Friday, January 30, 2009

Rhino virus be gone and raise a glass to Pittsburgh

Today, it's what my mother would call 'pneumonia weather' outside. Although the rains have finally stopped and the Florida sunshine is peeking through the steely clouds, giving me hope of a warming tend, it's still cold and drippy wet and nasty. I'm still trying to get over my rhino virus too. I was feeling so much better yesterday that I went out to an art festival patrons party and the world premiere of a new play about Annie Russell at Rollins College. I enjoyed the night out but from a health standpoint it was a mistake. It was a rainy night and after trudging around in the puddles huddled under golf umbrella, my unwelcome rhino guest is rearing his germy horn all over the place. I'm congested and coughing and staying homebound. The dogs were content to curl up on the bed with me until the raindrops stopped falling a few minutes ago but are now looking out the French doors and giving me sad sidelong glances in hope of a walk which they aren't going to get unless the temp goes into the sixties at least. Its supposed to be cold over the week end again. Phooey. I know we're faring a heck of a lot better than the northeast and true south is right now, but heck, this is FLorida and its supposed to be warm here!

At least it won't hamper my Steelers if its frosty in Tampa. Pittsburghers are used to the cold. I was too when I lived there. By the way, the President is rooting for the Steelers to win the Super Bowl, too. Right thinking, Mr. Obama! A Cardinal just landed on a bush outside the window and is looking at me. I can't tell if he's rebuking me or not. Anyway, Pittsburgh is a great place and the Steelers rock. Go Steelers!!

Speaking of things Pittsburgh, what do you think about when you hear the name? Maybe the name evokes The Steelers, Pirates, Penguins. Pittsburgh's past and deserved image as 'The Smokey City'. Or Mike Keel and some rascally riverboat pirates luring flat-boaters to their doom. 'The Gateway to the West' in pioneer days with endless trains of Conestoga wagons rolling down Indian trails. Union battles, steel mills and coal mining. Mega corporations like Alcoa and Westinghouse. Heinz ketchup and baked beans and Iron City beer. Robber barons like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick. Maybe you think of Pittsburg's master of the macabre, George Romero and The Night of the Living Dead. Or Stephen Bochco's Hill Street Blues. Mr Rogers Neighborhood. Andy Warhol, Annie Dillard, and Rachel Carson. Maybe your tummy sends images ofChipped ham and beer, polkas and Klondike Bars to your brain. Theme park aficionados may recall historic Kennywood Amusement Park with its wooden coaster beloved of many generations of children. Well, if those things evoke Pittsburgh to yuns, (you ones) yuns are right on track but here are some things you may not know about the city in which I was born:

1.Pittsburgh was founded by General John Forbes in 1758 and was originally supposed to be pronounced the Scottish way as Pittsburra not Pittsburg. The 'h' at the end of the city's name was customary if unusual and made official in 1911 by public demand. Control of the area was a primary cause of the French and Indian Wars, having been originally discovered by 'le francois' LaSalle in 1669. The French wanted western Pennsylvania to be a part of French Canada and later was a hot bed of contention between the Pennsylvania and Virginia colonies.
2. The city proper is surrounded by three rivers (Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio) and has more bridges than Venice, Italy.
3. It is comprised of very hilly terrain and has more outdoor steps than San Francisco. Until the rapid transit system was completed in the late 20th century, a primary method of public transportation was cable cars just like San Francisco (although we called them streetcars like New Orleans)
4. Pittsburgh has an annual Zombie fest.
5.The unusual English dialect spoken by Pittsburghers is attributed to influences of the Welsh/Scottish/ German/eastern European settlers and speakers are called "Yunzers". The New York Times called Pittsburg "The Galapagos Islands of American dialect".
6. The first radio station in America was KDKA in Pittsburgh.

So now you know about my place. I miss it despite decades of living in Florida....but not in winter.

Hope yuns have a great weekend. Irregardless, look aht for folks who are sneezing. Ferget about goin dahntahn all dressed up and wearin high hills. Don't worry about wershing clothes or redding up yer place either. Jest settle dahn in front of the TV with some Pop or an Arn, a chipp chopp sandwich or jumbo an a dill an a Klondike fer dessert an root fer the Stillers over that team from that place west of Ahia.

If you could read and understand the above message, you can speak Pittsburgh. Ta.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rhino viruses are the pits of misery. Dispite Vitamin C, Dayquil, zinc, Zycam, Vicks, saline spray and two days of bed rest I still feel pretty awful. The thing that has helped the most is good old fashioned chicken soup. And it tastes good too.

Before I got sick I enjoyed all the inauguration hoopla. It was hearwarming to see the obvious affection between the Obamas and I thought the new President was very, well, presidential. It is good to see a positive role model for young people in politics as well as a concerned caring committed father role model in a time of prevalent divorce and/or no marriage at all among the young. I liked his inaguaration speech too and the fact that since taking office last week he hasn't wasted any time in attempting to deliver on his pre election promises.

Some of you might remember that I was not an Obama supporter pre election. I was concerned about his inexperience compared to other candidates for the first office and completely turned off by the slavish drooling of the press concerning Mr Obama who touted him as if he was the Messiah come again. It was almost scary. But once he was elected I decided to give him a chance and think positive. I was pretty impressed by the organizational skills he demostrated from November until becoming the chief executive. I thought his cabinet choices were good. I'm still feeling good about him as President. Except for maybe one thing.

I do not agree with his speech to the Muslim leaders. Many Americans, myself included, would not term themselves as friends of Islam. I did not agree with the war in Iraq, although I do appreciate and support our troops, but I would never be a friend of anyone who either had a part in or approved of the events of 9-11. Not even on the sidelines. I am no friend of any Muslim who could speak out against such deeds and does not. I am no friend of fanactical terrorist groups or regimes or Imans who denigrate and oppress women. I think if Presdient Obama thinks that he can reason whith such fanatics he is somewhat naive. These people want to control the world and they don't care how they do it. Islam, as practiced today overseas, is not a religion of peace. So, good luck Mr. President, with the hand of friendship, but don't expect a rabid beast not to try to bite it off. If Islam wins, I will no longer be able to speak or write the sort of words as I have done in this blog. I am not extending my hand in friendship to Islam. Not until Islam proves itself a friend first and apologises for the atrocity of 9-11.

Its time for more cold medicine and another nap. Rant over.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hi Bloggers,
I'm back from the dark continent of my closets but I'm sick. Danny got a cold last week end and the inevitable happened...I caught it. Maybe the tile setter who worked on the house last week despite sneezing and mopping his nose every couple of minutes did us in or maybe the extreme cold snap we endured for five days was the culprit. At any rate we're swigging Nyquil and Daytril and swallowing vitamin C and zinc and occasionally moaning. My throat hurts and I can't think clearly. In fact I'm too dizzy to continue typing, so I'll say farewell again. Just wanted you to know I was still around.

More tomorrow if I feel better. Ta

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The sun will come out tomorrow, maybe.

I am smiling in the picture even though if you look carefully you will see that the smile is on my mouth and not in my eyes. Someone in the room had just made a hurtful joke at my expense--entirely unprovoked-- and what I was really thinking was that I wanted to go home. I did soon after and fortunately the day got much better as it went on. I am smiling today too, even though I am feeling about at gloomy inside as Eeyore when he lost his tail again. There is no sun outside. Its on the cold side. I don't like cold weather. The newspaper today said that 2009 is pretty much a write off as far as fixing the economy is concerned and one article questioned whether Barak Obama will be a one term President if he can't fix the state of the union in four years. Poor Mr. Obama hasn't even been inaugurated yet. Gloom and doom, gloom and doom.

Its not helping that this week is full of tasks I dread doing but must be done. Yesterday, I spent all day on financial stuff: gathering things for the accountant for the annual income tax prep aration which he always does in February, gathering things for my biannual meeting with the financial planner on Thursday, filing mountains of papers from the basket under my desk. I made my quarterly estimated tax payment.

At the gracious request of my Monday night writing workshop facilitator I took a box of my books to the new group for perusal and sale to the group participants after the workshop. Of course, when Borders is teetering on bankruptcy, I didn't expect to sell many of my poetry books. A couple I supposed. Maybe. I never push anybody to buy my stuff. Never expect it.

But, the group didn't even look at the books and most left at light speed as soon as the workshop was over, heads down avoiding my body and eyes as if I was infected with plague. They had no interest in my books I suppose, from their super fast dismissal. Didn't exactly lift my mood, but I smiled. The one lady who waited and looked at them did buy copies of my short fiction books, God Bless her.

The reaction of the workshop is possibly a harbinger of the future sales. Some people have told me that they 'never read poetry' and so won't buy my book. Not surprising really. I didn't choose my genres, that's not the way writing works. Poetry isn't very popular in general. Fortunately, I never expected to actually earn a living with my writing. I say fortunately or I would be really thoroughly dead now and wouldn't be able to write this blog. I write because I can't not write. Read it or not. I'm going to shrug my shoulder and smile and keep on doing what I do. People can dismiss what I do unread if they want. My light will still shine even if nobody else see it.

Today I have to complete one of the last two tasks for my mother. I have to go to the bank and open her safe deposit box. I tried to do this after her death, but the bank (Bank America, by the way) wouldn't let me in the box despite my legal papers that said I was executor and heir. The rental is due on the box, so I must try again. I don't want to open the box. I suspect it is empty anyway, but I don't feel like dealing with the aftermath of death today.

Tomorrow and Friday I must clean out the guest room closets which are literally crammed floor to ceiling with stuff I do not know what to do with. I must clean them out because the 15 year old carpets are so nasty after two children and six dogs and just living that they are more spotted than the firehouse dog. Carpets must go. No point in tiling the floors and skipping the closets, so, sigh, I must do it. The tile guys are coming next week.

Thursday, as I said, I meet with the financial planner to see if something in my retirement savings can be salvaged. To do this I must drive all the way across the city. Going isn't so bad. Coming home is awful. Its one of those crazy things that you can't come back the same way...can't get on I-4 where you got off and I miss the turn about half the time and end up the wrong way in coming home bumper to bumper traffic. Have to turn around. Get lost again sometimes before I get it right.

But, once I get all that stuff done I can at least look forward to the week end with the annual Scottish Highland Games and a dog agility competition. Then, with most of the nasty tasks over, I can enjoy the sun which will almost certainly be out again by then. I will smile with my eyes and my mouth.

I have blogged a lot for the first two weeks of the year. Thanks to those of you who have dropped by to read them. I think I might take a blog vacation for awhile. Maybe a short while or a long while, I dunno. I may go to live on a remote island somewhere with a laptop with a long battery life and change my name and write novels about vampire chicks who Internet date with nary a rhyming line in the whole book. Or not. For now, here's a poem from Between The Lines whether you want it or not.

By Nancy Wayman Deutsch

Homeward bound on a two lane blacktop
giving the Caddy it's licence to fly
Dad Dad is driving with Mammaw beside him
little girl, in the back seat, don't cry.

All good stories have endings.
We're leaving your heart's light behind.
You've got to return to a life without magic.
You'll get used to it child, never mind.

In the blink of your eye you'll forget Wonderland,
the island where wishes come true.
The rabbit has padlocked the door to his hole
and hidden the passage from you.

Little girl, don't you cry
we're just taking you home
where things are exactly the same.
Where each day is a twin of the one that comes next.
Where fantastic gives birth to mundane.

And remember, my child,
in the land of your birth,
it's not safe to stand out from the crowd.
So, lock all the stories inside of your head.
Don't ever, speak any, out loud.

If you listen to me, you'll forget Wonderland.
Just focus on all that is real.
Never mind that the magic is fading away
and with it, the joy that you feel.

Homeward bound on a two lane blacktop
watching the road signs speed by
Dad Dad is driving and Mammaw beside him
little girl, in the backseat, don't cry.

That's all. I am out of here. Be good to yourselves. And, for Chrissakes, smile.

I actually did get the safety box opened. Took an hour for the process and the bank manager at first said no, the paperwork regarding my mother's death and my appointment as executor and the judges order of dismissal were out of date being signed last year in 2008. I pointed out that the estate was settled and there would be no further paperwork, I am the only heir, etc. Ms Mg.r said, "Well, I don't know, I will have to consult the legal department, these things are very complicated, I don't know if we can open the box for you." I remained patient and rational and somehow she changed her mind, opened the box, cancel the account, and waived the fee for my only having found one key to the box in my mother's things.

I was pretty proud of myself for finally getting it done. Second try worked. That was the next to the last task for Mother, the last being the trip with her ashes to the historical cemetery deep in the Pennsylvania mountains where all her family has been buried since the early 1700s. Still hoping to do the road trip in the early summer if all goes well.

My priorities became crystal clear last night when Abby got really sick. She threw up six times, requiring a trip to the vet, x-rays, blood work, I-v, and anti nausea meds. My first thought and fear was melamine poisoning from the new food I started last week end, but it looks like a 'normal' case of gastronteritus. I thought, who gives a rat's ass about writing unappreciated poetry or stained sofa slipcovers and thrown up on oriental runners, holiday grinchs and cruel jokes or financial little family of dogs and Danny, daughters and grandchildren and extended family of sons-in-laws, cousins, and Danny's clan are the only real important things!! Family really is everything.

Now, I really am off...sadly not to my desert island but to the dark continent of guestroom closet. I hope whatever is in there isnt hungry.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Living Well really Is The Best Revenge

Title catch your attention? I hope so.

I uploaded these pictures from my files because they show animals expressing their joy in living. I bet they made you smile. Unlike us, animals live in the moment and they make the most of it. They get the business of survival done and then they have FUN. We humans, living as we do in complexity and perplexity sometimes lose the joy and find it tricky to recapture it. This Blog is about joy and the pursuit of it. The revenge part doesn't come until the end.

I was walking one of my dogs this morning which is one way I have of expressing my joy in living and suddenly for no particular reason the slogan "Living well is the best revenge" popped into my head. I was passing another one of those empty McMansions at the time and I thought, but what does that very 80s slogan mean anyway? Most folks would say that living well is owning one of those big showy houses and maybe a Mercedes or a Maserati , selecting an expensive bottle of wine from the wine cellar, buying designer clothes or a boat or an airplane or a second home in Vail. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those things they are things and the acquisition of things alone will not make you happy. I know that from past personal experience. So what does bring happiness? Not the pursuit of luxury. Living well.

What is living well? Assuming that a person has the basic necessities of life in place: a secure roof overhead, enough food and funds to pay the necessary bills and a reasonable expectation of not being killed by a terrorist living well concerns the following as proposed by a woman after walking her dog on a Friday morning:

1.Living well is taking care of that wonderful bio machine that is the human body. Providing the body with the right sort of fuel to keep it functioning smoothly means not eating high fat low nutrition fast food at nearly every meal. Go ahead and eat the occasional hamburger, pizza or piece of Pecan pie if you want. Just not all day every day. Read what's in the boxes and bags of prepared and semi prepared foods at the grocery. You will be shocked. Put the high fat high sodium crap back. Drink more water and less coffee and sugary sodas. You will be rewarded with glowing skin, more energy, and a smaller clothes size. Don't drink enough beer and wine and booze to pickle yourself or smoke like a factory chimney in full production times. Balance and moderation will take you where you want to go and for far longer.

2 Living well is making that body move! Humans were never designed to be sloths. Walk, walk walk. Unless you have a disability that prevents it, park at the space farthest away from the store entrance. Carry your own groceries to the car. Take the stairs. Walk everywhere you can safely. Walk with a friend. Walk with your dog. Walk with your spouse. Cycle, swim, play tennis, ski, dance...whatever you like as long as it provides cardio benefits and gets you into the sunshine and clear air outside. Alternate with free weights for strong bones and Yoga for balance, flexibility, and strength. Sounds tiring but actually it will energize you. You will live longer with a better quality of health than the couch potatoes. Who wants to spend time and money in a doctor's office if you don't have to? Move, move, move...and then go to a twentieth or thirtieth or fortieth reunion and watch your always inactive classmates walk more slowly across the room, wincing in pain with every step as you glide past.

3. Living well is exercising your mind by learning something new every day. Read the newspaper and the Internet. Watch the news on TV. Listen to audio books on the drive home or Pod casts and talk radio. Read anything and everything. Buy an interesting new book or borrow one from the local library. Take a class online or for no credit at a local community college or university. Learn just to learn. Join a group with similar interests to yours. Try something new, maybe something you don't think you can do. Paint, sculpt, sing, scrapbook, write, fish, explore cyberspace or research genealogy. You will surprise yourself and make friends.

4. Living well is nurturing your spirit. Give, not just by check but by giving of your time. Whether its hours or a few minutes, make a difference somewhere. Volunteer. It doesn't matter whether its building a house for Habitat For Humanity, rescuing a dog or cat, saving the planet, working for human rights or political reform, feeding the homeless, comforting the sick in the hospital, teaching an immigrant English or a child to appreciate a painting. Remember the ripple effect? Care and share. Create a smile and it will make you smile too. Your will make friends again and friends are wealth you cannot buy.

5. Living well is being kind to yourself. Do the best you can with whatever you have to work with at any given time. Everybody makes mistakes. Take responsibility for those mistakes and resolve not to make the same ones again. There are plenty of new ones to make. Just don't judge yourself or others too harshly. Think of one thing you did right today. Give yourself a pat on the back. Laugh. Today's little tragedy can be tomorrow's funny story if you tell it right. Plan for tomorrow but live in the now like dogs and children. Look at the pictures of the dogs enjoying the lake, romping in the snow and chillin' out in the baby pool. Remember what it was like being a child and enjoying those simple things just like the dogs. Do something silly. You can't be stressed and silly at the same time. Stress kills more folks that fun does.

Live well and you will create happiness for yourself from the inside out. Pretty much all the time. Truly happy people are confident and and calm and attract other people because they make them feel good to be around them. Happiness is catching just like the flu.

Oh, and here comes the revenge part if you've been waiting for it. The frowning stressed out negative sort of people who are waiting around for their things to create a glow of happiness inside them that lasts for more than a minute or two will be really annoyed by all that happiness and positivity oozing from your pores. It will drive them positively nutsoid. They won't get it but they'll know they're missing something. And when they go out to buy something else they don't need in hope of feeling better they will keep the economy afloat for one more day. That will make a lot of people happy.

So, live well, live long, and laugh. That's all the advice you are gonna get from me. Maybe I've been preachy. I don't mean to be. I sure don't have all the answers to life and if I did I probably wouldn't tell you. I don't always get it right but I'm really happy, my strong body is much younger than my chronology would have it, and gosh darn it most people seem to like me. So, I must be doing some of the living well. Take what I say with the proverbial grain or salt or take it to heart. It's all up to you. Nobody made you read this anyway. LOL.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

First Bits n Bytes of the year

No rants or essays tonight. Breathe in breathe out. The first full week of the new year is just about over. TGIF
Gators won their 2nd national title in three years but that's not why Ginny's howling. Her breed hails from Louisianna but she was born and bred in Tennessee. I don't know... maybe we could stretch a point and have her be a 'Dawgs' fan like Danny. I guess I am happy for all the Florida fans.

Ginny's agility classes started up again Thursday. I think we may have had a breakthrough. While she did run off the field several times at the beginning, after that she began working really hard and focused intently in watching Danny and trying to figure out and do whatever he wanted her to. Like all 'hoolas, she's a heck of a jumper. Probably her favorite agility trick.

Other bytes of news from the homefront: With the new year, Danny and I are beginning our seventh happy year together. Daughter Laura and her fiance Paul got married last Saturday. So, congrats to Mr and Mrs Paul Brown! We got the first real in vitro pictures of Baby Bailey tonight. So exciting. She is has dark hair and what appear to be sizable feet. (Like Nan Nan's footsies?) Grandson Alex will be one years old on Saturday. We're going to his party. For that, I bought a big Winnie the Pooh bag for his gifts and a packet of tissue paper. I opened the paper and loaded the bag with toys then glanced at the empty cellophane tissue wrapper. I kid you not: it had three diagrams of how to place the paper in a gift bag. Have we really come to this: that people are so dumb...uh intellectually challenged...that they've gotta have picto-directions to put paper in a bag?!! Makes me think of that very funny film Idiocracy. Maybe not so much of a fantasy as I'd thought.

Three cheers for me: I've done yoga for three nights running. I'm noticing already that I am less stiff in the mornings. Resolution number one for 2009, to do more for personal fitness, is in progress so far.

Writing workshop started up again on Monday evening. I'ts going to be a really good group this time. Some good writers from past workshop are back that will challenge us to become better ourselves. New guys seem promising too. Now to get back to work on my YA novel, Charlotte's Dog. That's resolution #2.

I already know that resolution number three, to eat less chocolate and cookies and ice cream will fail. That one is a token resolution, an ought to resolution like going to church every Sunday and forgiving all those who trespass against us. So, I'm gonna enjoy the good bad for me stuff and go for neutrality on the tresspassers.

Nancy's pics: see Marley and Me if you've ever had or love dogs. Rent Ghostrown with the wonderful comic Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, and Tea Leoni. Well written script, great dialogue, good acting, nice pacing. I laughed myself silly. Watch Leverage with Timothy Hutton on TNT Tuesdays at ten. Its the best show on TV right now.

Ta. Must sleep.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

I saw a little item in the gripe column of the local paper this morning that caught my eye. It was from a person who should only get coal in their stocking next Christmas. The gripe was that their neighbors put up "sprawling Christmas Lights" in their yard which offended the writer. Mr or Ms Scrooge complained that neighbors should have more respect for their neighbors tastes and sensibility. I agree, but not with Scroogy. Its once a frelling year. Get a life and may the three ghosts visit you next December.

Now, I could write the newspaper and complain about the rich man who lives across the lake from us and who enjoys setting off fireworks almost every night during the summer and on every conceivable holiday. Terrifies my poor rescue Rottie so that she won't leave the house. I know the man doesn't mean any harm with his fireworks habit...just clueless, that's all. Ah, speaking of clueless....yes that little story was a lead in to the real subject of this Blog. Remember Clueless Claudine of New Years Day fame?

The subject of this Blog is to warn all you out there in Blogland that it isn't a good idea to give into momentary frustration and negative emotion and write an anonymous bitch note on the back of a charge sales slip with some of your personal information on it and then place it on the windshield of a stranger's car. Especially when you accuse that stranger of incorrect wrong doing and stupidity. I get it that Claudine is like the writer of the Christmas light grump. She doesn't like anybody to park on her street across from her mega million faux Mediterranean McMansion. Not even for a holiday party she probably wasn't invited to. Her unwarranted nasty scribbles paint a picture of her as one of those who is self entitled and not sensitive to anyone else.

Whatever. I've had lots of experience dealing with all sorts of live by their moods cantankerous condescending types in my years in fund raising for the arts and while helping my ex-husband build several very successful businesses. Generally, I ignore them. I admit I don't like them much and am not at all impressed. I shrug and walk away and am grateful that I don't have to hang around them on a regular basis. Sometimes they make great characters in my stories and poems with names changed to protect the guilty.

But here's the thing in the Claudine story: there is no such thing as anonymity anymore. I might have been a criminal, scammer, or flat out meanie instead of an upright honest citizen. When I stopped chuckling about the nasty epistle on the day spa slip back I said to Danny, "Couldn't the wrong sort of person get enough information from this slip to make some body's life really miserable?" He laughed and said, "Oh yeah." When we got home five minutes later, he said, "Do you want to see how easy it is?" I said, "Nah, I don't give a rat's ass." But of course, Danny being an IT guy loves playing with computers. After all, he has 40 sitting around, give or take a few at any time, in various stages of dismantle and rebuild prior to giving them away to those in need in financially challenged situations.

I went to check my email and in the time it took me to access AOL on my very fast desktop, Danny had pages of personal information on Claudine on one of his computer screens. All the information was obtained from search engines easily usable and familiar to the casual PC user. All legal public information if you know where to look. I shudder at what a hacker or scammer or another professional IT person could have done should they have wanted to go further. Forget about some nut or stalker with a grudge.

What sort of things came up faster than the Enterprise could make the jump to lightspeed? Full name including maiden name, marital history, employment history, list of all business started and owned, husband's profession, address, personal cell phone number, address with pictures of exterior and interior of house, tax records and sales records for house, cost of the house, several notations of social events attended and with whom, and a article on a recent death in the extended family. I asked if a hacker could access financial records from the partial Visa account numbers on the charge slip. Danny nodded affirmative as he closed the files on Claudine and switched over to checking his own email while I shuddered. It was creepy.

He said, "You really should send the sales slip and note back to that woman and warn her to be more careful." I replied that I didn't want to have any personal dealings with her. So, I'm going to throw the note away next time I clean off the piles of stuff on my home office desk. But, I am warning you about being careful to give out any personal information that you don't have to give out. In 2009 it isn't so much Big Brother watching that we have to be concerned about. It is us, each other, watching everyone everywhere at any given time. Be kind, be smart, be careful. Ta.

PS: And they told us they couldn't find Osama Bin Laden? Very interesting that, eh?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Where in the world is Robert Turchin?

We all have our own lists of things that just bug the heck out of us and most of us would probably agree that annoying telephone calls that come during mealtime or the last five minutes of our favorite TV shows or while we're trying to write a really clever Blog rank way up towards the top. Now, I've had my share of annoying calls: solicitation calls despite the no call list, the vote for my candidate calls from the other party during elections, and those pesky repeated wrong numbers.

For example, my unlisted home number was once written down at Full Sail University ( a film school) as being a pizza delivery number. I got calls at all hungry hours of the day and night and it didn't matter how many times I tried to explain that I am not a pizza maker. Everybody wanted a large pepperoni, please ma'am. One evening, Danny took the phone and took the guy's order. He repeated it back and then said, "You know, I'm not going to let you have this pizza. Your weight is way out of control. Face it, you're fat and its just not good for you to eat this crap." The guy on the other end of the phone didn't get the joke but the pizza order calls stopped. I burned enough calories laughing to have a second bowl of ice cream.

Last fall in addition to the daily barrage of "Vote for Barak Obama" calls, I began to get two other regular ones. Now, it plainly says on my answering message that I do not answer or acknowledge solicitation calls or numbers marked 'unknown caller'. It also says my name on the message. This no doubt helps with humans. They at least know when they have a wrong number if they are calling Mary or Maria or John or Juan and the message says "You have reached Nancy's message line." But, alas, the new calls are computer generated 'robo' calls. One is a woman with a lovely upper class British accent who simply says, "This is an attempt at collecting a debt. Please call this number and repeat your code which is blah blah blah blah." It sounds real good with a british accent. Since I do not have any debts... and as far as I know today... my identity is still my own, I know these calls are not for me. So, I just admire the accent and then delete. But really, would anyone who had debts actually return that call? Not. Especially since no company is identified and no debt specified. Do we suspect "scam" here?

The other repeat calls have been and remain my favorite. The phone rings. By now, I recognize the 800 number. I don't answer. But sometime during the next 24 hours, I do check my messages. The message for the above call has a male voice that says, "Robert Turchin." This is the point where for two months, I deleted the message. But just before Christmas, I got curious. "Just who is this Robert Turchin?" I wondered. "Is he the caller or the person being called?" So after the next call, I listened to the entire message. Which was a long rambling message saying how important it was for Robert Turchin to get in touch with some law firm. At the end of the lengthy message, Mr. Robot said, "If you are not Robert Turchin, stop listening!" I stopped listening. But next time, I called and informed the man who answered that I was not Robert, didn't know Robert, and it was the wrong number. The man, a bill collector pretending to be a lawyer, promised to stop the calls. But, of course the calls continued. Even got more frequent. Except over Christmas break. No calls came in for almost two weeks.

Weirdly, I sort of missed them. Since, when they call me at all, my family generally uses my cell number and most friends stick to email, the house got pretty quiet. But, on New years Day, the calls resumed. I found myself wondering if Robert exists at all, where is he? Who is he? A down on his luck Russian emigre or a young father in credit debt over his head? An out of work teacher or construction worker or car assembler? A poet or debt ducking pirate. Or maybe he is laid off and facing horrible medical bills and his insurance company is shafting him. Maybe he got scammed by a mortgage broker. Whoever Robert is though, I wish him well. I think we all know who the bad guys really are these days: big business, big banking, the credit and insurance industries and their minions; the bottom feeding lawyers, lobbyists, and bill collectors. So Robert, I hope the bad guys and their robots never find you.

PS: My friend Cheri has started getting calls for Robert Rodriquez. She tried calling too and got the same result. I hope Robert R stays missing too. Ta.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Color Claudine Clueless

Here's my laugh of the first day of the new year. Danny and I went to a New Year's Day party. The hosts live on one of our crazy bumpy designed in the very early twentieth century winding roads which are a bit narrower than the new streets. There were so many people parked curbside that we had to go around the corner onto another (wider) street and park several blocks away from the house. We parked in a perfectly logical place in a long row of cars being careful not to block the driveway of the house we parked in front of. I noticed one of the typical newer infill "McMansions" on the lake side of the street opposite and commented on its size. When we went back to the car several hours later there was a note under the windshield. Note read, "very stupid place to park, ur lucky I didn't hit ur car." I imagine the cars in front and in back of us probably got the notes too. Now, we're not stupid. There was plenty of room to get in and out of all the driveways on both sides of that street. I doubted the note came from the house we were parked in front of. I suspected it was Ms or Mr McMansion, annoyed that he or she had to actually stop texting on the cell phone and be a careful driver for once. And on number one hangover day, too.

Once Danny stopped muttering things like GD friggin entitled overconsuming Republicans, he wanted to write a note in reply. I said, let it go. I turned the note over. It was written on a charge sales receipt from the Euro Day Spa and Salon had the writers name and Visa information on it!

So, thanks for the laugh Claudine Gwinn, paying client number Q13129. Here's a New years tip for you and all the other day spa Barbies: the white mega SUV parked next to your driveway is a gas guzzling relic and is oh so not cool anymore. And I know how to spell you're. And clueless nitwit, too. And for future reference, its probably not a good idea to write hostile notes to people who could get enough personal information off them to access your identity and credit cards! Fortunately for you, I am honest sort, I don't give a rat's ass and I don't need ur identity or ur money. But, you may end up as a character in one of my stories.

Happy New Year.