Monday, March 31, 2008

A thousand ways to be patient

And all of them involve a blowtorch.

JB, possessor of all practical skills, first on anyone's list to bring into the shelter when the revolution comes, suggested that we see what we were made of where molten glass, flaming gasses, and manual dexterity come together in the art of bead making.

That's me at right, burning a perfectly good solid rod of glass into a glob of liquid glass so that I could reshape it into a sphere of glass. Why? Because it was there.

JB, Dr. A and I strode into the Open Studios with no expectations and only the goal of not setting ourselves on fire. We came out with this story to tell.

Last week, I talked around my Easter commitment to being a more patient person. (I admit I talked around it. I'm not going to talk about it. Some things are between me and Him.) I had come to this realization that "patient," and "passion" came from the same root word, Pati - to suffer. But also to endure. It was brought to me that it is not enough to be patient in your waiting for something to change. It is finding patience for those things that will not change, including perhaps yourself. It is not patience for a thing to happen; it is patience for a thing that stays constant.

I had to take several naps on Easter.

That is your prologue for a thousand ways to be patient while handling hot glass.
Do not count them. It's hyperbole.

Your instructor is not expecting you
That is, you were expected a month ago, but there was a snowstorm, and you were postponed. And you have been placed in an advanced class because there was only 1 other student in it. You and your 2 friends have now completely tipped the balance. Your instructor wastes no time in letting you know how she will have to cover 2 levels of material. No matter, you say, and smile at the advanced student and add "If that's all right with you ..." This will turn to your favor later.

You have to learn the basics of gas plumbing first
You weren't expecting to be squatting on a concrete floor learning about gas traps, perpendiculars, and the right mix of propane and natural gas (Holy Conflagration, Batman). But this is part of the beginner's syllabus, so you will listen and memorize 100 lbs of oxygen pressure, even though you are already thinking you may never do this again.

You must wear these

And you will make this joke

"You have big hands"
the instructor will say, as you measure your "hand's length" of flame. And it is true, your delicate Miss Bender has paws, but what she needs in this situation is advice on adjusting her flame, thanks.

You will work unbelievably close to that flame
Later, JB remarked she expected us to learn more fire safety. She said this long after she had burned herself and only Advanced Student went for the Bactine.

The jargon is kind of irritating
Any hobby's jargon is irritating -- Dr A admits she enjoys the secret language of things, but then she had the patience to get a PhD while you did not -- but these sounded made up. And were not better than words we already have.
mandrel - the spindle. In my left hand above.
frit - broken glass
giving it a bath - keeping your glass warm. Do not lick molten glass.

It is wicked hard
And your instructor is a little grabby.

It's a little culty
I met 4 beaders in 2 days. All of them wanted to know if we were coming back to their Bead Church.

By the way, I am fully aware I have lost my 2nd person narrative device. That acknowledgement is for Dr A, who will notice, and love me anyway. She's read worse.

It is expensive
The draw of joining the craft collaborative, of course, is that you have a studio provided for you (not like our Instructor's "play house" at home) but even the supplies will require a lot of output before any comes back on you. We figured that we had shelled about $10 per bead when all was said and done, but certainly it was not about bringing home the beads.

You don't get to take them home right away
(ah! 2nd person is back!) The brochure failed to mention that our work would have to anneal (Beadspeak for "heat") overnight and we would have to come back for them. "What if we had plans!" exclaimed the Dr. But of course we didn't.

You don't know what they will look like until you come back for them
And they may not look good.

I am pleased to report, though, that mine came out much better than I expected, and I almost wouldn't have believed it.

There was this one.... But then there were these.

And no, I am not instantly a better person.
But when I can't take the Sunday driving of my co-workers, and those in my care, I can now look at my beads.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The topic is....

... Avon's lady-bug watch pendant.

#7 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

This may not have any resonance for you. And I'll admit it doesn't have the same "I knew it" revelation as finding, say the Hot Dog movie, or a complete episode guide to Beanie and Cecil. This is the kind of surfaced memory where you discover the contents of your Treasure (cigar) box on sale on eBay.

hey Boo....

Time was...when Avon embraced collectibles and invented its own market in perfume decanters, children's novelty cosmetics, and odd items like the ladybug watch pendant. Notice that it tells time upside-down, see, because you wear it around your neck. Squeeze the antennae, and the wings open to reveal {{{gasp}}} it is 10:10. FANTHY! cry the little girls.

You know you wanted one.

The other thing I went looking for was this.

Her head flipped open to dispense "perfume," a waxy medicinal sort of...rub that I can smell right now just by thinking about it. I loved her because I thought she looked like That Girl, but according to eBay, she is a "Small World Pin Pal." I think she's "Polynesian."

Once you know to search for "pin pal," you'll wish for that cookie tin or lego box or whatever you kept yours in.


The name of this website hurts just a little. And they do not have the ladybug for sale. But they have Avon Steins. Remember when Avon sold Steins? Anyone remember why? Oh.. what will men buy? How can we corner the male market? STEINS? Do they need to dispense waxy stink-goo? No, just the stein. The fellas luv 'em!
Avon still sells:
Skin So Soft
Silicone Glove
Sweet Honesty (which I had remembered as Something Chastity, and it took me a while to find it. The ammonia that was in the Bo Peep decanter)
...but not steins. The men's shop contains several hand-held digital toys and a NASCAR throw. The leading fragrance is named after Derek Jeter. Who apparently doesn't care what people say about him.

Monday, March 24, 2008

True Story

And not one I'm proud of in a human sense. Only in a "Damn, she's quick" sense. And you know I truly am.

So my co-worker/friend says, "have a nice Easter," "yeh, you," "yeh," and she says, "My kids don't really believe in the Easter Bunny any more." And I say, "Well, do they still believe in Jesus? "

So much for my commitment to patience this year. I should have checked the calendar before I decided to embrace a new emotional demeanor.

This is not the photo line the kids at the mall were standing in. I had a much longer screed about that, but I decided it would upset my parents, all of whom read this blog.

If your service had a basket blessing ceremony, please don't tell me about it. I strictly can not handle that information. I also can't handle these people, but they are not confused about what they are commemorating. You definitely don't line up at the mall to take your photo with that.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How to write your fake memoir

"It's not the true reality, but it is my reality. There are times when I find it difficult to differentiate between reality and my inner world." ~~ Mishe Defonseca

“For whatever reason, I was really torn, and I thought it was my opportunity to put a voice to people who people don’t listen to,” ~~ Margaret Seltzer

“I don't think it is a novel. I still think it's a memoir.” ~~ James Frey

Everybody has a story to tell. Nobody says it has to be true. Mishe wasn't raised by wolves? Well, what do you know. You can make this s*** up. get a pencil, and an unsuspecting friend.

"[loud noise - all caps]!"

The sound woke me from a dead sleep. I rolled over, [physical condition], and blinked at the [light source] piercing my eyes to the back of my skull. My head was pounding, my fingers [color] and there was an incessant [sound] in my ears.

"Who are you?" I said, unable to see how many of them there were. "Where am I?"
Then it all came back to me.

I remembered that I had left my [relative's] home just last [day of the week], tired of the [colorfully bizarre abuse] and thinking only of my next score of [drug of choice]. I'd been hard-pounding since I was [age under 10] and now all I cared about was getting more. Throwing together a [sad cliched clothing container] of jeans, a sweatshirt, [drug paraphernalia] and [Rosebud-like childhood totem to be explained later], I had taken to Highway [#]. I didn't know where I was going, but I already knew where I'd been.

I already knew what it was like to [verb] over a [furniture] and [bodily function] out [building material]...already knew how to [verb] for cash without [-ing verb]...already knew that [dull proverb your Aunt Mable might say, like "no good deed goes unpunished"]. Now I wanted to know what it was like to feel [outdated slang for "good"].

I was [age between 15 and 20] years old........
..........[unusual first name from literature] tossed a cigarette to the ground where it hissed in a puddle. We had been travelling together now for [#] days, having slept in [inhuman location], [top that], and one night [a dangerous scene, featuring at least 2 hoodlums and a suspicious animal]. Tonight I just wanted to [verb], like the rest of the world does. I lay on my [body part] and thought about [food item]. [Literature name] pulled out a [noun] and treated us both to a [work of art]. For the first time, I [tired phrase for calm, formed in the past tense].........


......"You're all against me!" I [-ed verb] and [-ed martial arts move] my [body part] at the [adj] [adj] [fairy tale creature] that appeared on the end of my [piece of silverware]. "[Expletive borrowed from film]" it replied. I [-ed phrase borrowed from Appalachian folksong] and reached for [Rosebud totem]. Perhaps for the last time.....


.... Dr. [type of fabric] looked at me over his glasses and nodded slowly. "Are you telling me...?" He paused, and leaned forward, his [body part] on his [body part]. "Or are you telling... you?" I choked down a [fruit] in my throat and collapsed into tears. "[Outcry from popular culture]!" I sobbed....


[Relative] died at age [# greater than 80]. We never spoke again.

After [#] years of sobriety, [literature name] committed suicide by drinking [fuel].

I still keep in touch with Dr [fabric], but it's different now. He reminds me of where I've been...instead of where I'm going.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Collectible? Deductible!

And just like that, it is tax time again. Tax time lacks the hilarity it has had in years past, when I set up camp with the Rockport posse, complete with dogs, cats, and lashings of bourbon.

Since the posse moved to California, I have faced the Turbo Tax alone this year, but it does not disappoint. Because collectibles are subject to capital gains. And which party wanted that to happen?

"Alcoholic beverages held more than one year."
You can almost reinact the debate, can't you? Like one of the cut numbers from 1776 when it debuted in Westport.

ADAMS: Wine, Mr.F?
FRANKLIN: Wine, Mr. A.
[you have to imagine the staccato violins]
ADAMS: Rum, also, sir?
FRANKLIN: Rum is hardly an investment, sir, and very rarely stored! [hilarious swell]
JEFFERSON: The farmers of Virgin-ee-a will not bear this tax alone.
PINAFORE-LIKE CHORUS: not bear this tax - not bear this tax- not bear this tax alone!
SHERMAN: In Connect-icut we deal in scotch, sir, and age it oaky-fine.
CHASE: In Mary-land we'd never stoop to sell our sacred wine.
CHORUS: scared wine oaky fine!
FRANKLIN: New Jersey-ans have chianti, New Yorkers like their beer
I propose we place the tax on beverage held one year!
CHORUS: He is the very model of a modern major general...

Right about now it is important that you know that I would be doing this without you here.
Moreover.... the entry above alcoholic beverages is GEMS, not GUM, as I originally read it.

Imagine saving your stamp collection for 15 years, actually finding a buyer, actually getting more back than you put into it (100 stamps x let's say 25 cents on average, and you sell it for $50, minus 28%...). Oh my, but you will have to will them to a third generation before they are worth the cost of selling them.

Turbo Tax will tell you things your closest friends never will. Things like this:

Damn, Turbo, you ain't gotta be like that.

I didn't qualify for a lot of things. I think I am supposed to feel "arrived" about that: no heating expense break, no student loan deduction, I didn't even qualify for the president's bogus hush money plan. which would have bought a lot of gasoline this summer.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Using what you know about the moon....


The part they left out... "You Failed!" with exclamation point.
Worcester, we have a problem.

The quiz, recommended by The Baronness, was to rank-order your available survival gear as a crash-landed skywalker. "Using what you know about the moon," slide the items higher or lower in rank.

I promise you: I used what I knew. which is sod-all.

I won't spoil it for you, but I want you to know that I did too know that the matches and compass were worthless. Where I made my error was the same place I always made it in Zork (and generally in real life) which is forgetting that things have multiple purposes.
stupid.... moon quiz....

Why some assembly is required

First, though, answer this?
The sticker on the box reads "no tools assembly required" with a picture of a hammer and a screwdriver in the International NOT symbol. Does it mean...
a) Tools are not required to assemble this product
b) Assembly is required for this product and no tools are provided for you
c) Do not let your brother-in-law assemble these contents

The reason assembly is required is because it takes for-**-ever, and tools are not required if you are Edward Needlenose Plier hands. Imagine this sort of slowdown on the factory floor.

"This assembly line 14 days without completing an assembly."

I have nothing interesting to tell you, I am just doodling now while I download another pile of tracks into my Tamagouchi. And I put together a new drying rack. I also changed my own wiper blades today, which took longer than it should have, but was not the near-disaster of changing the thermostat batteries.

It snowed again this morning and I was completely uninformed. (rassafrassarackumfrackum)

But the show must go on, even an "encore" performance of The Great Wall of China from 2003 because I do not always meet deadlines that have no consequences. (plug here also for the Flora in Winter CDs if you are in the market. For the person who has everything. Except, say, eyesight and a museum membership.)

I am downloading a book on CD and I wonder why the producers would make 5 and 6 minutes tracks on a 1 hr disc. I suppose if I couldn't listen to the whole disc at once, I would appreciate being able to click through to the section I was last on, but... why wouldn't I be able to get through a 1 hr disc? If I didn't have a full hour, would I bother to listen to a book?

I said to one of my Netflix friends that I had watched part of a movie, and she interrupted with "how do you watch part of a movie?" Not just italicized, but also bold and all-caps, is how I pictured it typing out in front of me. I said, "the same way you read part of a book."

I should mention, for your enjoyment, that the book is written by the Dali Lama, but not read by. His Holiness actually has a website. Perhaps you knew that. I was distracted by it for a moment; it's very engaging.

his moments-from-holiness Lhamo Thondup.

I wish someone would start dinner. Talk to you later.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

From the people who brought you the falling satellite

(satellite story here)

OKLAHOMA CITY: On February 17th, Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing recalled 143 million pounds of beef.

"The agriculture department says there is no cause for alarm. Most of the meat was eaten long ago..." (Economist, 1Mar08)

Click here to clog the Secretary of Agriculture's mailbox with all kinds of crazy.

Suggested content:
1. Exactly how long ago is long ago enough not to worry?

2. What if I didn't cook it?

3. Is beef the same as cow?

4. Can you come check out what's in my freezer right now?

5. Told Ya! Love, PETA

6. I am no longer going to buy your greetings cards, and Glenn Close has some explaining to do!
7. The past few years, the Federal Government of Nigeria allocated funds to its Ministries and Agencies based on their requests for funds for the execution of projects. Due to the Government's Central Accounting System, all such allocated funds were paid into the Central Bank of Nigeria, which is the apex bank as well as the banker to the Federal Government...
8. Dear Mr. Sec'y. I don't feel so good. And Mommy doesn't answer anymore.

I'll leave the last 2 up to you.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's the International Year of the Potato!

Highlights from

It's an org
If the potato is not-for-profit, we are all in trouble.

Sponsorship by McCain's foods.
McCain? 2008?? COINCIDENCE?

3 years in the making
2008 was selected as the International Year of the Potato in 2005. It may take an entire year to plan the annual Teaching and Learning Celebration, but for the international flair of the POTATO, one needs real events:

- photography contest
- Gnocchi Night
- a cool abbreviation (IYP)

Imagine the embarrassment if they had made it the Inetrnational Year of Beef?

Here are some other International Years you missed waiting for the Potato(e)s to come in.
2004 - Rice (sorry about the Atkins)
2005 - Physics (potato looking pretty good, now, huh?)
2006 - Deserts (seriously? That's the best you got, UN?)
2007 - Dolphin (now tuna free!)

Please also be aware that 2008 is cheating on the potato. It is also the

Still to look forward to in 09 - the International Year of Natural Fibres.
Like potato sacks. Be sure to spell it the British way.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

You can't move a washing machine on a postal dolley...

...and other life lessons.

This illustration does make it look very easy, doesn't it? I guess the straps are a key part of the operation.

The Lady of the House said to leave the appliances, someone would get them later, and the middle-aged gals who had assembled to help her shut down the last of the house agreed: we were out of our element. Not so the 2 men who were there -- elementary school teacher men, but men nonetheless.

Straps Are Fer Saps! was the rallying cry, and this narrow wooden staircase without banister is a snap.

After the horrible crashing noise came an eerie silence and for a second we did what a woman will do: holler from the garage, "Everybody all right...?"

"It's fiiiine," the 2 insisted, taking care to roll the machine out with its back facing us and hope to get it to the U-Haul before we noticed. I thought it was the dryer, so when they rolled it past me, with its buckled gaping side, I asked the Lady of the House... "This thing run on natural gas?"

"It's fiiiine," they continued, with an explanation of why the smashed-in corner didn't matter -- a treatise that featured repeated use of the word "gasket." While delivering it, continue to pull on the dent as if the massive strength you lacked while carrying a washer will now materialize as you tug on it.

One of the women said, carefully, "You can't fault people for helping you for free."

(Can't ya?)

It's fine. really. No one was hurt. There is a dryer too, if you don't mind breaking up the set.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Curious Turn of Events

It's performance review season down at the Mill, and this week they let my mentor go. We are supposed to say her "position was eliminated," as in her position of sitting at that desk over there. Her "program was cut," as mine once was too, but she went with it.

Let me synopsize how this relationship came about, what it came to mean, the confusion this turn of events brings about, and what I think the next steps are. Or... let me just free-write on and on about it until you click over to some other website featuring video of the President tap-dancing.

For the purposes of our discussion, we will call her Sully, in tribute to the greatest, most-devoted mentor of all time, pictured above. [cue Jay: "you are obsessed with blind people."]

I no longer remember how Sully and I met, and I have had to sit here a few minutes trying to conjure it up. When I first started at the Mill, my team sat in the midst of her team. We had no relationship other than the convenience of 4 cubes placed together, and my team and hers became neighborly work-friends in the way you do in these giant veal farms.

I've discovered I make a friend like this in every job environment: salt-of-the-earth "real people," New England bahn, natural-smart, who through hard work and hand-built connections have brought themselves to the place where they are. They ground me, as I tend to wander through life, stumbling through doors and oozing my way up ladders of success.

As I got to know Sully, we opened up to each other about our work-life experiences, our histories, our imagined futures. She had (has) experience and training I do not, and was in a position to influence management (albeit covertly and at glacial speed) if we organized ourselves like little French Resistance fighters.

Then this happened: The Boss tells me that as part of our professional development for 2007, we must each select a mentor, and meet monthly with him or her. I mentally cocked an eyebrow. (I can't actually do that, which is one of my life-regrets. I can wiggle my ears, but this does not have the same effect.)

"May martinis be involved?" I asked.
The Boss, who can cock her eyebrow (as well as her fist,) returned, "Whatever you gotta do."

Understand Sully is not a Mentor who phones it in. I knew that when I asked her to formalize our relationship, it would actually change; and it did so just at the time I needed it, because some crazy-ass mayhem went down in 2007. So it was on, and through it I managed to keep my sanity and my job. You've been reading this far; I don't need to re-cap.

Sully became part of my day-to-day survival. When I fell off the wagon May-July, and threw my summer in the trash, I had her to go to about it. She met me in a place most mentors don't get to -- I suppose because I don't take them there.

When the Boss went on leave, it was Sully who simultaneously coached me through a job interview at another company and encouraged me to make a go with Rock Star (rather than spend the 4th quarter hiding from her, as I was inclined to do). It was Sully who helped me to the breakthrough (Sully, and Rock Star, and Bryan Robinson, and Microsoft Outlook. And the most amazing workmates ever imagined).

Sully's world came crashing down in 2007 too, personally as well as professionally, and I was completely humbled when she apologized to me for missing a lunch due to a horrifying family crisis. "So how are you doing, though, are you all right?" she says to me over the phone, as my mouth is still hanging open. She actually waits for me to answer.

I was not shocked, I am not panicked, by her departure. I am actually glad for her. She needs and deserves this drastic change, though one always hopes it will be on one's own terms. She needs an alteration that allows more space for her personal life, and a workplace that makes her feel good at the end of the day.

For me, I am only saddened. But ready, I think, for a program without a sponsor.

2008. The Boss is back, and things are good. Just told me yesterday I am excellent at everything I do. I worked 39 hours this week, and even though I know I need to pull some time on Sunday, I also know better now how to practice moderation (and have nearly learned how to enjoy it). I talked to Sully the night she carried her box out the door and let her do all the talking for a while. I never once suggested that she should ask how I am doing.

I am doing just fine, Sully. And so will you. And know this, my friend. I will toootttaally take you with me on my vaudeville lecture tour.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dolly Parton on Captain Kangaroo

#6 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

If you are thinking that Captain Kangaroo is not "the 70s," then you may also think American Bandstand is not the 80's. These shows lasted longer than you think.

Captain Kangaroo went off the air in 1984. The clip above is dated 1975. Dolly is 23 years old; Bob Keeshan is 50. Please do not say mean things about why the Captain was so interested in Dolly. I will save my Captain/Mr Rogers grudge-match post for some other time.

I myself first knew Dolly from Porter Waggoner's outfit -- seriously, who is purtier?
Then she was just a-ever-whar.

I have to confess that I do not truly recall Dolly's appearance at the Captain's Place (though I was not above a drop-by, even in '76). I went surfing for a good Dolly clip so I could lament the postponement of her Backwoods Barbie tour -- to which I have tickets. The Tarletons and I have balcony seats for the March 5 show, which has been moved to May 5.

Dolly admits she has interrupted her tour to rest her breasts. This is not something I have ever had to resort to. I would like to use that as my next call-in-sick excuse. Last month I did pull something shoveling, so I can imagine what a 40DD must sound like screaming for a break.

But this was a post about the Captain, who was bumped aside for the CBS Morning Show in 1981.

Trivalicious Captain Stuff:
- Bob Keeshan, also Clarabell the Clown. This is fairly well-known. But we are just getting started.

8000 times more sinister than the Captain...

- "Kangaroo," because of the big pockets. Old men with deep pockets..? also pretty creepy.
But you know, it's not the Captain's fault, or Mr Rogers fault, that they were old men when I came along. I just didn't like the way they acted like they could see me.

- Slim Goodbody - a Captain regular.

- longest running kids show. period.

- his photo may be on the summit of Everest.