Author Archive

17 Stoplights

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

I think I had to stop at every single dad-ratted one of these lights this morning:

  1. N. Maple/Dexter
  2. Dexter/Huron/Jackson/Revena
  3. Huron/S. Seventh
  4. S. Seventh/Liberty
  5. S. Seventh/Pauline
  6. S. Seventh/Stadium
  7. Stadium/S. Main
  8. S. Main/S. Industrial/Henry/Park
  9. S. Industrial/Stimson
  10. Packard/Pine Valley
  11. Packard/Stone School
  12. Packard/Eisenhower
  13. Packard/Platt
  14. Packard/Fernwood
  15. Packard/Turnberry
  16. Packard/Carpenter
  17. Clark/WCC entrance

Well, that’s the S. Seventh route. I don’t do the Stadium route right now because Stadium is one big excavation site. Freeway? No way! At least not during the morning rush hour. And guess what? I get to run the whole blasted gauntlet again this afternoon!

I75 SUV Speedway or The Lansing Route?

Sunday, October 1st, 2006

rainywindow.jpgI was walking around the front yard at Houghton Lake, looking out at the water, thinking about the summer being over. I was feeling a little weary about a certain planet and the freeways that connect me to it and trying to keep a few random little black thoughts at bay down in the deep, dark, depths of my psyche. One purple pinwheel spun and sparkled in the bright sunshine. I didn’t want to leave. Which freeway? I couldn’t decide.

Overall, I like the Lansing route better (US127). It’s a little longer, about 15 miles, but the traffic is less agressive. But nowadays when I drive through Lansing I think of Mouse and some of our yarn store road trips and, when we drove north on Friday, I had a hard time not stopping off at Rae’s in Frandor. But then there’s the Speedway. For quite a few years I’ve been avoiding the I75 SUV Speedway like poison. Agressive traffic, construction, construction, construction. Did I mention construction? How about agressive traffic? And then there are tornados. *That* little incident (1997) just about did me in forever. But in the last year, I’ve been making friends with the old Speedway again. The construction isn’t as bad as it once was. My dirty old green Honda can go toe to toe with most of the aggressive drivers out there (vrrrroooom! Bro’, wherever you are, you steered me to a good car while you were still around on email!) and the cute little blue Honda is pretty darn good too.

At the last minute, I “blinked,” ala Malcolm Gladwell, and chose the Speedway. I remembered that coming up via the Lansing Route on Friday afternoon, construction had the southbound traffic backed up for at least a mile just above East Lansing. That was a dealbreaker. I75 SUV Speedway it was. And it was a champagne flight with me soberly piloting along while my passenger sipped some kind of “premium malt beverage” he cadged from the HL refrigimatator. Smirnoff and black cherry. Yick. Good thing I didn’t get stopped by the cops.

I think I was somewhere south of West Branch when my cell phone rang. It was a call from Berkeley and it kept me occupied until I got to the “Ann Arbor 81 miles” sign, just north of Flint. Thanks, kiddo! My passenger was sleeping off the effects of his Work Weekend at the cabin and the premium malt beverage. I can’t sleep in cars, myself. I have to be at least somewhat aware of what the driver is doing.

Bump Crash etc. Back on the planet. First stop? Well, of course, it was the Westgate Kroger uscan. And I had to wait in line for people with the IQ of a toad and the speed of a turtle to bumble their way through the dern prompts before I could scan my own $5.58 worth of last-minute groceries. Back to school tomorrow, north again on Thursday.

Grok Grok grrrrrrok!!!!! Whaddya mean, insultin’ all those cute li’l toadies ‘n’ turtles ‘n’ things? Grok grok. I’d like t’ see you try t’ survive in th’ worl’ o’ a reptile or amphibian one o’ these days! Frok grok. Eagles? Skunks? Fish? Almos’ anything eats us! ‘n’ don’ start bein’ all travelin’ funeral agin!!!! Frok groook grokkle grok! Grrrrrrrrrrr!

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs?

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Warning! Warning! Alert! Alert! Weather watch! All day Tuesday. What on earth was in the forecast? Was it an F10 tornado wide enough to sweep a three-state area? Or maybe monster glaciers were bearing down on the great lakes at a great rate of speed? Or, uh, meatball showers, maybe? No such luck. Frost and freeze warning. C’mon, you guys! It’s almost October and this is *Michigan* fer kee-reist sake! We *expect* frosty mornings at this time of year and we are ready for ’em. Save your breath and your panicking for the *real* stuff.

As it turned out, the temperature only went down to about 40 or so. Ho hum. I’ve experienced colder mornings than that on the Shores of Gitchee Gumee in July. But then I was over in the Westgate Kroger parking lot this morning and I heard just about the most bizarre weather forecast ever: funnel clouds in west Michigan. I couldn’t figure it out. Why the heck weren’t they just calling it a tornado watch? But the high temperature was gonna be in the 50s and that didn’t even seem like tornado weather. Turned out what they were predicting was water spouts over Lake Michigan. That was at about 9:30 this morning. Two hours later, one o’ them thar water spouts allegedly hit land and turned into a tornado. Allegedly. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know. I doubt it was anywhere near an F10.

It was a clear, crisp fall morning on the Planet. It’s raining here at Houghton Lake. All of that is just fine but I think it would’ve been much more interesting to be on the Lake Michigan shore this morning.

And btw: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett, is a *great* book. I think I’ve read it about a billion times. Read it or be square!

Nathe, the Karate Champ!!

Friday, September 29th, 2006

I am a sports fan again!

Our great-nephew Nathe (Sheila and Ron’s son, Kathy and Doug’s oldest grandson) won third place in his first karate competition last Saturday. He won a plaque with his name on it! He won one of his “fights” and lost one, but he was awarded a medal for his effort.

Congratulations to Nathe! I think he’s in kindergarten this year. Time flies!

Aminals in the Dark

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

What is that aminal slinking across the street up there? Does it have a white streak? I really couldn’t see whether it did or not, it was too dark. I *think* it was a raccoon, though. Skunks waddle a bit more. So I didn’t need to douse myself with tomato juice. Or a mixture of peroxide, baking soda, and liquid detergent. I got that from Sam, who also provided me with this nice, skunky web article.

Aminals of all sorts rule the neighborhood at 6:30 in the morning. Raccoons slink around in and out of the sewers. I’ve seen ‘possums and one time, a fox trotted right up the middle of Revena street just after daybreak. Rabbits are so tame that I had to walk up to within a couple feet of one this morning to get it out of the middle of the street. Skunks? I know I’m gonna get it one of these days, so I walk in the middle of the street, constantly on the lookout for their waddling gait. If I can smell one, I figure somebody has already sprayed so I’m somewhat safe. Maybe?

I see cats out hunting and I have been known to scare them away from chipmunks and baby birds and things. Boots was out there today, or at least a dead ringer for him. Boots was my cousins’ cat when we were kids, a big black cat with white feet. He was a no-nonsense, don’t-mess-with-me kind of cat and I was afraid of him when I was really little. I saw his twin this morning, or almost. This cat had pointy ears. Boots’s points got truncated by frostbite during some nocturnal adventure in the Siberian winter.

That dog that bit me last spring doesn’t seem to be around any more. Maybe he ate his insipid little owner. “Rover, Rover, come back here!” she yelled in her weak, high-pitched little voice. Sheesh, I thought, she needs to take a few lessons from one of the Fin women. Bubs, perhaps?

Happy Birthday Don!!

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

I have fallen off the face of the planet about birthdays. Sorry. But happy birthday, brother-in-law! I love you. You are the same age as a couple of my cousins and a few friends too. Love.

I’m A Hundred and Ten

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Berkeley, 2006: “People keep thinking I’m 18 and asking me, ‘oh are you starting at Berkeley this year?’ And one woman went on and on lecturing us because we talked to some old burned out hippie in the Berkeley Thrift Shop.”

Well, thank you, substitute mom, for trying to educate my already [very expensively] educated kid. Even before study abroad and gallivanting all over Europe, when you grow up on the Planet here, and attend Commie High, you schlepp yourself around town on the city bus and you encounter all kinds of people, including old burned out hippies, who, by the way, are not for the most part scary, creepy people. And sometimes, you even encounter your moom, who gives you money for an extra-good lunch. 🙂 Anyway…

Birch Point range light, 1973: “Oooh, I didn’t know the Finlaysons had such young children. Maybe you could come over and play with my daughter some day.” She paused for a moment here, I must have had a dubious look on my face at the word “play”. “My daughter is thirteen.” She definitely looked startled at whatever expression appeared on my face at that. “Uh, how old *are* you anyway?” she asked.

My brother and I had walked to Birch Point one sunny, windy summer day. This woman, who was staying at her parents’ cabin nearby, accosted us. She was friendly but condescending. “I’m [some judge’s] daugher, blah blah blah.” Well. I was 19. A college sophomore with a job and a driver’s license that allowed me to buy alcohol. And a 21-year-old boyfriend. I wonder if she would’ve wanted his friends over visiting her daughter. I think probably not. 😈

grok grok grok grok grokGROK! You’ave ALWAYS been ‘n ol’ bag. You’ave never looked like a beeyootiful young girl. So jus’ shut up. Now, ‘s’cuse me, I’magonna faaarrr up ol’ buoy 22 ‘n’ fly it on over t’ Kalamamalakazoolamuck. ‘r whatev’r ya call it. ‘n’ Schlurrrrp up some o’ them groupers. dum-de-dum-de-dum. grok grok grok Grrrrrooooookkkkkk!

Go Team!

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Somehow, in the midst of a transaction that I didn’t totally understand, I got appointed as the leader of the “no” team tonight and, since we (most of the class) won, we each got two points!

Which’ll offset the three points I lost by missing one question on the quiz. One o’ those good ol’ multiple choice questions that I *knew* I probably had wrong and almost changed it at the last minute but didn’t.

Y’know, somehow it was easier back in the day when you took a quiz on paper and passed it to your neighbor to correct. Nowadays, the quiz is in Blackboard (actually Moodle, in this case) and you hit a button that says something like “I’m done” and you are immediately hit in the face with your score. I don’t like to miss even one and I always feel like I’ve been punched when I get a less than perfect score. I dunno why.

Whaddy’all think? On-line quizzes or have your neighbor check your paper?

Crowd Surfing and Pushups

Sunday, September 24th, 2006

Those who usually bloviate about progressives and neo-conservatives have been blathering up a storm over the email wa-a-arrrrs about the state of collegiate football. Last night everybody was “routing” for MooU (sorry Mark but that was a wonderful typo!), who played Notre Dame at Spartan Stadium. According to Karen the entire field was a “giant Slip ‘n’ Slide”. I didn’t watch the game and I was oblivious to the email conversation until this morning.

MooU lost. The conversation went on to a slightly different track when the Marquis said, “Oh well ND, ESPN & ABC won.” I think it was about that point — in the morning — that I joined the conversation but by then The Marquis was absent, probably still getting his beauty sleep. Karen and I raged on for a while about how commercialism and the proliferation of talking heads has spoiled the game and made it impossible for people to watch the half-time show.

I haven’t been to a college football game since the Jurassic Age but back then, we used to make the trip to The Planet Ann Arbor once a year to see a UM game. The bank Grandroobly worked for bought season tickets every year and interested employees took turns using them. It was a blast! We’d leave Siberia right after school on Friday, eat dinner at the Sugar Bowl in Gaylord and arrive at Chez Regenstreif late in the evening. That was back in the days when Chez Regenstreif was located on Crest St., right around the corner from Slauson Middle School. Saturday morning was donuts and cider and stuff and Pooh and I would walk downtown and window shop in all the “hippie stores,” the likes of which we certainly didn’t have in Siberia!

Grandroobly and The Commander had the bank tickets and I’m not sure where they sat. The rest of us, kids and Bubs or whoever, would literally walk right up to a ticket booth and *buy* our tickets in the end zone for some small amount of money. Do they even still have ticket booths at the big house? I never could exactly figure out what was going on down on the field but I was willing to yell and scream and jump around if everyone else was. But it was really fun to watch the cheerleaders — all male — jump on trampolines and do fancy gymnastics. And people would get passed up to the top of the stadium. Valdemort calls that a pushup. Apparently now there is also crowd surfing, which I is just passing someone *around* in the crowd. See comments. (She says they do that at rock concerts too, which would be one more reason I don’t enjoy them, the main reason being interminably long drum solos, but that’s a topic for a whole ‘nother entry.) Small planes would lazily buzz the stadium trailing messages behind them.

Yes, we watched the marching band! I was *in* the Sault High marching band from grade 7 on up, so that was fascinating. And once on band day at the UM (which my high school *never* went to while I was in attendance, grrr), I ran into a kid I had met at Interlochen!

I think one of my favorite parts of our football weekends was walking back to Chez Regenstreif from the stadium on sunny fall afternoons. We would always stop at Allmendinger Park and spin around on the merry-go-round. It wasn’t a fancy merry-go-round with horses, just one of those playground things, where everybody would get on and one person would run to get the thing spinning, then jump on. I was usually the runner person, I think. I *loved* those things and the only one I knew of anywhere near Siberia was in the Brimley State Park, which cost *money* to go into so we certainly didn’t get *there* very often. 😉

It has been a football weekend and today the GG went down to see a Lions game. That was okay with me, I was buried in homework assignments. At least he did not come home wearing a dog poop hat.

Random Blergness

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

I wanted to go to Houghton Lake this weekend but it didn’t happen. But the GG is working and going to football games all weekend and I have more than enough homework to do, so that’s pretty okay. And it’s a beautiful, warm, wet, autumn day here on The Planet. No coherent thoughts today, so lemme see:

  • Was walking along the sidewalk through the deep, dark scary woods early this morning. It was still dark out and I was going along at a pretty good clip. And suddenly I was in freefall!!! Ice can’t form at 60 degrees, so what gives? Turned out some construction vehicle had come in and dumped a ton of dirt next to the sidewalk and managed to spread a layer of it several inches thick all over the sidewalk. Add rain and… Perhaps a call to the school district is in order? Y’know, I have seen what happens to people when they take a sudden fall and I am *not* going there! Yes, my feet were filthy! Squish, squish.
  • Drove to Arborland and back *past* the UM Stadium and lived to tell about it. (The GG did not go to that game.)
  • Spent the rest of the morning compiling my group members’ work into a competitive analysis and user persona set and making up a client contract. All of this is due bright and early on Monday morning.
  • Mouse complained about group work and I am doing a lot of it this semester. Miraculously, so far I’ve had great partners and have not had to hit anyone over the head with a due date or scope-of-assignment reality check yet. The DDRG seems to have dropped off the face of the planet.
  • Brrrrring. Brrrrring. Phone call from just outside of Jackson led to a quick lunch at Barry’s with Karen and Pengo Janetto.
  • Read 43 pages of stuff about mySQL — data types and operators — and have 40 pages to go. Will I remember any of what I read? Mostly not, at least not the details. Ah, the joys of the good ol’ regexp.
  • Entity relationship diagrams. Primary keys, candidate keys, foreign keys and a whole lotta other rot that I can’t remember right now.
  • Knight’s when the GG wakes up.

A Political Post Okay, a Book Post

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

moomfrog.jpgI don’t have much to say today. I know y’all are jumpin’ up and down and cheering about that. Not so fast. There’s been some fascinating email stuff going on about progressives and neo-conservatives and bloviating and I forget what else. And I could blahg about that. But I won’t. Instead, I’m doing a book post.

Books I have read this summer, the good, the bad, and the ugly:

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon: the first book I read this summer and I was so sorta, well, emotionally blown apart at the time, I didn’t think I could read *any* book. My cousin was taking care of me though, and I sat on the beach and read that book in about two hours. I could not put it down. It tapped into my own little autistic streak. I mean, I am *not* autistic, but I have enough tendencies in that direction that I could understand how that kid thinks.
  • Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood and Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier, both by Alexandra Fuller. Do you know what “scribbling” means? Do you really? You may have to read these books to find out.
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi: I remembered Mouse reading this for a high school class and I made her dredge it up.
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: numerous people have recommended this one.
  • Hmmm, that travelin’ funeral book. This one encompasses both the bad and ugly. I won’t reveal the author. She’s trying… I still don’t understand what the exploding bra had to do with the rest of the story.
  • The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant: this one was available at the beginning of the summer but at the time it was too dense for me to focus on it. I knew then that it was a good book and eventually I had the stamina to read it. I wasn’t disappointed.
  • Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton: The Commander had it hanging around. I have no words.
  • Blink by Malcolm Gladwell: Okay, this is all interesting but I already *know* I do this blink thing. Unfortunately, it has not made me rich and happy. Usually my little blink moments (and prescient dreams) just foretell disaster. Sigh. And I once worked for one o’ them thar management gurus. Well, I worked for him on the rare occasions when he when he was organized and *available* enough to actually be able to give me something to do. NOT a happy experience. Malcolm Gladwell was one o’ his gurus. I dunno. I wish I had been able to approach Mr. Gladwell without all that baggage.

*Last* summer, my mission was to read through all six Harry Potter books. I made it. What am I reading right now? Textbooks, websites (to analyze them), and an article in The New Yorker (yeah, I *do* read it sometimes, I’m just about two years behind) about good ol’ boy Bill Clinton travelin’ the world and helpin’ Africa with AIDS. I dunno what I think about that.

If you’ve made it this far… Have you read any of those books? Whaddya think about them? What books are *you* reading?

I Need a Cupboard

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

“Remember when you used to read The Indian in the Cupboard on the beach?” My cousin Suzie asked me that earlier this summer. I was kind of thunderstruck because I actually *didn’t* really remember it, at least not at first. But yes, I used to read aloud on the beach and there was a summer when we read The Indian in the Cupboard.

froggyhp.jpgThat series of books (I think there are now five) is by Lynne Reid Banks. They are written for kids in grades 4-8 but it seemed like most everybody on the beach, all ages, would listen along with my urchins. In my not particularly humble opinion, they’re just as good as Harry Potter. And I’m an HP fan. Well, I don’t wear those ridiculous glasses or hang out at Borders waiting for the next book. (Uh, don’t be fooled. Froog’s HP glasses washed up on the beach along with all those leeks that were there at the beginning of the summer. I did *not* buy them!)

Those were the days. Hanging out on the beach all day watching all the G4 beach urchins swim and dig holes and make sand cupcakes and pour water all over Radical Betty’s feet and play with toads and row the old dinghy and shake up cans of beer before delivering them to The Commander and Grandroobly. Watching boats and birds and aircraft and clouds and people with binoculars. Discussions about an eclectic array of topics: the art of bat cookery, astrology (“I am NOT a Taurus!!”, thundered one particularly typical Taurean), and, well, anything under the sun, the fewer facts known about the subject, the better. And reading aloud.

Sooner or later, the sun would get to a certain point and we would all start to feel just a bit overdone. Sunburned and dried out. Somebody would ask, “What time is it?” And somebody else would ask, “Well, where is the sun?” I would stand up and grab my beach chair and yell, “Over the yardarm!!” and head down the beach, over the bank, and up the path to the cabin, my two tan, tow-headed little beach urchins trailing happily behind me. Well, *some* of the time they were trailing happily. I won’t even begin to try to claim that was true *every* day. :mrgreen:

Summer is over. I read a lot of good books this summer and one bad book but not Indian in the Cupboard. Can I have one of those cupboards? Will it take me back to past times on the beach? Who will keep track of the key? Those were the days.

Take Five Already

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

Just a few months ago, I think I wrote that my life had the consistency of old, dry, crumbly toast. I was living from coffee date to coffee date. It was late spring and a lot of the usual coffee-date suspects were busy or out of town or whatever. I had no classes, I had quit my job and my dad and brother were both dead. I couldn’t just go and hang out at the elementary school to find company because I haven’t had kids over there in eons and the staff would’ve prob’ly thought I was a terrorist and called the SWAT team. Anyway, life was way too sl-o-o-o-ow for my taste.

Today? Coffee with Marci at Barry’s. Home to cram some work in on the 40-page user testing report (due Monday) and do email. And get ready for my group’s client meeting at 1 PM over at WCC. Quick stop after that at Whole Foods, then the post office u-scan. Home for about a half hour to do email, then off to Expresso Royale for coffee with Jean. No time to walk this afternoon. And I never did get around to replacing the light bulb in the porch light. I’ll return my calls and emails in just a bit. But I’m taking five. And, yes, two coffee dates in a day is a bit more than I usually do and I am jittery. Yawk!!!

Thanks to The Commander for that $100 half-off (!) wool skirt. It came in *very* handy today at the client meeting. I mean, I doubt anybody else cared how I was dressed but *I* did! It was too cold for my weird, sparkly summer “wardrobe” and I need to batten down some of the sequins and beads on my sapphire flip-flops so those are temporarily out of commission.

P.S. Virtual fence around the whole U.S.? Boeing? Marquis?

What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor?

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

My life has been reduced to a morass of clicktracks, third normal form, and rickety old holey vee-hickles. grok grok. Driving The Indefatigable home on the freeway last night felt like being inside a wind tunnel. Miraculously, my feet stayed dry. And then when I got to class this morning, everybody was talking like a pirate. I mean including people my age. Talk Like a Pirate Day? Who knew?

Not everyone is as boring as I am, so we’ll check in with Lizard Breath, if she doesn’t mind. She’s probably about to kill me anyway because I just screwed up her email account. 🙁 If you’ve been keeping up with Fin G4 at all, The Lizard is working for a bilingual radio program in Berkeley, CA, called Childhood Matters. You won’t be getting a blow-by-blow about that experience from me. But she recently recorded a public service announcement for the show and that show is downloadable here (Sept. 17th show). I listened to the whole thing. I’m her mom and it was interesting and I’m glad that I don’t have to deal with MooU football games to support my kid. 😉 She comes on at about 23.5 minutes. If you *are* interested in listening to the program, I had better luck downloading it in a zip file, unzipping it and listening to it via iTunes. Streaming didn’t work very well but it could’ve been my computer or connection or who knows.

And there is even a pic of her on the show’s website (yes, her last name is spelled wrong). Scroll down after you click.

Talk Like A Pirate Day is one o’ my favorite days! Grok grok!


Monday, September 18th, 2006

Yeah, okay, I used up all of my brain power for about the next ten years on that life, the universe, and everything post I wrote yesterday. Er, you could argue about that, since it was kind of a scatter-brained post. Anyway, bump, crash. It’s Monday. It’s raining cats and dogs and the temperature has dropped ten degrees since I walked at 6:30 or so this morning.

I didn’t have coffee with Marci at Barry’s this morning. We’ve had to switch that to Wednesdays. That’s because I have a class bright and early at 9 AM every Monday. I am the project manager in a group of five people who are charged with redesigning the website for an area non-profit organization. If we do a decent job, I’ll post a link to it at the end of the semester. I do not know why my hand seems to shoot up in the air whenever somebody says the words, “project manager.” Masochistic maybe? Or just insane. It’ll be fun. I’ve worked with two of my group members before and I’ve had classes with the other two.

A large part of project management is managing documents and making schedules and taking notes, etc., and that’s what I’ve been doing today, aside from going to class. And I have another class tonight, web database, with a quiz at the beginning. I get to play around at the command line in that class. That makes me rather dangereuse. It’s a bit mindful of the good old DOS/dBase III days back at the EPA. Kind of makes me want to take some serious computer science classes. Or not. I dunno. Maybe C[how many plusses?] at the least. And I have been editing a clicktrack for tomorrow morning’s class.

And I had to drive The Indefatigable over here because (grr) there is a headlight out on the green honda. That meant that I had to check the fuel log to make sure that there was enough gas in the damn thing to make it over here and back since the gas gauge doesn’t work. It’s raining and I sure hope that stupid pipe doesn’t come loose and gush cold water all over my bare feet.

Finally, because my cousin is going to Africa, I found a fun little African country quiz. It’s a little like that old Geo-Safari game. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the country names, after all, this is the Internet.

Does Anyone Else Ever Think About That All The Time?

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Knock knock.

Now what? This was the second time this afternoon that someone was at the door. The GG was crashed out on the couch in the back room and Froggy was sleeping it off in his laundry basket grok-snort, so it fell to me to see what was up. Actually, I had food in my mouth to boot. “Hi, my name is Norman.” Or was it Horace? No, Horace is a dog. I guess I didn’t quite catch his name. He was holding a bible and there was a woman standing behind him in a flowered dress. Typical proselytizing tag team. Okay…

I stood there trying to figure out how to open my mouth and say, “No thank you,” but I was eating, so I couldn’t manage it. He started in with, “There are those who think that people were created and others who think that people evolved. What is your opinion?” I don’t mean to be disrepectful to anyone’s religion but, I am sorry, I could hardly keep a straight face. In the first place, I’m always a bit incredulous when people actually ask *me* for an opinion! Hmmm. What *is* my opinion?

I couldn’t believe the rush of thoughts and memories that flooded through my mind in the half-second it took me to swallow my food and actually say, “No thank you!” I’ve been thinking about stuff like this since I was three years old! All the time. I’m not sure the word “infinity” was firmly embedded in my vocabulary at three but I was definitely trying to work out the concept: i.e., what if I keep cutting a piece of paper in half and in half and in half again — will I ever get to the point where I can’t cut it in half any more — when there’ll be nothing left? I used to contemplate the meaning of the universe too. Quite regularly. How did we get here? Was there somebody *outside* the universe who created it. Who was it? What did that entity look like? What does it look like *outside* the universe.

And then there’s how my brain tried to parse his question. What did he mean by “create?” I mean, I have a relatively good basic understanding of how evolution works and I think that’s how human beings came to be. Creation? Well, I’m right back to my early childhood. How did this system get set up anyway. Did it just come out of nothing? What does nothing look like? Creation? Maybe. But it sure didn’t happen in seven days, which is what I am pretty sure Norman/Horace was hoping to try to convince me of.

So, I said, “no thank you.” I didn’t want to waste his time. He replied with something like, “okay, have a nice day.” I could tell by his voice and body language that he was disappointed in me. I’m used to that. All the religious proselytizers do that when they encounter me. I can just feel them thinking, “She’s gonna burn in hell! In those ratty old clothes.” I dunno. Maybe. But I think I’ve seen a few ghosts and I’m sure there were people in life on earth who thought that *my* ghosts were gonna burn in hell. I don’t think that’s where they are! I think they’re ripping around commandeering the controls of airplanes and lake freighters and playing trombones and drinking bourbon and walking the beach with their dogs. And I hope they’re haunting a few real estate developers.

So, like I said, I am, or try to be, respectful of other people’s religions, so I don’t want to go there. And I don’t think Norman/Horace and I are all that far apart because we just want to understand ourselves and our world and make it a better place. But did y’all think about this kind of stuff when you were kids? What do you think about ghosts? Have you seen evidence of one? Do they exist? What *did* you think about when you were three?

99-Cent Breakfast

Friday, September 15th, 2006

Where: Ikea, the new store in Canton.

When: Wednesday morning.

Mission #1: a table-top reading lamp.

Outcome? Zip. The only lamps bright enough for reading were halogen. Halogen is not allowed in the dorms for reasons I tend to agree with, given the intelligence of the average college freshman tasting the freedom of being away from home for the first time by drinking himself into oblivion and knocking his lamp over into his dirty laundry as he crashes into his bed. Lamp? What lamp? I didn’t know I had a lamp!

Mission #2: a spinning chair. Uh, that means a chair for a spinning wheel operator to sit in, not one that spins around in circles. (Maybe for that drunk kid, you were thinking?)

Outcome? Zip. Not one of the 800 chairs tested had a back straight enough for a spinning wheel operator. And here we thought that spinning wheels were all the latest rage.

Breakfast? We passed on the 99-cent breakfast as well as the Swedish meatball lunch.

The take? We escaped from the store with a cute stuffed ratty and a couple of cheap hanging things to stuff yarn in.

Damages? About $11.00 plus whatever gasoline it took us to drive over there and back.

Other: I got dizzy on the way out. There was this big warehouse-y type section with a ceiling as high as the sky and huge shelves. I used to get that way in the library sometimes too. I dunno why it doesn’t happen to me amongst tall pine trees. Go figure.


Thursday, September 14th, 2006

“Moom, can we eat at Seva some time this week?” Well, sure, that means one less meal I have to dream up.

Seva, accent on the second syllable thank you very much, is a vegetarian restaurant here on The Planet and I don’t know exactly when it opened but it’s been around since B.K. I’m pretty sure I used to go there with Pooh and The Marquis and maybe even Alice and Evelyn et al, back before I even lived here. Later on, it was a favorite lunch spot when The Commander and Grandroobly et al visited town, despite the fact that Grandroobly was a carnivore’s carnivore, so to speak. Steak and “hamburg on a bun” were among his favorites. He would rather grudgingly order an egg salad sandwich at Seva. Hey, it’s okay, we cooked plenty of steak for him here at the Carbeck Landfill!

Once, I remember eating there after an ill-fated hike on the Potawatomi Trail. We had hiked and skied there a few times before but somehow we managed to get *lost* and ended up hiking 15 miles instead of the five we planned. Without water. I was four months pregnant. Not a good thing. Actually, pretty stupid. Fortunately, the Lizard was and is a lot tougher than some might think she looks. About nine months later, I had lunch at Seva with Radical Betty, the baby Liz sitting on my lap studying her great-aunt through big blueberry eyes.

Then there were about a million years of extremely picky eating. Don’t tell anyone, but I probably took the kids to McDonald’s more often than Seva during those years. When your kids bounce along at zero on the growth rate curve, you pretty much let ’em eat whatever they want. When we did go to Seva, they would eat grilled cheese sandwiches, actually on second thought, I think it was nachos, and a chocolate frappe. But the pendulum has swung. We ate at Seva last night, it was Mouse’s idea, and I think the kids are healthier eaters than I am now.

Well, except that tonight, I think the plan is Blimpy Burger. I’ll pass. I’m going out to work on a group project. And I got my dose of grease at Clyde’s Drive In last weekend.

Space Flight Flu

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

July 21, 1969: first man on the moon. Another date a lot of people remember. Lemme see. I was fifteen and I watched it with a bunch of other people on the TV in the Piedmont cabin. I’m thinking it was a black and white TV. I was sick with some sort of sore throat/fever virus that I wasn’t telling anybody about because I didn’t want to have to go home and go to bed when I’d rather be swimming or whatever. In Lake Superior. With a sore throat and fever. Sheesh!

February 20, 1962: Come to think of it, I was also sick the day that John Glenn flew the first manned orbital mission. I was in 2nd grade and Mrs. Bishop had a TV in the classroom and I threw up all over my desk. I think I had also vomited before school that morning but The Commander decided I was good to go. Not.

Now I am wondering whether I remember all of these memorable events because they are memorable events or because I always seemed to be sick when stuff like this happened.

Summer Highlights

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

Despite having a great time at classes yesterday and today, I was a little down for a while this afternoon (nothing to worry about, those who care ;-)). I couldn’t think of anything to blahg about, so I made myself think of the three absolute top events of the summer. They aren’t really in any order, except chronological:

  1. Kayaking at the Pictured Rocks with Aimee, Radical Betty, Grinch, and Lizard Breath.
  2. Manistique Lake with Sam, jcb, Manette and Nick.
  3. Yarn store odyssey to Alanson and surrounding area with Mouse, The Commander, and Radical Betty.

Yaknow, those were all road trip type things. That doesn’t count all the good times sitting on the beach or in the hollow in front of the Old Cabin or kayaking around the bay or grillin’ on the back of the deck or behind the garage or Anne/Fran/K-hattans and Liz-n-tonics, etc., etc. The local beach stuff doesn’t change a whole lot from year to year. And that’s a good thing. And then there were great times with friends here on The Planet A2. And Houghton Lake. More fun times than I can enumerate. Love y’all. Sappy? Yeah! I’m all travelin’ funeral today. At least I didn’t write a whole blasted book! So, deal! 😉