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Friday, October 31, 2014


Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind.
~ Thomas Jefferson
- - - - -

This is not an actual vampire baby.  I just want to reassure you of that off the bat.  It is a...  decoration?  Doll?  Prop?  I saw in a party store around Halloween.  I'm not sure why I took the photo.  I don't find it visually appealing.  I don't really like that this little decoration exists.  But then Halloween is a special kind of time, I guess.

It makes me think about the fact that the body does weird things.  And I'm not talking about the body of vampire babies or the bodies that produce vampire babies.  I'm talking about regular non-vampire-related bodies.  Bodies do interesting things to protect themselves.

Like hiccups.  I am not sure of the purpose, but I bet there is one.  Or when you throw up because you have something in you you need to get out.  Or when you drink something and start to laugh and instead of letting you drown, your body shoots that drink out your nose.

For instance, if you were drinking a bloody Mary and you started to laugh and then your body saved you, you would have a Bloody Mary Nose.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


I believe cats to be spirits come to earth.
A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.
~ Jules Verne
- - - - -

I like Halloween.  I like to see what costumes people wear.  I think it is a holiday that allows people to be more creative in their day than most other days permit.  We excuse one another and let ourselves express whom we want to be, wish to be, whatever.  We allow it visibly in almost all social contexts. 

Maybe this year, I will assume everyone is wearing a costume - even if I can't tell for sure.  I can use it as a conversation starter.  I think maybe this year I will walk around during the Halloween season and just say to everyone, "Oh, are you going as 'crazy cat lady' this year?"

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


The bottom line:  If you want a happier family, bring those skeletons out of the closet.
~ Bruce Feiler
- - - - -
I think if you're worried about skeletons in your closet, you should just have a small closet.  Like Leslie.  One time she told me, "My closet is rather small. That's because it was built in the 1800s when people had one f***ing outfit."
That isn't necessarily a bad thing.  It keeps our secrets to a minimum.  At least if we keep them in a closet, that is.
I'm not sure which makes me more uneasy, though...  Skeletons in the closet or a little plastic Santa at the storage facility? 
Who am I kidding?  I'd be freaked out if I found a closet full of skeletons.  Or even full of one skeleton.  Or even a part of a skeleton.  Maybe even a really good sketch of a skeleton.
I think I just realized I'm a little afraid of skeletons. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Life is a miraculous process and you just aren't calling it that.  You're calling it "Tuesday."
~ Swami Premodaya
- - - - -
It is a Tuesday.  Tuesday's child is full of grace.  I was born on a Saturday.  Saturday's child works hard for a living.  Which of these children do you think you would want around on "Sweeping Tuesday?"   You might say Saturday's child, but you'd be wrong.  While that child would work hard at sweeping, Tuesday's child would be more fun to watch.
Plus, I don't want to do your sweeping.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Some are born brilliant, some have brilliance thrust upon them -- and others cower in the dark crying, "It burns!  It burns!"
~ K. A. Laity
- - - - -
I love it when I see creative problem-solving at work.  One night last spring in class, we needed some tape.  Someone went downstairs to the cafe and asked if we could borrow their tape.  They were going to close and instead provided coffee cup top things with pieces of tape on them.  I forget who returned with these brilliant tape dispensers, but well done.  Very, well done.
I think we too often miss brilliance in the moment.  Problems come up all the time.  The gift is in navigating the obstacles as they emerge.  Without challenges we wouldn't get the chance to be creative and to look at the world in a different way.  And we are better when we get to do those things.
I hope I gave that person an A.  Of course, it wasn't a class on tape dispensing, but this kind of talent will not go wasted in student affairs / higher education work.
I'm pretty sure I gave this person an A.  No.  My bad.  I'm pretty sure this person earned an A.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


When everything is lonely I can be my best friend.
~ Conor Oberst
- - - - -
I am not sure if I have been lonely.  I have been disappointed.  I have been sad not to be with a person or with people about whom I care and whose company I enjoy.  But if loneliness is a lack of companionship, I don't know that feeling.  I have not felt isolate.  I have felt different, but I have not often felt that was a negative thing.  Loneliness seems negative.
I think a good name for a book would be Loneliness and the Lioness. 

But can lionesses feel loneliness?  If no, maybe I'm a lioness.
No.  No, I'm a person.  Lionesses don't know how to type.
I would never title an album, "I Can't Stand to be A Lion."  Becuase what if lions learn how to read?  I bet they'd be revenge-seekers and would feel slighted by that album title and come after you.
Maybe I'm not lonely because I have so many thoughts to think.  'Cause I have a LOT of thoughts to think.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.
~ Gilbert K. Chesterton
- - - - -
Is it coincidence that ceiling and sealing are homonyms?  One covers us, the other locks us in on all sides.  They both have to do with boundaries or restrictions.  Or - if you are more optimistic - protection and shelter.

Do we appreciate the limitations ceilings put on us, though?  Or do we resent them?  Maybe it depends on the situation and the personality of the individual being ceilinged.  Most things do depend on that.

Maybe it also depends on who drew on our ceilings.  And what they drew.  Maybe if it isn't something drawn well we never look up and there for we set out limits even lower than they have to be. 

Or if it's a glass ceiling...  Maybe people who live under glass ceilings should just throw stones.  Which is going to be problematic for people who live on glass floors.

Friday, October 24, 2014


I truly believe that everything we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose.  There are no accidents; we're all teachers - if we're willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.
~ Marla Gibbs
- - - - -
The key to what is written here (I believe) is the pay attention part.  There are miracles all around us and amazing things happening in every moment.  Unfortunately, we sometimes are so bogged down with the negative or in our own heads that we miss the good stuff. 
Being positive and finding the good requires work.  I'm not convinced that it is hard work.  Unless letting go of ego and self-absorption is difficult.  Which, admittedly, some days it is.
Other days you just have to look to see interesting and good things.
When Leslie and I went to a cemetery a few months ago, we were walking around looking at headstones.  We like to talk about what might have happened in the lifetime of a particular person or what the possible relationships are between people buried near one another.
I had glanced at this stone and then Leslie pointed out something to me.  You can see it in the photo below (and the one above in case you missed it)  I don't know what it means.  I don't have to know.  I do know that it made me smile.  I'm thinking maybe that was the purpose.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Failures are expected by losers, ignored by winners.
~ Joe Gibbs
- - - - -
I was exchanging email with a colleague and hadn't heard anything back for a while.  I just assumed she was busy.  Though assuming is dangerous as the old saying goes, "Assuming makes a mess out of things." 
Anyway, she eventually wrote back and assured me she was not ignoring me.  She just had not had a chance to find the information I had requested.
I responded, "No problem.  And I never feel ignored.  Except when people close their blinds when I'm trying to look in.  But usually after that the police show up, and I don't feel ignored again for a while."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


If you do what you love, it is the best way to relax.
~ Christian Louboutin
- - - - -
If lax means "not sufficiently careful, strict or severe" (and it does) then to relax must mean "not sufficiently careful, strict or severe again."  I figure if you enjoyed not being careful, strict or severe the first time, you ought to try it again a few times. 
And if a little kid can relax while her mom is wearing a gorilla suit and the kid is surrounded by other people in gorilla suits, what are YOU so stressed about?!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Praise the bridge that carried you over.
~ George Coleman
- - - - -
As you may have surmised, I like bridges.  I have talked about how they connect us to our pasts and take us to our futures.  I have shared how they connect us with other human beings.  I like bridges - both literal bridges and symbolic bridges.  They take us places that would otherwise be difficult to go.
Sometimes I hear people talking about "playing bridge" and it infuriates me.  Bridges are serious things.  I don't think you should "play bridge" any more than you should "play house" or "play school."  These are all serious things.  If we don't teach our children to take them seriously, where are we going to end up?  Well, I don't know, but I'm pretty sure there's no bridge to bring us back from there.

Monday, October 20, 2014


A fact is a simple statement that everyone believes.  It is innocent until found guilty.  A hypothesis is a novel suggestion that no one wants to believe.  It is guilty until found effective.
~ Edward Teller
- - - - -
I think that most ideas are cast in shadows of doubts - even by those brave enough to share them.  Ideas can become facts, but that can take a long (thousands of years) time.  Or it used to be that way.  Maybe now - with Facebook and 24 hour "news" coverage and information overload ideas or even opinions as well as hypotheses become facts much more quickly.
It's kind of like our connection through technology has created a Pandora's Suggestion Box of what might (could, should) be true.  And we don't sort through those suggestions very well.  I'm not sure if it's better to be slow to believe what is true or quick to believe what is not.

When it comes to crossing the street, I'd take the slower approach.  But then, I may take the slower approach on most things.  Why rush?  Stop and smell the roses.  But not in the median of a freeway.
Apparently, I'm anxious about traffic.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Own only what you can carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people.  Let your memory be your bag.
~ Alexander Solzhenitsyn
- - - - -

I was talking to Rachel the other night.  She was sharing with me some things.  I was sharing with her some things.  We talked about what was going well and some challenges we were facing.  Everyone we meet is both an opportunity and a challenge.  They are opportunities for us to learn and grow and be nudged (or shoved) out of our comfort zones.  They can challenge our ways of seeing the world.  More importantly they can challenge our ways of seeing ourselves.

It's not always fun.  For example, Rachel mentioned something about how some peoples' stuff manifests itself in the form of "douchebaggery."

I liked that word.  I still like that word.  It says a lot.  But it also is a fun word to say - it has some bouncy-castle quality to it.  It inspired me.

I said, "I want to write a book called Douchebaggery.  Or maybe start a line of purses called that."

Saturday, October 18, 2014


In order to see birds, it is necessary to become a part of the silence.
~ Robert Lynd
- - - - -

This is true.  Birds don't often hang around if you are loud or careless.  If you just sort of stomp in and bully yourself into their space, they aren't going to stay so you can watch them.  You have to show respect and enter quietly and sit patiently.  A bird will be scared off if you aren't careful.

So, while you can't see the bird if you are loud and obnoxious, people will often give you the bird if you are loud and obnoxious.

Friday, October 17, 2014


The study of great quotations is worth more than a college education.
~ Vikrant Parsai
- - - - -
I like to listen.  I like to listen and hear what I want to hear.  Seriously, though - don't we all?  Don't pretend you like to hear what you don't want to hear.
More than just hearing what I want to hear, I sometimes hear things that I think might come in useful later on.  Sometimes it is in the words of another person...  Sometimes it is in the words I think to myself when I am listening to another person.
Here is one example:
Jerry:  The process is a tad cumbersome.
Me:  (thinking to myself)  I went to high school with Tad Cumbersome.
Now you will be wondering - when we talk - "Is Michelle listening to me?  Or is she listening to the voices in her own head?"
The truth is this:  Yes.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I love to go shopping.  I love to freak out salespeople.  They ask if they can help me and I say, "Have you got anything I would like?"  They ask me what size I need and I say, "Extra medium."
~ Steven Wright
- - - - -


Person:  I got a big.
Other Person:  That's a big?
Person:  Yes.  A big.
Other Person:  It's a medium.  Why'd you call it a big?
Person:  Because it's bigger than a small.

I think this is an interesting way of looking at the situation.  My question is, "Why didn't you call it a large?"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I need to ask you a question.  Why is it everybody that plays Frisbee golf smokes weed?
~ Ankeny Police Officer during traffic stop
- - - - -

Why does everyone generalize?  I hate that.  

I'm not sure you can ever make a statement about a group and have it hold true for everyone in the group.  Maybe you can, but I don't think you should or that it is true very often.  

And, just for the record, it's inappropriate to ask, "Why is it everybody that plays Frisbee golf smokes weed?"  It should be, "Why is it everybody WHO plays Frisbee golf smokes weed?"


Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Love is like a friendship caught on fire.  In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering.  As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep burning and unquenchable.
~ Bruce Lee
- - - - -
I think when you are choosing someone to be in love with, you should choose someone who is patient and kind and understanding.  There are going to be times when you are difficult and you want someone who will wait that out with you.  There are going to be times when you are emotional or irrational or not very conversational.  It will take patience to put up with you through that.
There will be other times that you might be hyper or overly optimistic or creative in ways that are not always socially appreciated or acceptable.  You want someone who can balance you in those moments.  Balance you without tempering your enthusiasm.
And there will be other times you're just pretty unbearable. 
And by "you," I do not mean all of us, and I certainly don't mean me.  I mean literally YOU.  So good luck.

Monday, October 13, 2014


In winter she curls up around a good book and dreams away the cold.
~ Ben Aaronovitch
- - - - -
Did you ever notice that some days the cold isn't as cold as it used to be?  And other days it is even colder than you remember?  Why is that?  How much control do we have over our sensory experiences?  How much do we affect how we experience things?  A lot, probably.  Right?
Is our experience of temperature about mindset or memory?  Or about a variation in our senses? 
Or is it because the temperature is different?  Probably that last one.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


(photo by me, pin on purple a gift from Kenyatta Shamburger)
If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.
~ Peter F. Drucker
- - - - -
When I made the transition from Iowa State to Clemson, I had my ISU email and my Clemson email.  I didn't really look at my Clemson email until the beginning of August.  I had been getting email there for about a month.  Not as much as I got in an average month at ISU, but still - enough that I panicked a little bit.

Then I realized I didn't actually work there yet.  And I corresponded with colleagues and they were not concerned that I had not yet responded to things. 
So I panicked for almost a minute and a half for no good reason.
I'll never get that time back again.
Which is good - because it was pretty panicky and who wants that kind of minute and a half again?

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.'"
~ John Greenleaf Whittier
- - - - -

So,  I have had this photo of "Flevoland" ready to post for a long time.  Maybe even years.  I'm not sure.  And I kept thinking the perfect thing for me to post involving "Flevoland" woudl come to me. 

Apparently, Flevoland is someplace in the Netherlands.  You might think that it is a place with lots of different flavors.  No.  That would be "flavorland."  Or you might think that it is a place where you build things out of blocks.  No.  That would be "Legoland."  Or "Blockville."

From what I can tell googling Flevoland images, they are big on farm land and wind energy.

What have we learned from this?  That I like the word "Flevoland" so much that I wasn't willing to forego this blog post.  And maybe I should have been willing to do that.

Friday, October 10, 2014


One doesn't have a sense of humor, it has you.
~ Larry Gelbart
- - - - -

Leslie is funny.  She can laugh at herself and see the humor in other people and situations.  

I like listening to her because she is a great story teller, makes interesting observations and asks good questions.  She can capture a moment with a comment or an insight. 

There was a time we were at baseball game and a woman who probably shouldn't have had a microphone had a microphone and was making running commentary.  Poorly.  She was talking about the home team enthusiastically but without focus.  Maybe without purpose. 

After a particularly long and grammatically butchered rant, Leslie leaned over and - imitating the commentator - whispered to me.  "We love this team!  They are in number first place!!!"

I really like hanging out with her.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.
~ John Ruskin
- - - - -
I like some color.  I like black and white, as well.  Especially in photographs.  Sometimes color is what a photo calls for, though.
I remember recently complimenting my brother Erik on how he captured color in a particular photograph.  He got all offended and said I was insensitive. 
I forgot he is colorblind.
Still...  he has a good (though deficient) eye for it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


If you not yet try
How to know you can or not?
~ Sopharat
- - - - -

All you can do is try.  If you try to be kind and people don't accept your kindness, that is about them not about you.  If you try to find common ground and other people avoid it, at least you tried.  If you make mistakes by doing something to try and make the world a better place that is better than making the mistake of doing nothing.

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life.  I anticipate making a lot more of them. As long as I am trying to do good and be good and kind, then that's as much as I can expect of myself, right?

I'm trying.  People know that.  Seriously.  Ask around.  You'll find lots of people who will say that I can be very trying.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.
~ W. Edwards Deming
- - - - -

I know that things will be different in South Carolina than in Iowa.  I expect that.  I look forward to learning new things and experiencing something different than what I have become used to.  I appreciate a challenge.  The sights and smells and tastes and talks will be different.

For example, I don't expect I will see this while I'm working at South Carolina.  Because that is Beardshear Hall in the background and that is at Iowa State, not at Clemson.

Monday, October 6, 2014


If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.
~ Will Rogers

Sunday, October 5, 2014


A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
- - - - -
This is where I used to live.  Or at least I resided there.  Did I really live there?  I'm not sure that is mine to determine.  Anyway, I would like you to take a moment to look at the fireplace.  My landlord was so proud of this fireplace (which I feel confident he got on sale somewhere). 
I'm not an interior designer.  I sometimes can tell when something doesn't look right, though.  The mirrored frame around the fireplace TV (it put out heat, but I don't know if it was real fire or not.  It looked kind of like cartoon fire.) does not fit at all with the brick surround, does it?
I don't think it does.
My favorite part of it though, is that he left the poker.  It had been a woodburning fireplace.  You don't need a poker with a gas pseudo-fireplace TV show thing.
I could go on about my previous landlord.  And I may. To some of you (Brad, Jessica, Leslie) I already have.  I'm sure that was fun for you.  Kind of like watching fireplace TV with a mirrored frame.  I bet you might have wanted to swat me with the poker a time or two during my complaining.
I'm glad people don't walk around carrying pokers all the time.  I just don't see much good coming from that.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


There's always another storm.  It's the way the world works.  Snowstorms, rainstorms, windstorms, sandstorms, and firestorms.  Some are fierce and others are small.  You have to deal with each one separately, but you need to keep an eye on what's brewing for tomorrow.
~ Maria V. Snyder
- - - - -
This quote could be the motto for a person's life.  Hopefully keeping an eye on what is brewing for tomorrow doesn't take too much away from today - from this moment right now.  If we live in either fear or anticipation of the future, we miss out on key moments.  We miss out on our entire lives.
The above could also be a motto for meteorologists.  And since anticipating storms is literally the work of their lives, maybe they wouldn't be missing out on as much.  Or maybe their work would make them miss out on their lives.
They wouldn't be alone in that.

Friday, October 3, 2014


Hope is patience with the lamp lit.
~ Tertullian
- - - - -
 You can smash a lot of things for others - you can smash their good moods, their ideas, but don't smash their hope.  Really, don't smash their good moods or ideas, either.  Feed off of their ideas and their energy and their hope.  These are things not diminished through the sharing.
If you have to smash something for someone - smash a bug or - better yet - smash their potatoes for them.  The baked or roasted kinds, not the ones growing in their gardens.
And don't smash their lamps.  You could get a cut.
Truth is, you'll cut yourself - and deeply - if you smash someone else's hope, too. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Only the spoon knows what is stirring in the pot.
~ Italian proverb
- - - - -
We had a wonderful time in Canada this year.  Wait, I shouldn't speak for everyone.  I know that I had a wonderful time.  It was peaceful (except fot he loud baby and the chainsaws).  The weather was great (except the one day it was kind of windy and cold).  There were good people, good books, and good food.
Part of the Canada experience is the food and the cooking and the conversation during food and about food.  At one point, Suzanne told Bill she was going to get a spoon rest for Yoctangee. 
I thought about it for a while.   I wonder why we think spoons get so much more tired than other kitchen utensils.  Really, Spoon?  You're more tired that egg beaters or flour sifters?  Or a knife?  Or a can opener?  I think the dish ran away with the spoon and it was probably the spoon's idea because the spoon was so lazy it wanted to run away instead of doing any work.
Or a whisk!  Seriously, Spoon - you deserve a rest more than a WHISK?!  Sheesh.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love.  This is how the whole scheme of things works.  All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.
~ Confucius
- - - - -

When I think of the difficult things in life, I think about things like the following:

* overcoming racism and other forms of hate
* finding one's purpose in life
* being a good partner, parent, friend
* aerospace engineering
* walking the Appalachian Trail
* writing a really good song (poem, story)
* eliminating violence in the world

I don't really think of making a grilled cheese sandwich as one of the most difficult tasks we face.  Is it because of things like the invention in the photo above?


It's because making a grilled cheese sandwich isn't really that difficult.