Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Well, I've been blogging with Mister Google enough to know that how these photos turn out will be a surprise for everyone. I expect the worse.

What do you think? Farming's not my forte? It was really hard putting the seeds on the form, as you can see. They kept drooling down, and there were way too many of them. I've given the poor man a sort of neck-beard, while the seeds at the top and front just didn't sprout.

And I couldn't help thinking of waterboarding when I was soaking the head in the pan. I'm happy that he's the president now. On the packaging, though, doesn't he look like some old crooner? Steve Lawrence or Dion or someone? I did the least little bit of research and it appears that Chia never has made a pet of a real person. Homer Simpson is as close as they've come, but -- sorry, Mike -- Homer's not a real person

The Mayans used to eat chia seeds because they're twenty-one percent protein.

Remember when sports cars were for men? Now, of course, every time you check out the driver of a sports car, it's a woman. But when did that happen? And why? There's a local family who just bought a red Mini Cooper, not that they qualify -- do they? -- as sports cars. The late-thirties husband is delighted with it. The fourteen-year-old boy and slightly younger girl, the ones who are crammed in the "backseat"? Not so much ...

Tonight my back hurts and I'm waiting for food to be delivered and I simply don't want to talk anymore. Therefore:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Managing Death

I have a friend -- let's call her "Leone" (since that's her name) -- who had four strokes about six years ago. She just had her fifth stroke and spent a short time in a hospital, then a couple weeks in a rehab center where she wasn't allowed out of her wheelchair. Hm. Now she's been in an assisted living facility (ALF) for another three weeks or so, having the kind of rehab that includes, um, moving.

All the people at the facility want her to move from their facility into another that may or may not provide kickbacks to staff members who urge patients to go there. They even think perhaps she could stay in the Independent Living section. This would provide an apartment and one meal a day. A second meal could be had for a mere three dollars.

One difference between that place and home is that home has a staircase. "What if you have a stroke at the top of the stairs?" asks Leone's concerned son. Yes. And what if she doesn't? What if she instead chokes on a plasticky piece of Bac-O-Bits that's loving served in the iceburg salads she's getting now at the ALF? What if she catches a fatal infection in the bathroom that hasn't been cleaned since she got there or the sheets that haven't been changed since ditto? What if she simply keels over from the toxicity of the condescending attitudes she faces each day? I know I would.

One of her outside doctors told her if she's ever somehow forced into a nursing home, she should commit suicide first. I told that to an eighty-two-year-old friend last night. She'd done some time in a rehab, too, and she concurred. In fact, she and her husband have decided to die in their home.

Well, good luck with that. I'm not sure people get to choose where they die. I mean, one of them could fall down and break a bone, so the other calls an ambulance, and then there's the hospital stay and the rehab and possibly death. Still, this couple has chosen at least not to go live in the downward spiral of Independent Living > Assisted Living > Skilled Nursing Facility > Funeral Home.

Hm. Are they still called funeral homes? It seems that "home" is out of the language. Perhaps there have been too many jokes and horror stories about The Home, so a PR group got to work. Instead of a Nursing Home, it's a Skilled Nursing Facility. Yeah. I feel so much better now. Maybe funeral homes are Final Resting Facilities, as if decomposition is a nap. Well, heck. Maybe it is. I've not been there yet.

Why not this selection: Living at Home > Funeral Home? What the heck. Retro's cool.

Leone's beautiful condo -- with a baby grand, several enormous paintings, stone floors, flourishing plants, lots of light and openings for breezes, a patio -- also has neighbors with whom she's had a years-long arrangement: If the blinds aren't open by eight in the morning, the neighbors are to use their key to enter the condo and see what's up.

At Independent Living, she'd push a button each morning.

So the only real problem is those stairs. Except that the real problem is that some people think there's a way to prevent other people's deaths. There isn't. Yes, Leone could slip at the top of the stairs and fall down and die. She's okay with that. Her children aren't. The Facilities aren't. Shouldn't her vote be the weightiest one, possibly the only one?

I don't know how long Leone has lived alone, but I know that I've lived alone for about twenty-four years (so far), with three six-month slips in between, which hardly count. Those were more like extended sleepovers. The idea of dying alone is not offensive at all. It's a pleasure. It seems that that's the way it should be. I've never entertained ideas of a Hollywood death.

Now, if someone has lived within the affectionate bosom of her family all her life, moving from parents to husband to adult children, well, maybe she dreams of a death bed surrounded by grieving, loving people. I would be appalled by that.

My point is that while Leone's children are terrified by the idea of her having a stroke and falling down the stairs, she's not. She's okay with that.

To end my life engulfed by strangers holding out their hands to catch me, wash me, guide me, officially worry about me while they narrow their eyes at my one nice ring and wonder how much that would get, would be an absolute hell. They'd talk to me using the first person plural, wearing scrubs printed with childish, chaotic designs in horrid colors. I'd get a check mark every time I expressed an opinion. I'd be called "emotional" if objected to a male aide with small, mean eyes and harsh, rude hands bathing me.

I'd rather die from starvation in my own bed because I didn't have the wherewithal to order a pizza than to die after months in a building with stale air, with fear roaming the halls -- not fear of death but fear of insult, of disrespect, of minor terrorism from people who are underpaid, under-motivated, sickened by their own lives, searching for a mote of power and finding it in nursing homes ... er, um, skilled nursing facilities.

I'm with Pat Henry: Give me liberty or give me death.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Signs of the Times

I know it's been too long since I've blogged, but it's been even longer since I told you what I've read. The last time I mentioned it, I was fussing about Piers Anthony. I'll keep it short:
  • Fool by Christopher Moore. Nothing beats Lamb.

  • The World According to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith. Enchanting as always.

  • The Comforts of a Muddy Sunday by same and ditto on the charm.

  • The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult. She's got the formula. This time, she added a comic book between some chapters. It had a secret message but I wasn't up to figuring it out. One of her characters is a professor who teaches Dante's Inferno. There's another novel out there that mentions him. I wonder if I should read it -- the original, not the new novel. Any opinions on that?

  • Away by Amy Bloom. Hm. This is one of the most unusual novels I've read, at least in the sense of format. A Jewish refugee in the twenties is struggling in America. She encounters various people and when she leaves them, the reader is granted the short version of the rest of their lives. I like that. For one thing, it is nice to know the minor characters' fates. For another, it's a great device to let us know that, indeed, we're not going to see them again. If I could see my whole life as the final Amy Bloom paragraph, I probably wouldn't feel so bad (and yes: I do feel bad. Make it stop!). This is a very poetic writer. I really enjoyed the book. I'll read more of her.

  • Poodle Springs by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker. Apparently the former died when only four chapters had been written, so the latter finished it up. More than anything, I was surprised to see "gotta" in print in 1989. I was not surprised to see the same voice coming out of all the mouths.

I joined Facebook. I guess you should know that; I should confess it. Two people welcomed me to "Crackbook," which I really didn't get. Now I think they mean it's addictive. Well, not to me. I was sorry I joined within minutes of having done so. I immediately got fifty friends -- I use that term in Facebook fashion. I felt crowded and overwhelmed with all the Facebook things in my gmail inbox. It seems wasteful to me, all these people commenting and challenging and LOLing on Facebook but via my inbox. Why not just email me? Well, I don't really get it. Happily, though, I finally saw the faded X near each yammering person's name, so I've clicked most of them and therefore don't have to hear that they're hungry now or sleepy now or leaving work now. Most of it sounded like listening to someone at the next table in a noisy diner talking on a cell phone. There might have been an interesting conversation (convo?) going, but I'm only hearing part of it.

Some of my discontent is that I'm listening to former co-workers, and that makes me angry somehow. Despite everything, I suppose I still occasionally seethe over having been fired. One woman (and you know who you are) kicked the manager but that doesn't get her into trouble. STFU. If that isn't a legitimate whatever-clusters-of-initials-are-called, then it oughta be.

On the other hand, I was happy to reconnect with a woman from high school, so that's cool.

I also got to see photos of Nancy Cervenka's work. She won the Best in Show at Gasparilla. That included a check for fifteen thousand dollars. You go, Nancy! She makes amazing sculptures out of rolled movie film, which doesn't begin to describe her stuff. She doesn't even seem to have a website, so only her Friends can see her stuff on Facebook. That seems WAY too bad. She's having a show soon, though, and I'll be sure to note it here.

And I found out that Ramon and Laurie are going to have a baby. Good for them.

So maybe that was worth it. Well, and I am having lunch with Rene today because while I was reading her profile, she IM'd me. Instant Message. That was sort of boggling. I'll see her at the Kopper Kitchen in half an hour.

There's a new Chia pet out. I'm afraid I'm going to buy it. It might be a way to have some greenery in here. It's across the street at Walgreens. It is -- I hesitate to say it -- an Obama head.

So who inspired Chia to do this? The Republicans or the Democrats? Is this a good thing? I can't even tell. It seems like an insult to President Obama, but it's probably not. It's just ... weird.

Maybe it's simply that the whole Chia setup lends itself to Obama's head. Maybe now it's okay to have short, wiry, half-Negro hair? Have you noticed the Uncle Ben's Rice billboards? They're suddenly everywhere and, really, I wonder if the campaign was waged only after we got a half-black president. The ads don't say anything. The first one I saw was a huge black face up there -- a huge black handsome face, of course. You can't deny that Uncle Ben is scoring high in the beauty department. There's his enormous face on a background of little bitty faces. There are more variations on other billboards, but the theme's the same: Just his face.

Well, and look at Pepsi. It's just their new logo, acting like the letter O. LOVETC. What does that mean? Is it "love" "et cetera"? "Love" "tee cee"?

And then Snickers is making up words and typing them in its own typeface. At least there are some sentences, albeit idiotic ones: Take a dip in the CHOCLANTIC Ocean, with "Choclantic" in the Snickers font.

Jesus. (Please remember to say this with a Spanish accent. I worry about it.)

On the way to Tampa via I-275, on the left side is a small billboard that says, "This is why the chicken crossed the road." Then there's the old-fashioned hand pointing to the right side of the road. There's another billboard over there. It's a bottle of booze on its side with the neck dripping chocolate. Huh? I haven't even figured out if these are really connected or if the right-side board -- "This is why ..." -- is more like a Burma-Shave event. Maybe in a month, we'll be shown, in that same spot, why, exactly, that curious bit of poultry strolled across the road.

I met a young couple in Ybor City who just moved here from South Africa. In fact, they saw my South African papier-mache flag, which is how we got started chatting. If they become citizens, they'll be African-Americans, even though they're both blonde and blue-eyed white people. Maybe it's time to drop all that. Do I have any black readers out there (and you know who you are) with opinions about this? Didn't all of humanity start in Africa? So wouldn't that make all of us in the U.S. African-Americans?

When I went to Ghana too many years ago, there were two black women as part of the Habitat for Humanity section of my trip. One of them was a world traveler. She'd been to thirty countries. I probably can't even name thirty countries. None was in Africa, though. She said she felt bad about that, but the truth was that she never felt a special pull to go to Africa, despite her clear descent from there.

Well, I've never craved Italy, either. Don't get me wrong. If you invite me on an all-expenses-paid trip, I'll bring the bells. But that wasn't my first choice. Ghana was.

I met a handsome, accented man in Orlando who said, when asked about his country of origin, "I am from the home of the gods." First I guessed Italy, then I correctly chose Greece.

I am way overdue to talk about Jim Mitchell, but my time is up for today. You'll have to wallow around in ignorance and suspense until tomorrow. Or maybe the next day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Lizbuth!

Liz by any other name would be as ... hmm ... as, ah ... Well, two decades ago, Frank referred to Liz as "that sassy Southern woman," and that sounds about right. I mean, she's a dead-on professional. She smiles when it's required and keeps the F out of all office communications. She says please and thank you and calls her clients Mizz and Mister. I think the sassiness only shows where appropriate.

She's my hero: She's a wild woman who can easily be appropriate when it's required. Wow.

She's seventy-four today but looks sixty. Well, I met her when she was fifty and she looked like she was in her mid-thirties. Yep. She's always looked about fifteen years younger than she really is. So I guess when she was fifteen, she looked fetal.

I've been waiting HOURS for her permission to post this photo, but I may go ahead and do it anyhow. She probably doesn't like this picture, but most of us don't like photos of ourselves, do we?

Well, I went to the Third Annual Baldwin Park Arts Festival last Saturday. I sold as much there as I usually do at an Ybor City Saturday, so let's move on, shall we? Let's go, in fact, to the Motel Nix ... er, Six. Usually I like them. All I want on the road anyhow is a place to shower and sleep. It's a lovely bonus that a motel room isn't cluttered. In fact, it was this lack of chaos that I was looking forward to in a room away from home, although the horrible bedspread in every room is anything but serene. It's this whole scene of Americana, making sure they've covered all the cliches -- and they are legion. The Statue of Liberty. A bucking bronco. A sailboat. A pine tree. The Golden Arches. And all of it in a stay-awake red-orange and blue. It's pretty awful. But maybe it's like those diners that just want to move customers in and out, so the furniture is uncomfortable: lingering over a cup of coffee is not encouraged.

The stay at Motel 6 started off bad. It was five-thirty-two when I got there, and the lobby -- using that term generously -- closes at five-thirty. We therefore conducted business with a sliding glass window, a faulty speaker, and gross body language in a closet-sized alcove. "Sign the card!" the clerk yelled from behind the counter in the locked lobby, across the room and through the glass. The people ahead of me were understandably unsure how to do this. The clerk stomped over to the window and said, "Sign the card now!"

It turned out that she meant -- and possibly even said -- "Slide the card now!"

Even so, when it was my turn and she yelled, "Sign the card!" I required further clarity. I had been expecting a bathroom, though, so I wasn't thinking well. I was distracted, having driven -- using another term with generosity -- ten miles an hour for an hour on Route 4, for a total of three and a half hours just to get to Orlando. I needed a bathroom and water and coffee. And -- why not shoot for the stars? -- a lobby with a bathroom.

"This must be a pretty rough neighborhood, huh?" I said, after having complained about the closed lobby.

"Oh, no," exclaimed the clerk. "It's nice enough."

"Why the early closing then?"

"Oh. That's just for safety and security purposes."

"Uh huh," I replied. "So it's a pretty scary neighborhood. Should I be scared?"

"Oh, no," exclaimed the clerk. "It's for me. It's just for safety and security purposes."

"Well, then, are you afraid of me?"

A supervisor of mine, back in the Old Days when I had a job, sent me to a shrink because I'm "argumentative and confrontational."

I guess ol' Tom Bodett will keep the light on -- and the lobby locked.

I drove my car around to my room and discovered that all the parking in front of the doors was handicapped parking. I'd have to park away from my room. In this nice, scary neighborhood.

No matter. Believe it or not, I'd brought a swimming suit. Back in Louisville last August, I yearned to be able to use the pool at the Ramada, but between being old and fat, and not having brought a suit, I simply longed. This time, I brought a suit. I'm still old and fat, but two outta three ain't ... oh wait. Old. Fat. Okay. One outta three ain't bad.

But the pool was. The pool was bad. The bottom was leprous but, really, that's only paint, right? And there were things floating on the surface. It was mostly organic debris -- leaves and twigs and those ornate oak-pollen clusters. There was the holey edge to a computer print-out, and while that may not be organic, surely it was biodegradable? Nonetheless, the pool wasn't very appealing. I decided to just sit and read, but the lounge chairs were all gray with mold and basically unpleasant, so I went back to my room, both relieved and disappointed that I couldn't get into the water.

My non-smoking room smelled just a little bit like smoke. It had an ashtray on the nightstand, but it was upside down and it had a note taped to the bottom: NON-SMOKING ROOM.

And the cover for the AC unit was missing, so I had a four-foot-long vent with no way to direct the whoosh of the air. I actually didn't mind that. It was sort of like sleeping outside on a breezy night, but without having to worry about critters. And while nothing kept out the bright lights from the parking lot, the fan's noise kept out most of the traffic noise.

I'm afraid Elizabeth's chances of canceling her birthday picture have simply run out. And I know my older brother and sister will be happy to get a glimpse of her. They met her thirteen years ago when they escorted Mom down to The Home down here. Oh. And my friend Leone is rehabbing from a stroke at the same place where Mom died. Leone even asked if it bothers me to visit her there, which is very kind of her -- no surprise. And no. It doesn't bother me.

Here are Carl Knickerbocker (dot com) and Carolyn Stapleton (www.thestinkbug.com) and me at Baldwin Park. Of the two women, guess who's the nutritionist and who's the overeater.
And, gosh, I sure hate to complain about Mister Google, whom I actually love, but why is the spacing between paragraphs such an issue here? I put two returns between grafs and that's fine. Until I add a photo. Then the spaces double. I spend more time removing extra space than writing this blog. Damn and drat.

To perhaps distract from the picture of Liz -- which I think is a great picture of her style and energy (and, ahem, car) -- I'll include an evidentiary photo. Once again, here's an out-of-focus photo. How does that happen with an aim-and-shoot camera? Well, let's pretend that the fuzziness is coming from sweet Mittens' fur and not from the idiot behind the lens.

When I think Mittens is outdoors, lounging in the shade, being kind to lizards and compassionate to palmetto bugs, thinking, perhaps, of dining daintily on Meow Mix and sipping neatly from her pretty blue bowl, when I think she's daydreaming of pink satin pillows and former beaux, I fear she's actually been racing across the lawn and clambering up the telephone pole as far and as fast as she can go.

Disillusionment is not for the weak.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Pox on Your Sox!

Whoa. I just spent way too much time trying to find out if, indeed, today's title was used as a line in Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask). Well, it was. And that's great, because he's Jewish and today we're going to talk about plagues.

Everything I know about Jews comes from Philip Roth and Erica Jong in the seventies and maybe even eighties. I grew up in a village of seven hundred people in Western New York. We only had Christians -- United Methodist and Roman Catholic. There were Episcopalians about seven miles away, but I never even met a Lutheran until I married one. I met a Jew when my community college PE class went bowling because the new gym floor had buckled. He was a Russian Jew, tall and skinny, with a name that could be spelled to the tune of Mickey Mouse. We Nicolazzos make our name fit the music by dragging out the Zs, but David's name took to it naturally: R O G A C H E F S K Y.

The few Jews I've known personally are as religious as I am, so it never comes up.

I was in Publix the other day and saw a thirteen-dollar item that I really wanted. I had to have it. Well, no I didn't. It was too much money. The end. So I went home without it, but as soon as I reached my driveway, I turned around again. I was right: I did have to have it.

It's a Passover Bag of Plagues. Yes.

Normally, this is the point at which I'd google Passover, and I'd come up with some actual information about it, some facts. However, I don't want to. The most research I did (besides checking out that pox-on-your-sox thing) was to stretch up to my wall calendar and search for Passover. It says it starts at sundown on April 8, but I don't know when it ends. For some reason, I think of it being a two-week thing. Whatever. I'm not looking it up. Sorry, Olga.

It turns out there are ten plagues, even though I'm sure you'll agree that twelve is a more spiritual number. The package has a four-column info sheet starting with Hebrew (which always looks upside down), followed by the short version of the ten plagues (blood, frogs), the long version (All the waters of Egypt turned to blood, Frogs covered all the land of Egypt), and finishing up with What's Inside (fake blood, plastic frogs).

So here we are:
  1. blood

  2. frogs

  3. lice All the dust turned to lice and covered everyone. Hmm. Everyone? Or just the Egyptians? And really, what a clever plague. But the Bible's big on dust anyhow, you know. There's that whole mote (of dust) in your eye and log in mine thing. And the shaking the dust off the sandals bit.

  4. wild beasts These "terrible beasts" went into Egyptian homes and are depicted in the bag by finger puppets of a lion and a tiger.

  5. cattle plague This one's too vague for me. It just says that All the cattle were covered with this plague. As you see in the photo, sweet Benji obliged me by donning the Cow Mask provided -- not an easy task for a creature without opposable thumbs.

  6. boils Well, it's not like I want something too realistic, but in this case, it's a green hand made out of a Gummi Bear-type substance, with white boils. And a long skinny string for the arm. Huh?

  7. hail This is represented by a plastic ice cube with tiny red Jell-O balls inside representing fire because "hail" is just the short version: A mixture of hail and fire rained on the land. THAT would be something to see, wouldn't it? And I'll tell you what. If your god could do that and mine couldn't, I suspect I'd be an eager convert. Or I'd Let Your People Go or whatever it was you wanted.

  8. locusts Ah. Well, we here in Florida experienced something along that order last summer. One or two is disgusting and creepifying. I can't imagine an actual plague of same. Yeah. I'd give up. I'd give in. I'd give out.

  9. darkness The entire land was enveloped in darkness. Okay. Could be an envelope, but in fact, it's kid-sized sunglasses.

  10. And finally: Death of Firstborn This is tastefully represented by a nine-piece puzzle, a seriously impaired rendering of a weeping mother and a prostrate father, with pyramids in the background. And a palm tree.

I had lunch with Kate and Leone the other day at the Kopper Kitchen, one of my favorites. Kate lives in St. Louis and has worked for a caterer who does Passover work. She was surprised at the apparent fun kids were going to have with this Bag o' Plagues because she'd been working in an Orthodox Jewish home when the plague ceremony was on, and it was very serious.

It occurs to me that I know just about as many Egyptians as Jews, both groups of whom seem to be flourishing, so I'm guessing that the plagues, terrifying as they were, didn't really accomplish anything, at least not in the big picture. I'm sure there's a lesson here.

In the meantime, here's yet another horrible photograph. You'd think I'd quit. Still, how often do you get to see three art cars all in row, no matter how lousy the photo? I thought so. Liz and Jill are parked next to me in front of the new French restaurant in Gulfport.

Once again, we tried many restaurants before we found one open for a late lunch. Hmm ... and they all start with Ps: Pia's, Peg's, the Peninsula. For all I know, the new French one is Pierre's, since it, too, was closed till suppertime. Yummy's was open, and I really like it. It's dog-friendly. And it should be: it's a hot dog joint. We were in the mood for whole meals, though, so we ended up at Domain, which is where we should have started, of course. It turned out that it has paper tablecloths -- one of my favorite things! -- so while young Riva and I doodled and Liz took Flat Becky photos, Jill did some arcane thing with math. Lee and Bob were there, too, but I've noticed that when women outnumber men, the latter keep a low profile. Hmm

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I've had my cell phone -- my only phone -- for several years now. I recently discovered that it's a camera-phone, too. Oh. Who knew? Not I. Call me old-fashioned, but when I want to take a picture, I reach for a camera.

Funny we don't have cameras with secret phones inside. Or do we?

Anyway, this morning there was a text message. Now, T-Mobile sends me a text each month after I've paid my bill. It annoys me. I know what it is, yet I seem to have to retrieve it anyhow, else it'll keep reminding me. I also think I pay ten cents per message, but I could be wrong about that.

Once a friend from Ghana's kid brother texted me. And that's another thing: I really don't like this trend of changing nouns into verbs. This is an alchemy I'm not quite sure about. Yes, it's been done before but it seems that it's being done too much these days and too quickly, too. Didn't we used to have to wait a couple decades before we'd make a switch like that? Good heavens, one person sent a text message to someone and by the next Saturday, they starting "texting" each other.

And sure, I google things and soon you'll see that I even texted someone. Or did I message someone? It's just not right.

Anyway, this young African sent me a message on my phone all the way across the Atlantic. Happy Mother's Day! he wrote, not knowing that I neither am nor currently have a mother. So when I got a text message this morning (or did I just get a text?) that said, "Who this?" I thought it was from an African. If whoever wrote it could come up with a question mark, I should think s/he could've come up with an apostrophe-s, too: "Who's this?" But English is the second, third, or even fourth language for every Ghanaian I met, so they're forgiven.

I decided to respond with just my last name. I mean, maybe someone was scrolling through his or her numbers and didn't recognize mine and just wanted to know if it could be deleted. So I hit 6 to get me started with MNO. Is it possible that my readers know all about texting? Maybe the majority does. I sure don't. It took me way too long to type Nicolazzo. It was additionally maddening because Nicolazzo was actually suggested to me by the djinn who lives in my phone (possibly next to that camera), but I couldn't figure out how to access it until I was on the second Z.

It took a moment to figure out where SEND is, but I did, and I sent it. There was an immediate response. Pin me and send pic please.

I am a shade too young to have been "pinned" by any boy in high school. I think that went with poodle skirts somehow, which I saw in first grade. Was it a fraternity pin a boy gave a girl to signify that they were Going Steady? Does that mean he was in college? What was he doing dating a high school girl? Well, whatever, I was never pinned so I don't know how to pin someone else, especially if I'm to do it electronically.

If there's a picture of me in my phone, I don't know how it got there or how to send it, so that's out, too. Not to mention: Who is this yahoo? And how'd s/he get my number? I have no doubt that if I sent a photo of myself, s/he'd toss her/his phone into the gold fish bowl and run from the room screaming while I got shoved into the backseat of a cop car, my head being pressed down so I don't bump it on the door frame even though they intend to work me over when they get me in that small dank room with an unshaded light bulb hanging ominously from a single sizzling cord.

It ain't easy being middle-aged.

Well, I managed to text No and the person wrote back Okay, which seemed odd. I mean, we're texting. Doesn't that mean that there should be no extra characters? In fact, I feel a little bad that I kept that second Z in my name. Maybe I should've typed ... er, texted Ncolzo. Anyway, the kid actually spelled out Okay instead of using OK. Maybe that means it really wasn't a kid, but was a geezer of some sort and s/he's the one who needs to be in that dark scary room with the dangling light bulb. S/he's some ninetysomething pervert trolling for innocent nearly-sixty-year-olds who are merely trying to get along in these troubled times.

Of course I know that language is always in flux, and I'm okay with that. Again, I remember when judgment had two E's: judgement. That's fine. But the changing language is like global warming. It's a natural phenomenon. It's been happening forever. Nature simply adapts, as is Her wont. But mankind has been too thoughtless, so the earth is warming much more quickly that it used to, and Nature simply can't adjust that quickly.

Language took centuries, then decades to change. Now it takes a week or two. And I can't keep up. On Etsy.com, artists invite potential customers to "convo" them about custom orders. I don't know what that is, and neither does my brand new Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Okay. Of course I just googled it. It relates to "conversation." Then why not conver? It's like people who want my addy. Usually it's typed anyhow, so why not call it addr? Or gee -- splurge and spell it out! Address.

And here's my reaction to all that ... Here in Blogtown and also in my emails, I spell out every frappin' thing. I spell out the time: I'll be there by eleven-thirty, although sometimes I use a colon instead of a hyphen: I'll be there by eleven:thirty. There are three colons in that one sentence. I believe I've overdrawn my account ... er ... acct.

Thursday, March 5, 2009



Go check out that video, please, and then come back here. Don't linger in the fragrance of the popcorn at the concession stand. Don't get stuck in the spilled Milk Duds on the floor. Just look, listen, and return.


Okay. So I don't know if the makers of that little movie are trying to scare us -- engaging in emotional vandalism -- or if they're trying to make us think, or what. It did scare me a bit, but I also felt suspicious of the numbers. Well, that's no surprise. Numbers, generally, are suspect to me. My friend Richard's birthday was 03/03/09 and his brother congratulated him by mentioning that it was Square Root Day. Why do people even SAY things like that? Don't speak to me of square roots. Square foots are bad enough but at least I sort of get the concept of those.

In a very basic way, I don't like numbers. I don't trust them. They confuse me. I'd much rather not think about them, even though they seem so important.

I mean, everyone, sooner or later, wants my Social Security Number (123 303 8572). And my phone number (727 347 4786). And my license plate number (495 8FA). Many passwords (and they are legion) insist on having at least one number in there. I hate that. It's bad enough having so many significant numbers in, say, my Progress Energy account number (that's my electric bill to you non-Floridians), but it's even worse when I can only have one number. The pressure's on. What if I pick seven? But doesn't everyone think seven's magical? What about three? I think I should choose an odd number, don't you? There's something too obvious about an even number, like you're simply not being creative enough. Five is odd, but it's the center of ten, and I'm pretty sure that ten is more important than every other number, so that somehow makes the five seem even. Even though it's odd. I don't want to pick the one everyone has, but there are only ten (and sometimes Y).

And don't even bring up pi. Jesus. And yet for a moment, Jill had me understanding pi. I got it. The moment passed, however, and I'm back to thinning my lips and scowling. Just leave numbers out of it, okay?

I took a statistics class somewhere along the way. I truly don't remember a single thing from it, except that the professor made this statement: The only thing statistics support is statisticians. If nothing else, I love the sibilants. Yes. Let's go back to letters. SSSSS, even though it may hiss like a snake, is ever so much sweeter than 55555, although I do confess that I spend time at red lights staring at license plates in front of me and seeing which numbers can be used for which letters. If they won't let you get GOD on your vanity plate, for instance (and I know they won't in Kentucky anyhow), you could have 6OD.

But back to statistics. Yay! (That's "yay" backwards, in an attempt to typographically show you how not happy I am about statistics.)

I went to see The Exorcist when it first came out. You youngsters have to try to realize that it was a blockbusting film. It was completely terrifying. People made jokes about Little Creepy Whazzername (Regan? Bush?) puking up "pea soup," but it was extremely realistic and icky, and audiences just weren't used to it. I watched most of it by staring into my lap. I was horrified.

But it was a huge success. I remember hearing on the radio the next day that the movie was drawing record-breaking crowds. Well, yes. But that makes it sound like those record-breaking crowds liked the movie. That wasn't true for me. I abhorred it. But I was one of those people who went and that, apparently, implied liked.

My innate distrust of numbers was validated.

Today on NPR, they said that the number of new claims for unemployment compensation (UC) was down, and that fewer people received UC. Well. Are those numbers down because some people found work or because some people's tenure on The Dole was up?

See? Numbers will tell you what but not why. There are just too many unanswered questions in the numbers. "Record-breaking numbers watched The Exorcist" is true, but it's more true that "many hated it and some slept through it and some were necking through the whole thing believe it or not and some gave up pea soup after that."

There. I believe I've nailed it.

For a rare treat tomorrow, go to Peg's Cantina here in Gulfport around two-thirty. There will be three -- (I just can't get away from numbers!) -- art cars parked together. Liz will be there with her Nissan X-terra and her Bob, Jill will be there with her Mazda van, Lee will be there with his ladder and camera, and I will be there with my Corolla. We're meeting for lunch, followed by a photo shoot for the first two cars. It's time I got them on my website, isn't it?

Ooh! But as long as we're on numbers, let's do that There are two kinds of people thing. Yes! This might be my favorite: There are three kinds of people in the world -- those who can count and those who can't. But Gordy told me this and I really like it: There are two kinds of people in the world -- and I'm one of them!

And numbers have gender in my mind. Do they in yours? Only three and four are female. One and two are male but they're young so they're not dangerous (yet). All the rest are male, with the odd numbers being male and mean, except five, who's odd and male but nice.

Go figure.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Catch Up

It's only been five days, but it seems like five weeks since I've written. I have a whole list of things I want to address. Well, I can't find the list just yet, but I will, so you'd better put up your feet and pour another cup.

The photo shown here is from the Friday Night Shuffle down at the shuffleboard club in St. Petersburg. It really seems like a great thing. Every Friday, it's open and free to the public. Free. Mike wore the kurta his brother brought back from India. I was using the pashmina, also courtesy of Robert, but it was really hot and I ended up wearing it around my waist. I know. I don't see how it could have been hot, either. It's been so cold. Well, I suppose the Indian food and the intense competition on the courts are to blame.

A photo of the kurta that doesn't show its full length is just stupid, but as you can see, Mike and his Authentic Indian Friend were yucking it up so much that the detail got lost. Mike had too many chins for his taste, so I blocked them out. And I didn't even ask the AIF for his permission, so I blocked him out, too. All in all, it's a pretty great photo.

I was thinking the other day about the appellation of Indian. I think it didn't matter so much when I was a kid, when the world was much bigger. Few of us even mentioned Indians other than Native Americans. The Simpsons hadn't even been drawn yet -- no one knew about Abu. Now, though, most of us have at least chatted on the Help Lines with Indians or had the pleasure of hearing their gorgeous accents at convenience stores and hotels (and yes, really, at universities and board rooms, et more). The point is, I finally see the need for a distinction between Indians from India and Native Americans. Drat. Now I'll have to change my ways.

I had many live chats with Indians when I used MovieLinks. Up on my screen would come "Jason," whose word choices verified that he in no way had ever been in the United States, but I guess using his real name of Jalal would make us all feel awkward -- probably because we couldn't pronounce it, which is weird, since it was just the two of us typing back and forth anyway. Or maybe they were afraid I'd jump up, screaming that foreigners are stealing our jobs.

Well, yesterday I ordered some new business cards for myself. I had to be on the phone three times, with three different young women. One sounded black, one southern, one generic. (If I'd grown up in the South, would that be generic?) I think it would be so cool if they got to choose Indian names for themselves when dealing with The Public. Instead of Sarah and Beth and Mary, they could be Salima and Barum and Madhur. They could use any accents they want.

Now, here's a picture from the Ybor City Saturday Market sidewalk. I don't even know what to say about it, but I think it's ... abstract and autumnal. Also slightly unsettling.

Being able to google things -- and I long ago blew off the capitalization of Mister Google's name when it's used as a verb. I think if his spellcheck were worthy of the name, I'd change my mind. -- is all very fine. I wouldn't have been able to find Indian names without it, for instance. On the other hand, being able to google things can put a crimp in the pleasure of wondering about things. I only have to wonder for about three seconds. And no one gets to be the expert anymore. We just google it. Let the computer be the expert.

Well, Mike and I were dining with Bob Evans the other day when it came out that I had had a Rock Hudson paper doll when I was a girl. I can't imagine why I got such a thing. Did I ask for it? Really? Or did someone just give it to me? My sister's only a year older, and we often got the same thing, only hers was blue and mine was green. Maybe someone gave her a Doris Day paper doll, so I got the Rock Hudson one. I know she got a Raggedy Ann doll and I got Raggedy Andy. I loved him.

Anyway, so Tab Hunter came up, which somehow led to Dobie Gillis and that's where the trouble began. Who played Dobie Gillis?

I know. You think Gilligan did. But no: Bob (not John) Denver/Gilligan was destined always to be a sidekick, and he was Dobie Gillis's's'es.

We asked our waitress Wanda, who's too young, but who enlisted the aid of the staff. We engaged with two other tables full of people. We pondered. We wondered. We wandered down the lane of black-and-white television. It was entertaining and human. We interacted with people we never would have chatted with before.

Then Mike broke the spell with, "I'll bet Ruth would know!" Aha! Our expert! I reintroduced technology. I whipped out my cell phone and pressed his mother's number. Indeed, she knew the answer: Duane Hickman.

If we'd been a younger crowd or a more executive crowd, we'd have pulled out our Blackberries and had the answer before Wanda came around with more coffee. Or, come to think of it, Mike would've been finding the answer before I even finished wording the question.

Here is an absolutely brilliant bit of copywriting.

I have a friend who talked to me about alli, the new over-the-counter fat-blocker, the only one approved by the FDA, which, near as I can tell, just means that alli's parents have enough money to bribe that agency. I don't see the FDA as having any integrity at all.

But I digress.

alli for fat people is something like Antabus for alcoholics. If you've got Antabus up and running in your system and you ingest alcohol, you've got about two hours to live. Yeah. Whoa. Just Say No. Well, with alli, if you eat something with too much fat in it, you, um ... [WEAK STOMACH WARNING] ... may experience, uh, "oily spotting." You may also have diarrhea that "may" be difficult to "control." It's suggested that you bring an extra set of clothing to work. Seriously. But don't worry. These are merely Treatment Effects. Yes! alli, you see, doesn't have any nasty SIDE EFFECTS like other, lesser weight-loss substances. No. alli only has TREATMENT EFFECTS.

I hope whoever wrote that gets a big fat (heh) bonus.

I know I've been totally lax in the Reading Room. I read Next by Michael Crichton, about (sort of) genetics. I liked it okay.

I finally gave up on this Double Exposure three-books-in-one thing by Piers Anthony. It was too repetitive. It was the same story over and over. It was too repetitive. In the end, I quit reading a hundred pages short of the full seven hundred and ninety. I just looked at the last page and garnered all the information I needed. Whew. I share Samuel Goldwyn's notion: I read part of it all the way through.

Sonny Fenwick (http://www.bubblebus.com/) introduced me to the Hoosier concept of a "pitch-in dinner." Huh. I think of people "pitching in" for big things, like barn-raisings and snow-shovelings, not small things like lunch.

I was at the Chinese store on 34th Street the other day, picking up beautiful blue-and-white sauce dishes for Mittens' Meow Mix (ahem). I got one in the shape of a fish, which is appropriate. When it's time for wet food, I ask her if she wants fish and she responds either by coming inside after all or, if she's already inside, going to her scratching pole and scratching. Oh, what a smart and beautiful cat is she!

While I was there, I got this Lady Buddha for my friend Leone who's rehabbing from her fifth stroke (and good luck with that). It's a lousy photo, my specialty, but you can see that the jade-like mystery material is in the shape of whatever the female Buddha is called. Next to her was the same red-cord setup, but with Mary, Mother of God, in the green. Wow. Talk about Ragu on yellow rice! I mean, that's like nailing Ganesh to the cross, which is, actually, an icon I'd also buy.

Well, I hope it helps Leone.

Back to copywriting ... I was at Sports Authority yesterday and saw a rather low-key, small sign that said: CLEARANCE BLOWOUT EVENT. I don't even know what that means. Well, I got twelve dollars off the canopy weights I was there to buy, so I apparently benefited from this, this event, but still ...

Okay. I found the natter list and here's my last comment.

I think I'll try to put together good photos (!) of my tee shirts, cards, and mailboxes, and sell them on www.etsy.com. As I strolled through that site, I saw a book for sale for only nine bucks. It's a guide to using the Etsy market to your best advantage. Ah. Research first. Fancy that! So I bought it. I did notice that it said ONE IN STOCK, which I thought was odd since it seemed to have been put on sale that very day. Well, good for the author! I'm sure it's a self-published book and look -- she's already ready for a second printing!

I also noticed that it said it would be "mailed within 24 hours." Great.

I got it the next day -- in my inbox. Yes. That fraudulent bit of publishing turned out to be an ebook, something I don't EVER want to buy! Gak. Plus, the graphics suck so it's hard to read. I got two "gifts," one of which was actually impossible to read. I'll have to waste my ink if I want to read it which, in this mood, I assure you I don't.

There was a cover letter -- "Here's your stupid ebook." -- and the seller said, "Give me positive feedback and I'll do the same for you!" which seems unethical right there.

Well, I wrote to her, all incensed about the ebook thang. It took her two days to respond, but she did. She said that it clearly states it will be "emailed within 24 hours." I went back to check and she's right. Drat.

How then to explain the ONE IN STOCK? Can you run out of electrons?

I told the author I felt duped and that I'd be happy to send her the book back (!) if she'd refund my money. She said the ONE IN STOCK is an automatic Etsy thing. She finally agreed to refunding half my money, and I said I'd give her honest feedback when I've read the book.

So I'm satisfied ... enough.

I wonder if a twenty-year-old would have been upset at receiving an ebook? Or would she think it's just fine? I do most of my reading at the table or in bed. I don't want to sit here and read, especially when the graphics are so horrible.

Anyway, I've heard nothing but good things about Etsy and I intend to follow through on it. I'll also read the ebook and try to benefit from it.

I don't think contrition suits me, do you?