Thursday, October 27, 2005

On Saturday, you will be mine!

Isn't it purty? Look how shiny and pristine! It's like the Heavens are saying, "Buy this one!"

The time has come to retire the sleek black machine that is the Momula-mobile. It sounds heartless, but it can do no more for me, so out it goes. It's shocking how attached I get to these vehicles.

Yes, it has carried me hither and yon for five years, but it's also cost me a hell of a lot of money and aggravation. It has seen me through many happy times and many trying times, but it's also caused some of those trying times, too, so what I want is a RELIABLE car. And the Phantom Gray Pearl is it.

Uh, yeah, that's it's name. So far. I didn't make it up - it's the name of the paint color, so why not the whole car? Maybe "Phantom" for short. Or, "the car." I'm trying not to get emotionally involved with it already.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

And now, a post for you, the inimitable S

On a beautiful day to play field hockey, best wishes to the Red Team. I wish I could be there. Hopefully M will be good luck (this time) instead of neutral luck (like last time). I have it on good authority that there will be NO large sign on the sidelines with your name or anyone else's; however, I believe there will come a day when you will cherish that sign.

Did you know about the new Lemony Snicket book? Do you care? It's the twelfth, so I think you should collect it and read it, and hang in there for the thirteenth. It's nice to have a complete set.

The CD we were listening to this morning is by Eric Clapton, of course, and called Me and Mr. Johnson. I love this one in a more scholarly and reserved way than From the Cradle, which is probably the best CD in the world. Or top three, anyway. I read somewhere that while writing and recording what would become Back Home, his newest CD, EC and his band launched into classic Robert Johnson songs when they were stuck, and those takes became this CD. The liner notes in Johnson, by EC himself, are a humble and reverent explanation of how much Robert Johnson's music has meant to him in his life - the root of his love of music, really - and the love, truth and sincerity he uses in recreating Johnson's master works is the reason that EC's blues catalog is the natural progression and cultivation of Johnson's original genius seed.
I decided to find out more about Robert Johnson, this man who has had such an influence on a man who has had such an influence on the world, and me. There are several fan and info sites about Robert Johnson, but the "Tribute Homepage" is a small and uncomplicated but interesting site that tells brief stories about his short life: he started recording songs at age 24 and was dead at 27. There are legends and whiffs of satan and mysticism. It's enriching and wonderful that individuals' lives can echo throughout the years, long after their physical presence is gone.

I told M about renaming the dog, and she laughed and said, "Can we really name our next dog Dave McCave?" and I realized that I have been reading and reciting that book for 20+ years, and never made the connection - all 23 Daves have the last name McCave! That Dr. Seuss was a COMIC GENIUS! Maybe we'll get two new dogs - one Rudy Two, and one Dave McCave. ("One Buffalo Bill, and one Biffalo Buff") Or we could copy those two you met in the park, and name them Rudy and Stella.

And often she wishes that, when they were born,
She had named one of them Bodkin Van Horn.
And one of them Hoos-Foos. And one of them Snimm.
And one of them Hot-Shot. And one Sunny Jim.
And one of them Shadrack. And one of them Blinkey.
And one of them Stuffy. And one of them Stinkey.
Another one Putt-Putt. Another one Moon Face.
Another one Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face.
And one of them Ziggy. And one Soggy Muff.
One Buffalo Bill. And one Biffalo Buff.
And one of them Sneepy. And one Weepy Weed.
And one Paris Garters. And one Harris Tweed.
And one of them Sir Michael Carmichael Zutt.
And one of them Oliver Boliver Butt.
And one of them Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate . . . .

excerpted from "The Sneetches and other Stories" by Dr. Seuss

. . . And one of them Melanie, and one of them Stella . . .

Monday, October 17, 2005

What is evil?

Let me just say that I wrote this a long time ago, when a vast and compelling person asked the
question: what is evil? In addition to pencils, I believe my list also included Burger King and the Yankees. Here was my elaboration on my answer:


Allow me to justify “pencils” on my “evil” list, and explain my approach to creating the list:

I believe I understood the “assignment:” what is evil? What otherwise innocuous item or being or concept is haunting or chilling or oozing bad vibes at you? The thing is, when I started to think about what those things might be to me, I had a sense of peeking behind a dark, heavy curtain that I had hung long ago and never disturbed, a place where I unconsciously keep all those things that are evil to me… the list I sent to you was just a sample. This is not a fearful thing: I keep them, I put them there to simplify my life and smooth my progress, not out of fear. They are away from me now, separate from me, unable to affect or restrain me.

I know everyone has these lists, some short, some very long, some comprised of an inability to comprehend or cope or accept, some that list representatives of that which is despised or envied. I am aware of my and others’ reactions to these stimuli, and I decided long ago to rid myself of these burdens. They don’t bother me now – I only made my list to protect everyone else!

I don’t use pencils. I stopped using them altogether a few years ago, although it was a gradual process. When faced with the ubiquitous mug of writing instruments, I would hesitate, then choose a pen, any pen, over a pencil. Mechanical pencils were a lurking menace – in selecting what looked like a pen, the psychic jolt when I quickly stroked the paper with the nib and saw a thin, gray line instead of a rich, bold black or blue was startling. I tried to make peace with them: maybe it was the yellow-coated six-sided body of the traditional utensil that repulsed me, and the sleek modern mechanical would carry me to the future of pencils…but no. The silver or gold clips, fine materials, capped erasers, fussy twist-open body revealing thin, fragile pencil leads seemed foolish to me – all this hoopla and effort and fuss to create a PENCIL line, something so ineffectual and fleeting, so easily erased! How many times had I seen notes, words, ventures, proposals, created, then erased after their weight had been considered? How easy it is, how nonchalant and cavalier and meaningless it is to write something with a pencil. Go ahead, write it down. Don’t like it? Didn’t mean it? Didn’t think it all the way through? A mistake? Erase it. It’s gone – no guilt, no consequences, no qualms - no lesson learned. Start again.
How much time has been wasted, writing with pencils? How many brains have been trained to write, erase, write, erase, without considering the impact of the written word, without intending what is written? How will these brains react in other situations of choice, decisions, judgements? The impermanence of words written in pencil is a symbol of the flaw that permeates our society: meaninglessness. To borrow from Lewis Carroll, Write what you mean, and mean what you write.


Another sign of the downfall of American culture, courtesy of

Meet the Life Hackers – even the title is annoying, recalling the glib, baby-boom style of “zany” of “Meet the Fockers,” a wallet-padder for Hoffman, Steisand and DeNiro, and more of the same from Ben Stiller. The article purports to show how Microsoft “geeks” are developing software to “help” computer users bring “sanity” and order to their working life by finding ways to anticipate when the user is in the mood to read email, whether the overworked user is in crisis mode (and should not be bothered), and apparently, how many screens or different applications the user has open. Maybe I’m only puttering along the access road to the information superhighway, but come on. You don’t know how many apps you have open? Try cutting back on the Starbucks visits.

Disdainful of many cubicle-dwellers’ habit of scribbling “important” notes on a Post-It and sticking it on the side of their screen, the geeks feel that they need to invent a software program to do that for you, monitoring time-sensitive tasks and upcoming meetings, for instance. (My college-senior daughter has already downloaded a shareware program that actually creates electronic Post-Its that work just like the original paper variety – a novelty, but not a big “improvement.” And what if your computer dies, stalls, or is turned off?)

The central danger of interruptions, Czerwinski realized, is not really the interruption at all. It is the havoc they wreak with our short-term memory: What the heck was I just doing?

According to studies by the geeks in the article, the primary force working against us, apparently, is our infantile inability to remain focused on a task. Why is the solution “write a software program” and not “try improving your memory or organizing your desk or work or life”?

More studies and experiments show that another solution to our current computer and monitor’s inability to cure what ails us is a 42-inch monitor screen – of course! the typical American answer to everything.

Some of the volunteers were so enthralled with the huge screen that they begged to take it home.

That’s just sad.

Half way through the article, the “solution” to this “problem” is realized, but quickly brushed past by the author: Low-tech answers:

It turns out that a certain amount of life-hacking is simply cultivating a monklike ability to say no.

Monklike? How about simply being a cognizant, reasonably well-organized adult, not giving in to our short-term, short-circuited 5-second attention span?

("Unless you're working in a Korean missile silo, you don't need to check e-mail every two minutes," he argues.)

Amen! I think the name of the concept is SELF-CONTROL. Instead of “improving” our computers, let’s improve ourselves.

Friday, October 14, 2005

shout out to the divine Ms. M

For my one reader:

  • An amusing, kind of old post by Lance Mannion regarding your fave TV show.
  • Rain is destroying the field hockey season! Another game canceled today (Black Team, not Red). Red Team played last Tuesday in Canterbury, and kicked butt 4-1!
  • Made a delicious Cajun Cake for a departing co-worker last night: love the cake, glad the co-worker is gone. A win-win. Who knew so many people don't like coconut? What's wrong with them?
  • This never gets old, does it? (:

    or this:

  • Remember when we painted your room "Lemon Pound Cake" and I was compelled to make one?

Monday, October 10, 2005

What I did on my two week vacation from blog:

in which I finally got a haircut, hit a teenager running across the street (IT WASN'T MY FAULT! the light was green! and besides, he's OK), and turned 43. Whew.

No great reflections on getting older today... I cherish time, and age, and I feel lucky for each year that goes by, but I feel like that most days. The way I can tell I'm getting older is how old my daughters are! They are such wonderful, beautiful people.

"The accident," as I am referring to it, when I do refer to it, was probably the most horrific thing that I have ever been personally involved in. One minute I'm driving along, early for work, just having a day, then suddenly I'm shaking and shuddering and my brain is spinning, and there's cops and bystanders and firetrucks and an ambulance and holy crap! A 16-year-old boy laying half on the road, half on the sidewalk. He ran in front of an SUV that had stopped because it was taking a left, but I was to the right of the SUV, going through the green light. Fortunately, he was not hurt badly - his right arm looked pretty sore, but was not bleeding or cut up - and fortunately, several people gave their names and statements to the police, saying that the light was green, I was not speeding, and the kid ran right in front of my car. Friends tell me that my auto insurance carrier will automatically get sued by his health insurance carrier, which is horrible because IT WASN'T MY FAULT, but hopefully that won't happen. Don't get me started about insurance companies.

Notice to that woman at the mall who I had entrusted with my hair for the last 3 months: IT'S OVER. I found a REAL hairstylist, who cut my hair THE WAY I WANT IT. What a concept. My hair is shorter, and it's layered, and it looks GOOD. Thank you to SHARON at JCPenney Hair Salon! See you in 8 weeks!

Brother-in-law B and sister-in-law M are expecting their third child in March ... hoping for a girl this time ... this should motivate me to finish the housewarming gift I made for them, so that I can get going on a baby blanket.

I'm still following Sally's blog about her life in Beaumont, TX (home of erstwhile Boston first baseman Ke'Millar - wonder if they know each other?). Sally is a survivor of Hurricane Rita - not a nutty one who rode out the storm, but a smart one who made hotel reservations in cities far enough away to be safe. A fascinating blog by an interesting person. I want to encourage her to write more about her career as an engineer.

But now, back to real life.