Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The first watermelon...and other musings

Who knew that a trip to Sam's could spark so many random thoughts?

Here's a sample:

>I've figured out why impulse buying at Sam's Club is so much fun. Because odds are, you will eventually use what you buy, even if it takes you 2 years to work your way through 120 trash bags. Unlike clothing shopping, where there's a real chance of buyer's remorse when you get home and try on those purple boots you just knew you had to have.

>As I loaded a mini-watermelon into my shopping cart, I suddenly wondered what it must have been like for the first person who discovered watermelon. I mean, it's this uninspired green rindy thing; but what must it have been like when he/she cracked one open and discovered pink, sweet goodness inside? I'd like to think that choirs sang and the heavens bathed both watermelon and discoverer in golden light.

>Speaking of the first watermelon - now there's a tale of viral marketing. How the word must have spread once that first bite was tasted, and now billions know of that special summer treat.

>Finally, there are many things about living alone that, frankly, are awesome. Sleeping in, watching whatever TV you want, and being able to dance to your music with absolutely no inhibition. However, there are some things that completely suck; in particular, there's no one to help you haul your loot back to the apartment after an impulsing-buying trip to Sam's. Sigh.

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


It's been a fairly dull weekend, and I was just beginning to sink into a bit of self-pity for the pathetic nature of my social life when the phone rang. It was my former Little Sister (of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program).

Side note: If there are men reading this, you need to become a Big Brother. As soon as possible. The need is great, and you can make a difference. Ladies, you can too, but your wait time to be matched will likely be longer.

This young woman has had it rough. The details of her life would shame any of us who grew up with parents and our health. I hadn't talked to her in months. I had begun the process of trying to track her down via DHS, but had only gotten as far as the hospital she currently calls home. Then she called me.

She didn't know I had been trying to find her, but I guess the stars were aligned. I am always grateful that even after months of not speaking, she still has my cell phone memorized. She was upbeat, excited about possibly getting her GED and becoming a CNA. After all she's been through, she wants to be a nurse, and help people.

I am humbled every time I talk to her, and as hard as it is, wish everyone could experience the same feeling. We'd all work harder to serve our fellow humans if we did.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Reflections on the last few days

It's been an oddly quiet kind of weekend/early week, so far, with a few spices thrown in.

9/11 hit me hard, as it always does, on Friday. I can, like so many, remember exactly what I was doing when I first heard, and the panic in our office as people tried to find friends and family over that long day. Many moments are etched in my memory. Hearing a false rumor that there was a truck bomb at the state department and thinking "this might be the end of everything I know." I remember Sting singing just one verse of a song, and weeping. And I also remember walking into the post office as the first tower came down and calling my dad, who was working and hadn't heard much. He was oddly unaffected, probably because he hadn't seen or heard anything yet; he tried to tell me it wasn't that bad, surely everything would be ok.

I can't believe it's been 8 years. I'm saddened that Americans, in general, have forgotten how to support each other like we did during that time.

Shaking off the gloom...

Friday night was one of those strange quasi work/leisure activities; I got to listen to cool music, but I was working while I did it, so that took some of the fun out of it, but I would never have gone by myself to it if I wasn't working, so....anyway. It was made worth it as I spotted the redneckiest of men: cowboy boots, ragged jeans, scruffy face, accompanied by the appropriately trashily attired female. I didn't catch what she was wearing because I was distracted by the "Peace, Love and Beer" t-shirt the man was wearing, and the ginormous Victoria's Secret Bag he was toting. I don't believe the woman was toting anything. Fantastic.

Saturday had nothing to recommend it, except that I missed an appointment at work, felt bad about it, and drowned my sorrows by driving 20 miles to find a good bagel. And it was worth it. Mmmmm. Carbs. (side note - I didn't actually drive 20 miles just for the bagel. I was going that way anyway)

Sunday brought that curious lethargy during the day, followed by the inevitable cleaning frenzy in the evening.

Tonight, a good workout that kicked my ass, followed by MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL! The Pats pulled a crazy win out of some magic hat, or, depending on your point of view, were handed the game by the Buffalo Bills, who might have asked "would you like fries with that?"

And then the news that Patrick Swayze has died. An icon of my teen years. I made my family watch Dirty Dancing more times was a lot. I will still watch it when it comes on TV. Even though I own the DVD and VHS versions.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Replacing acrimony with civility, or the end of my adventures in conservative talk radio

Disclaimer: The follow blog entry likely contains naivete, idealism and a bit of disjointness. Get over it.

On August 18th, a friend challenged me to listen to 2 weeks of conservative talk radio, instead of NPR. I succeeded.

Thank you, Mr. President. Good speech. You sure can give a speech. That said, methinks you've got a long way to go and a lot of convincing to do. But I hope, like you do, than we can rise to the challenge. We, metaphorically speaking, since I'm not in Congress.

This seems a fitting time to complete my online accounts of spending 2 weeks in conservative talk radio land.

Bottom line? It was tough. Tough to listen to, tough to analyze, tough to suspend my judgment. I learned some stuff. I shouted at the radio quite a bit. A few times I just had to turn it off.

My biggest insight was that I am not convinced that "they" are out to turn my country into a Socialist/Communist/Fascist state. I did get some insight into what it must have felt like during the McCarthy era, when certain ideals were equated with socialism, and that was declared to be a danger to democracy. I refuse to believe we are headed there. I know too many rational, reasonable conservatives to let that happen.

As I listened to the President's speech on health care tonight, I was struck by his claim that we can replace acrimony with civility. And that, in a nutshell, is the biggest insight I gained from my two weeks in conservative talk radio. I like civility.

I don't like a radio program where the host yells and insults the character (not just the policies) of me and my friends.

I like debating in a way that doesn't make me feel like less of a good person if I disagree with your ideas. For example, I want to be able to say I have a problem with executive salaries being too high without being accused of betraying my country.

I like searching for kernels of reality beneath the hype.

I want everyone to be as willing as I am to admit they are wrong or maybe, just maybe, they don't have all the facts.

Most of all, I want to be proud that I live here, while still believing it's my duty to improve life, not just live it.

The good news is, most of the time, I can have the things I listed above. Sometimes, political and media personalities, on both sides, refuse to let it happen. I choose not to let that get me down. And I choose to take heart from the fact that, the other day, while driving home and listening to NPR, I flipped to the "other" station to see if there was a different perspective to hear. Granted, all I heard was a commercial for life insurance. But it's a start.

Thanks again, Mr. President. I want to believe the things you said. Time will tell.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Back to blogging...

It's been a VERY busy few weeks - with travel, events, and more travel. Lots of good stuff happening. For example, the end of my sojourn into the world of conservative talk radio. More on that in a later post - I'm still

Though my noggin is full of deep, introspective thoughts, I'm going to keep it light and focus on some of the funnier/odder things I've seen/heard/thought over the last few weeks.

Let's take Schadenfreude, for $200:

In San Antonio, on the Riverwalk, all I could think of was how they could possibly have a sidewalk that butts up to a river without a railing? How have they not been sued by someone who fell in? And why couldn't I have seen someone fall in?

Next category? It's a Small World, for $400:

On the flight from Dallas to NWA, I saw our Chamber of Commerce President, who very nicely helped me with my luggage, and one of my coworkers, on her way back from another work-related trip. The next day I got to visit with an old acquaintance who travels with Second City (we share a dark period in our theatrical pasts) and discovered through facebook that an old college friend has been hanging out in my childhood, er, hood. His father likely chats with mine every morning. Weird.

Alex, I'll take Animals You'd Not Expect to see in Hotels, for $600:

While exploring the "basement" of a hotel recently, we discovered a possum in a laundry bin. I choose to believe he was hanging out in the dirty laundry only.

And finally, for the whole ball of wax, I'll take Nostalgia for $1000:

I would swear that the college boys downstairs have a beer die table. Don't know what beer die is? Your loss.