Sunday, December 5, 2010

Michael Chiarello can kiss my ass

Photo from Food Network website
Looking up recipes for Butternut Squash Soup the other day.  And I come across one from the obviously deranged Michael Chiarello of The Food Network.  It starts out innocently enough.  It is called Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.  But once you delve into his brand of madness and read the recipe, you realize that it is broken down into THREE sections and includes no less than TWENTY SEVEN different ingredients.  Are you kidding me, Signore Chiarello?!  This is soup we are talking about, right?

Gray Salt?  Really?!  We have different colors for our salts now, do we?

According to the recipe it takes just twenty minutes of prep time and twenty five minutes of cook time.  It would take me twenty minutes just to round up all the different ingredients that this lunatic has dreamed up.

They claim that the Level of this recipe is Easy.  Sure.  This sounds as easy as pogo-sticking through a mine field with Clown Snipers trying to take you down with their confetti rifles.
Toast the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a small, heavy pan over medium heat. When the fennel turns light brown, work quickly. Turn on the exhaust fan, add the red pepper flakes, and toss, toss, toss, always under the fan. Immediately turn the spice mixture out onto a plate to cool.
Seems to me you might need the fire department on stand-by when you attempt this step.  Work quickly!!!   Toss, toss, toss!!!   I definitely want my cooking instructions to be imbued with the same sense of urgency required to defuse a ticking bomb.

How about this for an ingredient list?
Olive Oil
Butternut Squash
Fresh Ginger
Vegetable Stock
Nutmeg or Cinnamon

That's ten ingredients, Chiarello.  Ten.  And guess what color my salt is?

Honestly, Michael Chiarello would out cook me any day.  We could put him in a straitjacket, blindfold him, hand him a can a Spam, two potatoes and a Boy Scout's camping stove and he'd whip us up a delicious feast.  Hey, I think I just thought up the next Food Network hit show.  I would pay big money to see Guy Fieri in a straitjacket.   

Never trust a Clown

Saturday, November 13, 2010

stand ajar

stand ajar, 
ready to welcome 
the ecstatic experience.

Emily Dickinson*

*Nitpicky Full Disclosure:
There's a poem by Emily Dickinson that begins:
The Soul should always stand ajar
That if the Heaven inquire
He will not be obliged to wait
Or shy of troubling Her...
But the quote at the top of this post is also attributed to her - or at least it is all over the interwebs. Not sure I believe the quote is hers. Sounds more like a New Age-y addition to the line in her poem.  (But I still like it.)

The top photo was also found on the internet. Looks like a stock photo, but I couldn't find the origin. I like to attribute photos correctly when I can. The rest of the photos are my modified versions of the first.

So does anyone care about these details? Don't know.
Just felt like being effusively exact today.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Robot Love

The whole idea of compassion is based on
a keen awareness of the
interdependence of all these living beings...

~Thomas Merton

I try to have compassion for people around me.  I try to see the angry person or the rude person or the person acting selfishly as someone who is having a bad day (and sometimes a bad life.)  They don't need their anger to be answered with defensiveness or their rudeness to be returned to them.  They need kindness.

I am certainly not claiming to be a saint - see this entry for proof of that.  I don't always succeed in being the kind person that I want to be.  Some days I am that rude person acting selfishly.  Compassion is something I have to remember and relearn again and again.

I really dig what is says in the Charter for Compassion.  It calls us "to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being..."  And if you haven't heard of the Charter for Compassion, go to that link.  It's good stuff.  With all of the rotten politics and filthy corporate greed that seem to dominate our world - this is what is going to save us.

I think that I was a rather sensitive kid and was really tuned in to the emotions and moods that were flowing around me.   But somehow I learned to be very good at keeping my own emotions in check.  In fact, I was so good at it that it often seemed that I didn't have any emotions.  On most days I operated like a robot - completely removed from any feelings.  Mr. Spock on Star Trek made perfect sense to me.  Of course logic should win out over those messy human emotions. When Captain Kirk and the others would laugh at him, I would think, "It's okay Spock.  I understand you." 

My Robot Self stuck around for many years of my life.  I was an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) in my early twenties.  There are great advantages to being a robot in that type of job.  Nothing could fluster me.  No messy emotions got in my way - mine or anyone else's.  But there is also a real downside to that.  There are a number of experiences that I look back on now and can see what a loss it was that I could not have had a little more humanity.  Times when I could have given much needed comfort to others.

I worked for a private ambulance company, which meant that we were a glorified taxi and took Grandma to her dialysis appointment or transferred patients to rehab hospitals.  In my short career, I never actually faced a real emergency situation where lives hung in the balance.  (Once though, I did have to call for an ambulance from my ambulance.  We got slammed right on the driver's side by a city bus that was speeding through an intersection.  My partner was driving and he was injured.  So I had to get on the radio and tell dispatch to send an ambulance.  Oh, the irony.)

Once we were transporting an old woman from one nursing home to another.  She seemed to be babbling incoherently and I'm sure the nurses let us know that it was her normal mental state when they discharged her to us.  But there was a note of distress in her voice.  Her words were not making sense, but her tone was that of a person frightened and a little bit frantic.  My partner was driving, so I was in back with the woman to take her vitals and do the required paperwork.  My Robot Self sat in the back of that ambulance with this woman for 25 minutes and did a perfect job of completely ignoring her and her frantic, nonsensical pleading.  I took her vitals, filled out my paperwork and stared out the window.

Camille Monet sur son lit de mort by Claude Monet
When I look back now, I feel so bad that I didn't try to do something to comfort her.  Hold her hand and tell her it was okay and she was safe.  Call her by her first name and stroke her hair.   It is quite possible that it wouldn't have really reached her.  Maybe she had disappeared too far down the rabbit hole and would have continued with her incoherent pleading.  But I have to imagine that a small part of her might have felt comforted or calmed, even if it didn't show on the outside.  Some human touch and soft words would have been a simple thing to offer.  But Robot Girl was not capable of that.

~ ~ ~

A call on another day had us transporting a terminally ill woman in her late thirties from her home to the emergency room.  Her visiting nurse had called us because she was unable to get a blood pressure reading.  The woman was a skeleton with a bloated belly, weakly coughing up phlegm.  Her worried husband rode in the front of the ambulance with my partner.

We drove her to the hospital and handed her off to the ER staff.  As we walked out into the lobby of the ER, I saw her husband.  He was sitting in a chair, alone, looking lost and in shock.  I wheeled that empty stretcher right past him as if he didn't exist.

From Funérailles d'Atala by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson
If I could do it again, I would have stopped to ask him if there was someone we could call for him.  I would have asked him if he wanted us to sit with him for a while.  I would have been able to be with him in his grief and helplessness.  That's all I could have given him, but it might have been enough for that moment. 

The next day I read in the paper that his wife had died.

~ ~ ~

Another one of our jobs was to transport premature infants in their portable NICU cribs.   Most of the time we were taking newborns from a smaller hospital to a larger one which was better equipped to handle their medical needs.  This particular newborn was having a hard time maintaining a pulse for any length of time when they took his breathing tube out in preparation for transport.  My partner and I stood in the room while the doctors and nurses performed the infant version of CPR over and over again as this baby coded every few minutes.  They were just trying to get the infant stable enough to make the twenty minute journey.

So there I was in a room - witness to this little soul fighting for life and breath.  A tiny, fragile, newly-born human struggling to stay in this world and on the perilous edge of life every few minutes.  As I was watching all of this, I felt nothing.  Not a twinge of sadness or sympathy.  No compassion for the parents, who thankfully were not in the room, but who must have been consumed with worry over their dear child's condition.  I was just patiently waiting and watching with my detached robot eyes.  I was probably wondering about how heavy the portable incubator crib might have been.  Those things could weigh a lot and we had to lift them into the back of the ambulance.

 From Maria mit dem schlafenden Kind by Andrea Mantegna
There is not very much I could have done differently if I could go back to that situation today.  I did have a job to do, so I couldn't have become overwhelmed with any strong emotions about the child.  But I could have at least recognized the precious gift of life that was hanging in the balance and cheered on that little fighter in his struggle.  They eventually did stabilize him and we were able to drive him to the other hospital.  And that is the end of this story.  We never found out what happened to the infants after we dropped them off.

~ ~ ~

The absolute worst example of my robot coldness was something I said to someone I love when I was in my early twenties.  My best friend in the world was the only one who was ever able to get past my robot defenses and who always knew me, no matter how much I tried to hide.  At the time, she was struggling with a loss in her life.  An extremely traumatic loss of an important relationship.  A life altering grief.

La Douleur by Edgar Bertram Mackennal
My words of comfort to her when she confided in me about how much she was struggling?  The exact quote is, "Grow up and get over it."  And I can picture myself as I said it - feeling all mature and wiser than her and a little bit exasperated by her whining.  My Robot Self  truly thought it was the right thing to say at the time.  Thought that I'd be helping her by roughly shoving her towards moving on with her life.

I cringe and my heart aches when I think about it now.  I have no idea why she stayed friends with me after that. But, lucky for me, she did. And even though we drifted and were distant for many years, we have found each other again recently.  In the last few years,  each of us has saved the other so many times.

I do think she forgives me.  I think she understands why I was like that.  She was always able to look beyond the robot coldness and see the soft heart inside.  What an amazing gift to have such a friend.

These days I can forgive myself for those times when I was less than compassionate to those around me.  I still look back and wish I could have done some things differently.  Don't we all?  I haven't destroyed my Robot Self.  She's still a part of me and sometimes she can be useful. (If you ever happen to spontaneously combust or if you are being chased by brain-eating zombies, you want Robot Girl around.  She'll know what to do.)

It is not a perfect transformation, but for the most part, I no longer feel I have to face the world with such cold, detached eyes.  Now I can go forward and with each new day try to keep the seeds of a compassionate heart close to the surface.  That is all any of us can really do.  It can be a sad, angry, cold, relentless world out there.  We just have to do our best to remember:

A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others,
makes all the difference.

~Winnie the Pooh

Friday, October 1, 2010

Time Travel

Adopted Monk in February. He was a stray that was picked up by animal control and then saved from death row by a local rescue. The rescue said that he was about 7 years old.

He came with a limp.  An old injury that seems to not have healed correctly and his left front paw is turned inward in a funny way.  Took him to the vet today because it seems like his leg bothers him more lately.   (Took him to this same vet back in February when he first arrived.)

Today, after hearing about what was going on and checking Monk out, she says, "You know, I think he's probably a little older than seven."

I tell her that I had wondered about that too.  Ask her how old she thinks he is.

She looks at Monk, takes a moment and says, "I would say he is probably around 11."

Wow.  In dog years, he just aged from 49 to 77 years old.

So instead of driving around in his convertible, trying to relive his glory days...

Well, hel-looo Ladies!

Monk's hanging around his front porch, shaking his cane at the world...
I told you kids to GET OF MY LAWN!

I don't blame the rescue for estimating low.  I'm sure they had a hell of a time trying to find a home for an old, lame dog who is possibly mixed with Pit Bull. 

At the end of the vet appointment I tried to talk her down, like I was at a flea market, haggling over the price of an old piece of furniture.  "So, ah....what do you think....should we just go ahead and call him 10?"   She looked right at me and shook her head.  "Hmmmm.  No.  I really think 11 is more like it."

Doesn't make a difference in how I feel about Monk.  It just means that he won't be around for as long as I had thought. I was hoping for 5 years or so, but now it will probably be just a couple.

Adopted Lily at 11 years old, so it would not have mattered what his age was. we can start to refer to them as "The Twins."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The best job I ever had

My Mom emailed me a picture and it reminded me of the job I had every summer between the ages of 16 and 20.  It was undeniably the best job I have ever had.

I was a lifeguard at a little park in Woonsocket, RI.  This picture was in the paper.  I was not doing anything noteworthy, believe me.  It was one of those random, slice-of-life pictures that they run to fill space.  The caption said something about me blowing my whistle to stop some horseplay.  That is pretty much an accurate description of what I did most of the day.

I loved that job for so many reasons.  The first one was the dress code.  I could roll out of bed in the morning, put on a bathing suit, shorts, t-shirt and the official, bright orange baseball hat and be ready to go.  I was quite the low maintenance gal and that was perfect for me.

Another reason I loved it was that I could be outdoors.  The park was a mere 14 acres of man-made landscapes plunked down in the middle of a depressed, industrial area of town.  There were no majestic views to meditate upon or opportunities to commune with wildlife creatures (depending on your definition of wildlife.)  Instead, there was an abundance of cement, rolling lawns and gravel-filled paths.  The centerpiece was a single man-made pond that I could swim across in about two minutes.  The joy came from simply being outdoors all day.  In the sun.  Barefoot.  Dirt on my toes.  Sweat on my skin.  I felt so unfettered.

I was in charge!  People had to respect my authority!  Well..not really.  But it was fun to blow the whistle and holler at kids.  Get off the ropes!  There aren't too many places in your life where you get paid to holler.  I was a quiet kid, so it was good for me to be able to do a little hollering.

If anyone gave us too much trouble we could always call on the Park Police to come deal with it.  Another perk of the job - handsome, clean cut, strapping young men in uniforms hanging around all day.  Well, to me they were older young men - around 18 to 22.  Some innocent flirting can really make the work day much more interesting. 

Some days I would ride my bike the 10 miles to work, jump in the water to cool off, take a quick shower to get the funky pond water off me and start my day.  I would spend the time in my perch on the lifeguard chair in that peculiar mixed state of alertness and boredom.  It was extremely rare for anyone to actually need any lifesaving.  I think in my four summers there, I saved two kids who had both gotten tired and panicky while swimming in water over their heads.

We got to know the neighborhood children and that was the first time I was exposed to lives that were not as cozy and comfortable as mine.  Erica was 8 years old.  She'd come to the park with her 4-year-old sister with no parent in sight.  Erica was in charge of taking care of her sister all day.  There were a lot of kids like that.  The park was like their extended back yard.  We always watched out for them but I think I was too naive to really grasp some of the things that were going on in their lives.  We were their unofficial babysitters for the summer and played games with them on our breaks.

All the jobs that I have had since then have been quite different.  I drive my air-conditioned car to work and spend my days in climate-controlled indoor offices. A shower before work and appropriate footwear is expected. No hats.  I never get to spend any time in the natural world. I stare at a computer all day. I rarely get to holler at anyone.

I miss the simple freedom of those summer days.   I could really use some of that joy in my life right now.  More bare feet.  More sun on my skin.  More sweat and dirt in my daily life.  

[ I feel like this isn't quite finished, but here it is anyway.  I've had no blogging energy.  Can't write.  Hardly read or comment on anyone else's blog these days.  Hopefully I'll snap out if it soon.]

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sony laptop screen problem - fixed

Dear Sony,

Thank you for fixing my laptop screen.   And thank you for giving me the opportunity to expand the knowledge of your customer service person.

Sony: What is the issue you are having today?
Me: My laptop screen went crazy.  It is showing only bands of color that are constantly changing.
Sony: Did you drop it?
Me: No.  [This is absolutely true.]
Sony: What is your model number?
Me: VGN-FZ260E
Sony: What colors is it showing?
Me: Hmmm.... [thinking to myself - why would this matter?]  Red, blue, yellow, black.  I basically can't see anything on the screen.
Sony: Well, since you are out of the warranty period, if you would like to continue to troubleshoot this problem with me, we will have to charge you.
Me:  No.  This is a known defect of the Nvidia video card in these models of laptops.  You are supposed to fix it for me for free.  It says this on your website.
Sony: What website are you on?
Sony: Let me put you on hold for a moment while I check into this.
It was clever of you, Sony, to withhold some basic information from your first line of customer service people.  You know there is a defect with the video card in certain models of your laptops.  You put this information on your own website.  So it should have been a very simple conversation.  A caller tells you XX model of laptop is having display problems.  Those two phrases get entered into your product knowledge database and your customer service person immediately sees that it is a known defect and offers to fix it.  Simple, right?  Computers are amazing tools.  Wouldn't you agree?

But you would have happily charged me for the out-of-warranty tech support to troubleshoot and then told me that it was a hardware issue that you would fix if I wanted to pay you.  Nice try, Sony.

However, I will compliment you on your quick resolution once we established who would be paying for it.  Your contracted tech guy showed up at my work two days later in his nifty, red Mini Cooper and had it all fixed in about 10 minutes.

Thank you, Sony.

Here is the link to the page on Sony's website in case someone with a similar problem stumbles upon this blog: 

I've also got a screen shot of the page in case Sony ever takes it down.  And I have links to the claim form to fill out if you did pay to fix this problem yourself.  Email me if you need them.

Take that, Sony.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I've got no blogging mojo

Here's Lily's fitness regimen. She's fanatical about it.

And here's a moment of Monk:

The doggies are fine. Old Lady Lily is healed and has regained her unstoppable enthusiasm for every moment of life. I've got more things to blog, but just can't seem to finish any of them. Maybe the long days of summer will energize me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Well...this can't be good

My laptop screen.

So how am I posting this, you ask?

Saturday, May 15, 2010


May you be at peace;
May you know the beauty of your own true nature;
May your heart remain open;
May you be healed

(I had this written down somewhere as a Buddhist blessing, but I have no idea where it comes from or where I found it.)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

24 hours in the animal madhouse

My Friday went something like this:

Day off work. Lily gagged a few times and threw up a tiny little bit of water during the day. So I am a little concerned.

1700 hours
Bring Franken-Kitty to the regular vet to get the drains taken out of his face. Ask the vet about Lily. Vet recommends trying her on some extra-bland food to see if that helps.

1900 hours
Feed Lily half a can of new food.

1930 hours
Lily starts retching and throws up her food in the back yard. I follow her around, trying to see what is going on. Is she pale? Is she breathing okay? Is she unsteady on her feet?

1935 hours
Turn around and see Monk finishing off his little after-dinner snack - the "Lily Smoothie." He must have been jealous because she had different food than he did. Either that or he was just trying to be helpful by cleaning it up for me.

2230 hours
Lily seemed fine after throwing up - good color, belly seems soft, no panting. So just kept an eye on her while she snoozes in the living room. She's licking her lips a lot and I hear gurgling stomach noises. Go over to pet her and she starts panting. She gets on her feet and starts to retch. She looks unsteady.

2235 hours
Get the shoes on and get her into the car. Drive to emergency vet.

2250 hours
Arrive at vet and Lily is panting and won't get out of the car. Get big, burly vet tech with a stretcher. I push her from behind and he scoops her up to put her on stretcher.

Okay, I'm getting bored with this whole time-line thing. The short version of the rest of the story was that I was up until 0400 hours.  That's 4:00 AM people.   They took X-rays and blood. Her blood work is fine. She is not bloating again (which can happen) but she is full of gas. They sent her home with two more medications.

I now feel like it was a little bit of an overreaction on my part (my bank account feels the same way.)  But I'd rather be safe.  Stomach surgery + vomiting = I'm going to worry.

Lily now has five different meds. It has become like one of those math logic problems:

If Lily has to take Pill A, 3 times a day, with no food or water 1 hour before or 1 hour after
Pill B, 2 times a day, 10 minutes before any food
Pills, C, D and E with food 2 times a day
she's eating 1/2 can of special food, 6 times a day
Franken-Kitty is wailing at the door every 5 minutes
he needs liquid antibiotics 2 times a day which he hates...

At what hour of the day will Kathy break out the Mike's Hard Lemonade?
(Show your work.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday afternoon

A little Alfred Hitchcock moment in the backyard today:

Franken-kitty really wants to go outside.

This is actually quite a nice picture of him. Trust me. You do not want to see the gory close-ups.

Lily relaxing. She's a happy, eating, tail-wagging wonder.

So far Monk is staying out of trouble.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The local vets LOVE us (for our most generous contributions to their children's college funds.)

Lily is home and doing great but this morning the cat's face exploded.

Lily came home last night.  A nice slow, gentle ride home in the back seat of the car.  Then, while trying to park in front of the house near the path that leads to the backyard, I bashed into the curb and sent her flying.  Her front legs down on the floor and her back end still on the seat.  A nice downward dog move for a girl who is not supposed to stretch her abdomen after it was ripped open in surgery. 

From Louise Peterson, Sculptor  (These are beautiful!)

She really, really did not want to try to get out of the car after that.  Hurt my wrist when we wrestled her out.  It is not an easy task to pick up a 90-lb dog when you can't grab her around the middle.   But she was happy once her feet were on the ground and she trotted into the backyard. 

Then we had a little comedic interlude when she kept spitting out the pills I tried to feed her.  She usually takes them with food and it is no problem.  But she had no interest in food.  So I tried the brute force method and five or six times when I thought she had swallowed, I let go of her mouth and she spit them out.  She got some good distance on a few of them too.  Did finally manage to get the pills down.

This morning she was her happy self - about a 7 out of 10 on her usual enthusiasm scale.  Woke up and wagged her tail madly because she's simply thrilled to start another day - even when she's not feeling all that well.

Oh...the cat.  He woke up this morning with one side of his face twice as big as the other.  Called the vet immediately and luckily they could fit us in today.   Right before we left, his face exploded.  It was an abscess that burst.  A seemingly endless stream of reddish body fluid flowed out of that little cat's head, which he then proceeded to lick off the floor.  Lovely.  A little something like this:

This is a dramatization.  No cats were implanted with alien spawn in the making of this photo.

He's a long-haired, wild ruffian of a cat and we can't always see if he has cuts.  He doesn't tolerate too much poking and prodding.  So when he gets an injury that becomes infected, we don't know it until something like this happens.  He's spending the night at Chez Vet with a drain in his face.   More vet bills!  Yeee-haaaa!

Tomorrow we're going to be hosting the Animal House of Horrors.  Lily with her saggy, Frankenstein belly and schizophrenically shaved patches all over her body.  And Kitty with a seeping plastic tube coming out of her face and a cone around her neck.  

Let's just hope Monk can stay out of trouble.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lily update

Lily is doing great.  They opened her up and everything looked fine.  Her stomach had actually untwisted itself by the time they got in there.  Spleen is fine and overall she has fabulous looking guts for an 11-year-old. They pinned her stomach to the inside wall of her body so this won't happen again. 

We asked them if they could do a little liposuction and tummy tuck while they were in there.  Beach season is coming up after all.  They declined.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lily Girl

Lily almost died last night. Sudden onset of bloat - also known as Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). It is a life threatening condition that can kill a dog within hours.

She was fed at 5:30 PM and friends came over for dinner later. She was fine the whole night. Then, right after the friends left at around 8:30 PM, she starting retching without throwing up. I watched this happening and was thinking that she'll eventually throw up whatever is bothering her and feel better. I thought that maybe she had gotten something dropped from the dinner table and Thai food didn't agree with her. Within 20 minutes she had stopped retching and was lethargic and panting with pale, cold gums.  I had never seen this happen before, but it was clear that something was very wrong.

She was able to walk herself out the front door and down the steps to get into the car. Drove 20 minutes to the emergency vet and by the time we got there she couldn't even sit herself up in the back seat. They brought a cart around to the car and a big vet tech picked up her 90-pound body and put her on the cart.

They stabilized her and got some of the air out of her stomach and she actually had a very good night. They will operate today to untwist her stomach and pin it to the inside wall of her body so this doesn't happen again.

Went to see her this morning and she is just like her old self. Full of energy and happy as can be. They brought her into the exam room and she was like - "Oh, you? Well it's cool that you are here and all, but there are some seriously interesting smells in this room that I must investigate immediately. So I am going to run around and sniff every corner and almost pull out my IV. Then maybe I'll get around to letting you pet me. You understand, don't you?"

She's the type of dog who seems to be happy and full of pure joy for life, no matter where she is or what is going on. After the visit, when they were taking her out of the exam room, she was just as enthusiastic about that - "Oh, COOL! Now we're going over here? That is AWESOME!"

Holy Huge Vet Bill, Batman! She's 11 years old. So we might only have a few more years with her after this. But it will be worth it. How could we give up on a creature so filled with life? (And they have an interest free payment plan that really helps.)

Surgery happens today and the surgeon will call later when Lily is in recovery.

I have been trying to capture the jubilant dancing that she does when you pick up a leash to take her for a walk. It's hard to get on video but here are a couple of tries.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

MacGyver Me

My electrician brother is going to love this one.

My laptop gets quite hot after I've been using it for a while. So I have a laptop cooling pad.   Looks just like this:
The laptop sits on the pad and you plug it into a USB port on the laptop.  The USB connection powers the small fan inside the pad that cools the laptop.  It works well and without it my laptop gets extremely overheated

Today I was trying to carry the laptop pad, a sweater, my aluminum water bottle, my computer bag, my purse and a banana - all at the same time while I opened a heavy door.  Water bottle and laptop pad didn't make it.  Both dropped to the ground.  Water bottle was fine.  But the cord to the laptop pad must have been caught in between all the other things I was carrying and when it fell the USB cord snapped right in half.

But I am not one to let a minor product mishap defeat me.   I need that laptop cooling pad.  I took some wire strippers and stripped the plastic covering off both broken ends of the wire.  Found red and black mini wires inside.  Stripped those down to stalks of thin copper wire.  Twisted the red from one side to the red from the other side and then did the same with the black.   (Pretended I was defusing a bomb.  OMG!   Whatever you do, don't cut the black wire!  No wait!  It's the red!  Don't cut the red.....NOOOOOOO!)

It works!  Some electrical tape around it and I'm good, right?  What could possibly go wrong?

I'm convinced it is perfectly safe.  There can't be much electricity flowing through those tiny wires to power that mini fan.  In fact, I touched the exposed wires while it was plugged into the computer and felt nothing.  My other completely reasonable justification for thinking this is safe is that it will only be plugged in and "on" when the laptop is sitting on my lap.  It can't start a fire in my lap, right?

Brother Bob?  Thoughts?

And isn't it just a good idea to try to fix things rather than adding one more piece of plastic junk to a landfill? 

I'm sure MacGyver would agree.  He's been patching up that denim jacket since 1987.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

other people's words

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything 
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today, 
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth 
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay 
great happening illimitably earth) 

how should tasting touching hearing seeing 
breathing any--lifted from the no 
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You? 

(now the ears of my ears awake and 
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

This is all I have these days - other people's words. Finding my way back to my own.  Hopefully soon.  It is hard work to awaken the ears of my ears and open the eyes of my eyes. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I've been "frassed"

The bug nerds have spoken.
This lovely lady is Peucetia viridans.

And even better is that someone left more detailed information for me: "This is likely a female after it has created an egg sac because its abdomen is so small."

The bad news is that same knowledgeable person decided my pictures "aren't needed for the guide" so she 'frassed' them.

According to
Frass is insect debris. Poor quality images, images from outside the U.S. and Canada, and those that otherwise do not add value to the guide are moved here. Images will remain here for 30 days after the most recent activity so that comments may be viewed. After that they are automatically removed by the system.


Apparently, I add no value.  I'm okay with it though.  I'm not hurt,  I wasn't expecting a long-term, meaningful relationship or anything.  You should know that I was only using you for your bug knowledge.  

It seems so sudden.  Just what the heck did you want from me?!  I gave and I gave and I guess it wasn't good enough.  

You were my first, you know.  I had never found a Bug Guide quite like you.  I thought this would be something special.  It's okay...sniff...there will be others who will appreciate my value....sniff.  

Sure, we can still be friends.  Maybe I'll stop by some time and bring you more pictures and we  Fine.  We'll always have Libellula croceipennis.

Let's have the boys from New Edition (the original boy band) sing us out...