Thursday, April 30, 2009

Well, fiddle-dee-dee

Here's another piece of nonsense from my friend Tracy Farr....

This story is going to be short. I’m working on a plan to train my cats. I want them to scatter whenever I come into the house, and I don’t want them to re-appear until I leave. To accomplish this, I went out and rented the best “Cat Away” device ever invented by man – a fiddle.

That’s right, I’m going to learn how to play the fiddle, and at the same time teach those cats to FEAR me!

The man at the store wanted to rent me a violin, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I stood my ground until he rented me a fiddle. And I decided to RENT one because I knew if I walked into my house with a paid-for fiddle, my spouse would have thrown a skillet at me and those things aren't made of plastic, don’t ya know!

Yep, going to learn how to fiddle. That way, when I’m done piddling around the house, I can fiddle for awhile, and become the best piddling fiddle player in the neighborhood.

And speaking of neighbors – I have no idea what they’re going to think of me when I start screeching and scratching all hours of the day and night, but I’m sure I’ll hear about it sooner or later.

Well, got to go now! I see a cat – and I’d rather not!


Stinky Creek Texas -- Where we love to fiddle

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Little Quiet Please

Recently in the Dallas Morning News, I read a wonderful column about the benefits of meditation. Erin Goldman of Dallas, a high school senior, wrote the piece and it touched me on many levels.

First, I could relate to what she wrote, "Meditation is more than sitting cross-legged on the floor in quiet darkness; it's an instrument for heightening awareness. My mind is perpetually churning. Thoughts, worries and fears pour into my head like a furious thunderstorm and leave me drenched. Meditation provides an umbrella."

I read that section several times, reminding myself that the words were written by a teenage girl, not a seasoned columnist who spent years perfecting a pleasant, engaging writing style.

Then I went outside, where I do my best meditating, content in the knowledge that the world of journalism is safe in the hands of young people like Erin. Not only is she bright and articulate, but she knows how to keep a balance in life. If we are never quiet, where do the profound thoughts come from?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Going on Vacation

Tomorrow morning I leave for a long drive to Michigan, but the miles are worth it. I'm going to see my mother and help celebrate her 90th Birthday.

There was a time many years ago when we weren't sure she would make it to 70, let alone 90, but thankfully she is still with us, and still in relatively good health.

I'm really looking forward to this trip. It will be nice to kick back and relax, and if the weather is nice we can take our sketchpads out on the deck overlooking the river at my sister's house. That is one of the things we enjoy a lot, and the first thing I packed was the bag with my art supplies.

If the weather doesn't cooperate, we can sit inside and knit. That is another thing we share in common. We like to do all kinds of hand crafts, although Mother is much better at it than I am. :-)

But the most important thing will be just being there. Talking, looking at pictures. Talking some more. Visiting with my sister and all her family.

I thought about bringing my laptop computer and keeping up with e-mail and maybe doing some work, but as this day has progressed, I've thought less about that and more about how nice it will be to have 10 days away from all that and just immersed in family.

So that is what I am going to do. I will disappear from the blogosphere and the Internet for about ten days. Will the earth stand still because of my absence?

Ha! I don't think so.

But thanks to a function with Blogger that allows us to schedule blogs, I have a few posts ready for certain days so readers still have something fresh now and then.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Who Are The Best And The Brightest?

According to Judith Warner who writes the Domestic Disturbances blog for the New York Times, those terms have been used to describe the top dogs on Wall Street. The men and women who study the market, buy and sell, and make tons of money.

In a recent blog, she questioned why those Wall Street honchos are considered the best and the brightest. She wrote that the best and the brightest used to mean the people who were supposed to be the smartest, not who made the most money.

Amen to that.

Before reading her blog, I was not aware that we looked on the folks on Wall Street with such esteem. I certainly did not. My esteem was reserved for educators, doctors, some journalists, nurses, social workers, some members of clergy, and people like my father and grandfather who did not have a lot of formal education, but thought reading the entire set of encyclopedias was a good idea.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Job Saved

I know Mondays are usually reserved for Tracy Farr's nonsense, but I couldn't resist putting this one up early. Enjoy.....

Links fixed

In last week's Stinky Creek Newsletter, none of the links worked because of the downturn in our economy. We instituted a new process for linking which had a few bugs. But NOW, hopefully, all those bugs are fixed. Here's the story that started it all:

Economic stimulus package saves job at Daily Spittoon

For awhile it looked like The Daily Spittoon was going to take a hit from the downturn in the economy, but not anymore.

The recent multi-billion dollar stimulus package has made it possible for Joel Ramón, the Spittoon's Link Manager for 20 years, to keep his job instead of being laid off.

"This is a happy day for me," Ramón said. "I just knew I was going to be the next victim of this economy, but I guess I got lucky."

Ramón came to the Spittoon in 1989, at a time when "links" on web pages were painted by hand. Each link was painted in three different colors and had to work independently of all the other links.

"It was a very technical process," Ramón said. "There had to be a color for a link that hadn't been opened, an underlying color that showed up when a user's cursor hovered above it, then the third color to show that the link had been opened. And this all had to be done by hand -- with oil-based paint and brush. It was a demanding job, but very satisfying."

Things changed for Ramón when the economy took a turn for the worse. Costs had to be cut, and it made more sense to paint links with a computer application than by hand.

"It seemed like overnight I was out of a job," Ramón said. "One day I was happily painting links, and the next thing I know some college kid with a degree is doing it all on computer -- without even getting paint on his fingers. I guess I could have learned how to do it digitally, but I refused. Painting links is an art form in and of itself. You can do it on computer, but it's just not the same."

Luckily for Joel Ramón, the stimulus package came just in time to save his job.

"I am now the Spittoon's District Paint Application Manager," Ramón said. "I make sure the walls are painted, the trim is decorative, and keep tabs on any touchups that need to be made. Not only that, but twice a year I get to pick a wall and paint a mural on it.

"When one door closes, another door opens," Ramón added. "I'm now having the best time of my life."


The Daily Spittoon - – Sometimes progress sucks.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Photographer

I keep saying I'm not a professional photographer. And I must admit I am a long way from being a good professional photographer. But since I take the majority of the pictures for I guess I am a professional.

Plus, I can hardly pass up an opportunity to take a picture of our animals or some flowers. If I stop what I am doing so I can get this kind of shot, I guess that must mean I am a photograper. :-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Are They Trying to Tell me Something

Does anybody but me think it is funny that just below the picture of my book are all the Google ads for trash cans?

Monday, April 13, 2009

That's It, I've Had Enough

Another wonderful bit of nonsense from my friend, Tracy Farr. Enjoy.....

I just wanted you to know that this past Tuesday I was so fed up with work that I finally decided to quit and find something better to do – maybe drive a big rig to California and deliver eggs or something.

So with that in mind, I started cleaning out my desk because that’s what you do when you’re tired of a place and you’re going to hit the road – you clean out your desk. And do you know what I found in there? Things that I’ve been missing for years. All this time they’ve been stuck in a bottom drawer and I never knew they were there. I placed them in my “clean out my desk” box so I won’t lose them again.

With the top of my desk spotless, and my drawers almost completely emptied, I turned to my filing cabinet.

There’s not many things more satisfying than chunking files into the trash. Eating a beef burrito comes close, but not quite close enough. So, I pulled out a file that I haven’t used since the 80s, chunked it in the trash, then pulled out another file. Checked to make sure it wasn’t important, then chunked it in the trash, too. In no time at all my filing cabinet was all in order, my trash bin was overflowing, and I started on my bookshelf.

Yep, won’t need that pamphlet any more – throw it in the trash. Nope – I’ll never be thumbing through that book again – just slam dunk it. Why, looky there – there’s an entire stack of magazines full of lots of good things – throw them all in the trash where they belong. Clean, clean, clean. Chunk, chunk, chunk. Find another trash can, fill it up, too. Don’t stop until you’ve cleaned up your entire life and are ready to ride off into the sunset. Then, and only then, sit back and relax with your newly found feeling of freedom.

And do you know what I found when I sat back and relaxed with my newly found feeling of freedom? My office doesn’t look half bad anymore. In fact, it looks quite inviting and comfortable.

Hmmm. Maybe I’ll stick around a little bit longer.
The Daily Spittoon – It’s better to clean up than to give up!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Spring

Some of us are celebrating Easter this weekend, and even though we have no little ones to hunt for eggs or hidden Easter Baskets, my husband and I have gotten into the spirit of the season. I dug out a basket and he shopped for some goodies to put in it. Then I decided to make a pineapple upside-down cake.

And since we don't have any other adults around us to tell us we couldn't, we decided to eat some of the cake yesterday - Friday - even though the cake was supposed to be for Easter Sunday.

Today has felt like a holiday, too. We went out to breakfast, as we can't do that on Sunday because of church duties. Met some friends in town and had a nice visit with them.

I know lots of people join us in this Easter celebration, but I also know that some of the people who may wander by this blog do not. Jews are celebrating Passover this weekend, and it is not a coincidence that it happens the same time as Easter. After all, Jesus was a Jew.

There are people of many other faiths who don't celebrate either Easter or Passover, but almost all religions have some kind of observance to mark the beginning of new life in the spring. And it is such an exciting time for us all as we watch the earth come back to life after the desolation of winter.

Sometimes it feels like we come back to life, too. And maybe we do.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Old Friends

Old cars can be a source of unlimited frustration and anxiety for their owners, and yet they can hold a certain amount of charm and sentimentality. While most old cars are barely held together with chewing gum and rubber bands, and they threaten to die at each stop sign, many people would rather get rid of the family dog than part with a cherished old car.

My friend in college had a battered old Plymouth, and its only redeeming quality was the fact that it would get us where we wanted to go, and most of the time it would get us back again. One of the most interesting features of this car, besides the fender that I would have to pick up from the pavement every time we stopped at a traffic light, were the two-by-fours across the frame that supported the seats.

Not having a floor in the car gave us a false sense of security, in that we figured if the brakes ever gave out, we could still stop the car by dragging our feet. It also provided an unlimited source of ventilation which was terrific in the summer, but a little uncomfortable in the winter, especially in a snowstorm.

Then there was my sister's dottering Chevy that could go almost forever on a tank of gas, but needed a quart of oil every other mile. If we forgot the oil, interesting things would start to happen under the hood, and we were sure that the engine was about to throw pistons and rods all over the road.

Then there was the friend who had an ancient Rambler that barely limped from mile to mile, but which sported a brand new set of seat covers. Since the car had over a hundred thousand miles on it, it is understandable that my friend hesitated to invest in new seat covers, but the choice was taken out of his hands when the springs started poking through the seat and tearing up his good suits.

Closing the doors in his car required more than just the usual wrist motion, as the driver's window had to be rolled all the way down before the passenger door would close. But at least the doors opened and closed and the windows went up and down.

The window on the driver's side of the Pinto we once owned didn't go up or down, and when I pulled up at the drive through window at the bank, I would have to get out of the car to do my banking.

I would get some strange looks from people waiting in line, but maybe most of them understood. Surely there was an interesting old car somewhere in their background too.

What about you? Do you have a story about an old car you'd like to share?


Something seems to be wrong with Blogger today. Can't get my post to show up.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Ranting Again

Okay, I thought I could maybe go a whole week or so without a rant, but a story on Sixty Minutes this evening got to me.

The story was about an oncology clinic in Las Vegas that was closed because of the tough economic times. The hospital CEO was interviewed and she said that the state budget is decimated because of the loss of tax revenue from gaming and construction, and the hospital lost millions of medicare funding.

That wasn't what was so upsetting. What was difficult to watch was the interviews with patients who were no longer going to be able to receive chemotherapy. They all said that without treatment they will die.

The people featured in this story have no insurance. Many of them have lost their jobs and therefore their health coverage. Yet, they do not qualify for some kinds of social assistance since they are not among the poorest of the poor. So they are out there in some terrible medical limbo with no hope in sight.

I'm not faulting the hospital for having to make this tough decision, but I do wonder if that hospital CEO and other administrators have taken a pay cut to help balance their budget. And what else have they done to streamline costs before taking this drastic step? Like any other business, there is so much administrative waste in a large hospital, that a couple of million dollars could be found so a few more people don't have to die.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Easy Does It

Okay, I'm off my high-horse and much more mellow today. It is an absolutely gorgeous day and there is no way I can be strident with such a beautiful view out my office window.

The trees are leafing out, and the berry vines are covered in white flowers. Not too long now and I will be out picking berries and having them with my breakfast. That is if the birds leave me enough to harvest. There is a small flock of little sparrows already eyeing the vines. And a few robins are keeping watch from the branches of a sweet gum tree.

It is also a warm day with bright blue in the sky and bold sunlight cutting through the trees. I think I would much rather be outside than inside. In fact, I can't even count how many times I've made up an excuse to leave my office.

Whoops, I feel another one coming on....

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Can the President Really do This?

The other day President Barack Obama told Rick Wagoner, CEO of General Motors, to step down. First of all, I couldn't believe that the president would actually do that, and I was shocked that Wagoner agreed. And I can't help but wonder what happened behind the scenes to lead to this.

Wagoner's tenure as CEO of General Motors occurred during a recession and high gas prices that led to a sharp decline in GM stock value, and inthe last four years GM lost $82 billion. Even so, the federal government has no authority to dictate to businesses.

There is some talk that there are more measures proposed by the government that will impact workers, unions, suppliers, shareholders, retirees and the communities where plants are located.

I suppose that the White House is justifying the interferance because of the millions of dollars that have been loaned to General Motors and Chrysler in recent months. The taxpayers are asking for accountability and transparancy as to how this money is being used. But I haven't met a taxpayer yet who supports the president telling people how to conduct business.

We are swiftly moving toward a socialistic absolutism, which is a form of government in which a single leader or party exercises absolute control over all citizens and every aspect of their lives.

I don't know about you, but I like to control my own life, thank you very much.