Fourier Analysis is a mathematical tool which can do a number of things: separate out signals from noise; help identify patterns or trends in data; filter out all unwanted data and focus on a single signal; use approximations to make generalizations; make approximations of real world signals (think electronic music); combine harmonics to get a stronger signal. That's what I'll be trying to do here!! Won't you join me with your comments?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pistol-Packin' Mimmaw...NOT!

Now we all know that every good Soap Opera series has a gun storyline in it. So this week I thought I would oblige with a true story about my maternal grandmother! Don't know what Soap Opera I'm talking about. Well you just have to tune into 'Twas Brillig and Walking Kateastrophe to find out and read the other stories that make this sudsy game so much fun!
The Panhandle Plains of Texas is a lonely country, even in this day and age. Nighttime photos from outerspace show very little light pollution, except along a couple of major highways. Daytime driving often means miles and miles with no other vehicle on the road.

In the Depression era, this part of the state was even emptier. Farms were large and spread out and required neighbours and hired help during work-intensive periods to get various jobs done. But in-between times the daily chores were ususally managed by one man and his wife and kids. Such was the case with my grandparents. My grandmother's day was full of the kinds of chores that women these days cannot even imagine. There was no telephone or television. And at that time they only had a generator to operate the water well pump and provide electricity. No microwave. No refrigerator! Not even a gas stove! Miss Ruby, as all the folks called her, did her canning and preserving and cooking on a wood-burning stove.

At some point during this time, my grandfather had to take the cotton harvest to be ginned (have the fibers removed from the seeds and husks) and sold. He would be gone for about a week. As the time for him to leave approached he became more nervous about leaving his wife and 2 young children alone on the farm. He'd heard news from neighboring farms about drifters passing through and stealing from these isolated homesteads. A loaded shotgun was always kept behind the door in case of "snakes and varmints" (four-legged as well as two-legged varieties). But Daddy Rob was going to be taking the shotgun with him on his trip, a necessary precaution as he would be carrying cash for selling the cotton crop.

Miss Ruby was not worried. She was very independent and had traveled many a road and spent many a night alone on the farm. But the day before he left Daddy Rob came home from a trip to town with a small pistol. And argument ensued. One of few between my grandparents (that we know about anyway). Miss Ruby was not having such a gun in her house. End of discussion. But Daddy Rob was insistent. He was trying to show her how safe it was and demonstrate how to shoot it. He emptied the bullets from the pistol chamber and then showed her how to stretch out her arm and lock her elbow to steady the gun. Miss Ruby was adamant. She was not having the gun in her house. But Daddy Rob persisted. "It's perfectly safe", he said, lowering his arm, "See",and he pulled the trigger to show her how easy it was to fire.

The gun went off. One round was still in the barrel. It left a small hole through the wooden floor of the kitchen. Miss Ruby did not say a word. Neither did Daddy Rob. He left the house with the pistol which was never seen again. His trip was uneventful as was Miss Ruby's week without him. The subject of a gun in the house never came up again.

But for the remainder of the time they lived in that house, Miss Ruby refused to let him fix the hole in the floor!

Friday, September 28, 2007

15 Possible Reasons Why Everything Seems to Be Going Wrong for So Many Of Us Lately...

1. Scientists are admitting that a mysterious illness is the direct effect of a meteorite that hit a village in Peru last week. As there are hundreds of meteorites that enter the Earth's atmosphere every day, it may be that more of these are carry this "ET-flu". No wonder we seem to be suddenly struck "overnight" by something...

2. The standard kilogram weight that is the basis of the metric system is shrinking, and physicists have no explanation. But as science knows, matter cannot be created or destroyed, so if there are more things that are losing weight, it might explain why so many of us are unexplainably gaining weight. It has to be going somewhere....

3. Something is causing the Earth's rotation to slow down, so much so that an extra second was added to the clocks in 2005 and scientists predict that another second may be needed in the next year or so. Scientists do not know what is the cause of the Earth's slowdown, but if it is big enough to have such an effect on an object as large as the Earth, think of what kind of effect whatever it is it may be having on us lowly Earthlings...

4. At the latest reading, the carbon dioxide concentration in the global atmosphere is 381.91 parts per million, 1.6 ppm higher than this time last year and over 100 ppm higher than the pre-industrialization level. (Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) Not even considering the increasing levels of pollutants in the air, and the local variations in urban areas where the levels are even higher, this is evidence that there is less pure oxygen for breathing. No wonder our brains don't seem to be working properly...

5. The World Health Organization has released research showing that " ...depression impairs the health state to a substantially greater degree than many other diseases...” including diabetes, arthritis, and other chronic illnesses. And since scientists have also shown that stress is a major contributor to depression, it is no wonder that Moms these days are suffering!

6. New studies show that "Exercise releases a bounce that bras cannot handle..." This was found to be true for flat-chested women as well as those who are well-endowed. And the excessive "mammary movement" causes not only short-term aches and pains but also long-term breakdown of breast tissue and be "...damaging to the limited natural support system." So now even exercising is bad for our health...

7. Two new research papers report that " are happier than women." A lot of the difference has to do with job satisfaction and with the limitations that family and motherhood duties place on women's career choices, as well as the extra hours women put in to tasks involving running a household. I don't know of any woman who would be surprised by these findings.

8. New studies about learning and memory skills show that our brains work better in the evening than in the mornings. In fact, our brains abilities improve throughout the day. Now I have a scientific proof as to why I am not a morning person!

9. Forbes magazine blames our "bad feelings" on too much coverage of bad news which distorts the real picture. Okay, I'll go along with that. But where do we find the "good news" channel?

10. Meanwhile the UK's Guardian newspaper blames our collective depression on greed and jealousy. It seems that the media these days shows us how everyone else is living better than we are and we are therefore not satisfied with what we have. Not sure about this one, but I'm not yet rejecting it as a good excuse.

11. The European Union blames the current "collective depression" on a "spiritual deficit" within its boundaries. Along with other issues it talks about a "cultural identity crisis". While I don't fit into its specific criteria, I can definitely identify with many of the issues it talks about. Nothing like being an ex-pat married to an ex-pat from a different country with children who have no specific cultural identity...

12. A best-selling author has a new book out on Toxic Success. In his book he " ...identifies the major psychological syndrome of the modern era: fragmentation caused by too much electronic, video and computer stimulation." Yep, sounds like some of my problems. Does this mean I need to give up blogging?

13. From a medical perspective, there are more than 84 different types of sleep disorders, all of which can cause symptoms of depression, lethargy, malaise, etc. I think I have at least 6 of them...

14. An then there's the astronomical phenomenon that we are slowly approaching, Winter solstice. The fall Equinox where the days and nights are of equal length was passed on 23.September. From now until 22.December, the days get shorter and hours of darkness longer. The effects of this on the general population have been documented over centuries. "The depressive psychological effects of winter on individuals and societies for that matter, are for the most part tied to coldness, tiredness, malaise, and inactivity. Winter weather, plus being indoors causes negative ion deficiency which decreases serotonin levels resulting in depression and tiredness. Also, getting insufficient light in the short winter days increases the secretion of melatonin in the body, off balancing the circadian rhythm with longer sleep." Couldn't have said it better myself.

And finally, for those fellow Fibromyalgia sufferers...

15. New scientific research has confirmed that "Fibromyalgia sufferers do not respond to traditional painkillers". I've been saying that for a long time. Now there's proof.

No wonder I am having such trouble lately. I think I need to lie down now...!

If you want to visit other Friday Fifteen entries, check out this site!

Monday, September 24, 2007

A "Feel Better" Message

This is a feel better message that will mean the most to those of us who make up the "Jenn-in -Holland" fan club. If you don't know her, she's to blame for my being in the blogging world. I don't think I would have found it without her.

Jenn is currently "under the weather", that's why she is not blogging at her usual rate. She'll tell you "it's just a cold", and it is probably nothing to worry about. But as Moms we all know that it never is "just" anything! Not with 3 kids and a job and a hubby (no matter how wonderful and self-sufficient he is). Our lives are full of multi-tasking and split second decision making and levels of stress and physical, mental and emotional demands that may be "low-level" on the cortisol (stress hormone) scale, but are constant and don't let up, even for illness.

And of course she will drag herself into work, because that's what we do. We get on with it, ignore ourselves and our bodies and give everything we've got. And she'll survive this. In fact she'll do great. She won't miss a deadline, she will meet her commitments, and she'll be there to cover for colleagues who can't just "get over it". Because she never does anything halfway.

She doesn't think of herself as "SuperMom". None of us do. Nonetheless we put super-human requirements on ourselves and we often do manage to "save the day". Jenn's like most of us. Doing the best she can, giving her all, kicking herself when she thinks she's slacking. I've been reading a lot of blog posts lately that show Moms doing the same thing to themselves.

So this is a "Feel Better" message to my dear friend, and to all of us who are stressed and suffering from the malaise that seems to have invaded the cosmos recently. I am working on a list of reasons as to why so many of us are so affected right now (check out the coming Friday 15!).

But for today, if you feel up to it, let your thoughts and good wishes go out to Jenn! And if you are not up to it, I give you the same advise I gave to her - "Take a walk. Get outside and notice the beginning of fall. Look at the leaves, the sky, smell the air. Give yourself a break!"

Back in June, before I started blogging, I was inspired by Jenn's poetry and left the following comment on her blog. You might have missed it as it was a later comment, so I put it here. Not the best in terms of poetry, but it does say a lot about how I feel about her.
My Friend Jenn...

My friend Jenn writes a blog that I could have authored, only she does it better.

My friend Jenn makes me smile, makes me groan, makes me laugh, makes me cry, sometimes all at the same time.

My friend Jenn makes me a better mother ‘cause she sets the bar so high but is honest about her failures.

My friend Jenn is a superstar, but also the best person you could ever have in the audience.

My friend Jenn awakens the green-eyed monster in me, and then feeds it homemade cookies.

My friend Jenn is so different in her background that I was scared to get to know her.

My friend Jenn is so similar in her spirit that she is the sister I never had.

My friend Jenn sees the beauty in the chaos, so she can come to my house anytime.

My friend Jenn makes me feel like such a good friend, I want to add it to my resumé.

My friend Jenn is only twenty-six, which is cool because I am only twenty-eight. Too bad our bodies are so confused about their ages.

My friend Jenn doesn’t really know how great she is, so I have to tell her sometimes. That’s not easy to do when your are as competitive as I am.

My friend Jenn lives too far away, I don’t get to see her everyday. But I do get to read about her life. A small compensation, but still fun.

My friend Jenn has so much energy she makes me tired watching her.

My friend Jenn makes me so proud that I can call her

My friend Jenn.

I hope you all are coming out from under the fog, as I am (slowly) and that we will all feel better soon. Especially you my friend!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Geek Humour

Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slow down in the overall system performance, particularly in the flower, gifts and jewelery applications that had operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0. In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, but then installed undesirable programs such as Golf Clubs 4.1, NBA 3.0 and World Cup 2.0. And now Conversation 8.0 no longer runs and House Cleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system. I’ve tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail. What can I do?

Desperate Housewife


Dear Desperate Housewife,

First keep in mind: Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while Husband 1.0 is an Operating System. Try entering the command C:\ I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME and download Tears 6.2. Don't forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update. If those applications all work as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelery 2.0 and Flowers 3.5. But remember, overuse can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0 or Late Night Beer 6.1. Late Night Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will create SnoringLoudly.wav files.

Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-Law 1.0 (it runs a Virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources). Also do not attempt to reinstall another Boyfriend program. These are not supported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have a limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider additional software to improve memory and performance. I personally recommend Tasty Food 3.0 and Hot Lingerie 6.9.

Good Luck,

Tech Support

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Rain Must Fall...

In the midst of my own haze of pain and struggle to get my sluggish mind and body moving, I am faced with a pre-teen crisis. I knew this was coming and that the homework tantrum from the previous week was only a preview. We now are in the midst of full-blown Middle-School Meltdown.

It is heartbreaking. And at the same time a necessary step on the way to adulthood and independence.

But it is not, and I believe never was for anyone, easy. Nevertheless, that offers no comfort to an almost 12-year-old who hates her body, despises the boys in her class which she labels "stupid", chafes at the various rules and responsibilities that are new and confusing, longs for independence and at the same time will not admit that she is a bit scared.

I watch as she frowns over her homework, knowing full well it takes a lot of energy and effort to "put a kink in the gray matter" (something I learned from a doctor-friend about how a brain develops). I hold her a minute longer when she gives me a good-night cuddle and after a moment's struggle to break free, she relents and settles into my arms for some respite.

I give what soothing advice and comfort I can, but I know it falls on deaf ears. All my Mommy-wisdom will not change how she feels. She is unique with her own problems and inner demons she must conquer alone. All I can offer and know it will matter is my love, my belief in her, my assurance that no matter what, she has a soft place to land on if/when she falls.

And then she is off, out of my presence and I am left with my prayers to whatever gods are listening that I am more than willing to accept more pain myself if it will ease some of hers.

If only it were that easy...

After posting this, I went and read my friend's blog and found that she too is on this same path. Her entry is so much more eloquent, I urge you to read it yourself. The pains we share as parents form such unspeakably wonderful and poignant connections.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Blues - Colored Grey...

There are times when my insides feel like the outside.

Usually this is a good thing when the weather is warm and sunny, or when spring brings its first gentle breezes as opposed to the bitter cold winds of fall an winter.

Today we are having one of our first real dreary fall days. The sky is grey. It isn't really raining hard, but it is just drizzling down so that everything is wet and the air is damp. And it's the kind of cold that catches you off guard, where your jacket is too thin, and you should have worn a scarf. It's just plain miserable weather.

And so are my spirits - grey, damp, gloomy, cold, miserable.

And the change in the weather has also accompanied a fibromyalgia flare. It isn't as bad as they can get, but I just feel yucky, like I'm coming down with the flu. But I know it's fibro rearing its ugly head because of the specific joint pains that I get. And I am so tired I can barely drag myself out of bed.

So I am lurking. Which suits how I feel. Ghostly, barely present, but not completely out of the picture. I enjoy reading all my blog-friends and love hearing from you, but right now I am feeling sorry for myself so I'm just hunkering down for a bit.

I will be back soon, and am trying to write about better times. Jenn-in-Holland is nagging me (again!) about blogging about my birthday. I will get even, however, by making her put in her 2-cents as well. And there are even pictures, which will make it an even more special blog (for me!).

So don't worry. And please don't forget me. I'm still here, but I'm probably in bed right now...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Short Chemistry lesson

Three late-evening school meetings, a homework meltdown, general autumn malaise and a fibromyalgia flare have limited my time in the blogging sphere this week.  But I could not miss out on Saturday Silliness!  Don't be intimidated by the scientific bent of this story, it is still pretty easy to understand.  Get all the terms down and impress your friends!

The following is an actual question given on a University of ILLINOIS chemistry mid term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well :

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed)or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

"First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.' "


Happy Weekend!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Drivin' 'Cross Texas

Since I had a hot new car (see previous post) my Dad wanted to take a trip to visit his Mom and sister and her family. They lived in Texas as well, but if you know Texas, you know that it is the size of a medium size country (in fact, several small countries can fit inside it!). So from where we lived it was a good 8-hour drive. We set out early in the morning, making good time on the wide Texas highways. After a stop for lunch, I let my Dad take over driving. Now really, this car was a man's dream car. When you pushed down the accelerator, it responded and handled great speed with ease.

Unfortunately for my Dad, Texas is not Germany, and there are speed limits. So on a long stretch of road, where there are few cars and a fairly barren landscape, it is really easy to lose track of how fast you are going. Which he did. And of course there was a state trooper with nothing to do who happened to be parked under one of the few shade trees that were alongside the road. Dad did not see him in time, and knew that he had been caught speeding.

Sure enough, the trooper came up behind us and flashed his lights. Dad stopped and got out of the car to give the trooper his license (this was before the days before law enforcement was afraid of people getting out of their cars). He also needed the registration, and I got it out of the glove box and went to give it to him.

Now as we were traveling in Texas during a pretty warm late spring day, I was wearing shorts and a tank top. I had not received the nickname "Legs" in college without reason! The trooper asked me if it was my car and I said yes. He asked about the engine size and I gave him the specs. He joked with my Dad about how easy it was to speed in a car like that! I got back in the driver's seat while my Dad was still talking to the trooper.

The way my Dad tells it,"That trooper admired her. He admired the car. He was smilin' ear to ear. Musta made his day. And he still gave me a ticket!"

At least he did knock off some miles from his actual speed so the ticket was not so expensive.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hot Wheels!

Now you might not think that the experience of getting a new car is something that would not fall in the category of "Soap Opera Sunday". Ah dear readers, you would be mistaken. And after you have read through this drama, be sure and check out the other stories found in this weekly event sponsored by the lovely 'Twas Brillig and the ever charming Walking Kateastrophe.

I had recently moved back to Texas and was enjoying the financial freedom that came with my new professional career as an electronic engineer. Maybe it was the influence of all the testosterone that came from working in a primarily male environment. Maybe it was the effect of the California lifestyle. Or maybe it was just that I needed a flash car to go with my sexy status of single female professional. Whatever the influence, I decided I needed a new car, and by "new" I meant brand new. You see up to this point there was no one in my immediate family who had ever purchased a "brand new" vehicle. Yes we had bought cars that were new to us, but usually they were "gently used". And all the vehicles I had owned and driven were "less-than-gently used". I wanted something new. I wanted something fast. I wanted something hot. And I finally could actually afford it!

So I did my research (this was prior to the Internet). I poured over Consumer Reports. I searched through car magazines. I visited the new car exhibits at the Texas State Fair. And I fell in love. She was a Camero Berlinetta

And of course I had to go for the full sports package with spoiler, etc. Now you need to realise that a sports car does not count as a sports car if it is an automatic. Plus the automatics were not rated very highly in the consumer tests. I visited several different car lots and did not find the one I wanted or in the color I preferred. So I calculated what price I should have to pay, and went to the larger dealership in the area and ordered exactly what I wanted. A 5-speed, V-8, 5-liter, sports package in metallic beige with dark brown interior. I probably paid several hundred more than I should have, but it was a reasonable price and I did this all by myself. It would be about +6 weeks before I could pick up my new car, but I knew it would be worth the wait.

I enjoyed the build up by "talking shop" with the guys at work. When I described what I had ordered and pulled out the brochure, they were all impressed. Various options were compared and discussed, the merits of the Berlinetta vs. the Z-28, 4-liter vs. 5-liter, etc. In the end I received the grudging admiration and some little bit of envy from my colleagues. Finally the day came to pick up my car.

Up to this point I had been driving a loaner from my Dad. An automatic Ford station wagon that had seen better days. But it got me where I needed to be, if I remembered to keep adding a can of oil every 2 weeks. It had been about 8 years since I had driven a standard transmission, but I figured I would pick it up again quickly. I had even taken a test drive in a similar model and had done fine. So after receiving the call that my car was ready, I went by and picked up my brother and we drove to pick up my car. The plan was to pick up the Camero and both of us drive over to my Dad's to show off my new baby!

My brother accompanied me on the inspection of the car, pointing out a missing screw and a few minor details that were noted on the record for the first servicing. After signing the final papers, I was handed the keys and I drove my lovely new toy very carefully off the parking lot. The take-off was a little rough initially, but I got it in gear, though in truth it helped that the parking lot exit was an incline that allowed me to coast into first gear. My brother followed behind and we managed to make it through the downtown without even having to stop. I barely even got it out of third gear.

Just outside the city limit, I caught the first red light. It was long and therefore the car was at a complete stop before the light turned green. And as is to be expected, as I tried to engage the gear, the car stalled. I was not flustered and started the car and tried again. And again. And again. And again. And then the light changed. So we waited through the next red light and I tried very carefully again. The car jerked forward, and stalled. By this time the guy in the car behind my brother hit his horn and changed lanes and sped on by with various colorful descriptions of my driving style being uttered at the top of his voice. I tried again. And the light changed again. Once again it turned green and I very carefully got the car in gear and it moved about 3 feet before it died.

I looked in the rear view mirror and saw my brother in the car behind me, resting his forehead on the steering wheel and shaking his head. I got out of the car and handed him the keys...

Needless to say he left me in the dust as he worked the kinks out of my little speedwagon. My Dad never failed, whenever he was around someone who admired my car, to tell the story of the first ride home. Of course the fact that my legs were barely long enough to push the stupid clutch petal all the way to the floor to disengage the transmission before they got it corrected, and that it took three service visits requiring clutch adjustments before the gear engagement was considered optimal, are conveniently left out of the "typical woman driver" story!

Nonetheless, I did love that car. And she does feature in future SOS stories...!

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Sorry but today I am generally irritated by those beings possessing the defective "X" chromosome. So since it's my blog...

Guy gets on a plane and finds himself seated next to a cute blonde. He
immediately turns to her and makes his move. "You know," he says,
"I've heard that flights will go quicker if you strike up a conversation
with your fellow passenger. So let's talk."

The blonde, who had just opened her book she had been looking
forward to reading on the plane, closes it slowly and says to the guy,
"What would you like to discuss?"

"Oh, I don't know," says the guy. "How about nuclear power?"

"OK," says the blonde. "That could be an interesting topic. But first
let me ask you a question. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same
stuff--grass. Yet the deer excretes little pellets, the cow turns out a
flat patty, and the horse produces muffins of dried poop.
Why do you suppose that is?"

The guy is dumbfounded. Finally he replies, "I haven't the slightest idea."

"So tell me," says the blonde, "How is it that you feel qualified to
discuss nuclear power when you don't know shit?"


This was sent to me as a "public service message" for women to understand men better.

Because I'm a man, when I lock my keys in the car, I will
fiddle with a coat hanger long after hypothermia has set
in. Calling AAA (or road service equivalent) is not an option. I will win.


Because I'm a man, when the car isn't running very well, I
will pop the hood and stare at the engine as if I know
what I'm looking at. If another man shows up, one of us
will say to the other, "I used to be able to fix these
things, but now with all these computers and everything, I
wouldn't know where to start." We will then drink a couple
of beers and break wind, as a form of holy communion.


Because I'm a man, when I catch a cold, I need someone to
bring me soup and take care of me while I lie in bed and
moan. You're a woman. You never get as sick as I do, so
for you, this is no problem.


Because I'm a man, when one of our appliances stops
working, I will insist on taking it apart, despite
evidence that this will just cost me twice as much once
the repair person gets here and has to put it back


Because I'm a man, I must hold the television remote
control in my hand while I watch TV. If the thing has been
misplaced, I may miss a whole show looking for
it.....though one time I was able to survive by holding a
calculator.....(applies to engineers mainly).


Because I'm a man, there is no need to ask me what I'm
thinking about. The true answer is always either sex,
cars, sex, sports or sex. I have to make up something else
when you ask, so don't ask.


Because I'm a man, I do not want to visit your mother, or
have your mother come visit us, or talk to her when she
calls, or think about her any more than I have to.
Whatever you got her for Mother's Day is okay; I don't
need to see it.


Because I'm a man, you don't have to ask me if I liked the
movie. Chances are, if you're crying at the end of it, I
didn't....and if you are feeling amorous
afterwards....then I will certainly at least remember the
name and recommend it to others.


Because I'm a man, I think what you're wearing is fine. I
thought what you were wearing five minutes ago was fine,
too. Either pair of shoes is fine. With the belt or
without it, looks fine. Your hair is fine. You look fine.
Can we just go now?


Because I'm a man, and this is, after all, the year 2007,
I will share equally in the housework. You just do the
laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, the vacuuming, and the
dishes, and I'll do the rest...... like wandering around
in the garden with a beer wondering what to do.

(deep sigh) Happy Weekend!

Friday, September 7, 2007

15 things I Say to My Daughters. Every. School Day

Yes, school has now started here as well, and we seem to be back into the same old routine...

1. Good morning! Did you sleep well?

2. Can you please pick up the clothes you left piled on the chair/floor /bed?

3. Have you eaten your breakfast? Did you drink your milk?

4. Please put you dirty dishes in the sink!

5. Did you brush your teeth? Be sure and wipe you face, you have something around your mouth.

6. Is that what you are going to wear today? Is it clean?

7. Do you have all your books? Well, then get them and put them in your bag now!

8. Did you finish your homework? Do you have your homework in your bag?

9. Have you packed your lunch? Do you have your snack?

10. Did you put your drink in your bag? Is the lid closed tight?

11. Do you have your bike key?

12. Please take a jacket, it can rain later. And please brush your hair. Well then brush it again.

13. No you have to wear your bike helmet. I don't care that other kids are laughing. I want you safe. Even if it messes up your hair. Just tell them that your mean old mother makes you.

14. I love you. Be careful. Have a good day!

15. What did you forget now?


If you want to visit other Friday Fifteen entries, check out this site!

Monday, September 3, 2007

What Did You Learn...?

Ah, back to school...and the inspiration to today's Monday Memories.

When I was first going to school, there was no kindergarten or pre-school program that made for an easy transition into the education system. My parents impressed upon me that I should pay attention and work hard. And when my Daddy arrived home that evening, he asked me "What did you learn in school today?" I did not have an answer for him, and did not realize that he was teasing me a little bit. But still he said, well, I want you to think about it and tell me tomorrow what you have learned.

So the next day I was trying to figure out just what I was supposed to be learning. But as it was a bit chaotic with everyone being assigned desks and materials and books and being tested on how much they can read and write, there were not real lessons. When my Daddy go home he first asked me about what we did. I told him about my desk and where I was sitting and the books I received. And then he asked me "What did you learn in school today?" I had to think a minute, but this time I had an answer," I learned how to stand in line!"

He laughed and laughed at my answer, he was so surprised. And this tale has been told through the years to all school age children in the family!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

One Step at a Time...

This is Part V of my series for Soap Opera Sunday (go to these links for Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV). Thanks go to 'Twas Brillig and WalkingKateastrophe for the inspiration to set up such a great forum for blog writers to share their stories. You can find a variety of entertainment every Sunday when you check out their links!

Finally the end of the story. I'd love for it to be as dramatic and heroic as it deserves to be, but in truth I could not have done it any different at the time. There were many small steps and some big ones. And while it took several years to get to this point, getting out of it happened faster than I had imagined possible. That is why this portion of the story has so much detail and I don't consider it my best writing. But for me it is important to point out all the small steps that led to the conclusion. I truly believe there are others who are also stuck in problems that seem impossible to solve. But like any big project, it can be accomplished one step at a time...

I had to get away. ... But where to go? (The first step.)

While getting the cash that I had put aside, I noticed on the desk the recent bill from the department store where we had an account. Along with the bill was a flyer announcing their new travel department with special air fares. One caught my eye - Phoenix for only $79 round trip! A plan formulated in my head. I could go and see my Air Force buddy! I immediately got on the phone to him, but there was no answer. It was still late afternoon on a Thursday and he might not be home. So I called the number listed for the travel department and got a very friendly young woman who was happy to look up routes and give me the travel information I needed. Friday was a holiday and there were no flights then but there was a flight leaving that evening in 2 hours and the airport was only a half-hour away. And yes I could pay with credit card and pick up the tickets at the airport! The only problem was that the Sunday return flight was fully booked but I could return early Monday morning. I took a deep breath and booked the flight. I couldn't think any further than that. It just seemed the right thing to do. (The second step.)

So I followed my impulse, and got my things and got in the car to go to the airport. On the way, I started having doubts. My dad's apartment was on the way to the airport, and again, on impulse I drove by and saw his car there. I parked and went to see him. I told him I was going away for the weekend and that I was on my way to the airport. He offered to drive me so that I wouldn't have to pay any parking fees. I hadn't even thought about paying for the parking! I really did not plan anything! I thanked him and we got in the car and drove to the airport. On the way, my Dad asked a few questions, but he never brought up BF. I learned later that he could see the mark on my cheek where I had been hit and that was all he needed to know. At the airport, he said I could call him at work if I needed a ride home, and that if I could to let him hear from me during the weekend so he'd know I was okay. And he handed me $20. He called it "Emergency money." Tears welled up in my eyes but I could not give in to crying or I wouldn't make my flight. I picked up my tickets and got on the flight. (The next step.)

Once airborne, again I had time to start to think about what I was doing, and how crazy and impulsive it was. I was again on the verge of tears when the flight attendant came by with soft drinks. She must have noticed how upset I was because the next time she walked by she stopped and leaned over and handed me a bottle of white wine. She said it was left over from first class and would I like it. I thanked her and took it. I did not usually drink anything and since I had eaten little that day, the alcohol went straight to my head. I relaxed and felt suddenly at peace with myself, something that I had not felt for a long time.

In what seems like no time at all, we were arriving in Phoenix. I got my bag and went to a phone to call my friend. No answer. I thought I would give it some more time, but now really was becoming aware of what I had gotten myself in to. I went outside to enjoy the fresh air and sat on my suitcase a little ways from the entrance. Every 15 minutes I would go inside and try to call again. In between I would people watch. About a half hour after I had started this routine, another young woman came out carrying her suitcase and wiping her eyes. I watched her as she walked away and sat down on her suitcase on the other side of the door. The next time I made my phone call, she brought her case over to where I was with mine and asked if I would mind watching it while she made a phone call. I said not at all.

Over the next hour we exchanged stories of how we found ourselves stranded at the airport. Her long-distance boyfriend was supposed to be picking her up, but was by now almost 2 hours late. And she could not reach him (Remember, this is in the days before cell phones!) When her friend did show up a short while later, the sun was already going down, and I was starting to realize I needed to make other arrangements. The boyfriend kindly offered to drop me off, and I asked if he knew of a cheap hotel close to the airport. He said he did and I got in to go with them. My new acquaintance Cathy vetoed the first hotel when she saw the state of the pool (apparently a major indicator of quality in the western states!). The next one however was family friendly and so they helped me check in. It was even having a special 3-nights-for-the-price-of-2, which I went ahead and accepted. By this time I was really starting to doubt spontaneous decision to depart. The boyfriend, Bill, then insisted on taking us out to dinner and Cathy would not take no for an answer.

We went to a nice Italian restaurant and I was captivated by the interaction between Cathy and Bill. Cathy was really pissed at Bill for being so late. He in turn had a good excuse as he'd had a flat tire in the midst of a big traffic jab. Phoenix was undergoing a mass exodus of folks going away for the long weekend. And the spare for the sports car he drove was no suitable for the drive to and from the airport, so he had to stop and get the tire repaired and replaced before he could pick her up. He'd called the airport and had her paged, but she of course could not hear it while she was outside. Cathy was still pissed and raving at him, and Bill was understanding and gentle and let her go on without any angry reaction on his part. Eventually she calmed down and it was all good between them. I was amazed to see how well he understood her and how anger was just not something they let mess up their relationship. Watching them like this, I realized that this was something I was desperately missing in my life. I needed to be accepted as I was and not bullied and raged at. And I needed to be able to get angry and let off steam when I was frustrated without being fearful of the consequences. (Another step.)

They dropped me off at the hotel, giving me both their phone numbers and making me promise to call if I needed anything or was in Phoenix or Los Angeles (where Cathy lived) again. After making another phone call to my Air Force buddy (R), I went to my room. I closed the door and when I went into the bathroom I noticed myself in the mirror. This was the first time in possibly more than a week that I had really looked at myself. I was shocked at what I saw. Even making allowance for the horrible fluorescent lighting, there was no doubt I was in bad shape. My skin was pale and sallow, there was a dark bruise under one eye that spread down my cheek, my hair was limp, as was my posture. But worst of all, my eyes had a haunted look that made me almost not be able to even recognize myself. I was repelled and frightened by what I saw. I knew then, very clearly, and almost for the first time, something had to change. (A big step!)

Falling asleep that night, I realized that this would be the first time since my car accident that I had really been by myself. The next morning it hit me very clearly in the form of a small panic attack. I was alone. No one really knew where I was. I was in a strange bed in a strange city and had just spent a night by myself. This was something I had not done for 3-and-a-half years! But just as the panic started to rise and threaten to take over all my thoughts, a voice in my head said "So?" And I stopped. I realized that I had survived the night, that I still knew who I was and where I was, and that it did not matter if anyone else knew because I did. (Another big step!)

And then the tears came. I spent the day on an emotional rollercoaster. At one point I called BF who then raged at me, demanding to know where I was and that I come home immediately. I told him that things between us had to change and that I would come back when I felt I could trust him not to hurt me again. (A very big step!) He was even more furious and started to threaten and scream even more. I hung up and did not call back. I called my Dad to let him know I was okay and said I would call again when I was coming home. And then I went out to sit beside the pool and did not talk to anyone for the rest of the day.

Changes were taking place that I almost could not cope with. While it felt good to be quiet and alone, something I had not realized how much I had missed, it was also very scary. I don't really know why, but probably some of the leftover memories of getting lost right after my accident had something to do with it. But slowly through the day I felt better. Again I think the brain cannot really handle being afraid and being brave at the same time. It had to choose one course of action, and this time I chose to be brave. When I had really made that choice consciously, then from that point on I wasn't afraid again. And ever since, I have rarely been afraid of anything (except spiders!).

I took a walk and ended up being out for hours, almost getting lost. But it didn't worry or scare me this time. I reveled in the beauty of the desert city I had never seen before, marveled at the glorious sunset, and was enormously pleased that I was able to find my way back to the hotel by watching the planes landing at the airport! Another call to R still went unanswered. I spent another night alone, and slept in perfect peace. (A small step.)

Saturday came and went without my speaking to another soul. I had bought a novel that I read without really engaging my brain. I lounged by the pool, took a nap, took another walk, watched TV, and then took another walk out into the dark desert to see the stars. I must have been there for hours as I was quite cold when I finally came back. I went to bed without even trying to reach R. (A small step.)

I spent Sunday again with some emotional ups and downs. There is something to be said for being trapped with yourself for a period of time that you can't alter. There was no going back that day for me, even though at times I had in mind to do so and accept whatever BF chose to do to me. But by the time the sun started to set, I was calm and determined and not about to go back to how things were. (Another step.)

What is important to say here is that while was not going to accept the way things had been, I had not decided to walk away from BF or my marriage. These were small steps towards independence. If anyone had told me that in taking them I was asking for a divorce, I might not have made them. I could not think that far ahead. I could only deal with the present. It's an important distinction because fear of the future is what traps so many women in bad relationships. And if I had looked down the road at my own long-term future, it would not have been a path I could have followed at the time. Instead I was looking at just what was ahead and around the next corner and no further. Just like on horses, these emotional blinders kept me on the path and unafraid. I sometimes think that counselors at women's shelters fail to realize how important it is to focus on the small steps and let the big ones come of their own accord.

At around 8 PM, I made one more call to try and reach R. I realize now how the Fates were looking out for me in so many ways. His news came as a shock. He had been away in Las Vegas with an old friend of ours who was now also living near Phoenix - my ex-boyfriend (X). They had just returned and were surprised and thrilled to know I was in town. Because I was leaving the next morning, they decided to come over right away and get me. When I hung up the phone I was stunned.

I had not thought about X since the day before my wedding when I had to throw all his letters and memorabilia in the trash. I had not heard from him or known how to get in touch. R had mentioned something about it when I first talked to him, but I didn't have any information and did not think about it any further. In 20 minutes they were both there in front of me and all the emotions and silliness of our high-school days came flooding back. We went to X's apartment and drank wine and talked late into the night. X had to work the next day so he went to bed. R and I stayed up and talked further and he probed gently about my home situation. I wasn't ready to talk about it, so he let it rest. However, he had the next day off and convinced me to call the airline and see if I could get my flight changed. Thank goodness for 24-hr. customer service at airlines! It was possible for no extra charge, and so I postponed my return until Tuesday afternoon. (Another step!)

I slept on the couch, R in a sleeping bag on the floor (tough Air Force soldier!). We got up with X before he left and had breakfast together. X was very pleased I was staying over another night, and when I didn't notice had a quiet word with R to arrange to be alone with me that evening. I spent the rest of the day with R, touring around Phoenix, visiting the base where he was stationed, talking about flying and his career plans, and finally what I was going to do. I said I wanted to finish my degree, especially as I was getting so close to finishing, but after that I had not thought about anything. R would not accept this. He started lecturing me as only a close friend can. And by the end of the day he had helped me to figure out how to pick up my old dream of becoming an astronaut. (Another big step!) When we met up with X later that day, R then said he had to take off, but would call me before I left for the airport.

Suddenly I was alone with X, and while everything had been easy and comfortable when R was around, I was now nervous. We went out to dinner and when we came back we went for a walk. It took a while of small talk and awkward silences, but finally X blurted out that he had never stopped loving me and wanted to know how I felt about him. I guess knew on some level this was coming, but still I did not know what to say. I had talked the previous evening about the car accident, but I had not really gone into the memory loss or how it had affected me. When we got back to his apartment, I told him the rest of the story, outlining what I have told in this blog. I left out the abuse, but he could pick up on some of it from what I said and how I acted. And then he took me in his arms and said something that I held onto for many years. "I can wait." He kissed me gently and held me for a long while. (Someone took a step, but I'm not sure it was me!) Then he went to bed, and I lay on the couch thinking through everything that had happened over the last 24 hours. I don't remember sleeping, but morning came quickly.

While he went to work, I pack my suitcase and wrote notes to him and to R. He came back at lunch to take me to the airport, dropping me off as he had to get to work. I still had time before my flight and I talked to my Dad and tried to reach R, but there was no answer. I sat reading a magazine and looked up when my name was called. R arrived to see me off! He gave me a big hug and then looked into my eyes and said, "I know you're not ready now, but when you are, X is not the only one who loves you." He kissed me with a passion that showed me how serious he was. They called my flight before the shock had worn off! (Another step I was not sure I had taken!)

Wow! What a lot I had to think about on the flight home. But what I really had come back with was the courage to face BF and know that whatever happened, I was going to be okay. (Another big step).

What happened next was almost a blur it happened so fast. When I got back home, BF did not want to talk, but I insisted. I said that things had to change, and he agreed. He then told me since I had left him, that I should be the one to move out. I did not even realize I had left him, but in his mind I had. So I got more of my things, and went to my Mom's. As it was summer I was able to find an apartment near the school campus. I had already applied for a school loan and this came through in time for the Summer semester. I was able to get another job on campus and still work some part-time assignments at my office job.

BF filed for divorce and by August it was final. He was out of my life and after one last meeting to sign the papers I have never seen or spoken to him again. I don't know where he is. I haven't looked. I don't want to know.

I think this qualifies as the end to this story! But dear readers, there are more SOS stories to come, fortunately not as tragic, but still full of drama! Such is the life I lead...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Beauty is in the Ear of the Listener

A German, an Italian, a Spaniard, a Frenchman and an American were at a meeting together and during the break they decided to enjoy the lovely summer weather in a local outdoor cafe. As they sat drinking their wine and beer, a butterfly landed on the table where they were sitting.

They all were still for a moment, observing it, when the Frenchman was suddenly inspired. "Ze French language, she is so poeteek! We call zis delicate creature 'Papillion'! (pronounced pa-pi-on). Is eet not a wonderful name?"

His companions agreed that indeed this was a beautiful word for the insect. They all toasted "Papillion!"

The Spaniard, not to be outdone, said, "De Spanish language is also very descreepteeve. We say 'Mariposa' which is also a very bootiful word." And of course this was received and praised and toasted by all present.

And the Italian, in some false modesty, admitted that while his language was also very beautiful, the word "Farfalla" did not quite do justice to the loveliness of the being currently gracing their table. His companions were quick to disagree and another round of drinks was bought to toast this lovely language.

The American, knowing that English did not have the same poetry compared to the other names, defended the sound of "Butterfly" that while nonsensical in translation, still managed to roll off the tongue and was a fitting tribute to this wondrous masterpiece of Mother Nature. And his companions agreed and they all tried out their new words "Butterfly, Mariposa, Papillion, Farfalla" and with every utterance the others cheered and toasted and drank their beers.

Their German companion, however, had become increasingly silent during this discussion. When they all slowly noticed this, they became quiet and drank their beers with introspection. Finally, the German slammed his drink down on the table and asked " Und vat is wrong vit SCHMETTERLING ?!"

I laugh every time I read/hear/think of this joke. My husband has never been able to get it! And I think that's even funnier!