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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Propaganda

The thought of two thousand people crunching celery at the same time horrified me.
~ George Bernard Shaw
- - - - -

Venola thought the animals had rallies around her because of her vow never to eat meat. She imagined that they saw her as their champion. Their advocate. Their hero.

This was not the case.

The animals were simply carrying her to the ravine where they planned to hurl her head-first. They were sick and tired of her stealing their carrots and broccoli and lettuce. Revenge would be theirs. Soon.  So soon, my children...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Cowboy

I'm a cowboy who never saw a cow.
~ Johnny Mercer
- - - - -

Cowboy is the name of my mom's dog. He came with the name. They got him from the rescue place. He is a good dog.

Dogs are mostly good.

I hope cowboys are mostly good, too.

But when they say "Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys," (actually they sing it more than they say it), I think that is wrong.  Let your kids live their dreams.  

And if you really don't want your kid to be a cowboy then when they ask for a horse, get them a sawhorse.  Maybe they'll be a carpenter.

Or a seahorse and maybe they'll be a marine biologist.  

See how easy it was to just redirect their dreams instead of squashing them?

Kids are fun.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Jesus

They eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; My eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.
~ Meister Eckhart
- - - - -

When I was in Ames, I saw Jesus.  I saw him rollerblading across campus.  I didn't get a photo of him, but I did have this photo.

I don't like this image.  I don't fully understand the celebration of torture rather than the celebration of the message.  I guess people make meaning in different ways.  I guess the need and value different things.  And that's okay.  Maybe people value both.  I just think that if that happened to me, I wouldn't want people putting up billboards and having bumper stickers and all that stuff.  But different people look for different things and celebrate different kinds of miracles.  Some are for us as individuals.  Some are for everyone.

Anyway, when I saw Jesus in Ames, I was in Keith's office.  I said, "There is Jesus.  On rollerblades," and I pointed out the window.  Keith looked and said, "Yep.  There is Jesus on rollerblades."

I said, "I just wanted to make sure you saw it, too."

It still might have been a miracle, but it wasn't just my miracle.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Gray

The color of truth is gray.
~ Andre Gide
- - - - -

The other night we were having dinner and Granny (Leslie's mom) said, "I am going to go see that movie this weekend."

Me:  Which one?

Granny:  The really good one.

Me: 50 Shades of Grey?

Granny: (shaking her head)  No.  Did YOU see that?

Me:  No.  I didn't.

Granny: The one that's supposed to be really good.

Me:  Hot Tub Time Machine II?

Granny:  Is that a movie?

Me:  (to Leslie) Isn't that the name of it?  (Leslie nodded but in a way where she was also simultaneously shaking her head as if she couldn't believe this conversation was happening).  Of course, you might not be able to understand it without seeing Hot Tub Time Machine I.

Granny:  No.  The one.  With that guy I like.

Me:  Tom Selleck?

Leslie:  No, she means the guy who was in An Officer and a Gentleman.

Me:  Richard Gere?

Leslie & Granny:  Yes.

Me:  Oh, so you want to see The Incredible Exotic Hotel Budapest II.

Leslie:  Something like that.

Me: The Second Very Good Exciting Marigold Hotel.

Leslie:  Okay.

Me:  The Second Best Exotic Marigold Motel.

By then I was pretty sure no one was listening to me.  Which is fine.  That happens sometimes.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gaga

Don't you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can't be exactly who you are.
~ Lady Gaga

- - - - -

Lady Gaga sang at the Oscars this year.  She sang Sound of Music songs.  Talk about tough songs to sing...  A lot of people know and love those songs.  A lot of people know and love Julie Andrews.  That is some pressure.

Lady Gaga did really, really well.

Now I know a lot of you are anxiously awaiting Julie Andrews' spoken word version of "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe," but I think you're in for a terribly long wait.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cake





I wanted to buy a candle holder, but the store didn't have one.  
So I bought a cake.
~ Mitch Hedberg
- - - - -
 
Once upon a time when I lived in the duplex next to noisy Georgia (the person, not the state), a lot of weird things happened.  I may write about those in a play some day.
 
For now I 'm going to write about this one part of that experience.
 
One day I went out to my car and this cake was on the curb next to my driveway.  How does this happen?  How does someone accidentally leave a cake on the ground?  It's where my garbage used to go, but I don't think it was my trash (or Georgia's - since she kept putting her trash in my trash can).  Again, more about that in my forthcoming play.
 
Maybe somebody followed through on a threat to "cake you to the curb."

I don't know.

It really didn't taste that good.  Maybe that's why they threw it out.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fruit

I think that if you shake the tree, you ought to be around when the fruit falls to pick it up.
~ Mary Cassatt
- - - - -

For some reason (maybe because it is late.  maybe because I am tired.) I just had a thought.  If Tang was a sport, I think it would be a team sport.  Spam would be an individual sport.  Grapes a team sport.  Raisins an individual sport no one would play.  Tang would be a team sport.

Maybe it's because I think of astronauts when I think of Tang and you can't really astronaut alone.  Maybe it's because you add Tang to water and stir it with a spoon, so it takes a number of items coming together to create Tang.  I'm not sure.  One thing I feel confident about, though, is it takes at least two to Tang...  oh.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bridge



Was there ever in anyone's life span a point free in time, devoid of memory, a night when choice was any more than the sum of all the choices gone before?
~ Joan Didion
- - - - -

You've probably figured out by now that I like bridges.  I like how they are built.  I like how they save time by getting you from point A to point B more directly.  I like how they cross over things.  I like how they give you ways of looking at things you wouldn't other wise get.

If they built a bridge across the Atlantic to Europe, I wouldn't take that bridge.  I'm not afraid of bridges.  I like the ocean.  I just wouldn't be confident that they would have a good bridge upkeep plan.  However, if I did decide to cross that bridge - say it went from Portland, Maine to Porto, Portugal, I'd try to run or at least jog on my way there.

Then I could get one of those stickers for my car.  The ones that look kinda like this: 


Also, I figure I wouldn't have to run or jog the whole time.  There would be some stretches where no one would see me.  Or no one would SEA me.  Get it?

Who am I kidding?  I couldn't run much over 2,712 miles.  

I would walk 500 miles though.  And I would walk 500 more.  

But I bet the bridge would be marked in kilometers.  And in that case I'd have no idea how long it would take me to get there.  I don't travel in metric very often.




Monday, March 23, 2015

Juice


If life gives you lemons, make some kind of fruity juice.
~ Conan O'Brien
- - - - -

I think it would be fun to have a few hours in a juice bar to see what kinds of combinations I could come up with.  I imagine some of them would not be good.  But I'm pretty good at those places where you pick out your meat and vegetables and make a sauce and then they cook it on a huge hot circle for you.  So I might be really good at making new juice combinations.

I have to be honest though...  if they have a bunch of vegetable juices, I don't think I'd use them much.  Though I might like corn juice or potato juice.  But I think those are less juice and more whiskey and vodka.

Also, that's not how you spell salad.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dog

No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.
~ Christopher Morley
- - - - - -

That is probably true.  At least they rarely interrupt.

I think that some of us do, however, appreciate conversations about dogs.  Like the time I heard a guy talking about his dog to his new girlfriend's son.  Don't ask me how I knew it was a new girlfriend, just trust my powers of observation, okay?

Anyway, he was showing the kid videos and pictures of the dog.  And then I heard him say to the child, "It's part weiner dog and part pit bull dog."

That raised a number of concerns for me.  About the dog, the guy, the kid...  

I guess there is no understanding the ways of the heart.  Of a dog's heart.  Of a heartdog.  Or in this case a - I don't know what you'd call it.  Nothing as catchy as "labradoodle" or "puggle"comes to mind.  Maybe a "pewter bullini?"  "Pitwein" sounds not good.  "Bull weiner" sounds like something different.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that weird things happen sometimes.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Words

Few activities are as delightful as learning new vocabulary.
~ Tim Gunn
- - - - -
 
I concur.
 
And yet I'm not sure that either Bryan or I actually are learning a new vocabulary. I can't speak for him - well I can, but he doesn't like it - but a lot of time in Words With Friends I just learn how my letters fit in places rather than what the words mean that I am creating.
 
But still, QUALE?  That was awesome.
 
We needn't discuss the times Bryan has beaten me at Words With Friends. But if we WERE to discuss it, I would tell you that I think it was Robot Bryan not human Bryan who beat me those times.
 
And if that's true, that still makes Bryan smarter than me because he knows how to build a robot.
 
I know how to work a crockpot. It sounds the same, but it really is pretty different. Even if it is kind of a robot to cook your food for you. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dang.

If losers can exploit what their adversaries teach them, yes, losers can become winners in the long term.
~ David Mitchell
- - - - -

Okay.  Let the learning begin.
 

Sighclones.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Snow

The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.
~ Lao Tzu
- - - - -

Snow in South Carolina is not like snow in Iowa.  I knew that.  I was told about that by lots of people - including strangers in airports.  I believe that if there is snow and people aren't used to it, even a little bit of snow is a dangerous thing.  Like a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.  Or a little bit of nuclear waste.  Or a little bit of hate.

That said, I recently had one of the most productive snow days of my life.  I walked to work and spent pretty much a full day getting caught up and ahead and working on stuff for the rest of this semester and even started on a few things for summer.  I liked that it was quiet in my building.

I really don't think that I am a people person.  I am a person person - meaning I'm good with one other person at a time.  Or two.  Maybe three.  In a crowd of lots of people though, I don't do well.  Or put me someplace where there are a bunch of meanderers, I'm not good.

But on a winterishy day when no one else is around.  I'm okay. 

And, now that I think of it, not just on a winterishy day.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Water

We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.
~ Jacques Cousteau
- - - - -

I have a desk.  I have a couple of them, actually.  I do my work at them.  Sometimes.  Sometimes I just goof off when I'm at them.  To be honest it's probably 50% work and 50% goofing off.

That is not my point.

My point is that I am interested the standing desk.  For a while it was like a stair master desk thing. Then maybe it was a biking desk thing.  Now it's a standing desk thing.  There was something on Facebook about how sitting around is going to kill everyone.  I didn't read it.  I'm not sure I believe that is true.

But why just a standing desk?  

What about a swimming desk?  Then you would REALLY get a workout while you are doing your work.  Of course if someone emailed, "Hey - I'm drowning in work over here," that could create confusion.  Or panic.

Would you have to wear a life preserver at a swimming desk?

What about a kayaking desk?  Or a rugby desk?

A hang gliding desk?

There are so many exercise / sit around and work combinations that we've failed to explore.  I'm disappointed in us.

And by us, I mean you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Green

Distant hills look green.
~ Irish Proverb
- - - - -

Happy St. Patrick's Day.  

As I sometimes do for these blogs (though not always) I did some research on St. Patrick.  He had some adventures with pirates, got in trouble for maybe taking gifts from wealthy women, baptized a lot of people and some other stuff.  

He also was given credit for banishing snakes from Ireland. The thing is, there were never any snakes in Ireland to being with.  According to one source the closest thing Ireland had was something called a "slow worm."  

I have to say, whoever did Patrick's spin was on the ball.  I don't know if he banished the slow worm from Ireland (though maybe it wasn't even introduced to Ireland until centuries later), but if he did it was smart to call them snakes instead.  "I HAVE CLEANSED THE COUNTRY OF THE SLOW WORM!" isn't too inspiring.

I will say, however...  if I ever cleanse a country of slow worms, I might just make sure that's on my resume or CV.  What can it hurt, right?

And also, we create our own luck.

See how that all comes together so neatly?

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Grandmothering

No one can do for children what grandparents do.  Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.
~ Alex Haley
- - - - -
Leslie loves being a grandma. 

She isn't one of those scary grandmas who chases her grandchildren around the yard with a screeching chicken.  Which is good.  I think that might negatively affect how Aurora feels about her.

Also, I don't know where Leslie would keep the chicken in the downtime.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Motel

At Motel 6 in Amish country I wonder if they leave the light on for you?
~ Jay London
- - - - -
If the word hotel come from "hote" which means "host."  Then motel probably comes from "mote" which means to be allowed to.  So, the next time you're traveling you need to decide if you want to be hosted or simply tolerated.

Actually, that's a good way to navigate life.  Do you want to be a person others look forward to seeing?  Or someone people just put up with.  Or better yet, do you want to be someone people look forward to arriving or someone people look forward to departing.

Or even worse, deporting.

Or even worse, deposing.

Or even worse, despoting.  Okay, despoting is not a word, but if it was, I sure wouldn't want it done to me.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Food

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
~ Hippocrates
- - - - -

The idea of food as medicine is a good one.  Making choices to help your body feel better.  To nourish and encourage and sustain.

Take an orange to strengthen your bones.  Here are some root vegetables for good mental processing. How about some salmon for a healthy heart?  Have a plate of pasta to keep your body going in the hard days to come.  Enjoy this barbecue to lift your spirits.

The idea of medicine as food..?  Less appealing.  

Also, I wonder if Hippocrates' friends called him "Hippo" for short.

(pause)

Probably not.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Roads

The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.
~ Sigmund Freud
- - - - -

Some roads weren't meant to be traveled, but rather to be observed.  You don't have to go down every road there is.  You can't.  You have to just look at some roads.  Or watch other people go down roads that you won't or can't go down.  And, if you're lucky, then the people going down some of those roads will be people you don't like.  And if you're really, really lucky, the road they are on will never converge with the road you are on.  Or, if the roads do converge, you won't reach the same intersections at the same time.  Or there will be a red light holding them back while you pass.  Or you will have tinted windows and they won't see you.

Another analogy could be railroad tracks.  Or paths.  Or stairways.  Or hallways.  

Or escalators.

Or elevator shafts.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ice

It's a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you into hot water.
~ Franklin P. Jones
- - - - -

It's amazing how nature can take things and freeze them and they become things we would never have imagined.  They take new forms and create a new way of seeing things.

I think people do the same things with memories.  They take moments and freeze them and then they become something new.  Sort of like what really happened, but not completely like what really happened.  

Kind of like the water frozen above.  It isn't what you might have imagined ice would look like.  But you take it and cut a chunk of it and hit someone in the head with it, they'll see that it's ice.

You can do the same thing with memories.  Well, if you carve your memories into big chunks of ice.

I guess everyone needs a hobby.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Farm

We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist.
~ Wendell Berry
- - - - -

I love farms.  I respect farmers.  It is hard and risky and important work that they do.  My grandpa was a farmer.  I love the creativity of farmers.  Of using what there is to use and  not wasting things.  Of creating what is needed in ways that are helpful and not hopefully not destructive.  Hard working.

What do farmers grow?  Is it hope?  Dreams?
Or cows?  Or beans?
Crops of goldens and greens?

No.  They grow restless waiting for this post to finish up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Railroad

Wherever I go I'm watching.  Even on vacation, when I'm in an airport or railroad station, I look around, snap pictures, and find out how people do things.
~ Richard Scarry
- - - - -

One time in 5th grade we were playing Christmas Hangman.  First of all, we used to celebrate Christmas in elementary school.  I'm not going to get into whether I think that was good or whether I think it was oppressive to people.  My point is simply that we did it.

Now, I could explore how "playing" something called "hangman" is problematic.  However, that is also not the point of this post.

My point is this...  There was one round where the following letters were on the board:

R_ _ _ _ _ _    _ _ _    R_ _ _ _ _ _ _  R_ _ _ _ _ _ R.

The person who was guessing had a time limit before her turn was over.  She panicked and screamed, "Railroad Near Road!"

I couldn't quit laughing at that.  I don't think my classmate appreciated it.  

I don't know that I was the one who got to solve the puzzle, but I could have.  I was good at things like that.  I was less good at other things.  Like showing compassion for my word-puzzle-impaired classmates.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Listen

Be grateful for luck.  Pay the thunder no mind - listen to the birds and don't hate nobody.
~ Eubie Blake
- - - - -

I think I am a pretty good listener.  I am probably a better listener in my work life than in my personal life.  I am probably a better listener in person than on the phone.  

Leslie and I talk on the phone a lot.  That is challenging because phones pick up other noise, you can't see the person when they are talking or when you are talking and it is easy to get distracted by other things when you are on the phone.  Still, I try to listen.

When Leslie is driving home, there is a point in her drive where the reception is really bad.  At that point I have to ask her to repeat things.  Or if she is tired, she doesn't always speak as clearly.  Or if I am tired I probably don't always listen as well as other times.

The other night we were having some communication problems.  I had to ask her to repeat things a few times.

Leslie:  I hope you're not losing your hearing.

Me:  I hope you're not getting the elder mumbles.

(pause)

We have big hopes for each other.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Envy

As iron is eaten away by rust, so the envious are consumed by their own passion.
~ Antisthenes
- - - - -

I think pretty much everyone is envious or jealous or covetous at times.  Hopefully not too often.  And I really am not trying to provoke that in any of you, but I am about 73% sure that I have a pillow with the same fabric pattern as a chair I saw on the TV show "West Wing."

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Love

You're like a song that I heard when I was a little kid but I forgot I knew until I heard it again.
~ Maggie Stiefvater
- - - - -

Love does weird things to people.  And people do weird things to love.  They manipulate it.  They twist it.  Sometimes that is good and creative.  Sometimes it is disconcerting.  Sometimes it is other things.

For example...  take the idea that a person loves.  In fact, take the quote, "I love."  That can mean a lot.  You can stretch that to cover feelings about people or animals or places or memories.  You can make it about things or food or hobbies.

Or you can scramble it up into "Olive."  Though maybe it's a bit more romantic to scramble it up into "O, live!"  Or maybe it's more romantic not to play anagram games with love.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Secrets

A good friend keeps your secrets for you.  A best friend helps you keep your own secrets.
~ Lauren Oliver
- - - - -

I know some secrets.  Some are mine.  Some are other people's.  Some are things I probably think are secret which are not secret to the people who shared them with me.  

Some people think secrets are usually bad.  I disagree.   don't know that we need to label them "good" or "bad."  Especially if they are not our secrets to begin with.

I do appreciate that I have some good people around me who can exercise discretion.  Or at least if they share things I share that I hope don't get shared they don't share those things with people who will share them so widely that the sharing gets back to me.  So, thank goodness for that.

I have some cool friends.  (pause)  I just can't tell you who all of them are.  Or at least not their real names.

Some of my best friends are spies.  That sounds like a joke.  For the sake of argument, let's just pretend it's a joke.  That's best for everyone involved.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Snake

Because we focused on the snake, we missed the scorpion.
~ Egyptian Proverb
- - - - -

I have heard people refer to things as "lower than a snake's belly."  In reality though, lower than a snake's belly is even closer to the earth.  Grounded.  Connected to nature.

I understand why we are afraid of snakes and what they represent.  I understand that something so different from us can be disconcerting, dangerous.  But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't appreciate the differences of these other creatures.

Snakes eat mice and hardly ever come into my house.  Mice, on the other hand, do not eat snakes and have been known to come into my house.

Okay, once a snake came into my house and that really freaked me out.  

What freaks me out even more is how many scorpions are in my house and I don't see them because of all the mice and snakes.

And why can't I find better housing?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Labels

It's not what you call me, but what I answer to.
~ African Proverb
- - - - -

We seem compelled to label things.  I get having to have names for items - spoons, toilets, harmonicas.  You wouldn't want to get those things confused.

I even understand giving people names.  Referring to everyone as "Hey, you" would slow down the communication process.

But why do we have to label things "good" or "bad"?  Can't we just keep the good yogurt in the refrigerator and throw the bad yogurt away?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Trains

I like trains.  I like their rhythm, and I like the freedom of being suspended between two places, all anxieties of purpose taken care of: for this moment, I know where I am going.
~ Anna Funder
- - - - -

I also like trains.  I haven't ever traveled any significant distance by train.  I have ridden the train at Adventureland, but - let's face it - that train doesn't even go around the whole park.

Hobos ride trains.  They have to be clever and quick and sneaky because usually they are riding trains without tickets.  In a way that is a credit to their ingenuity, I think.  I'm not an expert on hobos.  I'm fascinated by them, but I don't know a lot about them.

I should learn more about them.  Maybe I could become an expert.  And maybe then they would be more widely recognized and acknowledge as an important counterculture.  Maybe they could even be on a US Postal Service stamp!

Of course, that would be problematic in and of itself.  Because - of course - it would be a tramp stamp.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Details

Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify.
~ Henry David Thoreau
- - - - -

I really am not good with details.  A few weeks ago I went to Issaqueena Falls.  I thought it said it was an easy five minute hike.  This is what the description ACTUALLY said...

Issaqueena Falls
An easy 5-minute walk from the parking area on a well-maintained path takes visitors to a viewing platform overlooking the falls. The descent to the base of the falls is steep and challenging.

That second sentence I apparently didn't read.  That second sentence is accurate.  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Danger

Learning is not child's play; we cannot learn without pain.
~ Aristotle
- - - - -

I love this photograph.  I should think it is more a warning to pedestrians than cars, though.  Or it ought to be.

Sometimes we don't always pay attention to signs in the way that we should.  We might read what is written on them, but at the same time we can miss what they are really telling us. 

Like, "This might be a crosswalk, but every crosswalk is a 'Use at your own risk' kind of pathway."