Thursday, September 30, 2010

Life in the Fast Lane

A snake in the grass gave me a speeding ticket yesterday. It was a sting operation. Three motorcycle cops were literally hiding in the bushes behind a fence just past reduced speed sign. They were lighting up the evening sky catching one innocent speeder after another.

I was totally caught by surprise and unaware that my foot was pressing harder on the gas pedal that it should have been. I was talking on my cell phone (hands-free of course – it’s the law), eating an apple, and trying to dig something out of my briefcase when, to my complete surprise, I saw the flashing blue and red lights behind me. No telling how long he’d been following me.

I figured I could sweet-talk him out of the ticket because that’s worked a time or two before, but he was Mr. Business-Policeman.

“Why, officer,” (spoken with a thick southern accent), “I can’t imagine why you pulled me over.”

“You were doing 52 in a 35,” he said. “License and registration, please.”

“Surely I wasn’t going that fast,” I said like a damsel in distress.

“Don’t call me Shirley. 52’s what I clocked you at,” he said, and walked back to his motorcycle.

I started begging the good Lord to let me off of this ticket, but before I got to the part where I would have starting making promises, he appeared beside my window and handed me a computerized ticket as long as a scroll.

“Here’s your court date,” he said, nodding somewhere toward the middle of the thing. “Everything you need to know is on there.” Then he handed me a business card. A BUSINESS CARD! As if to say, “It was a pleasure doing business with you, if you need anything else, please don’t hesitate to call me!”

I wish I’d had one handy to give back to him. “Here, Mr. Officer, er, I mean, Mr. Thorsen, did I pronounce that right? If you ever feel the urge to give someone a ticket, be sure to call me first.” Or perhaps, “Here’s my card – let’s do lunch sometime, but you’ll have to buy since I’m, umm, $190 poorer since we met just a few minutes ago.”

His card has the lovely seal of the City of Portland, plus his name and badge number and all his contact information. Lovely. I can call him at home at 3:00 a.m. and tell him what I think about his ticket.

Now you’re thinking, “She was speeding, she deserved the ticket. What’s her problem?” Yes, you are thinking that. I can read minds. But admittedly, not always, or I would have read that policeman’s mind when he was thinking, “Here comes another sucker with a lead foot. I’m gonna surpass my quota of tickets today. What idiots. We can’t pull them over fast enough.”

I did deserve the ticket. I was speeding. I’m not contesting that. I’m not even contesting getting caught, although it would have been a lot nicer if I hadn’t been. I’m just marveling about the personal card. I don’t get it. What am I supposed to do with it?

So next time you’re speeding down the road and see those lights in your mirror, fish a business card out and hand it to the policeman and see what he does. I’d do it but I don’t plan to be pulled over again. I can’t afford it, and I can’t even guess what my insurance is going to do...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Attack of the Wiener Dogs

My girlfriend, Laurie, called and left this message: “I got attacked by a pack of dachshunds.” I pictured a bunch of cute little wiener dogs jumping on her legs, trying to get close enough to lick her. I laughed when I heard the message.

Her supervisor also laughed when Laurie called to say she’d be late for work, and the doctor laughed when she called him to see if she needed to come in because there were several wounds and the bleeding wasn’t stopping.

When I finally got a hold of her, she said she had many wounds, her pants were torn, they practically tore off the end of her little finger, and one managed to bite her in the armpit, probably as she was bending down trying to knock them away with her purse.

Turns out these are forty pound dogs bred to be badger hunters. I was telling my daughter about it. She said, “Why would anyone breed a dog to bite and attack?”

This is, I think, a very good question. Why turn a sweet little wiener dog into an attack beast? I don’t think I’ve seen many badgers here in Portland, and if there were any, wouldn’t it just be easier to shoot the thing if you wanted to get rid of it?

Badgers are nothing to mess with, I can tell you that. They are foul-tempered and vicious. I’ve seen them out hiking a couple of times when I was way out in the middle of nowhere – like in North Dakota. I think it would be extremely rare to be in a situation where you’d come across a badger and need the services of a badger-attacking dog right at that time. A badger will go back in his hole if you just mind your own business. At least that’s what I observed. Keeping a biting dog around for years just in case this contingency came up is like buying an air conditioner in the Arctic – just in case one day got hot.

The doc didn’t stitch Laurie up because it might keep the infection in the wounds, though he said a few of them were certainly deep enough. He made her stand on a pad in his office because she was bleeding on the floor.

Another thing. You have to wonder why a person would breed dogs whose peckers drag the ground every step they take. Those things are like kickstands – getting hung up on cracks in the sidewalk and taking the dog aback. No wonder they want to bite.

I love dachshunds, but these forty-pound bullies are an accident waiting to happen, and my friend happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is not a funny story, but I thought I’d share it because it’s unusual. And as a warning that little dogs have the potential to be bloodthirsty killers given the right circumstances. Just ask Laurie.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Miss Misery

Miss me? I have been working my patootie off! Seriously, I’ve lost 5 pounds. I’m on the “Hard Work Diet.” Very effective.

I think someone is trying to tell me something – like I should be getting away from electronics and getting back to nature or back to bed.

Here’s what’s been going on in my life:

1. No internet again at my job. I did get it up for awhile but then it went down. I wonder if there’s Viagra for wireless connections?

2. I have a tech who is charging me $100 per hour so that he can explain to me the reasons I don’t have internet and he’ll have to come back tomorrow to fix it.

3. My Mac computer at home, the really nice and expensive iMac 24-incher, has dark streaks on it like it’s a worn out Etch-A-Sketch. I tried to rub one off but it’s under the screen. This does not bode well – and they’re growing like a ghost is using my screen to make lines and boxes.

4. The printers at work don’t work. Actually, all of them work except the one everyone wants to use. Everyone blames me.

5. Yesterday I spilled water on my daughter’s cell phone and it started going haywire. She ran through the house screaming, “Where’s the rice?” She buried the phone in a bowl of dry rice and it worked today. The rice absorbs the moisture. This is an old geeks’ tale but it does seem to work – the only thing working electronically around me – probably because it wasn’t mine.

Okay, that’s all except that I brought some work home to print and I got it half done and my toner went out. It’s been saying it would for weeks, but I didn’t believe it. Now that I really need these copies, I can’t get them because Xerox isn’t open at night and I didn’t plan ahead. Those “toner low” signals start about 2 weeks after you put in a new cartridge. How was I supposed to know tonight was the night, after all these months, that the toner actually did need to be replaced?

Yes, I’m as bored as you are about all this technical stuff. And since I must drive across town in the morning and meet that pricey tech at 6:00 a.m., I will bid you goodbye.

Oh, and I just watched Tosh.O again. Such a fun show. That’s what I needed tonight - to see how miserable the rest of the world is. Not that it takes any of my misery away, but you know the saying, “Misery loves Tosh Point Oh!”

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why I Feel So Stupid

I realize we are in the dark ages when it comes to technology. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING works like it’s supposed to. I have neglected this blog for three days because of technology. That I can write this blog and you can read it because of technology is neither here nor there.

I have been sold technology that does not function, and the techs representing the people who sold it to me don’t know any more about it than I do.

You are thinking I’m about as dumb as a screen door on a submarine. Yes you are. I can feel it. You think, “How could that ditz fall for all these people making all these promises that are apparently all lies just to get her to purchase technology that will not only solve her problem but will make matters worse?”

I feel like someone left a bag full of crap on my front porch and lit it on fire, and I ran out and stomped it out and then realized I’d pounded crap into the ridges in my shoes so deep it would take a sandblaster to get out, and then the doorbell rang again and I ran out and stomped the fire out again, and then the doorbell rang again. Right now I’m sitting here with crap I’ve tracked all through the house because I’m too exhausted to take off my shoes. Figuratively speaking, of course.

I mentioned a couple of days ago that the internet where I work is gone, thanks to a smooth salesman from the phone company that rhymes with PEST. Then I got wireless internet and OH BOY it’s so fast on ONE of my computers. Unfortunately, I’ve got EIGHT computers that need to be on the internet.

I was told the new device would serve eight, and silly me, I believed it. When I could only get a signal on one, I called the tech support people at a company whose name rhymes with PIMP except their name has a “t” on the end. They said, in the first place, it could only provide internet to seven computers at the same time. In the second place, everyone would have to log in and out all the time. I kept saying, “Are you serious? We can’t just turn on our computers and go on the internet?” Nope. We’d have to go through a convoluted process that I kept making her repeat because I just couldn’t believe it. She started getting a little cranky, like not only was I a stupid oaf, but I had no memory and why did my call have to end up with her?

I’m pretty tech savvy about most things. I can set up wireless networks and troubleshoot computers. I know my way around Macs and PC’s. When I talk to these people, I ask all the right questions, specifically, “Now exactly how do I access the printers that are on our wireless network? This wireless internet still lets me access all my printers, right?”

“Oh yes, you’ll still be able to access your printers. No problem!” Well, it’s no problem as long as you don’t use your wireless printer and wireless internet AT THE SAME TIME. One interferes with the other. It is virtually impossible, according to the hour-long conversation with that tech woman, to print something off the internet. Hmmm, that’s not what the salesperson told me, and you’d think he would have known that.

I’m convinced that all salespeople nowadays must first pass courses titled, “Principles of Unethical Salesmanship 101,” “How to Sleep Like a Baby Knowing You’ve Made A Commission on a Product that Will Keep the Customer Awake at Night Worrying About How to Make It Work,” and “How to Speak Very, Very Fast When Going Over the Fine Print,” and let’s not forget, “How to Fool Even Smart, Tech Savvy People, Especially When They Are Desperate for a Solution.”

I would write more, but honestly, I have many, many tech support people to call today. If you don’t hear from me for a few days, you’ll know I’m still on hold while they check something (tech speak for “while I consult the manual that will tell me what ridiculous answer to give this woman so she’ll hang up and leave me the ef alone!”)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beware of PEST

This is going to be short and lazy tonight because I’ve had one heck of a day.

It was the best of days and it was the worst of days.

The good part – we got those freaking phones fixed (see the last two blogs full of saucy griping).

The bad part – we lost internet service. By that I mean we no longer have internet at our office, and it was MY FAULT. Kindof.

A telephone company whose name rhymes with PEST called and said they could get us fast internet (we’re in a dead zone and have the slowest internet known to man). I said, “Sign us up!” I authorized them to switch our phones and internet via Fax, then never heard from them again. I kept calling the number they gave me, then finally called a number I found on PEST’s website. “We can’t find any order. I guess it didn’t go through when they discovered that we can’t provide internet there.”

“We can give you cheaper phones, though,” they continued, and I said, “I’ll think about it but I have to make sure my old company can do internet without the phones and I’ll get back with you.” That was about a week and a half ago.

Today we didn’t have internet, so I did all the troubleshooting stuff and then called out internet person. “You are no longer our customer,” he said. “PEST took over your service today.”

So I called PEST and they said, “Oops, we don’t know how that happened but we can’t give you any internet. Too bad, so sad.”

So I called our old company back and they said, “Sure, we can hook it back up but it will take ten to fifteen business days, AND we’ll charge you $99 to hook up the internet plus $45 for each of your phone lines.”

So I called PEST back and said, “You have to get me internet somehow or the other.

Two hours of holding and transferring got me this: “We can set you up on dial-up which will cost $1,050 to set up and you’ll be up and running in two days.”

When your business does everything on the internet, dial-up is not an option. Neither is waiting two to three weeks to get your old, slow internet back - and pay a boatload for it.

Just so you know, I had already called every internet provider in town a few weeks ago trying to get faster internet, and no one had service in our area. We’re like the black hole of internet service. Like no life exists in our little cubbyhole of industrial Portland. We’re a virtual dessert of internet. The Bermuda Triangle of internet.

I tried tears on PEST but their hands were tied. They were very sorry. There was nothing they could do. They were very sad they had stolen our phone lines and internet but there wasn’t anything they could do except try to expedite us getting back to our old service, which, as I mentioned earlier, said it would take an eternity even if we expedited. They wished me a great evening.

So I called Sprint. I can say the word Sprint because I think they are the good guys. They have 4G in our area. They can get us internet in two days. They will not charge us our collective arm and leg to start the service. I guess I didn’t call them before after being told over and over that we had no service from so many other companies and I gave up, plus in the meantime that “PEST Winback Program” guy called me with his empty promises of faster internet.

After 6 hours on the phone, not leaving the office until 8 p.m., a splitting headache, and a burning ear that is still red, I hope the problem is solved. If I can bear the resentment, scorn, dirty looks, sighs of disgust, chagrin of my co-workers, complaints from our customers, and possible firing from my boss, I may survive this fiasco for the next two days until the alleged internet thingy comes from Sprint.

If I had a giant can of RAID I know a big PEST I'd use it on - those lousy internet thieves.

PS PEST claims the guy who sold me my new internet – the company I faxed the order to with the PEST logo on it – was not from PEST but from an aftermarket provider. Yeah, right. It’s like my kids pointing to each other – “he did it!” “No, she did it!” Who can you believe when everyone looks guilty?

Tomorrow Has GOT to Be a Better Day

Oh my goodness what a day. Things unraveled like the world’s largest ball of yarn being rolled down Mt Everest. Like the hem of a skirt when that one thread gets pulled and all of a sudden the whole hem starts coming loose and hanging down about three-quarters of the way around and the little thread drags on the ground as you walk down the hall. That’s the kind of day it was.

First, the phones rang non-stop. For the most part, each phone call was someone wanting something in the tiniest, most exacting detail, so that the receptionist was tied up and couldn’t get the other calls. The other calls called back which caused more phone calls.

Then the copier ran out of magenta toner and went on strike. It refused to produce even mundane black and white copies, like some diva who wanted everything just so or she wasn’t going to go on stage. No problem, because there was a nice pretty box of magenta toner sitting under the yellow and cyan boxes. I moved those and picked up the magenta. It was so lightweight I thought, “This feels empty.” It was!

I’ve only been at this job for about a month, and how was I to know that the previous person stacked two full toner boxes on one empty one to produce the optical illusion that there was, in fact, plenty of toner and no one should worry their pretty little head about it running out? It looked like we were set for a long time.

Come to find out, the toner had to be ordered online, and that takes a while to be delivered. No one would admit online how long it would take to arrive. One company said it usually ships in two days, but if you continued reading you discovered that it was two days AFTER the 1-2 days it would take to process and the 1-2 days it would take to process some more.

I didn’t let this waste of a morning trying to find toner get me down because I had the phone company trainer coming in the afternoon to teach us how to use the phone system. It is so complicated and no one knows how to program the phones, that we were all pretty excited. But the guy who came was over an hour late for his appointment, and he was determined to explain all kinds of phone programming things to us that we had no interest in learning. This phone has its own website, and there are about 150 pages of options that make absolutely no sense to anyone who is not a technician trained in the operation of the phones, and even this guy was scratching his head with the dumb vacant look of a man looking at an Einstein equation on a blackboard. He cocked his head from side to side like a dog.

I finally said, “We just need the phones to ring and go to one voicemail area, AND we want to change the message to say, “Leave a message after the beep,” instead of saying, “if you want sales, press 108, if you want accounting, press 147, for customer service, press 896, if you want cream with your coffee, press 9432, if you want….” Customers had to listen for about 4 hours in order to leave a message, and then, since no one knew how to operate the phones, the messages just went out to space. This is a very convenient way to do business if your end desire is to lose all your customers, which I’m beginning to suspect was the former manager’s intention, or drive his replacement crazy - how else would you explain that dummy toner box?

The phone tech guy told me the instructions and I wrote them down, but before I could test it he had to leave because by now he was 3 hours late for his next appointment. We tried to record an outgoing message but the phone wouldn’t let us. So we called our phone company and they gave us the same instructions, and were baffled when the message wouldn’t record. Then they promise to call back and did not.

Meantime, I tested the phone by calling it from my cell phone, and I got the long, long message but after waiting for 20 minutes for it to cycle from beginning to end, it said, “That is not a valid mailbox,” and started the whole recording all over again.

I abandoned the phones because it was back to school night for my daughter, and I ended up being a little late. We were supposed to go from class to class and meet the teachers for about 10 minutes. I got on the wrong schedule somehow and was going to the right teachers but at the wrong time. I discovered this when one teacher kept looking at me oddly as he was going over the course (he knows me from my daughter’s track meets). Finally he started saying stuff about this Advanced Algebra class and I thought he was off his rocker. This was supposed to be Calculus, except I was one period off.

There were many more tragedies and mishaps today, but if you’ve stuck with me this far, I’d say you’ve been through enough. Tomorrow HAS to be better or there will be some phone and copier assassinations at work. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Funk and Wagnall Get Their Hackles Up

At work we have a phone system that none of us can figure out. The phones are so complicated we can barely answer them, much less program them.

I’m the oldest one in the office, and I rely on the young whippersnappers to figure this stuff out. However, they’re pretty happy to ignore the phones altogether and plead ignorance.

I rooted around in the file cabinet until I found a folder labeled, “Phones,” hoping I could read up on the instructions. The manual is bigger than a Funk and Wagnall dictionary. Not really, I just wanted to say the words Funk and Wagnall.

Can you imagine what it would be like to go through life with a name like Funk? When we were kids my dad wouldn’t let us say the word. He thought it was nasty. “I don’t want to hear you saying that nasty word again,” he’d say.

So if my best friend were the daughter of Mr. Funk, I couldn’t introduce her to my dad without getting my mouth washed out with soap.

“Dad, this is my friend, Stacey Funk.”

“I told you NOT to say that word, and now I’m getting the soap. Will you excuse us a minute, Stacey?”

This would have been very awkward. Sure, my dad was quirky, but there were probably other dads around the country who found that word offensive. What would that have been like to have a name that raised dads’ hackles?

BTW, what is a hackle? Spell check must know because it did not underline it. I’m going to ask Funk and Wagnall.

Well, they don’t know because they’re deceased and their progeny sold the encyclopedia and it went out of print in 1997 according to Wikipedia. I did find out that back in the day people used “Funk and Wagnall” to get laughs on such TV shows as Laugh In (“look that up in your Funk and Wagnall”) and Johnny Carson, (Johnny Carson, when he was playing Carnac the Magnificent on The Tonight Show frequently said the answers he was reading with his mind through a sealed envelope had been "hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar under Funk & Wagnalls' porch since noon today.")

As interesting as that is, it still doesn’t answer the pressing question: What is a hackle? I’ll have to ask Google again since Funk and Wagnall can’t respond from the grave.

Oh my gosh, you want to hear something nasty, look at these definitions I swiped directly and intact from The Phrase Finder when I looked up hackles: NOUN: 1. Any of the long, slender, often glossy feathers on the neck of a bird, especially a male domestic fowl. 2. hackles The erectile hairs along the back of the neck of an animal, especially of a dog. 3a. A tuft of cock feathers trimming an artificial fishing fly. b. A hackle fly.

Boy, you never know what you’ll find on the internet. A seemingly innocent word being defined with words such as erectile and cock. It’s shocking. What is this world coming to?

Funk and Wagnall are probably rolling over in their graves. And my dad, his hackles would definitely be in an erectile position and he’d be taking soap and washing Google’s mouth out with it.

And still, after all that, I don’t know any more about answering the phones at work than I knew an hour ago when I started this. Why do they build all those features into things if they make the manuals too big to lift out of a file cabinet? The whole thing is one big Funked up mess if you ask me, and I think Wagnall would agree, and so would my dad.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Windshield and the Bug

My friend, Mac, has this saying: “Some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug.”

It’s a good quote, I like the sound of it, but I’m not sure what it means. Obviously being the bug is not good. We’ve all seen what a combination of bug and windshield leads to – a Dijon mustard splat.

It’s the windshield part that’s confusing. Let’s analyze this, shall we? A windshield provides a view OF the world with protection FROM the world. It not only doesn’t let in bugs, it doesn’t let in rain, sleet, hail, snow rocks (for the most part) homeless peddlers, apples and other projectiles thrown by adolescent hoodlums, and so forth.

So we could say that windshields are protective views of the world. But what’s that got to do with me? Do I want to be a protective view of the world? Is that a good, or bad, or indifferent thing?

The answer to this question is, I’m afraid, more complex than we have time to explore at this point in our lives. Which is why I’m not sure this is a good saying.

Since Mac reads this blog, I have to somehow make this into something positive or delete it before I post it. If you are reading this right now, you’ll know that I decided my half page investment of writing to this point was worth continuing on rather than starting from scratch. I think many inventions and good things have come from people simply not wanting to start all over, who forge ahead even when they didn’t know where they were going or what they would end up with when they got there.

I wanted to give an example of someone who persevered even while they were lost, so I Googled, “lost celebrities,” and came up “Long Lost Celebrity Twins.” Pretty funny little slideshow – here’s the address:

Where were we, ah, yes, “To be or not to be a windshield, that is the question.” I’m thinking in all cases, it’s definitely better not to be the splatted bug. This is a given, so we can conclude that if the choice is windshield or bug, everyone except suicide bombers and kamikaze pilots would prefer to be the windshield.

However, I guess the question is not whether you want to be a bug or windshield, but rather whether this is a good saying, and this is where I’m having my problem.

There are many sayings that are very clear in their meaning. The one that is pinging my brain over and over right this very minute is: “It’s better to be pissed off than to be pissed on.” This saying makes perfect sense. Sure, you might be angry at any given time, but being angry is a lot better than having someone make water on you. In other words, there are worse things that can happen to you than just being angry, so lighten up and see the silver lining in that cloud, plus you’re annoying all the rest of us with your little anger temper tantrum.

Here’s another one: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” This makes total sense. If you find a guy name Will, he’ll show you where your blog is going, and you won’t be lost just typing mindless words that could be misconstrued along the path like the bread crumbs of little children that get eaten by birds so they get lost until they find a gingerbread house with a mean witch and, uh, or perhaps the saying could mean just keep trying and you’ll get where you want to go.

So Mac, I’m sorry but today I’m neither the windshield nor the bug. I’m finished with this blog post. That’s what I am. I don’t know how I got here exactly, but I knew I’d be here in the end, because Will showed me the way by saying, “Oh piss on it, you’ll get there, just keep typing,” and by golly, he was right.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hemorrhoidic Flaggers

I had to go to the post office today. A few blocks from it I saw this big humongous flashing sign that said “CAUTION.”

“Oh no,” I thought. “What mysterious, horrible fate awaits me ‘round yonder bend?” I braced myself for a giant pit in the road or 10-car pile up.

It turned out to be four public employees holding Stop signs at a four-way intersection that already had four stop signs. That huge “Caution” was to alert me that a few yards down the road, humans would be holding stop signs instead of the existing signs that had done the job for years all on their own.

I know I’ve written about this before. There is road construction going on that is causing a detour through this four-way stop. The geniuses responsible for traffic during the construction felt that the detoured motorists could manage the stop themselves and would need the assistance of four full-time employees with benefits to get the job done.

Apparently it is so confusing to the general public that they’ve taken cardboard and taped it to the existing stop signs in an attempt to keep people from stopping when they need to proceed through the intersection.

This is no easy feat, because we drivers know there are stop signs under there. The octagonal sides stick out around the square cardboard. We are all used to stopping there. The man holding a sign that says, “Slow” just confuses the hell out of us. We have been given tickets, very expensive tickets, on more than one occasion for going “slow” at a stop sign without actually making a complete “stop.” How can we trust this man? What are his credentials? We are not sure.

So even though a man is holding a stop sign on a stick and it’s turned to the “slow” side, we can see that it’s shaped like a stop sign, and it’s right beside a real stop sign, albeit tackily covered in scrap cardboard. Therefore, this morning, I approached cautiously (heeding the aforementioned big flashing sign) and when I got to the REAL stop sign, I stopped automatically out of habit.

The man with the sign did not like this one bit. He bent down and looked into my passenger window and signaled me frantically to keep rolling, making his whole arm go round and round, as if I were the one-thousandth person to come to a complete stop already that morning. His impatience with my inability to comprehend the simple directions on his “slow” sign was immensely evident. His eyes were bugging out and he had a look of “you stupid woman” on his face.

I looked all around as if I was afraid someone from the other three stop areas might run into me if I proceeded, and this irritated him to the point that I think he might have given himself hemorrhoids from the strain of trying to get me to proceed through the intersection. There were no cars within a thousand miles of the place, so I’m not sure what the big frigging hurry was, but I was absolutely in the wrong and he wanted to make sure I knew it.

I was secretly getting obscene pleasure from the whole ludicrous thing. These employees have been there for months doing a poor job of what the stop signs are well equipped to do. I’ve seen them stop people when no one was coming, like some control freak with a little power and no way to exercise it except to stop law-abiding citizens or force them not to stop, whatever his whimsy dictates at the time while he tries to make me feel bad because I wasn’t able to run the stop sign fast enough to suit him.

But enough of that. Before I forget, I saw a great show on TV yesterday. It’s called Tosh.0 (pronounced Tosh point oh in case you care). I saw it on Comedy Central. This Tosh guy gets a bunch of videos off of YouTube and then makes fun of them.

For instance, there was a Middle Eastern wedding video and a guy was toying with a pistol and I guess he put it down on a table or handed it to a kid, but somehow the kid, who was about 3 or 4 years old, got the gun and tried to hold it like a real gun. and it’s kindof pointing at the man’s big fat belly and then, oops, the gun fires. You see the flash of yellow flames come out the end, a loud bang, and a big black circle on the man’s white shirt just before he bends down and the camera goes off. Now that’s good entertainment right there. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Subway Heat

My daughter and I got Subway sandwiches tonight. Both of us ordered every vegetable, including those blazing fireballs, the jalapeño peppers.

I love those things, but as soon as I eat one I start coughing violently. The heat burns my throat with such irritation, I can’t even stop coughing long enough to drink cold water.

“Mom, you always do this,” my daughter said with disgust. “You always eat that hot stuff and gag for ten minutes.”

“But I love it so,” I said a few minutes later when I’d stopped.

I had them put the entire assortment of vegetables, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, mustard, cheese – everything you could think of, and all I could taste were those jalapeños.

“I don’t know why I get all this stuff, all I can taste is the jalapeños,” I said. “And they’re burning my mouth so much it hurts.”

“Why do you do it?” she asked with all the interest of a teenager bored with her mother’s foolish habits but trained to be polite.

“I love them,” I said, like some junkie justifying my habit.

The bad thing about getting ALL the vegetables is that there is no physical way they can fit between two buns. The guy finishes loading the sandwich up and flips the top bun over and it just sticks straight up in the air – it makes an “L” shape. He has to bear down with both hands – hard – to get the top to go halfway over the sandwich. Then he wraps it really quickly so it doesn’t fly open and stuffs it into a plastic sleeve to further insure its stability.

When I try to open the wrap, lettuce springs out like confetti from one of those little pop bottle things you aim at people on New Year’s Eve. Chunks of green pepper and onions cascade to my lap in a veggie waterfall. The liquid ooze of all that vinegar and oil and mustard smushed tomatoes drips out the bottom. If I don’t put a plate under there, and I usually don’t because I’m sitting in front of the TV, my lap looks like somebody tossed a salad on it.

Subway needs to quit carrying those salt and vinegar potato chips. Those things are too good. While the guy was making my sandwiches, I grabbed a bag and scarfed down all 230 calories before he was done. Jared would be so ashamed of me. Man oh man are those things addictive. My mouth was puckered from the salty acid of the vinegar, but it was worth it.

I believe I had better hit the hay right now because, after consuming all of those things so late at night, I’m probably going to have the WORST nightmares. But it was worth it. My my my, the little culinary delights in life make the days bright and the nights a fright, but that’s all right. And so, goodnight.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Witchteria Lane

I played a really fun game tonight with some girlfriends called Mexican Train. Don’t ask me to explain it because I wasn’t paying much attention. Fortunately we had Susan at our table and she told every one of us what to do so we didn’t have to think a bit.

The evening was fun except for one thing. Patty’s house, where we had it, is on a flag lot down a narrow lane. She had said, “Whatever you do, don’t park in the lane because the neighbor thinks she owns it and she’ll get really mad.”

I had to work late so I rushed over there about an hour late. I hoped I could park in Patty’s driveway and not have to walk all the way from the street, but unfortunately there was no room in her driveway, and nowhere to turn around, so I had to drive the few extra feet up to the neighbor’s driveway to turn around.

I tried to do it quickly, but she was fast. I saw her coming out her door, but I pretended I didn’t see her and continued my getaway. She came right up my car and tapped on the passenger window. I rolled it down and said, “Hi!” all bright and cheery.

“Could you please tell Patty I don’t want any more of you people turning around in my driveway. There have been 5 or 6 cars already.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said, turning on my southern charm. “I’m really late so I know I’ll be the last one.”

“Well, we’re expecting company tonight and I need this lane clear and I don’t want anyone else coming up here.”

Before turning I noticed a ladder next to the hedge, and an extension cord running from the house, across the driveway, to a set of electric pruners lying beside the ladder. Who trims their hedge at 6:45 at night if they’ve got company on the way? I decided not to bring this up because the woman gave me the creeps.

“Well, you can be sure that I’m the last one here because no one is ever as late as I am.”

“Well, you be sure to tell Patty what I said.” Then she looked at me and said, “I think I’d better go over there and tell her myself.”

I could just see this half crazy woman with her black flashing eyes and unnaturally black hair twitching and blinking as she cussed sweet little Patty out in front of all of us. I wasn’t going to let that happen. Not on my watch. For one thing, this group of women would have wadded her up and stuffed into the garbage can. We’re pretty feisty, and I know of couple of them would not have been quiet during the tirade. The police would be called. Someone would go to jail.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” I cooed. “Trust me, I have always been the very last one to arrive every single time, and I can guarantee that no one else will come.”

She flashed those black eyes at me and I could see that she thought I was no better than liver bile. I rushed out of her lair before she had a chance to get the hedge trimmers after me.

I found a parking spot a million miles away. I ran across the street carrying my brownies and a bottle of red wine, and when I turned into the lane I saw that the old hag had put that ladder right in the middle of the lane so no one could go on her property.

Now there’s a welcoming sight for her alleged company.

I don’t know why people have to be so cranky. If I hadn’t been so late, maybe I would have climbed out of my car and said, “Well since you don’t want me to turn around in your drive I guess I’ll just leave my car here and have it towed.” Then I could have CALLED her a toad. “Listen up, you old warty toad, get some civility and quit acting like a badger.” But I didn’t. I smiled and told her to enjoy her evening left her to her private fuming. Silence is often the best way to deal with toads.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Key West's Moons

I wrote about how bad our priest sang yesterday and didn’t sleep a wink. I felt guilty. Tonight I went to a volunteer meeting, and afterward one of the moms came up to me and said, “I saw you sitting way across the church on Sunday. Did you see me gasp when the priest started singing?”

“Oh my gosh,” I said, “Can you believe his voice?”

“It’s horrible,” she said. “I gasped out loud, and I know I had a look of horror on my face. Then I saw you across the church and you were laughing and trying to cover it up.”

“His voice is shocking,” I said. We commiserated a few minutes more about the torture of hearing such a well-spoken man sing like a rooster with his leg being gnawed on by an iguana.

I still feel a little guilty talking about him, but on the other hand, this now appears to be common knowledge and therefore is simply an observation and should not carry with it a stigma of guilt. That’s my theory anyway.

Not to change the subject, but I went to an open house yesterday afternoon and met a nice, older lady who has retired to Naples, Florida, just a few miles from Ft. Myers Beach where I spent a summer with two girlfriends when I was 19. My friend Mary and I decided to drive to Key West in her ancient Opal Cadet, which sounds like some whimsical car. We had cool names for cars back then. Austin Healy. GTO’s, Mustang, T-birds. Good, spicy names.

We were driving on a Florida backroad when we came up on a pickup truck carrying three ruffians. They stood up in the truck, which was going pretty slow, and started making obscene gestures. We hung back, but they were going so slow we would have had to stop for them to get out of sight.

They gave each other a look and pretty soon all three of them had dropped their shorts and started mooning us at practically point blank range. We had nowhere else to look! We slowed down almost to a stop, but so did they.

“Get us out of here, Mary,” I screamed.

“I didn’t drive all the way down here to have to stare at three hairy assholes,” Mary said. She downshifted that little Opal into second and started to pass. They sped up. She shifted into third and we started making headway. It was a straight, narrow road and we would have been doomed if someone had been coming in the other lane, but I don’t think Mary would have slowed down. She would have let the oncoming car run off the road. Her face was red and her knuckles were white on the steering wheel. She had an East Tennessee anger that was boiling like a teakettle.

I started rocking back and forth to help the car’s momentum, coaxing it to go faster. When we were neck and neck with the driver, he turned and gave us a grin that showed all eleven of his stained yellow teeth. These were the kind of guys who would run you in the ditch and laugh as they deflowered your maidenhood.

“Give it some more gas,” I screamed.

“I’ve got it on the floor,” she yelled. I rocked harder. We finally got far enough ahead that we could pull in front of the truck. Simultaneously we threw our hands out the window and let our fingers do the talking.

They didn’t like that and started gaining on us. I rocked faster. Mary started rocking too. “Come on, baby, come on,” we begged.

The chase only lasted a couple of minutes before the farm boys gave up and went back to their cow pies.

What does this have to do with the singing priest? If you figure it out, let me know.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Who's the judge of Judgmental?

I have written about how tired I am of this current fashion trend of showing vast amounts of cleavage. There are some of you who may think that I’m just jealous. You’re right. I can have a neckline plunge to my waist without any visible valley, much less actual boob-produced cleavage.

Perhaps this is why I get so TIRED of seeing cleavage all the time. And why today at church was a good day, because for some reason I didn’t see any at all. None. Caput. Zip. Nil. Nada.

I can’t tell you how happy this made me. The people with the most cleavage are overweight women, women who’ve had a boob job, and women wearing inhumane brassieres that make boobs look like they’re being squeezed out the top like a couple of squished water balloons I personally find them more distractive than attractive. It’s rare to see just plain natural cleavage from a well-endowed, normal-sized person.

So it was a dull morning in church since I didn’t have cleavage to scoff at. It was probably a good thing, because the priest lectured us about being judgmental of the pastor in Florida who wants to burn the Quran.

This is a tough one for me, because this guy would be perfect to write a humor blog about. I could write something like, “What kind of nincompoop thinks destroying someone’s religious guidelines is going to have any effect on terrorist except to make them angry or justified and – duh – what good is going to come of that?”

This is what I’d write, but now I can’t really do it because the sermon is still fresh in my mind. The thing that bothers me about this kind of live-and-let-live, forgive-and-forget type of attitude is that it completely obliterates any kind of gossip. Where does a person draw the line when talking about people’s foibles?

For instance, if I want to poke fun at someone’s cleavage, that’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it, right? But if I talk about it to someone else, and describe that cleavage as sagging below the waist on a fat woman with a plunging neckline stretched out by 80 pounds of bosom, is this being judgmental and therefore evil?

And if I mention that this same priest, who has such a rich, full, commanding voice, if I say he couldn’t carry a tune in a wheelbarrow, is that also wrong? Because this guy opens his mouth and it’s like an actor paid to sing badly, except worse. His voice is high, then low, then flat – all in about ten words of song. I’ve never actually heard a normal human sing that bad.

I wonder why he can’t hear the caterwauling through the microphone? Can’t he pick up on the poor organist’s attempts to switch her music around to try and keep in harmony with him? Doesn’t he see the grimaces on the congregation’s faces? Can’t he hear the dogs howling in the distance?

So it sounds like from the sermon today I have to be nice, and rolling my eyes toward my daughter and whispering, “He can’t sing” isn’t the thing to do. And yet, if I just report the facts, isn’t that okay? The facts being that I would plug my ears with my fingers when he starts up if it wouldn’t be so obvious. These are the facts, and I’m simply sharing those facts with anyone who cares to listen.

Now I’m feeling guilty about writing this, but again, I have waited too late and it’s bedtime so I can’t possibly start over from scratch. I’m hoping the Good Lord has a sense of humor…and is exceptionally forgiving.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kiss My Glass

I won some really pretty wine glasses at a bunko game. There were four in the box and each had a different color and design. I found out where they came from and was thrilled to get another box at a really good price.

I’ve had them a couple of years, and every time I use them I have to wipe them off – they get this little film on them. Why do glasses get a film on them in the first place? They’re stored in a cabinet with glass doors. Does some filmy fog creep in there during the night? Some nasty little vermin spreading a dull cloud over my favorite glasses?

Many’s the time someone has dropped by and I’ve offered them a neighborly glass of wine. I reach for my favorite glasses first because they are front and center and they’re really pretty. Sometimes, if I’m talking over my shoulder or not paying attention, I’ll pull one out and am appalled when I start to pour the wine. If the person doesn’t see the glass, I grab a towel and wipe it clean. If they do see it, I make a joke, “Well, you can tell my husband washed this one. Men, they don’t pay attention to detail. Ha Ha.” Then I scramble to find a “clean” glass.

I just washed these glasses not too long ago, and I noticed that they were fogged up again. Doggone it! I can’t blame those on my husband.

There is something in these glasses – some chemical – that makes them film up like somebody left soap on them and didn’t rinse it off.

Who in the heck makes a product like that? What was that manufacturing plant conversation like?

First day: “Pretty nice set of glasses we designed here, Bob. Ladies are gonna love ‘em. We’ll make a whole bunch of these.”

Third day, “Hmmm, boys, these glasses got a little coating on them like they’re dirty, better wash ‘em before you box ‘em up, there, Steve.”

Fifth day: “You can’t even see through these glasses. How the hell many did we make like this? EIGHTY-TWO BILLION!!!??? What the hell’s the matter with them? Are they fit to drink from?”

Seventh day: “Okay, here’s what you do. Ship ‘em straight to the discount stores. At least we won’t have to take a 100% loss on them. I’d like to know whose brilliant idea it was to make these friggin’ things anyway. What did you say? Oh, shut up, will ya and get these son of a bitches out of my sight.”

I bet it happened just like that and you and I, the innocent consumers, purchased these products in good faith expecting that we’ve gotten a great deal and some real value for our discount store money for a change, and then look what happens.

My daughter is a science whiz – wants to be a physicist of all things – and she says there’s some chemical in the glass that is causing them to oxidize with the air. Since they have to be stored on the planet earth where we are surrounded by AIR, I suppose there’s nothing I can do about it. Unless I move to Mars. But then no one would come visit to offer a glass of wine, so what good would that do me?

The sad thing is it’s taken me two years to figure out that it’s not my husband’s lousy washing that’s causing these ugly glasses, it’s some act of nature. I’m not telling him, though, because then I’d have to apologize for griping about his inability to get a wine glass clean.

I wonder if I can return them to the store for a refund after two years? Probably not. Maybe I’ll donate them to my daughter’s chemistry class so they can experiment on them then throw them into the trash, because now I’m too scared to drink out of ‘em.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Just Like My Momma

I was listening to a book on tape today and the guy was lamenting that he had become just like his father.

I am happy to say that I’m like my mother in many ways. Like her, I try to see the funny things in life. Lord knows there’s plenty of not-funny stuff to draw my attention away and make me cranky, but I purposefully try to find things that will amuse me whenever I can.

For instance, my son and I happened to be looking at the two giant goldfish we’ve had for about six years. One fish is way bigger, and he’s a bully.

“Watch that big one chase the little one away from the food,” I said.

“Keep watching, he’ll do it in just a minute, he always does.”

“Any second now.”

“He ALWAYS chases the other fish, every time I feed them. Just because you’re watching he refuses to do it.”

Of course the stupid bully fish decided to be on his best behavior to make me look like an idiot. Every time I try to show someone something, it doesn’t happen.

“That fish is just like the dog,” I said. “You tell that dog to do something in front of anyone and she absolutely refuses to do it until the very second the person looks away.”

My son chuckled. Music to my ears – making someone else laugh too.

It’s the little things that make life delightful. My dog was with me in the car today, and I have a bag I put her in and sneak her into places so she won’t have to stay in the hot car. It looks like a ratty old purse, and it’s got some holes in it. Today I was going around to planning bureaus getting permits for the solar company I work for. As I was walking down the hallway I happened to look down at the “purse” and saw a huge wad of black, curly dog hair sticking out. I laughed and turned the purse around so that the hair was hidden. It wouldn’t have been funny if someone else had noticed and kicked me out of the building for having a dog in there with all those, “No Pets Allowed” stickers all over the entrances, but even then I could have gotten some laughs out of it when I told the story to my friends and family. Busted at the City of Portland for having a contraband dog.

Don’t get the impression that I’m always jovial. I’m certainly not. But I’m looking out for opportunities to laugh everywhere I go. There’s a line in the Bible, “Seek and ye shall find.” It makes sense. If you’re looking for trouble, misery, a fight, or mischief, you’re probably going to stumble on to it sooner or later. If you’re looking to be amused, delighted, entertained, or to make someone else laugh, you’ll likely find that as well.

This is what my momma taught me just by watching her – be on the lookout for amusements whenever they present themselves. It makes the bittersweet parts of life a little more sweet and a little less bitter.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Spinning Wheel of Death

I have a Mac, which means I have the “spinning wheel of death” when Mac wants me to wait for it to do its thang. People with PC’s get an hour glass, but Macs have this little color wheel that rotates, letting you know that the Mac is thinking and you’d better not interrupt if you know what’s good for you.

I learned this the hard way – the same way I learn everything on the computer. I typed out something complex in a table and then got frustrated because the table wouldn’t size the way I wanted it to. So I tugged it with my cursor on one side and then the other. But I went too fast, and the confounded spinning wheel came up. I kept trying to move the table, but it wouldn’t budge. I tried to save the document but the program was frozen like a kid’s tongue stuck to an icy flagpole. It wouldn’t budge, wouldn’t respond. Then it crashed, and my entire document was sucked away like a frog sucking up a fly.

When something won’t work on the computer, I start clicking and trying something else. When that only escalates my aggravation, I click something else. The spinning wheel does not like this. Not one bit. It comes out of nowhere and sits right in the middle of what I’m doing and takes its own sweet time to go away. If I so much as twitch a finger on my mouse, I know what that wheel is going to say, “I told you to BACK OFF, and you wouldn’t listen – you never listen, and I’ve warned you over and over and over again. How does someone get through a dumb thick brain like yours? When you see me, you better start running because if you so much as LOOK at me the wrong way, I’m going to send everything you got right out to space where you’ll never, ever, ever see it again. You hear?”

That wheel is a bee-otch, I can tell you that right now. Sometimes my computer starts running slow for no apparent reason. Maybe it got a little too wild with the PC and it’s got a hangover. Who knows what goes on in my office after I go to bed? There’s a radio right beside the PC, making techno-funk that the PC and Mac can’t resist – they dance and party all through the night – their mice snuggling in the dark shadows. Or they could spend the whole night making fun of the old calculator that only has numbers and not letters. Who knows why these computers run slow for a while for no reason.

When it happens, out pops that spinning wheel, like a rat coming up out of the toilet bowl. This actually happened once to someone I knew. They heard some splashing in the toilet and opened the lid. There was a rat, sometimes referred to as a “sewer rat” thrashing around in the toilet bowel. Apparently it had come from somewhere. I don’t know what they did with it – in this situation, what could you do? Flush the toilet screeching, “Go back where you came from, you swarthy vermin?” Would you throw it a life raft and succumb to your child’s pleas of “Can we keep it mommy, pleeeee-ease? We’ll take really good care of it, honest we will. Can we, can we, can we?”

That’s the point; you don’t know WHAT to do with that spinning wheel any more than you know what to do with that unwelcome varmint in your toilet. If you wait long enough it MIGHT go away without doing any damage. Of course the rodent isn’t going anywhere, and you’ll have to deal with him as best you can. I’d advise you to be nice to him because brutality to a sewer rat might give you bad dreams. It would me.

That spinning wheel and a sewer rat rank at about the same place on my list of unwanted things in my life. I love my Mac, and it’s fast and easy and fun to operate, but I hate that wheel. Always will.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Spell Check Doesn't Like Whoo-hoo

Whenever I write anything I try to run spell check because with my word processing program, Microsoft Word for Mac, I keep getting curious little green and red underlines on words like “fixin’ to fix dinner” or “fiddy-cent that won’t go away unless I spell check them.

On a recent post I was commenting about your comments and btw, thanks to abnolagrors for this fun comment: "It's such a tickety-boo site. fabulous, very intriguing!!!” This comment alone has two underlines, not to mention the name of the commenter, and I can’t wait to see what spell check is going to say about tickety-boo. Spell check gets very confused with made up words but, being a hard worker and dying to please, it tries with all its might to come up with a plausible suggestion.

For instance, and as I was saying, on that recent post I was excited about reaching 300 blog posts, and I typed the words “whoo-hoo.” (There goes the red underline again). Since I’m noticing these underlines, I just discovered, after all these years – whoo-hoo! – that the red underlines must be misspelled words and the green ones must be grammar or “other” errors, like an accidental extra space around a word, incorrect capitalization or comma usage, or an unsightly poppy seed caught between my words that I don’t notice but everyone else does and spell check wants to tell me because it’s my friend and your best friends will let you know about a poppy seed caught between your words.

Okay the whole poppy seed thing is dumb, but spell check doesn’t think so. It didn’t find any errors at all in that whole rambling, except the “whoo-hoo.” So I ask it, “What’s the matter boy, what is it? Did Timmy fall in a well?” My daughter said this yesterday in the middle of a conversation, and I was amazed. Wasn’t that in an old “Lassie” episode from the last century?

“How do you know about Lassie?” I asked.

“Wasn’t that about a dog with a pointed nose?”

“Yes, but you’ve never seen it, have you?”

“Didn’t that dog have a lot of long hair?”

“Yes, Lassie was a collie.”

“Whatever. What’s for supper?”

Who knows where these kids get their information? I’ll have a carload of girls in the car and an old song comes on the radio and they all start singing along in their loudest voices. The noise is deafening, I can tell you that. But what’s really interesting is how they know the words to the songs I used to sing when I was a kid. I can guarantee you I did NOT know the words to any songs my parents used to know. My dad used to sing blues songs which I had no interest in whatsoever because I was into rock n roll.

Interesting – spell check didn’t underline rock n roll. How does it know that’s a word? “n” is not a word, but spell check isn’t scoffing. Maybe it’s on vacation – down in Tahiti sipping Mai Tai’s and wiggling its toes in the sand, catching some rays.

Whatever the case, I’m going to finish this “whoo-hoo” thing right now so I can move on with my life. I got a red line under “whoo-hoo” and spell check had some suggestions. The first one was “hoo-ha.” I wondered, “How come spell check knows “hoo-ha” but doesn’t know “whoo-hoo?” To me it seems like “whoo-hoo” has been around longer than “hoo-ha.” Perhaps I’m misspelling “whoo-hoo.” Maybe it’s supposed to be “whoo-who.” Nope, spell check doesn’t like that either. I’m going to see what Google says. Be right back.

Hmmm, quite interesting. Google says it’s supposed to be “woo-hoo” because that’s what Homer Simpson was using, but the bank, “WaMu” adopted “whoo-hoo” and trademarked it as their slogan. Since WaMu is now Chase, I guess that didn’t work out too well.

For the record, spell check doesn’t think “woo-hoo” is a word either, but I’m not complaining. Spell check is my friend, and it’s doing the best it can, and Lord knows I ask a lot from it with my made up words, sentence fragments, and bona-fide typos. To me, spell check is fabulous – it’s simply tickety-boo!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Artistic Observations

So I was going to talk about Art in the Pearl, the annual display of very talented artisans in downtown Portland over Labor Day weekend. Their work is stunning. So creative, so detailed, so expensive. You can tell by looking at the finely crafted wood furniture and cleverly unique artwork that you can’t afford to have any of it in your house if you are like me.

One artist didn’t have prices on any of his work. He had these incredible martini glasses with drops of water on them that looked just like a photograph. He was explaining to people that there were NOT photographs, and that’s why they cost $3,000, because they were hand painted.

Everything we saw was gorgeous and intriguing – artwork to enjoy that would also impress your friends.

Contrast these with the artwork I saw at the Alberta Street fair a couple of weeks ago. Most of that art looked like psychedelics were involved. Bright colors swirled over canvas like a hurricane had passed through the artist’s studio. Most everything I saw was made with “hard” colors – I don’t know how else to describe them. They weren’t normal colors you’d see in anyone’s home. All those reds and yellows and royal blues fighting for real estate on the canvas without a theme was a torment to my eyes. They looked like children had been instructed to use as many colors as they could with no particular intention. The odd thing was that booth after booth had these kinds of paintings, as if the whole street had sent their kids to an “instant street fair” art class.

There were other weird pieces with hateful looking demons or weird creatures painted with blacks and touches of red. Who is going to buy such a thing besides Satan? Would you want to look at that over your mantel? They were totally creepy. If I had one of those things in my house and got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and saw it by the eerie glow of a nightlight, I’d have bad dreams the whole rest of the night.

The main difference between these two approaches to art boiled down to time invested. The artists at the Pearl looked like their work took hours and hours and hours to do. At Alberta Street, there couldn’t have been much more than one hour.

Another difference was price. Most everything at the Pearl appealed to me but was too expensive. Much at Alberta was unappealing but quite affordable.

Anyone very young and/or on drugs is going to take offense at what I’m saying here. They will say it’s a matter of taste, and I should be open to people’s artistic expression, and they’re absolutely right. It is true that my particular taste runs to things that would look good in an average home as opposed to things that look like they’d been drawn by someone in a third-world insane asylum.

But I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I will end with the observation that I very much enjoyed looking at the artwork at Alberta and jabbing my husband in the ribs when I saw something particularly eye-wrenching, er, I mean eye-catching. This is one thing I like about Portland. You can find something for everybody around here – from the upper crust to the lowly heel with the fuzzy blue mold.

And if you have a taste for the bizarre – you’re in luck. You can pick up artwork for cheap – in many instances two for one, 35% off today only, or at a “street fair” special. And if you have some pot on you, you could probably get an even better deal than that.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Thanks to My Super...cious Readers!

We’re going to go downtown to the annual “Art in the Pearl” outdoor art exhibit today. It’s wonderful – lots of very talented artisans and craftspeople displaying their talents. The “Pearl” is a section of town. I think everyone must be juried because everything is so superbly done. If you don’t know what juried means, ask Google. No, wait. I’ll tell you, otherwise you might not come back because that’s the way you are.

If you want to know exactly what way you are, it is this. You are great! No, fantastic! No, you are supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Don’t know what that means? Or even how to say it? Or whether I spelled it right? Or how many stars there are in the sky? Do I have to explain everything?

It comes from an old Mary Poppins movie, and if you’ve heard it, even once in your life, you will be singing it all day today because it’s the kind of thing that sticks in your brain like the tentacles of an octopus.

According to Wikipedia, that brilliant encyclopedia of unverified information, the word, which has 34 letters, can be broken down as follows: super- "above", cali- "beauty", fragilistic- "delicate", expiali- "to atone", and docious- "educable." This makes very little sense but so do a lot of words in the English language so I’m not going to hold that against it. According to the 1964 Walt Disney film, it is defined as "something to say when you have nothing to say."

Well I have something to say, so that doesn’t apply either. Be that as it may, and albeit, you guys are super...cious because many of you are saying some very nice things about what you’re reading. For instance, Donna T, a member of my writing group, commented, “Too fun!” and “Wonderful, Suzanne, absolutely wonderful!” I am gushing and blushing as I type this – thanks so much, Donna. She just got published in an anthology of inspirational readings for soldiers. Whoo-hoo!

Elussyelalp left this comment yesterday, “It's such a great site. fanciful, acutely fascinating!!!”

Aw shucks.

Linda Kuhlman, another friend in my writer’s group, had this to say, “"Love this, Suzanne! Your wit never ceases to make me chuckle, a welcome diversion from the 'to do' list I stare at every morning. I'm going joggin’ now!" This was in response to me writing about southerner’s droppin’ the “g” on “ing” words. BTW, good for you, Linda! You keep joggin’ and I’ll keep bloggin’!

Another reader said, “Shoes go and come every couple of years in the world of high fashion and they are a seemingly permanent fixture in catalogs from department stores ranging…” I get a few of these – comments that are totally out of context and are, I’m afraid, people who don’t even read my posts but just want to lure me to their sites, or worse, to spam me. I’ve got to tell you, I’m bruised and swollen from all the spamming I get. Like this comment from CLERGYWERWEDO (that’s his/her capitalization, not mine – I’ve got better things to capitalize): “Buy reductil online.” There is no way, in any shape or form, this could be a real response to anything I’ve ever written, so Mr. (or Ms.) CLERGYWERWEDO, take your reductil and shove it up your ASS!

I apologize for that. I know I’ve cursed and been crass in some of these posts, which is bad.

What did you say? I’ve also been very tacky? Well, yes, I guess on occasion I have.

What do you mean, “on occasion my ass – more like all the time?”

Hey! You want a piece of me? YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME????

Sorry, perhaps I’m getting a little too “fanciful” here. I have these conversations in my head all the time – where I have imaginary arguments with snotty people and I come off, in my head, as quite clever and winning the argument and they are left as a pile of smoking rubble or apologizing profusely and begging to be my BFF. This is what happened just now. I imagined that you, my wonderful readers, were criticizing me for being tacky, and I started fighting back and being the tough guy like on that Seinfeld re-run where Elaine gets in a verbal tiff with Mr. Castanza and he immediately escalates it to a physical fight by saying that “you want a piece of me?” line. Pretty funny stuff.

But I know your comments are sincere, and they give me warm and cozy encouragement that I very much appreciate, except for ALL OF YOU SPAMMERS ! I DO NOT NEED MY WEBSITE OPTIMIZED! I DO NOT NEED VIAGRA!

Oops, I got sidetracked on the “Art in the Pearl” topic. Good for me. Something to look forward to tomorrow.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Look at Brain Food

First share with me the celebration of my 300th blog! Whoo-hoo! My goal was to write a post a day for one year, and I’m almost there. Break out the champagne!

This seems a good occasion to write about brain food. Why? Because without a brain I couldn’t think up 300 blogs, much less type them up. Granted, some people are able to do many, many things seemingly without a brain, but I’m not that gifted. Therefore I must take care of my brain.

Let us first start out by discussing what brain food is. According to some astrophysicist surgeon of some sort on OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting), it’s “food that feeds the brain.”

One such food is walnuts. The scientific consensus among the major “brains” in the world for deciding that this is a brain food is that a walnut LOOKS like a brain. You look at any average walnut and the first thing that comes to your mind is, “that thing looks just like a brain.” This is why it’s the number one brain food in my book.

Another stellar brain food is the blueberry. Why? Because blood is blue, and you need blue blood to go up to the brain and check things out, see how all the memories are holding together and so forth, then go back to the heart and tell all the valves to keep pumping, and then back to the brain. Busy, busy busy.

The reason blood is blue is because it doesn’t have any oxygen or something – some doctor tried to explain it to me and I couldn’t get it. I think he was pulling my leg. Which he was. I had a sore ankle. He insisted that the blood is blue in the veins, which makes sense – go ahead, look at a vein – I’ll wait. See, it’s blue. The doc claimed that the blood turns red the second it comes in contact with oxygen, that’s why it always looks red when we get an annoying paper cut.

This is why blueberries are brain food – because they keep that blue blood blue as nature intended. This makes the brain happy.

Another brain food is coffee beans, in the form of espresso. You will notice that people who drink a lot of coffee or espresso are bouncing around, full of energy, and have to go to the bathroom frequently. Because of this, they get a lot of exercise. Exercise is very good for the brain. Nobody wants to be a “fat head.” Drinking caffeine helps prevent this condition. Actually, it’s not the caffeine that makes this a brain food, it’s the exercise. Or something like that – I didn’t finish reading because it got too technical with antioxidants and ribo-thing-a-ma-jigs, and I got bored.

There are many, many more foods that the brain likes – for instance broccoli. It likes flowers and broccoli is made up of flowerettes, or maybe that’s cauflower. Either way, the brain is a sensitive organ that likes to be surrounded by lovely things, such as flowers, and since the brain has no eyes, it can’t tell that broccoli is just a green nub on a stalk. The brain just likes the name.

I notice that I’ve used the words “brain flood” a million times already, so this is a good time to end our discussion of these wonderful, natural additions to our diets that can help that area above our eyeballs function better (I’m trying not to say those words anymore).

Now if you’ll excuse me, the bubbles are escaping from my champagne!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sayings to Giggle By

My dad was a character. He was a union electrician whose speech was salted with crude four letter words but a lot of funny sayings. I have to warn you that I’m going to be using some of those four letter words in the next few lines, so if you’re easily offended, better turn tail and run.

One of my favorites was the one my dad used to describe people he didn’t see eye to eye with: “You’re contrary as cat shit under a couch.”

Another one was, “It’s hotter than a half f____ed fox in a forest fire.” Now that’s hot!

He had a good saying for the cold, too: “Colder than a well-digger’s ass in the Klondike.” Brrrrr, that’s mighty cold.

I was a pretty destructive kid, and was known to tear up just about anything pretty quickly. One time I broke a toaster and, fearing repercussions, threw it over the neighbor’s hedge. It hit their dog on the head. Just kidding but it’s funny to picture that toaster falling on a dog – not that I’d want to hurt a poor innocent dog, but if you think of it like a cartoon, it’s pretty funny. After that incident my dad started saying, “You could tear up an anvil.”

If my dad though someone wasn’t playing with a full deck (a little crazy, that is), he’d say, “He’s a half a bubble off of plumb.” If the person was poor, he’d say, “He doesn’t have a pot to piss in.”

Which reminds me of another saying, “He ain’t got enough sense to pour piss out of a boot.” That’s pretty dumb if you think about it.

Another saying I loved was one my friend’s mom used to say: “He’s grinnin’ like a mule eatin’ briars.” This same mom said one of the funniest things I ever heard. When she’d wake my friend up for school, my friend, who I’ll call Murry, would do as she was told and get up, but she’d sit on the edge of the bed with her head hanging down and doze back off. Once her mom came in and said, “Murry, you’d better get up before your pus mats to the bed.”

Oh my gosh, when I heard that story I about wet my pants! What kind of mother says that to her daughter? The best kind, I say, because right now I’m tired from work and yet those words have me giggling, and giggling feels good. So thanks, ma, for that great memory.

I had a friend, Clark Reese, who used to say, “I’d rather be pissed off than pissed on.” Those are words of wisdom if I ever heard any.

I dated a guy named Steve Bingham and he had a saying I liked, “You’re a sweet little lassie with a cute little chassis.” Charming.

When my brother wore underwear with the elastic worn out around the legs, he said he was wearing Apache underwear: “Rides up behind you and wipes you out.”

There were some trashy kids a block over from my house who were pretty entertaining. One of them, Sharon, would say, “I’ll knock the soup out of you,” and “I’ll snatch you bald headed.”

Another saying I liked describes someone without much between the ears: “The lights are on but nobody’s home.”

Here’s some more:

I’m as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

It’s darker than a bat in a cave.

He’s faster than greased lightning.

You made your bed now lay in it.

Speaking of bed (yawn), it’s time to get some shuteye. So I’m going to make like horse manure and hit the trail.