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Monday, December 31, 2012

Doors

The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and he has to wonder through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
- - - - -

Though New Year's Eve is my least favorite holiday (it seems mostly like a socially-condoned excuse for bad behavior), I do like the end of the year as a time of reflection.  And a time of preparation for the year to come.  New doors to go through, if you will.  Changes to make.  Adventures to take.  Ideas to have.

You know the saying, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out?"  I have been giving that a little thought lately.  It is a very passive-aggressive phrase.  It sort of sounds like the person cares and doesn't want you to be hit by a door (or whatever object), but usually it isn't caring at all.  And also, most doors to the outside open OUT, so if a door hits you on the way out, someone behind you must have slammed it into you as you were walking away.

Does that make sense?  Try to picture it.  Maybe it will then.  (pause while you picture it).  Okay, maybe it still doesn't make sense.

Let's try this instead...  I think that when we are leaving a year behind us we should be more excited about moving ahead than we are about holding on to the past.  I have always thought - when I face huge challenges or struggles in my life - that difficulties occur so that we never want to go back again.  So we are always forward-focused.

With that in mind, I welcome 2013.  I appreciate the good and the bad of 2012, though I I hope to have learned enough to not replicate some of those negative experiences.  And I hope to appreciate the good enough to try and do more good and create more positive things in the future.

And also I hope everyone around me has learned enough to try to do more good for me and create more positive things in my future, too.  I think you all can do that if you really try.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snow

 
A lot of people like snow.  I find it an unnecessary freezing of water.
~ Carl Reiner
- - - - -
 
It is hard work living somewhere where blizzards happen.  When it snows you have to work just to move about.  You have to work hard to move about physically because you're trying to walk in snow.  You have to work to move about in a car because you're snowed in. 
 
But then, life is hard sometimes.
 
I was talking with Ebony about the blizzard and she said, "I'm kind of a diva when it comes to snow.  If I'm going to come all the way into work on a day like this, somebody needs to buy me lunch.  And give me something warm to drink.  And give me chocolate. And not the cheap chocolate, either.  They need to give me the good chocolate.  From someplace like Belgium."
 
I would really like Ebony to call her memoir, Snow Day Diva.  And I would like part of the money she makes on the book.  Or she could just give me money without writing the book.  I'm flexible.
 


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Glitter

Fortune is like glass - the brighter the glitter the more easily broken.
~ Pubilius Syrus
- - - - -

I do not understand why everything around the holidays has to have glitter on it.  Did you know that you can get a static shock from glitter?  Well, you can.  Or at least I can.  And that is not a nice way to spend the holidays.

There is glitter on ornaments and on cards and on stockings and on Menorahs and on packaging for candy.  It is ridiculous.

I shouldn't complain, I know.  I am the one choosing to go into the world of consumerism to see the glitter.  And I really ought to be grateful.  At least I don't have to work in the glitter mines.  I would so not like that.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Justice


Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens.
~ Plato
- - - - -
If you say in a judicial hearing, "I'm not a slimeball," you probably are a slimeball.

(pause)

And I crack myself up using a photo of my brother in a post about slimeballs.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Diller


"I never made 'Who's Who,' but I made 'What's That?'"
~ Phyllis Diller
- - - - -

Me:  Did you hear about Phyllis Diller?  Sorry.

Kirk:  Thanks.  Actually, Bryan made sure I knew right away yesterday.  When i told Jared he said...  "Don't you still have that picture of her you got from your sister for Christmas?  Fyi... even though I was about 4 when you gave it to me...  I think I still do.

Me:  Read my blog tomorrow.

Kirk:  Will do!  you do know that was the only present I got to open early?  And I ended up with nothing to play with but a picture of Phyllis Diller...  Oh, and again...  I was four.

Me:  Clearly the photo traumatized you more than I realized.  The past is the past.  Grow up.

Me:  And I think you were older than that because I think I was in college when you got it.

Me:  And the things that don't kill us make us stronger.

Me:  Phyllis Diller would be ashamed of you.

Me:  Now I have to go edit my blog for tomorrow.

Kirk:  You were in college...  But I still think I was four... Though that's not possible.  And I'm 90% sure it's still in my closet at Mom and Dad's.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ornaments

There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.
~ Napoleon Bonaparte

- - - - -

Imagined conversation...

Woman:  What are we going to get Noel for Christmas this year?

Man:  I'm not sure.  What do you think?

Woman:  Do we actually have to get him anything?

Man:  Well, I think we should.  He always invites us to the cabin for a weekend in the summer

Woman: I suppose you're right.  He's just so difficult to shop for.

Man:  I will agree with you there.

Woman:  (laughing)  You know, it would be funny if we could find him an ornament of a campfire.

Man:  (laughing)  You are right.  He certainly does love a campfire.

Woman:  Remember the song he made up about that?  I think he called it, "I Love a Campfire!"

Man:  (laughing more loudly)  I do remember that.  "A campfire makes me dance.  'Specially when it gets on my pants!"

Woman:  (laughing to the point of tears)  Yes.  Yes.

Man:  Oh my goodness!

Woman:  What?  What is it?

Man:  LOOK at that ORNAMENT!

Woman:  It is PERFECT.

(pause)

This is why I imagine a lot of ornaments are purchased.  Some sort of inside joke.

Earlier that year, overheard at the ornament design office.  "I dunno.  A campfire maybe?"

I would also imagine that Satan gives out a lot of these ornaments as gag gifts.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tree

Never cut a tree down in the wintertime.  Never make a negative decision in the low time.  Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods.  Wait.  Be patient.  The storm will pass.  The spring will come.
~ Robert H. Schuller
- - - - -

I think it is interesting when people decorate trees around the holidays.  I think it sort of bridges human and nature.  Of course if human cuts down the tree it could be mostly about human dominating or controlling nature.  Or if human decorates a tree and the tree doesn't like it, the language barrier is an issue.

I wonder if anyone has a Christmas tree for their family tree.  Probably The Royal Tannenbaums.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sticks

Great talents are the most lovely and often the most dangerous fruits on the tree of humanity.  They hang upon the most slender twigs that are easily snapped off.
~ Carl Jung
- - - - -

Even though Sara said her son had a Star Wars costume that could pass for a shepherd's outfit, she refused to wear it to the holiday party as part of her "seasonally festive" wardrobe.

Sara:  I would need a staff and I don't have a staff.

Me:  Use a stick.

Sara:  I don't have any sticks at my house.  Just small trees.

Me:  A small tree is the same thing as a stick.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pole

A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.
~ William Arthur Ward
- - - - -

I wonder if Santa has north telephone poles.  And why aren't they called north poler bears?  I bet in high school Santa was on the track team as a north pole vaulter.

But I mock.  And I shouldn't.  My guess is that Santa Claus is engaged in a LOT of north polemics at this time of year.  He doesn't need any additional grief.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Preparation

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.
~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca

- - - - -

I don't understand why everyone thought the world was going to end yesterday.  According to the Earl Mayan calendar - as I read it - December 21st was simply the day you should have sharpened your gardening tools and drained your lawnmower in preparation for spring.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tomorrow?

Tomorrow is only found in the calendar of fools.
~ Og Mandino
- - - - -

So, today is the day.  According to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, the world will end today.  If that is the case, this will either be the last of my blogs you read OR you may not even get a chance to read it.  Either way, I wish you well.

And, before we give up and assume the end of all time, might I make a suggestion?  I know it's a little late, but maybe we could revisit the Mayan calendar.  Maybe we can try to figure out if it is telling us something else.  And maybe, just maybe, we can double-check to make sure it isn't a Mayan advent calendar. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Scarecrow

We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape till custom make it
Their perch, and not their terror.
~ William Shakespeare
- - - - -

I took this photo outside the house where my grandparents used to live.  First of all, Grandma would have never had a display like this.  I don't know that she disliked pumpkins and squash and such, it just wouldn't have happened.

And second of all, if there had been a scarecrow, I think Grandma would have given it had a head.  You might think that a headless scarecrow is scarier than one with a head, but only to people.  Because people think, "Yike!  I'd hate not to have a head."  Crows, on the other hand think, "Wow.  I bet a crow ripped the head off that person.  That means free reign in the garden!" 

Of course the crows would be disappointed that there wasn't a garden here but only a pile of pumpkins.

(pause)

Seriously, it would take like two minutes to put one of those pumpkins on the scarecrow to make it look like it had a head.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twelve

Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.
~ Ansel Adams
- - - - - 

A week ago today it was 12/12/12.  Twelve comes from the Germanic "twalif" or "two left over."  According to Wikipedia, only the "tw" remains as a link between twelve and two.

Twelve is a pretty significant number.  You can find lots of reasons - religious and not - for this.  12 apostles, 12 signs of the zodiac, a symmetrical and perfect number.

I think what it probably boils down to is that "Twelve Angry Men," "High Noon," and "Cheaper by the Dozen" are the most important films of all time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bicycle

When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way, so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me. 
~ Emo Phillips
- - - - -

I kind of think that if someone is talented enough to ride a bike on the fence, maybe we should let them.  Of course there are significant risk management issues, so maybe we shouldn't.  But maybe we have too many laws governing human behavior, so maybe we should.  Or maybe the number of lawsuits has gotten so out of hand that we shouldn't.  Maybe people are at a place to take full responsibility for all of the decisions they make, and we should.  Or maybe they're not and we shouldn't let them do things like riding bicycles on fences.

One could say I'm kind of like a bicycle on the fence on this one.  But don't say it around whoever is responsible for enforcing this sign.  I don't need that kind of grief.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gas

I suppose I would still prefer to sit under a tree with a picnic basket rather than under a gas pump, but signs and comic strips are interesting as subject matter.
~ Roy Lichtenstein
- - - - -

I like old gas pumps.  I don't feel compelled to own one right now, but I think they are interesting.  I'm pretty sure these were not functioning pumps since they were located so close to the building.  I could be mistaken, but - let's face it - that's highly unlikely.
 
They probably decided to call them gas pumps because gas squirters doesn't sound very good.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Idea

Take up one idea.  Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on that idea.  Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone.  This is the way to success.
~ Swami Vivekananda
- - - - -

I love this quotation, but I must admit that I do not really live by it.  I don't have an overarching idea to which I have dedicated my work and my life.  I think you could find some themes in my life - creativity, humor, etc.  But I wouldn't say that I have committed every act and every part of my being to "becoming a justice on the Supreme Court" or "cake decorating" or "optic fiber technology."  I also am not completely sure why I put those three things in quotation marks.

Anyway, the other day I got a message from my friend Liz who said she would like to be the subject of a blog.  She provided me with a few possible topics.  Let's just say that she is a multiple idea person, as well.  I say this because short of a piece of creative writing, I find it difficult to link wildlife, makeup, and condiments as a single theme.  Though, maybe, I kind of did that here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Decisions

 In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
~ Theodore Roosevelt
- - - - -

As I write this particular entry, I am struggling with a cold.  I stayed home yesterday because of it.  This morning I woke to a sore throat and a headache.  I am inclined to stay home again, but I have some work I need to take care of.  That said, I can't stand it when people who are sick come to work and get other people sick.  If you are sick, please stay away from me.  ESPECIALLY if you are sick with the disease that makes you into a zombie.

If I wanted, I could use my decision-maker (see photo above) to help me determine if I should stay home or not.  Gretchen gave it to me.  I really like it.  The problem is, it is at work.

Life is hard.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Unique

A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.
~ Oscar Wilde
- - - - -

I say this a lot, but the image you see above is one of the reasons I really like working on a college campus.  I appreciate the creativity of students.  I like it when they take the time to do creative and non-destructive vandalism.  Which I guess isn't vandalism at all since vandalism is the destruction of something beautiful or venerable.  

I guess instead it's art.  Yes.  I like it when students create art.

Unless they are destructive and, for example, melt candles or metal down the sides of buildings.  That really is just plain vandalism.  If they melt watches and clocks then it is actually vanDALIsm.  I'm not in favor of that.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Urchin

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.
~ Rachel Carson
- - - - -

"Look!!  A sea urchin!" the boy exclaimed.

His father chuckled, "That's not a sea urchin.  That's a sand bur."  

Because the child was so devastated by his father's laughter at the discovery, the child ran away to the sea, adopted raggedy dress and became an urchin himself.  He didn't know it at the time, but he was teaching his own father a lesson.  A lesson in guilt and tragedy and irony and vocabulary.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Train

If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- - - - -

Yesterday (or the day before) in my blog post I put "On a recent train ride..."  Leslie asked me when I had been on a train recently.  Since I had written the blog post a while ago, I didn't know what she meant.  When I re-read it, I realized I should have put "On a recent PLANE ride."  The photo included railroad tracks, so I am guessing that maybe I got distracted (as I am prone to do) by the photo and typed train instead of plane.

It was strange because I had just the night before encouraged Pamela to consider taking Amtrak for the holidays.  I told her I thought it might be just like The Polar Express.  Then I reconsidered the customer service on the Polar Express and thought that might not be an ideal way to travel.  Especially if you misplace your ticket.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Codes

I would always encourage people of any age not to be so quick to follow other people's truths but to search and follow your own moral code and live by your own integrity, and mostly just be brave.
~ Jewel Kilcher
- - - - -

On a recent train ride there was a toddler sitting behind me.  I am not sure, but I think his father called him, "Ptomaine."  Anyway, Ptomaine asked for his "tar."  At first his dad asked if he was asking for his "guitar."  I wondered if the kid was going to play "Talk Dirty to Me," or "Every Rose has its Thorn."  But, no.  Ptomaine was saying "tar" for "car."  And by "car" he meant his choo choo train.

Ironically, that same morning, Leslie had emailed me an article about a dead pigeon.  "How does that even relate to this?" you ask.  Well, let me tell you.  See, the pigeon was found in a chimney with a coded message taped to its leg.  According to British sources, the code had not been broken.  If it was a single use code with a set of character known only to the sender and receiver, said the experts, it might never be broken.

My point is this.  If you need someone to make up an unbreakable code, partner with a toddler.  I think many of the messages they send to their parents are codes known only to the sender and receiver and they might be difficult to break.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Patriotic

We know Virginia is in NASCAR country.
~ Patrick Henry
- - - - -

I guess maybe you can put a flag on anything and people will think you're patriotic.  Even honey buns.  I guess I don't really understand what patriotism is.  It does remind me of the talk by some people (who referred to themselves as patriots during the election season).  Those same people are now threatening - in some states - to secede.  It's funny how when one party loses, people threaten to leave - to secede or to move to Canada - like they want us there.  Or would let us in. 

And then I wonder if people know what the word means.  While "secede" and "succeed" sound a lot alike, they are not the same thing.

As for the quote above...  well, it is listed online, so it must be true.  And I checked and it even cited the Patrick Henry - statesman, patriot, and orator as the source.  Without computers, I wouldn't have realized that NASCAR is more than 250 years old and actually predates the invention of the gas-fired internal combustion engine.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hell

I never did give anyone hell.  I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.
~ Harry Truman
- - - - -

Sometimes what the hell is a statement and not a question.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Army



Tanks come in two forms: 
The dangerous, deadly kind and the "liberating" kind.
~ Robert Fisk
- - - - -

Leslie and I were talking about the Army / Navy game and she said it was interesting how different people engaged with it and, I guess, with football in general.  Leslie said that each person celebrated or got fired up about the game in his or her own way.

Leslie:  Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Me:  Are you allowed to say that?

Leslie:  What?

Me:  Shouldn't it be "Whatever yanks your tank?"

After reflecting, "Whatever yanks your tank," sounds kind of like a double entendre.  Almost any time you use the word "yank" it sounds like a double entendre, though.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Flamingo

She is pure Alice in Wonderland, and her appearance and demeanor 
are a nicely judged mix of the Red Queen and a flamingo.
~ Truman Capote
- - - - -


A bucket of flamingos is not something you hear about very often.  A bucket of chicken, maybe but that is different.  I bet if flamingos tasted like chicken and there was a chain of restaurants they would be called "Florida Fried Flamingo."  The side dishes might be mostly the same.  And if they wanted, over the years, to distance themselves from the word "fried" and changed their name to FFF, it wouldn't be as catchy as KFC.

 Oh, and I guess the buckets would have to be bigger.

(pause)

So it's probably just as well that never caught on.  Or was even attempted.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Spam

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
~ Melody Beattie
- - - - -

I like to tease Leslie's mom about Spam.  She - apparently - hates Spam.  I even went so far as to leave her a recipe for Spam & Apple turnovers, but even that could not sway her.

So, the other night when I was in the grocery store, I saw this.  I took a photo and sent it to Leslie and said, "For your mama?"  Leslie's response was, "Yukko."  I took that to mean, "No, Michelle.  It is thoughtful of you to try to find new meal alternatives for my mother, but I don't think this is one she would enjoy.  You are thoughtful, though."

I, however, think this is the kind of thing that needs to be TRIED.  You can't judge a "Spam Meal for 1" by it's cover.  So, I have mailed one to Leslie's mom.  And I cooked it first, so she won't have to dilly dally in trying it.

Thoughtful is not my middle name.  But it could be.  I'm glad it's not because it already took me long enough to fill in the name section on those Scantron bubble sheets for exams as it was. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Path

A straight path never leads anywhere except to the objective.
~ Andre Gide
- - - - -

It's hard to figure things out in life.  Sometimes you have to make mistakes to learn.  And I think that's okay.  It's important to know that each mistake carries a lesson.  And an opportunity.  And some mistakes are bigger than others.

For example, if my mom accidentally calls me by my brothers' names, that is a small mistake.  From that mistake I can learn that her mind is slipping away and it is an opportunity to mock her. And she can learn my name and that I am hilarious when I mock her.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Quotes


Have you ever observed that we pay much more attention to a wise passage when it is quoted, than when we read it in the original author? 
~Philip Gilbert Hamerton
- - - - -

I was trying to find a quote by Gwen Ifill for one of my blog entries.  As I was doing the google search, I saw that she has a quote in Successories.  And then I thought, "Wow.  That's cool.  I'd like to have a quote in Successories some day."  We all have our dreams.

(pause)

Or I could just meet Gwen Ifill, maybe.  Or buy something from Successories.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Soup

Only the pure of heart can make good soup.
~ Ludwig van Beethoven
- - - - -

Last night I made some soup to have this week.  Not just out of a can soup.  I made it with ingredients and stirring and adding and stirring and cooking and watching.  I even had to cut some things up for the soup and prepare things before they could go in the soup.

And I tasted it and it tasted okay to me.

Of course, all that said, I did somehow end up with the final soup product in a frying pan instead of a soup pan or a pot or whatever.  I think that is okay, though.  Once I had it in the frying pan it had to stay there. Unless I invite an Augustinian or a Carmelite or some such person over.  I guess then it could go out of the frying pan and into the friar.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bridge

Keep your goals away from the trolls.
~ Peter McWilliams
- - - - -

In the Three Billy Goats Gruff, I think we need to acknowledge that the troll was ahead of his time situated as he was in a Norwegian folktale.  He wanted to charge people to use his bridge.  And we do that now - toll bridges (as opposed to "troll bridges") and toll roads and Tollhouse cookies.  Of course, thus far we don't charge people their lives to use these things. 

In that way the troll's thinking is a bit antiquated.  And doesn't really lend itself to long-term sustainability / income / wealth generation.  But trolls are known to live kind of hand to mouth.  Or hoof to mouth if they are goat-eaters.  Which can lead to aphthae epizooticae.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Farming

It is thus with farming: if you do one thing late, you will be late in all your work.
~ Cato the Elder
- - - - -

I think that farmers are incredibly hard working.  And it doesn't really matter what kind of farming they do.  Crops.  Livestock.  Anything.

And I think the fact that the one farmer took a vacation to The Dells is fine.  They work hard and they deserve time off as much as anyone.  I like that the farmer in The Dells got some cheese.  Wisconsin is a good place to do that.  Why the cheese stood alone, I'm not sure.  Maybe it was Camembert.