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Friday, July 31, 2015


I am a part of everything that I have read.
~ Theodore Roosevelt
- - - - -

Sometimes we read for fun.  Sometimes we read to educate ourselves.  Sometimes we read because we are compelled to by employer or teacher or partner or child.  Sometimes we read absentmindedly - looking at the words like squiggly sketches, but not making meaning of how the letters are assembled together.

If we read well or if we work as we read, we are filled with as many or more questions than information.  What we read should, ideally inspire us to read more.  Learn more.  Want to try to understand more.

Like the image above.  I read it and thought it said, "jelly beans covered in a nutritious shell!"

Then I had to read more so I could understand.  So I did.

And I understood I had misread it the first time.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Journal writing is like a voyage to the interior.
~ Christina Baldwin
- - - - -
I have a journal Leslie gave me.  It is small and brown leather.  It has my initial on it.  I write things in it.  At the end of the year some of my students gave me a picture of me with a journal and they said it contained thoughts and jokes and they weren't really sure what I wrote in the journal.
Thoughts and jokes is about it.  Quotes.  Ideas.  Stuff I want to remember or think about again later.
Anyway, today as I write this post, I'm sitting in the library at Duquesne.  I am working on my blog.  I have written dates in the back of the journal and am crossing them out when I write posts for that day.  There is one Librariman who keeps walking by and looking at me.
I think he thinks I'm defacing a library book.
I am not. 
Why am I sort of amused that he thinks I might be, though?
Because I am easily sort of amused, I guess.
Or maybe I am defacing the book.  It's not a library book, but I am definitely messing up the pages in this journal.  But I like my mess.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship and compassion.
~ Simone de Beauvoir
- - - - -
Sometimes you have to look really hard to find things to love about some people.  Sometimes they hide their lovableness really, really, really well.  Sometimes they hide it so well that you think maybe they aren't lovable at all.
And they aren't.  They are prickly and easily put into fear-driven rages and they lash out at you and shoot you down and cause you tremendous pain.  Like a million needles being thrown at you all at once.
Wait.  I'm thinking of porcupines.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


We're like ants at the picnic.  We don't eat much but nobody wants us there.
~ Rodney Olson
- - - - -

I have an ongoing battle with fire ants in my yard.  I have only been bitten once, but that was enough for me to know that I would like them to live (or not live) somewhere else.  I went to the store and an older guy who seemed to know what he was talking about took me to a secret part of the store and handed me a container of powder.  The container looked like it had been on the shelf for a long time.

"This," he said firmly, "is what you need to use.  Only this."

So I took it.  It worked.  Well, sorta.  The fire ants have gradually moved around the yard.  Each time I use it, a new nest spring up somewhere else.  It's sort of like 'Whack a Mole" only it's "Poison a bunch of Ants."

I was telling Leslie about it - because I tell her about the stuff I do almost all the times.  She paused and then said, "I wonder if fire ants are like jalapeños to birds."

She isn't always helpful with my lawn issues, but she does give me things to think about.

Monday, July 27, 2015


America was not built on fear.  America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.
~ Harry S. Truman
- - - - -
The other day I was talking with Leslie's mom.  Well, mostly she was talking to me.  She was telling me about the work she used to do.  She used to make charts and graphics for reports for steel companies.  It required setting letters and converting data into tables and such. 
Anyway, she said that one of the first jobs she got, they said that they wouldn't hire her unless she wore glasses.
"Why?!" I asked wondering if this was some outdated, paternalistic way of controlling women in the workforce.  Or if it was a PR stunt to make the office seem more intellectual.  Or if it was to keep men from "making passes at girls who wear glasses" thus increasing productivity among the staff.
I was interested in hearing about how this - now outdated practice - affected her experience in her workplace environment.
Instead she told me why they wouldn't hire her until she wore glasses.
"It was because I couldn't see," she said.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.
~ Oscar Wilde
- - - - -

Leslie's mom does not like Spam.  She says that she has eaten it, but I'm not sure if she has.  I don't know why, but I feel compelled to see if I can't prepare Spam in a way she would like it.  I don't really eat Spam, but this challenge constantly plagues me.

In order to get her to eat it, I think I'd have to lie about what I was serving, though.

I just find it hard to lie to people.  Well, to old people.  Well... 

Who am I kidding?  I am off to perfect my Spam aspic. 


Never mind.  I don't feel very well.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


My father would take me to the playground and put me on mood swings.
~ Jay London
- - - - -
So, I never thought about it until writing this, but where did playgrounds come from? I did some research and found out that they were part of a social welfare movement to get kids outside and socializing and keep them active when many of them lived in cramped quarters. People wanted kids to get fresh air.
Seems like time for that kind of movement again.

Movements for movement.

But I don't think they should promote bowling as part of the movements.  Because "bowl movement" and "bowel movement" are just too close, you know?

Friday, July 24, 2015


Why was I born with such contemporaries?
~ Oscar Wilde
- - - - -
I ask why a lot, I guess.  Often to myself.  Often with my inside [my head] voice. 
I see things like the Splendored Spaniels and the Princess Pussyfoot above and I wonder why?  Why do these things exist?  Why would anyone ever buy them?
Sometimes I wonder "what?" too.  What were people thinking by creating these?  What would you do if you got them as a gift?
Or "how?"  How did I get on a mailing list with the same people who would like these things?  What did I do to deserve that?  Why me?
So many questions?  So much questionable home décor...

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake which I also keep handy.
~ W. C. Fields
- - - - - 

So the other night I dreamt there was a snake in my house.  I sort of wrestled it into submission, but then let it go ahead and slither around my house.  It was a wild snake, but maybe I thought I had tamed it.  I'm not sure.

Then - again still in my dream - I opened a new gallon of orange juice and a snake slithered out of it.  It was choking and gasping.

When I told Leslie about the dream she said that it meant that "Orange is the New Black" is satanic.

I just remember thinking in my dream, "Wow.  How fresh IS that orange juice?"

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Time is a great storyteller.
~ Irish Proverb
- - - - -
I agree.  Time is a good storyteller.  It is full of surprises and twists and turn and drama and tragedy and comedy and intensity and insensitivity and all the other stuff that there is.
The problem is, you have to wait so long to hear the story.  You only get it in increments. Details - second by second. And by themselves they don't make sense. What's crazy is we try to make sense of them as they come when they don't make sense until much later. Stories told by time are like that.

Also, I do think there are some decent stories in Newsweek.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk.  That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.
~ Ernest Hemingway
- - - - -

When I see a wooden wine stopper puppet thing drinking, I think, "Wow, that is ironic."  Is it because the stopper has some facial characteristics that might indicate he could have a drinking problem?  Is it because it is sort of toy which might encourage children to drink?  No.  It's because that bottle stopper puppet thing is drinking beer.  He doesn't even like wine.

Monday, July 20, 2015


Like tourists huffing and puffing to reach the peak we forget the view on the way up.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
- - - - -

I saw Leslie taking a photo of this, so I took one too.  Then I realized that she was focusing in on the fact that the "Scenic Overlook" sign was right by the garbage can.

She is funny.  And she notices things I do not.

"Striking Detritus."

That could be the name of this photo.  Or a band. 

Or a protest movement by sanitation workers.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.
~ Wallace Stevens
- - - - -

Like the saying goes, "Too much control to a kid is a bad thing."  (pause)  Granted it is not a hugely popular saying, but that's not my point.

My point is when a kid says, "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream," do NOT -- I repeat DO NOT give that kid ice cream.  Otherwise you're just rewarding that behavior and setting yourself up for a lifetime of temper tantrums.


Of course if your kid says, "I scream, you scream, we all scream for healthy fruits and vegetables," I don't know what to tell you.  I just don't know.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Trees are your best antiques.
~ Alexander Smith
- - - - -

I like that idea. Nature is old. And matters. And is beautiful in its own right.  We should appreciate it more.

Like if I saw Bigfoot climb a tree and got pictures of that, I would really value that tree. Because I bet I could cut it down and cut it into pieces and sell it for a lot.

And also if I had a baby girl right now, I would name her Anne Teak.  In honor of trees.

And I would wonder what in the world happened that I suddenly had a baby.

Friday, July 17, 2015


We read to know we're not alone.
~ William Nicholson
- - - - -

I have gotten better about checking my phone before I hit send...  Not always, but sometimes.  I probably exercise more care when it is people at work or students or people I don't know well.

For example, in the not too distant past, I was asked to take a look at a draft of a paper.  I responded that I would do it over the weekend, but that the student should let me know if she needed me to do it sooner.

But my phone - which sometimes I think hates me - autocorrected my text so it read, "I can read it over the weekend, but let me know if you want me to do it sober."

Maybe my phone doesn't hate me.  Maybe it just has the same sense of humor I would have if I was a phone.  

Or maybe instead of getting a smart phone I accidentally bought one of those smart ass phones.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


I reckon I am a smart aleck, but it is just a way to pass the time.
~ Robert Penn Warren
- - - - -

You: Hey, look!  There's a bridge on Michelle's blog!  That hardly ever happens.

Me: I think you're being sarcastic.

You: Me? No. Never.

Me: You know I do have a lot of bridges on my blog.

You: Really? I hadn't noticed. I noticed all trees and stuff.  And fungi.  You have a lot of fungi on your blog.

Me:  This is a mockery.  You are a smart aleck.

You:  But that's better than being a stupid aleck, right?

Me:  Is it "aleck" or "alec"?

You:  How can you tell how what I said is spelled?

Me: I know you.  I know how you are.

These are not always the conversations I have in my head.  Which probably makes a few of you sad.  And probably makes most of the rest of you relieved.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.
~ Flora Whittemore
- - - - -

Today is Leslie's last day working at Duquesne.  She has done a lot there.  She has taught and engaged with a lot of students.  She has collaborated with a lot of people.  She has been patient with a lot of challenging personalities.  She has endured a lot of perverts (the Duquesne Police Chief once said, "Libraries attract perverts."  It's my favorite quote about libraries.)

Most importantly, she has made a lot of people laugh and feel cared about.  Which is the same thing.  You can't help someone laugh and  not help them with bigger things too.  That's one of the important things we do for each other.

A lot of things have changed in the years Leslie has worked at Duquesne.  Some things have stayed the same.  She is still a hard worker.  She still makes people feel cared about by making them laugh. And even though you have to swipe in to get into the library on her campus, libraries still attract perverts.  I guess they just loiter outside more now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


I do not knowingly kill any living thing - including insects and rodents - and I thank my food for sustaining me.
~ Joan Jett
- - - - -

At first I thought that maybe Alvin and the Chipmunks recorded "I Love Rock and Roll" on the album "Chipmunk Punk." But they didn't.  I was confused.  The recorded "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar instead.

If they HAD recorded a Joan Jett song, then of course she wouldn't kill them because the royalties would be providing that food and sustaining her. Instead I guess they are sustaining Pat Benatar.

And why is it "Alvin and the Chipmunks?" Alvin IS a chipmunk.  It's not like he's a hyena or a kangaroo or a plumber.  He's a chipmunk.

I like chipmunks and squirrels.  Unless I look at their feet / hands for too long.  Then I get a little weirded out...

Monday, July 13, 2015


Crystals grew inside the rock like arithmetic flowers. They lengthened and spread, adding plane to plane in an awed and perfect obedience to an absolute geometry that even stones - maybe only the stones - understood.
~ Annie Dillard
- - - - -

You can't know what is in a rock until it cracks or you crack it.  Just like you can't  know what is in a person until they let you in.  Well, if you're a geologist you might know what the inside of a rock looks like.  And if you're a psychologist or a doctor you might have an idea of what is going on inside of a person.

My point is, that we need to share if we want people to really know what is going on in our worlds.  Or at least what we notice and value.

Like this.

Me: The guy who invented the pet rock died.

Leslie: That was DAYS ago.

Me: I know!  But I've been busy and haven't had a chance to tell you!


There are probably better examples than that.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Every family has a skeleton in the cupboard.
~ Proverb
- - - - -

I hate that idea. I understand skeletons in the closet or the attic, but the cupboard? Gross. However, that does explain a lot about Old Mother Hubbard.


Saturday, July 11, 2015


Be as you wish to seem.
~ Socrates
- - - - -


Woman: I need a baby shower card.

Girl: Here's a "Get Well" card.  Will that work?

Woman: (pauses, reads it)  No.

Friday, July 10, 2015


What's a rainy day
without some delicious
coffee-flavored loneliness?
~ Sanober Khan
- - - - -

I wonder sometimes if we come up with new flavors or just reuse and recombine old flavors.


Okay, in all honesty I'm not sure I've ever really wondered that until just now.  Sometimes I have to stretch to come up with a beginning for my blog.  Still, you have to wonder about it now that I brought it up, right?

The other day Leslie was reading something about a restaurant that had a bunch of new chicken wing flavors.  She said, "Haven't they come up with all of the good chicken wing combinations?  What's left?!  Black licorice?!"

Leslie is icky sometimes.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


I am a part of all I have met; yet all experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move.
~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson
- - - - -

If everything I know about archery is a lie
And I know nothing about archery
Nothing I know is a lie
Everything I know is the truth

PS. I know that archery isn't the making of arches.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what kind of person you are.
~ C. S. Lewis
- - - - -

When Leslie and I go out on adventures, she helps me find and see things.  The photo above was taken on our adventure to the crash site of the plane Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were on in Iowa.  She literally helped me find the place using a 
map / GPS.

But I'm talking about more than just that.  She looks at the world in her own way.  She helps me see things I might otherwise miss.  I have gotten some really good photos thanks to her ideas and suggestions and things she spotted.

Leslie: If it wasn't for me, you'd only see half the world.

Me: That's because I only have two eyes and you have ---


Tuesday, July 7, 2015


It isn't the oceans which cut us off from the world - it's the American way of looking at things.
~ Henry Miller
- - - - -

I like the beach.  I like the ocean.  It has been a while since I have been to the ocean.  Maybe I'll go sometime soon.

When Leslie visited a few weeks ago we went to the Clemson University beach.  They have one.  And we saw this sign.

I am not one to read rules and regulations.  I know that might seem ironic given my past occupation, but I figure if I let common sense guide me then I can say, "Oh, I didn't realize that was against the rules.  I didn't see the sign with all those rules on it," if I get caught doing something wrong.

Leslie, on the other hand, tends to read rules.  And to follow ones.  At least the ones that make sense.

In the case of this set of rules, I was glad she read it.  If she hadn't I might have chosen to sit on the beach and that is clearly not permitted.

Monday, July 6, 2015


While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than we can see with our eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.
~ Dorothea Lange
- - - - -

I love photos.  I love to take great photos.  I love to see great photos other people take.

Now, don't misunderstand me.  I am not posting all of this thinking that the above is a great photo.  I think there are interesting things about it, but it probably isn't a great photo per se.  I like it.  I think it's kind of bold.  I can't tell if it would be better if the phone line on the right was out of the photo all together or more in the photo.  I am tempted to think more in would be better.

My point is, that usually when I take photos and post them on Facebook I get at least a few likes.  One day I posted the above photo and no one liked it.  I thought, "Hm.  No one likes that photo.  I guess I was right.  It isn't that good."  And then I posted another photo later.  No one liked it either.

Then I thought, "I must be losing my photographic eye.  Or else people's tastes have shifted and they aren't interested in what I'm interested in in terms of images."

Then I posted a third photo.  It was this:

And I said something about how I had a 3D printer and didn't see what the big deal was.  And no one liked that either.
Then I realized something MUST be wrong because - seriously - that is pretty funny.
And then I realized that I had my photos set so that I was the only one who could se them.
And then I realized that as much as I say that I post things for my own amusement, that isn't 100% true.
And then I realized that - while I am definitely an introvert in real life - I am quite a huge attention-seeker in my online / FB and blogging life.
And then I realized what a mystery I am and how someone should write a book about me.
And then I realized that the best person to do that is sitting right here in front of this keyboard typing this post right now.
And then I realized how I can't wait to read that book.
And then I realized it was late and I should probably wrap it up.
And then I realized that there should be a word called "fakeized" because some people are in denial and what they realize isn't real at all.
But of course I'm talking about other people, not me.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
~ Robert F. Kennedy
- - - - -

So, you may have realized that this isn't really a food blog.  I suppose I could write a food blog since I eat food almost every day, but that isn't what this blog is about.


Today however, I do want to acknowledge that I tried this type of "limited batch" yogurt.  I figured it wouldn't be that great since you don't see watermelon-dairy products very often.  Although, I guess, you do sometimes see watermelon on a fruit tray next to a cheese and meat platter.  

Anyway, I tried this.  It wasn't horrible, but it was... disconcerting.  The flavor didn't align with the texture.

That said, I am very comfortable assuming that my consumption of this product and the lacking enjoyment thereof could certainly be user error.  I might not have had the correct mindset to enjoy this.  Maybe if I had prepared myself better it would have been wonderful.

We won't know because I don't think I'll try this again.  I'm not generally a quitter, but I can say that I have always - without exception - given up on watermelon yogurt after the first time I've tried it.

Saturday, July 4, 2015


When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat.
~ Mark Twain
- - - - -

The United States of America has been through a lot of late.  I wonder if it is because there is no "WE" in America.  There is a "ME" and also an "I."  Maybe that is part of the problem.

But then, there is an US in the U.S., so that's something.

I know lots of people celebrate the Fourth of July in lots of different ways.  There doesn't have to be a single right way to do things.  Or left way for that matter.  Change is constant.  Change can be good.  Making the world a better place - including making our country a better place takes effort.  It doesn't happen by itself.  

After all, they're called fireWORKs not fireSITAROUND&DONOTHINGS.  

We have common ground.  Technically we are sharing ground and space and air.  Maybe we can share some watermelon today, too.  There is, after all, a WE in watermelon.  

(I know there is also a ME, but let's ignore that for now, okay?)

Also, if the watermelon sort of loses all of its water on the counter in the kitchen and then deflates like an alleged football in an alleged high-profile game, let's not eat that watermelon.  And let's remember that no one ever deflated a baseball.  Which is why it's America's Pastime.

Have a nice day, everyone.

Friday, July 3, 2015


We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing and inclusion.
~ Max de Pree
- - - - -

Sometimes I get an idea.  It isn't fully formed.  I have to let it sit for a minute to make sense of it.  To be honest, there are lots of times I don't make sense of it at all.  But I still try.  Sometimes.  Sometimes I don't really try that hard, though.

Anyway, the other night I was listening to the 2003 Pet Shop Boys cover of "You Were Always on My Mind."  It's pretty good.  If you haven't listened to it in a while, you should.

So then I was thinking about the Pet Shop Boys.  I was thinking how the guy who created the Pet Rock just died.  Then a thought came into my mind.  It was, "The Pet Rock Shop Boys."  Then I thought, I wonder if someone else thought of that.

I looked on the internet of all knowledge and didn't find it.

So I had the thought first.  


Still haven't really figured out what to do with it though.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Nobody creates a fad.  It just happens. People love going along with the idea of a beautiful pig.  It's like a conspiracy.
~ Jim Henson
- - - - -

So, I was going to write a totally different kind of post to go with this photo.  I will still write it, but I will put it with some other picture.  


Settle in everyone and let me tell you a story...

Once upon a time I wrote something to someone about sausage.  Then I was going to write a post about it and I saw this photo of the pig snout and thought it would be funny.  Then when I went to look up a quote to go with it, I came across a LONG quote by Upton Sinclair.


I didn't read the quote.  I didn't need to.  I remember The Jungle and what it was about.

So then I felt sad and bad about writing about sausage with this photo of the cute little pig peeking out of a truck.

It probably shouldn't matter.  I doubt that the pig in this picture is still around.  And while s/he may have read The Jungle (seems like it might be a part of the porcine canon) I am very confident s/he isn't reading my blog.

Still...  Cute pig.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.
~ Confucius
- - - - -

Nature is fun.  I think it's good to teach kids about nature.  I also think it's good to teach grownups about nature.  

Mom: (to baby looking at picture of blue heron on the door) See the birdie?  "Tweet!  Tweet!"

Leslie: (to me) That's not the sound a heron makes.

Me: (to Leslie) What kind of sound does a giraffe make?


Of course grownups can be know-it-alls.  But I find that when I am starting to be a know-it-all, if someone asks me a question to which I do not know the answer, that makes me stop and reflect.  And then I realize that I am simply a know-it-almost-all.

And you know what?  Some people think that being a know-it-all is a bad or an arrogant thing.  It's not.  It's good.  It's at least better than being a know-nothing which is a bad and an ignorant thing. And also a pretty outdated affiliation since that party peaked in 1850s.  However, I still suspect there are some members of Congress who are know-nothings.  


Again, this blog sometimes just goes where it wants to go.