Thursday, December 27, 2007

In Memoriam

Benazir Bhutto has been killed.

A courageous Woman of great abilities, who could have done so much for Her nation, Pakistan, who could have helped restore peace, stability and democracy, has been killed by some brainwashed fanatic, may he rot in some foul hell for eternity.

God help us all, for Pakistan has a nuclear bomb.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Name something that typically smells foul, is made from decayed food and that almost everyone alive, even small children, love.

It is cheese, of course.

I did some research a while back on how to make my own, since it seemed absurd to me how much cheese costs.

I got as far as learning that it takes 11 gallons of milk to make a pound of cheese before I realized one reason why the stuff is so pricey.

Check out this article by another brave soul who went a lot further than I did:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A resolution

Somewhere on the Internet recently, I read a fellow man's declaration that a man's Wife should never have to clean their toilet.

I realized that for all the years that I have been married, I have left that to my Sweetie, though She has never complained.

I hasten to add that I do the outside work, help with laundry and do the cooking and vacuuming, for reasons that are specific to us.

But She watches over and carefully pays the bills and does many other important chores. And up until now, She has cleaned the toilet.

I told Her tonight that She will never clean the toilet again. She laughed at me. She said I was silly. I said I was serious.

And so, under Her watchful eye, following Her instructions -- for She is utterly meticulous -- I took up this unpleasant chore for the first time in our life together ... and survived.

Darlene has been found

She has been found.

She has been thanked, for all that She did, for all that She was.

Rarely in life is one given such a chance, to fulfill such a dream, a simple but yet challenging dream, after 20-plus years.

I wanted Her to know that She is, and always will be, remembered as an angel, as a Goddess indeed who deigned to smile at a silly, awkward, foolish mortal boy -- to talk to me, to befriend me, even to take me up in Her "chariot" one blissful day.

Burned into my memory is virtually every detail of that event: Her parking spot in front of the big banyan tree, one space over from the left, behind the art building, the sun upon me bright and strong, the Debbie Gibson song that played as She turned on the ignition, Her request of me as we drove away to hand Her Her cigarettes from Her purse, my clumsy, shaking hands that dropped them on the floor, the sweet smoky perfume that filled that car as Her cigarette burned and Her lips spilled Her exhales, my inane attempts at conversation, during which I asked like some kind of moron school counselor what She planned to do with Her future, Her gentle, patient response that She wanted to be a nurse, and so on, and so on.

Darlene was and is and always will be a Lady, a fine, fine Lady indeed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Grinching again

Let me be clear at the outset: Mannerly, creative, intelligent, thoughtful kids I love. I delight in their company, in listening to them read, observing their play and helping them to make fascinating discoveries about their world.

But the other type -- the nose-picking, sarcastic, clueless, perpetually whiney kind -- these should neither be seen nor heard. I know every good kid has his or Her occassional bad days or meltdowns but some seem to have cultivated the fine art of being horrible until they are masters of it.

I went to a Christmas performance today at one of our local schools. I went specifically to cheer on a mannerly, creative, intelligent, thoughtful kid who was in the play.

Beside me sat a squirmy little brat who repeatedly nudged me with his dirty sneakers, made obnoxious and quite audible comments about his dislike of the play and came quite close to jabbing me in the face with a spyglass that he made out of his program.

A hug from a loving child is a blessing from heaven. A poke from a pestilent child is simply annoying. And I became aware today, thinking back to all the time I spend at that school, in my job capacity and as a volunteer, just how many of these kids communicate with me by poking and jabbing -- and how they do it to each other, too.

Adults, except for the occassional freak, respect each other's space. If we must make bodily contact with a stranger, say, on a crowded bus or in passing by someone in the theater,we do it with an apologetic and determined stiffness that communicates our apologies for the indignity. Kids, at least the poorly trained ones, think nothing of banging, bumping and sometimes even stepping on the toes of others around them.

Perhaps it has always been this way and the epidemic of pathetic parenting whose fruits I seem to see everywhere, is but a figment of my imagination.

Plate cracking

According to a recent study, which I hope was not paid for with public funds, my state of Virginia has the highest number of personalized automobile license plates, per capita, in the entire United States.

I thought of this today on the commute to work when “luvmusic” tried to cut in front of me. Sorry, luver, rare is the driver who can pull that move on me.

In an incredible coincidence, the car in the next lane over proclaimed “luvtpls.” Love to please? Love topals? Love topless?

I decided the latter was the most likely option. It wasn’t a family friendly message, unless the driver was declaring his/her adoration of convertibles.

I passed “ardiff” next. Boring. Is that really the most creative use of your ten dollar vanity plate fee? Is that your legacy to the world?

“heartpoet” was my last sighting of the morning. How sweet.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Flintstones would beg to differ

Perhaps the fascination that so many of us have with those departed beasts that we label dinosaurs, is that they represent an entire world that rose, prospered and then vanished before any human walked on earth.

Enormous, bizzare and even terrifying, they challenge our egocentric pretentions: a world of life can exist, and that quite comfortably, without a single human in the picture.

(photo by dictybloke)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Picture of the Day

You bet She is.

Know this

Yeterday, at our district Christmas party, I saw a man save a life. Someone was choking and he performed the Heimlich manuever. He was very calm, which is important, and he knew what to do and all is now well.

Know how to do this. Someday, you may be the only person in a room who does. And you may save a life.

You ask the person to stand. You stand behind them. You tell them
calmly, that you know the Heimlich maneuver. You place your arms around
their waist. You make a fist, thumb towards the person, and place it just
above their belly button – beneath the rib cage so as to not break any
bones. You grab your fist with your other hand. You push your fist,
upward, five times into their abdomen, hard enough to be effective. You
save a life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Feeling grinchy

You know what really made that green Grinch gripey about Christmas? I have it on good authority that long ago, in his youth, the Whos in Whoville had put him in charge of the town Christmas party.

As a real life person in charge of a Christmas party for nearly a thousand people, I feel so Grinchy today that I can barely stand it. The logistics -- uggh! The financial procurement -- arrgh! Whatever can go wrong probably will, and people will overwhelm the food table leaving nearly nothing for the poor schmucks behind them in line.

I just want it to be over. Over. Over. I want to go back to my cave on the mountaintop and escape all the noise, noise, noise.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Inexplicable misogyny

If you were walking down the street one day and saw a man striking himself in the head with a hammer, cursing himself by all the gods and smearing his body with feces, I am sure that you would agree with me that he needs professional help.

What then, of men so ignorant and mentally unbalanced as to take pleasure in demeaning and oppressing Women, his Sisters in humanity?

Isn't it so much more pleasurable, my fellow men, to uplift and cheer on these divine beings -- to rejoice in Their every success, to stand with Them and assist Them to achieve Their unfathomable potential?

I went to a website the other day in which some lowlife was trotting out the usual misogynistic stupidity and I upbraided him, far more gently than he deserved. Of course it's true, as he stated, that much of the world's architecture and achievements have been made by men. That only stands to reason since men have spent most of history overtly or covertly suppressing and destroying the achievements of Women -- from the public burnings of the poems of Sappho to the centuries-long attempts to keep Women from gaining an education or voting.

Under such conditions, it is amazing and wonderful that we have as much from the hands and minds of Women as we do.

Today I discovered another gem of Womankind, whom I will blog about later, Hildegard von Bingen.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Worthy causes

Perhaps some people have pockets stuffed with cash, legally earned one would hope, and can give it away until their arms get tired, to anyone who asks. The rest of us have to be more judicious. That poses a problem, since there are so many good causes: eliminating AIDS, about which Chase March recently blogged; muscular dystrophy, diabetes, wounded veterans, disaster relief, the Special Olympics, homeless shelters, Girl Scouts ...

But you know something? What looks like a problem is in one way a wonderful, wonderful sign. All these organizations have at their heart people doing good. In other words, millions of people are doing good in the world. Doing good -- a topic that LayDdee blogs on, one of my favorite subjects on Her blog.

I have just learned about another great idea. It's called Teachers in need of supplies for their classes can submit a wish list to this website and donors can then peruse this list and pay for an item.

I will soon post a permanent link on Isis for this site. After all, without education, where would any of us be today?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Hanukkah (and some thoughts on Judaism)

Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate it!

I am not Jewish. But I recognize the huge contribution that this people/culture/religion has made to the history of civilization.

Christianity began as a movement within Judaism and owes the so-called “Old Testament” of its scriptures to that faith, as well as its basic concepts of a loving Father-God and other theology. Its founder and its early leadership was utterly Jewish, a long-ignored or suppressed fact. The Catholic writer Carroll goes so far as to assert that even Jesus and Paul considered themselves Jews, wholly Jews, from birth to death.

Islam owes much to Judaism as well, however much some within its ranks might wish to deny that. And the prophet Mohammed didn’t lift off to heaven from the site of the Dome of the Rock just from happenstance or because it was a convenient high place along his journey. It was a holy place where, like it or not, a sacred Jewish temple once stood and to which that sacred aura still clung in his day, and to which it yet clings today.

The old physical stereotype of a Jew is patently ridiculous, because Jews today are of many backgrounds and cultures. I have known Jews who are black, blonde or sporting bushy red beards.

This blog is no place to go into great detail (and I am not qualified in the least to do it anyway!) but the history, philosophy and contributions of Judaism to humanity are worth the study of every intelligent person.

I continue to learn new things all the time. One Jewish commentator on a blog that I visit, discussing a hypothetical Christian conversion, helped me to realize how little I still know about the aforementioned thought process of Her faith. Unlike Christianity, in which most sects are mild to hyper-aggressive in seeking converts, Judaism not only does not proselyte, in many ways it discourages converts. Seems counterintuitive, at least to my Christian-raised mind. But there are reasons, thought-provoking reasons, for this difference.

In addition, the concept of a rewards-based heaven, even of a specific afterlife, is a totally Christian construct from which such a prospective convert must divest him or Herself, She wrote -- certainly no easy thing to do.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Personal hygiene in hell

As I lay shivering in my living room on Friday, wrapped in a blanket, wondering what the hell was wrong with my internal thermostat, I turned on a program that I like: Man vs. Wild.

This episode should have helped, if anything could, to warm me back up. The survivalist hero, Bear Grylls, jumped out of a helicopter into the scorching sands of the Sahara Desert, where he proceeded to survive for several days by eating raw lizards and spiders and by licking rocks for water.

Now Mr. Grylls does take pains to inform the viewers of his show that “he is occasionally [deliberately] presented with situations” in order to demonstrate to said viewers how to survive them. But otherwise, we are supposed to believe that we are witnessing reality -- no snacks slipped to him on the sly, no moleskin dropped in a care package for his blisters if he forgot to pack any.

For example, a cobra that popped up at some point was dropped off in his vicinity, he said, so that he could explain how a person stranded in the Sahara should behave in the presence of such a beast.

True it is that all of us manly men in the world like to think that such a situation is entirely possible in our lives, whether we bag groceries in Cleveland or fix trucks in Texas and that of course we need to know how to respond in a cool, manly fashion. In this, we differ from Women, who are quite cognizant that They will never encounter a Sahara serpent, and who wish that Their damn fool husbands would watch some other show instead, that doesn’t involve a guy chewing on a raw lizard and remarking that it tastes like blood and guts and scales.

As the episode wore on and Mr. Grylls continued his agonizing stumble across the sands of hell, I began to wonder about something. Now I am not the world’s most hirsuite guy but I do have dark hair and even after just a few hours away from my razor, I’m sporting a pretty noticeable facial shadow.

But Mr. Grylls, who was so desperate for water during the trek that, as I said, he licked rocks and squeezed damp sand through his tshirt, day after day, never seemed to grow a beard. Did he carry an electric razor with him? Or did he just shave dry, in a most incredible, manly way?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Been sick, sort of

I realize that I haven't updated this blog in four days. I was planning to do some major blogging over the weekend, but then I picked up some strange bug. Chills and sort of a fever but nothing else. Strangest thing. No blurpy stomach, no drippy nose.