Monday, January 31, 2011

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

This just in from out of Denver, Colorado:

9NEWS Traffic Reporter Amelia Earhart says drivers on Tuesday morning can expect speeds on the major roadways to be very slow again. Many overpasses and ramps are still icy and slick.

Now this is a Scooby-Doo moment if ever I had one.  My feet are blurred as I skid to a stop, cock my head, look quizzically into the camera and say, "Huh?"

I know we are still having massive employment cut backs and lay offs but I had no idea the position of world famous missing aviatrix was that risky.  I guess she got laid off and had to look for another job.  Not that I think reporting traffic would be any easier than disappearing and staying disappeared.  And what does Amelia Earhart know about traffic in Denver?  And at her age (she must be about a hundred ten by now) should she be running around outside reporting traffic in such inclement weather.  This is troubling on so many different levels.  And those guys who think they found her bones on that South Sea Island are sure in for a surprise.

Not the same Earhart you say?

Oh.  Never mind.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Classic Situations For Catapults

Years ago my brother and I watched the movie 'Advance To The Rear' and were completely taken by a line delivered by Melvyn Douglas:  "This is a classic situation for a catapult."
Come on.  Who wouldn't be captivated by that line?
In addition to Douglas, the movie starred Glenn Ford, Stella Stevens, Jim Backus, Alan Hale Jr., and Jesse Pearson still euphoric from being Conrad Birdie.  The movie was forgettable -- something about the Civil War.
But the line spoken by Melvyn Douglas will never be forgotten, at least not by my brother and not my me.
Ever since we saw that movie, doubtless on some rainy Saturday afternoon, we've been looking for the perfect time to deliver that line.  The problem is that not too many situations present themselves as classic situations for catapults.
Imagine, then, my heartbreak when I heard on the news while driving home the other evening that the newest way to get street drugs across the Mexican border into this country is with the use of a catapult!
And that, my friends, truly is a classic situation for a catapult.
Naturally since both my brother and I are law abiding citizens we will have to content ourselves with continuing to fling cooked spaghetti across the room at each other.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

You Gotta Read 'But This Is Different'

To purchase But This Is Different visit

from 'The San Gabriel Valley Examiner' - Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2011

It's All In The Name

Here's how she introduced herself in her bizarre response to President Obama's State of the Union address:
My name is Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
Here's another example of a weird name.
I way too often hear a commercial on the radio for some ambulance chasing attorney who introduces himself by saying:  "My name is DUI Attorney Myles L. Berman".  In his commercial he states that 'anyone can get a DUI' but that's not my point right now even though I feel an obligation to state the obvious that not just anyone can get a DUI because those citations are pretty much limited to people who are driving under the influence.

Do both Bachmann and Berman really think that their current titles or occupations are also their names?  Or did their parents actually, in amazingly predictive moments, name a daughter Congresswoman and a son DUI Attorney?
Surely it's not possible that we are so out of touch with our language that we can no longer communicate coherently.
No.  That cannot be the case.
Therefore I'm going with the amazingly predictive moments at the time of child naming theory.
That theory explains to my complete satisfaction why I've lately been meeting people with names such as 'Unemployed Way Too Long' and 'Bat Shit Crazy' and 'Mean Spirited Susie'.
Oh yeah.  Just to round things out, I've also recently met people with names such as 'Kind With No Hidden Agenda' and 'Doing His Best' and 'Always Optimistic'.

Climbing Down The Career Ladder

I need some advice. I'm filling out the "Professional Development Plan" that is required by the eighteen-month County Management Academy I'm enrolled in, and I think my response needs a little sprucing-up. So far I've got, "I hope to achieve a level within the county hierarchy in which I will have less to do, more time to do it, and receive a bigger paycheck whether or not I actually get it done." Thoughts?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's How We Live That Matters

Jack LaLanne died on January 23 at the age of 96.  Rush Limbaugh - always eager and never missing a chance to remind us that he is a pompous, obese, venom spewing fool - had these words to say about the man who inspired millions to take better care of themselves:

All this gobbledygook about nutrition and exercise, I've always pooh-poohed it, and I've always laughed at it and the Center for Science in the Public Interest and all this healthy Nazi eating lifestyle, all that rotgut.  Over the course of the years, the SUV is gonna kill us, that kind of stuff, it just offends my sensibilities, it's an insult to my intelligence, and it's always amused me.  It doesn't surprise me because I know a lot of people are sheep, but it's always amused me. Jack LaLanne was a vegetarian, look what happened to him?  He died.  Jack LaLanne was a vegetarian exercise freak and look what happened to him.  He passed away.  It's amazing, isn't it? 
 When Jack LaLanne was Rush Limbaugh's age he swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge -- under water -- while towing one thousand pounds.  Oh.  He was also handcuffed.  He was a vegetarian who ate only organic, unprocessed foods.  Limbaugh, on the other hand, is a bottom feeder who gorges himself on lies and hypocrisy.

We are the sum total of everything we put into our mouths.  Unfortunately for old Rush we are also the sum total of everything that comes out of our mouths.

Concerns About The Color Codes

I was just reading about Homeland Security's plan to scrap the color coded threat-level warnings. My guess is John Boehner felt like it was racial profiling to keep referring to threat level “Orange.”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hey You Backers

Here's my question to you.  Why do you do that?
I direct this question not to people who back worthy causes by giving money or time.  Oh, no.  I don't care why you all back your causes.  Just keep doing it.
Here's what aggravates me -- the people who back into parking spaces.
Why do you do that, I ask again.
I've even started stopping people who back into parking spaces and asking them why they do this and they say things like because it's easier to get out or because the vehicle (generally some sort of behemoth) is easier to maneuver when going backwards.  If that's the case why don't I see you backing along the 210 freeway first thing in the morning?  Huh?
The other day I saw a truck take off the side of a Volvo as it's driver with added maneuverability and ease tried to back into a parking space.
So I say to all of you backers of vehicles large and small into parking spaces wide and narrow, get over yourselves and park correctly.
There.  I'm done.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fair Warning

Warning!! Tomorrow, I will be coloring OUTSIDE the lines.
(I just wanted to give you all a head's up to make the appropriate preparations).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What Kobe Said

I was browsing through the Sunday sports section of the L.A. Times this morning when I came upon the following quote from Kobe Bryant. Informed that New Yorkers have been chanting "MVP" for Knicks player Amare Stoudemire, Kobe said, "The home crowds chant MVP for anybody. They chant MVP for Earl Boykins in Milwaukee".

Earl Boykins is a professional basketball player in the NBA. He is 5'5" tall. That is one inch taller than I am. I can't get items off of the top shelf in the supermarket. Earl Boykins can get a ball into a basket ten feet off the floor. I move, with minor inconvenience, in a world of people several inches taller than I. Earl Boykins makes his living playing hoops with men who are more than a foot taller than he is. He played college ball for Eastern Michigan State, from which he graduated. Kobe never spent a day in college.

Finally, on December 21st, in front of a Lakers home crowd, Milwaukee beat the pants off the Lakers, 98-79. Earl Boykins scored a game-high 22 points. Kobe was ejected from the game after a temper tantrum cost him two technical fouls.

So, they chant MVP for Earl Boykins in Milwaukee? Maybe they should. Good idea, Kobe.

I've Done It Again

And I deserve no pity.  I've read another Patricia Cornwell  novel.  Like any addict relapsing, I told myself with every turn of every page to put the thing down and never touch another.  Yet, I kept reading.  With every turn of every page I reminded myself that I was reading one of the most stupid books ever written.  Yet, I kept reading.  I'm looking for a People Who Read Bad Books Anonymous group to join and like most of the bad books I've read, the acronym for the organization makes no sense.
Seriously.  As unbelievable as it must be, I think Patricia Cornwell is getting paid by the word.  She describes ersatz technical tools in more detail than did the technical writers describing how to put the tools together.  As in most of her books the plot is too convoluted to make any sense.  And the story, whatever the story was, ends as pointlessly as it began.
The book itself weighted more than most unabridged dictionaries.
I was embarrassed to carry it around with me and yet I did.  Sure enough someone stopped me and said, "Oh.  You're reading Patricia Cornwell."  I froze in my tracks while I considered looking at the tome in my hand and feigning shock and surprise while shrieking, "What?  How did this piece of shit get in my hand?".  But I didn't.  I simply stared blankly.  Then the person said somewhat sheepishly, "I read her, too.  Isn't she awful?"
At last a kindred soul also living in shame.
Thus the PWRBBA organization is formed.
You can join but only if you want.  Just don't tell anyone.

Ah For A Cup of Joe

I was changing channels last night, and that commercial for "Save the Children," wherein the guy with the beard says, “For the price of a cup of coffee, just 97 cents a day…" came on. Well, my little Junior Rain Man, who never misses a detail and gets to have a hot chocolate whenever I need to make a Starbucks stop, blurted out “97 Cents?! You should get your coffee there, ‘cause yours costs like four bucks!" Unfortunately, I'm not sure that he fully grasped the fiscal liabilities involved in traveling to a third-world country to buy a cup of coffee.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Auto Ballet

This is Southern California where the only way to get from one place to another is by automobile -- your own automobile.  Anyone who thinks they can stand on a busy street corner here in LaLaLand, raise a hand, and a taxi will appear is clearly just off the boat from Manhattan Island where public transportation is a way of life.  No, here in LaLaLand we get in our cars and travel anywhere from a few hundred yards to hundreds of miles to get to where we want to be.  We live in a suspended state of disbelief.  We trust that our vehicles will never break down because if they do break down then we are truly stranded -- up the creek without a paddle so to speak.  Two adults live in my household and we each own our own vehicle.  We travel in opposite directions for work.  There is no way to share.  Imagine, then, the logistics involved when one vehicle needs the attention of Boris, the mechanic down at the foot of our hill.  If we know ahead of time, we can rent a car.  Taken by surprise, we can perhaps borrow a car from a neighbor.  Lately, though, the neighbor with two cars in her household and only one driver has been using the vehicle she rarely uses because her car fell victim to one of the famous Los Angeles pot holes.  Flattened both right side tires and broke stuff essential to driving.  Her car has been in the shop for a few weeks, now, hopefully at the expense of the City of Los Angeles.  One of our two cars developed odd electrical problems which profoundly impacted the ability of its windshield wipers to function in any type of coherent manner.  When turned on they would go in random speeds and random directions.  When turned off they would still go in random speeds and directions.  The only way to stop them was to shut off the engine.  So Boris had that somewhat demented vehicle for the past week while we rented a car for our second car needs.  Forgetting that there is a separate time zone called Boris, we took him at his word when he said the car would be ready to go this morning.  We returned the rental car, went out for breakfast, and stopped at Boris' to pick up the we assumed now perfectly functioning vehicle.  What a sobering sight to see the car's hood on its roof along with all sorts of wires and inexplicable gadgets.  Boris, always intense, seemed even more troubled as he explained the difficulty locating parts of a Saturn brand vehicle.  He hoped to have everything working later on today but maybe not until Monday.
Reality has settled like a dark cloud upon our household.
We have only one car.
Maybe the next door neighbor has gotten her second and primary vehicle back from the shop.  Maybe we can borrow her other vehicle.  Maybe we will go back to Avis and reclaim our rental car.  Or maybe we will sink into denial and not worry about it until Monday.
Here in LaLaLand life is not always glamor and good food, you know.

How Golden Is Silence?

I just read a story on the Discovery website about a mute woman who regained her voice through an experimental larynx transplant procedure. She was quoted saying, "I never want to stop talking!" Her husband was also quoted in the article. He was quietly mumbling, "I'm gonna hurt that doctor. Gonna hurt that doctor real bad." In a related story, Barbara Walters is adding another chair on “The View."

Friday, January 21, 2011

How Communities Heal

 United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords left Tucson today to continue her recovery in Houston.  Tucson wants her back as soon as possible.  In the meantime, Tucson will keep doing its best to heal.  These pictures were taken Wednesday night outside the Tucson hospital where Gabby was hospitalized within an hour after having been shot in the head.  A labyrinth of flowers and candles and drawings and stuffed hippos in which the stunned, the weeping, and the praying wandered stated in a power no words can hold the impact the shootings have had on Tucson.  May Giffords heal speedily and may her community also heal.

Tucson Weeps

More Tucson

More Tucson #2

These drawings are by our girlie.

These drawings are by our girlie.

These drawings are by our girlie.

Our girlie's drawings in the context of the greater tribute.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Modern Shrine

The Other Family Human and I drove to Tucson, and I dropped her off at a meeting. Of course I was aware of what happened in Tucson two weeks ago and also that I was very near the spot where it happened, but I wasn't thinking about that. I was thinking that I saw a Bank of America across the street and that I was low on cash. So I crossed the street. As I reached the opposite corner I saw a collection of wilting flowers, burnt out candles, stuffed toys, and notes. I looked up and saw the sign that said "La Toscana Village"; the same sign that I had seen on endless television news shows as they covered the shootings which killed six and wounded thirteen others on that Saturday morning. I realized that I was only yards away from the Safeway store where it happened. I don't think of myself as a voyeur, but it seemed almost callous to be that close to the site of the mayhem and not walk over to bear witness. The Safeway looked just like any other suburban supermarket in any suburban community in America, although the surrounding foliage does limit the setting to the Southwest. Another shrine was set up in the exact spot where the shooting had taken place, more balloons, stuffed toys, and hundreds of notes and cards. People were driving and walking by to pay homage. People were also walking in to do their grocery shopping. I stood there for a few moments, thinking of the pain caused by one man with a gun and God only knows what going on in his head, of how an ordinary day can become life-changing in a matter of seconds and of what philosopher Hannah Arendt named "the banality of evil". Then I went back to the bank, used their ATM, and went on about my way.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On The Road Again

I like road trips.  There's something about tossing everything you need for the next several days into a small motorized container, crawling into the container yourself, and driving away to see the sights.  Sometimes the sights are no farther away than a couple hundred miles but nevertheless it's a road trip.  The road trips of my childhood were primarily goal driven.  My father looked at land for which to yearn or consider purchasing.  I don't recall that we ever actually bought anything we saw -- ranches large and small -- but we saw the sights of Texas and Nevada and even California where who would think cattle ranches ever existed beyond the times when most of southern California belonged to Mexico.  Those land searches masked as vacations still inform my road trips.  I find myself looking at the classified ads or the real estate hand outs searching for the perfect piece of property to buy or at least to consider for a few fleeting seconds buying.
Road trips.  They're not necessarily about getting physically away from wherever it is I am most of the time but more about getting mentally and emotionally away so that when I come back home I'm not exactly right back where I started the trip from but a little more on the course of where my greater road trip leads me.
Happy trails.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vacations And New Year's Resolutions

They're a lot alike, you know?  On New Year's Eve we make all sorts of resolutions.  I'll change this and do that and accomplish this.  Generally by the end of the Rose Parade we've either forgotten our good intentions or already declared them impossible.  Vacations wind up generally with the same result.  We remind ourselves of the need to relax, to spend quiet time, to sit in a sports bar watching half a dozen different events none of which we care about but seem to dull us into relaxation, determine to read more and think less and then the vacation ends and we go back to work.  Before we get off the freeway on our first day back we've gotten all tensed up again and declared not enough hours in the day to do much of anything except work and feel the weight of wasted years.
Got any suggestions?

Maybe It Is Magic

I like magic acts.  I know.  I know.  The magic is no more than a practiced trick.  The coins don't really come out of the magician's ear but were, instead, hidden in his hand all along.  And when the magician said 'abracadabra' and uncovered the recently empty then covered with silk scarf and now filled with pigeons cage the birds didn't magically appear but instead entered the cage through a trap door and we gasped because with the word 'abracadabra' we knew something magical would happen.
The Aramaic language dates back at least 1200 years BCC (Before The Common Era).  Here's a phrase from that ancient language that may sound familiar:
אברה  כדברא
It's pronounced 'ah-beh-rah keh-dah-bay-rah' and means 'As I say I create.'
Say that ancient Aramaic phrase a few times and then say it fast.  What you wind up with is the magician's familiar pronouncement that magic is about to take place:  Abracadabra!
With words we create.  The words we choose and their creations belong to us.

Monday, January 17, 2011

With Words We Create

I know someone who is pretty impulsive and often acts without giving the situation sufficient thought.  In other words, she frequently shoots from the hip.  The idea for the fund raiser seemed really exciting.  We wouldn't have to spend much money and people would be inspired to contribute.  We would get more bang for our buck.  He often acts before he has all the information and goes off half cocked.  I thought she was mocking me so I told her to take her best shot.  It seems like we're all having to bite the bullet in this economy and budget more carefully.  With that idea you really hit the bull's eye.  You have something to say?  Okay.  Fire away.  And then there's feeling like you've been knifed in the back which is another way of saying that you feel betrayed.  Wow!  That really blew up in my face.  I guess I shot myself in the foot with that ploy.  I better reload and try again.
Let's face it.  We speak violently even if we try to live peacefully.  We can't stop speaking.  We'd look ridiculous walking around with duct tape over our mouths and anyway duct taping our mouths shut would be acts of violence against ourselves.
Here's a thought.  Let's try and not take the easy way out when we speak.  Human communication is complicated and fragile at its best.  Let's try and at least be aware of what it is we're trying to say.  It won't be easy.  It's never easy to change especially when our everyday expressions and gestures have seemed so harmless.
So please when you see me next, don't greet me by pointing an index finger with raised thumb at my heart and saying something along the lines of 'Yo.  Got you.' because I will understandably think that behind your smile you are pretending your hand is a gun and you've just shot me.
See how complicated even saying hello can become?

There Are No Easy Answers

Here's what worries me.  Well, a lot of things worry me about the Tucson shootings.  But at this moment, I worry that the pendulum, which must swing, will swing toward all mentally ill.  Yes Loughner doubtless suffers from a mental illness. He must because no sane person, we know, could do what he did.  If a sane person did do what he did then that sane person must be evil.  We know how to deal with people who we suspect suffer from a mental illness. A person without soul, a person evil, is out of the leagues of most of us and, frankly, quite a bit more terrifying than someone who hears voices instructing unspeakable acts.
The solution cannot be, though, to judge all people who suffer from mental illness as though they, too, could change a peaceful Saturday morning at a grocery story into a massacre.  If we go that route, then we must acknowledge that each and every one of us is at some time or other in our lives mentally ill.
When we find ourselves in those uncomfortable moments of insanity do we hope to be deprived of our civil liberties?  Do we hope to be shut away or subjected to stigma?  I would think and hope not.
The events in Tucson are unspeakable and beyond the range of expectable human experience.  On no level do I condone them.
However, to say that Jared Loughner is mentally ill and then close the conversation is far too simplistic a reaction.  Human behavior, good or bad, is complicated and inspired by many vagaries throughout the life span.  We are fragile and the systems in which we try to function are equally fragile.  Jared Loughner has failed the hopes we hold for each other.  Possibly, though, on a more complicated level, we -- meaning all of society -- failed the hope he held for his place on the planet.  If he, indeed, shot those people (we must by law presume he did not until proof determines otherwise) he is truly responsible sane or insane for his behavior.  However, let's take just a little peek into the society we all call home.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sports Bar Magic

I don't know.  Perhaps it was six big screen televisions playing in front of me with two basketball, one hockey, one football, one tennis, and one golf that I found so captivating.  Perhaps it was six big screen televisions and free wine.   I honestly can't say.  But here's what I can say.  I have never been so captivated by sports before in my life.  Two women tennis players battled it out somewhere.  One seemed pretty incompetent.  She missed returns that I in my wildest dreams might have almost possibly hit back.  And the golfers were in Hawaii which reminded me of the time I was there on a helicopter tour of the island of Kauai realizing how truly easy it is to die.  In the football game all of a sudden a heavy snowfall blanketed the field.  Seriously, I've never seen snowflakes that large.  Two screens for basketball?  Really?  And the final screen was hockey with the expected blood shed.  I  didn't watch that much.  I don't understand hockey.  Maybe, come to think of it, it was the turkey burger cooked so well done it could barely be recognized as food.  Or maybe it was just that once in awhile we (or possibly just I) need to descend into a state of oblivion and completely, completely relax.
Go Jets.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another Special Date Day

Today is 1/11/11.  Another pretty amazing date to write out and to realize that it won't happen again until 11/11/11 and then we're done with all ones for a really long time.  Luckily I've had to write the date several times today.  Of course, it's a special day for a number of other reasons.  The sun rose.  I arrived at work late but intact.  I ate a good lunch of left overs from a really good dinner last night.  It's the little things that make the day amazing and special.  Sometimes we have to look for them but they are there.  Always.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Arizona Weeps

And we weep with her.  Saturday morning lives were lost and lives were forever changed as bullets filled with hate and discharged with the power of venom spewing radio and television liars who have for the past two years dedicated themselves to bringing down a President.  The courageous Arizona Sheriff Saturday afternoon looked into the cameras and laid the blame for the Tucson shooting directly where it needs to lay.  And today Sarah Palin had the gall to say that those little icons on her maps on
congressional districts weren't gun sights but surveyors' marks.  Sarah, you can't tell people to go shoot Democratic leaders and then act surprised and shocked when the shooting really happens.  This isn't a game, sweetie.  It's life and lives ended.  Hopefully out of Tucson's blood bath people will start looking at the heroes and the spokes people of the Republican party and realize that they have gone too far.  Hopefully.
In the meantime, I weep for the state in which I was born and raised.

She Sang With All Her Heart

And she changed lives for the better.  It was easy to think that she'd be around forever because there seemed to be so much of her.  Yesterday morning, though, she died.  We are left wanting more.  Yet we have all that she gave.   It just wasn't enough.
Debbie Friedman is dead.  We can keep the songs she wrote alive.  All we have to do is keep singing.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Completely Normal

For my recent birthday, the Other Family Human took me to the theater to see "Next to Normal", which has won a Pulitzer Prize as well as a Tony Award. It must have deserved them, because I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. All its publicity leads you to believe that this is a story of a family grappling with the mental illness of one of its members. As the story unfolds, though, it becomes increasingly clear--spoiler coming here if you haven't already seen it--that our society treats grief as if it were a mental illness. The character in the play is heavily medicated, subjected to electro-convulsive therapy and treated by both her family and the medical establishment as if she was crazy because she cannot get over mourning the loss of her child. She also cannot mention his name, or admit to her other child that he ever existed.

Everyone dies, so everyone will eventually grieve for someone they love. Given that, wouldn't you think that we could figure out better ways to deal with sorrow than medicating it out or rewarding those who repress it? "Next to Normal" is a theater piece that may change how society thinks about bereavement. Here's hoping someday it becomes completely normal.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year, Amelia

On a small almost invisible speck of land in the South Pacific the islanders celebrate this first day of her new year singing 'Pennies From Heaven' and climbing the slippery path to visit the graves of their ancestors -- Oroiti, Pilipan and Amelia Earhart.
Then visit and enter the world of But This Is Different.


Today is a date to remember.  I think I'll pay some bills so I can write the date on checks.  Oppps.  I pay bills on line.  I know.  I'll writer a letter so I can date it 1/1/11.  Oppps.  The only addresses I have for the people in my life to whom I might write are e-mail addresses.  I know.  I'll write an entry in my diary.  Except that I don't keep a diary.
Well.  This is a dilemma.  Here I am with a once in a life time date and there's nothing I can do with it.
Isn't every single date of our lives a once in a life time event?  So I suppose the thing to do with this once in a life time date is to live the day trying to remember to tell the people I love that I love them with all of heart and trying to make every moment of this precious once in a life time day a moment of passionate purposeful intent.
Happy once in a life time January 1, 2011.