What if There is No Recovery?

In a local article, it said a lawyer had taken out an ad in a Lincoln Day dinner party agenda that said, “If you're a RINO, You Got To Go! Either you are a Conservative or not. If not, convert or get out of our party!”

You see, this lawyer ran for and lost the election for county judge last fall. And the man who was elected had a temper tantrum after seeing the Republican-In-Name-Only ad and said the lawyer wasn't an active Republican since he didn't bother to show up at the dinner party.

Not only do these guys not play well together amongst themselves, but they injected themselves into a city level issue that has its own set of sparks flying. True to politico's nature, they are arguing not about the issue itself, but whether it should go to vote by the people instead of just passed by city council.

The city council is Republican heavy with a Democrat for a mayor. A woman mayor sitting with an all male city council. On the table right now is whether or not they should become a non partisan city council, which they believe will open the door to more candidates with less costly campaign tabs since they won't have to campaign during primaries. I wonder who's the RINO in that issue.

The city's population is sitting close to 22,000 and it is the county seat; the county itself is 56 percent rural with a total population of 76,000. Smack dab in the middle of the Fayetteville Shale Play and the natural gas boom, the area has been economically insulated - until the last few months. The gas companies have all but shut down drilling and pipeline building since the price of natural gas is so low. The county treasurer was the only one cautious about the area's sudden boom and did her best to keep the Quorum Court from overspending the excess income. The city's heated issue mentioned above is whether to slap a 2 percent tax on hotels and a 1 percent tax on restaurants (A&P tax) to dive into the pockets of the drillers, roughnecks and pipeliners; something that, if implemented now with the gas all but nil, would drive local business even further down.

The story goes a lot deeper, but this is enough to illustrate the points I made yesterday about our social structure as based on capitalism driven by consumerism. Let me play devil's advocate here and blatantly blurt out loud what no one has dared to ask: What if the economy never turns itself back around? What if the whole she-bang just collapses? To be honest, I think the writing has been on the wall since the early 1980s!

I took a course once called "American Hegemony," which included the history behind our economic, political and military growth - and the unbridled exploitation of third world countries, minorities and women. It opened my eyes, changed everything and plunged me into a deep depression by the end of the semester. Finally, during one of the last classes, I asked the professor, "How can this all be fixed?" His solution: self-contained, self-sufficient communities that traded with other communities for necessities. He said he came to this conclusion based on the fact that all boundaries are only political and serve to contain the people, but not business - which has proven out to have far more rights than people.

OK, we just might evolve in that direction and come closer to Gene Roddenberry's vision of a Utopian culture. But, the problem is the transition, and I doubt that it would be anything less traumatic, bloody and devastating than, say, Hurricane Katrina, tsunamis and 8.0 earthquakes hitting every area, every single inch of the country, all at once!

I've had nightmares about New York City and Long Island becoming a huge pile of starving humanity with everyone fighting for scraps of food. The exodus of millions into the countryside would leave behind devastation and pillage exponentially greater than what happened during the Civil War. People without the land and know-how to raise and grow their own food will be shit out of luck. There would be no choice but to band together in small groups to hide in defensible areas because it would be impossible to survive alone.

Hence, in one nightmare is the key to what it truly means to be a social creature. Throughout the nightmare are points of light: spiritual and safe groups living life the way it was meant to be lived, dedicated to advancement, the evolution of man and its planet.

The End. Yes, it's near, very near. But, it's not the end of the world. It's the end of life as we've known it. Can it turn out any other way? Ask yourself if the paltry, petty local government illustrated above would be able to lead through the difficult transitions ahead. If your answer is "no," then you'd be in agreement with me. As small and mostly rural as this area is, it would still become a war zone when the Big Picture collapses.

The whole point of this is to prompt you to think through the possibilities. Remember just how much we are never told by our government, the think tanks and the cartels that pull all the strings behind the scenes. Think about what it would take for you to survive if the whole thing imploded in on itself. Think about how you would want to live after all the dust settles.

Most of all, think about greed. Greed cancels out life. You sure can't doubt that nowadays, can you?


You Need to be Social?

I read an article this morning about a research study that found that those that are "social" have a different brain structure than those that aren't. The snapshot of a moment in the form of a brain scan tells nothing about the how or why of this structural difference, leaving the age-old debate of nature vs nurture intact and going strong. In other words, my reaction was, "it took you this long to figure this out?"

The study, comprised of 41 randomly selected men that were given a questionnaire and brain scans, deduced that those that responded positively to questions about making a warm, personal connection and being emotionally demonstrative had larger orbitofrontal cortexes and ventral striatums than those that responded negatively. It led the scientists to theorize that specific brain structure could produce a pleasant personality, but so could being pleasant alter brain structure. Their conclusion: Evolution has brought social need down to the basic needs level.

This conclusion raises more than a few questions. Compare it to the widely known and accepted "Hierarchy of Needs," devised by psychologist Abraham Maslow in 1943.

The needs pyramid illustrates the level of psychic energy required to meet the needs of each level. As a person fulfills the needs of one level, psychic energy is freed to attend to the needs on the next, higher level. More a process than a snapshot, the levels shift constantly and are not static in nature. What time has proven out, the pyramid also correlates to the number of people able to address the needs at the higher levels, and even fewer that attain a state of self actualization.

Demoting acceptance down to the powerful biological needs of basic survival (food, clothing, shelter) seems to imply that we have evolved into sheep. Yet, our social structure of individualism is based on our economic structure: Capitalism forces the separation and distance of people's social tendencies. The statistics of the level of divorce, unwed births and the rise in crime all corresponding to economic fluctuations is the proof.

If belonging and acceptance have become as driving a need as these scientists assert, we would have seen already a major shift in our economic structure as more and more social demands replace and displace the economically reinforced demand of consumerism. Collectively, all of us have suffered the economic downfall, but have we shifted away from our economic structure and its forces to become more needy and reliant on familial and social groups?

In the United States, where consumerism rules, there has been little indication of this social shift. Minor indications would be the exorbitant cost of long-term elderly care forcing adult children to care for their parents. But, the necessary shift of extended families living together and small, self-sufficient communities are still only a component of our historical agrarian culture, and not in evidence today.

I applaud science for slowing inching its way to the "discovery" of thinking and feeling. But, it is still too juvenile and myopic to be worthwhile at predicting behavior at the least or self-understanding at the most. Keep trying!


Sucked Into Facebook

I've had a Facebook account for a few years, and never bothered with it. I couldn't figure out how or why it would be useful to me, and it is so ugly to look at that I just let it sit there.

A few months ago, a friend created a Facebook account and uploaded a lot of her photos, and we both friended another we had worked with, and my list of friends started to grow a little. The author of my favorite book is on Facebook too. But, I still didn't always remember to check Facebook for updates. Weeks would go by between logins.

I see that the teenagers sure have a great time with it! One girl posts a blow-by-blow of everything she's doing, including petting her dog and cleaning her bathroom. It's an interesting view into the mind of a teenager, that's for sure. Life is never boring for them, and you can tell because it's all right there on Facebook!

Last month, after the shooting in my home town, I talked to many people that I hadn't in years, and realizing how much I missed them all, I got a wild hair and invited them all to Facebook. Life hasn't been the same since!

Now, I check Facebook several times a day. I even have the Facebook app on my iPhone and check it when I'm away from home. I never thought I'd say this, but I look forward to getting poked! Instead of using email, several friends use the messaging within Facebook to keep in touch. And, reverting to my own teen-hood, I sometimes take a photo with the iPhone and upload it to Facebook, to illustrate what and where I am at the moment. I even upload a lot of the photos from Out in the Back Yard, though I couldn't tell you why. They look so much better on the blog than they do on that crappy white and blue, sterile looking Facebook!

I so want to say that this is a good thing, I really do. But, it's beginning to feel just as horrible as it feels to wait for the phone to ring. I start to wonder and worry why a poke from a particular person isn't returned and messages aren't answered, and then do a happy dance when they are. I don't even want to talk about the anticipation of seeing just who is online to chat with!

If this is what Facebook is all about, then I'm doomed! Poke me back, dammit!


A Matter of Literacy

I met a 37 year old woman today that could not read or write. She had severe dyslexia. She said that there are times when she will explode from the frustration. Without her mother's help, she could not maneuver through life's day-to-day demands.

When she was diagnosed, the doctors told her and her mother that she was stupid, mentally retarded, and would never be able to learn anything. They insisted she would fare better in a long-term care facility than in public school because she would never learn to progress through the grades. She made it to fifth grade.

This woman was not stupid. She was not mentally retarded. And, she was able to learn from verbal instruction and demonstration. As a matter of fact, she learned quickly, thoroughly, asked a lot of questions and participated in the learning process.

It is estimated that the problem of illiteracy in adults in the state of Arkansas is 20 percent. In my own area, the percentage is higher. Illiteracy effects quality of life significantly, to the point where it is impossible to find a job and raise children. It is extremely detrimental to self-esteem and well-being which causes social withdrawal and non participation. And the list goes on.

I find it difficult to imagine what life would be like without reading. I read anything I get my hands on. I read to learn, I read to explore, I read to relax, I read to fall asleep and I read to engage my brain. I read to write, and I write to read. Without the ability to read, I would not be me.

I imagine that most of us take our ability to read for granted. We don't think about reading the street name signs, or the names of stores we drive by. We read ingredients on labels along with product names, and we read the instructions on the microwave popcorn. We read to choose which level of octane in gas and read the headlines of magazines and newspapers as we wait in line at the grocery store. Without even thinking about it, we read the words on TV commercials, no matter how much we try to ignore them.

What would it be like for you if you couldn't read? Do you know anyone that can't read?

To find ways you can help, check out America's Literacy Directory.


Okiedokie Already

Dang. Now, where was I going to start? Oh yeah, I remember now...

I did absolutely nothing during the long weekend, and it was great. Well, nothing that I remember. That's how I should say it. Thankfully, I leave proof of what I did everywhere. (So there, scatterbrains!)

This is the frame of mind I've been walking around with for months now. Most of the time, it's funny. It's the slapstick, stupid kind of funny, if you know what I mean. Other times, it's frustrating as all get-out.

Of course I can't remember where I found it, didn't think to bookmark it, but I read an article yesterday saying this "foggy thinking" is typical in menopausal women. The only thing you can do is wait it out, and though I was relieved to find the way my brain hasn't been working lately is normal, I wasn't too happy to read that it could take years before I get my mind back!

But, you know what? It's not just women that experience this foggy thinking thing. Nope. I mean, this isn't scientific or anything, but I was talking to Mike the other day, and he was just as scatter-brained as I was! The conversation went something like this:

"I've been playing around with...with...you know, the ....," Mike said.

"You mean the... the thing that has to do with .....? I said.

"Yeah, you know what I'm talking about!" Mike said.

"OK, but were you thinking about the... about the..." I said

"No. I know what you're thinking, but I think you were right the first time," Mike said.

Okiedokie. Neither one of us thought to change the topic of the conversation. We just kept talking like that for, oh, about an hour. Mike would have to be an incredibly sympathetic man if my "foggy thinking" rubbed off on him. But, I don't think that's it at all. Nope. I think Mike has his own case of fogginess going on!

Maybe, just maybe, estrogen has nothing to do with it at all. That puts me right back where I started, which was...which was...


Thank You, Soldier

Arkansas' Fallen Hero display came through the area around Christmas time. Somber and sad, the vast number of flags and accompanying photos stood straight and tall against the stiff wind. They stood strong.

"Thank you for what you do, Soldier," is what I say to every one I meet, every day. Those of us that have never served can never fully understand the soldier's experience. "Thank you" never seems to dent the surface of gratitude owed them. A day here and there, set aside to honor our Soldiers, is not enough. Every day is not enough, but it will have to do.

Thank you for what you do, Soldier.


Money Ain't Everything

It's Saturday, and I've been thinking. My thoughts have been ranging far and wide this morning, but one thought stood out from all the rest:

The best things in life are free.

Perhaps it's because I've never been a money magnet that this one statement rang out, loud and clear, from the recesses of my racing thoughts. I don't like money. I don't like the concept of money. I don't believe money is value. Money certainly isn't fulfilling! I only "need" money because someone else wants it!

You always get what you need.

The truth of this statement is one of those things that smacks you good when you realize it. Where there is money, "need" takes on a whole different meaning. Subtract money from the equation, and what is truly a "need" becomes clear. Think about the homeless person on the street. The basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are met, albeit differently, otherwise that person wouldn't still be there day after day. As long as you are alive, you can live because you always get what you need. So, stop worrying about money!

In it, but not of it.

Money is depressing. I hate it. I hate it when I have it and hate it when I don't. That's proof enough to me that money doesn't mean crap to the Grand Scheme of Things. OK, so I'm weird. I'm not busting my arse in the pursuit of money, yet I'm still here, alive and well. I walk along side those with no money just the same as I walk along side those with gazillions.

What's the difference?

For me, there is no difference. I yam who I yam.

There are those that will beg, borrow and steal to have money. That's all they think about. When they get money, they never have it for very long. They are hollow.

There are those that have money that try to pretend that they don't. That's all they think about. They have it, yet they are hollow too because they can only relate to others wearing the same facade. It's a source of fear. They have money and are terrified by the thought of not having it.

There are those with money running around flaunting jewels and Mercedes dictating how what they 'donate' helps the 'needy.' When their rose colored glasses become smudged, they just throw them out and buy a new pair. They wonder why there is never any satisfaction in giving. Surely that single mother with three babies would be so much better off with a crystal bowl!

Then there are those that do or don't have money, and you can't tell. What they have or don't have doesn't define who they are. They see the world beyond surface value and appearances.

I sit on the outside looking in and wonder.

Can someone with money choose to leave it behind? Can success be separated from a bank account balance? Can value be appraised without a dollar amount as the scale? Would worth be worthless without money?

What good is a Stradivarius if no one knows how to play it? Does that Rembrandt or Monet look better sitting in a vault? Will that Jaguar change getting from point A to point B? Would that luxurious fur coat offer more warmth than a parka? Is a mansion any more a home than a trailer? Does the actor act better seen on a big, flat screen TV? Do words written in gold mean more than the words written in pencil?

Life is free.

From the outside looking in I continue to sit. I can play a Stradivarius, I can drive, I can keep warm, I can come home, and I can write. I can love, I can laugh, I can create, I can give, I can cry and I've done so all of my life.

Without money.


Proud I Am

Meet my son, Tim. Handsome bloke, ain't he?

It's been a few months since he moved out and on his own, and I still miss him terribly. I guess that's just a part of motherhood. He's doing OK, and that's all that matters.

I got a surprise visit from him today, and he came bearing a few gifts! He even said "I love you" as he was leaving! What more could a mother ask for?

I love this kid!


Grass is Greener on the Other Side

I don't know if you've noticed, but lately, things have been catching me blindsided. It's a recent trend, and it seems that it isn't just a few things. It just might be becoming a way of life! Oh, how I wish I had health insurance...

I was just dropping into a deep sleep last night when I hear this knock-knock-knock. I live out in the middle of nowhere, just about, so I figured it was one of the dogs itching with a back leg and whacking the floor in the process.

Knock-knock-knock, rap, rap. "Jake, quit!" I snarled at the dog I figured was making all the noise.

Knock-knock-knock, rap, rap, rap rap rap. Now, I'm starting to get pissed, which means I'm waking up, and if it doesn't stop, I'll be completely awake and sleep won't come back for awhile.

Knock-knock-knock, rap, rap, rap, thump THUMP. That ain't no dog, but it's the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, and who would be knocking? And, I'm awake. You see, the dogs only bark at other dogs, so there's none of that going on...until I get out of bed and head toward the front door.

"Theresa, sorry to wake you, but we were just going to bed when we heard the thunder of hooves go right by our bedroom window and we figured the only thundering hooves around here belonged to Odin, and sure enough, he's in our yard." My neighbor, Jason, who had no idea just how close he was to getting punched, said to me when I opened the door.

The front light has been out for weeks now. I have yet to remember to get bulbs at the store. So, I tromp off through the pasture blind as a bat and managed to step into all sorts of things I'm glad I didn't see in the dark, halter and rope in hand. Odin had his nose buried into the grass in their freshly-mowed yard and was no problem to catch. The trek back was longer, having to walk around the outside of the pasture to the front gate. If Odin was a few feet shorter, I would've jumped on and made him carry me back home. Instead he had to walk at a snail's pace, waiting for me to blindly feel my way home in the dark.

This morning, up before the sun, coffee in the making, I headed out with the fence charger that I hadn't yet had a chance to hook up. Odin ain't no dummy, and since he didn't get shocked the night before, he'll step on through the fence again unless I get it fixed up and zapping again.

I managed to get the charger hooked up quickly. The socket end of the electric cord had a sizable burn that about fused the old charger's plug to it permanently, and I was faced with a dilemma. No power, no electric fence, and no other power cord around. But, I tugged, and the two separated. Still, would there be juice coming through it? I plugged in the new charger, and nothing. Nothing I could do about it. I figured I'd run to Wally World after work and spend the day hoping that Odin stayed in the pasture all day.

By then, I had been kneeling so long on the ground that my legs didn't want to work. Uh oh. One leg was actually asleep. Double uh oh! So I wiggle around a bit, trying to get untangled enough to get a foot on the ground and looked around for something to grab onto to pull myself up with. The closest thing was the fence post at the beginning of the line, complete with the wire from the charger to the electric rope fence.

Oh well, the charger isn't working anyway, so I grabbed onto the t-post, and ZAP! Trust me, the "OW!" that came out of me echoed off the mountains a mile or two away. I hadn't actually touched the hot wire, but had put my finger close enough to it for the charge to ark, go through the end of my finger and to the metal t-post.

That's not the optimal way to start a day, especially without getting enough sleep, but Odin was still in the pasture when I got home from work. Whew! I was lucky this time, but I sure do hope that this strange trend of mine has an end to it!


A Symbol of Life

You know you have just experienced something profound when you find it impossible to describe. With some time, you might find weak comparisons, analogies, that give a sort-of idea, but you're never able to capture the experience 100 percent.

Symbolism, in its many forms, can fill in the gaps, and finding the symbolism within an experience can form a foundation within which can be built on for all of your life.

David Zen-Kennedy calls this photo "The Last of the Tulips." When I saw the photo, it "spoke" to me of all the beauty, the life that exists, even though we can't see it.

So much of what is beautiful, profoundly life-changing, meaningful and valuable is invisible to the eye, yet we tend to base so much of what we think and believe on only the things that we can see and touch. By doing so, we are trapped, reduced to only the mundane, objective, tangible to wall ourselves into the smallest portion of our selves, one third of what we actually are.

All it takes is one symbol, one photo, one word to realize how much of yourself you have shut off. Yet, it happens. Day-to-day life demands much of our energy and focus just to survive. But there is so much more; more beauty, more energy, more everything that is life. To ignore it, neglect it, to let it whither and flounder in the depths of our souls is to deny ourselves and the world of the magnificence within each and every one of us.

What symbolizes thought, thinking to you? It is unseen, it is impossible to describe, yet proof that it exists is everywhere. Our philosophies, our sciences, our ethics, morals and values, though equally invisible to the eye, form our societies, our buildings and inventions to become a part of the mundane, yet most of what is was born from something far beyond the touchable.

In what ways do you know love? It is not just the touch or the kiss or the words spoken, but the feelings behind and conveyed through those mundane actions. The simple, typed words of "It would be good to see you" can send a heart flying as a love that once was comes alive again with all its intensity and completeness. Only the words are visible, but what they mean soars above the mundane and into the true realm that is life.

Find your fire, your creativity, your life beyond your physical senses. Share it, give it in symbols so that others may find their life as well.


Odd Things Have Been Happening

Last weekend, this huge truck decided it was going to try to turn around, right in front of my house. It took several men standing around, waving their arms to help the driver maneuver that huge thing back and forth before the tractor and trailer succeeded in driving back the way it came. At one point, the truck was jackknifed and in such a tangle that I thought it would be forever lodged between huge pine trees and the bank of my front yard (pictured).

I took several photos of the happenings, wondering to myself if it was comical or not, hanging out of my bedroom window, scratching Odin's back between shots. The big truck was amazing in itself. The trailer held a gigantic spool of what turned out to be flexible piping used to pump water from a pond to a natural gas drill, which uses the water in the fracturing process (whatever that is). You don't see a truck like this, or the equipment on it, every day.

Then, last night, I saw this big, bright green flash in the night sky. The shape was like a ball with a tail, and the only thing I could deduce was that it was a meteorite that ignited when it hit the clouds. I thought it strange that a flash so large could be silent.

So, I got to thinking about how odd it is that, suddenly, I'm seeing all these odd things. I can't remember how many little - and big - things stopped me in my tracks this week!

I wish there was some way to have photographed that green flash in the sky! That photo didn't happen, so I set to work on the truck photos. It's nothing to write home about, that's for sure. Or, so I thought. I was certain that those guys never bothered to even notice little ol' me hanging out my bedroom window, scratching my horse's back and taking photos while they were engaged in jacking that truck around. Jeesh, they were busy!

When I saw the photo in full resolution, I saw that the driver was looking straight into the camera! See?

I about fell out of my chair. It's a bit on the eerie side. I had no idea that the driver was looking right at me! Maybe it was my fault it took him so long to get that truck turned around!


You Get Change from a Dollar, Not People

Here's my latest photo. I managed to snap it when I was playing with the little webcam on my new laptop. I figured I'd slap it in this post because it'll give you something to look at while I talk about the subject of the photo: me.

I think it's pretty safe to say that I've hit a bit of a rough spot. Suddenly, or maybe it's just because I've noticed, people are trying to force me to be something I'm not. They haven't attacked my personality yet, but I figure that's next. I might be able to change the superficial, mundane crap without much of a problem, but they won't have much luck changing who I am. I find it a bit comical, actually. Whatever will they do when they figure out they're just wasting their time?

Just imagine what it would be like putting a policeman in a clown outfit and a clown in a policeman's uniform. The two might look the part, but I doubt they'd actually be the part. Life isn't TV.

Maybe it was eons ago, but I remember as a teenager thinking that, "if only he/she did this, everything would be ok for them," and I'd set out to help them see that they had to change. You've got to love the naivete of teen-hood! I stopped trying to change my friends after thinking long and hard about how my attempts were brushed off, blown off, or just plain ignored. That was a valuable lesson. Even more valuable a lesson came with realizing I ignored their attempts to change me too.

Now, with half a century under my belt, I wonder how come some people never learned that lesson and still walk around trying to change others into what they expect.

Oh well...


What an Irksome Day!

That's it! I vote we get rid of Mondays, once and for all. Banish them, erase them, whatever it takes to put the day in the pages of old, dusty History books as something of the long-ago past!

I'm not angry, just frustrated. I'm frustrated with myself mostly, for thinking so much of people that I forget they can also be quite the bunch of jackasses.

Monday started last Friday at work. See this bunch of flowers? It came for someone else. On top of that, I take a crappy photo with my iPhone of a pretty derned pretty bunch of flowers.

Then, all it did was thunder, lightening and rain all weekend. That's ok, I probably would've wasted it anyway.

Sunday rolls around and it's my son's girlfriend that texts me a Happy Mother's Day, not my son. When I called him, he said the words, then, in a nasty tone of voice, "Well, I did try to take you to the movies for Mother's Day, but you canceled." That was Friday, not Sunday, and when I finished work, I stumbled to my truck and rubbed my burning eyes the whole drive home. Pooh.

Last night, I kept telling myself it would be a good Monday. I kept telling myself that this morning when I woke up too. I kept telling myself that the entire day. What happened? One of my coworkers decides to follow me into the bathroom to tell me to hurry up! Can you imagine that? I busted butt all day long, it was 10 minutes before quitting time, if I didn't hit the bathroom I would've wet myself because I never got the chance all day to go wee wee, and this person had the gall to follow me into the little girl's room. Oh, you would never imagine the amount of restraint I mustered not to rip her a few more bodily orifices. I won't even mention that she did very little all day long to contribute to the workflow.

On top of a non stop day at work, I had a story to cover tonight, only it didn't happen because the meeting was rescheduled and no one told me about it. OK, fine, I looked at every shelf in the local Family Dollar Store and didn't spend a dime. Have you ever been in one? What junk! I bet that crap is what you find filling up all the landfills!

Then there's the people that said they would call and never do. Just, just, just don't say it if you're not going to follow through! The other day, one friend calls me in quite a crisis, tells me about it, then has to quick, hang up because she has to dig toll money out of her purse. She said she'd call back with the rest of the story, but never does. I'm left hanging. A few days later, she calls, sounds like nothing ever happened, then blew it off like it didn't! So much for a juicy crisis.

And there's the continuing, irritating saga of the neighbor's big dogs that my little dogs irk into a riot several times a day. Now it's happening during the night too. I sleep like the dead, but my four dogs could wake a hospital ward of comatose patients! When they get riled, there's no settling them down until they run out of steam. By that time, I'm fully awake and unable to fall back asleep. It all makes me one grumpy, nasty, crappy..... Well, you get the point.

So, tomorrow has to be a better day than this one was. Right? Right?


Star Trek: Origins Has Arrived

It's been too many years! Finally, the next Star Trek movie is in theaters May 8. I've loved them all - all the movies, all the spin-offs... even the one and only convention I managed to attend (where I bought an X-Files coffee mug I'm drinking out of as we speak).

I would flop down on the living room floor, chin in my hands, peering through the black and white snow since the original Star Trek series was on a station that didn't come in well back in the 1960s. I had special permission to stay up an hour late to watch it. The show was canceled by the time cable TV came along, but when it did, Star Trek reruns would be on twice a day, back to back. Can't really classify me as a juvenile delinquent when you could find me glued to the TV at 5 and 6 p.m. every day of the week, now can you?

Then came the movies. I'm not a movie going person. I don't like the fat head in front of me, the perfumes, the heavy petting going on in the darkness while I am trying to watch a movie. But, if a Star Trek movie came out, I was there on opening day.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise; all were the choice through primetime, then reruns throughout the years. The show, the dream, has been a big part of my life.

Dang, I have to wait another day!

Sunday, May 10:

Star Trek topped the movie going charts for its first weekend, a Time article says it was 'buoyed' by critics and Trekkies alike. But, journalist Richard Corliss, in the jargon of movie critic, makes a gigantic blunder by referring to Mr. Spock as "half-Romulan, half-human, his nature is at constant war not only with Kirk's but with itself."

Corliss, you are confined to your room without supper, and grounded for the rest of your life for making a mistake like that!


It Takes More Than Ears to Hear

Across the room, I watched a young woman dig two cases out of her purse, one at a time. Out of the first, she used two fingers to pinch out its contents that she then finagled around a bit in her ear. Repeat for case #2. I squinted hard to see the earrings that she had put in, somewhat admiring the installation without a mirror, but saw none. "...I guess it would be good to hear since I'm here..." she said.

"Look, I lost my house months ago. I've been living out of my car. If it wasn't for my mother, I wouldn't have had a thing to eat for the last 6 weeks." The caller's voice sounded stressed, yet accepting. He had no choice but to wait a few more weeks.

Wrinkled and worn, the old man's face split with a smile; one of anticipation. He was the first to greet me and grabbed hold of the opportunity to tell me what was in store for us. "This town has been this way for over 150 years. I've lived in the house I own at 100 B St. all my life, and home will always be 100 B St. to me," he said. "The government can try to run my life, they can try all they want..."

Sitting next to me in a meeting, an older, wiser woman had chosen the one seat that afforded her the view of everyone in the room. While another led the meeting, this woman held her eyes down in thought, almost doodling with her pen on a pad of paper, but not allowing the pen tip to make any marks. As the presenter ramped up to her point, a point aimed at one particular person there, the wise woman's eyes raised in a flash, sharpened to a pinpoint of focus and began to raise her hand in defense of the attacked person. She hesitated, her own battle going on inside her, she sat up straighter in her chair, yet she held back even more. Only she had the authority to override the presenter and stop the attack, yet to do so would undermine the presenter's position. Her battle raged on, yet her control won.

"Look, it is my job to tell you to be careful..." he said to the group from his chair at the top of the table. Nothing showed on his face. It was still and motionless, the voice as even as it always was. "I will not give it then turn around and take it away." Always calm, straight and simple, even in this unusual circumstance. He stayed true to himself. A leader with a conscience.

She heard it all before and knew it well by heart. The nine year old girl's big brown eyes took everything in as her outgoing at best, overbearing at worst mother rattled off the same old tale at the top of her lungs. Those big brown eyes weren't shy, just observant, and they met mine often. Those eyes were still eyes, having clouded over the myriad of emotions experienced far too often as her mother announced for the millionth time how she no longer did drugs and was innocent of the charges that would send her to prison the next month. The emotions are still buried.

From the time it took to raise the fiddle resting across his thighs to settle his chin into the chinrest, the old man's face lit up from within, like a sunrise in fast forward. When he drew the bow across the D string, the corners of his mouth and eyes drew up in a smile. As his bow sawed away, his fingers danced on the fingerboard and his head bobbed back and forth with the rhythm of the hoe down. By the time he got to the chorus, his eyes were no longer visible in a face lost in the music's magic.

There is something about the words on the page of this book. The words flow, the ideas flow, the messages flow. How is it possible to write such beauty, such cohesiveness, such meaning word after word, page after page? I've met the man that wrote this book, watched his fingers fly across a piano's keys, felt the radiation of joy that lit the room as he played, and see much more than that in these pages when I open the book to read. The words bypass the brain and head straight for the heart. Vibrant yet silent sound, intense yet invisible color, touchable yet untouched, the words never end at the last page.

Smiling down at my dog, he smiled back up at me. His ears alert but relaxed as his eyes met with mine. "See? All you have to do is shut up and listen," his demeanor said to me loud and clear.

Yes, shut up and listen.


Sunday Shorts

Shorts? Shorts? Not today! It's a miserable, damp 61 degrees here today, the shorts are in the laundry pile and the sweats are resurrected for, hopefully, the last time this year. Actually, I'm referring to snippets, the ones that follow...

Getting back into the swing of things, yesterday, while visiting all my favorite blogs, I found that Debbie over at Mama Flo's Place started a list of blogs not accepting Entrecard paid ads. She graciously added my three blogs to that list, very quickly and then advertised as well! Head on over and get on the list too.

As time goes by, I'm liking CMF Ads more and more. It is clean, simple and very effective in getting traffic to your blogs. The big difference is that the people who do visit are going to read and comment, and read and comment long after the ad spot expires. In other words, no drop and runs that kill bounce rate and site rank. Instead, you build a solid, real audience for your blog.

A reminder: When you are leaving comments, be sure to use the Name/URL option. This gives you an immediate link back to your blog, which improves your site ranking. It's a lot easier to do than begging for reciprocal links, and as long as you leave a good comment, bloggers don't mind a bit. I also use the Recent Comments widget which also shows commenters' name and blog address on every page of the blog. You get a mighty bang for your buck commenting here!

I've had an account on Facebook for a long time, but didn't quite understand it all. I still don't, but I understand Twitter less! In terms of microblogging, Facebook at least shows you every conversation you've commented on in one place, making it much easier (for me) to keep track of where I've been.

Google's Friend Connect is turning out to be quite useful too. When you click on one of those tiny photos, you get a link to their blog, which makes it a lot easier than building a link list to keep track of everyone. I use that little widget often to visit with the people who've chosen to follow my blogs.

All of these things ease my mind quite a bit as I contemplate leaving Entrecard. I've been with Entrecard for quite awhile and look forward to seeing all the blogs I've come to enjoy so much. But, it's a high maintenance system that requires a lot of time for little in return. I'll be putting my time into CMF Ads, Facebook and Friend Connect more and more nowadays, because I just don't have the time to "drop" on blogs that just drop and run on mine.

Here's to hoping that the temperatures rise enough to wear those shorts. I'll see you soon...


The Story of a Writer Without a Pen

Yep, that about sums it up. Here's what happened...

Once upon a time, there was this middle-aged writer who enjoyed writing away at every opportunity a somewhat whacky life presented her. As the times changed, the tools changed. The pencil graduated to a pen, the old ball point Bic graduated to a fancy-schmancy, sterling silver encased pen with gel ink. That fancy pen graduated to a typewriter complete with a floppy ribbon and levered letters that swung up and whacked that ribbon hard, slamming not only ink onto the paper, but leaving an embossed impression fit for royalty. The next model replaced the levers with a ball of letters, and after that was one with a tiny, three-line screen, giving quite a strange case of the jitters to the writer since what the fingers did had nothing to do with what the little ball was doing to that piece of paper!

Then, alas, the times changed. Computers suddenly fit into a box quite a bit smaller than the size of a high school gymnasium, complete with a black screen adorned with yellow letters. For geeks, not for the weak at heart, these machines made it possible to edit without retyping the whole thing. And, the smart thing even checked spelling!

The writer in question, the middle-aged whacko writer, jumped on every tool upgrade at every notice of a new thingamajig that came along. The computer industry takes off as more and more people jump on the bandwagon so that every six months or so, it was time for a new computer.  You see, you had to buy a new computer because the old ones just weren't big enough or powerful enough to run the just-released software! A good chunk of the year's gross earnings were spent on buying the biggest and the best at all times. The writer couldn't be happier.

Then, it all came to a halt. Thankfully the market became as saturated as this writer's wallet became empty. The last computer, an oldy but a goody, served the writer well for many years. It was unheard of to own a computer that was 5 years old, but it just kept on ticking. The writer was happy enough - she could write to her heart's content.

The unthinkable happened. Notes upon notes of a relatively interesting city council meeting in hand, she flips the switch on the power bar, and heard the usual thunkthunk of the speakers turning on. She gently brushes a finger by the oval-shaped On button on the front of the computer's tower and, oh this is so terrifyingly sad, nothing, nada, zip, zilch happened. A few more gentle touches to that ever-critical button followed by more than a few not so gentle touches and still, nothing. The ol' tower done had enough and it was done. Kaputt.

Meeting notes in one hand, iPhone in the other, the writer sits down and manages to type in four or five paragraphs. All's well that ends well? No, not quite. When she glances at the clock, four hours had passed by! A few more paragraphs pecked out with one finger the next morning, and the article due by deadline was only half done. The iPhone is not a solution for a writer working on a deadline!

There was no choice, the writer headed to the store and drained the bank account on a laptop that started up once, but never again. Another day shot, no further paragraphs, and the deadline long in the past. The next day, back to the store with laptop and receipt in hand to find, to her surprise, another laptop for the same money that drained the bank account already, but with a name brand and much more RAM and hard drive and other geeky features that only she could get flushed over.

With Office loaded and the new, shiny and bright laptop connected to the Internet, a long and quite nicely (and a bit catty) put together article finally makes it to the editor's inbox. Not quite top story, but the second top story, above the fold and only one word edited in the whole thing.

That dilemna safely in the past, the writer begins to hunt for install disks for her favorite software. The first on the list is Photoshop, and the danged disk is nowhere to be found. Then, she thinks about the years' worth of articles, papers, online courses written, and gigs and gigs of photos sitting on a hard drive on a computer that won't even turn the fans over. Sure, the data is safe where it is. There just isn't any way to get to it.

Four days after the bruised and mangled power button - and psyche - the writer is finally able to sit and write again.

What a freaking relief!