Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blog # 2

(who knew i had so much to say?)

I am delighted to announce that I now have a second blog, devoted to politics. I plan to write biased and hopefully amusing commentary based exclusively on personal opinion that has not been tainted by research of any kind.

Stop by and agree with me!

My Turn To Rant


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Glow, Little Glow-Dog

Good news! Scientists have just announced that they have successfully cloned 4 beagles that glow in the dark.

(awww, look at that cute little glowing nose!)

Why is that good news? Well, the scientists are excited because they were able to transfer genes (presumably from fireflies, or possibly glow-sticks) into the puppies. They say the real significance is that they will be able to transfer other genes in the future, creating helpful creatures such as fish that eat plastic Walmart bags (thus solving a major ecological problem) or politicians that are genetically incapable of lying (thus eliminating Congress altogether).

To me, the significance is that they will be able to create other glowing things.

Here's where I think they should start:
  1. Glow-in-the-dark bugs. This way I could put my slippers on at night without wondering what might be lurking in them.
  2. Glow-in-the-dark babies. No more night lights!
  3. Glow-in-the-dark Swine Flu germs so we would know if it's safe to stop washing our hands every 30 seconds.
Any other ideas?


Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm ruthless - or am I?

(My aunt Ruth, back when women did NOT sit on Caterpillar machinery and smile about it!)


What's in a name? Quite a bit, as it turns out.

My parents gave me the middle name of Ruth. When I got married at the oh-so-young age of 22, I put my maiden name in the middle instead. Very progressive. Very liberated. Or so I thought.

Ever since, my husband has joked that I am "ruthless." Get it? Ruth-less? Yes, very funny. But there's more to the story.

You see, as I grew older I learned more about my aunt Ruth. She was my mom's older sister. She grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, smack dab in the middle of the Depression. This was back when women were seen and not heard. Women stayed home, cared for their families, and fainted when stressful things happened. (read The Great Gatsby and you'll see what I mean.) I think I might practice that myself.

"The electric bill is HOW much??" ... flop
"Client X wants ANOTHER rewrite??" ... splat
"You want me to make dinner AGAIN???" ... kerplunk

Anyway - Ruth did things differently. While other women were busy becoming as invisible as possible, she:

  • Moved to Boise all by herself, to get married to husband # 1 - then ended up in a small mining town in the mountains, cooking for the miners.
  • Lived in a tent house and got around on skis and Caterpillars - or on foot when necessary.
  • Worked whenever and wherever she had to, determined to avoid her father's dire predictions of ending up "in the poorhouse."
  • Built a successful career selling mutual funds - the only female in the entire company.
  • Acted as caretaker for ailing husband # 1, ailing mother and ailing husband # 2, never losing her wry sense of humor.
  • Raised a daughter who was equally formidable and accomplished. In fact, she became a lawyer back when female lawyers were about as common as talking elephants.
Ruth had profound things to say ...

About our government: "We should pay them all to stay home."

About finances: "The best thing you can do is to start a dollar-cost-averaging account. In 25 years you'll probably be a millionaire."

And about self-sufficiency: "Let every tub stand on its own bottom."

Now that I am older and wiser, I appreciate my heritage of strength, independence and persistence. I am amazed by the accomplishments of women who broke barriers without even realizing that's what they were doing. And I'm thankful that even though I left Ruth behind, she never left me. She is in my life - my daughter's life - and my granddaughter's life. She is right here. Spunky as always. Stronger than ever.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

How to write an article in 5 minutes flat

As I've mentioned before, I write lots of newsletters. Which means I write lots of articles. I thought I would share my proven method with you, but you have to promise:

1. Not to deviate from my system.

and 2. Not to tell my clients that my job is so easy a trained monkey could do it. Though I doubt that their punctuation would be as good as mine.

Ok. If you are still reading, I will take that as agreement. So here we go.

Step one: Read the assignment carefully. Here is a creative brief from an actual client: "Need a 500 word article on back to school."

Step two: Try to figure out what the client means. In this case, the client was a financial institution. So I figured I would talk about back-to-school loans, credit cards, saving money on school supplies, that kind of thing.

Step three: Do some research. Look at the client's website for information on relevant products and services. Google "popular school supplies" and discover that there is a new iPod Shuffle that all the kids are talking about. Go to the iPod website for pricing information, download 25 free apps for your iPhone, spend 6 hours playing Super Monkey Ball, and call it a night.

Step four: Wait until 5 minutes before the article is due. Then sit down with your laptop and follow my method.

30 seconds - Write a headline.
30 seconds - Write some subheads to organize your information.
3 1/2 minutes - Pretend you are the world's leading expert on "back to school." Write off the top of your head, as if you were telling a friend how the wonderful products and services at XYZ Financial can help them save time and money. Wrap it up at the end with a simple call to action.
30 seconds - Proofread.

Now for the fun part. Send your first draft to the client and watch the accolades pour in:

"Sorry. We have changed our minds. Please send 500 word article on auto loans."

30 seconds - Stare at computer screen.
30 seconds - Bang head against wall.
3 1/2 minutes - Count to ten until breathing becomes slow and regular.
30 seconds - Rummage in pantry for Little Debbie Zebra Cakes.

Go back to Step 1 and become the world's leading expert on auto loans.

Anybody know of a trained monkey I could borrow?


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where is this class going and why am I in this handbasket?

"Teaching is the highest form of understanding."
~ Aristotle

"A teacher affects eternity."
~ Henry Brook Adams

~ Me, after seven years in a classroom

Yes, I once worked as a teacher. That was before I realized that I could make a lot more money writing cheesy hype - er, I mean, writing compelling marketing projects - and enjoy the somewhat questionable benefit of wearing the same pair of ragged gray sweat pants for weeks at a time, switching to my ragged blue ones only in the event of a coffee stain. Even unkempt hermits have standards.

I spent seven years as an elementary music teacher. This is the same job my daughter has now. Apparently I didn't issue enough warnings.

Here is a story that I hope will illustrate the life of a music teacher. It is an analogy, which means it has no facts and only a vague, sideways relation to reality. (Kind of like a certain news channel which I cannot name because my husband and I have decided not to discuss politics until he comes to his senses and realizes I am right.)


Once upon a time, there was a farmer. Her name was Miss Emerson. Every morning during harvest season, late August through early June, Miss Emerson went into her field. She watched the beautiful sunrise, and drank a cup of coffee.

At 8:00 sharp, a bolt of lightning hit and a swarm of mosquitoes darkened the air. Miss Emerson's job was to keep the mosquitoes in her field for 45 minutes. She was not allowed to yell, flap her arms, or kill them. On good days, she was able to keep the mosquitoes in order by glaring at them and running faster than they could fly. On bad days, the mosquitoes swirled around her relentlessly until she collapsed in defeat. Every day, the mosquitoes clearly thought they were in charge.

After 45 exhausting minutes, Miss Emerson had a 5-minute reprieve. Then another swarm would arrive. And another. And another. At 4:00, completely disheveled and discouraged, Miss Emerson went home. She watched the beautiful sunset, and drank a cup of something. Probably not coffee.

Miss Emerson once tried to describe her job to her friends. Most of them had normal jobs. They worked with people, not mosquitoes. They got to sit down at least once a day. They never had to deal with mosquitoes' parents, who are another whole story in themselves.

Miss Emerson's friends listened sympathetically. They nodded and smiled. Then they said in unison:

"Boy. It must be nice to get your summers off."


Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm a Texan - but only because I live here

(I'm hoping those aren't the only choices.)

I moved to Texas a couple of years ago. It really wasn't my idea. My grandbaby was born here, and I had lost all feeling in my feet from the sub-arctic temperatures in Michigan. So here I am.

Unfortunately, I may not be a Texas resident much longer. Why? Because Texas may not be a state much longer! We are on the verge of becoming our very own country. Imagine that!

In case you haven't heard, Governor Perry has indicated recently that he thinks maybe Texas should secede from the Union. The federal government, according to Perry, "has become oppressive in its size and its interference with the states."

So there ya have it. We're outta here.

I wonder what kind of country Texas will be? ... Let's see ... We currently have:
  • The highest utility rates in the country (thanks to deregulation in 2002)
  • The highest percentage of people with no health insurance
  • The most uninsured drivers
  • The highest rate of teen pregnancy
  • The highest obesity rate in kids
I could go on and on. Clearly Texas has many top rankings. Governor Perry should be proud. I hope that, as President of Texas, he continues the fine work. No oppressive government here. No socialism. No awkward moments like when you rail against "unnecessary spending" and then have to explain the tent city that just cropped up in your state capital. Also no health insurance. But plenty of burritos with extra cheese!

Texas: Too small for a country, too big for an insane asylum.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Windows 0.0

We have already discussed television and telephones in the good old days. Why don't we look back at the evolution of computers?

"oh boy. here she goes again."

You probably think there were no computers when I was young. But you're wrong!

"so you had computers when you were a kid? cool."

Well, no. Not when I was a kid. But by the time I was in college, the computer revolution was underway.

"god you're old"

Hey now. My college music department had a Moog synthesizer. It was the size of a 4-door Chevrolet. And my husband's roommate bought one of the first Hewlett-Packard personal calculators. He paid $400 for it.

"what? come on now"

Really. Before that, kids had to use slide rules for complicated equations.

"what if you didn't have a slide rule?"

Then you would do the math by hand. Multiplication, division, algebra -

"whoa, whoa, you're giving me a headache. what if you had to do like a square root? there's no way you can do that without a calculator."

Sure you can. There are formulas -

"spare me. how on earth did you send email?"

Oh, there was no email.


If you wanted to send someone a note, you wrote it on a slip of paper and passed it to them after class.

"you're kidding."

Nope. There were no computer games. No blogs. And no google. If you wanted to search for information, you had to go to the library.

"the what?"

Never mind.

"listen, i gotta go. but keep up the funny stories. you crack me up."

Do you want to hear about the video games we used to play? There was a tennis game that was lots of fun.

"no time, sorry. post it on facebook and i'll check it out later."

Ok, no problem. Remind me to tell you about the first laptops. They weighed 16 pounds and cost over $7,000.

"very funny. go take your meds."

Later, dude.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

True friends

I spent the last 5 minutes sitting on the couch, with my laptop on my lap, staring into space. Usually I call this "working." But today I was trying to think of a blog topic. Hubby suggested "Old friends." Being the rebel that I am, I decided to go with "True Friends" instead.

It's not all that hard to find casual friends. But finding a True Friend - now that's another story.

A True Friend:

1. Sounds genuinely happy when they realize it's me on the phone ("oh hi! how ARE you?")

2. Pretends to be happy when I invite them over for dinner ("of course, I'd be delighted to come eat your spaghetti for the fifteenth time! will you be making your flaming garlic bread again, as well?")

3. Takes my side even when my anti-paranoia meds wear off ("yes dear, you do work with truly difficult people, even though you are a solitary, self-employed, one-person office and your most stressful decision for the day is what flavor of coffeemate to use. I don't know HOW you do it.")

4. Appreciates my quirks, asks questions about my life - and of course, faithfully reads my blog ("oh goody, another post about politics ... perhaps it's time for a refill on those meds...?")

Monday, April 6, 2009

Terms of endearment

We got back from our vacation on Saturday, rested and yet exhausted at the same time. What IS it about vacations that makes me so tired?? My biggest exertion was sitting upright in my lounge chair so I could sign the slip for my pina colada. I suppose if I did that enough times I would have rock-solid abs. Well, except for the 895 calories in each pina colada.

Anyway - Just before we left, my husband got a phone call from his step-mom, saying his dad was in the hospital with a bad case of bronchitis. When we returned, one of the first things Hubby did was to give his dad a call. Hubby is very sweet. He is also a guy.

If it was me, the phone call would have been a typical girly conversation, starting with - "Hi, how are you feeling?" or "What are the doctors telling you?"

But being a guy, Hubby took a whole different approach. Here is his conversation, with girly translations along the way.

Hubby: Hey dad! I hear Garcia just signed with the Raiders.
(Hey dad! How are you?)

Dad: Yeah, that son of a gun has no right to that kind of salary. What are they thinking?
(I'm fine. Thanks for asking.)

Hubby: Well, he was the number one quarterback in the league last year.
(That's good. I'm really relieved.)

Dad: He only threw one touchdown pass! What are you talking about??
(See? I'm ornery. Stop worrying.)

Hubby: He's got great potential.
(Hey, you're my dad. I just want to be sure you're ok.)

Dad: That #@#%% idiot couldn't throw his $#@** way out of a paper bag.
(Thanks, son. I love you.)

Hubby: Whatever. Must be nice to know everything. Talk to you later.
(I love you too, dad. Bye.)


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