A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

30 November 2011

Foreign Thoughts

Okay - first off, I am not a racist, nor someone who jumps to any type of conclusions about what you eat, what you watch, which church you go to, who you sleep with, what politician you like, how attractive you are, what your weight is, etc. Basically if you are nice to me - I'll be nice back and I don't care if you are pink, purple, beige, blue, brown, yellow, or orange. I really don't mind. I never have.

But tonite, after stopping at Starbucks to get my daughter a mochachocolatte, there were two men outside the building conversing with a foreign accent...speaking a foreign language. One was younger...the other about 20 years older. I don't know what language they were speaking - coulda been Arabic, coulda been Serbian...didn't sound Swedish and it certainly wasn't French or Spanish.

The bad thing is - I got into my car and mentioned to my daughter something about "Hope they're not terrorists." It wasn't exactly that - but it was along those lines. Then I stopped myself and told her how incredibly bad it was that I was thinking that...just based on the fact they were two men of a nationality which undoubtedly gets a lot of suspicious glances nowadays, i.e., they didn't look like the blonde guys who sang that "Take On Me" song.

Ordinarily I wouldn't have thought this - I grew up in Jersey - and many people were of Polish, Italian, and whatnot descent. I just kinda disgusted myself and wanted to share. How terrible it is to automatically think terrible thoughts because I've been conditioned by the media to fear someone who looks a certain way. Granted, terrorists did some heinous crimes and I don't discount those...but, to think that of these two guys outside a Starbucks just because they are "different" from me...just annoys me.

I grew up in a time (I was born in 1960) where the 1970s saw its share of plane hijackings, bombings in airports and the horrible massacre of Olympic athletes during the 1972 Munich games. I can never remove the image (or the name) of ABC news reporter, Bill Stewart, forced to kneel on the ground after being pulled from a van and then shot in the head. Why I have that one etched into my memory is beyond me. I guess it was because it was shown over and over on television at the time...and the shock of seeing a life one second and a death the next...has stayed with me. Just like images of people jumping out of the World Trade Center buildings...it's not something you can just erase.

And now I can't erase this impulse thinking I have in my head...and what was probably a pleasant conversation outside a coffee shop makes me anxious and I hope and pray nothing bad was actually going on.

That...to me...is sad.

And to those two men -- I apologize.

08 November 2011

The Waiting Game

Another half-hour spent isolated in the "patient room" at the doctor's office again.

I don't know if you've made the observation that all the magazines are typically in the waiting room -- and, if you don't tag one along when you get called in the "patient room"...chances are you are left alone to sit and stare at your "temporary lodgings" for the next 30 minutes or so.

I don't know about you...but my mind goes like this:

Read anatomical posters first.

Depending on how in-depth they are and which doctor you are seeing - this can be most rewarding. For example, I pretty much know where all my internal organs lie and I also know that "Circle of Willis" thing in my brain...looks like a tiny alien.

But most times it's a bust. Plus some of these posters have lost their vivid colours and have been on the walls since 1982. Not that our body parts have shifted or mutated into anything remotely Darwinian-ish...just saying a new shiny poster without the frayed and/or missing edges and without the 23 thumb-tack holes...is probably long overdue.

There's only so much staring you can do at the posters of otitis media or the cutaway eye one. "Yep, that's an eye. And that's one with glaucoma. That's an eye with a stye...and that's what various stages of conjunctivitis looks like when you have no skin surrounding your eye."


I then progress to reading the pamphlets (not all offices have these mind you - the eye doctor's office is the best place if you want to brush up on short stories featuring the eyeball).

From this fascinating foray into the "short story medical" genre, I have come to the conclusion I now know almost as much about Crohn's Disease and IBS as the people who wrote those things...and my ability to spot a "floater" is phenomenal. (Oh, c'mon...I was talking about the EYE...seriously...you should be ashamed of yourselves.) I also know all about Macular Degeneration ...and how to treat dry eyes.

The next stage on my journey inside the "little room" begins with the picking up of...and prerequisite dismantling of...the plastic models. Putting them back together as I found them is sometimes more challenging...but most times I just resort to childish hi-jinks.

Anyone with half a brain (and I've dismantled that model as well)...can put them back together...but it takes a really bored genius to put them back...creatively.

I'm not proud to admit that I put the "normal thyroid butterfly" in the "Grave's Disease" spot...and I've switched the normal rubber prostate "feel for yourself" exam helper with the abnormal one.

I am nearly shaking my head in abject shame as I type.

I often wonder if they change them all back around to their proper locations after I leave...or if they stay that way until someone inadvertently puts them back in correct placement because they were as bored as I was that day. I also wonder if they red flag you as a "switcher" and annotate it in your records.

Usually, by this time, the doctor comes in...but I've actually had to wait much, much longer on some occasions...and this is the part in my visit where I get downright creepy.

You know how they have the wooden tongue depressors, the little rubber hammer, the extraordinarily long Q-tips, and those drawers they keep unlocked?

Well, my imagination starts roaming around as my eyes dart from place to place and object to object...and I start wondering how many people might have skipped touching that take-apart eye "toy" and made a bee-line over to the rack of assorted eye-drop vials instead. If you pay close attention - those things are just too tempting for anyone who always wanted...but never got...a chemistry kit when they were a kid.

I've visions of rude and moronic people licking the eyedroppers -- putting a couple drops of one eye solution into the other...and switching all the stoppers around.

"Ooooh...an irrigation device...I wonder if it fits in HERE..."

I mean, unless there's a camera in that little private room of yours...how'd anyone know?

I guess it all boils down to the fact that I'd really hate to be swabbed with the giant Q-tip the guy before me used to relieve an itch. I honestly don't want them to use anything on me that doesn't walk in with the doctor or nurse...or that doesn't come out of some locked-up cabinet.

Face it, if I think these things -- someone else has undoubtedly done them...or is seriously thinking about doing them.

I just hope and pray their appointment is AFTER mine.

03 November 2011

Volunteering the "Old-Fashioned" Way

This was a proposed article for the Montgomery Advertiser which I wrote (but never used) back in August 2010. I'm not sure how current it is now...certainly his age and the original time-frame has changed. I decided to post it up as a blog for two reasons: This man met with me and spent a couple hours hoping to get some publicity for Fort Toulouse and for what all these volunteers do...and also because Fort Toulouse's "Frontier Days" is going on now until the 6th of November. Please check the website link at the end of my article for more information.

Everyone's heard the phrase "history repeats itself", but for 52 year-old Michael McCreedy, it really does.

Since 1988, McCreedy has been actively re-enacting a by-gone period, donning clothes of another era and making history come alive for countless Fort Toulouse visitors to witness. And he does all this voluntarily.

I sat down with him the other day to get an "insider-look from the outside" as I've always been fascinated about history.

First off, I was told I really shouldn't say "re-enacting". The participants prefer the term "living history" for what they do, and "historical interpreters" for who they are.

Secondly, I was not aware most of these portrayals are based on actual people; so when a historical interpreter chooses a name from the list, they are literally adopting the attitude, mannerisms and persona of a real individual who once lived at or visited Fort Toulouse in the 1700s.

"Most people who do this had a love of history early on." McCreedy stated, "For me it was the childhood trips with my family from San Diego to visit my grandparents in Montgomery and stopping at various historical sites along the way."

Of course if you have a mother who is interested in genealogy and volunteers at the Archives and History Department's "research room", as he does, history already seems to be in his blood. In fact, for the past three years, McCreedy has delved into his own Scot Clan lineage by "becoming" Lachlin MacGillivray, Highland Scot trader and interpreter to Britain's King George II. Prior to this recent change of sides, he spent 19 years as a French Colonial Marine.

McCreedy contends the reason he and countless others volunteer their time is because they have a true passion for what they do, enjoy the educational aspects of it, and also because it's fun. "Everyone dies, they come back to life, you get to do it all over again, then you get to have a beer." McCreedy quipped.

While volunteers don't get paid, they do have to outfit themselves with the proper gear. They actually have "loaner clothes" for those who want to try it out, but these clothes can only be used for a short period of time; after that, you have to buy or trade things to get your own uniform, shoes and musket.

McCreedy's initial expense, about twenty years ago, was $1000 on a musket (he points out these firearms aren't "guns", they are classified as "working antique replicas" as per the Gun Control Act of 1968), and another $800 for the uniform. So, while this is not an inexpensive hobby, fortunately most people find out relatively early on whether or not this is something they want to pursue. McCreedy remarked, "If a person sticks with it for the probationary one-year period, and they like us, and we like them, they are voted in.

But don't get any fancy ideas of showing up with a Commandant's uniform and thinking you're going to run the place. While there are promotions, typically new historical interpreters at Fort Toulouse start at the bottom.

Considering McCreedy was a cook, a French Marine and now a prosperous fur trader in his twenty-two years of interpreting living history, he definitely earned his promotions among the volunteer ranks.

In his present-day life, McCreedy is the Executive Director at "The F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum" in Montgomery and is working on getting his Master's Degree in History. He hopes one day to become a historical advisor for film or television.

Just to put this in a "sum it all up" perspective, McCreedy figures that over the course of his twenty-two years of volunteering, 13 months of his life was actually spent "living in the eighteenth century".

This is indeed quite an amazing feat which only a dedicated few can say they've accomplished. Seems historical interpreters get the best of both worlds: reliving old history while all around them new history is being made ever day.

How can you get into the "act"? Please go to http://www.forttoulouse.com/ or call 334-567-3002. They'll be more than happy to explain to you how you can get involved.

30 October 2011

NaNoWriMo aka "No, it's not Orkan"

It's no big surprise that I'd love to be a "real live writer"...you know, one that gets paid and can count up the words and divide them to see just how much money each one of them made -- kinda like the really rich sports people and how much they get paid per game...or hit...depending on which sport you're calculating.

Anyway, I am not a quilter...I'm not a cookie-baking mom...and I'm not a coffee-klatch type of person, partly because I detest the smell and taste of coffee...but mainly because I'm not going to go and hang out with perky early-risers and shoot the breeze about things like quilting or Girl Scouts.

I have no family really and certainly none around here...being that I'm a Jersey chick doesn't help in the grand scheme of things as, if you're not aware, the Montgomery area seems very cliquey...the women much more so than the men...and my seventh circle of Hell was drawn in the sand by someone with a cheerleader mom mentality. (If you are a nice cheerleader mom...disregard that previous comment...if you aren't, you know exactly what I mean and you do it all the time...and it's not nice.)

So, here I sit. I sit here. I sit here and type...hoping one day the words will miraculously string together in some sort of profitable fashion like they have done for J.K. Rowling and Stephen King...and all the others who rank in their...well, ranks.

I sit, sit, sit (like Dr. Suess might have said)...and I get discouraged for lots of reasons -- but one main one is I don't have a lot of encouragement to write. Having a loving relationship with a spouse or significant other probably helps many of these unknown writers get known...but I have neither.

While my two children prod me once in a while, saying things like "Uh, why don't you write that book already" and "Um, why don't you write that book already"...it's clearly not the motivating factor that's working for me.

Consequently, about six or so months ago I joined some Alabama Writer's Guild or Group or Gathering or some type of what I undoubtedly initially perceived as a "Mutual Admiration Society"-type of thing. Well, it turned out to be a dud. Neither are they admiring anything nor are they being very mutual. I've gotten one monthly email from them - and unless I travel to Birmingham or Fairhope to go munch on a sandwich with them at the nearly ungodly hour of noon (factor in drive time)...well, I'm back to where I've always been...

...sit, sit, sit.

Then, the other day, flipping through the virtual pages of the Montgomery Advertiser's website, I happened upon something called the "National Novel Writing Month" - and lo and behold they're having a meeting in MY town and it's not at 8:00 a.m. It's not even noon. It's going to be at 6:30 - and that's p.m. That's "Post Meridiam"...or, as I refer to it: "Prime Morning".

I'm hoping I will find an "in town writing buddy" - and we can encourage each other to write. And I'm hoping it will last more than a month.

The reason I say that is because this event challenges you to write a novel in a month...hence that "November" in the title.

While I'm sure many novels were written in a month's time...I'm sure most weren't...and that's where MY encouragement and challenge goes out to my online writer friends who have much more potential than I think they imagine. And you know who you are -- Mark, Chris, Sully, Mike, etc., etc.

I'm asking if they will consider joining in with me...or at least checking out the website at www.nanowrimo.org -- to see what it's all about. Plus one day I really, really want to read your books. I want you to sign them and send them to me...and I want you to introduce me to your editor -- but...only after I introduce you to MINE. ;)

So, with notebook and pen in hand and no laptop in sight, I will venture this Tuesday to "Books-A-Million" where this kick-off meeting will be held...and...

...even though there's going to be coffee involved...no one's going to force me to drink it.

And with that, I just brought it back full "circle". ;)

03 October 2011

What Would You Have Done?

So, I'm on Facebook tonite...and coupled with the usual silliness and celebrity games/antics (yes, I am now a "friend" of people like Justin Bateman, Paul Rudd, James Franco [altho he did "unfriend" me], Bruce Willis and George Clooney) I ran across a most disturbing post this evening.

A person, let's just call her "Sandy Chatfield", had posted up something which a friend of mine (whom I never talk to - but, you know, everyone's a friend on Facebook) had commented to - which caught my attention. My friend commented "Please someone, go over to her house. Make sure she is ok."

This, naturally, caught my eye as it was scrolling by - and I decided to "click" on what transpired for her to say such a thing. Face it, we've all heard of people killing themselves online...and/or reaching out online for some type of intervention.

I took this as a sign from God...perhaps God wants me to intervene somehow - otherwise I probably wouldn't have seen it at the exact second it was scrolling past - but now I have...and I can't turn a blind eye to it. If this woman shows up dead tomorrow and the list of comments from people such as "I tried to call her and she's not answering...does anyone know her address?" goes nowhere and I'm somehow a cog that gets the gears rolling to stop this...well, I'm going to do what I can to make sure that happens.

With me still?

Anyway, I am not allowed to comment on her Facebook page because I'm not her "friend". So, either I sit and watch as time goes by and everyone isn't taking the action they should and this lady possibly dies...or I dive right in and get involved and say "at least I tried".

I decided to go with the "at least I tried" route. I won't have someone's death on my conscience...even IF I don't know that person.

I private message'd a few of the responders to her initial post...and for the record, no one has messaged me back..even tho it's been a few hours.

Now, bear in mind I'm sitting at home doing homely duties like making dinner and looking forward to a nice glass of wine...while this "plea for help" comes ticking across my otherwise mundane and stupid Facebook page.

Her message read as follows:

"Bye my friends!!! I am done with games etc,,,, about done with everything in life. So tired of trying so hard to get nowhere. It is time for a really long nap!....A very long one!! Love you my friends and angels on your pillows"

This is followed by a couple posts by her friends and then the following exchanges by her:

"so tired of everything honey!"

"Don't think I will wake up!"

Then absolute "radio" silence for an hour or so (and about 100 posts later) while her friends frantically try to call her, scurry around trying to find an address to go with a cell phone number, call the police to no avail, and plead with her to answer, when...finally, this woman comes back online and chortles, "Hey!!!! not trying to kill myself!!! feel like it but It is not my nature!!! Why is everyone thinking this>>>" and "What did I say that makes you think I would end y life???"

Her friends then try to justify their concerns while she is in total "huh...I don't get it" mode.

Then she proceeds to cuss out the person who sent the police around to her door as, according to her, they came by to make sure she was okay. This specific post of hers is now gone as she deleted it -- so I can't quote it verbatim...but it had the words "...to the person who called the police, **** YOU!!" -- or along those same general "grateful" lines.

All I can say is...if she were my friend and played this game...she wouldn't be my friend now. Talk about someone who is appreciative that someone cares, huh? And not just one person cared - but a whole slew of them. Hell, I'd be dead now waiting for Bruce Willis to respond back.

So, I'm wondering now if this was just a silly Facebook hoax she was playing...or if it was real...and if the players in the whole episode are real or if they were just part of some stupid larger scheme to see if someone would take it all seriously. I'm not going to waste any more of my time on someone who "cries wolf" on Facebook to illicit a response.

I wasted upwards of an hour on this woman trying to save her life. I was one step away from calling the Las Vegas police department on more than one occasion in that hour. I Googled, I found an address, I mailed that address to several of her "friends" who posted there, I stopped short of contacting a child she had listed as a family member to see if they could call to make sure she was alive. She basically put me through hell for an hour. Me...someone who will never know her...someone who cared enough to try to make a difference...for her and those around her who might actually care and love her.

I know the odds of this woman ever reading this blog is pretty much nil, but if, somehow, she does...I want to leave her with this thought: If this wasn't a sick game...choose your words much more carefully next time, and if it was...remember those choice words you deleted? I've got a couple for you, "...you, too".

(This was written last nite...but not posted until today.)

25 September 2011

Wash What You Eat!

Sorry for the radio silence...I was pondering all sorts of things again, one being that I didn't exactly want to do this blog right after the last blog - but I promised this one, so here it goes.

(Bear in mind this was partially written quite some time ago and it sat around in my notebook until now. There might be some anachronisms in it...but, they weren't back when I wrote it.)

I have to admit that I'm a bit of a glutton...not for punishment - but rather for certain food shows.

I'm also a bit like Howie Mandel (more of that in another blog...eventually) when it comes to germs. (If you have no idea about Howie's germaphobia and you are old enough to remember Howard Hughes' issue with germs...well, Howie is about one step away from him...and I'm a little off to the side of Howie...but not touching him.)

Now combine the two -- as you would, say, pepper and salt, only it comes out more like vinegar and oil. Metaphorically speaking, germs and kitchens, like vinegar and oil, simply don't mix well...or at least they shouldn't.

But, if you have your pulse on the idiosyncrasies of the cooking show nation as viewed through my eyes you just might see it from my point of view.

Case in point -- tune in to any episode of "Iron Chef", "Dinner: Impossible", "Chopped", etc., and focus on one thing: Washing.

Now I don't know about you, and I've been told I'm a bit whack in the "washing department"...but I wash EVERYTHING. Let me clarify that...as I don't wash everything I ingest...I just wash everything which grows. If it was once on a vine, branch, beneath the ground or rising up from it...well, it's going to get a bath before it goes into my gullet.

I don't care if you peel it and eat the insides or if you cook it after -- I'm washing it first. And I'll be using that fruit/vegetable spray to make sure all the residue of whatever I think is on it...comes off.

Hell, I even wash cans of soda and packages of cheese. Oh, yeah...I know...but, if that packaging ever touched or is going to "retouch" my food -- you can be certain I'm gonna wash it at some point before ingestion.

So, now that you a little of where I'm coming from...you might get a feel for where I'm going. Let's tune back in to the food shows, shall we?

The gist of these shows typically center around cooking food - but cooking it as quickly and as tasty as humanly possible. This might be a great idea...but it belies the obvious fact. How can you take all that food with the little twist ties intact and in its original state (if you've ever washed leeks you'll get what I'm saying here)...dump it on your cutting board and merrily start chopping away?

Look even closer (as I do...because I'm the food equivalent of a forensic patheticologist) and you'll notice those brightly coloured stickers...you know the ones on your apples and pears that you peel off BEFORE you wash them? Well, they don't. I guess they're some yummy secret ingredient because they leave them right on. Personally, I peel them off and then cut the area where they used to stick in case they used some cheap envelope glue to adhere them (the people who've watched Seinfeld will get that...the others...won't).

So, no wonder they can make a complete three-plus course dinner in no time flat. If I didn't have to wash anything, it'd go a lot faster, too.

And, amidst comments by the judges such as, "Did you wash these clams thoroughly...I noticed some grit in the salad." -- perhaps it's time to stop blaming the poor dead sea-thing and start chiding the chef who didn't rinse their radicchio.

Truth be told...the only person I've ever seen wash anything in the kitchen is Alton Brown of "Good Eats" fame...and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the worst offender is "Dinner: Impossible" host, Robert Irvine. With culinary antics such as these it's no wonder Chef Gordon Ramsay always has his knickers in a twist.

Now I know I'm never going to be asked to be a participant in any of these shows...and that suits me just fine because the odds of me having all my food washed before that thirty minute "fully prepared entree" cut-off buzzer sounds...is pretty much nil.

As for being a judge? Sure, the food looks fabulous and cooked by the cream of the culinary crop...but the occasional semi-cooked chicken and dirt-infused mushroom would leave more than a bad taste in this paranoid person's mouth.

(As of this posting I have seen a trend toward showing more chefs...those mentioned above included...wash their food and specifically chastise others for not washing theirs thoroughly. I guess I wasn't the only one who noticed. Kudos to them - I'd love to see it in every show.)

10 August 2011

My Self-imposed Exile aka "Did anyone miss me even a little bit?"

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players..."

Shakespeare wrote that line ages ago and it has been ages ago since I've written a blog.

I first figured I'd take a little break...you know, the collective juices in the mind of a wannbe writer pooling up in that place real writers know all too well about...and then that water just sat and stagnated...waiting for enough time to pass to dry it all up.

Instead of the writer of my destiny...I became one of the players...a has-been drama queen to be precise.

I lulled about the house sitting down each time to write a blog and then harkening back on the words of a couple of my friends and my two kids (my poor kids who have to read it no matter what) who mentioned they "didn't like" or "didn't think it was funny" or thought "it's too long...so I stopped after the first couple paragraphs" -- and then I backed away from the keyboard and had a private pity party with me being the guest of honour. I probably even toasted my self-imposed obscurity once or twice...or 30 or so times. With glass raised in ceremonial fashion, I'd utter some rot like, "Je reviens...something something French-sounding blah blah..." for impact. I was, after all, drinking wine or French-made "Grey Goose" vodka -- I had to keep the drama up.

And I took those critical comments like...well, like anyone would take any critic who makes or breaks a play, film, or restaurant. And then, like a chef in that panned restaurant...I put everything on the back burner and let it stew a while.

Oh, I'd get spurts of ideas and feelings -- "things to write" simmering inside of me...but, again, I'd push it to the back burner and the critics' words would come back out to haunt me..."I didn't like this one so much...".

I found out in the past month or so that I am my worst critic.

Instead of listening to the other people who said they enjoyed it...and people I would run into around town who would say "Hey, I always read your blog at the Montgomery Advertiser and I really like it" (they are the people I always have to quiz - and sure enough, I'll be damned, they DO read it)...I listened to the harshest voice I could: My own.

I "boo-hoo'd" around the house day and night...I'd start to write and then semi-storm off in a huff saying things like "Oh, who cares?" or "Why even bother?" under my breath. I figured I'd be like that aging movie star from the "golden era" who waits for the great come-back script...who waits for the calls from Hollywood to come in...who waits...and then fades away like the heroine in that final frame of the last flickering film she starred in.

I'd wait...I'd wait until people started asking why I'm not writing anymore.

I waited a while.

Those "calls" just weren't coming in...oh, one or two did...but not the maddening frenzy I was hoping for...so, I waited some more.

Then, I did what anyone would do given enough time and gaining enough courage: I asked those friends if I really was that horrible a writer. One said he was "just busting my chops" and the other stated he never said I wrote horribly...and why would I say I welcome "all comments" at my blog if I only wanted to hear the good ones?

Touché. Point taken...point processed...back on point.

And that point being: I am now going to step out of the limelight of that stage...and get back behind the curtain, writing, where I belong.

(If you're wondering about all those "chef" references interspersed with the "stage" ones...tune in next blog to find out why. Yes...this is my first "Tune in Next Time" promo/teaser tag. Does it work? Tune in next time to find out.)

21 June 2011

What Gives?

(I wrote this "article" 25 June 2010 for possible inclusion in the Montgomery Advertiser's printed edition. It never saw the light of day...but I decided to dig it out a year later because I think the story still needs to be told -- it IS a nice story about a nice person and I've always felt the media needed more such subject matter. But crime and controversy sells, so the bad gets the coveted first pages and good things are relegated to teeny-tiny columns hidden on the last few pages, or, unfortunately, as in this case...the trash bin.

I left this piece exactly as it was submitted...so please bear in mind I didn't alter it in any way -- facts and figures have undoubtedly changed since. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process: finding an interesting subject to report on, interviewing, writing, etc., -- hopefully you will remotely enjoy reading it.)

The old adage "You get what you pay for" doesn't hold true for anyone who has reaped the benefits of Freecycle.org. You see, Freecycle.org doesn't sell anything whatsoever, but that doesn't necessarily mean you come away empty-handed. Every single day countless people across the nation are giving away or seeking things totally free of charge; and here in the Montgomery area, one of the most prolific "give-awayers" is Raymond Tyc.

And anyone who is a member of Freecycle knows of Ray as well. Ray, how should I say, can never be confused with any other Freecycler out there. Sure, there's been some who've tried to copy him, but they can't hold a candle to the master (even IF they got that candle for nada on Freecycle).

Most people who give away things on Freecycle tend to be matter of fact about it: OFFER: Refrigerator. Doesn't work. Must pick up.

But not Ray. He might be giving away the most insignificant item in the whole universe, but the story he conjures up regarding it (many times with his wife as the foil - a fact she is totally fine with), will make it look so good you couldn't possibly pass it by. And, truth be told, you'll look forward to the next thing he’s giving away, if only for the tale that's told. This man definitely has the gift of gab, which, I'm sure, we won't ever see up for grabs on Freecycle.

When I sat down to interview Ray at his house the other day, I had visions of a door opening, just wide enough to squeeze through, and being led by the hand across a knee-high strewn jungle of junk accumulated over someone's lifetime. But it was nothing like that...everything was neat as a pin and nothing piled up from floor to ceiling as far as I could see.

The obvious question to ask right out the gate was, "Why do you do this?" Certainly with the things he's given away over the course of two years (sofas, a dining table, cd players, tape players, T-shirts, a child's ride on-jeep, etc.) he could have amassed a tidy little profit; upwards of three-thousand dollar's worth by his own account "if you had to buy everything new". Ray responded, "Part of why I do it is just because it's fun, part of it's because I have no need for objects or material goods. I was a collector of things when I was young...I've moved on."

Unless it's a high-priced item, don't expect to see it on eBay. "It's just not worth packing and shipping it off, I'd rather give it away." His face just beamed; you could tell he really enjoys what he does.

The highest priced item he’s given away? “Either the chipper/shredder or the stereo system.” And, he confessed, about one-third of the things given away, he’s picked up from curbs. He “hates stuff being trashed” so he “picks it up and Freecycles it”.

He admits the first person who responds by email rarely gets the item, “Whoever strikes my fancy the most gets it; courtesy and appreciation wins over quickness.”

As far as gratitude goes, Ray states, “Only about ten percent of people ever send a ‘thank you’ email, but a lady who once claimed my 1968 Radio Flyer wagon even sent me a photo of it after she painted it green.”

While he might not get public accolades and the adoration of millions, I somehow get the feeling the 56 year-old retired USAF engineer will continue his charitable ways while also fascinating us with his witty stories for the long haul. "I'm a terrible salesman" he confesses to me, but I don't buy it at all.

And another thing I didn't have to buy, and true to his generous nature: I left his house with a shopping bag full of tomatoes and peppers straight from his beautiful garden. Whoever said "there’s no such thing as a free lunch" certainly never met Raymond Tyc.

The Freecycle Network is a nonprofit organization founded in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Tucson, Arizona. It currently has over 3,500 community groups and millions of individual members in over 70 countries.

04 June 2011

Spooning It On a Little Thick

Behold the wonder that is the miraculous "multi-purpose" spoon:

Sure, it might look like an ordinary spoon to the common eye...but I sensed something was a bit special about this run-of-the-mill plastic beauty which made it anything but...run-of-the-mill.

But first, a little tie-in...

We went to the Georgia Aquarium the other day, which is a very nice aquarium; altho, for some reason I keep thinking the Baltimore Aquarium was nicer. But as we were strolling around from one exhibit to the other "Tropical Waters", "River Dwellers", "Cold Water Creatures", etc., we stopped for a drink in their cafeteria. And that's where I first spotted "it".

My first clue "it" was indeed going to be nothing like I had ever laid my eyes upon before -- was the labeling of the implement holders themselves. Keep in mind this place had a Starbucks...so it was pretty swanky, ya know. I say this for you doubters out there who think I might be exaggerating a bit or making this stuff up. I'm not.

The implement bins were labeled "Forks", "Knives" and, one would probably automatically think "Spoons" or even "Sporks" given their sheltered existence and the mere fact they couldn't point out an oyster fork from a bone marrow spoon even if their measly little pathetic lives depended upon it. The Georgia Aquarium holds balls...actual formal "Cinderella"-type ones...so these people aren't in the least uncivilized or uncultured.

Nay, spoons and sporks were not to be had at a place as grand as this. This place had "multi-purpose" spoons.

I absolutely kid you not. I checked on the Internet when I got home - and sure enough, they are indeed "multi-purpose". Of course, at the time, I was just in amazement as I reached to touch the magical "push down -- receive a dining implement of your choice" machine. Typically, I've only ever seen these reserved for usage of straws alone...so again, you can tell we aren't dealing with any old "reach on in and touch all the spoons with your grimy unwashed 'sea urchin/sting ray petting' fingers before you come to the one which tweaks your fancy" open bin holder.

This was an elegant establishment...there were no plain-Jane white plastic "silverware" to be had anywhere here. Black will always be the topmost when it comes to designer kitchens and couture dresses and such...after all, they wouldn't say "Beige is the 'New Black'" if it wasn't, right? Having the wherewithal to stick to this shocking and avant garde principle at the Aquarium -- they're proclaiming that "black is not only the new black...but the ONLY black" when it comes to your fine plastic dining pleasure.

So, when I wrapped my eager fingers around my onyx beauty...I knew I was in possession of something truly novel. It had to be...and the 'black on white laminated printed sticky label' they use to differentiate the various culinary items there certainly wouldn't mislead me.

I sat down, virtually mesmerized by my new acquisition. I gazed at it from all angles like Keanu Reeves did with his spoon in "The Matrix". Only there WAS a spoon...I knew it...and I had it.

I set about trying to fathom all the wondrous things this "Swiss Army Knife of Spoons" must be capable of doing. It didn't take me long to come up with a few.

-- You can use it as an actual spoon.

-- You can use the bowl to measure liquid things which are inside it.

-- You can use the bowl to measure dry things which are inside it.

-- You can put it upright and measure how many "spoons high" something is.

-- You can use it as a knife if you have very, very soft foods you really need to cut.

-- You could poke something with the remotely pointy end of it.

-- If I would have taken two...I probably would have been able to "play spoons" with it. Oh, the wondrous magical noises they would have generated, too. I'm smacking myself in the head (of course using my "multi-purpose" spoon to do so) for not getting a second spoon to find out how sublime the harmonics on these babies woulda been.

-- You can form nice dents in soft foods and things like Pla-Doh with it.

-- You can use it as a fork if you already have a fork which you then use to transfer what you just picked up with that fork...onto the bowl of the spoon.

-- You can use it to fling things at people - like a very tiny plastic trebuchet.

-- You can stir things with it - using either side. It's remarkable really when you think of it. You can also stir things with it using either end.

The possibilities are virtually almost limitless.

Eventually I had to put my spoon away and get up to see some stupid "Garden Eels" which hovered partway outside their holes until they sensed danger and then retreated back inside them...only to pop back out...and do it all again...a never ending display reminiscent of that "Whack-a-Mole" game. Then just a few displays over were some type of fish, which, when building their nests, would suck up a bunch of sand and shell debris into their mouths and then deposit it outside their little love abodes...making everything look as inviting as they could to capture the attention of the über-choosey lady fishes.

I smirked my little smirk as I saw them continually gather and spit, gather and spit, gather and spit...knowing full well if one of them could be trained on the usage of what I now held in my purse...the "multi-purpose" spoon...it would move that whole evolutionary business up a notch or two on some type of hierarchy food pyramid. Heaven knows, if it could catch on, what those animals might possibly come up with by the time I visited again.

But for now...nature as we know and like it...is safe. I have my "multi-purpose" spoon and good things are going to be coming my way now...I can feel them. And when they get here, I'll be prepared.

Perhaps I have finally found my one true purpose in life? I might be destined for even greater purposes...as I now can handle multi-purpose things...presumably well beyond the scope of others.

Yeah...I think I'm going to like having a multi-purpose in life.

14 May 2011

Three Time's a Charm?

After watching yet another episode of Chef Gordon Ramsay get flustered and cuss his way into acceptance on some "Kitchen Nightmares" show filmed in Philadelphia, it dawned on me how nearly everyone seems to be incorporating some British slang words into their boring American lexicon thereby seeming to be extremely interesting.

In fact, some news sources speculated there were more people in the USA watching Prince William and Kate Middleton get married a couple weeks ago than there were watchers in the UK. While wedding guests in Royal attendance queued up to get inside Westminster Abbey...donning outrageous hats and dowdy clothing...Facebook was abuzz with comments. But, some posters, who fly a different red, white and blue flag, flaired it up a bit with Brit.

Oh, we've all been guilty of doing it from time to time. Don't pretend you don't. Even "BBC America" is running an ad about Brit words and what they mean and how posh it is to use them.

Like that.

"Posh." C'mon, no one even used the word before that silly "Spice Girl" (you know the one who looks like a lollipop -- big head, stick body, married to Mr. Spice aka David Beckham) came about...unless you count Michael Caine.

It seems, nowadays, everyone uses words like "wonky" and "numpty"; it's only a matter of time before we use words like "brill" and "pressies".

I also love to make up words. I always have and I always will. I've written about my penchant for coining words...and I've done at least one blog about British words. Go "here" and "here" if you don't believe me. Below are a couple I made up years and years ago and pretty much use them on a daily basis...so much so that I'm almost convinced they're real.

Scubby: (adj.) Unkempt looking. "Will you please shave...you're looking really scubby."

Slurb: (noun; verb) When a cat smooshes their face up against you and leaves that kinda wet scent they mark their territory with. (Said to my cats:) "Ewwww...stop putting your slurb on me!" "Stop getting me all slurby."

Scrolly Guide: (noun) The thing on your television which you view to see what is on television. "Let me look on the scrolly guide to see what's coming on at 8:00."

Why most of my words start with an "S" is anyone's guess.

So just for the heck of it I attempted to make up my own British-sounding words...and, it seems some actually might exist in some capacity. Case in point: Apparently adding "tw" to any word makes it instantly "Twitter-worthy" but since I don't "Tweet" I didn't know this...and I believe 99% of everything Tweeted is pretty much complete "twarbage" anyway.

This made me wonder if there are really any words out there which haven't been tried in some form already. I honestly believe there are people out there randomly syllablizing every single sound, combining it with another, and then popping it online to get some type of notoriety. So, I decided to jump on the proverbial bandwagon as well before it's too late.

And might I add..."'BBC America'...are you listening??"

Jilly-nubber: (noun) A female pleasuring device similar to a French Tickler only derisively British. "At her Hen Party, Kate Middleton received not one...but four Jilly-nubbers - two from her sister, Pippa!"

Twollocks: (noun) Insert gratuitous "bollocks" comment here...only do it twice.

Harrodsment: (noun) When the staff of a posh store constantly harass someone by following them around condescendingly asking if they need any help finding "something". "Each time we go into any bleedin' posh boutique just to have a look around, the Harrodsment always starts up."

I'm half-thinking of starting up a "British Word of the Day" blog. The gist of it would be that I watch "BBC America" and then blog about a word I haven't a clue about (existence and/or usage)...and then attempt to use it incessantly in a senseless blog.

After all, I am pretty much half-thinking senselessly most of the time anyway.

My blog was going to end with that sentence above...but, here's an update:

In fact I was so inspired by my newest endeavour that I created a THIRD blog! It is called "Brit Word of the Day"...and is found if you click that highlighted link right above.

Join and comment. Have fun. That's all I ask. Let me know what you think of the layout, the colour scheme, the positioning of things and so forth - and please comment there about it so I know where all the comments are. If you don't like something let me know...it's the only way I'll know something. I'm not the greatest technical person in the world - but I can figure out some things. But if you don't voice your likes and dislikes, I'll never know. :)

09 May 2011

Thinking Out the Box

I have been known, on more than one occasion, to have a drink or two...or suck down my Ambien and then start (or attempt) to write.

I've written emails, I've commented at news sites, I've written...and posted blogs I had no real recollection of typing in the first place. The lack of comprehension of the material I've purported to have some remote grasp on is astounding -- and my stream of consciousness when I'm barely conscious is, to me, utterly amazing.

This, of course, never stops me as I do it again and again.

What can I say...I love to write.

Once in a while I'll notice a typo AFTER the fact. That's totally logical -- as alcohol and Ambien, even with the best intention -- and relying on the "spell check" button, doesn't catch everything; especially if you use a word that exists but you put it in the wrong place. This is where re-reading something (out loud if possible) comes in handy. Usually if you re-read something...and do it sober...chances are you will catch things. Not all times. Most times.

I've written to fellow bloggers, privately, about having typos at their blogs...I've even written to big-time reporters at big-time newspapers, and they've always thanked me for doing so. One thing a writer dislikes more than someone catching their obvious (or not so obvious) typo...is making one and not seeing it...and finding out about it later after others have undoubtedly read it countless times.

The point I'm trying to make here is that we are all human and to err is human...to re-read divine.

I always get a kick out of it when someone who is trying to be "oh so knowledgeable" hits that "submit" button on a news story comment before realizing they are a complete and utter idiot. Or, a more likely scenario, having that fact pointed out, over and over again, by numerous people. While we all make silly typos once in a while - it's another thing altogether (or is it "all together") to mouth off and basically stick your foot IN your mouth...especially when you can't edit after.

And if that isn't enough fun...we have people who are placed in positions of power...even if that power is indeed transient or limited...who attempt to make a cohesive sentence and fail miserably. These people are typically referred to as "copy editors".

Okay, okay...while I admit that last statement was a true statement more times than not...it's not what I'm talking about specifically this time. What I'm talking about is an email which was sent to my friend in Texas after he complained about a food order at "Church's Chicken". I haven't changed anything other than the name, address and telephone number. This way, just in case the person somehow reads this, he/she won't go over to my friend's house and stab him to death. I'd hate to have that on my conscience...plus who would I talk to on the phone about people who can't write their way out of a paper bag...or, in this case "out the box"...to save their lives?

Keep in mind this was written by the Regional General Manager...in a state that may or may not be Texas. (Hey, I seriously don't want my friend killed.) This email has also kept both of us entertained for over three years now...

Date: Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 9:08 AM

My name is Bob Smith RGM with Churchs Chicken on Main Street. I'm so sorry to here, 12min was the wait time before you receiving your order. As well as the sauce from the wings was leaking out the box. Your comments will be address with the Restaurant team and staff. I would like to offer you a free complimentary 12 Boneless Wings reg frie and drink for your delay. Thank you for taking the time on letting us know how to better serve you. Please feel free to contact me at 555-4567

Thank You

Bob Smith

Sometimes you just gotta wonder what some people were thinking...and IF thinking was even involved at all.

What can I say...Church's Chicken...gotta love it! ;)

30 April 2011

Remote-ly Interesting

My son always wants me to play video games with him...but I cannot.

You see, my "video game expertise" ended with Space Invaders" and "Asteroids"...all played on the Atari game system...many, many, many years ago. The Atari system had a controller which consisted of a little toggle joystick and one button off to the side of it. I believe it was red.

The controller my son has for his Playstation 2 and Wii, etc., etc., have about a hundred buttons...and sometimes the controllers vibrate. I'm not too sure for whose pleasure (certainly not mine)...but...they do.

I just went into my son's room and asked to see one of his "more complicated" controllers. Of course, as is customary by him, he retorted, "You mean anything more complicated than Atari??" He knows all too well my gaming skills died about the same time Ms. Pac-Man came out. The Atari and all the games (you know, Skiing, Pong, and Breakout) I had were eventually relegated to the attic and that was that.

This controller by Sony, has four keys on the left, then...on the right, four more keys with circles, squares, and other geometric shapes I haven't seen since Geometry class in 1975. Kind of around and below this layout are a few other miscellaneous switches, and a couple toggle thingies up as well to occupy your "second set of thumbs" apparently. If that wasn't confusing enough, it has two sets of two buttons which might be controlled by your index and middle fingers...or, sadly, in my case, just pressed randomly along with all the others.

I am, for lack of a better term, a "complete dork" when it comes to trying to play anything with this. ANYTHING. I also have no clue how to play any game even IF these controllers were to be simplified (extremely simplified). It's always "Jump through hoops, spin around, put your left foot in, take your left foot out, grab the cherry...don't touch the mushrooms...fly through the air at warp speed and pick a bale of cotton. Jump up, spin around, pick a bale of hey...what the heck am I DOING???

I have no clue. A small monkey on acid would get a better score. And that's not even taking into consideration the aneurysm I'm sure to get because there are more lights flashing than at a 1970s disco.

But what does all this have to do with anything?

I'll tell you...

My TiVo died a couple months ago. My first tier TiVo (get prepared for this - I tell everyone) that I won at an AOL Dennis Miller NFL Rant Contest with my one and only entry. Week 6 to be exact. I loved that silly machine. I didn't realize how much my life changed in about ten years of owning that stupid thing. It made holding your bladder until a commercial a thing of the past. It made dinner possible. It made not hearing what someone said the first time...an archaic annoyance. In essence...the little magical box was indeed my mini Pandora. Once I opened it up...I could never get all I was now accustomed to - to go back inside. Once I tasted of the forbidden fruit of technology...I was a giddy drunk. When it died...I went into withdrawal.

I am ashamed to have become so reliant on something so incredibly unnecessary...especially when others have dealt with so much more horrific things lately than their damned TiVo dying.

But I couldn't deal with the cold chicken in the fridge and the cold chicken from my TiVo withdrawal - so I called up the cable company to inquire about adding a DVR. Two days later...just in time to watch (and pause and rewatch) the live broadcast of Prince William and Kate's heavily replayed nuptials, I had one installed. Thousands without cable all around me, but since I was in the queue before the bad weather, mine was installed without any pomp or circumstance.

It also was installed without any written or verbal instructions. I basically had a Playstation 2 installed to replace my Atari...and I was all thumbs.

The dinosaur TiVo I had...was easy. It had an easy to follow remote...with prompts and words on the screen and you couldn't do anything without it asking "Are you absolutely SURE you want to do THIS???" This was now some mutant alien replicant...and I was awoken to the 21st century after being frozen since the late 1900s.

I am able, so the literature tells me...to be able to record two shows whilst watching a recorded third. Able to switch between two shows and watch them both by swapping between them. Able to even watch things I haven't seen back in time to an hour ago...but, for the life of me, after having done it once and being amazed...I have not been able to replicate it again.

I believe I recorded a show last nite. I believe I can probably figure out how to get to it...but other than that...I am clueless.

But I wasn't as clueless as the guy who installed it as he told me my ten year old remote would "still work with it" as it was "universal". Keep in mind this is my ten year old remote which made a plasticy-tinkly noise when shaken. This exact same remote, which, when I took it up to the cable company after the wedding ceremony...was promptly and ceremoniously tossed in a drawer and replaced by something...most regal.

But prior to this "changing of the remote" , I sat, almost as wooden as the Queen's Guards, when I watched the "Royal Wedding" a few hours earlier -- afraid to click a button lest I push something I couldn't "undo" - all the while in possession of this mismatched remote.

I sat, and literally "played" Playstation 2 with an Atari controller while watching the grandeur on TV...and it made me think...

The last time I played my Atari...about 1981. The last time I watched a "Royal Wedding"...1981.

Time goes by so fast. It's almost like I'm sitting here on a sofa fast-forwarding through my...and others' lives.

I'm still baffled by it all...how so much can change from one generation to another...how fast things (and people) grow and become so outdated...and how fast things are obsolete and don't work anymore in a world you once thought you knew. A world that was once so new. And then you realize that no one should be expected to be content to live life with a wonky remote.

And with anyone's life...just like trying to navigate blindly around with a new DVR and remote, there's just so many combinations of things that can go right...and so many that can go wrong...

...but without pushing a few buttons...you'll never ever know.

(Okay...on a different note...does ANYONE out there know how to work a CLIKR-5 remote? No online instructions...nothing on-screen like a TiVo had. I'm so incredibly lost - I'm pushing buttons at random like on my son's video controller. I'm so lost. Sometimes things work...and other times...nope. And I don't remember the "combination" of things I did...to get it to do it again - or not do it again. I can't find anything online which is remotely (yeah, ha ha) helpful, either.)

25 April 2011


I'm sitting here watching the film "Enchanted" on The Disney Channel and there's this commercial that comes on talking about high school proms. And how people wait four years for it to happen and only three people enjoy it and blah blah (I stopped listening at this point) and then this one girl comes on and says something like, "C'mon...when do you ever get to ride in a limo...that's something you remember your entire life!"

So...I thought about my prom. I didn't go to my prom, per se...but I did go with my boyfriend at the time to his senior prom...when I was a junior.

I sat and I sat and I tried to remember if I rode in a limo or not. For the life of me I can't remember what we rode in...I don't even remember much of the prom. And it's not because I have a bad memory. Seriously, I have bowel movements which have been more memorable. How incredibly sad is that?

I remember who I went with...and I remember (sorta) who I went home with. I didn't go home with the same guy. How even more incredibly sad is that? Boy...I must have been a jerk...perhaps I just blocked the whole sordid thing out of my mind. Who knows. All I know is I went to the prom with one guy...got into an argument with my date...danced with another guy...and came home with him. Did he go to the prom alone? What happened to the guy I went with? Did he go home alone? Did he end up going home with the guy's date? Most people don't buy one ticket to the prom...and now I'm actually wondering.

All I know is that there were no "detours" on the way home. Nothing worthy of any circa 1980s "coming of age" teen movies. Nothing "Porky's-ish". Nothing "Revenge of the Nerds-ish". I've never seen "Pretty In Pink" but I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was nothing like that, either.

But I do remember every single guy thinking he was "going to get lucky" after the prom. Some rode on down to the shore (the very same Jersey shore on the show) and rented hotel rooms. And I always thought "How could anyone's parents be 'okay' with that?" Furthermore, how did that conversation take place?

"Hey, Mom, Kevin asked me to the prom!"

"That's terrific, honey! Have you guys thought of a really good place to go to 'do it' afterwards?"

"What, Mom?"

"You know...it's an unwritten law...you get taken to the prom...you have to 'put out'. (Insert little knowing laugh here.) You didn't know that?? That's how we got YOU!"

"Oh, Mom...that's wayyyyy TMI."

"What's TMI, honey? 'The Mating Instinct'? Because if that's what it is...yeah...your father and I really went at it like 'bunnies in an Animal Planet documentary' when we spent the nite at this seedy little motel in Seaside..."

"Ewwwwwwwwwww...Mom...seriously...wayyyyy TMI!"

"Yeah...that's EXACTLY what I told your father after the THIRD time..."

"MOM! Seriously...that's disgusting. How can I EVER have a good time at the prom NOW?? All I'll be thinking about is...ewwwwwwwwwww...you and DAD! Ewwwwwwwwww!"

"Yeah...okay honey...you just keep remembering that...especially AFTERWARDS." (Insert evil grin here.)

Well...my daughter's not going to the prom this year...but I'm sure I'll "remember" something "really special" to pass along to her to make her enchanted event even more memorable when it rolls around. ;)

14 April 2011

Scaling Literary Heights and Other Fairy Stories

My totally elegant Soehnle scale.

I just weighed myself and I gained weight. I know I did as I have a swanky scale from one of those Norwegian, Swiss, Swedish or other such Norse-type land where they're typically renown for growing beautiful, lithe women whose skin glows with the dewy innocence of one of those ethereal fairies in that "faked fairy photographs" hoax perpetrated by two little English girls. Those sweet little "innocent" girls, along with the "prim and proper" British doctor who snapped the infamous, but equally fabricated, Loch Ness Monster photograph...admitted years afterwards they duped unsuspecting people whose only fault in life was hoping too much for magical, wondrous things.

Whilst innocence lost is a sad, sad thing...weight loss is another thing altogether.

Anyway, my nifty scale lets me know how much I weigh, how much body fat I have, how much water's in my feet (I guess - as that's the only part that goes ON the scale), and how much muscle I have. It does this all in a couple minutes...going to a doctor to ascertain all this would take hours...and then you'd have to wait for the test results they never tell you about unless they were bad...or they forgot...or they said they called but they didn't as you have caller ID and you know damned well they didn't call at all and "just didn't leave a message" because you weren't there to have it delivered personally.

So, I now weigh a whopping 110.8 pounds.

I can hear that collective sigh of contempt mixed with hatred clear across the Internet here. "One-hundred ten pounds??? Are you insane??? I WISH I weighed 110 pounds!"

But, you don't see my plight. Oh, yeah, I have one. Listen...

...I lost about 15 pounds here in the past year. Of course it comes straight off the boobs...but even without that bit of "too much info" - a person who is tiny to start with doesn't have a lot of room to lose weight. When I got down to about 107 I started to worry...when I got down to 105 I started to freak.

When you weigh a bunch, losing a pound or two or five or ten doesn't necessarily cause a sense of panic... I'm sure it's more like a feeling of elation. When you weigh 107 or 105 you wonder "Just how much more weight CAN I lose before I really have to worry about it?"

So, when I stepped on the scale just now and saw I was almost...almost 111...I felt really good.

You see I've never had to exercise. Never had to jazzercise, never had to aerobocise, yogacise or Tae-Bocise. In fact the only "cise" I do where I think I'm any good at...is criticize.

That I do extremely well. And you can lose a lot of weight doing it...especially if you "worrycise" at the same time.

Mostly I'm critical of my own self...but when I, as a wannabe writer, get a whiff of another "writer's" work, especially when I could have possibly done that work and done that work a LOT better (or at least "quite a bit" better) - I go into criticize mode.

Anyone who fancies themselves a writer knows exactly what I mean. You never read a news article as "just a news article" - you read it as a news article with an inordinate amount of grammatical mistakes. You read all comments below these articles and inwardly complain to yourself, "People who really want to be taken seriously should at LEAST know how to SPELL correctly!" You peruse the book aisles in any massive book store and continually balk and roll your eyes and say extremely naughty words under your breath. You can't conceive of anyone actually making money on something you'd have been embarrassed to show your own mother when you were in third grade...but there they all are, as bright as day. Or day to any vampire who could attest to it in any of those 20,092 books they're selling there that has a vampire as a protagonist or an antagonist or a misogynist. All I know -- is the gist of it...is nearly pure crap...as I could surely do better...

...you know, if I actually tried...or knew someone...or lowered my standards enough.

So, after all my criticism is eventually vented out and all is said and done and I finally drift off to la-la-land in my Ambien-induced coma...I'm hoping the only thing I don't lower, other than my perceived high and mighty literary standards...

...is my weight.

And, I do believe in fairies...I do believe...just like I do believe I'll be a real writer one day.

(Thanks again to my friend, Phil, for planting that "cise" seed in my brain and egging me on to write this after listening to me vent...for the umpteen-millionth time.)