Thursday, September 29, 2005

It's All About the Tail

Piggy Personality Test

Click here to draw your own piggy.

You drew the pig:

Toward the middle, you are a realist.

Facing front, you are direct, enjoy playing devil's advocate and neither fear nor avoid discussions.

With few details, you are emotional and naive, care little for details and are a risk-taker.

With 4 legs showing, you are secure, stubborn, and stick to your ideals.

The size of the ears indicates how good a listener you are.
The bigger the better. You drew medium sized ears, you are a good listener

The length of the tail indicates the quality of your sex life.
And again more is better! You drew large tail, WOW!

But I'm not sure if the details part is right. Did I draw a lot of detail or not? I'd say I'm more of a detail person, but the other parts are true enough.

Fun Facts

In the 1400's a law was set forth that a man was not allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have "the rule of thumb."
I'm glad times have changed.

Many years ago in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled "Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden"...and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.
Wow! I didn't know that.

The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
I know an older couple who have always slept in separate beds in the same room. They are very happy and healthy.

Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the US Treasury.
My kids lost all our Monopoly money.

Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.
I can read and write very small print. I'm half deaf in one ear and can't hear good out of the other (too many screaming kids and loud music).

Coca-Cola was originally green.
They were smart to change it.

It is impossible to lick your elbow.
My oldest son is a contortionist. I'm going to see if he can do that. If anyone could it would be him.

The State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work: Alaska
I wonder why that is.

The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28% (now get this...)

The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%

The cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven: $6,400
Crap, we have two.

The average number of people airborne over the US any given hour: 61,000

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
Where can I get a hair analysis? Does that have anything to do with the color of your hair?

The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer
Never read all of that one. I don't like reading in dialects.

The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.
Maybe I'll get to ride one someday.

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:

Spades - King David

Hearts - Charlemagne

Clubs -Alexander, the Great

Diamonds - Julius Caesar

I always wondered about that.

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
My calculator doesn't have that many digits.

If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
I didn't know that.

Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.
I did know that.

Q. Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what?

A. Their birthplace
I live about 35 miles from my birthplace.

Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested?

A. Obsession
We've never named our boats, but I guess redneck bass boats don't count.

Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?

A. One thousand

Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common?

A. All invented by women.
I didn't know about the fire escapes and laser printers.

Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil?

A. Honey
Yeah, but it will crystalize after a long time. You can liquify it again by heating it.

Q. Which day are there more collect calls than any other day of the year?

A. Father's Day

In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase......... "goodnight, sleep tight."
But they still had bedbugs.

It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month . which we know today as the honeymoon.
I've never tried mead.

In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts... So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them "Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down."

It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's"
I did not know that.

Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is the phrase inspired by this practice.
I did not know that either.

At least 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow.
Yep, guilty as charged.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg.

The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Amzanig huh!

That was easier for me to read than normal writing. Maybe I'm dyslexic?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Evil Part 3, I'm On a Roll

I was listening to FoxNews Dayside while doing some house work, and they had Kevin Trudeau, the natural cures infomercial king, as a guest. This guy is nothing but a quack. He's already served time for fraud of some sort, which he didn't specify on tv today but said, "it's in the book,' true to his sales-centered nature. Here is the little blurb from the FoxNews site:

"And have we got the cure for what ails you... or do we? The controversy over natural cures: for the clinically depressed, is an anti-depressant or a long walk better treatment? We’ll talk with bestselling author Kevin Trudeau, author of “Natural Cures,”"

Unfortunately, the natural cures site is down for 'maintenance'.

I'm all for natural treatments and healthy living as part of treating illnesses and other conditions, but this guy is so full of shit that he needs a few more 'high colonics' to clear it all out. First off, he says that the 'sun does not cause cancer.' Bahaha He says that sunblock causes skin cancer instead. WTF? Tell that to my dad who has been fighting melanomas all summer and has never worn sunblock a day in his life.

AS for telling depressed people to just go take a walk. Yeah. I've been about as seriously depressed as you can get and if someone had told me to 'just take a walk' I would have walked right into the arms of Death. Sure, exercise is good for depression. But you can't tell me, or anyone else who has experienced the difference that the proper antidepressant can make, that they are bad. Are they overprescribed for people who are stressed but not truly, clinically, chemically depressed? Yes, but that doesn't mean they are bad. This guy goes in the Bad Seeds and Noxious Weeds listing along with Tom Cruise.

OH, and I've finally evolved from a slimy mollusk to a flippery fish!

Evil Part 2, Spittin' Venom

Another current issue with money causing problems is more personal, and it's actually got me so angry that I'm spittin' venom. As I referred to in a previous post I'm having a dispute with a doctor's office over a bill in which they are refusing to give me the negoiated discounted fee that they have under their contract with the PPO in association with my insurance company. Because we are self-employed we have to carry a high deductible policy to be able to afford health insurance at all. What's the point in paying for insurance and going to an 'in network' office if they aren't honoring their contracted discounts? I've been on the phone all morning with a nice lady from the PPO who is trying to 'close the case' and make me agree that the problem lies with the insurance company. She's just trying to get through her day with a minimum of upset, and I can understand that. But the problem is not with the insurance company except that perhaps their statements are misleading and erroneous in saying that I'm only responsible for the discounted price.

Part of the problem is that under our policy 'routine' care like physicals and yearly female exams and immunizations are 'not covered'. However, I have yet to find it written in any of my materials that 'not covered' means 'no discount'. So what if my yearly exam doesn't get applied to my deductible and out-of-pocket limits? That's all that 'not covered' means. Generations Ob-Gyn is the only doctor's office I deal with that is taking that to mean that they don't have to honor the discount in their contract with the PPO. My kids' pediatrician's office doesn't charge us the non-discounted price for their immunizations and physicals. They give us the discounted fee because they are in the PPO network. Our 'regular' doctor doesn't charge us the non-discounted fee for 'non covered' tests and visits. They apply the negotiated discount to all of our fees. I've only had this problem with this particular office. I think they are very greedy and opportunistic.

It seems that the root of this problem could be that these huge medical practices hire 'medical management companies' to run their offices. These management companies promise the doctors that they will take care of all their billing, etc., relieve stress about the financial end of things, and increase profits. Hmmm, how do you squeeze more money out of people? One way is to bend and stretch the rules and maybe even break them. Hey, look how big this practice is. What are the chances of someone making a fuss over $49.50? Even if one person does, if five others don't then we've made an extra $247.50. And if anyone does make a fuss then we'll just treat them like shit and they'll go away and we won't have to worry about them anymore. And that's one more space for another sucker!

I really hate that this has come down to a dispute over a piddly $49.50. I could write that check and send it. It won't break my bank, not today anyway. And I could continue to give my business to an office I have absolutely no respect for. I love my obgyn doc. He's very kind. I've been going to him for over 10 years, and he's very familiar with my unusually complicated obgyn history. Honestly, there have been times when we could have pursued malpractice settlements over my child-birthing and hysterectomy experiences. People have sued over lesser things than what I went through. But we didn't because we aren't greedy and opportunistic and don't believe in suing over every possible thing. Maybe that makes me a sucker. I just accepted what happened as the hand I was dealt and moved on. Were the doctors incompetent? Maybe they were. I don't know. We're all human and make mistakes and have bad days. But I definitely won't be going back to that office even if they resolve this issue in my favor. If they'd just drop all the crap then they wouldn't have to deal with me ever again.

I've also been in contact with the State of Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, and one of the Insurance Investigators has recommended that I file a formal complaint with Consumer Affairs.

Root of All Evil, part 1

"For the love of money is a root of all evil: and some whose hearts were fixed on it have been turned away from the faith, and been wounded with unnumbered sorrows." (BBE- Bible in Basic English)
Timothy, 6:10.

"Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of its filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfies one want, it doubles and trebles that want another way. That was a true proverb of the wise man, rely upon it; 'Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure, and trouble therewith.'"
Benjamin Franklin

"If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed."
Edmund Burke

Anna Nicole Smith's case is going to the Supreme Court. Boy, would I love to hear that one! Honestly, I haven't paid that much attention to the details of the case, but I find it sad that people go to such extremes over money. Her deceased husband, J. Howard Marshall II, left a huge estate that has been the center all this contention between Smith and his biological heirs. I'd love to hear all the details of both sides, but with my limited amount of knowledge of the case, and I can say this because it's pretty obvious that my bid for the Supreme Court nomination is going nowhere, I think that Marshall's son is being excessively selfish. The estate is worth apparently hundreds of millions. Is that not enough to share? My god, a fraction of that would be enough for most people.

I have a problem with people who feel entitled to inheriting their parents' wealth. Maybe that comes from my background of parents not having much of anything to leave their heirs. Whatever fortunes we have, or lack thereof, we made for ourselves. We haven't relied on any kind of inheritance to make our way. (And we haven't cheated or exploited every shady opportunity that is available, like suing people over every little thing.) My dad has a little put away that he's living on for his retirement. I think he should spend it all to make his life enjoyable and comfortable. I'd rather he spend it than save it for me.

Maybe I'd feel differently if he had millions of dollars. But I don't think so. I just can't see why it's so hard for Marshall's son to accept that his father might have wanted his young wife to have a little part of his fortune. I'm not implying that Smith is an innocent here. But I do think that legally she probably does have some claim to some of that money. It bothers me just a little that our Supreme Court is going to be spending time and resources on this case.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Fourth Grade Math

(no, it's not your imagination, I have moved this post)

A number is greater than 456,782 and less than 489,211. The thousands digit is greater than 4. The 10 thousands digit is not 6 or 7. Give the range that the number would be in.

update: capitalistimperialistpig has a post up about the teaching of math and in one of his replies to a comment he said, "Education has this terrible vice of being a fashion industry. Textbook publishers and their collaborators in Ed schools - the profs who write the books - are always looking for a new gimmick to sell a new kind of textbook or learning aid."

I think he hit the nail on the head with that statement, and it reminds me a bit of our old 'friend' hfischer.

Monday, September 26, 2005


This is for kristi, who said she had never seen these Quiznos commercials. I think they are hilarious. They never made me want to go buy a Quiznos, but they always made me laugh. I kind of hate that they quit running them, but the little talking baby (Baby Bob) ones are kind of funny too.

Click here to see the spongmonkeys.

On My Mind

It's a rainy Monday (we needed the rain, but I can still be pissy about it), and there are some things that really bother me:

1. Doctor's offices that try to screw you over by not giving you the 'discounted' price for a visit that they have agreed to with your insurance company. I've been going in circles over this with my former ob-gyn doctor (former, because I'm not going back to an office that is run like this one no matter how much the doctor knows about my guts), and now I've received a letter from a collection agency after I've repeatedly sent copies of the contracts that specify the negotiated discount fee and called on the phone about it (which is one thing that I HATE to do). I might just post copies of all of it for spite. Maybe that's illegal or wrong to 'out' a business like that, but I'm not letting them screw me over.

2. The nearest McDonald's now has Spanish on all of their signs and menus. And it's in bolder and bigger print than the English. I don't have a problem with some Spanish language on signs, but why the hell would the Mexicans want to learn English if everyone caters to their Spanish speaking? If I moved to a foreign country I would expect to learn their language. Dammit.

3. All this talk about 'urban' poverty is really making me angry. There is a lot of rural poverty too, and the poor people out in the boonies don't have a lot of the same opportunities that the city poor have like public transportation that makes resources more accessible. Nobody needs to jump my ass over this because I'm not saying what some people might want to think I'm saying. What I am saying is that more attention and concern should be directed towards the rural poor. They are truly in invisible people of this country.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Sand Castles and Eminent Domain

This is pretty much a quick note to myself right now, but since the levies have been breached again in New Orleans I want to repeat that it is insane to rebuild those levies. It is like making sand castles on the beach. The water always finds a way. It is the most persistant substance on the planet.

I'm reminded of all the small communities that were flooded in the process of dam building. I will try to go back and document some of that, but it was very prevalent in this area back in TVA's dam-building heyday. Entire towns were abandoned and flooded when the reservoirs were made by the dams blocking the flow of the rivers to aid in flood control, energy production, and navigation. Granted, that's not the same as an entire city the size of New Orleans, but the issue of eminent domain seems to peek its nose in here too, just like when all of those towns and farms were flooded by TVA. I know this sounds disjointed and makes little sense, but there is a connection here, I know it.

Maybe I'm wondering why it's okay to abandon and flood entire rural communities for the benefit of all, but it's not okay to abandon parts of a city that is below sea level when it is clearly too expensive and overwhelming of our resources to restore it to its previous state? Yeah, I think that's my question. It's like when my great grandparents' home was taken to build a highway (eminent domain). Did they protest? No, they accepted that their sacrifice was going to benefit many others. I think it's time for lots of people to consider that portions of New Orleans might really have to be surrendered to higher forces (water). The way I see it, doing that would be a greater benefit to more people than fighting the water. Can we really afford to spend billions on sand castles?

(sort of) Constitutional Study, part 3

Article I: The Legislative Branch

Section 6 - Compensation

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. (The preceding words in italics were modified by Amendment XXVII- see below.) They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Amendment XXVII - Congressional pay increases. Ratified 5/7/1992.

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

I was reading a blog entry about what budget cuts we should consider to help pay for the aftermath of Katrina and the rebuilding of New Orleans. I've already stated my controversial opinion about the rebuilding of New Orleans (we shouldn't rebuild it exactly the way it was). And now that hurricane Rita is sending some threat their way again, I feel even stronger about not spending so much tax revenue on rebuilding a coastal city below sea level. I mean, aren't we supposed to learn from our mistakes instead of repeating them? Anyway, this person's post suggested cutting all the social welfare programs like food stamps, school lunch assistance, Medicaid, and the new prescription plan for seniors. While I agree that those programs are vulnerable to abuse and waste, I also know a lot of people who are the real working poor. And without the help that some of those programs offer they wouldn't be able to make it.

Did you know, for example, that someone who is a paranoid schizophrenic who is so ill that they can't work has to live off an SSI(disability) check of $812.00 per month? That isn't enough for shit. Mentally ill people like that have to live in public housing that is dangerous and run down, they have to get food stamps to be able to eat, they usually have no vehicle, and they only have Medicaid (or TennCare/HillaryCare in TN which has bankrupted the state and that's another topic) for health insurance. When people talk of cutting these programs they are thinking of the people who are lazy and cheat, but they forget that there are more who truly need the assistance. Perhaps the first place might be to stop giving assistance to illegal aliens. Most don't pay any payroll taxes because their employers pay them cash 'under the table' (it's cheaper for the employers as well as for the employees), but that's another topic too.

What does this have to do with Legislative compensation? Well, that blogger asked what we would suggest for cuts. My recommendation was that Congress should cut their salaries in half. Their salary is $162,100 per year, but some positions get more. Half of that ($81050) times 535 is $43,361,750. Sure, $43 million is a drop in the bucket, but it means more to the elderly and working poor than it does to the representatives who don't rely on their salaries to survive. They are asking all of us to sacrifice and tighten our belts, yet they won't do it themselves. Hell, they all could afford to forfeit their entire salaries for a year, and that would up the amount to about $86 million. Again, just a drop in the bucket, but it's a start. Click here to browse the federal budget. I know there are many other places to make cuts that the legislators don't have the courage or integrity to approach. They are all too eager to vote themselves raises, and the 27th Amendment really doesn't make much of a difference. So what if they don't get their raise until after an election? They still get it.

I do consider myself pretty conservative in fiscal matters. But I am also pretty compassionate about people who really do have difficulties in life. To throw out entire programs just because there is waste and corruption is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I don't have all the answers, and many of the ones I come up with are laughable (sometimes on purpose). But I do try to 'think outside the box' and find new ways of looking at things. I do think that our leaders are going to have to start living up to their positions and doing a much better job of leading. And they are going to have to start thinking in different terms and doing things in different ways. Just look at the evacuation mess in Texas right now. They told everyone to leave and it turned into a freakin' stampede. They have got to have better, more detailed plans for everything.

It's clear that we Americans are largely very generous in times of need. We step up and donate our money, time, and other resources to help each other without much prodding. Isn't it ironic that the people who are our elected representatives don't demonstrate the same traits as their constituents?

UPDATE: just throwing out some rough facts, figures, and links for more information if you like charts, graphs, etc. like I do

from 2000 census, total # of 65+ is 34,991,753 and 13,978,118 are considered disabled (41.9%)

interesting quick facts about the American population

poverty figures about 6,620,945 families below poverty level (good chart on that link)

*funny side note, spell-check recommended 'foreskin' to replace 'freakin'

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Word of the Day

SMITTEN, derivative of smite

Main Entry: smite
Pronunciation: 'smīt
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): smote /'smOt/ smit·ten /'smi-t & n/ or smote; smit·ing /'smī-ti[ng]/
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English smītan to smear, defile; akin to Old High German bismīzan to defile

transitive senses

1 : to strike sharply or heavily especially with the hand or an implement held in the hand

2 a : to kill or severely injure by smiting b : to attack or afflict suddenly and injuriously

3 : to cause to strike

4 : to affect as if by striking


intransitive senses : to deliver or deal a blow with or as if with the hand or something held

- smit·er /'smī-t&r/ noun

I find it interesting that we use that word to describe the painfully pleasurable experience of feeling captivated or taken by someone or something that we can't really have. To be smitten is to be smacked by the hand of God or the Universe. It knocks us down yet we get right back up and want more. Any touch from God, even a painful one, is better than none at all. That is how it is to be attracted to someone who shines that inner Light. Just a little glimpse is so wonderful that you find yourself waiting/suffering/hankering for just whatever little glance you can chance. Is it wrong to feel smitten? I don't know. What do you do when it happens to you? Put on those blinders? Or stare hard and long and hope not to go blind?

"Twisted thoughts that spin 'round my head"

Sometimes I remove myself from the popular. It's some kind of odd rebellion against those things that are 'in' or 'hot' at the moment. I'm not sure why I do that. It's not because I think I'm too good or above it or anything like that. One example is the movie Pulp Fiction (1994). I just saw it for the first time earlier this year. I was probably the only person between the ages of 20-50 who had never seen it. Maybe when there's so much hype about things I think that it's just hype. If it seems too good to be true then it must be, right? Anyway, I did finally watch Pulp Fiction, and I'm glad I did. I really liked it a lot and have wanted to watch it again, which is for me the sign of a good movie. Maybe there's something about being exposed to something long after the fact. Maybe it gives you a different perspective. I'm not sure if I'd have liked it as much or more if I had seen it sooner. But asking that is like asking what the world would be like if I hadn't been born. It's pointless.

The entire decade of the 1990s was crap for me. I missed a lot of the pop culture stuff then because I was deep in the Darkness of Depression, and many difficult things happened over the years. Sometimes it seems like a bad dream to look back. The decade started off bad with one of my grandmothers getting killed by a drunk driver in Jan. 1990 and ended with a wounded marriage and unexpected pregnancy in Dec. 1999. In between those I lost my mother and all of my remaining grandparents. There was some good though. My kids were the best. But even bringing them into the world was unusually difficult and painful.

Much of the music of the 1990s is unfamiliar to me. Maybe I avoided music because it was too emotionally charged and I didn't need any more charging. Maybe I just couldn't relate to much of it. Maybe I immersed myself into Led Zeppelin and other 'classic' rock which was old, familiar, and comfortable. I don't really remember. This might sound absurd to many people in their 30s-40s, but I never listened to Pearl Jam's cd Ten until this week. Now that I've heard it I think that I might have gone completely insane if I'd listened to it when it came out. I just wasn't ready for it until now.

I like it very much. It sounds, to me, very Zeppelinesque (well, later Zeppelin), the track "Oceans" especially. Of course, I had heard some of the songs like "Jeremy", "Alive", and "Even Flow", but three songs do not a real impression make (pardon the Yoda syntax). But my favorite is "Black" because it is truly a masterpiece marrying the emotion and music and lyrics to make a complete sonic experience that takes you to a place you only get glimpses of otherwise. And if I'd heard it back in the 90s while all my pain was so raw and fresh I don't think I'd have been able to endure it.

Now that I've mostly left the Darkness behind I am playing catch up on some things. Does anyone else feel that way about certain things?

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Saw this over at eatmisery's:

Check out the website. I've got to have one of those keyboard buttons!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Honey-Baked Ham

I saw this quiz over at Rainypete's:

the Ham

(38% dark, 42% spontaneous, 36% vulgar)

your humor style:

Your style's goofy, innocent and feel-good. Perfect for parties and for the dads who chaperone them. You can actually get away with corny jokes, and I bet your sense of humor is a guilty pleasure for your friends. People of your type are often the most approachable and popular people in their circle. Your simple & silly good-naturedness is immediately recognizable, and it sets you apart in this sarcastic world.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Will Ferrell - Will Smith

The 3-Variable Funny Test!
- it rules -

If you're interested, try my latest: The Terrorism Test

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 23% on darkness

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 35% on spontaneity

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 47% on vulgarity
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid Free Online Dating

I thought I'd get higher scores for darkness and vulgarity.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Tell Me Where To Go

Well, here's your chance to tell me exactly where to go. David has finally seen that I do indeed need a vacation or my head will explode. He suggested the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. That would be a really nice long weekend. My ultimate destination of choice would be Green Valley Spa in St. George, UT, but that one is probably too far away and too expensive to push my luck of getting to go anywhere. So if anyone knows of any really cool places to visit that are within a day's drive of Knoxville and has more than camping style accomodations then please leave a comment with suggestions. No roughing it please! This is for my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and I don't like roughing it. And it would be nice to go somewhere different, somewhere that's not familiar (like Biltmore in NC , it's lovely and nice but been there, done that). Thanks!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Going to California (or I could have been Dr. Phil)

I've never been to California. I've been as far west as Las Vegas, the Seattle airport, Hawaii, and Alaska. I don't think flying over CA counts.

Spent my days with a woman unkind,
Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine.
Made up my mind to make a new start,
Going to California with an aching in my heart.
Someone told me there's a girl out there
With love in her eyes and flowers in her hair.

When I was in college my aim was to become a famous psychologist. I was one of the top students in the psychology department, and I was rewarded for that. I got the work-study position as Assistant to the Department which meant I got paid $4/hr (more than minimum wage back then) for grading papers, making copies, or whatever other tasks the professors needed. I loved it. I was getting paid to be the teachers' pet. They had very high expectations of me and I rarely disappointed, except for the one time I went to class stoned and started laughing uncontrollably and was asked to leave.

Then in the summer of 1989 between my junior and senior years when I should have been preparing for the GRE I met and fell in love with David. That's all it took for me to give up my plans (Made up my mind) to run off (make a new start) to grad school in California. I had even pretty much decided on UC Santa Cruz because that psychology department seemed like a good fit for my interests. And I also had a 'vision' or premonition, if you will, that going there would have put me on the path to achieving my goal of becoming a famous psychologist, kind of like Dr. Phil. That sounds so hokey. But there was a deep stirring in my soul (an aching in my heart) that seemed to be calling me there.

Took my chances on a big jet plane,
Never let them tell you that they're all the same.
Oh, the sea was red and the sky was grey,
Wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today.
The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake
The children of the sun began to awake. Watch out

I guess you could say I took my chances on David, and you might could call him a big jet plane. One of my professors was so absolutely livid (the sea was red and the sky was grey) with disappointment in my decision to stay in Tennessee with 'some dumb carpenter' that she could barely speak to me my entire senior year. She told me I was making a huge mistake just like she did when she was my age and married 'some dumb carpenter' and ended up getting stuck at home with a bunch of kids and being abused. She said I was wasting my potential for some good sex. (I swear to God she did say that.) I assured her I would NOT end up being abused (never let them tell you that they're all the same).

Then on that fateful day, October 17, 1989, the earthquake struck the San Franscico area (the mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake). I was getting ready to watch the World Series when I heard about it. I took that as a sign from God that I was making the right decision by staying in Tennessee with David. The children of the sun began to wake. I'm not sure what this is an allusion to exactly (Billy Thorpe's song Children of the Sun was released in 1979 and for an interesting but long article about the Incas click here), but to me it means my beautiful, bright, shining children became a possibility. But yeah, watch out. When the gods want to punish you they answer your prayers. (That's a quote from Out of Africa.)

Seems that the wrath of the gods-
Got a punch on the nose and it started to flow;
I think I might be sinking.
Throw me a line if I reach it in time
I'll meet you up there where the path
Runs straight and high.

Because of the changes in my plans my school work became less relevant to me. I'd be lying if I said I didn't slack off a lot that last year. I did what I needed to do, but no more. No more extra effort. No more star pupil. By the end of the year when our comps came along I wasn't well prepared. On top of all the school disappointments the decade of the 1990s started off bad when my grandmother was killed by a drunk driver in January. The psychology department required not only written comps but also oral comps. I had always thought that the oral comps would be easy because I had always been able to talk to the professors outside of class. I thought I had an advantage. And I thought I knew my subject. But during the oral comps the professors ganged up on me (the wrath of the gods) and asked me all the things they knew were my weak areas. I was mortified (got a punch on the nose and it started to flow) when they showed no mercy, not even when I finally broke down into tears (I think I might be sinking; throw me a line ). Yes, I really did break down in the middle of my oral comps. It was, until I lost my mother, the worst day of my entire life.

But I overcame it and was glad to graduate and get on with my life. I still fostered fantasies of running off to California with David, but his life was here so they had to stay fantasies. For many years I subscribed to Sunset magazine because it gave me a vague feeling of keeping connected to that California dream (I'll meet you up there where the path runs straight and high). Then the children of the sun were born and my roots dug a little deeper here. Sometimes I've wondered how my life might have been if I had gone to California all those years ago. Sometimes I tell myself that I might not have survived being there for one reason or another. Maybe that's just 'reverse psychology.' And then Dr. Phil got famous and it reminded me of how I'd wanted to be like that. Now I'm glad I'm not, but I don't doubt that in another lifetime I might have been Dr. Phil.

To find a queen without a king,
They say she plays guitar and cries and sings... la la la
Ride a white mare in the footsteps of dawn
Tryin' to find a woman who's never, never, never been born.
Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams,
Telling myself it's not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.

So here I am today still reminiscing about going to California with an aching in my heart. I don't know if I'll ever get to California, and part of me is afraid that if I ever do it will be with an aching in my heart (to find a queen without a king; they say she plays guitar and cries and sings... la la la). I've lived long enough and been through enough to know that sometimes our dreams can mislead us into putting time and energy into fruitless journeys (ride a white mare in the footsteps of dawn tryin' to find a woman who's never, never, never been born). Or at least we figure out that whichever road we take, the less traveled or not, usually ends up at the same destination anyway.

So now I'm here looking backward and forward and all around, surveying my surroundings (standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams). It's beautiful, but somehow daunting, and I'm telling myself it's not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Shameless Self Promotion

I've redone the background on the Lyrics of the Moment blog. It's kind of busy and colorful, but I think it's still readable. If it's really hard for anyone to read please let me know so I can make adjustments. Thanks!

Meet Jewel and Lovely

These are the Jack Russell terrier puppies that my mother-in-law got for the kids. I call them Poopie 1 and Poopie 2. They sure are adorable. If they weren't I'd be having a full-fledged nervous breakdown instead of just a minor one.

Carrots, Eggs, and Coffee

I got this in an email and wanted to share it:

To all my "coffee" friends. This is just too great not to pass on. Carrots, Eggs and Coffee... You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again...

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see."

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity - boiling water. Each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

You might want to send this message to those people who mean something to you (I JUST DID); to those who have touched your life in one way or another; to those who make you smile when you really need it; to those who make you see the brighter side of things when you are really down; to those whose friendship you appreciate; to those who are so meaningful in your life. If you don't send it, you will just miss out on the opportunity to brighten someone's day with this message!

It's easier to build a child than repair an adult.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Quotable Thursday

Can you imagine
what it would be like
to become aware
of an omnipresent ocean
of wild divine love
that has always been a secret to you
in the same way
that the sea is invisible to a fish?
~Rob Brezsny

Those who are easily shocked, should be shocked more often. ~Mae West

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. ~Albert Einstein

Beauty is all very well at sight, but who can look at it when it has been in the house three days? ~George Bernard Shaw

Half a love is better than none. ~Helen Rowland

Start every day with a smile and get it over with. ~W.C. Fields

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. ~Mark Twain

I can resist everything except temptation. ~Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

You want public? Here's your public...

I got a lovely email greeting this morning from someone so threatened by my little blog that he felt it necessary to also send me a private email message to further insult me. Here are the comments left last night on my post, Stupid Things I Learned In College:

At Tuesday, September 13, 2005 8:34:18 PM, hfischer said…

Rae Ann, you failed to learn from the course and the book. Such a disappointment you are. I cannot believe you are 37 and a mother--good help your kids.

YOu better look closer at those tv pictures of "looting" food and you better look closer at what the mythology says that looting rarely occurs.

Such a dumb ass you are.

At Tuesday, September 13, 2005 8:35:54 PM, hfischer said…

oops, typo, i mean to say "god help your kids" mothers shouldn't be so dumb

oh well, i guess i could start a blogg entitled, "dumb students i had in college"


And here's the email message:

If you didn't fail the course, you should have. What a dumb student you must have been. You didn't understand a thing about the disaster mythology. If you think the TV pictures disprove the mythology then you are even dumber than you sound in your blogg--and you don't even have the courage to stand for your ignorance in public. You are a dumb ass.

Well, henry fischer or whoever the hell you are, you prove my point if you are suggesting that you are a college professor/textbook author. You are so lost in some ivory tower oblivion and have no clue about the real world. What is in your textbook is only one point of view. I have the common sense to question what I've been told when it is contradictory to what I see. I never failed any courses, I never had any professors with your name (assuming you are who you say you are) and never had any textbooks written by Henry W. Fischer, and I graduated magna cum laude (1990).

You don't sound especially intelligent to only be able to call me a 'dumb ass' and to insult my children. Listen buddy, you've got a lot to learn in this life if you think ANYONE is going to be impressed with your sorry display of verbal ineptitude. And you are supposedly an author? No amount of education and 'credentials' excuses plain old bad behavior and meanness. Maybe you need to go back and reread my post. Your comprehension isn't what it should be. You are implying things that I NEVER said.

And what kind of ignoble IDIOT goes around insulting mothers?

I think you are threatened and malicious and bitter about something. I hope you work that out before YOU have children. God help us ALL if you already have.

And by the way, where's your blog, mr. public courage??

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Home Economics

I'm a Home Economist. That's the fancy title I've decided I should have. Homemaker is a nice term on its own, but it has connotations these days that I don't like. And I really hate the term housewife. I'm not married to my house, though at times that seems the case. And I'm not like a housecat that is always confined to inside the house. I do get to leave occasionally. (Martha Stewart's house arrest was nothing compared to my life and the lives of women like me.)

The dictionary definition of economy is "thrifty and efficient use of material resources, frugality in expenditures, and the arrangement or mode of operation of something." I do that. The dictionary definition of home economics is "the theory and practice of homemaking — called also home ec \-'ek\." I do that too.

I never had any home ec classes in school. Back in elementary and middle school Sevier County couldn't afford to offer them. Then when I went to high school in Georgia most 'good' students were told not to 'waste' their time with those electives but to take only academic classes to better prepare us for college. I'm pretty sure my high school had some home ec classes, but I didn't know anyone who actually took them.

Back in the early twentieth century most colleges and universities had home economics majors. My alma mater, Maryville College, certainly did. Here are some photos from a 1926 yearbook from Maryville that I bought for probably 50 cents or a dollar at one of those old book sales at the college library. (I love old books, and this yearbook is one of the most beautifully produced I've ever seen.) The first is of a girl graduating with a Home Ecomonics degree. I find the description of her almost insulting, "she is one of our best Home Economics students, but we're not surprised because she is like some other girls who show it in their faces that they have a tendency for that sort of thing." Are they saying she's homely? She doesn't look any more homely than any of the other girls. I'd hate to read the description they would have given me!

home ec.

This second photo is of the bedroom from the Home Economics Department's "practice house." I suppose back then it was necessary to learn the proper way to make a bed, but I have to wonder what other bedroom skills they might have taught in this "practice bedroom." Oh, just because it was 1926 didn't mean that they didn't talk about sex and all that. Isn't sex just another part of home-making? Maybe the description of the girl above was implying that part of home ecomonics showing in her face?

I find it almost funny that there used to be entire college departments devoted to teaching women how to be homemakers, or home economists. But I have to remember that in our time we have so many devices and things that are supposed to make our lives more efficient and easier. I guess women did have to go to college or somewhere to learn how to do certain home centered activities and how to do others better, like sewing and cooking, than if they just taught themselves. I'm sure there was more to it than I can imagine.

This brings me to my own efforts at home economics. This summer I've been canning tomatoes and making jelly. The photo below shows this summer's bounty so far. I like preserving the things that have grown from the earth. It gives me a better appreciation of where our sustenance comes from. It's amazing that one tiny seed can produce a huge plant that bears pounds of tomatoes for us to eat in the winter. I feel closer to God or the Divine or whatever you want to call It when I engage in the "thrifty and efficient use of material resources." It brings me joy. So far I've canned 11 or 12 quarts of tomatoes and 9 cups of blueberry jelly. (Some of the smaller jars are apple butter I made from apples my dad grew last year.) I have another batch of tomatoes to can today.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Our Finest Hour by Cliff Kurtzman

This is from an email newsletter I receive:

Business IS Rocket Science.

The Apogee is published by ADASTRO Incorporated. The Apogee's mission is to show our readers how to combine creativity and bold innovation with precise business strategy and process to achieve truly stellar results for their organizations.

You are receiving the Apogee newsletter because you registered to receive it or because someone else forwarded it to you. To sign up for your own complimentary subscription (if you don't have one already), please go to

----- IN THIS ISSUE :: Volume 2005, Issue 3 -----

Our Finest Hour

By Cliff Kurtzman
Chief Executive Officer, ADASTRO Incorporated.

September 6, 2005

Chris Kraft: "This could be the worst disaster NASA's ever faced."
Gene Kranz: "With all due respect, sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour."
--from the movie Apollo 13.

For years, studies had noted the likely result of a category four or five hurricane hitting New Orleans, not just in terms of the immediate physical devastation but also in terms of the tragedies that would likely befall those that had failed to evacuate. (See, for example, Drowning New Orleans by Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, October 2001.) There was no other American metropolis with a greater certainty of an eventual catastrophe that would totally destroy the city. As Katrina neared New Orleans last weekend, one didn't have to be a rocket scientist to know what was likely going to happen. As people walked into the Superdome to take shelter, I wondered and worried how many of them would find it to be their tomb.

But it is also easy to understand how so many could have failed to understand the way in which their world was about to quickly and completely change. Many of those trapped in New Orleans had limited educational backgrounds and had never been far from their city during their entire lifetimes. And most of us that have grown up in the stability of post-World War 2 America, even those of us with strong educational backgrounds, frequently make the mistake of hiding our head in the sand and failing to grasp how dramatically and unexpectedly events can compel our lives to completely and radically change.

Modern America got a dose of what could happen four years ago this week, when airplanes hijacked by terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center, destroying thousands of lives and wiping out entire businesses in nearly the blink of an eye. Yet the recent events from Hurricane Katrina found authorities scrambling to cope with a disaster on a much greater scale.

News reports have looked to point the finger at those in authority who have failed to step up to a leadership role similar to that which Rudy Giuliani assumed in dealing with the New York tragedy. While there are undoubtedly areas where there appear to have been true failings that have cost many lives (one can particularly note how much better prepared the major news networks seemed to be to deal with the situation than was the Federal government), I think that the failure to quickly come to terms with the situation in New Orleans and elsewhere in the affected areas had a more fundamental cause than an absence of leadership skills. The big difference between 9/11 and New Orleans was that in the latter case, the disaster-caused flooding and power outages completely destroyed communications and informational resources across a huge geographic region. And without communications and information, even the greatest leader amongst us can find themselves powerless to lead.

As a fan of the sport of tennis, and a publisher of an online tennis publication, I could not have possibly been more embarrassed than I was by the actions of tennis players Venus and Serena Williams. Playing at the U.S. Open, these girls (and I use the word girls intentionally), each easily having a net worth of tens of millions of dollars, had the opportunity to use the international news media as a platform for seriously engaging the public in disaster relief efforts. They grew up in Compton, California, right in the midst of social and economic poverty not dissimilar to that of so many that were stranded in New Orleans. Yet they have lost touch with their roots, and they have lost touch with America. As Johnette Howard noted, writing for Newsday, and as quoted in Tennis-X: "If we hadn't already seen Serena Williams shrug off the sight of one of her $40,000 diamond earrings clattering to the court during her first-round US Open match on Monday with the same nonchalance she once reserved for the loss of those 10-cent beads that used to fall out of her or her sister's hair, perhaps her announcement by Wednesday that she was donating $100 for every ace she hits the rest of the year to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort wouldn't have seemed so galling. Serena had just played her second straight match dripping in diamond earrings and, as an added touch, a necklace of all diamonds. That extravagance -- and the knowledge that the two aces she had Wednesday put her out all of $200 for the relief effort -- made the self-congratulatory statement that 'I've always considered myself a bit of philanthropist' seem even worse. Far worse than her sister Venus' trance-like admission earlier in the day that she hadn't heard about Hurricane Katrina at all."

Once it became clear what the consequences of Katrina would be in terms of displaced lives, I, as did so many other business leaders in Houston, began devoting my full efforts to seeing how the resources at my disposal could best be used to make a difference in the lives of those whom had been adversely affected. One of the other companies that I have founded has built a network of nearly 14,000 people in the Houston area, and we quickly began mobilizing to get information out about Katrina relief efforts. I wrote to my network last Wednesday, telling them that "The full magnitude of the tragedy is surely not yet apparent. Over the coming days and weeks we will see drinking water in the affected region become exhausted, disease start spreading, and circumstances bring out the very worst of the human condition. It is going to get a lot worse before it gets better... Now is the time for us in Houston to show the very best of the human condition... Let's make this Houston's finest hour."

This Day We Fight!

"A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day. This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!"
--Aragorn, from the movie The Return of the King.

And indeed, as tens of thousands of displaced individuals from New Orleans have streamed into Houston, I think that on the whole this has been Houston's finest hour. People everywhere have opened up their hearts, their homes, and their wallets to help those affected by this tragedy. The team of people I've been working with have toiled around-the-clock to put together a massive benefit event next weekend (Saturday, September 10 and Sunday, September 11) that will serve as a focal point for providing continued relief. The event is called Houston ROCKS for Hurricane Katrina Relief 1 and more information on it, along with other ways to contribute to disaster relief, is available at This two-day event will also serve as a venue that will enable us to tell the stories of many of the heros in our community, and to let people know how they can continue to make a difference in the lives of others. If you are in the Houston area, I encourage you to come on out and show your support, and ask your friends to do so as well. And whether or not you are in Houston, I also encourage you to ask the senior management of your company to contact us at so that your business can help us make a difference. We are making real progress, but getting millions of lives back on track is a monumental undertaking that won't be solved overnight. We need your help too!

We have also asked folks attending this benefit to consider bringing at least one toy to donate if possible... even a coloring book or a doll or a baby rattle from the dollar store is welcome. There are so many small children that have lost everything that was dear to them, and they just don't understand... they are scared and frightened, and have nothing to do or keep their attention. Many folks are working to provide food and clothing and hygiene products, but we can't forget the kids too. I was just astounded yesterday when I got an email from a woman telling me that in response to my appeal she had an entire truckload of toys together that she wanted to contribute!

Here are a couple of other notes I've received over the past few days... the passion of those involved is truly astounding.

Chris writes, (edited for spelling):

Hey, my name is Chris and I work at Reliant Stadium. My coworkers and myself are currently working 10, 12, 18, hour shifts to help take care of the people we are currently helping in the Astrodome. Supplies are being dropped off by people and companies everyday and all day. The people in that building are so grateful for all the help we are providing. But we need more help. People are volunteering but we need more. If you have anything that can be spared to help these people, please find a way to get it to us. Once again, your help is very much appreciated. We can't do enough to help them. Please remember, what would you want to be done if it was you in there. Thank you all and god bless.

Jena writes (edited for spelling and to revise words that won't make it past a language filter):

I'm a surgical nurse working in the Houston Med Center.

Right now, the Astrodome, Reliant Arena, GR Brown Convention Center (all located within two miles of the Houston Medical Center) is FULL of people. Our mayor has overridden the Fire Marshall's order to halt any more residents in our public arenas. This means that any and all people coming here are not turned down. A lot of these people are sick, a lot of these people have VERY CONTAGIOUS diseases (tuberculosis, strep conditions). A lot of these people are drug addicts beginning to have very serious withdrawal symptoms, and a lot of these people are without their life-saving meds. Did you hear that? WITHOUT THEIR LIFE-SAVING MEDS.

Shelters in smaller towns are at capacity.


ANYTHING at all that you can do to help this situation... and I DO mean ANYTHING.... Please! IT WILL HELP!

Right now, there is looming knowledge that many people have contracted contagious diseases that have yet to present symptoms. What this means is -- in the coming FEW DAYS, thousands will begin to get symptoms of horrible disease they've inadvertently contracted by being exposed to the elements of their situations.

To put it simply: This stuff is FESTERING, and about to burst wide OPEN. No one is immune, and YES, you should be afraid.

As a health-care professional, I've committed 24 ongoing hours to help starting on Sunday. We're not even sure that the extra staff will be much in the way of assistance because our hospital was at capacity even BEFORE this disaster.


Thanks for your attention, and like I said earlier, anything at all that you can do to help can and will make a difference somewhere, and somehow.

In our last Apogee article, The Acquisition of MySpace, I opened the essay with a quote, "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams" from Gene Wilder's Willie Wonka character in the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Astute reader Meredith Hamilton of Clearwater, Florida wrote in to note that the movie's screenwriters had taken this quote from a poem called Ode by Arthur O'Shaughnessy (1844-1881). It seems particularly fitting indeed to end this issue of the Apogee with the full text of that poem:

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.
With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

-- Arthur O'Shaughnessy

Yesterday, I Cried

Yesterday, I cried.
I came home, went straight to my room, sat on the edge of my bed,
kicked off my shoes, unhooked my bra,
and I had myself a good cry.

I'm telling you,
I cried until my nose was running all over the silk blouse I got on sale.
I cried until my ears were hot.
I cried until my head was hurting so bad that I could hardly see the pile
of soiled tissues lying on the floor at my feet.

I want you to understand,
I had myself a really good cry yesterday.

Yesterday, I cried,
for all the days that I was too busy, or too tired, or too mad to cry.

I cried for all the days, and all the ways, and all the times I had dishonored,
disrespected, and disconnected my Self from myself,
only to have it reflected back to me in the ways others did to me
the same things I had already done to myself.

I cried for all the things I had given, only to have them stolen;
for all the things I had asked for that had yet to show up;
for all the things I had accomplished, only to give them away,
to people in circumstances,
which left me feeling empty, and battered and plain old used.

I cried because there really does come a time when the only thing left
for you to do is cry.

Yesterday, I cried.

I cried because little boys get left by their daddies;
because I was a mommy who didn't know what to do, and
because I wanted my daddy to be there for me so badly until I ached.

Yesterday, I cried.

I cried because I hurt. I cried because I was hurt.

I cried because hurt has no place to go
except deeper into the pain that caused it in the first place,
and when it gets there, the hurt wakes you up.

I cried because it was too late. I cried because it was time.

I cried because my soul knew what I didn't know.

I cried a soulful cry yesterday, and it felt so good.

It felt so very, very bad.

In the midst of my crying, I felt my freedom coming,


Yesterday, I cried

with an agenda.

written by Iyanla Vanzant

I had to go to the doctor yesterday because I knew I had a bladder infection that wasn't going to clear up with my home remedies. Thank God that there was a clinic open on Sunday. There was an elderly black man getting off a bus as I parked my car. He carried a small duffel bag. I waited behind him as he checked in with the receptionist. I checked in and sat on the sofa across from him to wait for my turn to see the doctor. He asked me if I was from around here. I said I was and asked about him. He said, "Oh, no, I'm from Lousiana." I asked if he had flown in the other day when some of the evacuees came into town. He said he did. My eyes started to tear up, and I said, "Oh, bless your heart. I guess you've been through a lot." He said not as much as some others. He said he was just glad to be alive and to be up here getting treatment. He said he had a lot of stuff back there and he wondered if any of it would be there later. I wasn't sure what to say. I asked if it was okay at the Civic Coliseum, and he said that anywhere was nice to him. He said he was going to look for a job so he could get back on his feet. I said that it was horrible what had happened down there. And he said that it 'needed to happen' and that they had been lucky for a long time. I told him that I'd always wanted to go to New Orleans but never had. He said, "Oh, it's a corrupted place. New Orleans has been corrupt for a long time."

The nurse called him back, and I said, "Good luck to you." And he said the same to me. I sat there and wept. Now I wish I had offered something other than some lame words. I wish I had asked if I could hug him at least. I wish I had offered him a job or a place to stay or something.

Sometimes we encounter people who touch our hearts. And sometimes they don't even know it.

Oh my...

Apparently this Brawny ad has been around for a while, but I just first saw it last night. Here's a link to some other blog entry that has all the right photos and points that I was going to make about it. Anyone who might be offended by male homosexuality might want to skip it. (I don't know that blog or blogger. I just found it from doing a search.)

To watch the entire ad click here. Select the first ad listed. (Update 2-07, apparently it's no longer available to watch.)

Good gracious! What's that stuffed in his pants? A whole roll of Brawny?

What exactly is this creamy splatter supposed to suggest? I know what it makes me think of. And it's not whipped cream from a birthday cake.

Am I the only one who is shocked and almost titillated by a freakin' paper towel commercial? I say almost because it would be better if the guy wasn't so gay looking. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I like manly men. Not that making birthday cakes and carrying puppies isn't manly, but you know what I mean. Well, I guess that guy is pretty manly at least in one area, assuming it's real. I just can't believe that this ad was approved by whoever is in charge of the marketing for Brawny.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

If I ever...

totally flip my lid and lose all my marbles (and I might not be too far from it at this point) I'm going to look like this:

(the pink haired lady, not the guy)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Or, a Vision in a Dream. A Fragment.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Sounds like the Second Level to me.

Discernment: Know Your Fruits

I deleted a post because I decided it wasn't the tone I like to have here. Thank you to the ones who left wise and thoughtful comments. I do appreciate them.

Did you know that the tomato, potato, chili peppers, and tobacco (as well as many other edibles and ornamentals) come from the same scientific family (Solanaceae) as deadly nightshade? Deadly nightshade is also known as Belladonna, or Atropa belladonna. I'm always fascinated to think about how early people learned which plants were safe and which were not. So many of the plants in the Solanaceae family (sometimes called the Nightshade family) are very poisonous, yet others are mainstays in our diets today. Without tomatoes and potatoes my family might starve.

A bitter nightshade flower:

Tomato flowers:

Deadly nightshade flowers:

I suppose the point I'm half-assed trying to make is about discernment. That means the ability to distinguish and discriminate between things and know what's good and what's potentially poisonous.

As the Farmer uses his Hoe he digs and scrapes the ground to separate the good from the bad.

Friday, September 09, 2005

As if...

I'm not already inferior enough, but now I've missed out on my chance to become taller. Is this for real?

I heard an ad on the radio for this, and I thought it was just a joke. But it's not! But since I'm well over the age of 25, I guess there's no hope for me. I'm short. I'm 5'2" and shrinking. I have wondered at times what it would be like to be taller. And I've wondered also if my growth might have been stunted by severe calorie restriction during the prime growth years of puberty. See, I was a competitive figure skater and no matter how thin I was it was never thin enough. At the peek of my training I was skating 6-8 hours a day on a 1200 calorie diet. So much of my body's energy went to skating and not enough was left for growth. My mom was short, about 5'3", but my sister managed to grow to 5'4". She had a more 'normal' adolescence. My dad is about 5'11", not short at all. Sometimes I get kind of pissed about how I was treated when I was skating. My entire self image is really screwed up over all of that, even now. I don't know what I look like because what I see in the mirror isn't the same thing I see in pictures. I've never seen myself in a 'true light.'

Anyway, not to be a downer, but this really bothers me. It's just like all the stupid tooth whitening crap that's being hawked these days. I even saw a woman on TV the other day whose teeth were so unnaturally white that they really looked blue. Come on people, there are so many more important things to worry about than how tall or short you are, how white or yellow your teeth are, how large or small your boobs and butt are, how many wrinkles and age spots you've got, and how gray and/or bald you're getting. We aren't designed to live forever, and we aren't designed to all look alike.

Another Dummy...

Richard Hatch, the winner of the first Survivor season, has been indicted for tax evasion among other things. How stupid do you have to be to think that you can win a million dollars on TV and not be noticed when you don't claim it on your tax return? He claims that he thought CBS was supposed to pay the taxes. Yeah, right. What an pompous idiot! Didn't he hire an accountant to handle his newly acquired wealth? And didn't he have attorneys too? Were they ALL that stupid? Did he think that the IRS didn't watch TV? I think CBS should sue him too for muddying their name.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Needed to get my mind off of the lickety splits so I worked on some puzzles. Try this one.

Roadblocks and Detours

I know I had promised that we'd be going to California this week, but as it always seems to happen when I try to go there I've encountered a roadblock and detour along the way. I was almost there, but I got stuck and had to change direction. Maybe we'll get to go there eventually.

So now I want to talk about roadblocks and detours of a different kind, the Seven Deadly Sins (click that for a great site). In case you don't know what they are, here's the list:


There are many online 'meme' quizzes (you can do a search at that will tell you what your worst Sins are and which level of Dante's Hell (not sure that link will work) you'd be damned to for eternity. I'd be condemned to the Second Level.

By far Lust is my worst sin. That's not a big surprise since I see phallic symbols everywhere, even in bundles of wash cloths and soap dispensers, for heaven's sake. But Gluttony and Pride are up there too. I do love to eat good food and sometimes I'll overindulge in that or other consumables. The vanity aspect of Pride isn't a big thing for me, but I think I sometimes have an issue with spiritual hubris. Sloth can be a problem too if you consider sitting around and thinking about stuff as being slothful. I am a procrastinator which seems to fall into that Sloth catagory. I don't usually have that big a problem with Envy or Greed. When I was younger those were bigger issues. But the opposite is true of Anger. When I was younger I rarely got angry about things, but now it's a different story. I don't think I'm someone you'd meet and think, 'wow, she really could use some anger management,' but I do have more trouble letting go of things now than I used to.

So what are your vices? Are you willing to admit them? Have they changed throughout your life? Do you think there should be some other sins listed as Deadly?

on a side note:

I'm not feeling great today. It seems an old health nemesis that I thought I had conquered has come back and started to bother me. I'll spare you the details and just say cranberry juice. I'm a little late with my post today because of that and trying to get some housework done. It's kind of funny how cleaning the house sometimes helps me gather and sort my thoughts. There's a book about that called Sweeping Changes: Discovering the Joy of Zen in Everyday Tasks by Gary Thorp. I haven't read it, but I've read about it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

That buck's done stopped...

Nothing like a nasty comment to get me fired up first thing in the morning. I'm pretty sick and tired of all the blame and buck passing that's been going on over the catastrophe in New Orleans. As I see it that buck's done stopped... right in front of mayor Ray Nagin. Here's a CNN interview with him from Sept. 2:

Mayor to feds: 'Get off your asses'
Transcript of radio interview with New Orleans' Nagin

Friday, September 2, 2005; Posted: 2:59 p.m. EDT (18:59 GMT)

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin speaks Saturday, before Hurricane Katrina's devastation.

(CNN) -- New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin blasted the slow pace of federal and state relief efforts in an expletive-laced interview with local radio station WWL-AM.

The following is a transcript of WWL correspondent Garland Robinette's interview with Nagin on Thursday night. Robinette asked the mayor about his conversation with President Bush:

NAGIN: I told him we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And that I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we're outmanned in just about every respect.
You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people, thousands of people that were stuck in attics, man, old ladies. ... You pull off the doggone ventilator vent and you look down there and they're standing in there in water up to their freaking necks.

And they don't have a clue what's going on down here. They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn -- excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed.

WWL: Did you say to the president of the United States, "I need the military in here"?

NAGIN: I said, "I need everything."

Now, I will tell you this -- and I give the president some credit on this -- he sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done, and his name is [Lt.] Gen. [Russel] Honore.

And he came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing and people started moving. And he's getting some stuff done.

They ought to give that guy -- if they don't want to give it to me, give him full authority to get the job done, and we can save some people.

WWL: What do you need right now to get control of this situation?

NAGIN: I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. We ain't talking about -- you know, one of the briefings we had, they were talking about getting public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out here.

I'm like, "You got to be kidding me. This is a national disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans."

That's -- they're thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal. And I can't emphasize it enough, man. This is crazy.

I've got 15,000 to 20,000 people over at the convention center. It's bursting at the seams. The poor people in Plaquemines Parish. ... We don't have anything, and we're sharing with our brothers in Plaquemines Parish.

It's awful down here, man.

WWL: Do you believe that the president is seeing this, holding a news conference on it but can't do anything until [Louisiana Gov.] Kathleen Blanco requested him to do it? And do you know whether or not she has made that request?

NAGIN: I have no idea what they're doing. But I will tell you this: You know, God is looking down on all this, and if they are not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price. Because every day that we delay, people are dying and they're dying by the hundreds, I'm willing to bet you.

We're getting reports and calls that are breaking my heart, from people saying, "I've been in my attic. I can't take it anymore. The water is up to my neck. I don't think I can hold out." And that's happening as we speak.

You know what really upsets me, Garland? We told everybody the importance of the 17th Street Canal issue. We said, "Please, please take care of this. We don't care what you do. Figure it out."

WWL: Who'd you say that to?

NAGIN: Everybody: the governor, Homeland Security, FEMA. You name it, we said it.

And they allowed that pumping station next to Pumping Station 6 to go under water. Our sewage and water board people ... stayed there and endangered their lives.

And what happened when that pumping station went down, the water started flowing again in the city, and it starting getting to levels that probably killed more people.

In addition to that, we had water flowing through the pipes in the city. That's a power station over there.

So there's no water flowing anywhere on the east bank of Orleans Parish. So our critical water supply was destroyed because of lack of action.

WWL: Why couldn't they drop the 3,000-pound sandbags or the containers that they were talking about earlier? Was it an engineering feat that just couldn't be done?

NAGIN: They said it was some pulleys that they had to manufacture. But, you know, in a state of emergency, man, you are creative, you figure out ways to get stuff done.

Then they told me that they went overnight, and they built 17 concrete structures and they had the pulleys on them and they were going to drop them.

I flew over that thing yesterday, and it's in the same shape that it was after the storm hit. There is nothing happening. And they're feeding the public a line of bull and they're spinning, and people are dying down here.

WWL: If some of the public called and they're right, that there's a law that the president, that the federal government can't do anything without local or state requests, would you request martial law?

NAGIN: I've already called for martial law in the city of New Orleans. We did that a few days ago.

WWL: Did the governor do that, too?

NAGIN: I don't know. I don't think so.

But we called for martial law when we realized that the looting was getting out of control. And we redirected all of our police officers back to patrolling the streets. They were dead-tired from saving people, but they worked all night because we thought this thing was going to blow wide open last night. And so we redirected all of our resources, and we hold it under check.

I'm not sure if we can do that another night with the current resources.

And I am telling you right now: They're showing all these reports of people looting and doing all that weird stuff, and they are doing that, but people are desperate and they're trying to find food and water, the majority of them.

Now you got some knuckleheads out there, and they are taking advantage of this lawless -- this situation where, you know, we can't really control it, and they're doing some awful, awful things. But that's a small majority [what?] of the people. Most people are looking to try and survive.

And one of the things people -- nobody's talked about this. Drugs flowed in and out of New Orleans and the surrounding metropolitan area so freely it was scary to me, and that's why we were having the escalation in murders. People don't want to talk about this, but I'm going to talk about it.

You have drug addicts that are now walking around this city looking for a fix, and that's the reason why they were breaking in hospitals and drugstores. They're looking for something to take the edge off of their jones, if you will.

And right now, they don't have anything to take the edge off. And they've probably found guns. So what you're seeing is drug-starving crazy addicts, drug addicts, that are wrecking havoc. And we don't have the manpower to adequately deal with it. We can only target certain sections of the city and form a perimeter around them and hope to God that we're not overrun.

WWL: Well, you and I must be in the minority. Because apparently there's a section of our citizenry out there that thinks because of a law that says the federal government can't come in unless requested by the proper people, that everything that's going on to this point has been done as good as it can possibly be.

NAGIN: Really?

WWL: I know you don't feel that way.

NAGIN: Well, did the tsunami victims request? Did it go through a formal process to request?

You know, did the Iraqi people request that we go in there? Did they ask us to go in there? What is more important?

And I'll tell you, man, I'm probably going get in a whole bunch of trouble. I'm probably going to get in so much trouble it ain't even funny. You probably won't even want to deal with me after this interview is over.

WWL: You and I will be in the funny place together.

NAGIN: But we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety-quick to take care of New York and other places.

Now, you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up -- you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man.

You know, I'm not one of those drug addicts. I am thinking very clearly.

And I don't know whose problem it is. I don't know whether it's the governor's problem. I don't know whether it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get their ass on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now.

WWL: What can we do here?

NAGIN: Keep talking about it.

WWL: We'll do that. What else can we do?

NAGIN: Organize people to write letters and make calls to their congressmen, to the president, to the governor. Flood their doggone offices with requests to do something. This is ridiculous.

I don't want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city. And then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can't even count.

Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.

WWL: I'll say it right now, you're the only politician that's called and called for arms like this. And if -- whatever it takes, the governor, president -- whatever law precedent it takes, whatever it takes, I bet that the people listening to you are on your side.

NAGIN: Well, I hope so, Garland. I am just -- I'm at the point now where it don't matter. People are dying. They don't have homes. They don't have jobs. The city of New Orleans will never be the same in this time.

WWL: We're both pretty speechless here.

NAGIN: Yeah, I don't know what to say. I got to go.

WWL: OK. Keep in touch. Keep in touch.

The statements in bold are my own emphasis. I think any of those statements can be directed right back to the mayor. I can't find the quote I was looking for. I heard him in one interview question to anyone who was trying to place responsibility on him, "Where were you? I was here." Well, maybe you were there, but what had you done over the years to plan for a disaster? Where was your plan like Houston's? Yeah, sure, you pleaded with the federal government to do something, but what did you do yourself to have a plan in place? You don't wait for a state of emergency to get creative and figure out how to get things done. You get creative and figure things out before the disaster strikes. Everyone knew that this was inevitable, but they did nothing. What is a mayor's job? To take care of his city. Not to pass the blame on to everyone else. Why hadn't he done everything in his power in the days leading up to the storm?

He said, "I don't know whose problem it is. I don't know whether it's the governor's problem. I don't know whether it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get their ass on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now." If that's not passing the buck then I don't know what is. Dude, I know he's stressed and devastated and angry, but I measure a man by his willingness to accept responsibility for his own failures. Accountability matters. And Ray Nagin isn't measuring up.

I hope we all learn a serious lesson from all of this. We all need to prepare for the worst. We all need to make sure our local leaders have disaster plans in place. No more sticking our heads in the sand and waiting for someone else (the federal government) to fix our own backyards. I'm not saying that there haven't been problems with the federal reaction to the disaster. It's clear that there have been, but come on, Nagin, you can't just blame it all on everyone else.

Yeah, I know it's easy for me to sit here and spout off. But I have every right to criticize someone who hasn't done his job very well and tries to blame it on everyone else. I'm angry about it. I feel horrible for the people who have lost everything.