Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Auditions and review (Rebel Ice)

      The auditions went okay. I have enough people to cast the play except for one role if no one else tries out. It was funny how it turned out. I had worried about having enough men try out, but I had plenty of them. I thought I'd easily have enough women try out; naturally I didn't. I hope that I have more women audition tonight. If so, I will be able to make the final cast decisions tonight. And we will start rehearsals Wednesday night. I hope.
      I'm afraid that, for the next month, the play will be all I'll be talking and obsessing about. Bear with me. I'm sure I will come out of it with a few disasters that will make funny stories. That does seem to be how my projects go.
      I intended to write a longer review of Rebel Ice, the new SF book by S.L. Viehl. I haven't had time to do so, but here's a short one. It's good, intelligent, exciting science fiction that focuses more on relationships than hard science. In other words, you don't have to hold a doctorate in physics to enjoy it. It's part of a series (Stardoc), but the book stands alone well. If you've read the previous novels, it will make the experience richer, but if not, it's still a good read. I hope I don't spoil it for you to say that Viehl takes a tremendous chance with a main character. I'm curious to see how it plays out in future books. Click here to purchase it from Barnes and Noble. But be warned. If you read one Stardoc novel, you'll want to read them all. Dr. Cherijo Torin grabs on you and doesn't let go.
      And that's all for now. I'll try to be back later tonight and let you know what happens.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Paying the tax man

      A busy weekend. I've spent it working on my taxes and finally doing the February Gazette. The Gazette is printing now and still needs to stapled and put in the envelopes. My taxes took a while because I'm itemizing this year for the first time so I was collecting receipts and adding various expenses in their categories. Yuck. But it's close to being finished. I should put file them on Tuesday or Wednesday.
      March will be a busy month for me. Tryouts for the play are tomorrow and Tuesday night. We'll start rehearsals Wednesday. And that will be my evenings until April 2 (the last date of production).
      Otherwise, I did laundry and other housework. I also went down to the theater and worked on the set for a few hours. The set is about a third done. A door frame and stairs need to be built, and one wall needs to be moved back. Then it needs to be taped, painted and trimmed. After that, the furniture. I'm fortunate that my roomie is going to be the set foreman. He will do a good job, and I won't have to worry about it. My former secretary is going to be my stage manager. My crew is shaping up nicely.
      It's going to be a lot of work, but it feels like it's going okay so far.
      Anyway, have a good night and a great week. I'm outta here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Postcards from Key West & Mexico

Wouldn't you like to be sitting here?

O la la!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


      It's surprisingly difficult to beat the computer when playing Scrabble. It has a complete dictionary at its disposal so it comes up with some very strange words. For instance, LARKY. I had to look it up. It means: "1. High-spirited, zestful. 2. Silly; zany." At least Websters says it does. You can even be larkier or larkiest. Who knew?
      It's very good at using Z. When I get a Z, I look for a chance to play: ZIT, ZOO, ZINC, ZEBRA, ZAP, ZONE, ZITHER, ZEAL, ZERO, ZIRCON and ZOOM. That's my Z's. But it used ZED, ZEBU and ZEITGEIST. ZEITGEIST won the game because it played it on a triple word score! You can't come back from that. And it incorporated two other words when it did it. (I changed the game's setting from champion to intermediate after that.)
      Now I keep a dictionary by the computer to look up the words it plays. I had thought I was fairly literate, but frankly I've been humbled. Despite this I'm winning more games than I lose. Eventually I hope to be up to facing the champion setting, but give me few months.
      I've been trying to figure out how to play it online. It does have an online option, but when I click it, nothing happens. Probably the computer game company that produced it is out of business. The game was in the bargain bin, and it was old, not even mentioning XP or Windows ME on the system requirements. I'll have to find my online fix some other way.
      Crystal asked me about how crystals formed last night. She home-schools her son, and it came up as a science lesson. I gave what I remembered from my high school chemistry, but later began to doubt what I said. So I started researching it. As it turned out, I was correct, but I kept clicking on various links and wandered across the Internet, following whatever caught my interest. Eventually I ended up on a page that sold crystals as tools for "healing and contacting The Other Side." Ooookay. Apparently by attuning your mind to the "dimensional vibrations" of the crystals, you can do all sorts of things. Curious. You'd think this would be big news, but no one is reporting it. I wonder why.
      Can you ever truly trust someone who doesn't find Monty Python and the Holy Grail funny? I think not. And now for something completely different ... Good night.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


      Since I don't have any particular topic in mind, I thought I'd just update you on a few things.
      My niece: At home, on pain meds, will see a specialist on the 27th. Otherwise, we don't know much more than we did. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. She's a brave little thing, that's for sure.
      DRP: The Debt Reduction Plan is still in place. I should pay off another credit card in November of this year, barring unforeseen events. Another in 2007. The final card will go in 2008, leaving only my first and second mortgage. The second mortgage should go in 2009, leaving only the house payment. And that should go in 2010. It seems weird to be planning that far ahead. Almost as if I'm asking for trouble. Did you know that most major Japanese corporations have 100 year plans? Many have 200 year plans. Wouldn't you like a look at them? I would.
      Global warming: I made a mistake yesterday and started discussing global warming with a rabid Republican. I also lost my temper. He didn't know what he was talking about, quoting talk show hosts and Internet columnists. When I suggested several science journals, he said, "People can twist facts to mean anything. Scientists hate Bush and God." The only sane reply you can make to that is to leap the table and choke the speaker to death.
      The terrible thing about global warming is that it has become political. Liberals use it to attack Bush. Conservatives use it to attack liberals. Both of them are totally missing the point. Global warming itself should not be political; it should be science. What we should do --if anything -- about it, that's politics. And neither side is willing to actually look at the science. Instead they trot out pet scientists.
      My rabid Republican brought out that the Antarctica ice cap is growing. I explained that its growth was predicted back in the 1980s as a consequence of global warming. I even attempted to explain why the raise in temperatures would cause the growth using a salt shaker and a fork. (It has to do with the fact that the earth orbits the sun at a tilt and that it wobbles as it does so and that the Arctic melts first, releasing fresh water into the oceans and raises the freezing point of the ocean. [Saltwater freezes at lower temps than fresh so the fresher the water, the easier it is for the ocean to freeze.] Antarctica, while warmer, is still below the freezing point so it grows. Also, the Arctic melting increases the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, and that increases the amount of snowfall on Antarctica. But back to our story.) He cut me off. "I don't care about that. I support our president."
      I gave up at that point and kept attempting to change the subject. He kept on. I finally told him that I didn't want to talk any more about it. He got a triumphant look on his face and said, "I would have never imagined that you would censor anyone. That's a liberal for you!" So ... I told him what I thought: He was an idiot, and I didn't want to be his friend any more because his idea of a discussion was to beat the other person into submission and that I was sure Bush would appreciate it if he'd stop defending him since the president has defenders that don't make Bush look like a fool. It was not one of my more successful social occasions.
      Scientists are certainly not blameless in this mess. They've lost the public's trust. They've allowed themselves to become corrupted by politics and the desire for money. Science has moved from being the pursuit of knowledge to the pursuit of personal glory and wealth. Maybe it's always been that way and I'm just naive to assume otherwise. All in all, it's pretty depressing.
      As for my rabid Republican friend, he called to apologize later that afternoon and I apologized back. It might have blown over, but he just had to say, "But I was right." I hung up on him and didn't take his other two calls. He called me at home, but I let the answering machine pick it up. Some doors need to be closed.
      Scrabble: This computer Scrabble game is going to be the bane of my productivity. I've played nearly 20 games over the past two days. It's not as much fun as playing with people, but it is fun.
      Play: Tryouts for the play I'm directing will be Monday and Tuesday night next week. After that, I will be in rehearsal every night (except Sunday) until the play opens March 30. I'm already missing my free time.
      Darkness, Oklahoma: I'm still wrestling with the "Town Meeting" problem, but I think I have it solved. I simply skipped the set-up for the meeting and started with them meeting with a few quick lines to explain how they all got there. It's a bit rough, and I need to add a few lines to some other scenes to make it seem more plausble, but so far, so good. I won't have it finished by the end of February as I hoped, but I should have no problems in getting it done in April and then off to my first readers. (I'm hoping you folks who volunteered are still interested.)
      Figments: I've mentioned this play here a couple of times. It's been slowly coming together. I think I will be able to finish it this summer. I'm cautiously excited about its potential. It's funny (I think) and exciting (a murder in unusual business enviroment). I might really have something here.
      The Gazette: My family newsletter is running very late this month. Yes, this is the February issue! I should be able to finish it this week so that it will at least get mailed in February. Sigh. And then I need to turn around and do March's immediately. So really, I shouldn't playing computer Scrabble. Maybe I should use it for a reward.
      Diet: Question: If you cheat constantly, is it really a diet or is it more of a vague suggestion of a diet?
      And now I'll close. Have a great day!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The game's the thing

      I was raised in a highly competitive family. We were taught to do our best, yeah, sure, but we were also taught to win. Getting the A, the trophy, the prize. That's what we did. Yeah, it was pressure, but the pressure also led me and my siblings to achieve things that we might not have. Impossible to know now since it's not like things could be done over.
      However, over the years, I've come to realize that the winning isn't as important as the playing. I know, I know, that sounds so lame. "It doesn't matter who wins or loses; it matters how you play the game." And I won't go that far. It does matter who wins, but it's also fun to play.
      I've noticed this in playing Scrabble, Hearts, Spades, Monopoly, Chess, etc. It's the interaction of the game, the thrill of playing that I enjoy now. It's nice to win, but it's also a letdown because the game is over.
      My father enjoyed games. He could keep a family Monopoly game going for days by lending money and bending rules. I don't really recall a game ever ending. My mother would finally insist that the game be put up so that she could have her kitchen table back.
      Strangely enough, this relates to religion. I was raised in a faith that emphasized that our time here on earth was a misery and we just needed to hold on until we reached Heaven. World joys were to be avoided, condemned. The reward was the afterlife. In fact, the more you suffered here, the better it would be in hereafter.
      I still remember the first time a Mormon friend of mine quoted a verse from the Book of Mormon that said, "...and men are, that they might have joy." I've always thought there was some truth in that. It was certainly something that my mother believed, that we can have joy in the journey. At her funeral, we sang this song: "There's joy in the journey. There's good times in the going. It's not all in the reaping. There's plenty in the sowing." She would have liked that.
      Sooo ... maybe that's my philosophy in life. To seek the joy in this journey, secure in my eventual destination, but enjoying the sights along the way.
      I really started this to say that I bought a computer game of Scrabble at Wal-Mart for $9.99. Pretty cool. I've played several games this evening. I can see where my spare time is going for a while. Anyway, good night. Take care and have a good week.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Now, in this moment between
what was and what will come,
is the only place we can live.

I take your hand. We run across
the park through the trees
laughing for no reason we can explain.

We stop beneath an old oak
trying to catch our breath
holding hands like children do.

And then my eyes linger
on your face. I reach out to
touch your cheek. You sigh.

I move close. We kiss. Your lips
taste like cherry sweet sweat.
Our bodies press together.

"It's late," you say. "I have to go."
"I know," I say. "I wish."
You nod, try to smile, and turn away.

We walk back to the motel
to our cars to our separate lives
living only in these betweens.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Cherokee alphabet postcard

      I don't know if I've ever mentioned on here that I collect postcards. This is one from my collection. I will be featuring others over the next few weeks.

A postcard that features the Cherokee alphabet.
Scan copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Math and other useless things

      "Why the long face, sunshine?" I asked my wonderful and clever niece (Can you tell I'm a doting uncle?) as I wandered by the kitchen table on my way to the wonderful and food-filled refrigerator (Can you tell I need to lose weight?).
      "I'm studying for my math test," she said, a frown only slightly marring her perfect 10-year-old features. "Would you help me?"
      "Certainly, oh wondrous child," I said. "First, does your teacher have any children? And does she love them enough to give you a good grade if, for instance, they turned up missing and she received a ransom note demanding just that?"
      My niece looked at me sadly. "Mama told me that you were a math moron, but I didn't believe it."
      "And well you shouldn't," I said. "Ask her the last time her checkbook balanced. Here, watch this." I placed my checkbook on my thumb and balanced it, but when I looked up, my niece had left the room, apparently looking for someone who doesn't think sign and cosign are the math equivalent of Mr. and Mrs.
      I have never been math-minded. All those numbers simply confuse the issue as far as I'm concerned. I have never done my own taxes and do not intend to start. I, however, can balance my checkbook, but only because I'm dealing with low numbers and almost anyone can subtract $5 from $12.
      To be honest, I haven't used much math since high school. I can't even think of the last time someone wandered up to me at a party and said, "If person A was traveling toward person B at half the speed of B, how soon would they pass each other if they were 12 miles apart at the start and B was going at 40 miles per hour?" Actually, that has never happened, and if it ever did, I would be well within my rights to punch the asker in the mouth.
      I know I shouldn't say things like that. I should encourage young people to stay in school by telling about how what I learned helped me. And I do think everyone should stay in school and avoid the real world as much as possible. It keeps them off the streets, and they're not competing to get my job. College is a particularly nice place to avoid reality. I'd be in college now if my parents hadn't ran out of money after my tenth year.
      Truthfully, a lot of what you learn in school seems useless. Students are forced to memorize a lot of facts that their instructor thinks is important even though he may send flowers and little romantic notes to his spleen. Of course, the real importance of those facts is that you need to know them to pass his tests. You won't need them afterwards unless you end up on a game show.
      And what strange facts they are. For instance, did you know the average man's large intestine would wrap around a common light bulb approximately 18 times? I remember quite clearly when a biology instructor shared that with my class. I also remember wondering who checked and why. It may have only been an example that my instructor thought would make the subject clear to us. Still, you have to wonder if he didn't eventually turn up on America's Most Wanted.
      Another strange tidbit that has stuck with me is that the abbreviation of Tasmania is Tasm -- not that anyone ever explained who wrote enough about Tasmania to need an abbreviation. And did you know that a blatherskite is a talkative, foolish person? Or that a gnu is a large African antelope with an oxlike head? Or that a kohlrabi is a garden vegetable, similar to a cabbage? Why would I remember these things when I have trouble remembering my social security number and where I parked my car? An even more important question is why my teachers would think it was important to share those facts with me. Other than now, I've never used any of them since school.
      As for tests, surely the educational establishment can find another way to grade students, some better method to evaluate their knowledge of a subject without subjecting them to such intense pressure and discomfort. Perhaps the instructor could personally interview each student. That would allow every pupil the perfect opportunity to offer a bribe. I myself have always liked the blanket 'A' idea. (Naturally you have to be careful where you place the blanket. Otherwise, people will see and maybe call the police.)
      Still, I know my teachers tried their best. They may have been hampered by what they had to work with. I guess tests are a small price to pay for avoiding reality -- yeah, and blood is just another liquid. I also know school and college enriched and my life by providing me with exposure to masterpieces of art and literature and earthshaking theories from the sciences.
      But as for math, count me among the unnumbered.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

An almost history of Valentine's Day

      It's Valentine's Day today … or as it's called in my household "Passover." I hope you have exciting plans with your loved one, perhaps going to an expensive restaurant and gazing soulfully into each other's eyes and then you glance out the window at the lovely night and exclaim, "Hey! What is that guy doing to my car?" Just so you know, I'm letting the air out of your tires, thus ensuring you a night to remember. I hope you brought a jack.
      Not that I'm bitter that you're with a loved one while I am alone as I scurry around dark parking lots. I wish you much happiness and joy and perhaps a plague or two. Nothing serious, mind you. Just an inflamed pimple or a hacking cough or leprosy.
      That might seem harsh, but Valentine's Day has a harsh history that I will now share with you. I did extensive research on this, mostly by making it up, but a few facts did creep in despite my best efforts so be warned.
      The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different martyred saints named Valentine or Valentinus. All three died in terrible agony, thus giving rise to their remembrance with candy hearts and chocolate. That might seem odd, but most people mark Easter by eating chocolate bunnies and hiding hard-boiled eggs. So it does follow the general theme.
      The most commonly held legend says that Valentine was a priest in Rome during the third century. When Emperor "Killjoy" Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's marriages were discovered, Claudius had Valentine thrown in prison.
      Supposedly, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, Valentine fell in love with his jailor's daughter. (Why the daughter was visiting men in prison, the legend doesn't say.) Before his death, he wrote her a letter, which he signed "From your Valentine." He also healed her blindness through his faith. (Her first words upon regaining her sight were "Who are you? And why am I in this dreary place?") For Valentine's good works, Claudius had him beaten, tortured with hot irons, beaten some more, more torture, another beating because you can't have too much beating, and then finally beheaded. They beat him after the beheading, too, but all the fun seemed to have gone out of it.
      Some historians say Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to mark the anniversary of Valentine's death and/or burial. Others claim the Christian church decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February to 'christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. Still other historians don't care and have gone out for a bite to eat.
      We do know that, in ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and a time for purification. Houses were cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and wheat throughout their rooms. (This was centuries before the invention of Lysol and those nifty Swifter mops.) Lupercalia, which began on February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus (the god of agriculture) and Romulus and "Uncle" Remus (founders of Rome as well as the Romulian Empire that bedeviled Captain Kirk so much).
      To begin the festival, the Luperci priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus were believed to have been raised by a she-wolf or lupa. No, seriously, that's what they believed. The priests would then sacrifice a goat (for fertility) and a dog (for purification) and then several lawyers (for fun).
      The boys of Rome then sliced the goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Supposedly, Roman women enjoyed being touched with the strips because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile. I don't know what would happen if you slapped a modern woman with a goathide strip dipped in blood, but it wouldn't be pretty.
      Later in the day, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage and sometimes bloodshed and feuds. This is quite similar to the Oklahoma Lottery of today.
      Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The Roman 'lottery' system was condemned as un-Christian and outlawed. The Church tried to replace it with a system where the young men pulled out the name of a saint and then would spend a year trying to be like the saint, but for some reason, the public wasn't as interested in that as you might suppose.
      No one really knows where the tradition of sending greetings to your loved ones on Valentine's Day started. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The greeting, written in 1415, is almost unreadable but most scholars think it goes: "Roses are red, Violets are blue, The Tower is stinky, I have the flu" or something not even close to that.
      In the 17th century, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated in Great Britain. (So it's really the fault of those dang English.) By the middle of the eighteenth century, friends, lovers and chimney sweeps commonly exchanged small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters, and decreasing postage rates helped spur the popularity. (Postage rates weren't much of a problem for the royal family due to their tendency to date cousins. Many times they would just walk across the palace and hand their Valentines to their relatives.) Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s since we were still aping the British then. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland started selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Hallmark maintains a shrine for her with a perpetual chocolate fountain.
      The Greeting Card Association says an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Valentine's Day is celebrated in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. The rest of the world is free of it.
      And now I must go. There are many more cars out there to visit. Be seeing you in the parking lots. Oh, Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Valentine Primer

      It's the day before Valentine's Day. If you're a guy, you're probably saying, "What? Valentine's Day is tomorrow?!" Yes, you moron, despite all those ads on TV -- even on Spike TV -- you've once again let the high holy holiday of romantic blackmail and relentless marketing slip up on you.
      Now, calm down. I'm here to help you, even though I myself have no one badgering me for goodies this year because my girlfriend chewed through the duct tape and escaped. Just remember this helpful phrase: Cats Can't Fly. Immediately you're thinking that maybe if they had bottle rockets tied to them, they might be able to, but don't go there. Trust me, it isn't pretty. No, we remember that phrase: Cats Can't Fly because the capital letters will remind you to buy: Card, Candy, Flowers. That's it. That's all you need to do to keep your love cupcake happy.
      Yes, I see the sweat beading on your forehead. I see your reddened face. I see your body tremble. You're either having a heart attack or you're thinking about actually going into a shop and buying those things. Calm down. Let's make our phrase just a bit bigger. Cats Can't Fly High. The 'H' will remind you to simply go to your local Hallmark store. There you can purchase a card and candy along with a thousand other items whose sole purpose seems to be look cute and collect dust.
      Hallmark loves Valentine's Day with a passion that's frankly unseemly. When you walk into their stores, you smell nice scents, hear romantic music and confront 1,548,302,743 cards from which you must select the totally correct one. Listen, that's a lie. Walk toward the Valentine's cards. Stop in front of the rack. Make sure you're in the proper section for your particular love (Wife, Girlfriend, Garage Mechanic, Ex-girlfriend You're Stalking, Emu, etc). Close your eyes and stick your hand. The first one your hand touches is the right one. Pick it up.
      Next, head for their candy section. You can identify it by the stacks of hundreds of red boxes that are not shaped like a human heart but are called heart-shaped nonetheless. Don't pause. Find a medium-sized box. Pick it up and take it with you. Do not pause. Go directly to the counter. Pay for it. Snarl if they attempt to sell you anything else, and they will.
      There, you're outside now. Take a deep breath. Sit down and put your head between your knees if you feel sick. This will make you feel worse. I don't know why they have you do that except you do look funny and other people laugh at you, thus easing their heavy burdens.
      Okay, now drive to a florist. This one is going to be tricky, but just remember these words: "bud vase." Enter the store. Walk to the counter. Say, "I need a bud vase." Now, the florists will attempt to get to you buy something else. They will say something like, "Well, sure, you can have a bud vase, but if you really want to show your love, doesn't she deserve more? Because you can bet that your neighbor is watching her and he thinks she deserves more and even now they're planning to run away together to the islands and leave you a lonely, broken man doomed to spend your drunken life alone and to die in a rest home, unloved and unsung, but you can stop all of this if you'd just give her two dozen roses that only cost as much as the gross national product of Bolivia, but isn't she worth it?! What is wrong with you? GIVE ME YOUR CREDIT CARD NOW!"
      Don't let that happen. Use force if you must, but get that bud vase. Leave the store. Take another deep breath. (From this point on, I'm going to assume that you can breathe on your own.) There. You're ready for Valentine's Day. It wasn't that bad, say compared to a root canal or a complete physical exam.
      If you follow this, you will impress the living daylights out of her. For a day or so. If you'd like for her good feelings toward you to last a week, take her out to dinner, maybe dancing, and then give her a nice back massage without expecting anything -- and I do mean ANYTHING -- in return.
      Admittedly, this is a beginner's course on Valentine's Day. I'm sure you can probably think about it and devise something better for your love muffin. A few important points to remember as you do so:
      1. Lingerie is not a gift for her. It's a gift that will benefit you. Don't be misled. And if you make the mistake of getting it too large, you are a dead man.
      2. It's a rare woman who likes tools or appliances for Valentine's Day. Should you have one of those paragons, you'd better make sure you keep her. She's worth her weight in screwdrivers and multi-tools.
      3. It's never right to give them nothing, even though they say they don’t want anything. That is a trap that has broken many a proud man. Don't fall for it.
      4. A boat hitch is not an appropriate gift, and it will look bad on you in divorce court.
      5. Don't bankrupt yourself buying diamond jewelry. Yes, I know a diamond is forever, but let's be honest, a marriage usually just lasts twenty to forty years, six hours if married in Vegas. Why put that diamond pressure on your relationship? (Note: This doesn't apply to Mormons as they have eternal marriage. This means they need to be extra careful in choosing a mate because they don't have the escape of death.)
      6. Remember that Valentine's is an escalating holiday. Next year you will have to top what you did this year. One year Bill Gates gave his wife a $2.7 million dollar necklace. The next year he was forced to buy her several states, including Rhode Island, as a gift. Learn from his mistake. Keep it simple.
      7. Most of all, remember that women deserve the loving attention. After all, they put up with us. And, buddy, that ain't no easy life.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


      I spent the weekend being sick, running a fever, stomach problems, etc. I'm finally feeling better tonight -- just in time to return to work tomorrow. My timing really stinks.
      I did get the theater group's web page updated this afternoon. I'd been having a problem with getting the changes to load onto the server, but I finally figured it out. Very annoying how a simple syntax error can screw up a whole web page. Makes me crazy.
      Otherwise, I didn't do much. Watched a couple of old movies. Listened to some ocean waves. Slept. What? The ocean waves? I have a CD of ocean waves. Very calming. Helps me relax and/or sleep. I have several "environment" CDs, including a running river and a bayou at night. If you're interested in relaxation techniques, I recommend them.
      Talked to Crystal on the phone tonight. She said that she didn't find me dark or evil at all, and she's known me since the fifth grade. So there, all you dark sayers. Although ... she might have been saying that just because she's scared of me ... Naw. That couldn't be it. She's a nurse. She's not scared of anything!
      Did I mention that Michelle has great musical taste? She gave a link to Michael Buble. The song "Feeling Good" convinced me to order the CD. I recommend you check him out if you like contemporary, smooth jazz. You can listen to three of his songs on his site, including "Feeling Good.
      And now I'm going to head to bed. Hope you all have a good week. Talk to you tomorrow.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


      My niece is at home again. The hospital didn't help much. She will see a specialist on the 27th, which was the soonest he/she/they could see her. Until then, she will survive on pain meds and willpower with occasional trips to the hospital. It's bad, but that seems to be the best that can be worked out. Health care in this country is expensive, slow and discouraging. If you're poor, you don't ever get the care you should. Somehow I'm going to get some money and rescue my family. Don't know how yet. Maybe selling kidneys and other organs on the black market or robbing banks or selling national secrets to ... well, does anyone still want our national secrets? Our media seems to tell them all anyway. There are reasons beyond greed that make people turn to crime.


      Got told again that I'm "surprisingly dark." I was having lunch with a friend who said that my writing was filled with "joy, life and laughter," which was nice, and she found that odd since I have such darkness in me, which wasn't that nice. I wanted to know what she found dark about me. She said it was that it was because I was sad a lot.
      Well, that made me feel like I was a whiney hiney, and I told her that I didn't think I was that dark.
      "You are," she said. "You just hide it very well, and most people don't ever know to look any further. You're very good at keeping people at a distance. Answer me this honestly, have you ever trusted anyone enough to be completely open and share your deepest thoughts and feelings?"
      "Of course not," I said. "I'm a guy!"


      A friend of mine shipped me a bottle of liquid vitamins. (Thanks ... I think.) Apparently his mom is either selling it or pushing it. It's loaded with hundreds of minerals, vitamins and plant extracts. In fact, it's so loaded with nature's goodness that it looks like river mud. Tastes somewhat like it, too. That's an understatement. It tastes BAD. You could follow it with a chaser of battery acid, but you'd still be able to taste its terrible health. There's a reason they don't carbonate it and sell it in the soft drink aisle.


      I pulled a muscle or something in my left side. It's been giving me a lot of problems. Well, really just one problem. It's hurts! Thank goodness for Advil. And aspirin. And morphine ...


      It's cold here. We've had unseasonably warm weather until now, but it was in the teens last night and only in the thirties today. Of course, for those up north, that probably seems mild, but I don't enjoy it. I dream of warm beaches and clear skies. I miss the green grass and the leaves on the tree and the flowers in the fields.
Do not tarry, Spring.
Winter holds so hard ...


      Have I ever mentioned how much I admire people who can walk away and start a new life? They cut their ties, they set sail, they head for a far-off place. They may look back but only to make sure they aren't drifting off course. I always wonder if they find what they're looking for or do they just find more of the same.


      Two of my blogging friends have declared war on each other. I don't expect this will end well. I've been on the Net for a long time, long enough that I remember when Prodigy and Delphi were the thing. I've seen these email/chat/bulletin board/comment/post battles over and over. The Net will always be inferior to face-to-face communication and interaction because we lack the visual cues and tonal inflections that can defuse the most incendiary statements.


      I've been better on my diet this week so I'm expecting a loss when the next WWIN takes place. See The Great Slim Down for details. Our fearless leader Crystal has returned and will doubtless lead us all on to slimness. (Yeah, the pressure is on!)


      I need a nap.


      I should be doing housework, writing, errands, but I think I'm going to go back to bed and nap some. Talk to you later.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


      Still no good news on my niece. She remains in the hospital. Her doctor has the bedside manner of a psychopath, and that comparison is almost an insult to psychopaths everywhere. My sister is working on getting her into another hospital. We hope that will take place soon. My niece is in terrible pain, but she's being very brave. I'm very proud of her. The nurses on her floor are treating her very well. One told my sister that they just loved my niece. If only the doctors were as compassionate and caring as the nurses.
      Or at least competent. It's frightening to discover that an Internet search turned up more information than the doctor knew. I know they can't stay up on everything, but you'd think a specialist would, well, specialize in their field. But this particular doctor was several years behind on current thinking and treatment. It makes you wonder what happens to patients who don't have an active and caring family.
      My good friend Crystal, RN, says that a patient gets better care when they have an advocate with them. Family members or friends who work to understand treatments and help the patient keep track. She recommends that if you have to go the hospital, you take someone with you to help you. It literally can make the difference between life and death.
      Speaking of Crystal, she's in her new place now and getting settled in. She has to buy a new monitor for her computer, but she might be back online this weekend. She's doing well, but not enjoying California as much as she had hoped. Smog is more of a problem than expected, and it's playing havoc with her allergies.
      I haven't been doing anything except watching TV and being worried. It somehow feels wrong to be laugh or have a good time while my niece is in such pain. I know she wouldn't want me to shut down, but I find myself not able to carry on as I normally do. My life revolves around the people I love, and when they're suffering, I suffer, too. It's not necessarily a good thing.
      Anyway, that's where we're at now. I hope we get to a better place soon. Remember my niece and her family in your prayers. Thanks. I hope things are going well for you.

Monday, February 06, 2006


      A long, worrisome weekend that is leading into a long, worrisome week. The main worry is my niece's condition. I keep hoping and praying that the doctors will figure something out and help her. She has an ob-gyn consult today, and maybe we'll learn something, but more likely, more tests will be ordered. I'll let you know. She thinks they're really trying to help her, but it's frustrating to know she's suffering. I don't like it when the people I love are in pain. It's weird, but I'd much rather it be me than her. It's somehow easier when I'm sick than when they are.
      Otherwise, I mostly slept this weekend. I've been experiencing a mild IBD flare. It's cut into my sleep time so I'm napping constantly. Last night I got about six hours of uninterrupted sleep so I feel a bit better today.
      My local theater group met yesterday. Tempers flared. Not much fun, but I'm hopeful that things will improve. I sure didn't enjoy the stress. I don't know why people take it so blamed seriously. It's not like we're saving the world, folks. It's just so that some people can get on stage and enjoy themselves. That's all. Chill.
      I wrote a bit on Darkness, Oklahoma. I still haven't fixed the "town meeting" problem, but I had several early scenes that needed to be rewritten and new scenes that needed to added. I think I have a way to fix the TM problem, but I need to write on it some more.
      And now it's time to get ready for work.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Today's news on my niece

She had a bad day today. A lot of pain. She had to take so much pain medication that she's really out of it. Tomorrow she will have a consult with the ob-gyn doctor. We're hoping that will result in some sort of answer and treatment. Please continue to think of her and pray for her. Thank you.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Update on my niece

We still don't know anything for certain. They're still running tests and waiting for the results of tests. It could be the Crohn's disease or the endometriosis or some combination of the two or something new like a tumor, God forbid. But she is on pain meds, and that has improved her spirits, and she was able to get some sleep for the first time in days. They allowed her to take some liquid food today, and so far she has been able to tolerate it. I spoke to her briefly over the phone and told her that you guys were praying for her. She told me to tell you 'thank you.' I appreciate her being in your prayers and ask that you continue to lift her up. Thank you.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Prayer request

My oldest niece is in the hospital tonight. Things look a bit grim. I would appreciate you remembering her in your prayers and thoughts. Thank you.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

If I Were A Wasp

My stinger would sizzle red hot
as I flew around having great fun
aiming my barb at the deserving lot --

like jerks who will honk at cars run
slow by elderly folks as if such
rudeness could undo what years have done

and talk show hosts who wallow much
in people's pain for crowds who titter
at those who could be them if fate touched

and slobs who casually litter
dropping hamburger wrappers on trails
like we can move when this earth lies bitter

and flaccid fools who slaughter whales
because they unthink precious oils will
put the manly boing back in their quiet bells

the list goes on and now I feel
one wasp could be squashed or even caught
we need an army -- that'll be the perfect deal.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.