a meeting today.

And if the world outside would suddenly stop,
Calls cease, computers crash, everyone raptured,
It will be news to me --
For I'm in a stuck in a meeting today.

If you think that time flows unceasing,
A relentless march at a brisk pace into the future,
Well, brother, I must tell you, you're dead wrong,
For I'm in one damn long meeting today.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

About when you wash a cell phone

Actual conversations:

In the car around lunchtime:

"I still can't find my phone."
"It's been almost a week!"
"I know, I looked everywhere. I just remember putting it ... somewhere."

Later, at home:

"I found your phone."
"That's the good news."
"I know." (Suddenly, he knows.)
"It's in the dryer. It's wet."
"I knew I left it somewhere."

This was one wet phone. (Also, clean! And, it smelled like Downy.)
I really thought -- actually, I still think -- it's ruined. The screen ... not good.

"I thought I looked in all my pants."

Obviously, he thought wrong. Or, he has more pants than I was aware of.

I had a bunch of laundry Saturday, and really, I must be forgiven for not finding it when I put that dark load in the washer. Must I do everything!

But really, I could not ignore the clunking it made in the dryer. I thought the dryer had broken. THAT would have cost me a lot more than the cell phone.

(Because, he has two cell phones, and this was his home one that drowned. So he has his work one as a backup. And, we're eligible for new cells in December.)

(Two cell phones. And I remember what a big deal it was to get his first pager. Good times in the way-back machine.)

So, he took the battery out and put it on top his car in the sun all day. For a couple of days. He BAKED it.

(Never shaken, just stirred.) (Never drowned, just baked.)

Just for kicks, I Googled "drying out a cell phone." And guess what! His is not the only phone ever to get a bath.

I found more information about how to dry out a cell phone than I ever imagined! These things must be droppin' like raindrops!

For example, on wikihow>

Tonight, he started to recharge it, brave soul. The report so far:

"The keys lit up when I plugged it in!" (One expensive nightlight.)

Well, I wouldn't be sittin' around waitin' for any calls from him, but stay tuned.

How 'bout you? Saved anything from drowning lately?

Monday, October 22, 2007

About next year, and next, and next

The Indians losing last night is not the most monumental baseball collapse ever. (Ask any Cub fan about that.) Or ask the 2004 Yankees--the Red Sox last victims.

The sun came up in Cleveland today, and I've not yet visited cleveland.com yet, but I'm sure there's a lot of second-guessing about pulling pitchers sooner, and sending/not sending Kenny Lofton home, and how some peoples' bats went dead the last three games. Fodder for conversation. Until ... next year.

And then the sun comes up again and again and again and before you know it, it's next year and everyone's hopeful again and there you go.

But first I have to get through today, because baby I'm tired. I made the commitment to watch the games, and I did, and I'm paying for it. With bags around my eyes. I'm just wanting to get through today without a nap -- much less, next year.

I'm glad I didn't spring for the $25 Tribe Time t-shirt I found on eBay. Because, unfortunately, Tribe Time is over until ... next year.

I'll root for the Rockies, because I love their story, and I now officially hate the Red Sox as much as I hate the White Sox (I loved the White Sox season ... last year!).

So, how about you? Who will you be rootin' for...this year?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

About Hey! Quit surfin'

I don't know about where you are, but where we are, it's 80 and sunny, and it seems as if summer has never left. So quit readin', quit writin', and start walkin' or something.

Okay, you can read this first:
"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult" -- E.B. White

Now, GO!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

About sports and stuff Saturday

Well, I've got plenty of chores to do, so I woke up thinkin' about all those. And there's a lot of college football games the guys are going to want to follow for various reasons, from our own St. Francis Cougars to the train wreck that is Notre Dame to our home state Buckeyes (can they avoid the curse?).
And of course tonight is Tribe Time, and there's no way I'm missin' that game, and I am very hopeful for an Indians win, as long as Curt Shilling avoids any blood on any part of his person, awakening memories of miracles in 2004, which we don't need. So, stay whole, Curt Shilling! And, go Tribe!
So I'm goin' to do my laundry and get some lunch and run a couple errands and some other home chores, and we'll get to help out with all the grandpeeps tonight, and have some dinner, so you can see my Saturday is way too full for me to sit here and write about what I'm thinkin', because mainly I'm thinkin' about what to do next!
So, hey, quit thinkin'! Your laundry called, and said, wash me!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

About, is it tighteys or tidys?

I was reading a favorite blog yesterday, and in the post she mentioned some unmentionables of the boy kind. You know, Fruit of the Looms, Hanes, old-fashioned briefs. What's the other, more contemporary phrase going through your head right now (and are you seeing Tom Cruise dancing?)?
Well, I had to do a double-take and Google the little phrase, because what I read was different from what was in my head.
Tidy ... or tightey ... whiteys.
(Pick your spelling there, it's totally all over the place.
Well, in the blog, the author referred to the white briefs as tightey whiteys.
But I always thought people were saying, TIDY whiteys.
Well I'm a gotta-know kind of girl. So I hurriedly Googled the phrase and found the most exhaustive, interesting, and probably useless paper on that very subject, written by somebody at Stanford (of course).
Oh do take a minute and go read it here>
And in case you WON'T take a minute to go read it, here's the kind of thing you'd would have learned:
"There are (at least) two ways these arrays could come about. If the expressions have been around for a while, then an original tidy could have been being reanalyzed as tighty by people who thought tightness was more significant than cleanliness, so that tighty eventually overtook tidy. These things happen, and if you don't believe they do, you have another thing coming."
Imagine the phrase tightey/tidy whitey having an array!
And someone caring enough to write a whole paper about it.
Of course, I did a little first-hand research, of two whole people. I asked a 20-something and a 50-something. The 20 replied right way that it was "tightey." The 50 had to think a minute, then also picked the "tightey."
I stand corrected.
Do you remember the "pop vs. soda" conversation of some years ago? Turned out that was a regional thing. IT'S a whole study, too--go look here>
I wondered if the tightey/tidy thing was geographical, but now I think it's just some people have better ears than others!
Well, how 'bout you? Boxers or tightey/tidy whiteys?

About takin' my walk

I love to walk. Not run, not jog, not power walk, not hike. Walk. I don't go fast, but I can walk for a real long time.
I'll walk anywhere. To the store, to get an ice cream cone, to get a paper, to get a latte. I walk in our addition--if the negative of living in an addition is too many houses that look too much alike, the positive is the ability to walk for miles on wide, safe sidewalks. Which I do. And when you look at the houses as much as I do, you realize they are not all that much alike.
I'll walk in nature areas, city blocks, around the grounds at work, and even inside the building when the weather is bad. I'll walk on the Y track and, even though I hate it, when I have to, I'll walk on the treadmill. Only with the TV on and up real loud, though.
When I'm walking outside, I don't usually wear my mp3 player. I listen to stuff all day long--the radio, my music, my computer, the TV--and when I'm walking, I like real sounds. Cars cruising by, kids playing, lawnmowers, birds, crickets--sirens in the distance, airplanes.
As I walk, I solve the problems of my life and sometimes even the problems of the world. I'm pretty invincible out on a walk. Too bad when I get home I forget all the answers!
I get my love of walking from my dad. He's 84 and walks everywhere, from Walmart (about a mile from their house) to Monroeville (about three miles, but that's down the greenway). When I'm visiting, we always have a new place to walk or a favorite place to revisit. And I always have something to get a Walmart (but not too heavy).
Last night--too warm for October, and that was wonderful. It had been sunny all day, but by 6 the clouds had come and it had already rained a little. I took my umbrella just in case. The rain had chased everyone inside--the sidewalks were empty and no lawnmowers roared or kids hollered and I passed only one dog-walker.
And I enjoyed the relative quiet, and the solitude, and perhaps a last long moment of summer suspended on an October afternoon.
How about you? What walk are you on?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

About what my cat thinks

His name is Sammy, named after Sammy Sosa, because he was originally my daughter's cat, and she was a big Sosa fan in the Cub years. He's a long-haired white cat with green eyes and a fluffy mane and a long tail.
This cat has no claws: he's defenseless. Yet this does not hinder him from stalking, successfully, moles, mice and sadly the occasional bird.
He's very quiet--he only meows when he's been stuck in the house awhile when we're on a trip, or he's been thrown in the basement for bad behavior.
He does purr when petted.
He likes to lay up in the corner of the loft, where he can look down on the livingroom, and pretend he is Simba from The Lion King.
One time Tony's long-gone kitten, Indy, was up there the day she was declawed. In her adolescent excitement she fell through the wooden slates onto the coffee table, almost on Tony's head. She hit her claws and they started to bleed and we had to first aid her awhile before it calmed down. One life down.
Our old cat, Tippy, did not much care for the loft. She tended to find out of the way places to sleep where we couldn't bother her. Of course, she was really a boy--her gender being mistaken by the vet ladies on her first visit, and only discovered by my when she was caught doing the wild thing with a pair of Ang's furry slippers.
However, even after discovering her maleness, we still called her "her" out of lazy habit.
Tippy was a fat, lazy cat herself, who lived a long and luxurious life until succumbing to an oral ailment. Tippy had small use for Sammy, but would condescend to play with him once in a while, when it suited her. They'd chase each other around the downstairs, then wrestle a minute, then Tippy (fat) would sit on Sammy (thin) and it was over.
Sammy thinks he owns the house, he can sleep absolutely anywhere, demands to be fed fresh food three times a day, insists his litter box be spotlessly clean, and lets himself be petted behind the ears when he's in the mood.
I can't tell him any differently.
So, how about you? Who rules the roost on your farm?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

About Halloween 'pookiness

Last night I spent a few minutes decorating the house and yard for Halloween. And that included stringing orange lights (some with pumpkin heads) on the front bushes.
I remember back in the day when decorating for Halloween meant buying a couple pumpkins and carving them up, and maybe leaning a few cornstalks on your lamp post or by your front door.
But a few years ago, stores started to offer more and more and more Halloween decorations and in my consumerism I just had to have a few. And they've piled up.
So it's a Halloween tree in the bay window, and a ceramic pumpkin on the mantle, down the way from a grapevine pumpkin.There's colorful ceramic grinning pumpkin faces on bookshelves and windowsills, and a ghost candle-holder in the kitchen. Oh and the pumpkin that lights up, also in the bay window.
Outside, and I only do this because I have so many little kids in my life, are the lighted bushes, the blow-up pumpkin in the rocking chair, and the "Happy Halloween" metal sculpture hanging on the porch column.
I know, too much.
Last night, most of the guys were over for the afternoon and for dinner. Matt noticed that Walgreens had a Burger King mask on sale, which Julian wants to be for Halloween. So he went over to get one.
He put it on before he came walking in. Taylor, age 2, looked up and waved a little.
Then she got a better look, her face froze, and she FREAKED.
Of course Matt ripped the mask off and let her see it was him, but man she was shaken. She didn't want anyone to hold her but him for awhile.
"TOO 'POOKY!" she cried.
Later, Caroline (4) wanted to put it on, and all Taylor had to do was get another look at it and she started freaking again.
Needless to say, The King got put away fast and we are not sure how she's going to react when Julian puts it on.
Well, how about you? What's freakin' you out?

Monday, October 15, 2007

About when two-year-olds email

The two-year-old hacked into my email account over the weekend, and sent a message to a friend of mine, whom she loves.
I intercepted the message in my "sent" folder, and and hung my head in disgrace. Plus now I'm a little worried about the memories I'm helping create.
Here it is:
Dear Miss Beth:
Please come hep me with my Mama D. She has had a particularly bad weekend as our gramma.
First, Miss Beth, if you fixed us a meal of sloppy-joe-from-a-can and a box of mac-n-cheese, would you say served us a "home-cooked" meal? Because that's what she told my mommy she did, in a failed attempt to impress her. If frying a pound of hamburger and stirring in the sauce is "cooking," I think Julia Child is turning over in her grave. And, Miss Beth, if "homemade" macaroni and cheese means boiling some macaroni for 10 minutes and stirring in some fluorescent orange cheese, then, we had it. In spades. Rachel Ray's recipes are more complicated than that! Miss Beth, about all I can give her passing grades in is the milk in our sippy cups!
It gets worse. She told me I was too little, but let Caroline help "bake" cookies! Miss Beth, here is how she taught Caroline to "bake": she sliced up some sugar cookie dough and had my sister put the slices on the cookie sheet! What a baking cheater! She tried to disguise it by having Caroline put some red sprinkles on top, but I knew! Even the good baking smell couldn't cover up the fact that those cookies had been whipped up at the cookie factory in Sugartown, State of Somewhere.
And Miss Beth, our so-called "bath." Not that me and my sister don't enjoy playing in the bubble water for half an hour. My gramma has all the right toys. But is letting us "soak" just as effective as a good scrub? Because she was awfully busy sitting on the potty with the lid down, reading the paper. Miss Beth, she didn't even wash our hair! She said it was the "weekend"! And we could "let mommy wash it tonight!"
Now, Miss Beth, I don't mean to sound harsh. I do have to give my Mama D. top marks in her preschool library collection. I don't know of many people who would read "Where the Wild Things Are" seven times, especially with those sound effects. I like the roar. And that counting book with the M&Ms is especially fascinating to me, as it lets me both learn to count and learn my colors at the same time! Who knew six red M&Ms could be so riveting!
And she did take me for a walk and let me push my stroller, and did not make me ride in it, even though it took us half an hour to go around the block.
And really, it was nice of her to stay with me a minute when I was just a little anxious about going to bed, even through I had my teddy, my blankie, and my books. She didn't have to sit there more than three minutes, I'm sure, because I was really tired from that walk.
And Miss Beth, even though she stayed up until 2 a.m. Sunday morning, which was a really stupid thing to do because sometimes me and my sister just can't help getting up early, well, she didn't get cranky one bit all day. But that was probably because the Indians won. And, we slept 'til 8, probably because of all those carbohydrates.
Well, Miss Beth, if you could just help her with those little culinary and personal hygiene issues, I think we might be able to whip her into some kind of shape.
(But I don't have much hope. Last time you were here I heard you mention "take-out" and "quick ... something" a few two many times.)
Anyway, Miss Beth, just talk to her and maybe we'll be eating that organic baked chicken, organic fresh spinach, and whole-wheat bread every visit. And me and my sister's hair will be shining like the sun on Lake Erie after a Tribe win.
Sincerely, Taylor H.
Well, what about you? What shortcomings are you working on?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

About walkin' on theTribe Side

After that 5-hour, exhausting, thrilling, satisfying Tribe win last night/morning over the Red Sox whom I am being to hate, I appreciate more than ever why Sunday should be a "day of rest."
Take a nap!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

About when the Indians lose

Which they did. And I found this great quote from Klinger, and am going to start working out immediately so it applies to me:
"A good cigar is like a beautiful chick with a great body who also knows the American League box scores." ~M*A*S*H, Klinger, "Bug-Out," 1976

Hey, it's the weekend! Quit thinkin'!

Friday, October 12, 2007

About stylin' your house

We took a walk the other night and to amuse ourselves ranked our neighbors' efforts -- or lack of them -- at fall decoration.
Now, our criteria had to be adjusted, because we have not had a frost, which means that some summer flowers are still blooming beautifully. So some impatiens, or petunias, or marigolds, for example, have not been replaced with any fall flowers.
So we had to forgive a yard that still had a mass of pink and white impatiens screaming "SUMMER!" when a next-door neighbor had more October-appropriate mums in place.
Please note, it is still not appropriate for any Christmas decorations to be seen. Absolutely none in October. Beginning in November, they may be put in place, but not lighted,until Thanksgiving week.
October is reserved for fall themes and of course Halloween.
So a house that had a few tastefully placed mum in yellow, brown, burgundy or white, with a grape-vine wreath intertwined with fall flowers an a subdued orange bow--A.
Another with cornstalks twined to the lamp post, some pumpkins dotting the walks, and a scarecrow "welcoming" visitors, also A.
Now, a house with orange twinkle lights on every bush, flashing bat neon decorations in the windows, spider webs on any bush that doesn't have lights, a blow-up Frankenstein, and more pumpkins in the yard than falling leaves: over the top, but still an A. Kids love it.
But a house with dead geraniums, or plastic flowers in pots, a faded 4th of July ribbon on the porch, and untrimmed bushes: F!
Oh yes, it was a lovely walk, and we contemplated leaving little post-it notes letting people know their rankings.
But that would have intruded on their yards' feng shui.
Well, how about you? How's your yard rank in the fall decoration competition? Any blow-up toys in YOUR yard?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

About I need a Hero

So all last year and now this fall, I kept hearing about the show Heroes and what I heard was so intriguing I thought, well, I should watch it. If I had a minute or so at the right time, or remembered to DVR it, neither of which was happening.
So I read something in USAToday, and finally remembered to come home and DVR the next couple of episodes. Only to discover, with a little surfing, that I could watch episodes online. Which, amazingly, I actually had 45 minutes to do.
There weren't many episodes available, and they were numbered, and what I really wanted to watch was the first one. Which didn't seem to be there. And the lowest numbered one was, I think, 123. So I clicked on that...
...treating myself to 45 minutes of incomprehensibility.
Oh I know--my bad. I should have taken advantage of the wealth of backstory on the NBC website, explanations and videos and forums and God knows what else.
But I just wanted to watch TV.
Which turned out to be a mistake.
What a mishmash of characters, story line, violence, blood, lameness, guns, swords, geography, time travel, invisibility, inevitability (and lack of it), vulnerable children, and pretty faces. Oh and self-sacrifice too. With nice cinematography.
The highlight of the show for me was, at the denouement, this line was actually uttered, in all seriousness, by one of the two brothers on whom the show seemed to turn:
"You saved the cheerleader so we could save the world."
Oh, please God, save me from these Heroes!
By then I'd deduced I was watching the season finale, just from the sheer number of murders and gallons of blood, plus a quite few people jumping out of windows.
And maybe if I had watched the entire season, that cheerleader/saving the world line would have made me feel noble and whatever, instead of wanting to laugh out loud and oh yea maybe barf (like all that blood hadn't done the trick already).
I think I'll go cancel my DVR recordings.
Well, how about you? Do you have any Heroes?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

About dancing with, or without, stars

So I missed the performances Monday night because my priority was watching the Indians BEAT THE EVIL EMPIRE, er, I mean, Yankees, and I forgot to DVR "Dancing."
But who needs to watch performances when they do everything but replay them on the results show?
And since the results show is padded like an overstuffed sofa, if I were smart I would DVR it and cut to the chase.
But at the same time, one reason I watch is, a kind of nostalgic longing for, I am so sorry, old-fashioned variety shows.
For I am of the generation that grew up watching Ed Sullivan, Carol Burnett, Laugh-in, Sonny and Cher, Dean Martin, and more.
And I miss those shows. Of course I was less selective in my youth; I'd watch about anything -- but then, we all did. Far fewer choices, then.
And I maybe I couldn't watch them now; oh maybe Carol Burnett might hold up, maybe Laugh-in, maybe the Smothers Brothers.
But a show with a little song, a little dance, a little selzer in the pants (thanks to MTM), now that was the way to spend a Saturday or Sunday evening back in the day.
And of course shows like Dancing and Idol are more focused. A little song, a little dance, but not much selzer.
If the musical is making a teensy comeback (yea, I'll mention High School Musical), maybe the variety show won't be far behind.
What do you think? Is there room in the world for another Jackie Gleason?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

About city mouse country mouse

I grew up, I am not kidding, near Fitchville, Ohio. Not even IN Fitchville...NEAR Fitchville...and all that implies. We had two neighbors on one side and...a cornfield on the other.
So if extreme ruralness is part of Fitchville's problems, being the wide spot on a well-maintained state highway is one (and not the only one, let me emphasize: I am quite fond of Fitchville) of its assets.
The highway being SR 250. Head north on it, and you hit Sandusky (the lake, shopping and Cedar Point). And you'll cross the Turnpike (among other east/west arteries), which can take you west to Chicago or east to Cleveland. (Going south, you'll hit Ashland, and kind of meander to West Virginia; you might want to head back east, and go to Columbus instead. Nice mall there. OSU. Zoo.).
Anyway, this geography lesson lingering too long, what I mean is: it was easy to get out of Fitchville. And being the child of parents from Cleveland (my dad) and Canton (my mom), bigger cities were a common destination for us.
(And for lots of others--I didn't grow up with anyone who didn't go to Elyria for shopping, or to the stadium or Blossom for a concert, etc.)
Thank God.
When I came to work in Huntington, I was rather stunned to met these kind of people:
People who don't leave Huntington, and don't want to.
(I always have to take a deep breath when I think about that.)
Because I know people who are SCARED OF FORT WAYNE.
Yes. Indeed. People frightened to drive into Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The City of Churches. (Lots of them.) The City that Saved Itself. (Several floods, most notably the one in 1982, which President Reagan attended.) The Nice Place to Raise Kids. (Any parent.) Former All-American City. (Not this year, though.)
I have never been frightened of Fort Wayne (well, physically, anyway: sometimes its politics and attitudes rather frighten me, but that's another post.) And I've had jobs that took me all over said city.
I'm often frightened in Huntington, though: What ALIENS have landed here who never want to LEAVE it? Are they the ones who brought those BIG, FRICKIN' TENDERLOINS? What kind of mutant pig are THOSE from? Who thought up that SUGAR CREAM PIE? Stuff that is so bad for you, you develop diabetes and heart disease just by being in the same room with it? And that tastes so good there are ADDICTION CENTERS just for sugar-cream-pie-eating Hoosiers? Who founded the MUSEUM OF VICE PRESIDENTS? (AKA Dan Quayle museum; it holds his Little League uniform. 'Nuff said.) Where a guy once got arrested for (I'm NOT making this up) a home-grown CASTRATION business.
And these people are scared to LEAVE?
But, you know, they're nice people. My friends, even. I just need to get 'em outa town.
Well, okay, I know that castration story probably caught you up short. Sorry. But, how 'bout it? Are you are country mouse...or a city mouse?

Monday, October 8, 2007

About omphaloskepsis

And what might that be, you ask? Just look down and lift your shirt. There it is. Your navel.
From that most reliable of sources, Wikipedia:

"Omphaloskepsis is the contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation. It is well known in the usually jocular phrase directed towards self-absorbed pursuits: "contemplating one's navel" or "navel-gazers". This criticism is also often leveled at professions which are interested in themselves: movies about Hollywood, for example, or television shows about television writers.

"From the Greek: omphalos (navel) + skepsis. The word has several other forms, such as omphaloskeptic, for someone who engages in navel-gazing, and omphaloskeptical, meaning to be in a self-absorbed state."

Is blogging the ultimate navel-gazement, jocular or not? I think it just might be. Because what do most of use write about? Us. And do we do it very well? No. And do many people read it? Not really.

For example, Sitemeter tells me that last week, 75 people visited these very pages, staying an average of less than a minute.

That number actually surprised me. Not like I did a lot to invite people to gaze at my navel along with me, although all are warmly welcomed. Hi!

And how about this post? It's a double-dip of my navel! I'm writing about ME, which it's all about, and I'm also writing about writing about ME!

But the former very-bad-teacher in me (short stint at IPFW vainly attempting to teach students magazine writing, oh my goodness, I apologize to all of them for my ineptness) has to celebrate all this writing. I used to assign that each student keep a journal throughout the semester, and I'd check it--not for content, just that people were making the effort to write. every. day. Of course they cheated. Nowadays, if I were badly teaching, I'd just assign 'em all Blogger, and I could really check in a very few minutes whether they had written anything or not. God, I love technology.

So we write on, whether about ourselves and our days or about subjects that obsess us. Or about our navels. Just keep the pictures to yourself.

Well, how 'bout you? Are you omphaloskeptical?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

About July in October

And how we need to be out enjoyin' it! Quit thinkin!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

About Petite Redneck Sophisticate

At your mall in the '80s, did you have a store called, Petite Sophisticate?
I had a problem with these stores. For one, where was the Tall Girl Sophisticate store? Because all I could find were too-short jeans and pants of all kinds, which made me feel distinctly UNsophisticated, although imminently ready for flash flooding.
And secondly, who said petites were sophisticated? The store always looked pretty empty to me (window-shopping only, of course). (And, as the stores seem to have gone out of business, point proven.) Living in the Hoosier state, I knew a bunch of short girls who were also short on the sophisticated. And I realized these shorties actually had a lot in common. And as I pondered the petite non-sophisticates I knew, I realized that there was an opportunity being missed.
And being an imaginative party such as myself, I began thinking of the kind of retail I might create, if I were so inclined as to start a franchise. I would call my emporium:
Petite Redneck Sophisticate.
You know the demographic I'm sellin' to: short, skinny little women in too-tight, low rider jeans, with equally tight, low-cut tops. They've got colored hair, too much eye makeup, six earrings in their ears, and when they're not chewing gum, they're smoking. They're interested in motorcycles, NASCAR, and smoking (not in that order). They'd rather die than exercise--smoking is their workout. When they're not wearing their motorcycle boots, they're in high heels and no socks. They watch Survivor, American Idol, and GAC. They listen to country music with a side of heavy metal. Their Starbucks is the convenience store--they love those hazelnut cappuccinos. They don't take any shit, and if you mess with them, they will beat you up, even before their boyfriend does.
Can you see the marketing opportunities here? Dang, it's got the regular boring Petite Sophisticates beat all to hell. Give the plain Sophisticates a Starbucks and a classic black turtleneck and you're done.
Look at the merchandising in my Petite Redneck Sophisticate store! Anything and everything NASCAR and Harley; a complete line of smoking accoutrements, from ashtrays to combo cell phone/cig pack holders; a shoe department with the highest, sexiest high heels to motorcycle shit-kickers to cowboy boots; a t-shirt section with every country music star possible, emphasis on Tim McGraw and Keith Urban; and a personal products section including hair highlighter and frosted eyeshadow (bright blue).
Too bad I'm not more of an entrepreneur. I'd be makin' money hand over fist.
Well, how 'bout you? What opportunity with short people are you missin'?

About rocky waters

That makes no sense, does it? Rocky waters? Rocks under the water? Choppy waters? Maybe...rocky patches. Yea, that's the ticket.
Anyway, at work we're going through a little patch of roughiness--people leaving for new jobs, divisions with different modus operandi-s attempting to work together, projects coming in late, budgets being crunched, visitors in-house, interviews conducted--business as usual, but also, busier...rockier.
Do you drive to work in kind of an intense fogginess? It's a weird zone--those 20 minutes or so between Ft. Wayne and Huntington--my getting-ready flurry done, still thinking of home things, yet knowing what's on my task list ahead.
And most of the time, I never think of those 20 minutes again. They're focused...but immediately lost as soon as I walk across the parking lot. Weird. Even if something unusual factors occur--a big roadkill (always attention-getting), an accident (hopefully nobody hurt), passing a co-worker pulled over by the state police (thank GOD it's not me).
So then you spend your day at work: This familiar territory that's full of problem solving and concentration that's becoming a little different because of changes and friends gone and new people on board, and wow, when you get out to your car--that little bit of home on wheels--it feels good. Phew. Get me the hell home.
And the drive home like the morning in reverse: letting go of the work stuff, switching gears to what's on the agenda for the evening, all leading to my best moment of the day: Changing from work clothes to home clothes. AAaahhh. Those Rocket-dogs feel good.
Well, how 'bout you? How's work comin'?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

About herding cats

Well of course I don't mean literally. The one cat I have won't be herded.
No, it's these little girls,the grandpeeps, that I keep trying to herd. They don't cotton well to being herded, either.
For example, last night at football practice. C-dawg and Tay playing with another little sister of a boy on Julian.
Of course the little girls do not stay put for any length of time. They sit on the blanket a minute. They get up and go back on the sidewalk. They go over to talk to Papa. They come to me and want ... snacks.
Oh yes, I am the keeper of all things snacky. One little red golf bag cooler filled with water (sometimes juice), fish crackers, teddy grahams, gummy fruit snacks, and the piece de resistance ... the soft-cheese-and-stick-cracker kits.
I think those girls could LIVE on those things. They LOVE them.
Once we crack open the snack cooler, the evening enters cafeteria mode.
The first thing they want is the cheese and cracker kits. Do they eat the little stick crackers? Not so much. They dip. And lick. And they will even skip the crackers entirely and just lick the cheese out of its little well.
Oh, the calories! However, it's just want these skinny little peeps need.
When the cheese and cracker things are gone, they deign to eat the fishies, the gummies, and the grahams.
Then, they run some races, they are taken to see the cattails by their dad, and they get on and off our laps 1,000 times each.
They are incredible.
However, when practice is over, and it's time to go, it's like cleaning up after Woodstock: I imagine Yasger's farm was not much tidier than the area around our lawn chairs. Maybe more muddy.
A hug goodbye and a blown kiss, and they get herded into their car seats. To snack another day.
Well, how 'bout you? What cats have you been herdin'?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

About the importance of adequate storage

I suppose I should write about the importance of not having too much stuff, so one does not need so much storage, but what fun is that?
What got me thinking about it is, we put some cupboards in the laundry area, and I already love them with every fiber of my being, although they have been up less than a day.
Because I can hide my messy laundry supplies in them, like the detergent, the softener, and the little lint wastebasket, creating the illusion of tidiness!
And now I don't have to look at messiness anymore (until I open the doors, of course).
See, what happened was, I had a ratty ole shelf up there, and it had developed an unhealthy sag.
Then one day I heard a bad crash, and the whole thing had gone south, very literally. Also, it made a mess I then had to clean up.
So all summer, I have been storage-less in the laundry area, and had to just throw stuff where ever it would go, and move it around and it just looked terrible.
And I got tired of it one day and we took our projecty selves to Lowe's, where I had discovered they had exactly the kind of little cupboard I wanted for a very reasonable price.
The difficulty after purchase became, when in the hell would we ever have time to put it up! The box was sitting in the garage three weeks! (Let me also add, two additional trips to Lowe's had to be made for stuff missing out of the stupid box! Like, screws.)
Little by little the cupboard was built and last night there was just enough time to get the thing very securely attached to the wall (with the help of the stud finder, an additional cost to the project of $20).
Anyway, the cupboard is up, it's full of stuff, and with any luck at all, thanks to that stud finder, it will not be falling down any time soon.
So, how about you? What are you hidin' in your storage space?

Monday, October 1, 2007

About Facebook

I am a pathetic loser of a gramma.

Do I spend my evening baking cookies for the little ones? Do I spend hours working on precious scrapbook pages, so I can proudly display their little faces? Do I knit matching socks-and-hats for them?

Um, no. I spent my evening creating a Facebook page.

Oh, I've been on LiveJournal awhile (family blog), and have blogged on Blogger (Common Sensibilities) for several years, and just started this new blog. And I dabble in MySpace.

But I'd never tried Facebook--for one, when it launched, I definitely was not its demographic. But Web 2.0 being what it is, and social networking being what IT is, and Facebook now not quite so narrow in its members, there I went.

Cathy Dee's Facebook profile
So I whiled away a couple hours last night, filling out my profile, sending emails to my Gmail list (sorry everybody!), clicking through tab by tab. And then I discovered my weakness, as usual ... gadgets!

I admit, learning that Facebook was now open to third-party gadgets was partial impetous to me jumping on the bandwagon. Because I just love gadgets.

And I found some good ones. I particularly recommend the Bookshelf--wow, that one is slick. And the Links was easy. And the travel one--fun.

And guess what! I already have friends! In half an hour I had four! I had wall messages, regular messages, and emails and I was just as excited as if I had invented the internet. And I've got six notifications this morning.

I might be old...but I love Facebook!

Well, what's my invite? Who are you neglecting so you can update your Facebook page?