Tuesday, January 31, 2006

What's the Deal With Her?

Recycled post from the past...just cuz I'm danged busy with earning a living today

******************************
My wife sidled up to me on the couch this weekend.

She had a big smile on her face.

Wife: How would like to go to the mall and look for some new underwear with me?

Rick: I think I have plenty of boxers in the bottom drawer of the dresser. I don’t think I need any just yet. Thanks anyway.

She left the room in an angry huff.

It seems like I am always misunderstanding her.

So, feeling responsible for having upset her I got up off the couch to try and straighten it out. I looked in the drawer. I was right however; there are plenty of boxers in there.

What’s the deal with her anyway?
Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wash it Clean

This weekend I read a blog written by ‘fish on a bicycle’ from London about his adventures in crossing the northern US by automobile. It's titled 'the opiate of the masses'

It was entertaining and well written and gave little hint in its early going that it would tumble headlong into the ‘why can’t gay people be gay abyss’ that plagues and bedevils society and contemporary opinion statements.

I linked the story for you above, wanting you to read it, because I was entertained and impressed by its artistic quality, but also aware that once again the shipwreck of social misunderstanding was hung around a scapegoat target when the final sentences had been composed.

In the post the ‘fundamentalist Christians’ get the boringly typical pro-gay hammering for not allowing a ‘gay to be gay’.

Before I go on you should understand that I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home. I also am not gay. You might quickly jump to the conclusion that ‘no wonder this post has begun this way’, but I would also want you to know that I have spent many years understanding why it is acceptable for me to not embrace the notions and philosophies of the culture I was taught and raised within.

I reject a great deal of the fundamentalist Christian culture. I have had to change much about my agreements with self to actually achieve the beliefs I hold today.

This is similar to the position in which the young girl in the previously mentioned blog found herself. According to the author she had made a phone call to a fundamentalist radio talk show asking for guidance on her inner feelings of homosexuality. As you might expect she was downcast from being told by the Christian radio experts that she would not find heaven unless she became ‘normal’.

I could make this a post so lengthy no one cared to read it if I began to cover all I feel about that isolated incident in the Midwestern US, so I am going to cut to the ‘cliff notes’ or ‘streamlined version’ of my thoughts.

The fundamentalist Christians have no power over this young girl and her feelings. She believes they do. This is the nucleus of the confusion for the girl and the same nucleus of confusion for our society.
I will say it again. The fundamentalist Christians have no power over this girl or her feelings. She believes they do, and this is the problem.

The answer for the girl lies in understanding a higher and far more important concept than anything that involves the expression of her sexuality. Her impression of self, and her understanding of self can be framed by the outer world, but it should not be centrally defined by that world.

This is the art of breaking internal agreements that others have given you and learning to live by your own internal compass with personally forged agreements about who you want to be. Her mistake came in asking permission about how to feel about her own internal voice.

This likely sounds harsh if the girl is young and has not reached the same distance markers on the road as her elders such as me, but nevertheless it is her road to travel.

We can be weak or strong about our internal agreements, those are choices also.

Should we denounce the fundamentalist Christians for telling her she cannot find heaven and be a homosexual simultaneously?

No. That’s intellectually too easy, and it ignores the development of the inner process that ultimately insulates us from the judgment of others. After all, she did call and ask them to judge her, did she not? They have a right to respond based on their own inner agreements. When we judge the opinion giver we simply recycle the insult of judgment.

I believe she will find heaven without question and that her sexuality is a non-issue to God. It is my hope for her that she will reach this belief as well.

The important task at hand for all of us is to find our own inner compass that first, and most importantly, does not arbitrarily judge our inner feelings based on the agreements for life taught us by others, and secondly teaches us that judging others is simply recycling the force against which we diligently struggle.

I will say this to you in a different way if the previous sentence left you massaging your noodle.

When we grant power to the people that deny us what we truly feel, then we have done a disservice to ourselves. When we deny the judge power, in this case the fundamentalist Christian, we tell them in essence, “No thank you, I do not acknowledge any power you might have over the way I feel.” When that process is complete inside you, anger at their opinion is no longer a possible feeling.

The constant ranting on and on and on about ‘fundamentalist Christians’ or ‘idiot Democrats’ or ‘idiot Republicans' or our ‘idiot in-laws’ gives them power over your thinking, feelings and words.

You see, when you have freed yourself from the judgment of anyone other than your internal self, then the judgment so readily offered by the external judges will have to seek long and hard to find an entrance for its intended evil.

I too feel sadness for the girl portrayed in this story. It would be callous to not feel some sadness for her.

This girl can be happily gay. Or she can be gay happily, take your pick. She simply needs to choose it internally and finally acccept it, dismissing the judge within and the judge from without, realizing her choice is a life-style choice and not a choice between good and evil or heaven and hell.

Steal the power from your oppressor, wash it clean and wear it well.
Thursday, January 26, 2006

Aunt Ima's pie

Acknowledgment to my masters track friend Wayne Bennett for the basic context and inspiration for the short story that follows.
*************

That distinctive sound that dirt and rocks make when they hit a casket sounded muffled and distant to me. It wasn’t the sound I remembered from when I was a boy, and believe me I know that sound. It’s been fresh in my memory every since that summer day when I was 12 and we were told after the funeral that the grandsons had to shovel the dirt in on top of Grandma Allen’s casket. That sound of rock and dirt and scooping shovels in the hard baked Texas dirt is distinctive. When one hundred people around you are silent as a stone, and only an occasional whimper of a baby or the muffled sniffles of a great aunt break that silence then the sound of those rocks hitting a casket will lay around inside your ears for an eternity.

Funerals are a queer business and around the deep parts of west Texas they are also predictable. Sure as the sun will rise tomorrow there will be lots of food at the church and relatives gathering to say goodbye. Some that came today won’t be here a year from now. At one point in my life after so many of these funerals I made it a game to glance around the gathered grieving and try to come up with a guess about who it would be next time. I got it wrong the last time, having not established any clear ground rules for my ‘lottery like’ game it had never been brought to my attention that I could choose myself. Nevertheless, here I am lying in this casket at the bottom of the hole listening to rocks and dirt raining down on me and believing it sounds altogether different on this end of the deal, and the goofy little pillow under my head is now flat as Aunt Edna’s chest.

Earlier today at the actual funeral in the church the aforementioned pancake chested Aunt Edna dragged fat Aunt Ima over to the opened up casket saying “You better get over here and take a look at him, it’s the last time you’ll ever see him.” Fat old Aunt Ima kept staring at me like she wanted to put some food in there with me being the last time she would see me and all. She has a history of sending food with the departed. When her late husband Dan Farten had died of some type food poisoning (the doctors claimed to be befuddled and confounded by the entire incident) Ima had trundled up to old Dan before they closed the lid and snuck in a couple of pieces of pie. Of course Edna was quick to let her know "Ima Farten, Dan can't eat pie if he's dead", but Ima had sent it with him anyway.

I learned I still have a sense of humor because I started to think about twins. I wished I were a twin, which would make a liar, sort of, out of Aunt Edna since looking at my twin would be about the same thing as just looking at me all over again. I also thought it might be true they wouldn’t see me again after I got covered up but I was certainly still here, apparently looking hungry, and could still look at them just the same, so if you’re reading this it's important that you know that because picking your nose and other equally disgusting things are on display to us even if you don’t know it, so all your secrets are out there to be seen; do you know what I mean, especially you Uncle Ted?

I don’t have to really be here. The big bright light told me I could just stay where I ended up or I could go back and watch everyone say goodbye. I figured it might be fun, but one small problem now; I don’t know the secret password or whatever damn thing it is I need to know to leave my own funeral; I guess it will all work out though.

Momma Townsend said earlier to Jack Greenwood, “Doesn’t he look just like he always did?”
I wanted to rear up and say, “Hell no, I never was dead before and I moved around some back then too.” Of course I also didn’t ever wear an inch thick of makeup on my face like that idiot embalmer with the bad breath and smudged coke bottle glasses layered on me while he hummed Amazing Grace out of tune and fooled with his wedgie. Then again, Momma Townsend’s makeup doesn’t look a lot better than mine today so maybe her angle of observation is skewed regarding makeup and actual reality.












Even Johnny Bates (pictured above) came by. He’s the son of the former headmaster of my grade school, Maurice Bates. When his dad had a stroke back in 1978, the local newspaper put up a headline that read, ‘Master Bates in Hospital.’ We all figured he probably did too since Mrs. Bates was not much to look at and ‘ol Master Bates’ didn’t want to make a liar out of the newspaper anyway.

My idiot cousin Charlie asked someone to take a photo of him shaking my hand, then he asked if he could take off my wooden leg for firewood. Several others laughed. Sophomore humor in my opinion. Edna cautioned them all to settle down a little.

Oops, gotta run, the big bright friendly light just said the “fun’s over” and I’m not about to hang around any longer, due to a fear of worms and Ima's cooking.

See ya around. Maybe.

*************************
(Stolen Joke)
A funeral service is being held for a woman who has just passed away. At the end of the service the pall bearers are carrying the casket out when they accidentally bump into a wall, jarring the casket.

They hear a faint moan. They open the casket and find that the woman is actually alive.

She lives for ten more years, and then dies.

A ceremony is again held at the same place, and at the end of the ceremony the pall bearers are again carrying out the casket.

As they are walking, the husband cries out, "Watch out for that damn wall!''

Happy blonde

There are thousands of blonde jokes out there. And there are jokes about blondes in Texas, but this photo is a prize worthy of publication here.

A blonde USC cheerleader who is happy and cheering for a Texas Longhorn touchdown!

He he he....hard not to love the Longhorns, but it looks like her secret slipped out!













'Hook-Em Horns'
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Handsume men arnt stuped

Im tired a peeple sayn us men that is handsume are stuped. Im gonna start a Bill bored campain to end this talk.

I already dezined it.

Let me know if you are handsume to and wont to donate.














Mail cash to me.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Busted Headlight

The sun shone through the windshield and blinded Brady as he drove east toward work. It was Tuesday, the first Tuesday in November of 2001. The traffic was heavier than usual and the sun was temporarily in that place on the horizon where if he put his car’s sun visor down it would be too shallow to block the sun and if he used his hand for a shield he couldn’t see what was in front of him.

As he tried to maneuver in the traffic staring straight into the bright Texas sun he felt his cell phone vibrate. The phone was buried deep in his pocket since he wasn’t expecting anyone to be calling that early in the day and as he shifted to his left hip digging with his right hand into the pocket he silently cursed the phone and the sun at the same time.

A rock from the dump truck in front of him clattered off his hood, doing no damage as everyone was now traveling no more than 10 miles per hour, still Brady had found a third item to silently curse.

Hello? “Brady, this is Calvin.” It was odd that Calvin would call him on a Tuesday morning, they were brothers but not close and they spoke rarely, usually on holidays when the family gathered. Calvin was not big on small talk and went straight into his message. “Dad had a heart attack this morning. It doesn’t look good, at least that’s what mom said, I’ll have to call you back when I know more.”

Brady struggled with Calvin’s message, the sun in his eyes and traffic that was beginning to speed up once again. It was a moment of detachment like he had experienced on other random occasions. He felt a sense of not belonging to the conversation, a feeling that what he was being told wasn’t real. If something isn’t real could he really be expected to pay heed? He had no words to give back to his older brother.

“Brady, are you still there?” asked his brother. “Yes, yes I’m here, what should I do?”
“Wait for me to call you back” Calvin said. Calvin lived in the same town as their parents, a rural farming community 200 miles from the city where Brady worked and lived. Calvin continued, “They took him to Mother Francis Hospital and I’m going there now. I’ll call you when I know something, no need to come here immediately if everything turns out OK.”

Brady drove on through the thick traffic. His thoughts shifted from his everyday commute to a piece of cerebral real estate unfamiliar to him, a version of thinking he didn’t care for, this idea of parents failing in health without notice.

He knew immediately that he would head for the small chapel in downtown Fort Worth that was like a familiar old friend. His spirituality took him there often. He didn’t really need an excuse or specific reason to be there. It was located in the heart of downtown, walking distance from his office and he often spent his lunches there, contemplating the quiet and solitude, sitting in the padded pews, staring at the crucifix on the wall and then dipping into silent prayer about his life.

Brady slid into the pew. The chapel was empty, not unusual for an early Tuesday morning. The room was warm and comfortable despite the cold weather outdoors and Brady took off his coat and settled into a long prayer for his father. When he was finished he opened his eyes and stared at the candles on the altar. Neither candle was lit; there was one on the left side of a huge open bible and a companion candle in its matching stand on the right side, a large crucifix was centered on the wall, hanging above the altar.

Brady reflected on the time when he was six years old. The family had taken the long trip across Texas to visit his grandparents over 300 miles away and he and Calvin were playing with BB guns in the front yard of their grandparent’s rural house. Calvin had dared Brady to try and hit the headlights of their dad’s car. Neither expected a BB to shatter the headlight, but that is what had happened, pieces of its glass spilling across the dirt and then Calvin had said Brady would have to tell their dad it was his fault and that Calvin had nothing to do with it. Brady remembered the innocence mixed with fear he had felt at that moment. He knew he messed up but he figured he didn’t really mean to break it. It was the same innocence and fear that gripped his stomach now.

Hid dad, after he had been told the story of the shattered headlight, had picked Brady up in his arms and said “I know, I was watching you through the window and I could also hear everything you boys were saying, and one of the things that is most important here is that you told me the truth. Now I have time to go into town and get a new headlight and we won’t be driving through the night with only one.” His dad had reached into his pocket, taken out a dollar bill and placed it in Brady’s hand. He told him that was his reward for being truthful. He had taken Calvin into another room and paddled the devil out of his behind for his lack of truthfulness. This was how Brady had learned the rewards of telling the truth.

Brady’s thoughts were interrupted by a priest who had entered the chancel area through a door adjacent to the altar. He was carrying one of those long golden rods that are used to light candles. Brady didn’t know what the instrument was called.

The priest walked to the candle on the left and lit it, its flickering gathering momentum as the flame took hold of the wick. When it was burning steadily he moved in front of the large bible until he was in front of the candle on the right side. He placed the lighting instrument over the candle and held it there a long while. Finally when the candle appeared to be burning he moved back toward the door. But then the candle flickered and went dim just as he was stepping away. The priest moved back toward the candle and once again spent a long time attempting to reignite the wick. After a moment he turned and saw Brady sitting alone in the chapel seven pews back from where he stood at the altar.

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry” he said, “I thought I was alone it’s so early. This candle doesn’t seem to want to burn this morning. I’ll leave it for now and come back later when you are finished.” Brady’s eyes met the priest’s eyes and for an unusual amount of time, at least it seemed to Brady, they looked at one another and said nothing at all. The priest finally smiled, bowed from the waist in a deferential way, as the Japanese often will do, and walked back through the door leaving the candle unlit.

Brady stared at the candles. One burned brightly. The other was just as riveting in its reluctance to shine its own light. And in that instant, in the quietness of the chapel, in the face of the kind priest, but most importantly in the message now made clear through the candles, Brady knew that his father was gone and that his mother would need him now.

He opened the heavy chapel doors to a bright and cold November day. He dug down into his pocket for his phone and called Calvin. He didn’t make Calvin tell him, he just quickly told him that he already knew and would be there soon.

As Brady drove toward his mother’s home that evening he took some solace in finding stretches of highway in rural Texas where he could alternate the headlights on his car between dim and bright over and over again finding some small piece of understanding in having two headlights that showed him the way home.
Sunday, January 22, 2006

Warm Sand and Peppermint Tea


Los Angeles, January 2035


The peppermint tea vapors rose from the cup, their warmth lightly touching her nose and then disappearing just as quickly. The cup warmed her hands; in fact the cup was so hot she wrapped her hands around it only briefly before having to release it again.

The day was gray outside, the January rain pelting against the windows with an intensity that stilled all the outdoor life. She wondered where the animals went during this weather. The ever present squirrels, blue jays and butterflies that frequented her backyard must have a place to go but since she would never see them on these days she was left to wonder about them.

These cold days would cause Laurie to drift away to the summer moments of her life spent with her late husband at the naturist resort. The best years had been in the 1970's. They were young then and full of life, marijuana, smiles and iced peppermint tea. Maybe it was the tea that brought the memories back on the cold days of winter. She smiled remembering her husband and his handsome figure striding down the hiking trail in his birthday suit, the warmth of the sun reflecting off his dark hair and his brilliant white smile. He had been the one resistant to visiting the resort at first, but with gentle persuasion she had taught him how to be free of his clothes.

She had been introduced to nudism through a sociology text she had been assigned to read at school. Her casual acquaintance from the class had mentioned the naturist resort near Bakersfield, saying she had grown up inside its wooden fences.

They had taken their first visit on a hot July day in 1972. They had only been married for two years at the time. She smiled down at her cup of tea, remembering how embarrassed, shy and terrified they had been when they entered the grounds. The very kind elderly owner of the resort had put them in his golf cart and driven down the sandy trails to their designated camp spot. He showed them the place to put their tent and with a pleasant wave goodbye started up the golf cart and disappeared back to the front gates and his office.

It was a Saturday and there were only a handful of people around, all of whom had cheerfully waved as they passed through the sandy trails and evergreen trees. She remembered her husband asking what they were supposed to do now. Being the braver and the instigator of the weekend, she took command, telling him to get down to his birthday suit and they would take a walk.

The memory of that first visit was etched in stone in a central area of her memory. The sand was warm on her bare feet. The warmth of the sun filtered through the trees and warmed her shoulders while the birds sang and insects created a harmonious buzz in the ground coverings at the edges of the trails. Occasionally a soft breeze would blow through her legs, the soft cool hands of the wind touching her in places a wind had never touched her. She had picked up sand in her toes and let it filter through the cracks of the toes, doing it over and over again in a childlike way. She would never forget the first time another nude couple had met them head on at a turn in the forest trail. She and her husband, without any experience felt immediately exposed, but the couple had simply smiled and waved like folks might do if you had walked out to your mailbox at home.

She had been won over on that first walk. It had taken her husband a few visits more, but he too began to cherish the weekend trips to Bakersfield.

Those were her wonderful moments of life, young and at peace with the world and its magic, calm and fearless, using her feet to play in the sand of the trail under a sprinkling of evergreen trees, cresting a bluff to stare off into the distant purple tinged mountains wearing not a thing but her skin and feeling completely safe and happy. She remembered it in vivid details.

Now those days were gone. She stared into her tea, then raised her head to watch the rain pelt the screens of the window. The winter wind picked at the edges of the screen. The lights above the breakfast room dimmed slightly under the force of the wind. She moved her tiny hands now wrinkled with age around the cup to warm them.
Friday, January 20, 2006

Cracked in the Head

What sort of moron drops a barbell on his head?

Me.

I dropped 175 pounds on my head this morning.

I do a classic track athletes workout. Serious running on the track on M-W-F. Full body weight workouts on T-Th. It’s a lot like a college class schedule I guess. I get to drink and hang out on the weekends just the same as back then.

Actually I am usually so worn out by the weekend that I just try to sit still and recover.

I have more to recover from now.

Here is what an incline bench press looks like.


I was using one of those this morning at my 24 Hour Fitness. At the end of the 4th set of 10 reps I lifted the left side of the barbell onto the left hook on the stand. I believed the right end was also over the right hook. I was wrong. When I turned it all loose the bar came down at an angle striking me dead on top of the noggin, spilling the right side weight to the floor, the bar went sliding down, following the path of the weight.

I appears that I am the exact kind of moron that can drop a barbell on his head.

It was early and being blessed, at least in a microscopic way, there were not a lot of people around at the time and the music is always SO LOUD that it seemed like no one noticed.

Believe me, I didn’t rub my head or act hurt in any way…the first order of business was to make sure no one saw it happen! Every soul I could eyeball seemed totally preoccupied with their image in a mirror. Thank God for the overwhelming stench of narcissism inside 24 Hour Fitness!

I reassembled the bar and weights with the sort of detachment that would signal to the world that I intentionally drop barbells on my head as a matter of course. Everyone stand back, nothing to see here, I did it on purpose…..hehe….feeling like Barney Fife without a bullet.

After the weights were back in place I walked around a bit hoping no one could actually see the cartoon birds flying circles around my head. I seemed to be OK other than a little rattled and embarrassed.

I went back to the crime scene and sat down on the bench. I looked up at the devil bar and could not believe my eyes. Attached to the peened / serrated center of the bar was a tuft of my hair that had been pulled out of my head by the impact of the bar and was left hanging there on the bar, its only possible purpose was to further embarrass, taunt and amaze me and leave a tale to be told to future suffering grandchildren time after time after time.

Of course so far as the grandkids go I will change the story so it is actually an authentic barbell dropping moron and not their grandfather in the story. I believe I was only a substitute moron today, not the real thing….it’s like a sub teacher you don’t really know anything about the subject but once in a while you have to fake teaching it. As far as I’m concerned I was just faking the moron act this morning.

My head has a skinned place and my neck hurts a little which is damning physical evidence that substitute teachers should be paid every cent the regular teachers are paid.

After 30 more minutes of intense draining weight work and a narcissistic look or two or seven in the mirror I was back to normal and confident my massive moronic slip had gone undetected, like a redwood falling into an empty forest, or at least a forest filled with loud ear splitting gangsta music like my forest of narcissism plays nonstop.

I went to the locker room and gathered my things. I walked out onto the gym floor to head for my car feeling perfectly normal again.

I was flagged down by an awesomely cute blonde in painted on tight workout gear....drop dead my God you look impossibly gorgeous, about 22 years old……with green eyes, a vision made on one of God’s very best days…..who said to me:

“That was awful the way that bar crashed down onto your head that way. We were all so worried for you. Are you OK?”

Crap, crap,craaaaap....…M-Fekrrr….*&$##)$*%&a*@$*_$(#;&*##)*&#)$$
Thursday, January 19, 2006

Confused in Texas

My wife and I are cable news junkies. About 70% of cable news is political talk and political coverage and I guess that makes us political junkies as well.
I don’t ‘do’ politics in this blog because I consider it too easy and also because of my junkie habit I am often bloated with opinions, which will be readily supported or argued with depending on your pre-determined viewpoint, so what’s the point really.
However, some political junkie language naturally slips into our vocabulary. In the case of a conversation with my wife last night an overworked phrase slipped in. It went like this:

Wife: I can’t believe she is always coming up with these problems. It’s always some damn thing with her. The only problem is Dr. Smith (her boss) can’t ever understand she is causing the problem.

Rick: He’s a pretty smart guy. Why can’t he figure it out?

Wife: She’s a very good politician. She always thinks of a way to conceal that she is causing the problem. It’s like they say about politicians, she creates ‘deniable plausibility’ in everything she stirs up!

Rick: silence (head spinning searching for comprehension)

Wife: What’s the matter, did you forget how to form words again? Did you miss your meds?

Rick: Uh.....no....did you mean ‘plausible deniability’?

Wife: Yes, its S.T.O.D.

Rick: Huh? What do you mean it’s S.T.O.D?

Wife: You know, “same thing only different.”

Rick: Sweetie I think it’s more different than the same, anyway what the heck can be the same but different?

Wife: Well, it’s like a bag or a sack.

Rick: Huh?

Wife: A bag or a sack does the same thing at the grocery store, but they are different.

Rick: If they do the same thing they are the same.

Wife: No, they’re actually different. A bag is made of paper and a sack is made of plastic.

Rick: But they do the same thing!

Wife: Exactly, now you get it, that’s what I mean! Anyway don’t worry about it cuz those phrases are S.T.O.D.


Now I am sitting here worrying about this in violation of my little buddys orders.

Hmmm....’plausible deniability’ vs ‘deniable plausibility’....different or the same?

I now have a new question for the college entrance SAT exam, I just don’t know the damn answer! According to my wife all of the above (a) and (b) are correct, meaning the answer is (c).

I think there is not a real word such as ‘deniability’. But then I am also pretty sure there is no ‘S.T.O.D’. I regret the SAT leaves no room for an essay answer.

My head hurts........see ya later..........or sooner...........doesn’t matter really......it’s the same thing only different.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sleepless in Lubbock

I went to Lubbock last weekend for an indoor track meet at Texas Tech University. Lubbock is in Texas by the way. It took me 4.5 hours to drive there from Dallas. Texas is big.
I have gone to the track meet in the past and I have never been able to solve the hotel/motel mystery that is Lubbock.
I remain perplexed. Its true that Lubbock is on the high plains of Texas (ugly terrain) and is a bit isolated, but Texas Tech boasts an excellent medical school, law school, architecture school....well you get it......it is not necessarily filled with total bumpkins........but every time I have stayed there the hotel/motel scene has been a disaster for me.

I learned this lesson too. When you book through hotels.com they suck the money up at the moment you make the reservation and you will not see it again without hiring a lawyer.
This presented problems at the Ramada Inn that I booked through hotels.com. It turns out the hotel cannot refund your money. You have to get it from hotels.com many months later and if you read the fine print, well that is where hiring a lawyer comes in. Based on recent experience however I intend to spend my money on lawyers as an absolute and complete last resort. They will never see my money again so long as I live unless I am desperate beyond what I can articulate in this post. I’m talking life or death. Sorry lawyers. No, I take it back, I’m not sorry.

I was also sorry about staying at this Ramada Inn and sorry for believing the hotels.com description, where it was described as being quite a palace on the high plains of Texas.

Here is the list:

The return air grille was covered in approximately 1 inch of dusty filth collected, obviously, by dirty returning air. It looked like it had not been cleaned in this decade.

The bed had a padding mat that was unsecured causing it to roll across the bed and ‘bunch- up’ in waves as I moved. A sordid mass of bunched up padding by morning.

An indoor swimming pool adjacent to the atrium rooms (mine) which was filled both nights with what appeared to be gigantic birthday parties for children 3-10 years of age. When they were finished a similar party of incredibly loud teenage celebrators took over until 11pm.

The shower head was located at a height suitable for a midget. I am not one. This must be how it is if you booked a room designed by tiny pygmy folks in Africa. Of course, first you had to get on your knees in a discolored tub to use the 4' high shower. (I don’t even want to know why it was discolored)

When doors were open and shut in our corridor the sound echoed all down the corridor walls ringing around inside your head just at the moment you felt you might actually fall asleep on the bunched up padding even though teenagers were screaming outside your window.

Ramada Inn is warned, I always travel armed. I began to understand how mass murder actually occurs. It appears Ramada Inn and hotels.com are behind this phenomenon.

This is the third year in a row that I have totally blown the Lubbock hotel/motel scene.
So, if you have suggestions about where to stay in Lubbock and maintain some semblance of dignity I am all ears.

Meanwhile, I suggest the following sign for Ramada Inn - Lubbock.

Sleepless in Lubbock!
Tuesday, January 17, 2006

God strikes Sharon?

Pat Robertson recently made the public statement that Ariel Sharon deserved the stroke he suffered, adding that it was God’s punishment for Sharon having given away the promised land.

I spent some time thinking through that statement hoping to arrive at some profound “ah-ha’ that would resonate with clarity and intellect.
I haven’t done so thus far, surprising only myself I am confident.

This whole affair had a personal meaning for me since my father was struck by the same illness in his early sixties. It is a physical event to be wished on no man.

Robertson didn’t exactly wish this on Sharon but his public comments made it clear that it was perfectly alright with him. I find no other way to interpret his remarks. He has since apologized for his ‘insensitivity’, but not for what he believes is the truth of his remark.

Does God exact revenge for giving away promised land? I don’t believe this idea holds any water at all. It is intellectual mesh with multiple holes. Of course this is just my opinion, the same as Robertson holds his opinion.

I believe the comment from Robertson is a fear based comment. Those who hold up God as revengeful and capable of striking down his children must surely be operating in fear of the God they worship. I have heard and seen this phrase many times in my life; ‘Fear the Lord’.

I do not fear the Lord. I believe God gives us choice and if we stumble he is there to help us. I believe we become closer to being what God wishes us to become by dismissing fear and thereby creating an atmosphere of inclusion for all men and women. If I am correct, why would we fear the Creator who expects us to live without fear and to live in complete faith in his goodness?

A valuable friend told me once that he considered the previous statements a conundrum. He said we have to fear others simply because the message of God has to be brought to the doorstep of other men and women and these individuals can be dangerous. I told him I considered this to be intellectually myopic since it depends on the thought that God imbued any one individual with the truth while concealing it from others. Are these people from whom the truth is concealed the much talked about ‘infidels’ the modern Islamic terrorists describe?
We remain friends, we just have a different viewpoint on this idea.

If Robertson is correct, does he now need to fear his own cerebral stroke. Possibly it would be God’s revenge for Robertson judging others; a clear violation of God’s recorded law (according to Bible literalists).

Thankfully I believe Robertson is safe from God’s revenge. It appears to me he may not be safe from his own fears.

Robertson said he would pray for Sharon. So now I am to understand he is going to pray to God to aid in Sharon’s recovery after declaring that God is responsible in the beginning?
That is a puzzling question; it is also an authentic conundrum.
Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sunshine and Shadows

I was standing at the side of the track before my workout, contemplating the sun and shadows around me. It was one of those recent Texas days that isn’t sure if it’s an indian summer day or an early winter one instead. It was early in the day around 9am and the sun while having been present a while was only beginning to peek into the stadium from around the side of the eastern grandstand.
What this produced was a series of sunlight and shadow around me that alternated between warmth and slightly cool to even a bit cold.

I looked down at my legs being conscious that the right leg felt warm while the left leg was cold.
This would not seem to be a remarkable discovery given the sun and shadow patterns. What I discovered next seems just as ordinary and simple, but what I learned I want to pass on. I want to relive it for you because of a question raised by another blogger yesterday.

The question she raised was why do recent blogs around her and the community in general seem so negative in the early going of 2006?

The rather ordinary thing that occurred with my warm versus cold legs is that I realized it was easy enough to move the leg bathed in shadow into the area where the sun was shining. Taking that action made both legs warm. This is the type of automatic process that we can easily overlook because it happens so easily, quickly and automatically.

On a second mental inspection it caused me to reinforce the idea in my own mind that the choices we make can form the difference between a positive or negative attitude.

In my 40's I studied taoism with a passion and I still honor many of the tenets and revere the lessons learned. Some of the lessons I have moved past.
One of the lessons I have left behind for a new one is the taoistic teaching that positive and negative create a balance and that life moves from one to the other in a continuos flow of energy.

I no longer believe this, but rather embrace the idea that a completely positive world can exist in the absence of negative feeling. It is the process of bringing heaven to you rather than waiting to ‘go to heaven’.

Before you dismiss me as a dreamer, understand that I know how hard this is to achieve, but much like the track workout that lay in front of me on that recent day I know that all positive things that we want for ourselves demand our attention and work to achieve.

Pulling the negative from your life is the same process as moving your leg from shadow to sunlight. It is much harder, yes, but it is exactly the same process. It would have been just as simple to place the warm leg into the shadows with the cold leg. I get to choose. That is the simple but wonderful plan of the Creator. The fate we believe in we bring to pass.

Can you be positive for a another being and change their attitude? I’m glad you asked. Believe it or not I think it is possible. You won’t actually change them, that will be up to them. You will show them something they want. When they ask, teach them that the fate they believe in is what they bring to pass. Then show them how to move from the shadows to the sun. Then they have the opportunity to change themselves.

Now I Get It.......maybe
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Email nonsense

I use spam arrest to keep an unbelievable amount of uselesss email out of my MS Outllook inbox. But I have to admit, every once in a while I want to know what unbelievable nonsense got pulled out of my sight before I saw it.
This is like the gruesome accident scene you can’t help staring at.
I went to Spam Arrest where I can actually see what didn’t get through. I thought I would share it with you. It’s kinda interesting. It seems email solicitors have an inordinate amount of interest in my penis. I suppose most of us men want someone to be interested in our penis, but this may be too much.
Here are my favorites. They were collected, believe it or not, over the most recent three day period from about 400 other equally ridiculous solicitations.

Give your penis increased performance and vitality!

Develop an awesome penis!

Get your drugs cheaper online!

The most affordable plastic surgery ever!

Produce stronger and rock hard erections!

Increase your sex drive with a healthier penis!

Dinner on us at your favorite restaurant with $45 printer ink order!

24 screwdrivers in one, just spin and load!

Increase your penis width by 20%!

Improve your sex life with a bigger penis!

Do you notice a trend here? First of all, how do these people know anything about my penis size? I don’t go about exhibiting it to these ad folks. And what defines an awesome penis exactly?

If I am to believe all this then I can go to dinner free because I ordered $45 worth of ink, get some cheap online drugs to go with dinner, have a strong rock hard erection at dinner (20% bigger) and I would have one very cool screwdriver in my pocket to go with the rock hard penis that has increased performance and vitality, and be looking good after affordable plastic surgery!

Very cool. I think I should get all my email from now on.
Monday, January 09, 2006

Dang Daddy Long Legs

My wife and I spent a very nice weeeknd in 2004 in a small cabin at the top of Mt. Nebo in Arkansas. The scenery was very good, the cabin romantic and isolated at the very top of the mountain. My wife, a pro photographer had a blast with her camera on the many hikes we took.
One thing we noticed on the top of the cabin's television was a small spiral notebook where the owners of the cabin intended for folks to write down their experience about being at the top of Mt. Nebo. Most of the entries were profoundly boring.
Then I ran across an entry by Lindsey Rene Bissell, age 14. It was a keeper worth a photograph and a trip home with us. Below, I post her entry into the noteboook.

Just in case you can't read it here is what it says verbatim:

Hey Yall,
Theres too many dang daddy long legs here. I think there attracted to black pants cause thats what em wearin and they were crawlin up my leg walla go! my mom pretty much said everything else below. I know God created daddy long legs but that doesn't mean I have to like them Oh and lovers leap is really pretty y'all should get a picture.
God Bless,
Lindsey Rene' Bissell


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ripples on the Water

The short story below is an 11 year old boys tale about the damning power of black language and the redeeming power of white language.

***********

My dad said we should be careful down at the river but I don’t think my brother Pete ever really pays attention to that. He has his .22 rifle in his left hand and tells me to be quiet so mom doesn’t see us leaving with the gun.
I’m 11 and my gun totin big brother Pete is 14 on this hot summer day in Texas in 1962. We are headed to the banks of the Trinity River about a mile from our house.
It’s the river that just last winter killed 5 teenage girls. It was all the newspaper could talk about for days and days afterward. On the first day it showed big black and white high school annual pictures of all the girls on the very front page. They were all smiling big as could be with wavy long hair and dresses with little bows at the collar. It talked about how they had nice personalities and stuff like that and what a big tragedy it was and all. Their car went off the road after they drank too much beer and went right down the bank and into the river. Most everybody said they were good girls and probably some store owner made a big mistake by giving them the beer. The second day the newspaper reported on all the things their parents said and also what their preachers and teachers said about it and all. On the third day they reported about the funerals of four of the girls. The other girl got mysteriously sent off to New Mexico for her funeral. Somebody said her daddy was too embarrassed about the beer and the talk to stay in town. There was a photograph of one of the mommas crying with her handkerchief held up to her nose while the preacher talked to her. She was wearing a necklace that looks like the one Beaver’s mom wears on ‘Leave it to Beaver’. I was a little afraid of the river after that, I wondered if the girls had ghosts that cried at night time and might even float the one mile right up to my bedroom window.

On the way out the door my next door buddy Glenn Ford joins up with us. Glenn’s 10. He didn’t ask if he could come. He never does. He’d probably follow me right into the path of a train come to think about it. His mom and dad named him after the movie star, but Glenn is kinda stupid. My mom says they musta dropped him on his head or something at the hospital and they didn’t bother to x-ray for damage or nothing, just sent him on home with his momma trying to act like nothing happened at all. Glenn’s dad works at the General Motors Factory up the street. Mr. Ford says Ford cars are for shitting in. He only drives ‘built in Texas’ GM cars. That’s kinda funny to my mom too. She says maybe Glenn just takes after his dad in the brains area. His mom is something though with really big pretty knockers which she showed me once when she bent over to pick up the baby that was wailing like a little brat in the middle of the floor, I just happened by dumb luck to be staring at the dopey kid at the time and got a big eyeful. Hers are prettier than the first ones I ever saw in my dad’s magazine last year, the one he thought was hidden under the big rock under the house, but I like going under the house sometimes just goofing around and he didn’t know that, so I figure she could show her knockers off in a magazine too and be famous like Marilyn Monroe, only she has to take care of Mr. Ford and all the brats at her house and there’s six of them already.

When we get to the river Pete hands me the gun and dares me to shoot at the turtles that are floating along the surface. I don’t like killing things and he knows that which is why he is daring me. Me and Pete are a lot alike. He’s just daring me because he won’t kill them either but if he dares me first he can call me ‘chicken’, which of course means I will dare him back and then he will miss the turtle on purpose just to prove he’s brave enough to shoot at them.
My Uncle Jay says we are almost the same, meaning Pete and myself. That’s why he always calls me Repeat. That‘s what he says every time he sees us. “Well look at this willya, here comes ol Pete and his sidekick Repeat.” He says it every time. My dad thinks it’s funny so he calls me Repeat too, almost like he thought of it himself. If Uncle Jay isn’t around to take credit I guess it is like he thought of it himself to anyone that doesn’t know what I know.
Pete gets to keep his name in this ignorant game which is why I don’t like it too much.
I toss a rock into the river just to watch the ripples. I like throwing things, especially rocks into the water, because I can try to hit the turtles on their backs. They always dive down when I actually hit them like they think the Japs are bombing them at Pearl Harbor or something. Then I watch the ripples grow bigger and bigger above their sinking and dying turtle shells.

“You know what that means when the ripples go out like that?” asked Pete. Glenn asked what a ripple is, but we just ignored him like we always do.
Knowing Pete watches a lot of TV I decide he probably knows what it means and anything I answer is gonna get laughed at so I bite on the question. “No ignoramus, what the hell do the ripples mean?” Pete ignores my insult figuring he had something important to teach his little brother like the day he taught me to throw a curveball, “Dad says it’s the same as telling a lie or telling something nice about someone.” “That’s right” said Glenn. We knew Glenn was probably thinking about something altogether different than we were so we just talked around him. “What do you mean? I don’t get how a rock in the water and ripples is like a lie.” Pete sat back on the bank and tried to act wise, “Well the ripples are like someone you tell a lie to and then that person goes and tells the lie to someone else and pretty soon the lie you told is going on all around you just like the ripples in the water and you can’t do anything to stop it. But if you say something nice to someone or say something nice about them then the same thing happens, but it’s all nice and good things that are going on instead.”
I didn’t say anything back to Pete on account of I was figuring him to be pretty smart at that point, but Glenn asked him what happens to the rock.
“Glenn, you’re a dumbass, it doesn’t matter about the rock!” Pete was easily irritated when he was trying to pass on some of dad’s wise thinking.
“It just matters that if you tell a bad thing about someone or say a bad thing it just goes on and on, it doesn’t end there unless you live on the damn North Pole or something. Same thing happens with good things.”
“But you called me a dumbass,” said Glenn.
Pete’s eyes were narrow slits now. “Glenn those dead girls from this river are gonna haunt you for the rest of your life you little ignorant son-of-a-bitch!”
It looked like Pete had already forgot about the ripples and nice words and all that, but I was figuring dad would be sorta proud of him anyhow. Glenn shut up then cause Pete had a gun and he didn’t feel the same about Glenn as he did the turtles.
Copyright 2006 - Riddle
Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jose and the Chickens

Today’s post is a short story that follows a story that a fellow blogger told earlier this week. The blog by Stacy "The Peanut Queen" concerned a neighbor named Jose. Stacy’s story can be read here. I decided to provide the answers to my own questions about Jose by writing the following fictional short story.

___________________________________________________________

He couldn’t catch the chickens any longer. When he had been a teenager and even into his mid-20’s he could always catch them. His father would send him into the yard to catch at least three on special occasions when the whole family was gathered to eat.
His father had taught him how to wring their necks and drain the blood from the body.

He was too old and slow now. His father and mother died many years ago in their hometown of Oaxaca, Mexico. Jose lived in the United States now these many years later.

When he was sober, he would remember crossing the Rio Grande River into South Texas. Later, after hearing about the availability of migrant farm work in Florida he had paid a man $50 to drive him in the back of a hot truck to Florida. He and the other human cargo in the truck had been forced to urinate in the corner of the truck and had gone without food or water for the 26 hours of the non-stop trip.

He worked the farms in central Florida for many years, sending the money home to his wife and 3 children in Oaxaca. When possible he had placed any extra money in the hiding places inside his trailer. The trailer had been given to him by a farm owner after many years of working on the farm and running the illegal crews the farmer employed.

Jose didn’t speak English well, but he was capable of understanding what was required and communicating the instructions to the Spanish speaking crews. The farm owner had helped him secure an illegal citizenship.

Having the illegal documentation was essential to his continued life in Florida. He couldn’t read, but he managed to get along by relying on those around him. He kept a low profile and tried to avoid any contact with the police. The police scared him.

The drinking had begun when he returned to Oaxaca and discovered his wife had run away with another man, taking the children, leaving with the money and possessions his earnings had provided and leaving no address where they could be found. Heartbroken he had returned to Florida. At least the money he earned now was his to spend.

Jose was rarely sober now in the sixth decade of his life. A great deal of the money he earned on the farms was spent on the never ending supply of beer. He tried very hard to be sober in the fruit gathering season, at least during the day.

When the non-work part of the year came around he found the relief to his pain and loneliness in the best friend he had, the fuzzed reasoning and deep sleep of too much alcohol.

It was Christmas. Jose’s reasoning wasn’t always clear, but he knew this because of the Christmas lights that were strung up on the houses nearby. He remembered the long ago Christmases of Mexico when he had been a boy. Now he had no friends or family and no one to celebrate the holiday with, though the lights told him that many families would be gathering and the children would be happy as he had been so many years before.

The pain in his chest had grown worse in the past few days. The alcohol had helped him forget the pain until recently. The pain seared through the deepest stupor now. His left eye twitched uncontrollably and his skin had begun to change color, the pale coffee brown tone turning yellow. The whites of his eyes had also begun to change color.

Today the pain had been so severe that he had drank even more heavily, but the pain knifed through his fog. He stumbled to his knees when one of the chickens had run in front of him. In a lurching motion he had tried to grab the chicken as it ran past. He picked up his left hand from the dirt; a skinned area on his lower palm began to bleed through the skin. It didn’t hurt. Oddly he couldn’t feel the hand at all. On all fours now, his hands in the dirt along with his knees, he noticed the ants on the dirt in front of him.

The ants were remarkably busy, running about the ground carrying debris into and out of the hole. Tears streamed down his cheeks, hitting the ground creating tiny craters that the ants had to navigate. He noticed that the ants worked on anyway, treating his tears as part of the days challenge. Jose watched the ants for a long time. The ants were fuzzy and seemed to be walking side by side unless he squinted his eyes just so. That made him dizzy and his forehead would plop down onto the center of the ant bed for a moment until he could raise his head to study the ants again. Jose noticed the ants crawling over his hands and arms only after they began to sting him.

He raised his head higher to a point where he could see the house across the street. He thought he might try to ask for help, but he knew the couple across the street would want to take him to a hospital where his illegal papers would be necessary and he would be exposed. He knew the lady was named Stacy, but he wasn’t sure of her husband’s name. They had helped him before. He liked them. He didn’t communicate too well with them because of the language problem, but he could see in their eyes that they cared about him and he knew they would help. But there was so much about his life they didn’t understand.

He knew they wondered why he slept in his car. When he had a family in Oaxaca, in the time before they had gone off with the unknown man, he had proudly driven them around town in the car. It was a car like no one could afford in Oaxaca and it made him feel proud. The last time he had seen his family he had driven them all weekend in the car. He slept there to try and remember them. He tried to remember his son’s happy smile and the laughter of the boy’s younger sisters. He would stare at the radio that had filled the air with music that weekend trying to remember how it had all been.

He didn’t want the police to find him this way; it meant certain trouble for him. He rose unsteadily from the ground and turned toward the car only to fall to his knees again. He began to crawl, the pain in his chest overwhelming now. When he had finally gotten himself into the back seat he rolled onto his back and the rear window swayed around above him. The pain could not be quieted and for the first time in his life Jose prayed to die. He was too tired. He wanted to see his family. The windows were fogging up and he thought again about the family across the street. He wondered if they would notice he was gone. He hoped they could use his chickens. He liked the neighbors. Jose closed his eyes tightly and prayed again.

The police talked to the neighbor across the street. The officer that seemed to be in charge asked the neighbor when he had seen Jose last. He asked him if he had noticed anything unusual the night before. He asked if Jose had any relatives that he knew about. He said it appeared Jose had died of natural causes.

The neighbor crossed the street to tell his wife Stacy what had happened. When she heard about the man with the chickens, the one she had waved at each morning and had helped on some occasions, she lowered her head to the table where she was sitting wrapping Christmas presents and began to softly cry.

Jose was sitting across the table from Stacy, his skin the fine light brown coffee color once again. There was no pain in his chest. He told Stacy the man in the big white light had told him how everything would be good now. He had allowed him to come back here now to tell Stacy it was alright. He hoped she could hear. The language barrier had always been a problem so he hoped she would understand. He stared through her window out into the yard where he had lived. He smiled at the chickens. He knew he could catch them again.

Stacy stared at the empty chair across from her then smiled at the danged chickens and the man that had slept in his car instead of his house. She smiled and wiped her tears. Her dog Rastus pawed at her thigh and barked at the empty chair.

Yaaaa Hooooo!



Monday, January 02, 2006

2006 Advice No. 1

I’m not good at New Year Resolutions; don’t know really why I even make them.
But I do.
I have learned to make resolutions that are mostly meaningless. If I make them too meaningful, it is altogether more obvious when I fail at the resolution, which is inevitable.
So in the spirit of making meaningless resolutions I have decided on one for 2006.
During 2006 I am going to offer occasional advice to women on how to better get along with your male companion. I intend to accomplish this by pointing out some things about women’s behavior that makes us crazy and is in direct opposition to our ‘male’ thinking process.
Robert Shapiro’s recent post ‘Leadership With Grace’ has a fascinating request for us all to practice benevolent leadership during the coming year. I suggest you read it for far more thoughtful and erudite advice than what I have to offer.
However, I hope by helping women better understand how to integrate with the male mind that I will have provided a public service through my blog. If I can follow Robert’s good advice it will be accomplished benevolently. (Benevolently is hard to spell, thank goodness for spell-check!)
Yes, yes girls I know there are thousands of things men do that drive you mad, but this is the natural province of a female blogger to let us know what those things are. Besides, I don’t happen to know all of them anyway, so it’s your job (female blogger) not mine.

In pursuit of my 2006 resolution I offer the following gentle advice. More will follow as we go through the year. I will start with 3 related and hopefully helpful suggestions.

Two are related to asking questions. For a broad overview of this issue see my blog ‘Brain Research’, November 23, 2005

Advice #1
When men are gathered in the living room on holidays watching football, and all the women are in the kitchen cooking and talking, do not come into the living room and ask “Who is winning” or “What is the score” or “Who is playing?
Here is why. First of all it’s disruptive. More importantly if you look at the upper corner of the screen it already contains all of that information. That’s the way we men get the information. You can actually know the answers to all 3 questions with out opening your mouth. We will never ask another man any of those three questions. That’s the reason that the broadcasting network puts the information up there on the screen. I think that men must produce the games. If women produced the games then that information would not be on the screen. The reasoning of a woman producer would be that it would not allow for the proper questioning and interaction among those watching the game at home. Whatever the case, all the info is right there on the screen for you.
The kinder men will answer you. Most of us will just grind our teeth, especially when it has been asked by five different women in the past 15 minutes.
This part is important too. If you do not have any idea who plays in the NFL or NBA it shouldn’t really matter to you who’s playing since you don’t know any of the teams anyway.
I’m telling you this to protect you. Three years ago the 5 men in my living room at Thanksgiving decided to tell the 7 women in the kitchen that the Torpedoes were beating the Steamboats by 14 points. We were actually watching the Eagles play the Cowboys at the time and Philadelphia was kicking the Cowboys all the way back to Dallas by a sizeable margin.
The first lady came to the edge of the living room and dutifully asked “Who’s playing?”
Our response: The Torpedoes and Steamboats, the most ridiculous names we could think up.

The next entrant decided on “What’s the score?” We answered that the Torpedoes were ahead by 14 points. Both ladies seemed satisfied enough to return to their world.

Later during dinner, my sister-in-law wanted to know what city the Steamboats played for. My brother told her Memphis which appeared to be fine with her. We also relayed to them that the Torpedoes had prevailed in the end.

Our story was blown when my mother called her brother to wish him a happy Thanksgiving. She cheerfully told him that the ‘boys’ had watched the Torpedoes and the Steamboats from Memphis play football on TV. The lies unraveled quickly amid my uncle’s great confusion. He had not heard of the Memphis Steamboats.

And oh yeah, along the same lines, (Advice #2) when you enter the living room and we are watching a movie it is not necessary to ask “What movie is this?”

Men don’t ask. We just watch. The name of the movie is mostly immaterial to the content of the movie.

When you ask, it irritates us because we already know the above mentioned truth. That is, the name of the movie is mostly immaterial to the content of the movie. This is particularly true if you have never heard of the movie in the first place.

When you are all finished watching the movie you may name it whatever you wish. Asking what is its name is just disruptive and non-productive to actually enjoying the movie.

Advice #3: When you are watching movies please don’t talk to them. I watched Munich during the holidays at the theatre. The lady sitting next to me in a ‘full to capacity’ theatre was very quick to inform all around her when one of the actors had a gun or if another looked a little suspicious to her. This verbal play of hers with the story line of the movie went on for three hours. (The whole movie) Surely she was tired at the end.

When one of the actors is wiring a bomb in the bad guys’ house it isn’t necessary to tell your date or husband that the good guy is wiring a bomb in the bad guys’ house. It might be helpful to you to articulate this out loud for your own understanding, but not for ours.

You are welcome for the generous and benevolent advice. Remember to practice and we will be less annoyed.

Please feel free to comment on how we might also improve our relationships with you. Except for cleaning up the kitchen. We already know that we just don’t want to do it.