Saturday, July 04, 2009

How did this ever get a bad rap? (Sunday's Poem, 24)


Painting a Room

Katia Kapovich

Here on a March day in ‘89
I blanch the ceiling and walls with bluish lime.
Drop cloths and old newspapers hide
the hardwood floors. All my furniture has been sold,
or given away to bohemian friends.
There is nothing to eat but bread and wine.

An immigration visa in my pocket, I paint
the small apartment where I’ve lived for ten years.
Taking a break around 4 p.m.,
I sit on the last chair in the empty kitchen,
smoke a cigarette and wipe my tears
with the sleeve of my old pullover.
I am free from regrets but not from pain.

Ten years of fears, unrequited loves, odd jobs,
of night phone calls. Now they’ve disconnected the line.
I drop the ashes in the sink, pour turpentine
into a jar, stirring with a spatula. My heart throbs
in my right palm when I pick up the brush again.

For ten years the window’s turquoise square
has held my eyes in its simple frame.
Now, face to face with the darkening sky,
what more can I say to the glass but thanks
for being transparent, seamless, wide
and stretching perspective across the size
of the visible.

Then I wash the brushes and turn off the light.
This is my last night before moving abroad.
I lie down on the floor, a rolled-up coat
under my head. This is the last night.
Freedom smells of a freshly painted room,
of wooden floors swept with a willow broom,
and of stale raisin bread.
____________________________________________________

I picked today's poem in part because I've been thinking about a family in the news who lost their house to foreclosure and decided to up and move to Africa for the next year or so, and in part because I have painted a room and know what that's like -- although not what it's like to pain a room before moving abroad -- and in part because Painting A Room reminded me of the Tom Milsom song "Watching Paint Dry."

Which is a ridiculously -- but in a good way -- dramatic song for a pasttime (?) that's been used as a synonym for boredom for decades, if not longer.

So. Um. I don't know. It all seemed like that made sense before I wrote it.

Also, you can listen to the Tom Milsom song here. It's worth the trip - -especially considering you don't even have to get up.


Click here for a list of all the Sunday's Poems ever.

Or click here for all the Quotes of the Day ever.

2 of the 3 have to do with eating. I wonder if that's connected to the way my pants keep shrinking? (3 Good Things From July 4, 2009)


I was up late because of people blowing off fireworks up the street. I hate to be that guy, but would you keep it down? Luckily, my 3 Good Things from July 4 keep me in a positive mood for today:

1. The taste of five different "Life Savers" at once. That's Mr Bunches' new game: he gets out a handful of Life Savers, then makes you open them and puts them all in your mouth. That's it. That's the game.

2. The line "Oh, you got a Ross," from that episode of Friends where Ross had that thing on his back, the episode I watched yesterday instead of doing anything more productive.

3. Grilled peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich for dinner. Thanks, Elvis!


Read all the 3 Good Things

Or try reading Ninety-Four: My Year in D.C. and Morocco.

If you want to be online, you want VenalTech.com. (And you want to be online. Trust me.)

Yesterday, Middle asked me where our phone books are. "We don't have any," I said.

"How am I supposed to look up a phone number?" she asked.

"The way everyone else does," I said. "Google it."

We now live in an online-business world. When the news broke that Steve McNair had been shot, Sweetie went and looked up the details online. The Boy posts movie reviews on his own blog. I get my music online; Sweetie gets her books online.

That's why online business development is more critical than ever. People simply don't read newspapers and magazines as much as they used to. Television, too, is being changed by the Internet -- just the other day I heard that ads for "The Simpsons" on Hulu.com are more expensive than ads for "The Simpsons" on TV.

But most people aren't as familiar with the Internet as they need to be to properly use it to build a business. We don't know how to program websites, how to maximize search engines for our business, or do some of the more obscure stuff -- like keep OUR websites from being confused with scammers' sites.

VenalTech does. They know how to do it all. Whether you're running a law office, selling books, marketing to a specific group or the general public, VenalTech will help you build up an existing business, or will help you develop a brand new idea fo ra business. They've got web developers and programmers who can do anything from create the next Facebook to setting up a simple, clean website to sell your t-shirts through.

They make the website, as simple or complicated as you'd like, they set up how to sell through it, provide visitor interaction opportunities, position your site on page one of search engines, run banner ads, videos, and other solicitations, set up cost-per-click links, and even work with social networks to build your brand up on Youtube or Twitter or MySpace. That's their most popular service, in fact: their Social Media Marketing is already being used by a lot of Fortune 500 corporations... so using it just may put you in that kind of elite company.

If you want VenalTech to help you, call them 1-(888)-838-8185 or click that link above. It's time to be online, and they'll get you there.

Quote of the Day, 31:


I would love to love a mango smoothie.
-- Sweetie, during our ride with the Babies! today.


As we were driving the Babies! around this morning, (it was the "Waunakee Route," and Middle opted to come with us) Sweetie began talking about things that she liked, and mentioned a movie that she wanted to like. I said "You want to like a lot of things because you think it's cool to like them. Like Mango Smoothies. You want to like them because you think they're cool."

That's when Sweetie said today's quote. And it's true: Sweetie wants desperately to like smoothies, especially mango smoothies. Because she thinks that smoothies are cool, and that people who like smoothies are cool.

My number one tip: Choose to carry the lighter baby through the airport.

Last year, I took our tax refund and booked a trip to Florida -- plane, hotel, car, Sea World tickets, the whole shebang. Then, as the trip neared, I realized that we'd booked a trip that included then-2-year-olds and that I had no idea what rules applied. Did they have to sit on our laps on the plane? Could we take a stroller? Would there be car seats or did we have to take them with us? Was there anything for Babies! to do at the resort we were staying at?

I could have saved myself a lot of trouble and worry if I'd checked out BabySafeTravel.com, a site that has all kinds of tips on how to travel with baby -- or Babies!, as they've got tips on traveling with "multiples."

They've got more than that: links to book hotels, buy strollers and carriers,and even blogs related to baby travels -- and, maybe most helpful of all, you can read parent reviews of hotels based on baby friendliness. It's a one-stop Baby Travel site.

It's time for another "Behind The Scenes" At "Sweetie's Hunk of the Week" (Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 22)


Sweetie's Hunk of the Week 22 is... um.

Here's how it went. Last night, Middle sat down at the computer and noted that the desktop had a series of pictures of one of those tousely-haired younger guys who Sweetie secretly thinks are hunky but who she always says "No, they're not hunky, they're too young for me." Then she usually adds something like "Ecccch!" and changes the subject.

Sweetie does that, I assume, because she realizes that the person she's married to ...

...me...

... does not have tousely hair (or much hair at all) and is not 25 and appears to have been genetically manipulated to have had the hunkiness gene bred out of him.

But this time, when Middle asked who the tousely-haired guy in the picture was, Sweetie gave his name - -the name I can't remember right now -- and Middle asked who he was.

"He's been in some Law & Order SVUs," Sweetie said. She and Middle then began talking about which guy he was in which episode and which little girl he'd killed or not killed, and they agreed that they knew who this guy was. Sweetie then looked at me and said I'd know him from being in the original "The OC" episode that inspired that Saturday Night Live parody, Dear Sister.

Which then made me wonder: Who, exactly, does Sweetie think she's married to? Somewhere along the lines, Sweetie has gotten the idea that her husband knows actors from "The OC" by sight.

Or by name, becuase in talking about Mr. Hunk-Whose-Name-I-Can't-Now-Remember, I got his name right. Three times. Sweetie was very impressed, as on most days, I don't get my own name right three times.

With that out of the way, I put the matter in the back of my mind to post today. Then, I came downstairs today to put up Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 22, and tried to remember who it was.

My mind was a blank. Is a blank, because I still can't remember him. I remember that he had three names, and as I went out to get the paper I used that to try to jog my memory. He had three names, I told myself.

It didn't work: I immediately thought this exact chain of thoughts:

You know who has three names? People who shoot presidents. Lee Harvey Oswald. John Wilkes Booth. John Hinckley. Huh. He didn't have three names. I wonder why.

Then I thought:

Hinckley, Ohio. That's where buzzards live.

So now here I am, posting the 22nd Hunk of the Week and I've got no idea who this guy is, anymore, but I did just look up on Google to confirm that on March 15 of every year, the buzzards return to Hinckley, Ohio. I'd like to go see that.

I've just now solved the problem, I hope, by going to IMDB and searching for The OC, which, I'll note, I never watched, ever (although my dad has). And there's... no three-named guys on the front page. How did my life lead me to this dark place, this place where I am asking IMDB for more details about The OC?

A-ha! Logan Marshall Green! And... hey, this link has been clicked previously!

I wonder who that could have been, that mysterious clicker who wanted more information on Logan Marshall Green, Hunk of the Week Number 22?

You/Sweetie Know Him From: Well, if you are under 30 and vapid, you know him from watching him on The OC. Otherwise, he's been in Band of Brothers and Across the Universe. If you're Sweetie, you seem to know him from searching the Internet for him all day. (I'll say it for her: Who, me? No, he's too young. And: Ecch!)

I know him as: By the time I get done storing this in my memory, I'll know him as the buzzard that returned to Hinckley, Ohio, and shot Lee Harvey Oswald.

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmmm About Him: Like all obscure actors, LMG has a website devoted to him, one that includes this note:
Good news though! “The Line” has been renamed “Dark Blue” and will start airing July 16th at 10pm on TNT!

I can't figure out why it's good news that a show was renamed. The site, though, is called "Logan [Marshall-Green] Online," and boasts that it is "your first and only source for Logan Marshall-Green"... but that's false because there is also Sweetie.

The Reason I Tell Myself Sweetie Likes Him: Let's not guess. Let's just look at Sweetie's web browsing history: "hunky guys under 25." "Washboard abs" "Logan Marshall-Green." "I don't like young guys. Eccch.!" Obviously, Sweetie was just searching for images of Logan to remind herself how much she doesn't like hunky twentysomethings. Lucky for me!

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: Um. I totally forgot this, too.

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him: Did you know that there's a "Dr. Bob Hinkle," who's the official buzzard spotter for Hinckley, Ohio? Now, you do!

Update: when I went to add this to the newly-created Table of Contents for this feature, I had already forgotten his name.

Friday, July 03, 2009

We did get a couple of pictures but they weren't very good. (3 Good Things 16)


Independence Day! And I'm celebrating my Independence from ... British royalty, and work (not necessarily in that order) with my 3 Good Things from yesterday:

1. Wearing my Green Lantern t-shirt. In the office. On a Friday.

2. Learning that when Sweetie takes the Babies! for rides -- Mr F and Mr Bunches love car rides -- the older kids go along almost every time. And the older kids have favorite routes they take. And that they have different routes for the rides. And that the routes have names. (The favorite? They all agree: The Waunakee Route.)

3. My trip with Sweetie and the Babies! downtown last night to take pictures of the Airstream convention and a wall mural that I found hidden by another building. While almost entirely unsuccessful in the picture-taking department, it was highly successful in the "pleasant, relaxing drive on a Friday evening" department.

Click this to go to a list of all the 3 Good Things ever
.

24/7 Spares and I saved the universe today. (No thank you's are necessary.)

I just thought I'd let you know that I saved the universe today. That's right. I did my part -- and it's not even 7 a.m. here. What have YOU done with yourself?

Here's how I did it. I needed some Car Parts for the ol' Dodge Durango, the car Sweetie drives, and the car that's had some difficulties with the A/C, which Sweetie uses about 10 months of the year. I think she turns it off from January 1 - January 5, but I'm not sure.

New car parts, though, are not only expensive -- and who can afford THAT in a recession?-- but damaging to the environment. Buy a new car part and you'll have to throw your old one away and someone else will throw THEIR old car parts away, and eventually, the world is buried in heater matrixes.

Too complicated? Think of it this way: Everytime you buy a new car part, an angel cries.

Seriously, new car parts are a disaster for the environment, and the environment is a part of the universe (in case you didn't know.) So I buy used car parts. It's called "recycling," and it's good for the environment -- recycling car parts helps keep the Earth green.

And it was easy. All I had to do was go to 24/7 Spares' Car Parts Finder and start looking up Durango parts. Right there on the 24/7 Spares website along the left side, there was a list of car types. Click "Dodge," Click "Cooling," Click "Compressor," and right then and there I'm ready to have my used A/C compressor shipped to me, saving me money and giving me the part I need to have put in my car.

And THAT is how I, with 24/7 Spares, saved the universe this morning, in my pajamas. And, on second thought, thank you's ARE necessary. I take mine in 10s and 20s.

Part Sixteen: Wherein The Hope Diamond Puts A Scare Into Me About How Good My Memory Might Be.

Everyone has one year in their life that has a greater impact on them than any other year. Mine was 1994. Once a week, I'll recap that year. Click here for the table of contents and links to the previous fifteen entries.


There are maybe five specific days that stick out in my mind while I was in Washington, D.C. I should probably get to them, and discuss them, because my memory of that time in Washington isn't, as it turns out, so great. I have vivid memories of the time I spent in Morocco that year, 1994, and those memories are engraved in my brain and seemingly indelible (although we'll see how true that is when I get that far), and by contrast, the memories of Washington seem hazy and blurred together and faint. I recall things, like meeting the son of the Shah of Iran, but not details of those things. I recall more specifically eating a very hot seed in the Thai noodle soup that I ate at lunch one day with our boss, Frank.

Eating lunch with Frank at the Thai place nearby led, briefly, to my liking Thai food, a liking I indulged exactly three other times: Once on my own at the same D.C. Thai place not far from where I interned, and once in Madison, when I was in law school and met briefly with a girl named Julianna who had gone on the Morocco trip with the rest of our group and who lived in Madison. When I got to Madison for law school, I'd gotten in touch with her, and we'd met to eat Thai food at the restaurant that was across from my studio apartment.

I have a good recollection of what the dish tasted like, and looked like: It was a white, ceramic, long, vaguely-banana-shaped soup dish, with thick noodles in it and some meat (I think it was chicken, because the broth was chicken-soup-colored) and some carrots. I liked the noodles.

The third time I ever ate Thai food wasn't probably "real" Thai food: a few years back (probably six now, making it more than a few) Sweetie and I went out to lunch to a Noodles & Company restaurant. That was during the period when we had a little -- a very little-- spendable cash, something that's always been in short supply in our life, and we were trying to get out to eat more, because "getting out to eat more" seemed the kind of things that adults, or at least adults who have some cash and are hungry, did.

Sweetie and I are not "going out to eat" people. We tend to, mostly for financial reasons, save "going out to eat" for special occasions -- although "special occasions" include "those times that we don't feel like cooking," and "those times that we're just in the mood for pizza," and, most recently, "those times that we think we're going to have lasagna as the dinner for Middle's graduation party, but then we overcook it and it's inedible and we feel terrible so we instead go and get a lot of pizzas, and then spend the week eating leftover, and very-tough-to-chew, lasagna for lunch."

("Going out to eat" in that paragraph includes "Not so much going out and eating as going out and getting food and bringing it back to our house to eat," which we've done a lot more of since we realized that it's cruel to others to inflict our wild Babies! on them during dinner time at a restaurant.)

But for a while, there, Sweetie and I tried to get out to eat more, both with each other and with the kids, and one of the places we went was "Noodles and Company," which seemed a pretty swanky place to eat to us -- very Yuppie, what with the exotic noodle dishes we imagined they'd have. (Noodles & Company is upscale if you, like Sweetie and me, generally consider "McDonald's" to be a night out. We are not fancy people.)

At Noodles and Company, I had the "Thai Peanut Noodles." Sweetie had macaroni and cheese. I don't really have a memory of what the Thai Peanut Noodles tasted like, but every now and then I'm tempted to buy some Thai peanut sauce at the grocery store and mix it in with my Ramen noodles for some low-budget, microwavable nostalgia.

I do remember eating the hot seed that Frank dared me to eat. We had spicy Thai soup that day in D.C., and the spiciness came from some tiny seeds in the soup, one of which Frank dared me to eat.

I can't resist a dare. If you ever meet me, try not to take advantage of that; don't dare me to do something stupid because I will. I will not back away from a challenge, ever in my life, ever again, and I won't do that because of Spearfish Falls.

Spearfish Falls is in South Dakota. We visited South Dakota on a family vacation as a kid, before my sister was born. It was Mom and Dad, and Bill, Matt and me, all traveling in our Plymouth on a driving vacation to South Dakota. Along the way, we ate at a pizza place, we squabbled about whose legs were touching whose legs, we saw panhandling donkeys and milling buffaloes and Wall Drug and got food poisoning from bad mayonnaise, and also visited Spearfish Falls, where my mom wanted to take a picture of us boys standing in the stream.

We walked into the stream, to about knee level, and tried to smile while Mom did whatever it was she needed to do with the camera. Judging by the length of time it took, Mom had to invent and then build a camera. During that time, we stood knee-deep (and barefoot) in the stream just a little ways down from Spearfish Falls.

Spearfish Falls is a cold stream.

Very cold.

Very very cold.

As the seconds ticked by like hours, we began to ask Mom to hurry and invent the camera or whatever. Then we began to complain. Then we began to cry, at which point Mom snapped the picture. (So, somewhere, there is a picture of three teary-eyed boys with blue feet trying desperately to look happy and feel their toes).

After Mom finally let us out of the stream, she chided us for being pups-- "It's not that cold," Mom said, "You've got to be tougher than that." She wasn't upset with us, I felt, so much as disappointed, but Mom's disappointment carried a lot of weight with it.

I vowed to myself that if I could ever go back to Spearfish Falls, I'd stand in that river for as long as it took to show Mom -- and South Dakota, and now you -- that I was not a pup, that I could take it, that I could take anything, and as we drove further across South Dakota, further away from Spearfish Falls and towards food poisoning and Mount Rushmore, I vowed, further, that I'd never let anything defeat me again.

Which is why I ate the seed that Frank dared me to eat, some kind of hot pepper seed or something, that Frank said would burn my mouth and I couldn't handle it, and that others at the lunch, Ed and whoever, said I shouldn't eat because I couldn't take it, and they told Frank not to let me eat it, all of which led to me remembering Spearfish Falls (sometimes my feet still feel the icy water) and popping the seed into my mouth.

It wasn't so bad, except that I think I burnt my tongue, and my eyes watered, and I got the sniffles, and I couldn't really taste much for a day or so, and the beer that Frank had us drink with lunch didn't really help things at all, but even if I'd known, in advance, that it would do that, I'd have still eaten the seed. If it had been on fire, I probably would have eaten the seed.

It's interesting, to me, to think what sticks in my mind, then, and why it sticks in my mind. I remember each of the three Thai meals I've had, in my lifetime, because I remember the seed that I ate at the first Thai meal, which then makes me remember that Thai meal and the subsequent two Thai meals, and cemented in my mind the taste of a Thai noodle and the shape of the Thai noodle dish... and I remember all those things because my Mom thought, when I was little, that I should have more of a tolerance for cold water than I had.

Let me emphasize: that water was God awful cold. If that water had emanated from a spring on Pluto, it could not have been more cold.

Not many of my experiences in D.C. were marked by something like a burnt tongue to force them into my brain and make them stay there; those days were, like most days are now (and always have been) largely the same and largely devoid of impact. Thinking back, I'm both surprised and not surprised at how little I actually remember of my life. School days all run together, work days all run together, offices all run together, with nothing to separate them or differentiate them at all.

I wonder, as I write this, whether I could sit down and write down all the days I remember in my life, and if I did that, did write down each specific day I could recall, what would it add up to? Would there be 365 of them? More? Less?

Do I remember even 1/40 of my life?

And is that important? Or is the fact that I did those things, even if I can't consciously remember them the important thing? If I don't remember them, does it matter if I did them?

I remember, like I said, in addition to those days I've already recounted, about five specific whole days from D.C., and they are:

The day I rollerbladed to Alexandria
The day I met Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
The day we went to Gettysburg.
The day Rip and I bummed around the National Mall.
The day I went to the Holocaust Museum.

Beyond those specific days, I remember doing specific things, like the time I saw the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian. Or I thought I remembered that. What I remember about seeing the Hope Diamond is this: I remember seeing a disappointing, cloudy blob. I'd expected something spectacular. Most of my Giant-Diamonds-In-Museums-Experience comes from things like The Great Muppet Caper, and so I thought there would be a diamond the size of my head. The Hope Diamond that I remember was about the size of maybe a quarter and looked like a blob of goo.

And I am totally convinced of that. I have a memory, lodged in my mind, of seeing the Hope Diamond, on a wall mount, looking disappointing and gooey, and not at all spectacular. To show that memory, I went and Googled, just now, the words "Hope Diamond," and I got this:



I've never... never seen that. That's not the Hope Diamond I remember. That does look like a diamond Charles Grodin would try to steal with Miss Piggy's unwitting help -- but the Hope Diamond in my memory was way way less spectacular.

So what did I see, and why does my memory, when I think Hope Diamond, call up a plaque on the wall of the Smithsonian with a blob of cloudy rock on it, instead of that thing up there?

And do I remember anything at all, period, then? Now I can't even be sure that my memory of anything is accurate, at all. I'm sitting here trying to remember things in Washington, D.C., and I can't be sure that I'm remembering what actually happened, period. Maybe I misremembered it all? Maybe I'm substituting memories? Is something crossed in my brain?

But I definitely feel like I remember things -- like the rollerblading day. I can still remember carrying my rollerblades down to the front of the dorms, lacing them up. I can remember clipping my clunky Walkman onto my waistband, making sure I had my wallet and my cigarettes and lighter (I still hadn't quit smoking -- but by this point, about April, I was down 8 pounds, having lost 8 of the 10 pounds I vowed to lose) in my pocket, and setting out.

I recall, distinctly, rollerblading down towards the Capitol, which always seemed farther away than it actually was. When I'd take the Metro to the Capitol, it seemed the Capitol was miles and miles away. But I was only about a mile from it, if that -- a mile from the National Mall and the Capitol and the White House. I used to live closer to the President than I now live to my office.

I remember getting to Capitol Hill, and I even remember the song I was listening to as I got to the building itself and paused to consider where to go next. It was "88 Lines About 44 Women:"




A song I'd taped off the radio. I remember listening to my bootleg technopop and deciding to head for National Airport, using as my reasoning for that there's a path that goes there.

I remember the sun shining down, and the way the grass seemed green for the first time that spring. There's a day, every spring, wherever you live, that the grass finally becomes green, and it always, in my life, happens just one day. Winter comes and snow falls and then winter ends and snow melts and the grass is trampled and brown and mushy and soggy and footprint marked and junky... until one day it stands tall and soft and tickly and green, so green, a green that exists only in grass on that first day of green, a lush green that exists for only a short period of time and a good thing, that is, because it makes it all the more appreciable since it is short-lived... that was the color of the grass that day.

There was a slight wind, and a smell of water on the wind from the Potomac. I remember that, too.

I remember the planes landing, at National Airport, as I rollerbladed around the airport on the bike path I shared with bikers and joggers and walkers and other rollerbladers. The planes were low -- they seemed lower than they were. Any plane that's not a mile up in the sky seems too close, doesn't it? But these weren't scary close. They were interesting close; I was able to see planes, for the first time, that were close and landing and large and loud and I'd never seen them like that before.

I remember going on from National Airport to Alexandria, Virginia, which seems like it should be too far away to rollerblade -- how can I rollerblade across state lines? But the state line is imaginary and nothing in D.C. is very far from anything else, and I ended up in historic Alexandria, Virginia, where, rollerblades on, I saw the church where George Washington had once gone. I ate an ice cream cone at a Ben & Jerry's shop, sitting with my rollerblades stretched out in front of me and looking at the old building.

I watched a man play the water glasses -- he had them filled with water and played a song on them by rubbing his fingers around the edges -- and I went to the waterfront and looked at boats.

And then I rollerbladed back to my dorm, back past the church and the airport and the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument and the Capitol, back to the steps of the dorms where I sat and had a cigarette while I listened to my tape, and then I took my rollerblades off and went upstairs.

I remember all that, like it happened yesterday. I can see that in my head, the whole day, with a soundtrack from my Walkman and almost no talking from me or to me, just sun and grass and people and sights and musical waterglasses and large airplanes and historic sites and monuments and statues... all day long.

I remember that, and I can hear the water glasses, feel the sun on my neck as I skated along, taste the ice cream.

I don't know why that day stuck in my memory. But I'd rather have that there than a million Hope Diamonds.

It's at 1:35 of the trailer, if you're the impatient type. But what else have you got going on today? (3 Good Things, 15)


It's the All-Sweetie edition of 3 Good Things. Tops among the good things from Thursday that make me happy today are:

1. Sweetie's eyes, which are mostly green but which right in the center of them have a tiny bit of gold that you have to look closely to see.

2. Sweetie's smile, which is frequent and easy to get, especially by reminding Sweetie of the scene from Miss March where that girl flies out of the bus:




3. The fact that Sweetie ranks that as the funniest movie in history, even though she's never seen it.

Actually, I think kids playing "Jon and Kate" might be kind of funny. (Dibs on that idea!)


I mentioned the other day how I'd found a childrens boutique that had actual cool clothes for kids, clothes that weren't just filled with helicopters or teddy bears, but instead were clothes that I would want to wear if I were a little kid - - and I knew that I'd want to wear them if I were a kid, because I wanted to wear them now, as an adult.

I stopped by that site again -- R&S Avenue, at rsavenue.com -- and found something even better than the Beatles' t-shirts. Cowboys and Indians t-shirts.

If you are my age, or older, you'll probably get excited and all nostalgic over that, too, because my generation was the last one to ever play cowboys and indians. I know, I know: It's not cool. It's not nice. The cowboy-and-indian wars were terrible. We're not even supposed to call them indians anymore. Okay, I got it.

But I loved cowboys-and-indians: loved running around our house with a "six shooter" and a cowboy hat and having Matt be an indian, and Paul next door would be a cowboy, or an indian, or maybe a marshall. We'd have gun fights and get shot by bows-and-arrows and argue about who was dead and who was not, and it was endless fun that... well, ended.

It ended because by the time I was 9, "cowboys" weren't cool -- Star Wars came out and then everything was Jedis and stormtroopers and six-shooters weren't awesome anymore, not compared to Han Solo's blaster... and that's why I was both the last generation of kids to play cowboys and indians, and excited to see these shirts and shorts (which I found in the discount/sale section and were nearly half-off.) Maybe Mr F and Mr Bunches will never play "cowboys and indians" (they'll probably play Neos and Agents or Jons and Kates or something) but I can dress them up and in my mind, they'll be arguing about who's gotten shot and who hasn't.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Quote of the Day, 30:

"He'll probably get offered a book deal."
--
Sweetie, about The Boy's blog.

The Boy wanted to start up a blog, and asked me how to do it. I think he was bolstered by the fact that his list of villains was far-and-away the most popular thing on The Best Of Everything last month.

So last night, I sat down and showed him how to create and account and helped him come up with a name for his blog (Mean True Things, a name that came from him saying "I only say mean things when they're true" in response to my telling him to think up a saying that he likes). He completed his first test post and then I left him on his own and went upstairs to bed to report to Sweetie what we'd done.

Sweetie, who knows that I'm trying to springboard all my writing and blogs and stuff that I do instead of "actual work" into Hawaii, etc., said today's quote, and she's right. For all I know, The Boy has a three-book deal with movie rights optioned already.

In fact, when he came downstairs this morning, he was on his cell phone and didn't answer when I asked who he was talking to. He said he got a call in the middle of the night. It was probably Steven Spielberg.

You can read The Boy's Blog here.

Also, we had pizza. (3 Good Things 14)

It's easier and easier to be in a good mood as the weekend approaches, but I still use my 3 Good Things to help me along.

1. Salt water taffy from the 2-for-25-cents candy bin at the grocery store. It's rare that I remember to bring a quarter with me when I go grocery shopping, but I thought of it last night and got my taffy.

2. Two more copies of my book sold!

3. Mr Bunches' face smushed up against the window, smiling at me as I got out of the car on arriving home from work.

I'm big on education. And cookies.

Competing in the economy today is all about being better and being one step ahead. As businesses restructure and more people join the work-seeking force, people who are recent college grads and people who have 20 years' experience, you're going to need both an edge and some education.

That's where attending an ohio business school comes in. Whether you've been recently laid off or are thinking about switching jobs, getting a bachelor's or advanced degree in business can't hurt. It'll help you know more and demonstrate more about the current market trends and economic factors, as well as familiarizing you with up-to-date information on technology, business theories, and products.

Even if you're secure in your job, getting more education isn't a bad idea: Companies are tighter with money these days and promotions are more fiercely contested. Getting a degree, or an additional degree, can help set you apart from your coworkers.

Education is the key to success when you're beginning your career, and it's the key to success in continuing it, too.

Movie criticism and a song? It's your lucky day. (Awesome covers of already awesome songs, 5)


Is it a cover of the song if the band covering the song is also the band that originally performed the song?

I make the rules around here, so, yes.

Today's cover and song, then, is Wishing Well, by The Airborne Toxic Event -- a name which, when I first heard about the band, I assumed that they'd taken the idea for from the M. Night Shymalan movie "The Happening." Then I thought maybe he took the idea for his movie from the band's name, as it was a movie that was bad enough to have been based on a band name instead of, you know, ideas. Then, I thought maybe there was some actual "airborne toxic event" that had inspired both the band and the movie, and then I thought maybe I should google that to find out, but then I remembered that I have a ton of work to do, so maybe later.

Anyway, here's the original version of Wishing Well:



And here is the acoustic cover version of that, by The Airborne Toxic Event, also.



I first heard this song in the acoustic version, and loved it. Then I bought the album and found out that only the electric version was on there, and I was disappointed and hated it, but then the electric version grew on me, so now I think maybe I like it better than the acoustic version after all. Probably because of that part where the singer gets all quiet. I'm complicated that way.

As a bonus, this song is one of the rare songs that I like that made it onto Sweetie's iPod. Although given her taste in music, that may not actually be a compliment.

Also: Don't you think that The Happening really had the potential to be a great movie? I was looking at that picture I posted here and I'm sad, really sad, that I was deprived of a great movie experience. M. Night took some great scary images and just pasted them into absolute junk. He owes us.

This is the best possible way to introduce your Babies! to the wonders of rock'n'rolll, and monsters. And tamales.



I have decided to take a stand. I know, I know -- I don't usually get all political and opinionated, but I think that things have deteriorated enough in this country that I am compelled, required, to act, to choose a side and declare an opinion and pick up the Torch of Righteousness, bearing it to the Eternal Flame of Truth, where it will shine its light on the Reflecting Pool of Justice, right next to the Hot Dog Stand of Liberty.

The stand that I am taking is that I am firmly in favor of unique baby clothes that are cool, not lame.

It's bound to be controversial, I'm sure, but as the saying goes, you cannot change the casserole of society without breaking a few eggs of uptightness. Or something.

Here's what's gotten into my craw: Baby clothes generally suck. I got Mr F and Mr Bunches dressed this morning, and the best clothes they had available were a boring blue t-shirt and some shorts. Baby clothes have things like ducks and trucks and chickens and race cars on them.

Why would Babies! want to wear things like that? What proof is there that Babies! like trucks? Or horses? Or the color blue?

None -- there's no proof of that.

Luckily for me, I am not bound to keep dressing my boys in lame clothes, because I've found cool clothes for them at www.rsvavenue.com. Clothes like the ones I would wear -- rock & roll t-shirts (like the ones alongside here) and, even better:

Clothes that feature the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

It's all about being hip for today's toddlers on the go. Why should they be embarrassed at the park or mall by being dressed in baby clothes when they could be wearing retro t-shirts starring Dad's favorite bands/monsters?

Seriously, these clothes are excellent and I am going to steal back my credit card from Sweetie and go buy the Babies! a bunch of them. I mean, look at this one:




I love that. I wish it came in my size. They've got a bunch of cool t-shirts over there on rsavenue.com, plus hats and shorts and swimwear and more, and if you want your Babies! to be as awesomely cool as mine are going to be, you'd better get buying.

Question of The Day, 63:


Do you agree with me that there is a difference between garbage and a garage sale?

A house up the block recently sold, and the old owners are moving out, or the new owners are moving in, or something. It's resulted in there being a large pile of housewares at the end of that driveway.

These housewares aren't stacked neatly or next to a "Sale" sign or set out on the driveway or anything. They're in a pile where the garbage cans ordinarily go, a jumbled hodgepodge of things that the homeowner didn't want.

And yet... people have been going by that pile and taking stuff, just taking it and presumably putting it into their houses. Yesterday, our across-the-street neighbor, The Professor, walked up there (Sweetie said) and picked out a metal cat-statue and took it home.

Here's my problem with that: it's garbage. There is a difference, to me, between "Rummage Sale" and "Trash Picking," and the latter is completely and totally unacceptable in society.

If I take all the stuff I don't want anymore, and put it in my driveway next to a "Rummage Sale" sign, then the message I'm sending you is: I don't want this stuff anymore, but I think it's still good and YOU might want it.

But if I take all that same stuff and just set it out at the end of the driveway next to the empty pizza boxes and dirty diapers, the message I'm sending is: I think this stuff is all equally devoid of value and so I am simply getting rid of it.

So it's okay for you to buy my old work shirts for a quarter. It's not okay for you to take them out of my garbage can and wear them. There's a difference -- a slight-but-definitely-existing difference -- between used and trash.

Based on my neighbors' actions -- just willy-nilly gathering up trash to put in their houses, I'm going to say this: I will no longer worry about how my yard looks. If anyone complains, I'm just going to say "Well, you have garbage in your house."

It's true. Fish do that. (3 Good Things 13)


Is it hard to come up with good things from a Tuesday to get me through Wednesday? No. Not for me. Here's Tuesday's 3 Good Things:

1. Seeing how excited Sweetie got as she described to me, over dinner, the plot of the latest book she'd read -- a book that she'd thought she wouldn't like, and then read all in one day.

2. I averaged a 9-minute mile in my 2+ mile run on the treadmill at the club.

3. Better Off Ted is playing new shows! In the summer! And last night's included the line "You poop in your air." (Said to a fish...)

I thought businesses would weather the economy by offering more free doughnuts. I was wrong.

You'd think that every business is suffering these days, based on the news -- but you'd be wrong. Some businesses are, in fact, not suffering, and are even thriving.

How does a business thrive when the economy is down and people aren't spending as much as they used to? Simple: Become more efficient to reduce costs. In good times, inefficient businesses can get away with it because there's enough money to go around. In bad times, profit margins are thinner and inefficiencies loom larger -- costing money and hurting poor businesses.

That's why now is the perfect time to take advantage of ATS and their Six Sigma Methodology for maintaining and improving factories.

ATS has helped some of the world's most recognizable companies improve their performance by as much as 30%-- using their understanding of production maintenance to let their clients improve asset management. ATS will work with your company to balance asset management with cost control, something that's difficult for many companies. ATS will help manage labor and materials by focusing on how to reduce costs and improve productivity -- fewer expenses, more products.

How important is ATS' program? Many analysts -- like Aberdeen Group -- think that factory maintenance offers the BEST return on investment among all other strategic actions. And ATS is the best at helping you get that return on their investment, through their unique 6 Sigma program of continuous improvement designed to overcome internal resource limitations.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A brief announcement


In my ongoing quest to never actually do anything that might be considered even remotely productive or beneficial to my family, my employer, or humanity, I've started a new blog.

It's called:

AAAAAUGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


And it's subtitled:

(Or: Why is it so hard to get an agent, get published, get rich, and move to Hawaii?)

And it exists because I'm trying, here and there, to be a writer and I want to unload some of those experiences but I don't want them to clutter up the Absolute Perfection that is Thinking The Lions.

So from here on out, Take A Book For Charity and Keeping My Head Up and the rest of the publishocentric stuff that has been appearing on here will be over on

AAAAAUGGGHHHH
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,

leaving this blog free to continue to concentrate on its number one goal, proving that velociraptors never existed.

Because they didn't, you know. It's all a hoax.

Maybe Brett Favre singlehandedly won WWII? (The Found Alphabet)


I'm putting two letters in here for one reason: I wanted the G but needed to get the F first.

Both these letters come from Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Two weeks ago, on this year's vacation, we used the first day to take Middle up to get oriented (note: not orientated. At an orientation one gets oriented) at UW-Oshkosh.

While Sweetie drew the short straw of sitting through seminars and lectures, The Boy and I had Babies! and opted to drive 45 minutes further north to visit the former stadium home of Brett Favre. Once there, though, we didn't know what to do. We didn't feel like going through the "Packer Hall of Fame," because neither of us much cares about what the Packers were doing in 1959 or 1812 or whatever. I didn't want to go on the tour because I didn't want to take the 2-year-olds with us but The Boy didn't want to go alone. We didn't feel like shopping for Packer gear -- that's not exactly in short supply in Wisconsin.

So we took some pictures in front of the Vince Lombardi statue and let the Babies! run around in the lobby while we looked around, and then headed off to get some candy at the mall.

In between, I saw the G and wanted to use it for the Found Alphabet, but needed the F, so I decided on a two-fer. The "F" is from the "Lambeau Field" printing on the front. The "G" is on the floor of the lobby -- in this case, on the floor of the lobby right next to where the Packers had set, for some reason, a display of copies various important documents in history, ranging from JFK's inaugural address to Japan's surrender after World War II.

No, I don't know what that has to do with football, either. Maybe they explained it in the Hall of Fame.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cheap music, Great Patriotism... It's The 4th of July!

0703_300x250Don't you love patriotic music? So do I, if it's done the way America intended it be done.

America stands for one thing and one thing only: The right to get your music as cheaply as possible.

Take me, for example. I typically pay nothing for my music. How do I do that? Simple: All my music comes not from CDs or MP3s or iTunes, but instead from making surreptitious recordings of that one street musician who plays the piccolo, and then transferring them to my "iPod," which is actually a collection of tin buckets I taped together and spray-painted "IPOD" on.

Scoff if you want -- but I get my music cheap, the way the Founding Fathers intended.

If you're not as technologically sophisticated as me, there's still a way to get music on the cheap, music that you'll love and music that will help you celebrate your 4th of July in style: Download A Salute To America, a collection of 30 Patriotic Songs from Amazon, for $1.99.

Here's the scoop: Beginning today, Amazon is selling an album of Patriotic Songs-- A Salute To America -- available for download. The regular price for this album is $9.49, and you're free to go buy it today at that price.

But if you wait until July 3, that album will be Amazon's "Deal of the Day," and will be downloadable for $1.99.

$1.99 for 30 songs! That's like... um... where's that calculator? Stupid cats. That's like pennies a song!

Plus, you're not just getting Songs, you're getting... A Salute To America! You're paying tribute to the country that protects your rights to download cheap music! It's all symbolic. Or a vicious circle. Or something.

Click those links to find out more information or go buy the album. I'd do it, but I've got to go find that piccolo guy. I want him to play some new Guns & Roses.


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It will be the big hit of 2010. (3 Good Things 12)


A cold gray day at the end of June... but I'm still upbeat because I'm thinking about the 3 Good Things from yesterday:

1. My peanut-butter & banana bagel for lunch.

2. I found a new and interesting blog, "Madison Street Art," proving to me that I'm not the only one who thought that stuff should be photographed.

3. When I told Sweetie my idea for "Ferris Bueller's Next Day Off," she said it would make a really good movie and that I should try to sell that idea. I'd do that, but impressing Sweetie is good enough for me.

No, wait. I want to impress Sweetie and become rich... so, movie producers? Call me!

Gardening is a manly pursuit.

As my yard becomes more and more the perennial garden I've been slowly creating over the years, I've been more and more interested in practicing organic gardening. After all, the whole idea of my perennial garden yard is to create something that not only is easier to maintain, but also self-sustaining and, above all, beautiful and safe. We've got kids that like to go out in the yard, and cats ,and I want to encourage animals (yes, even squirrels and chipmunks) to live in our yard.

The hardest part of organic gardening is roses. I've got one rose bush and I'm getting a few more, because nothing says "beautiful" and "classy" like roses. But roses are tough to take care of. So I don't mess around. I found this website run by Safer, and they have all kinds of organic gardening tips and products available, like the aphid control products they've got.

Everyone thinks of aphids as cute little bugs that wouldn't harm a flea and serve as pets to ants. (Well, everyone who's watched A Bug's Life 173 times.) But they'll kill a plant deader than the crowd at a Madonna concert.

Safer has sprayable soap for taking care of aphids (and other bugs like grasshoppers) and getting them off plants -- all without using pesticides that'll poison the plants, the air, the ground, and my kids.

I was losing the battle with my roses -- they were wilting and droopy and never bloomed much, and I was thinking I was going to have to pull them out, because I'd rather not have roses if it means using pesticides. But after a little bit of organic gardening, the roses are doing fine and I can still let the Babies! out in the yard to play.

I didn't just stumble across Safer like I usually find sites, either. They were mentioned on "Designing Spaces," which showed all the OMRI Listed® Organic pest control products Safer has in one recent show. Just watch:

The Key Is To Act Casual. (The Great Ranking Of Problems)


I had a moral dilemma on Sunday, one I've sort of faced before. Here's what happened: I'd gone to Home Depot to pick up the weekly plant and also some patio brick to continue the Path To Nowhere (which will now be a sort of stepping-stone Path To Nowhere, but that's beside the point).

I had in the cart 10 large patio bricks, stacked atop each other, and I was looking for the weekly plant and turned the cart around the corner. As I did that, the cart's wheel stuck in a grating that was there to drain water, and the cart stopped suddenly, but I didn't, and the top two bricks on the stack didn't, either -- sliding off and cracking on the floor.

No Home Depot employees were around, so I casually picked up the bricks, restacked them (trying to act as though I'd planned this and also as though I was perfectly okay with purchasing now-cracked patio bricks.) Then I casually made my way through the aisles until I casually got back to where the bricks were stacked, at which time I casually took the two broken bricks, put them back on the shelf, grabbed two unbroken bricks, and then made my way to the front of the store, where I then found the weekly plant, paid, and left.

So the moral dilemma is now the newest addition to The Great Ranking Of Problems, that being:

212: What to do about stuff I was going to buy but then it broke in the store and now I still want to buy the stuff but I don't want to buy something that was broken?

And this is, actually, a problem of importance (hence it's relatively high rank) because it just keeps happening.

A while back, when I took the Babies! shopping for some Christmas presents, Mr Bunches or Mr F, as we walked through the housewares department, grabbed a fancy serving tray off the shelf and threw it to the floor, breaking it. I hadn't even planned on buying a tray like that -- and I certainly didn't want to buy a now-broken one, so I said "What was that?" while looking around (clever, right?) and then left the store.

And long before that, Sweetie and I had gone to the store to pick out some fancy glasses (for when we used to do fancy drinking) and had selected a foursome, only to get to the cash register and find out that one had already been broken, so we slunk back to the aisle and left that one on the shelf and took a different package.

So I need a solution to this - but in the meantime, it's now ranked on The Great Ranking Of Problems.

Prior entries on The Great Ranking Of Problems:

99: Spousal PB&J Incompatibility.

173: Preshoveling & reshoveling snow.
...
413: Guilt Over Meanness To Sentient Paperclips
. . .
502: Having to wait forever, seemingly, for Italian food to cool down.
. . .
721: Printer not holding a lot of paper at once.
...
2,624: Unidentifiable Mystery Song Stuck In Head.
...
5,000: Lopsided Nail Clipping.
...
7,399: Potato(E?)s?
. . .
15,451: Almost napping.
14,452: Worrying that there's too much peanut brittle leftover to eat before it goes bad.
...
22,372: Having hair which isn't quite a definable color.
22,373: Having too many songs on an iPod

I'm not sure how the footprints got on the ceiling, but there they are. And there they will stay.

I wish we had something like the White Gloves Klean Services business that does house cleaning in Houston, because it would make it a lot easier for me to be the kind of parent I want to be.

The kind of parent I want to be is the kind of parent who is willing, in the name of letting his Babies! explore the world and express their creativity, to let those Babies! do things like run around with uncapped markers, or to have them get into a hose fight in the back yard and then track mud through the kitchen (and dining room and living room and hallway and bedroom) en route to the tub, or the kind of parent who lets the older kids not do the dishes or clean up just yet because we're going for ice cream.

But the kind of parent I want to be is also the kind of parent who is still married and not in trouble with Sweetie.

So either I spend my time doing unparent-y things like "making the Babies! wear pants" or "not going for ice cream," or I spend my time doing unparent-y things like "begging Sweetie to unlock the door and just let me back in."

But if I had the White Gloves Kleaning Service that Houston has, I could be the kind of parent I want to be and not have Sweetie upset with me, because look at the stuff their site says they do: they vacuum, sweep, mop, dust, clean all the rooms, change bedclothes, and they'll even clean inside the refrigerator and oven... so Sweetie would never know that I'd spilt the butter and then overcooked the pizza.

They even clean blinds and baseboards -- getting rid of incriminating muddy/chocolate-y handprints (and footprints) before Sweetie could get home.

I'm thinking about calling them up anyway - -maybe they'll take pity on me and help me out, if I spring for the airfare.

I just hope they can get home before Sweetie does.

Question of the Day 62/Quote of the Day 29


What if a spider flew up your nose?
-- Sweetie.

Sweetie gets both the question and quote of the day. We were coming home from visiting my Mom on Friday and I saw a guy driving a convertible car; it was exactly the kind of day to have a convertible -- hot and sunny and bright.

This guy was leaning forward and trying to avoid the wind and otherwise looking uncomfortable, so I expressed, again, my oft-repeated viewpoint that I should get a convertible, not other people, because I know how to drive a convertible. I don't lean forward or put all the windows up but the top down, or all the other dumb things that are done by people who own convertibles but don't know how they're to be driven.

"I'd be a great convertible owner," I told Sweetie. "I have the right music, the right attitude, the right hair, even. It wouldn't even be blown in the wind and messed up. I would love a convertible car."

That's when Sweetie asked me her question.

My musical tastes are eclectic (3 Good Things 11)


I may have banged my funny bone on the way into the office, but I'm not down, because my 3 Good Things from yesterday keep me smilin' on through:

1. I successfully transplanted three sets of wildflowers that were growing behind the hedge in our backyard, moving them from "roadside where nobody can see them in that back alley" to "the backyard and also by our mailbox." (Sweetie thinks I shouldn't have done that, but they're in my yard -- albeit "my yard" behind the hedge on the edge of the private road that runs in back of us.)

2. I got to see Mr Bunches' new dance, this time to the Chihuahua song on the preview for Beverly Hills Chihuahua that he watched. Mr Bunches will likely one day have a one-man show on Broadway: Interpretive Dances Of Movie Trailer Music.

And here's the song, which I actually rather like:



3. Sitting and reading my Lensman book with Mr F on my lap, sharing my potato chips and watching me read. That would make anyone happy.

Now, about that grungy backpack you use, too.

So, college graduate (or precocious high school graduate?) you're going to celebrate your first year of post-academic freedom by heading off to Europe, . See the old world, visit historical spots, get to know other cultures, find some Amsterdam lodging...

... yeah, I bring that up because I know. I know (we all know) that you're going to drink, smoke things you can't smoke here, and otherwise do stuff that you'll post to Facebook and then complain about people seeing.

Well, go ahead. The rest of us adults, the ones who already have legitimate jobs, will be waiting to Google you and then bump your starting salary down $5,000 after we see those pics (we'll do that out of jealousy.) But do us all a favor, okay? Quit staying in those grungy hostels, will you?

What, after all, is the appeal of sleeping on a cot in a room full of 65 other people, all of whom you secretly suspect of trying to slip you something or steal your backpack, or both? Especially when you consider the alternative: A short-term apartment in Amsterdam.

You can find just that -- a short term apartment -- through Short Stay Amsterdam, a website that matches up travelers like you with apartments for a brief stay. You could get an apartment in Amsterdam for about 250 Euros a night -- but not just any apartment. An apartment that sleeps up to six, right in the heart of Amsterdam, and which looks like this:
That is what you get for your 250-Euros-per night. It has a kingsize bed in one room. It's got a private shower and bath, and has a flatscreen TV and DVD in it. It's close to breweries, shops, cafes, restaurants, and the Rijksmuseum.

All for 250-Euros a night. You and five friends will pay only 40 Euros each per night.

Sure beats a hostel, doesn't it? You bet it does.

So go. Get your wild oats out of you. Take pictures -- blur your face before posting them, dummy -- and have some fun. But do it in style.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Genius should be rewarded by ice cream. (3 Good Things 10)


Saturday's Good Things just kept on coming, carrying me into Sunday like a surfer riding the crest of a wave off into the sunset. Or sunrise. I guess sunrise is more hopeful... okay. Sunrise it is. My 3 Good Things from yesterday:

1. I finally watched the movie Primer, which I'd DVRd weeks ago but had never gotten around to actually watching until yesterday. If I'd known it was so great, I'd have watched it immediately. How great was it? It was the kind of greatness that inspires me, later, while giving the Babies! a bath, to have a frank and honest discussion with Sweetie about time travel and how it would work. (Isn't Sweetie lucky?)

2. I realized how smart my Babies! are by watching Mr F figure things out. The thing he was figuring out? How to slip through a fence and jump into a river. We were on a fenced-in overlook taking a break from our "Long Walk." Mr F was dying to just get himself into the water, and he methodically, as I watched, tested each gap between the fence by putting his head up to it, over and over, until he reached the one that would let him slip his head through. (Luckily, I saw it coming and was ready to grab him back. Genius should be rewarded, but not with a 10-foot-fall into a river.)

3. The humidity broke! So now it's not "85 degrees and humid," but just "85 degrees." I can live with that.

Avoid people wearing turtlenecks. (Sunday's Poem, 23)


“Do You Have Any Advice For Those of Us Just Starting Out?"


by Ron Koertge

Give up sitting dutifully at your desk. Leave
your house or apartment. Go out into the world.

It's all right to carry a notebook but a cheap
one is best, with pages the color of weak tea
and on the front a kitten or a space ship.

Avoid any enclosed space where more than
three people are wearing turtlenecks. Beware
any snow-covered chalet with deer tracks
across the muffled tennis courts.

Not surprisingly, libraries are a good place to write.
And the perfect place in a library is near an aisle
where a child a year or two old is playing as his
mother browses the ranks of the dead.

Often he will pull books from the bottom shelf.
The title, the author's name, the brooding photo
on the flap mean nothing. Red book on black, gray
book on brown, he builds a tower. And the higher
it gets, the wider he grins.

You who asked for advice, listen: When the tower
falls, be like that child. Laugh so loud everybody
in the world frowns and says, "Shhhh."

Then start again.

________________________________________________

I found this poem on a site started by the former Poet Laureate of the United States, Billy Collins. The site is called "Poetry 180," and it's supposed to give a poem a day to high school students.

I liked this one because of the advice: Write in a notebook with a kitten on the cover, in a library where a child plays with books... the message I get from that is reading, and writing, and poetry, are supposed to be
fun, enjoyable, not work. Some writers don't get that. Some readers don't get that-- that books and reading and writing should be approached like a child approaches everything in the world.

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