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Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Marriage isn't a tram. It doesn't have to get anywhere.
~ Iris Murdoch
- - - - -


If marriage isn't a tram, what is it? If it doesn't get anywhere is it a chair?

The Marriage Chair might be a good name for a novel. 

In their family, marriage wasn't a love seat. It was a chair. It was a seat for one person while the other stood nearby. One person rested through matrimony while the other stood, worked, ran errands. It was tradition in their household. 

The twins decided to resist the chair. They would - in very different ways - get their own chairs and do their own standing. While their widowed grandmother and mother berated them for their life choices, they stood their ground. When the elders called them lazy, they stay seated and resting. Resting and resisting.

The irony, of course, was that they often rented furniture so as not to be too permanent. They had places to go. They had things to do. They had people to avoid. They couldn't afford to be anchored to a specific apartment just because, "Well, I have this chair."

Yep. I think that would be a pretty good book.

Monday, January 30, 2017


You see, that is the sad, sorry, terrible thing about sarcasm. 
It's really funny.
~ Brandon Sanderson
- - - - -

Given the family in which I was raised, sarcasm isn't really optional. 

One thing I did learn, though. If you try to tease / be sarcastic to someone you don't like and everyone else knows you don't like them - you just seem like a jerk.

Maybe you seem like a jerk other times you're sarcastic, but those people like you, so they don't mind.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


You're incredibly, absolutely, extremely, supremely, 
unbelievably different.
~ Kami Garcia
- - - - -

I changed the direction of one of these forks when Leslie was organizing things for Thanksgiving at her mom's house a few years ago. I then thought about how as an individual one can disrupt conformity. I, as an outsider to the organization of forks, made one fork different from the others. I was able to affect change in that way.

I think the same is true of how we can affect people. By sharing thoughts, facts, information, ways of thinking, ways of being - we can change someone. They become different as a result of our impact on them -- rather (and better) they become different because they were open to hearing other ideas and options.

Another thing you will notice is that there is only one spoon in this photo. It is gone now. It ran away with the dish. It wanted something different as well. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017


Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
~ Athenaeus
- - - - -

I think that it's good that Athenaeus combined these this way. It's like an old timey matching exam where you had to draw lines to match one thing to another:

WOOD                     DRINK

WINE                       READ

FRIENDS                 BURN

AUTHORS               TRUST

And if you were a teacher and gave this quiz and some kid matched the following:

Wood -- Trust
Wine -- Drink
Friends -- Burn
Authors -- Read

Would you be concerned that the kid matched friends and burn or ecstatic that the kid got two of these right since no one reads much Athenaeus anymore? I guess it depends on your teaching philosophy.

Friday, January 27, 2017


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

I am not sure if I agree with this or not. I do agree that it is important to focus on where you are now, today, in this moment. I do believe that some people worry so much about the "What ifs..?" that they miss out on actuating living their lives. 

I'll have to think more about this. 


Seriously, you HAD to see that coming, right? 

Thursday, January 26, 2017


An optimist is a man who plants to acorns and buys a hammock.
~ Jean Lattre de Tassigny
- - - - -

Do you sometimes confuse the words "hammock" and "ham hock"?  Here's an easy way to tell them apart: They are totally different things.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Your photography is a record of your living, 
for anyone who really sees.
~ Paul Strand
- - - - -

I wish I could go back in time and order a Guinness here. I would take a photo with the bottle on the foreground and this behind. I would call the photo "Guinness Walled Records." 

Some of the rest of you may be glad that I can't go back in time. Not so much for the stuff I just posted. More because I'd play some great pranks on you. And by great I mean great for me - you not so much.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


"One must always be careful of books," said Tessa, "And what is inside them, for words have the power to change us."
~ Cassandra Clare
- - - - -
Leslie doesn't like that I arrange my books by color. However, Aurora has her books arranged pretty randomly but I don't see her getting the "Library of Congress" or "Dewey Decimal System" lecture from Leslie.

It's ageism. That's what it is.

Monday, January 23, 2017


They who drink beer will think beer.
~ Washington Irving
- - - - -

And those who drink the blood of headless horsemen will...  You see where I'm going.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


People are more difficult to work with than machines. 
And when you break a person, he can't be fixed.
~ Rick Riordan
- - - - -

People are indeed difficult. Their lack of predictability also makes them incredibly interesting. To me. Yet we continue (and mostly fail) to replace people with machines. I guess because machines are cheaper. But when you invest in cheap things, you get cheap returns. You might get more money, but what is that worth - really - in comparison with the development, support, and happiness of human beings? 


I guess it depends on what you value.

Also, we are not REplacing people with machines. We are simply DISplacing people with machines.

Anyway, above you will find a prototype for the bionic man

Granted, it was an EARLY prototype.

Granted, we haven't moved to far ahead of this prototype.

Granted, I'm doomed when the robots take over. That said, maybe I'm okay because they probably won't read this blog.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Phrases and their actual meanings: "My teacher has never liked me." Expect a phone call before lunch from the teacher informing you that your child has been launching hotdogs by compressing them inside a small thermos and then removing the lid quickly.
~ Erma Bombeck
- - - - -

I don't think I've ever owned a thermos. I vaguely remember that Kirk had one - a Smurf one, I think. Of course, Kirk was allowed to take his lunch. I was not. At least not until we realized that I was allergic to some of the soy filler the school used.

Yes, I have had a very difficult life. But I persist.

Also, if you decided to get a tattoo of a thermos, you would have a thermos tat. Which is a pretty significant commitment for a pretty small joke.

Friday, January 20, 2017


To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing less.
~ Andre Malraux

Leadership is a series of behaviors rather than a role for heroes.” ~ Margaret Wheatley

As a leader, it’s a major responsibility on your shoulders to practice the behavior you want others to follow.
~ Himanshu Bhatia

He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.
~ Aristotle

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It's got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet. 
~ Reverend Theodore Hesburgh

True leaders understand that leadership is not about them but about those they serve. It is not about exalting themselves but about lifting others up.
~ Sheri L. Dew

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.
~ Andrew Carnegie

It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself. ~ Latin Proverb

Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.
Marian Anderson
A noble leader answers not to the trumpet calls of self promotion, but to the hushed whispers of necessity.
Mollie Marti

What you do has far greater impact than what you say. 
~ Stephen Covey

Is there a better quality in a leader than humility when he might soon be granted enormous power to do good for his country and the world -- or harm?
~ Jane Fletcher Geniesse

You don’t lead by hitting people over the head—that’s assault, not leadership. 
~ Dwight Eisenhower

I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.
~ Lao Tzu

True leaders understand that leadership is not about them but about those they serve. It is not about exalting themselves but about lifting others up.
Sheri L. Dew

Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing.
~ Mary D. Poole

Where there is no vision, there is no hope.
~ George Washington Carver
- - - - -

Too subtle?

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.
~ Mark Twain
- - - - -

I don't think Mark Twain majored in horticulture.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
~ Rudyard Kipling
- - - - -

Dear Rudyard,

What stories are there that are appropriate only for boys?

Love, Michelle

Now, I do not really expect a response. Kipling wrote a long time ago when gender was different (was it different - maybe not) and power and privilege were different (were they? again, maybe not all that different). His social and cultural circumstances were different than mine are. The world was both bigger and smaller. The thinking was smaller. I also don't expect a response because he died in 1936.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Congratulations. The fact that you're reading this means that you've taken one giant step toward surviving until your next birthday.
~ James Patterson
- - - - -

Who the hell would feed a wild opossum?

Monday, January 16, 2017


It's good as an artist to always remember to see things in a weird, new way.
~ Tim Burton
- - - - -

What is "weird" anyway? Who gets to define it? 

Would it be weird if you saw two grown adults playing hide and go seek in their house? Would it be weird if the seeker was playing the opening word to song "Hello" by Adele over and over and over again as the seeking was being done? Would it be weird if at one point the seeker realized that they might not be playing hide and go seek but that the "hider" was just in the laundry room folding laundry?

I mean, who is to judge what is weird?

Sunday, January 15, 2017


These days human beings have forgotten what religion is. They have forgotten a peculiar love which united their human nature to Great Nature. This love has nothing to do with human love. Standing in the midst of nature you feel this love of Great Nature... Zen students must experience this peculiar love. This is religion.
~ Sokei-An
- - - - -

So say you are a member of a religion or a cult or a club or whatever that has a belief that only certain people will be saved. You can put whatever parameters on that you want to - beliefs, behaviors, rites, rituals, whatever.

But say that part of it is providing testimony and proselytizing to others to get them to believe what you believe. You have to approach people and share your faith with them. If they don't believe what you do and practice what you do then - you truly believe - they won't survive or make it to whatever is next.

Are you with me?

So, I wonder if people in this position (and there are lots of them, I think), I wonder if they ever intentionally choose NOT to approach someone. I mean, would you go up to someone who was a jerk or someone who really bothered you to get them to be around with you forever?

Your belief system maybe says you are SUPPOSED to do that, but seriously - that guy is SO ANNOYING. 

It's just a question. I'm just wondering. 

I'm not the boss of you or your religion. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017


We all float down here!
~ Stephen King
- - - - -

Natalie is a good mom and wants Aurora to always be prepared. That's why she always reads her a chapter of It at bedtime.

(Note: Some of this post may not be true.)

Friday, January 13, 2017


Through the metal bars of the jungle gym she watches 
two gray squirrels chase each other around a tree. 
Around and around and around. So gratuitous.
~ Thomas Pierce
- - - - -

So many people focus on the scampering and chattering of squirrels. They write about how squirrels gather nuts or play and chase each other up and down and around. How they frolic in the trees jumping from one branch to another. 

I have to tell you, though - squirrels take a LOT of naps. No one writes about the squirrel sleeping alongside the road or in the middle of the road. It's interesting how we focus on only one aspect of their lives. They are active and playful not sleepy roadway snoozers.

So interesting.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


The American Dream never really existed. 
It was a marketing scam.
~ James Altucher
- - - - -

Let's go through the marketing campaign for Prairie Belt smoked sausage in a can.

Person 1: Well, let's make sure the label is yellow and red and blue. That will be eye-catching.

Person 2: Good idea. And let's put a kid on the label.

Person 1: A girl? 

Person 2: No. A boy. A white boy.

Person 1: Is he eating the sausage.

Person 2: No, he's sort of anticipating eating it.

Person 1: So, he's smiling? 

Person 2: Half-smiling. Like he's not sure if he's excited to get to eat this or not.

Person 1: (pause) Talk about truth in advertising.

Person 2: (laughing) Right?!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


I really just want to be warm yellow light 
that pours over everyone I love.
~ Conor Oberst
- - - - -

Yellow light.
Blue light.
Orange light.
Gray light.

I am often drawn to light when I take photos. Well, I may in all honesty be drawn to shadow. The contrast between the light and the dark is fascinating to me. The more interesting things are often not what we see but what remains hidden.

Like surprises in life. Surprises in each day. Like - when you were a child - and there was a surprise hidden in your cereal.

Of course those things didn't stay hidden for long because you dumped out all the cereal to get whatever was in there. You took what was in darkness and moved it into the light. Then you shoved it in your pocket - from darkness to light, to darkness again.

In that way the cereal toy is a symbol of life. 

And what if it was in Life cereal? That would be mind-blowing! 


Except they didn't have toys in Life cereal.

Anyway... yellow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


The reason we want to go on and on is that we live in an impoverished present.
~ Alan Watts
- - - - -

Sometimes the roads we take are clear, but that doesn't mean that they are without risk. There can be danger on either side of the road or on the road ahead or coming up from behind us. Is that a reason to stay home and never venture out and take risks?

Yes. It is one reason. 

Another reason is wasps. 

Monday, January 9, 2017


If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.
~ W. C. Fields
- - - - -

It's a little know fact that the University of Pittsburgh has a bull riding team that they like to take out for walks. 

Is it a little known fact because it isn't true? Well, that's not for me to say.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Stay calm and aggressive.
~ Gabrielle Reece
- - - - -

I don't think that "calm and aggressive" is the same as "passive aggressive." In fact, I don't like the label "passive aggressive." It's really just aggressive. Sometimes aggression is warranted, I suppose. Sometimes you have to be aggressive to be heard or to create transformative change. In those cases I think we should use "assive progressive."

That's probably just me, though. I doubt it will catch on. Unless I become "assive progressive" and really fight for it.

But I'm kind of busy right now.

Saturday, January 7, 2017


I feel it is an obligation to help people understand the relation of food to agriculture and the relationship of food to culture.
~ Alice Waters
- - - - -

Food doesn't just happen. It has to be planted. Grown. Harvested. Made ready for us to eat.

Except for PopTarts and pizza rolls. Those just happen. By magic.

Friday, January 6, 2017


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

I think 2016 was rough for a lot of people. I heard on the radio the other day that one reason could be the recent ugliness of the election. Another reason suggested was that we are constantly inundated with information and don't unplug. And most of the information is negative. And much of it is incorrect. We get notified every time something happens and we never get a break. There were other reasons suggested, too. I forget what they were.

I don't know if I believe that 2016 was more difficult than other years. I believe it was difficult in different ways - as every year is. But it was also good in different ways - as every year is.

I will say that on New Years day when I went to type, "I wonder what the new year will bring" I first accidentally typed, "I wonder what the new year will break." That's kind of revealing.

I'm going to believe it reveals that I'm enjoying the break between fall and spring term. I'm going to believe it means growth. I'm going to try and remember how much I love sea glass and that it wouldn't be what it was if it hadn't been broken and then the rough edges worn smooth.

In ways we are very much like sea glass. Maybe that is another reason I like it. We get broken. We can be jagged at first, but time often makes us smoother and easier to handle. 

We also get significantly smaller if tossed around in the ocean for hundreds of years.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker.  Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy.  Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
~ Thomas J. Watson
- - - - -

There are different levels of being unsafe for each of us. The identities we hold and the experiences we have; the access to power and privilege we each possess; the ways in which the world makes meaning of our existence -- all of these set the stage for how much risk we can take.

For example, it would be unwise to take a risk such as committing an alleged crime if you are a guy with red dreadlocks who is wearing capri pants. At least if you don't want to get caught. I say that not hypothetically but because we got a Clemson alert on this a while back. It might have been one guy with red dreadlocks and a different guy in capri pants, but still - those risks are different than the risks of alleged crime-doing if you are not a guy with red dreadlocks wearing capri pants.

Think before you controversy. Then controversy away. 

On a maybe-related note: why do we dread those locks, anyway?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Remember: Y'all is singular. All y'all is plural. All y'all's in plural possessive.
~ Kinky Friedman
- - - - -

I don't like it when people misuse apostrophe-s ('s). If you're going to misuse it, at least do so consistently. For example, in this case, they should have written: Yo's emite!


Tuesday, January 3, 2017


The conqueror and king in each of us is the Knower of truth. 
Let that Knower awaken in us and drive the horses 
of the mind, emotions, and physical body on
the pathway which that king has chosen.
~ George S. Arundale
- - - - -

What are you doing?
Where are you going?

These are important questions we all need to answer for ourselves.

Sometimes we also have to answer those questions for other people. Like for our moms when we are little kids and we swipe cookies and try to run away. 


Monday, January 2, 2017


Life flies by and it's easy to get lost in the blur. In adolescence it's, 'How do I fit in?' In your 20s it's 'What do I want to do?' In your 30s, 'Is this what I'm meant to do?' I think the trick is living the questions. Not worrying so much about what's ahead but rather sitting int he gray area - being okay with where you are.
~ Chris Pine
- - - - -

The new year is a time of reflection about life for many people. It is a time of anticipation of what is next in life for others - what will the new year bring? Yesterday when I woke up I went to the window to see what 2017 was like. I saw a squirrel burying an acorn in our yard. I looked up what it means if you see a squirrel. I think I read on the internet (our only source for information anymore) that it can mean happiness in the near future and good luck.

I like that. I think I'll assume that is true.

Of course then I went to the refrigerator and realized that Leslie had put cocktail sauce where my bottle of Cran-Grape juice goes, so I guess that's the end of happiness. Or maybe she was trying to play a prank thinking I'd try to drink a glass of cocktail sauce. 

Either way, it didn't bring about happiness. I had to take one of the precious New Year's Day moments to move the cocktail sauce. Now I'm already behind schedule for the year.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from your like the leaves of autumn.
~ John Muir
- - - - -

I believe this.

2016 was a difficult year for a lot of people. Maybe 2017 will be, too. I don't know. I'm not psychic. I'm not even regular chic.

Anyway, I hope you find peace.