Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Need vs. Want

A need is something that is necessary, something essential for basic survival. A want is something that is desired, something that would be absolutely wonderful to have but not truly vital.

I received a surplus and survival catalog the other day. While flipping through it, I came across a grappling hook. Made by Black Widow Tools of swat black carbon steel. Folds for convenient carrying and comes with 33 feet of black nylon rope.

Due to the current volatile state of the world, I instantly decided this is something I must have. You never know when a quick escape may be called for. It would be very foolish to be caught unprepared especially when such equipment is readily available.

I continued paging through the catalog and found the cutest tactical boots. I added them to the list because I’m sure they’d come in handy when scaling the wall to safety.

But then, since my budget is fairly limited at the moment, I got to thinking. Do I really have to have these items? I decided yes on the grappling hook and no on the boots. My life may honestly depend on getting over a wall or on to a roof some day but when it gets to that point, it’s not going to matter what shoes I’m wearing. I’ll manage in whatever footwear I happen to have on.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kinda Disturbing

There’s a depressing little strip mall I pass on my way to work every day. There are always a few people milling about. Not enough for me to really pay attention to. This morning however, there were many more than usual so I actually looked to see what store they were standing in front of. I go by about 6:50. I figure the place opens at 7 which made me curious. Perhaps they were queuing up for an exceptionally good breakfast.

No, that wasn’t it. I was completely mistaken in my guesses as to what they might be doing. The establishment they were about to go into was the USA Plasma Center. They were standing around, waiting to have their blood separated in order to sell their plasma.

I looked up the place online. Plasma goes for $20-$35 a donation. In order for it to be useful you must donate at least twice. You can do this no more than twice in any seven day period. What surprised me is that they are looking for people with certain antibodies for things such as Hepatitis B and Tetanus. Hmm. Not sure what to think about that.

What I do know is how sad it is that this is what we, as a society, have come to. Selling the liquid out of your blood on a bi-weekly basis. Some of the people standing there looked as if this is what they do in order to survive. Literally.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Uh Oh!

My house is trying to kill me. Or that’s what I spent the weekend dreaming. It was really odd. Usually, I can tell when I’m dreaming. Can’t always get out of it but when I know, the terror isn’t quite as bad.

Not last weekend. And it was one of those times when a dream didn’t end, just because I’d been up and wandered around a bit. Nope. Started right back up again as soon as I slipped back to sleep.

Generally, when I’m dreaming, the house is distorted. It’ll be my house but it’s not. There are lots of differences. Rooms are the wrong shape or the walls are vastly different. The fence at the end of the yard is missing. There’s a fire escape or the windows are on the wrong side of a room. Not last weekend. There were only subtle differences. Little things altered. Things that were difficult to pick up on as they weren’t things I pay a lot of attention to. Like the magnets of the refrigerator were rearranged. I have all of six so there’s not a lot of arranging to begin with. Or the two tiny decorative mirrors I have that are the same size and shape were switched. Who notices that stuff? Well starting now, I do.

Of course, I don’t think it helped to be wandering around inside the house that just tried to do away with me. It’s a very creative house. I don’t know why it doesn’t seem to like me any more but, if the dreams are any indication, it’s decided that one way or another, I must go. I half expected to get home and find the locks changed. Or the whole thing missing and a vacant lot where my house used to be. How about you? Does your house like you or would you like to trade?

Friday, June 24, 2011


The unexpected kindness and generosity of others astounds me. And, at that moment, all I can say, through my emotional sniffles, is thank you.

Happy weekend all.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Don't Get Scammed

I answered the phone the other day. It was a man, a very heavily accented Indian sounding man, claiming to be Sean Williams asking to speak with someone who couldn’t come to the phone at that moment. I knew this girl had been receiving harassing phone calls so I was instantly suspicious. So I asked if there was a message. Oh yes. There was.

Mr. Williams informed me that he was from the Department of Justice and he needed to speak with her immediately. Again, I explained that she was unavailable so he asked me what it was regarding. Apparently there is a lawsuit being filed against her. Um, right. The Department of Justice is going to reveal that sort of thing to a complete unknown.

I asked if there was a reference number she should use when she called back and Sean pawned me off on his supervisor. Of course I asked for his name as well. Frank Hunter who had even more of an accent than Sean did. I again requested a reference number and was told that it didn’t exist yet. It would be assigned in the morning after the suit was filed but they needed some pertinent information from her first. Ding, ding, ding. Like the Department of Justice wouldn’t have a case number, with or without an actual lawsuit.

So after they made me repeat the number she was to call four times, I hung up and contacted the Department of Justice. The real one. Surprise, surprise, they never heard of them and the number was not one of theirs. The very pleasant woman on the main switchboard asked me to hold and the next thing I heard was a voice identifying herself as FBI. Yep, she took all the information and asked me to also notify the FCC. Who asked questions and then gave me a number for the FTC. They had me repeat the whole thing, gave me a complaint reference number and had me speak with the Office of the Attorney General.

Guess what. Later that afternoon good old Sean called again. Which is when I told him what the helpful FBI woman told me to say, that they’d been reported to the FBI and they should remove the number from their system and quit harassing the woman they were attempting scam. I doubt it’ll work but it kept me entertained for a little while. See what happens when I get annoyed?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Assistance Please

The other night, I heard something on the radio. Or at least I think I did. It’s entirely possible I was dreaming and made the whole thing up. But I really don’t think so. I’m wondering if any of you heard it too so I know one way or the other.

It was reported that the rules about bringing animals with potentially contagious diseases along with you when you are staying on state game lands have changed. Or maybe it was need to be changed. Apparently there’s been an outbreak of equine herpes in the West and this is an effort to prevent it from spreading to wild horse herds. Okay, so far, so good. I found articles confirming this so I know I didn’t make up that part.

I also found information supporting the other half of what I heard. That there’s been a similar outbreak among goldfish. Here’s where things get a bit murky. The report, as I remember it, stated that several organizations are pushing to make it illegal to bring infected fish along on camping trips in order to protect the wild horses.

I haven’t been able to find any research that shows whether or not the virus that affects goldfish is a strain that can be transferred to horses so I really don’t know if that part is true. But I do know that it’s the bit that had me giggling.

How many of you take your goldfish camping with you? I suppose it makes sense to put your fishbowl on the picnic table when you are out of your RV. After all, wouldn’t it be just like a car, collecting heat, and become far too hot to leave them inside without the air conditioner running?

Here’s the really curious thing. I’m fairly certain there was a discussion on the various ways the disease might be swapped between domesticated goldfish and wild horses. That’s the sort of thing this radio station would explore but I’m sure you can understand now why I need some help determining if this is entirely factual or not.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Was my great aunt’s birthday. She would have been 95.

I miss her tremendously, as you can imagine. She’s the only person who encouraged me my entire life, the only one who I was able to count on, no matter what. The only person to always be proud of me, whether I was four and learning to print her name or forty-four and sending off a book I had written.

I worked up the nerve to start going through some of the things I brought home from her house. I figured I was even more swamped with memories last weekend than usual so it was as good a time as any. I started with the box containing photo albums. Yeah, it was very hard. Bittersweet. But that one should be the most difficult. The others will be easier. They’re just stuff, not faces.

I found the scrapbook her class had made for her when she retired back in 1974. That was fun. I don’t know who they enlisted to snag pictures from her life outside of school but there were a bunch that made me smile. A million years ago, she used to sing professionally and there was a program for an event where she was the featured soloist. There were also pictures of her cat, Puffball, who hated everyone but Irva. She would corner me, not letting me out of the room, whenever she could. I can’t tell you how many times I had to call for help because of that cat.

There was an album of old relatives. Her grandparents, parents, uncles and the cousins. I had a lot of fun looking through that one. I knew the cousins when they were all over 50 so it was great seeing them with Irva when they were all much, much younger. And there was an album of me, birth to maybe age seven. Apparently I used to have a thing for hats. There’s one picture of me looking outside with longing. You can see the rain on the window. Some things never change.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Am...

…Of the future

Slipping in to the past

Making the present

A bit more bearable.

Happy, safe weekend.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Apologies for skipping yesterday. I was at the dentist. No, not all night. But I was having too much fun there to ponder what I might come home and blog about. Yes, I’m serious. I had fun visiting the dentist. It was just a routine cleaning so nothing to get worked up about. I love the gritty toothpaste. And the way it makes my teeth feel afterwards. I also adore the staff. They’re such a great bunch of people. I look forward to seeing them at each visit.

And then there’s my traditional stop at Wendy’s along the way home. Hey, I was a good girl, going for a regular cleaning. I deserve a treat. I made a discovery. Wendy’s now makes caramel milkshakes! Yep, had to have one. It was way too sweet and incredibly rich and yes, I drank every drop! You really should try one if you haven’t already.

I had some trouble falling asleep last night. If you’re thinking it was the milkshake you’d be mistaken. All day, I’d had a song from Beauty and the Beast rolling around inside my head. But that’s not what kept me up either. You see, I had a thought. Well, one of many but this one in particular latched on. In Beauty and the Beast, when the spell is broken, the furniture and dishware revert back to servants, kids, pets… Does that mean there’s no more stuff and the castle is empty? See? Now you’ll be up tonight, wondering the same thing. Hahaha!

It was raining earlier. Rain is like catnip to me. I was trapped inside. Yeah. Like a super hyper, over-active kitten forced to sit still and watch while all the other cats got to romp and play. Of course it stopped before I got to leave. Sad.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


My old gardening shoes disintegrated at the end of last season. They lasted the first half of my life so I’m okay with that.

When it got to be spring, I discovered that the price has gone up significantly over the last 35 years so I went searching on eBay. It took a few weeks but I finally found a pair of new Doc Martens for less than a third of their retail price. Ordered ‘em. Got ‘em. Fit perfectly. Yay me!

Or at least I was under the impression my quest had been a success for about a month. Obviously, I was mistaken. Last weekend I thought I’d go dig in the dirt. I left my shoes on the bed as I was getting dressed. When I turned to grab them, I discovered they were no longer mine.

Harry had claimed them. And as you can see, he had no intention of sharing. In the end, I needed Beau to provide a diversion so I could snag them back. It’s been a few days and I’m still sleeping with one eye open.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yep, It's Monday

The locusts focus on the hocus pocus,
soaking us, cloaking us
with crocus
as grog-drinking frogs wearing togs
ride dogs through bogs,
clogging the cogs
which grip the zips,
ripping the sipping lips,
nipping chips
as the ship slips,
clipping the eclipse
turning snarky sharks dark
as marked quark bark
in the lark’s park
where cunning nuns run
with buns and guns
having fun under the sun,
stunning the sons
who won’t pay to play
with clay in the hay
during their stay in May,
slaying the fey
no matter what I say
on any given day.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Would have been my daddy’s 82nd birthday.

No matter how hard I try, there is always a moment when some memory or other really hits me so I spent the day with friends who kept me from being sad. They’re the best!

This year it was cheesecake. My dad loved a certain one that was made with a particularly time consuming recipe. I used to make it for him every year. It’s very yummy but I haven’t made any since he’s been gone. One day, I will be able to but nope, not yet.

Happy weekend.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Howie constantly displaying the temperature is not a good thing. I was out and about this afternoon and took this while waiting for a light to change. Please send cooling rain. Lots of it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Today's Lesson

Heat index. A combination of air temperature and relative humidity that determines the human-perceived equivalent temperature. In other words, how hot it feels. Developed in 1978 by George Winterling and adapted by the National Weather Service in 1979. I suppose that’s why it seems hotter now than when I was a kid. Back then, all we had was a regular old thermometer. It wasn’t even digital.

Normally, a body is cooled through sweating which then evaporates and carries heat away from the body. Unfortunately when it’s muggy (high relative humidity), the evaporation rate is reduced to heat is removed at a lower rate causing more heat to be retained than it would be in dry air conditions.

Now I could go into all the technicalities of this and give you a very involved formula and caution you about how it makes certain assumptions about body mass and height, clothing, physical activity, blood thickness, sunlight, wind speed, and ultraviolet radiation exposure but instead I’ll direct you to this simple conversion site. You enter the temperature and humidity and with one little click they’ll do all the calculations for you.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, it is most definitely too damn hot here, no matter how you look at it. Temperature - 96° Heat Index - 104° At 5:30 PM. And tomorrow’s going to be even worse. Have I mentioned how much I hate summer?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Since You Asked

Coconut crabs. The largest land-living arthropod in the world. Also known as robber crabs or terrestrial hermit crabs. They dwell entirely on land and can’t swim. Adults can have leg spans of up to a yard and weigh as much as 38 pounds.

The coconut crab has eight legs. Attached to the front pair are huge claws which are what they use to crack open their favorite food. Yep, you guessed it. Coconuts. And guess how they get them. By climbing coconut palms. Sometimes, they feast while still in the tree and sometimes they clip off the coconuts, dropping them to the ground so they can take them back to their burrows where they then use the husks as bedding.

The diet of the coconut crab also consists of fruit, nuts, seeds, tortoise hatchlings, rats, animal carcasses, each other, and Amelia Earhart. Yes, that’s correct. It’s believed that crabs, who forage at night when it’s cool, overwhelmed the aviator while she lay sleeping and consumed her. This is supported by a skeleton fragment that was found in 1940. Researchers surmise that the crabs dragged the rest of her bones off to their burrows, souvenirs perhaps, just like the pots and pans they steal, an idea supported by the pig that was torn apart when they set it out one evening in 2007. Still so sure you want to run off to that deserted South Pacific island?

Baby coconut crabs are sold as pets even though they are now a protected species and shouldn’t be. Should you purchase one, make sure your cage is strong enough to stand up to their pinchers. If not, they will crack their way out and latch on to you which is very painful indeed. Once they do, they are unlikely to release you. But fear not. I will share a little known tidbit. Gentle tickling of the soft under parts is the way to entice them to let go so be sure you keep a long feather on your person at all times.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Did You Know...?

There’s a species of oysters in the Caribbean that can climb trees. They are a bivalve critter which makes it possible for them to breathe out of water. They have a very strong “foot” which is a muscle that they use to do the climbing. It’s also the part you eat. I wonder if spending time in air and clambering about on trees makes them taste any different. It would certainly make them easy to harvest. Unless they climb fast and high. Then you’d need a ladder.

Non-dairy creamer is flammable. I’m thinking they mean in its undiluted state and not once it’s been poured into your coffee but I’m not absolutely positive on this. You may want to toss a match into your mug before you take a sip, just to be on the safe side. Especially if you smoke. Although I haven’t read any articles about people being ignited first thing in the morning so I guess those of you who still smoke are safe. Still, if I were you, I’d pay close attention to the order in which you do things.

It is rumored that a common custom in Spain is to eat one grape for each of the last 12 seconds of every year for good luck. As in 12 grapes in 12 seconds? I’m not certain about this one and unfortunately the Hispanic population in Reading stems from other areas of the globes so I have no one local to clarify this one. Perhaps you know someone who could help us out. Regardless, it’s clear that this is what I’ve been doing wrong. First, I can’t tell you the last time I bothered staying up and marking the exact ending of a year. Second, December isn’t really fresh, local grape season in around here so I have tremendous doubts that there have been 12 grapes available in my house on New Year’s Eve. I’ll have to try to remember this one and see if I can do better.

One last tidbit and I’ll stop rambling at you for the day. That yummy Worcestershire sauce you use to enhance the flavor of various meals? If it were called what it is literally its name would be Anchovy ketchup. Yeah, not quite the same appeal, is there?

Friday, June 3, 2011

This Weekend...

Is the WWII Weekend at the Reading Airport. It started today with a Mid-Day Café concert in downtown Reading, complete with a caravan of vintage vehicles and troops driving through as if to liberate the city. Yeah, wish it were that easy.

Throughout the weekend there will be re-enactors, period entertainment, planes and equipment to tour, flying demonstrations and a variety of plane rides happening out on the airport grounds. Food and souvenirs too. For a change, the weather is cooperating nicely so that won’t deter people from attending as it has in years past. All in all, it should turn out to be a decent event.

The whole concept has me wondering though. Do you think, in fifty or sixty years airfields will be holding Gulf War festivals? Or do you think it’s something that will be forgotten as so many of our returning veterans have been?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Busy Busy

It’s too nice to stay in today so I’m heading out and about. Things to do since it’s a beautiful day. Why can’t all of summer be like this?

Feel free to play amongst yourselves. I’ll be back. Nope, no guess as to when. It’s supposed to be even nicer tomorrow so if I’m not here, have a happy weekend!