Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Funnies - Forwarded From Friends

Sorry about the title. I just couldn't resist the alliteration, given that today's post is all about word play.

Here are some useful new words, along with their definitions, which arrived in my email inbox this morning:

1. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an a-hole.

2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

3. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

4. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

5. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the Person who doesn't get it.

6. Decafalon: The gruelling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

7. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

8. Beelzebug: Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

9. Caterpallor: The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

10. Abdicate: To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

11. Esplanade: To attempt an explanation while drunk.

12. Willy-nilly: Impotent.

13. Negligent: Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

14. Balderdash: A rapidly receding hairline.

15. Rectitude: The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

16. Pokemon: A Rastafarian proctologist.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Whatever Happened to Jolt Cola?

I didn't begin drinking coffee until I was in law school. I never drank coffee in college. I muddled through with just soda for my caffeine "fix." And I couldn't stand diet soda; it had to be the kind with actual sugar.

My third year in college, there were many ads on the radio for "Jolt" cola. I *loved* their ads. They got right to the point:

"Drink Jolt Cola, with real sugar, and twice the caffeine."

It sounded *great*!! I raced right out and bought a case.

Too bad it didn't taste very good....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I find this fascinating...

You know that bats use echolocation to navigate at night, in extreme darkness, right? They emit a sound and use the echoes from the sound to locate and avoid objects, or to locate and catch and eat bugs or other prey.

But did you know that humans can develop this ability, too?

A recent article in Psychology Today magazine tells of some blind mountain bikers who use echolocation to navigate the trails. Amazing.

The article describes the basic process of echolocation:

To get a sense of how echolocation works, try this. Hold your hand up about one foot in front of your face with your palm facing your mouth. Put your front teeth together, open your lips, and make a continuous shhhhhh sound. As you make this sound, slowly bring your hand toward your mouth. You will hear the shhhh sound change. What you’re hearing is the sound reflecting from your hand colliding with the sound leaving your mouth. This interference turns out to be one of the most important types of sound dimensions we use to echolocate objects at close distances.

But this demonstration is exaggerated. The interference patterns used for echolocation are usually too subtle to be consciously heard. This highlights one of the most amazing aspects of echolocation: It’s rarely experienced as sound. Try using your shhhh sounds to walk slowly toward a wall with your eyes closed. As you come close to the wall, you’ll experience its presence as more of a feeling than a change in sound. It may feel as if there are air pressure changes on your face, an experience also reported by the blind (echolocation was once called “facial vision”). Echolocation is truly one of your implicit perceptual skills: It allows you to detect aspects of your environment without even knowing which sensory system you’re using. And it could very well be that you’re constantly using the skill to recognize properties of the rooms you occupy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Will No Longer Do Business With Chase Bank

So in 2008, I was traveling a lot and not doing a very good job of keeping up with paying bills on time. I made a few late payments on my Chase credit card, which also serves as the overdraft protection credit line for my business checking account. They raised my interest rate to 21.99 percent on the overdraft protection portion of the account, and 29.99 percent on the credit portion of the account.

Since September 2008, I have not made a single payment late. Not one. Not only that, but I've paid the balance down to just over $1000. Yet two months ago, they raised the interest rate to 29.99 percent on the overdraft protection portion of the account, for no apparent reason.

I called and asked why. They said they were "standardizing the interest rate."

I asked why they didn't "standardize" it at the lower rate. They said that's just not the way it works.

I asked them to lower the interest rate on both portions to something more reasonable than 30 percent. They refused.

Why, I asked? They said they simply "don't have a lower rate to offer."

I submit it's because they want to suck as much money as they can out of the people who actually pay their bills, to subsidize the mountain of bad loans and speculative deals they made over the past decade that are now biting them in the butt.

So I guess they leave me no other options: I'll simply have to pay it off and cancel it, and take my business elsewhere.

I will also have to move my business checking account (they charge $12 a month for that particular privilege), lawyer trust account, and business savings account to a different bank. Why would I want to do business with blood-sucking bastards?

This is a little sad, because I actually like the people at my local branch. They are friendly and professional.

But they work for blood-sucking bastards, so I won't be seeing them anymore.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

One for the Women

My little girl is growing up.

Yes (as you may have guessed by the title and the first sentence), her first period started today, just over halfway through sixth grade.

There was awkwardness and tears (from her), and smiles and encouragement and a rather long-winded explanation of the function and proper deployment of various pads and tampons (from me), and some stocking of her bathroom and her backpack with the necessary items, and some excitement about my little girl growing up, becoming a woman, developing just as she should . . .

. . . and then a tinge of regret from both of us about a childhood so fleetingly gone. As she phrased it, "Whatever happened to second grade, when I had nothing to worry about? Nothing! Second grade . . . good times." And she shook her head slowly and wiped away tears. I hugged her.

Then we realized neither one of us could remember her second grade teacher's name, even though we both could rattle off the teachers' names from Kindergarten, first grade, third grade, fourth grade . . . . Funny how that works sometimes, for both kids and adults. You declare it the best year ever and then figure out it was only the best year because you don't really remember it; you've forgotten all the heartache.

But second grade was a good year; I know it was because I remember most of it. It was back in the days when the boys could still be, simply, her friends; when the kids still had in-class birthday parties with cupcakes and little hats all 'round; when recess was still a time to hang upside down from the monkey bars and skip rope and play in the sand instead of a time (as it was by fourth grade) to stand around looking awkwardly at the boys who, suddenly, inexplicably, acted like they didn't want to know you anymore.

We pulled up digital photos of her from second grade. We found a photo of my little girl in her second grade classroom, wide eyed and happy and standing with her teacher, who was telling the whole class to wish her "Happy Birthday." Her teacher was wearing a name tag. Aha! We zoomed in to read the tag. No luck - just a fuzzy-looking smear where the letters should have been. I guess my digital camera wasn't the best back then.

We laughed a little about how we could remember all the other teachers' names, about how her first grade teacher had pulled out her first loose tooth at school one day ... and how her second grade teacher, Mrs. ..... ? who? ... had also pulled one for her...

It suddenly seemed the most important thing in the world to know this teacher's name, this kind and young and beautiful woman who now stood for everything that was innocent and carefree and wonderful about childhood. I dug through my files of old progress reports.

And then, laughter again. My beautiful baby girl - the one who, at birth, weighed just barely over five pounds and was so utterly dependent on me; the one who, when she was a few years old, looked at me with such sweet, loving, admiring eyes; the one who, up until fourth grade or so, thought I was smart and kind and pretty and the best mom ever, and wanted me to come visit her classroom - yes that beautiful baby girl - she had the gall to laugh at me for being such a pack rat. "Why do you even keep all that stuff, mom?" she asked, a little too self-righteously I thought, for a girl whose room looks like a tornado hit it.

But I keep these little mementos - the random progress reports, the school event programs, the science fair ribbons and soccer team participation certificates - for just these moments, when we need, right now, to remember a name, a place, a moment in time....

Wouldn't you know it? I had various mementos from kindergarten, first grade, and third grade, but nothing from second grade in my little girl's school file.

Tears welled in her eyes again, as she thought of the beautiful and kind teacher from second grade whose name was now lost forever from our fickle stupid memories.

And then, just when it all seemed hopeless, finally, success! I pulled the second grade teacher's name from the dark recesses of my brain: Mrs. Slattery!! And my baby was happy again. And I was, for one more shining moment, the smart and wonderful mom that she used to know. And we both smiled and laughed. And she went to bed content, if a little nervous about what tomorrow will bring, at school, with this new problem to handle.

And I am left here, sleepless, with my memories and with my tears for her vanished childhood ...

and, if I am honest, for mine.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I'm So Proud of Her!

My daughter won third place in her class at the Science Fair today. I'm so very proud of her!

I had taken my son to karate class while my husband went to attend the award ceremony at her school science fair.

He brought her by the class to tell me that she won third place! I hugged her tight and kissed the top of her head and told her I was so proud of her!

Meanwhile, my husband made jokes like, "When they announced that she won third place, I felt this really strange sensation, almost like an emotion or feeling or some kind, I'm not sure what that was... do you know?" "Pride!" she said, smiling. "Hmmm," he said, "yeah, maybe so.... or indigestion, maybe. It was strange, anyway." Or, later, "Well, that's ok, kiddo, maybe next year you can win first place."

* * *

Then later, my daughter came to me crying and said she was sad because when she told me about winning third prize at the science fair, I didn't tell her I was proud of her.

What? How do I get blamed for being the one who didn't say "I'm proud of you," when it's my doofus husband who is the constant joke machine and can never simply say, "I'm proud," or "I'm happy," or "Wow, great job!" Does it need the jokes and humor to even be heard? Am I going about this all wrong? Or were my direct and honest words simply drowned out in the sea of sarcastic jokes?

Save that for later analysis; it just doesn't matter when your kid is crying. I hugged her and told her I'm very proud of her. I told her that I did tell her before that I was proud of her but that I could understand if she didn't hear me - maybe I had hugged her too tight and blocked her ears or something, but anyway even if she didn't hear it or even if I didn't say it loud enough, I felt it, I'll say it again and again until she has heard it enough times, and I still mean it. I am proud of her.

She worked hard on that project. She did it all herself, and it was an actual experiment, and she worked hard to calculate and graph the results properly. I am proud of the effort she put in, proud of the fact that the final project looked great and was well-written, and yes, proud of the fact that she won a prize.

I hope she knows that now. I hope it sunk in. I hope she remembers it.

Next time, I'll have to say it louder, and more often.

Or maybe just more sarcastically?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Olympics Closing Ceremony

Did anyone watch the Olympics Closing Ceremony last night? I did. Wouldn't have missed it for anything. Well, OK, so I had to miss the beginning of it, dealing with kids and dinner and grocery shopping and laundry, but I caught that part later on the replay.

I loved it. My husband said it was "boring."

There was, of course, some ceremonial pomp and circumstance, with the athletes entering the stadium, the Olympic flag-lowering ceremony, the passing of the flag to the IOC president, who gave it to the mayor of Sochi, Russia, as the host of the 2014 Winter Games.

There was a choir singing, and a tribute to the Olympic Luge contestant who died in a horrible accident on the first day of the Olympics.

All of that was necessary, moving even, but perhaps not "entertaining" in the usual sense of the word. But in addition to the necessary ceremonial duties, Canada put on quite a show.

First, I must say, those Canadians cracked me up. They did a skit making fun of the now-famous glitch in the opening ceremony when one of the cauldron's pillars did not emerge from the floor and left their former gold medal speedskater Catriona Le May Doan standing awkwardly holding a torch, with nothing to light. In the end, she got to light the cauldron for the closing ceremony.

Can you imagine if the Chinese had a glitch like that one in their opening ceremony? I doubt there would have been a closing ceremony making fun of it; instead, it would have been an embarassment, hush-hushed, no one allowed to talk about it. Those Canadians, though - like the good hosts and good sports that they are - they brought it right back out into the limelight and encouraged us to laugh along with them at their misfortune. And gave Catriona Le May Doan her chance to light the cauldron after all. I love that!

Canadian-born actors William Shatner (Captain Kirk of Star Trek, Denny Crane of The Practice and Boston Legal), Catherine Anne O'Hara (Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman), and Michael J. Fox (Family Ties, Back to the Future, Spin City), also made me laugh a few times with their humorous monologues.

Michael J. Fox looked better than I've seen him look in a while. His Parkinson's tremor wasn't as noticeable as it sometimes is, and he looked stronger than he has looked in the past couple of years.

And you had to love the very tongue-in-cheek performance by Michael Buble, dressed in Mountie gear, complete with giant inflatable beavers and moose, giant cardboard cutout table-hockey players and a kid wearing what looked like a giant tire starring as the hockey puck.

And there were great performances by a huge variety of performer such as Neil Young, Nickelback, Alanis Morissette, and more.

The whole closing ceremony was a good mix of ceremony, humor, music, and a beautiful light show. Were there some parts that didn't make me go "wow"? Sure. But overall, I thought it was spectacular and fun and a fitting end to the games.

I loved it.