Thursday, December 30, 2010


Each day, I receive a positive quote via e-mail. Today, I received a comment from the always-encouraging Helen Keller:

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."

So, here's to the optimism that a new year brings: May all of this new year be brighter than the last.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Very Barbie Christmas

This Christmas, my youngest daughter received five different Barbies as presents. Five! When I was growing up, there was only one Barbie. But I digress.

Among these five Barbies is one that has a video camera in her tummy. You'll be happy to know that the camera works well and that there's a lovely video clip of the inside of my nose to prove it.

In honor of the new members of my household, here are a few Barbie randoms:

1. Barbie is the creation of Ruth Handler, who noticed that her daughter preferred playing with paper dolls that looked like adults instead of baby dolls.

2. The first Barbie doll sold for $3.00.

3. Barbie made her debut on March 9, 1959 at the American International Toy Fair. That date is considered to be her birthday. (Cool, Barbie is older than I am.)

4. Ken was introduced in 1960.

5. Barbie's full name is Barbra Millicent Roberts, and Ken's name is Ken Carson.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


According to Reuters, for the second year in a row, "whatever" has been voted the most annoying word in the English language. It doesn't annoy me that much -- except when it comes out of the mouth of one of my daughters. Then, it is most annoying.

But this expression is so popular that it comes with its own hand signals -- a three-fingered "W" followed my a three-fingered "E." What I like to do is to counter my children's use of the expression -- and sometimes hand signs -- with a "Whatever Major Loser" flash of hand signs. Unfortunately, most of the time, I get the "L" backwards.

Sigh. Not cool as a kid. Not cool as an adult.

WEML. : )

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


"Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures,
but of the success that may come tomorrow.
You have set yourselves a difficult task,
but you will succeed if you persevere; and you
will find a joy in overcoming obstacles."

-- Helen Keller (1880-1968) American Writer

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Wizard of Oz

Ah, Thanksgiving. A time for family and feasting. A time for football and fun. A time for "The Wizard of Oz." (Okay, so that one didn't start with an "F." Oh, well.)

Since childhood, the television screening of "The Wizard of Oz" has coincided with the Thanksgiving period, and sure enough, last night, it was on. Of course, we watched it, and my eldest child, having read the book, was able to tell us some of the backstory. The little one, like many little ones, did not like the flying monkeys. But I digress.

In honor of this annual whimsical journey into the land created by L. Frank Baum, here are a few randoms:

1. Dorothy was named for a niece of Frank Baum's who died in infancy.

2. Frank Baum came up with the name "Oz" when he was looking at his filing cabinet and saw the letters "A-N" and "O-Z."

3. In the movie, the Professor is wearing a coat of Frank Baum's that the wardrobe department found in a second-hand thrift store.

Sigh, back to reality.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ah, today is Thanksgiving, and I have much to be thankful for as I sit in my in-laws house waiting for today's hubbub to begin. My mother-in-law is hosting this year, so pies are in the fridge, the turkey has been prepped for baking, the cornbread for the stuffing has been drying for two days . Soon, the smells of cooking will fill the air. Then, more family and a few stray friends will be at the door to share a feast and probably watch a little football. In short, it will be a very blessed gathering.

In honor of this wonderful time, here are a few Thanksgiving randoms:

1. The Plymouth Pilgrims shared the first Thanksgiving with members of two Wampanoag tribes in 1621.

2. In 1941, Congress declared the fourth Thursday in November as the official Thanksgiving holiday. Before that, several U.S. presidents had issued proclamations setting aside different days for the celebration.

3. The first Thanksgiving lasted for three days. It included games as well as a feast.

4. Out of the United States, Minnesota raises the most turkeys. Californians eat the most turkeys.

5. It takes 28 days for a turkey egg to hatch.

6. A baby turkey is called a "poult."

7. The flap of skin on a turkey's chin is called a "wattle."

Well, that's all for now. Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

An Irish Blessing

Take time to work,
It is the price of success.

Take time to meditate,
It is the source of power.

Take time to play,
It is the secret of perpetual youth.

Take time to read,
It is the way to knowledge.

Take time to be friendly,
It is the road to happiness.

Take time to laugh,
It is the music of the soul.

And take time to love and be loved,
It is what matters most!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Polar Bears

The temperature in my area has dipped for several days of a raw 50 degrees (okay, so we're not much into cold weather, but that's what passes for cold around here), and we're pulling out our long-sleeved shirts and light jackets. In some idle hope that we might have snow again this winter, my thoughts turned to polar bears, and I learned some interesting things:

1. Polar bear fur is not white. It's colorless, but the bear's skin is black.

2. The polar bear is considered to be a marine mammal. It's feet are partially webbed, and it's fur is oily so that it can repel water.

3. "Ursulus maritimus" is the scientific name for the polar bear, which in Greek means "Sea Bear."

4. To tell how old a polar bear is, you have to do tree-ring testing on its teeth. The polar bear grows a new layer of cementum every year. (I'm not volunteering for that job.)

5. When a polar bear swims under water, it's nose closes so that water won't get in.

Well, I'll keep dreaming of a white winter -- just not so white that I'll actually see any polar bears.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Passengers on the stranded Carnival Cruise Splendor are currently receiving supplies brought in by U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopters including crab meat, croissants, Pop Tarts, and SPAM. SPAM? I wonder how humble SPAM made the list with crab meat and croissants.

In honor of the timeless processed meat, here are a few SPAM randoms:

1. SPAM was invented in 1937 by Jay Hormel.

2. Over 100 million cans of SPAM are sold in the United States each year.

3. There's a SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota.

Have you SPAMMED lately? Recipes are available on the SPAM website at


Monday, November 8, 2010

Would you like a straw?

Every morning, I have an iced tea, consumed with a drinking straw. I am grateful for those straws. So, in honor of the little helpers, here are a few drinking straw randoms:

1. Nature first invented the drinking straw. Some folks used rye straws, but they were breakable and often unclean.

2. The first manufactured straw was invented by Chester Stone, who wrapped parafinned manila paper around a pencil and received a patent for his invention on January 3, 1888.

3. In 1908, the first machine-made straws were successfully manufactured by the Marvin C. Stone Estate.

4. In 1938, Joseph B. Friedman obtained a patent for the first flexible straw after watching his daughter become frustrated bending her straw over the rim of her glass of soda.

5. Mr. Friedman also invented a straw that could be used with either hot or cold liquids and be bent to any angle.

Whew knew?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Imagine That

Imagination has brought mankind through the dark ages to its present state of civilization. Imagination lead Columbus to discover America. Imagination lead Franklin to discover electricity. Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine, and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became reality. So I believe that dreams -- daydreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain machinery whizzing -- are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman, most apt to invent, and therefore to foster, civilization.

~ L. Frank Baum

Monday, October 25, 2010

Jumping Rope

I decided that with all of my recent travel, I needed to find a way to exercise that wouldn't involve running in a strange city. So, I started jumping rope with a goal of jumping a total of ten minutes. Sounds simple enough.

1) Get a rope.

2) Jump over the rope.

3) Repeat #2 until ten minutes have passed.

Here's how things go in reality:

1) Get a rope.

2) Jump over the rope until heart feels like it's going to leap out of chest.

3) Stop jumping. Suck air like a vacuum cleaner. Gulp water.

4) Check watch.

5) Repeat ##2-4 until a minute has passed.

Needless to say, I've also learned a few things along the way:

1) Jumping rope doesn't lend itself to making adjustments to eye glasses on the fly. If they start slipping down the nose, they're just going to have to slip until the next break.

2) The kids learn quickly that it's hard for Mommy to yell at them and jump rope, so Mom's jump rope time is chaos time.

3) The dog thinks that it's his mission in life to get as close to the jump rope as possible without actually getting hit thereby making me paranoid about hitting him and causing me to jump around the patio like some sort of intoxicated bumble bee.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Since the beginning of August, I've travelled to Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma (twice), and Colorado as well as cities around Texas. Today, I head to Missouri.

Along the way, I've learned a few things:

1. If the outside hangar thingy on your suit bag comes loose while on the conveyor belt in the baggage claim area, it can hook onto a corner, forming a block that knocks all following luggage off of the belt. (Yeah, I was popular for that one.)

2. If you hear a popping noise and the parts of your hair dryer come apart in your hands, the hair dryer really is broken.

3. If you bang your head once on the overhead compartment, that's an accident. If you bang your head twice during a single flight, that's carelessness. If you bang your head three times, you must be me.

Happy landings!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Weep On

If "weasel" is pronounced correctly, then why is "weapon" "wep-on" instead of "weep-on?"

And, why don't "threat" and "treat" rhyme?

How is a five-year-old supposed to learn this language?

Friday, September 17, 2010


One of my favorite creatures in the world is the dolphin. So, here are a few randoms on dolphins:

1. There are 32 species of dolphins, four types of river dolphins, and six types of porpoises.

2. The word "dolphin" is from the Greek word delphis, which is related to the word delphys, which means "womb." The word "porpoise" comes from an Old French word for "pork fish" -- porpais.

3. A dolphin can shoot air through its blow hole at speeds up to 100 miles per hour.

4. Dolphins will help fishermen by signaling them when fish are near and even shepherding the fish to the fishermen's nets.

5. Some dolphins have been able to learn and understand up to 60 words.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Famous Things That Were Never Said

So I was doing a little research because I wanted to use the phrase "Beam me up, Scotty" in a manuscript I'm working on, and I learned that the phrase was never said in any Star Trek movie or TV show. Captain Kirk came close with "Beam us up, Scotty" and "Scotty, beam me up." That made me wonder what other famous quotes were never actually said by the source to which we attribute them.

"Play it again, Sam" is the classic movie non-quote. I've also learned that Darth Vader never uttered "Luke, I am your father," and apparently, Joe Friday never said, "Just the facts, ma'am." Likewise, Sherlock Holmes never said, "It's elementary, my dear Watson."

Next someone will be telling me that J.J. never said "Dy-no-mite." I'm going back to bed.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Just in time for Halloween . . . Okay, I know that I'm a month early, but my youngest one has been trying to pick out a Halloween costume since July, so I've been in the Trick-or-Treat frame of mind for a few weeks now . . . I stumbled across Goblin Sharks.

Now, if you want a scary Halloween costume, dressing up like one of these guys would do it. It has a long, trowel-shaped, beak-like snout, which is much longer than any other shark's snout. And, in fact, the goblins in the Harry Potter movies bear a striking resemblance to mummified remains of the sharks.

Some people have called this the "ugliest living fish," and if you want to know why, check out this link:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sporadic Blogging Ahead

For the next five weeks, I'll be travelling for my "other life." So, I'll be posting very sporadically. Take care all. I hope to have entertaining tales to share, but I'll be talking about the health insurance reform, so it's not likely . . . More likely, I'll be giving you a count of the number of people I lulled to sleep!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Guinness World Records

There are Guinness World Records for many things -- largest football, most free throws in an hour, longest duration balancing on one floor -- but one that caught my eye recently was most skips on a unicycle in a minute. (A record currently held by Daiki Izumida a/k/a Shiojyari (from Japan), who jumped over a skipping rope on his unicycle 214 times in one minute at New Town Plaza in Hong Kong, China on 12 August 2007.)

So, who was the first person to get on a unicycle and think Let's see if I can jump rope on this thing? Isn't it enough just to be upright on a unicycle?

But the fact that there's a world's record for the most jumps (or skips) implies that other people are doing it too. Otherwise, it would simply be phenomenal that the guy could jump rope while on his unicycle. So, now, I have visions of dozens and dozens of people going to unicycle class and learning how to skip over a rope.

Odds are not good that you'll find me in that class. I can fall off a bike with two wheels just fine. I don't need to knock it down to one wheel to see what damage I can do to myself . . .

So, hats off to you, Daiki Izumida!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Forget Heat Waves, Here Come the Tropical Waves

Except for a brief period for college, I've spent all of my life living close enough to the Texas coast for Hurricane Season to be an issue, but it was only recently that I began to notice the forecasters mentioning "tropical waves." What the heck are those?

Turns out that they are baby hurricanes (although not all of them grow up to be hurricanes). According to The Weather Channel, a tropical wave is "[a] low pressure trough of persisting winds that blow from east to west." This can develop into a "tropical disturbance," which may then grow to a "tropical depression." A tropical depression can grow up to be a "tropical storm," which in turn can grow up to be a "hurricane."

All of these are "tropical cyclones." A tropical wave can morph into a hurricane in about five days.

If you want a satellite view of these systems, check out the CIMSS website:

So, keep an eye on those tropical waves, you never know what they might grow up to be.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekend Martha

This weekend, the family planned a little trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The bad news: We discovered that the exhibit we want to see won't be here until October. The good news: We discovered it BEFORE we left the house.

So, what to do with the hours we'd planned to spend at the museum? We pulled a Weekend Martha and decided to make our own fall wreath. Here's a peek:

One wooden wreath ring, three bunches of fake leaves, and several hundred stick pens later, WA-LAH -- something that passes as a real wreath. (The leaves on the trees around our house don't change color in the fall. That's why we have to use the fake ones.)

Let's just hope that there aren't any sudden wind storms, or the neighbors might think they'd been dropped into a place that actually has a Fall . . .

Friday, August 20, 2010


Until sometime in the second grade, I misspelled my first name. For the life of me, I couldn't remember if the "u" went first or the "a." Thus began a lifelong issue with spelling. Note: I misspelled "misspelled" when I first typed it in.

(My children, on the other hand, have been able to correctly spell their names since they were three years old.)

Apparently, I am not alone in my misspelling of "misspell." It makes the list of the 100 most commonly misspelled words in the English language according to Note: I just misspelled "dictionary." Sigh.

100 Most Often Mispelled Misspelled Words in English

Well, I think I've worked the word "misspell" into this blog enough. So, without further adieu: guud bi.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Rhino knows

A rhinoceros' horn is made of keratin. That's the same stuff that our hair and nails are made of.

Makes for a wicked comb-over for the older male rhinos.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Leafy Sea Dragons

One of my favorite critters in the whole world is the leafy sea dragon, a cousin of the sea horse. Leafy sea dragons look more like seaweed than dragon, but there's something very elegant about them. Take a look => Leafy and Weedy Sea Dragons, Leafy and Weedy Sea Dragon Pictures, Leafy and Weedy Sea Dragon Facts - National Geographic

The leafy sea dragon have leafy appendages that are used as camouflage, not to help the sea dragon move. Instead, the sea dragon uses tiny, translucent fins along its back and its dorsal fins to move, but it appears to simply glide through the water.

A few randoms about these creatures:

1. Like the sea horse, the male sea dragon cares for the young.

2. The leafy sea dragon's natural habitat is limited to the waters of Australia.

3. Leafy sea dragons have another cousin called the weedy sea dragon, who have fewer appendages and grow to a longer length.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

He Says it Better than I Ever Could

"Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others...for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received." - Albert Einstein

Monday, August 9, 2010

Words, Words, Words

Ever have trouble finding just the right word to use? Well, maybe that word is out there, but not enough people are using it, so it hasn't made it into the dictionary.

For example, you may get museum head after wurfing, and find yourself having to precuperate. No idea what I'm talking about? That's okay. That first sentence is filled with non-words (i.e., words that were submitted to the Oxford English Dictionary, but didn't make the cut because they weren't used widely enough.)

"Museum head" means feeling mentally exhausted and no longer able to take in information -- as in how one feels after a day at the museum. "Wurfing" means surfing the Internet while at work, and "precuperate" means to prepare for the possibility of being sick.

A recent graphic design graduate decided to turn some of these "lost words" into art as a project over the summer. Check out this article about his project and some other non-words: Unused but Useful: Oxford English Dictionary's Reject List

So, maybe we can help give life to some of those non-words. Pick out a favorite and use it every day for a week. Or, maybe, we can come up with our own non-words and see if they can make it into the dictionary. How about "schlurging?" It's the act of buying school supplies that you don't need like a twelve pack of various colored highlighters when just a set of yellow highlighters will do.

Friday, July 30, 2010


No Segues is going on vacation while I spend some time with my alter ego life giving presentations in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas on health care reform. Be back August 9th.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What to do with cricket poo?

During a recent trip to Austin, Texas, I learned that during certain parts of the year (i.e., now) there's an up tick in the cricket population in the area. So big an increase, in fact, that my hotel left me this note in my room:

The bottom line for the hotel is that there are simply too many crickets for them to get rid of them all, and we might as well enjoying their singing.

The situation go me to thinking -- What can you do with the cricket poo?

Turns out that there's an answer. Cricket poop apparently makes a great fertilizer. There are even companies that sell it. Live crickets are raised in a big box called a "brooder. The poop falls to the bottom of the brooder in a mix that is roughly 98% poop and 2% a mixture of shed crickets skins, cricket food, and paper. Its not sticky, and it has very little odor.

So, that's what you do with cricket poo. You help your fruits, vegetables, flowers, shrubs, etc. grow.

(And, I think this just goes to show that you never know what you'll read when you stop by this blog.)

Monday, July 26, 2010


Sigh. The Tour de France is over. The FIFA World Cup is over. What am I going to do until football season starts?

Well, for one thing, I just learned that the back panel of a shoe is called the "counter." The upper part of the shoe that covers the foot is called the "vamp," and the strip of material that joins the sole to the upper is called the "welt."

Scientists believe that people have been wearing shoes for the past 26,000 to 40,000 years. (But I suspect that the cavemen didn't have "welts.") Ancient cave paintings in Spain and the south of France (see, there's the tie-in to the Tour de France) show humans wearing shoes. And, an "Ice Man found frozen in the French Alps was wearing shoes at the time of his unfortunate demise around 5,000 years ago. (Back to France.)

Who knew? Well, probably a lot of people, but not me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


According to The World Almanac 2010, the average computer has 3,000 germs per square inch. According to another source confirming that keyboard germ count, toilet seats only average 49 germs per square inch.

I'm not sure what to do with this bit of information, but it certainly makes me say "Ew."

Whose germs are accumulating on my office computer? Mine? My co-workers? (And, what are they doing in my office pawing my computer?)

Guess we need to add "Wash your hands after you use the computer" to the Mom list of things to nag about. And, apparently, I've got a little keyboard cleaning to do. No wonder my desktop is refusing to play. It probably has the flu.

I'm off to wash my hands . . .

Monday, July 19, 2010

Forecast: Bumpy Seas

The desktop computer is refusing to play. It won't even boot. So, I'm working on my netbook today.

I seem to go through little spells in life when things just don't go right -- to the point that you just have to laugh. Not big things, fortunately, just little things -- like the battery dies on the car, a contact gets lost, the big client project gets deleted -- all in one day. Those are the kind of spells I go through, which basically means that you should avoid getting into a car with me for a while, or an elevator, or even a building. I have to remind myself that the only thing I can control is my attitude (which I admit to saying through gritted teeth a few times last week).

But as the old proverb goes: "A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner."

So, as I watch the cursor on the black screen blink at me from my desktop computer, I'm off to sail the bumpy seas.

Hope you all have a great day, and if you see me on the sidewalk, you should probably look up to make sure there's nothing about to fall on our heads.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Who are you?

I have trouble remembering names. I'm fairly good with recognizing faces, but stink with names. Nonetheless, it's hard to imagine being unable to recognize familiar faces. However, folks who have an impaired ability to recognize faces suffer from a condition known as "prosopagnosia" or "face blindness."

This could be a condition that develops later in life, or is something a person is born with, but it can wreak havoc with social interaction. Can you imagine going through carpool line and not knowing which kid is yours until you heard her voice?

Similarly, there's a condition called "phonagnosia" or "voice blindness," which leaves an individual unable to recognize voices. Scientists say that we can usually recognize a familiar voice over the phone with just one word, but those suffering from phonognosia can't even recognize the voices of parents or spouses.

So, the bottom line -- we shouldn't be upset if someone doesn't immediately recognize our voices or faces because he or she might be suffering from prosopagnosia or phonagnosia.

Now, if only I could get spellcheck to recognize my name as a real name. I don't think it has any good explanations for its continuing failure . . .

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Le Tour de France

Now that FIFA Copa Mundial is over, my TV viewing time has been filled with one of my annual obsessions -- the Tour de France. If you're not familiar with the Tour de France, it's an annual bike race over 23 days covering roughly 2,200 miles (3,600 kilometers) through France and its surrounding countries. The trek is broken into daily segments called "stages" with a few rest days built in.

My little obsession started in my triathlete days. I just so happened to run across the Tour on TV while riding my bike on my stationary trainer, and I've been hooked ever since. (Those were the days before I had my cycling accident, which lead to partial paralysis in my left hand, which was cured by a surgery leaving a six inch scar on my left elbow, but I digress -- as usual.)

Yellow Jersey (maillot jaune), Green Jersey (maillot vert), King of the Mountain (or Red Polka Dot Jersey - Maillot à Pois Rouges), and the White Jersey (maillot blanc) -- I can't wait to see who wins what. My family doesn't understand my strange desire to watch other people bike for hours on end, and that's okay. They just add it to the list of my quirks and move on.

But, in honor of le Tour de France, here are a few randoms:

1. Tour riders will pedal an average of 324,000 to 486,000 strokes over the course of the race.

2. A single rider burns approximately 123,900 calories during the three week ride. That's about 6,500 calories per day.

3. For stages other than the sprints, rider must use a bike which weighs at least 14.998 pounds. (There are newborn babies heavier than that.)

4. The main group (called the peloton) stops en masse when they decide it's time for a bio break.

5. "Boiling the saucepan over" is cycling slang for "doping."

Vive le Tour.

Monday, July 12, 2010

FIFA Copa Mundial



Friday, July 9, 2010


Last Sunday, we dropped my oldest daughter off at summer camp. When we got to the check in table, I was asked if she had another "legal guardian" that I wanted to add to her list. "Legal guardian?" As opposed to an "illegal guardian?"

And, yes, being me, I couldn't help but ask that very thing of the nice young lady helping us check in. She took my question with great humor and told a few tales of how other parents have responded to her question.

But I digress. As usual.

I was a bit nervous about how my daughter would handle being dropped off at sleep away camp for the first time. But when it came time for the rest of us to leave, she gave us a quick hug (absolutely no tears -- from either of us) and said good-bye. Minutes later, we saw her walking to the lake with a new friend while we got water from the dining hall.

We pick her up tomorrow morning, and I'm sure I'm WAY happier about that then her, but that's okay. We'll both get over it.

I haven't had a word puzzle in a while, so how about one for "camp?"

Changing one letter at a time, how many words does it take you to get from "camp" to "love?" (E.g., "sat" to "sit" to "pit" is two words.) I can get there in five words.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Ah, summer. Sweltering heat. Cool pools. Sleeping in. Gotta love it.

In honor of one of our favorite pastimes -- hitting the pool for a swim -- here are a few randoms about swimsuits:

1. Barbie's first outfit when she debuted in 1959 was a black and white swimsuit.

2. Until the 20th Century, when women's swimsuits began to "shrink," a woman wanting to swim in the ocean had to hold onto a rope in order to avoid drowning because her swimsuit weighed roughly 22 pounds.

3. Ancient Minoan paintings from around 1600 B.C. show women in two-pieced suits similar to the 1960s bikini.

4. It wasn't until the 1930s that men wore swimsuits that exposed their chests.

5. Not surprisingly, women's swimsuit sales make up about 70% of the market.

Well, hopefully the rain will go away long enough for us to get a swim in today.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Red, White, and Blue

I hope that everyone had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July. We spent most of the day taking my oldest daughter to camp. And, let's just say that if this is any indication of what it will be like to drop her off at college, I'm going to need sedatives . . .

So, enough about that. Let's get back to the Fourth. I feel a special connection to Independence Day because one of my ancestors fought in the American Revolution. Family rumor has it that he even served under Washington at Valley Forge. (I haven't tracked that bit down, but it's an accepted part of family lore.)

As I sit in my comfortable home enjoying the greatest personal freedom in the world, it's hard to imagine the conditions that brought our ragtag ancestors to the point of trying to overthrow an empire. But today, I live the freedom they fought so hard to win. May I never forget their sacrifices.

In honor of the Fourth of July, here are a few Star Spangled randoms:

1. Only one American president was born on the 4th of July -- Calvin Coolidge.
2. Only two people actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
3. Independence Day wasn't declared a national holiday until 1941.

Enjoy your day.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Why "Soccer"?

I've wondered for a while why we Americans call "soccer" "soccer" and not "football." Seems that it's not really our fault. According to a couple of soccer-savvy websites, when the sport first reached our shores in the late 19th Century, it was called Association Football -- a name we got from the Brits.

They were also responsible for calling it "Assoccer," a kind of abbreviation for "Association Football." That in turn became "soccer," and we Americans grabbed onto the term after World War II, partly due to our own "Football," which allows teams to touch the ball and has more timeouts than a three-year-old in a month.

So, basically, it's not really our fault that we call it soccer. We got the term way back when from the Brits.

Also, if you think about it, the other countries aren't really calling the game "football" either. If they were, then countries like Mexico would call it "La pelota de pie," and the Italians would call it "La palla di piede." No, they're picking up on the English term "football," so to the folks in Mexico, the game is "Futbol."

Well, enough of that, I have critiquing to do.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blog Blah

My blog is feeling under the weather today and is going back into sleep mode. Hopefully, it's not coming down with a case of strep like my youngest daughter.

Monday, June 28, 2010

FIFA Blues

I have the World Cup Blues now that the U.S. is out. Can't decide which bandwagon to jump on now that our boys are watching from the sidelines.

So, until I form a new loyalty, let's chat about important things like which direction stadium waves go. Apparently, there's a connection between whether a stadium wave will run clockwise or counterclockwise much like there's a porported connection between whether water runs clockwise or counterclockwise down a drain depending upon which hemisphere you're in. A slighly scientific experiment has come to a conclusion that waves running through a stadium in the Northern Hemisphere tend to go clockwise, but those waves running through a stadium in the Southern Hemisphere tend to go counter-clockwise.

Here's a link to more information from the man who conducted the experiment =>

Friday, June 25, 2010

Launch Date

Yesterday, the year long search for a new symbol for the rupee, the Indian currency, was set to end. The Indian government hosted a countrywide contest to narrow the field down to five finalists.

However, on Thursday, the Indian Union Cabinet postponed its decision. The winning entry is supposed to be easy to write and remember, reflect India, and work on a computer keyboard. Not a very tall order, huh?

I like number 2, but they're probably not going to let me vote.

If I print up my own money, do I get to create my own symbol?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

FIFA Fever

I admit it. I have World Cup Fever. The only problem is that I generally can't watch a game until the reruns are shown at the end of the day on the Spanish-speaking channels. That means that the games sound something like this to me (when translated): Left . . . ball . . . Argentina.


No one can talk about the World Cup without mentioning the vevuzulas. I've kinda gotten used to them, and that noise makes it easy to find a game on TV or radio without really trying. So, BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Here are a few randoms in honor of the World Cup:

1. The nickname for the South African Team is the Bafana Bafana.

2. Japan, along with host country, South Africa, were the first teams to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. Uruguay was the last team to qualify.

3. Lucien Laurent scored the first ever World Cup goal in the 19th minute for France in a 4-1 victory against Mexico.

Here's to an American win today!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Time Out

My blog is in time out and won't be back until later this week.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I'm busy pouting because my oldest daughter told me I'm too old to have an imaginary friend.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lessons Learned the Hard Way

If you're like me, you learn most things in life the hard way. Here are a few of my more recent lessons:

1. If the four-year-old says that there's a flood of pee in the bathroom, she means EXACTLY what it sounds like.

2. The automatic garage door will shut even if the back of the mini-van is open.
3. There's never really a good time to give a four-year-old a blue Popsicle, but thirty minutes before her dance photos definitely isn't one of the good times.

4. If the directions on the medicine say "May cause sensitivity to sunlight," what it really means is: "If you walk in front of an open window on a sunny day while taking this medicine, you will break out in a hideous rash over 75% of your body."

5. You should never wear your skinny pants on the first day back from a vacation that involves eating a fourteen course meal. (In fact, you should remove all skinny pants from their hangers and hide them in a box prior to leaving on a vacation involving a fourteen course meal so that you won't accidentally put a pair on when you return.)

6. If the twelve-year-old offers you some gourmet Jelly Bellies, and you know there's even the slightest chance that there may be a barf-flavored one in the bag, run -- do not walk -- away. (Trust me on this one!)

And finally,

7. Don't leave chocolate in your nice new purse and then leave the purse in the mini-van -- in June -- in South Texas.

Monday, June 14, 2010

To "G" or Not to "G"

In 1890, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names was created to maintain uniform geographic name usage throughout the Federal Government. This Board has been a busy little Board and one not afraid of controversy. For example, it determined that all cities ending in "burgh" should drop the final "h." Protests arose, and at least one city -- Pittsburgh -- got to keep its "h" at the end. (Really, things just wouldn't be right without that last "h.")

The Board also spends time discouraging the use of a possessive form with an apostrophe and an "s." For example, we have Pikes Peak instead of Pike's Peak. However, on rare occasions, the apostrophe is permitted to survive. According to the Board's website:

Since 1890, only five Board decisions have allowed the genitive apostrophe for natural features. These are: Martha's Vineyard (1933) after an extensive local campaign; Ike's Point in New Jersey (1944) because “it would be unrecognizable otherwise”; John E's Pond in Rhode Island (1963) because otherwise it would be confused as John S Pond (note the lack of the use of a period, which is also discouraged); and Carlos Elmer's Joshua View (1995 at the specific request of the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names because, “otherwise three apparently given names in succession would dilute the meaning,” that is, Joshua refers to a stand of trees. Clark’s Mountain in Oregon (2002) was approved at the request of the Oregon Board to correspond with the personal references of Lewis and Clark.

The bottom line is that the federal government spends more time on naming things than expectant parents. However, they are subject to lobbying (see the Pittsburgh and Martha's Vineyard lessons).

Things can be renamed too. There's a process to propose a name change or a new name.

So, what do you think the odds are that they'll rename the town I was born in after me? (Yeah, don't worry. I'm not holding my breath.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

He blew it

Ya know how husbands mess stuff up on purpose so that they don't have to do things anymore -- like laundry? Well, my hubby blew it. He planned an absolutely wonderful, fantastic trip for our anniversary. He can never, ever say that he can't plan a vacation.

Napa Valley is the answer to the clues from earlier this week. We flew into San Fransisco and stayed one night in Napa, and the rest of the time in Yountville at a wonderful inn. (Oops. I'm about to exceed the "wonderful" limit for any one blog.)

Sigh. I still smell the honeysuckle.

We rode the wine train, toured wineries, got massages, and had dinner at one of the very best restaurants in America. Another sigh. It was positively romantic and fun.

We also toured the Jelly Belly Factory. (Yes, that was my idea. Most people come back from Napa Valley with bottles of wine. Not me. I come back with tins of Jelly Bellies.) We didn't bring back any wine. I was so overpacked as it was that my suitcase had to wear its fat pants.

In honor of my short-lived souvenirs, some randoms from the Jelly Belly website:

1. Jelly Belly beans were invented in 1976.

2. It takes 7 to 21 days to make a single Jelly Belly jelly bean.

3. Enough Jelly Belly beans were eaten in the last year to circle the earth more than five times.

So, back to reality. It's me and a mess of Jelly Bellies saving the world one compliance question at a time.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I'm Outta Here

But only for a while. My hubby is whisking me away to a destination unknown (okay, he knows, I don't) to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary, so I won't be blogging this week.

Here are the clues I have (some may not be true):

1. We're flying less than four hours.
2. I have to pack one nice dress for dinner.
3. No golf clubs.
4. We're not going to Europe or Hawaii. (Wouldn't fit the flight time any way.)
5. Take shoes to do plenty of walking.
6. Take clothes for hot weather during the day, and a sweater for nighttime.
7. Pack boots.

How are those for no-very-helpful clues? (Frankly, I don't care where we're going -- just so long as we're going together.)

So far, my friends have guessed: Napa Valley, New York, Canada, Mexico, and somewhere in the Caribbean. Any other guesses?

I'll let you know when I get back.

Friday, June 4, 2010

More Words

The English language continues to beffudle and amuse me. For example, if "polite" is the opposite of "impolite," why isn't "portant" the opposite of "important"?

Or, if "unimportant" is the opposite of "important," then why isn't "unimpolite" the opposite of "impolite"?

I sometimes think the folks who were there in the beginning of the development of the English language laughed themselves silly at the thought of future generations trying to learn the language. To them I say, "That's not very unimpolite of you!"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Deep Thoughts

If you're travelling at the speed of light and turn on the headlights, what happens?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." ~ Joseph Campbell

Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died in our nation's service. It day was first celebrated on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery during the first national celebration. It was originally called "Decoration Day" because of the practice of decorating soldiers' graves with flags.

Over the years, it has been celebrated with parades and speeches, but due to the shift to recognizing the last weekend in May as Memorial Day, instead of May 30th, in order to provide a three-day weekend, many of us have lost sight of the reason for the holiday.

In order to re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, Congress issued a Resolution calling for a National Moment of Remembrance. Under the resulting Resolution, Americans are called to pause for a moment of silence at 3:00 p.m. local time.

Here are some not-so-random things we can do to honor our fallen veterans on Memorial Day:

1. Buy a poppy from a veteran's group to honor those who have fallen in battle and support veterans and the families left behind.

2. Fly your flag at half staff until noon, and then raise it to full height.

3. Pause for a moment of silence at 3:00 p.m. local time.

To all our veterans, THANK YOU!

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Towel Wars

One of the delightful things about our cabin during my recent cruise was the daily appearance of an animal made out of folded towels. First, a dog appeared. We named him "Cruiser." He was replaced by a pig, who was replaced by an elephant, who was replaced by -- wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

It was so much fun to be greeted by a new animal each evening that I decided to attend the ship's class on towel animal folding. Delighted with my new found skills, I turned four towels from our cabin into a dog and an elephant.

Being attached to those two, my cabin mate and I asked the steward, Sudi, and his assistant not to undo our little friends. They agreed, but there was a certain gleam in the steward's eye that I recognized as coming from someone who'd just accepted a challenge. The Towel Wars were on.

Sure enough, we came back to the cabin to find this guy, a monkey, complete with tissue tail. I knew that I had lost not only the towel battle, but the war.

Our steward left us my two, and kept adding to the collection. By the end of the trip, our room looked like a zoo, and we thought the rest of the guests were going to have to come to our cabin to get towels for their showers. (Could I have a swan and a frog, please?)

In honor of our little towel zoo:

1. A group of monkeys is called . . . a troop or a barrel.
2. A group of elephants is called . . . a herd.
3. A group of swans is called . . . a bevy.
4. A group of towel animals is called . . . laundry.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I scoot therefore I am

I'm back from my cruise to Mexico. My friends and I had a great time. One of the highlights was a trip around the island of Cozumel by Scoot Coupe.

In case you've never heard of one, a Scoot Coupe is a three-wheeled scooter that looks rather like a miniature two-seater convertible. Here's a link to a pic of one:

(Okay, so it's a bit like a bumper car that has jumped the tracks, but still fun.)

We rode in these little guys on a tour of the island. The Carnival website says that the maximum speed on these things is 35 miles per hour, but we were barrelling along at speeds of 60 to 70 kilometers per hour, which I think translates to 36 to 42 miles per hour. That's quite a trip in a little car with no door and next to no windshield.

While we were still trying to get the hang of the things, we zoomed through downtown Cozumel, and then it was off to the less developed side of the island. Our first stop was a place called the Pee Pee Station. Yes, it is what you think it is, but it also sells lovely black coral jewelry.

Then, it was off to the highest point on the island to take pictures of the water crashing against the rocks. That stop alone was worth the risk of swallowing bugs on the Scoot Coupes.

Next stop was the San Francisco Beach Club for a buffet lunch and a little time on the beach. We had a very Tex-Mex style meal of fajitas, rice, and beans. Can you saw "Tourists Only"?

Finally, we sped our way back to where we started and headed to the shops to transfer some of our money into the hands of the locals.

Worn out by our day in the sun, we returned to the ship well in time to avoid watching the back of the cruise ship as it sailed out of port leaving any of our group to figure out alternative transportation home.

Next post -- the towel wars.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Class Accolades

It's that time of year when classes vote on class accolades or superlatives. Not sure how this tradition started, but our high school had them too. Well, we had them my freshman year, and then the practice stopped for some reason.

We had the usual "Most Likely to Succeed," "Best All Around," "Most Athletic," "Class Clown," etc. I actually managed to get one of these, and you're right, it definitely was NOT "Most Athletic." Looking back, I wish we could have awarded funny titles too. Mine probably would have been "Most likely to have children who talk incessantly."

I thought it would be fun to come up with some silly accolades for my oldest daughter's class to vote on, so I did some Internet research to try to steal, I mean, borrow some ideas. I ran across a number that made me laugh.

One superlative that struck me as particularly funny was "Most likely to wear flipflops and stand in six feet of snow." Another good one was "Most likely to stalk a celebrity." Then, there was "Most likely to go missing before the age of 30" (now, that's a vote of confidence from your classmates).

So, about the Astros' game last night . . .

Oh, wait, I have a better one for me -- "Most likely to ignore segues."

Monday, May 17, 2010


I'm going on my first cruise with one of my dearest friends in the world. So, I won't be around to post later this week.

This won't be my first time on a cruise ship, however. As a child, I spent at least one night on the Queen Mary, which is docked in Long Beach, California, and is used as a hotel.

We're heading down to Mexico for a little relaxation and some writing time. I can't wait. In honor of my upcoming trip, here's a little cruise trivia.

1. More than 18 million people take a cruise each year. (Luckily, only a few of them will be on the ship with me.)

2. In September 2005, FEMA contracted with three Carnival Cruise ships to house Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

3. The practice of cruising grew out of transatlantic crossings, which took at least four days.

Bon voyage!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Why doesn't "have" rhyme with "wave"?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I took a wrong turn and . . .

Scientists recently spotted a gray whale off the coast of Israel. The scientists think that the whale swam from the Pacific Ocean, through the Northwest Passage, down into the Atlantic, and into the Mediterranean.

Just in case you're wondering, this is not normal behavior for a gray whale. In fact, no one's seen a gray whale in the Atlantic Ocean for over 300 years. Normally, they migrate up and down the North America coast in the Pacific Ocean. Sounds like this one took a wrong turn somewhere.

In honor of our wayward friend, here are some gray whale randoms:

1. A gray whale lives 50-60 years.

2. Males usually grow to a length of 45-46 feet, and females are usually a little bigger. Both males and females weigh about 30-40 tons.

3. Their skin is covered by scratches, barnacles, and orange whale lice (which is apparently found only on the gray whale).

Have a great day, and remember to check your map, or you might find yourself in the wrong ocean.

Monday, May 10, 2010


I try to avoid crude humor, but I just can't help this one . . .

There's a sign in the women's bathroom at my office that reads:

"Toilet paper is the only approved item to flush."

Uhm, really?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tweezers Day

Mother's Day is just a few days away. I have the privilege of being a mom and of having a mom, so I like Mother's Day.

But I'm thinking about asking it to be renamed "Tweezers Day." You see, when I was little, I had a costume for my twirling recital that involved material that looked like it had been covered with a shredded Tab can. It bore a strong resemblance to a hairy, metallic, pink caterpillar. The thing itched like a wool sweater on steroids.

My mom patiently and carefully plucked all of the little things jutting out around the neck opening and the arm openings of the top and the waistband and leg openings with a pair of tweezers. While all of the other girls were squirming and itching, I was itch free.

It was my mom's simple act of love that sticks with me. Not any particular thing she ever bought me, although I appreciate that sacrifices that were made to buy those things. But the act, or rather acts. Every day, moms all around the world do little things that mean "I love you" like words cannot.

I hope I've done some little things that let my children know how much I love them, and I hope that they have Tweezers Days too.

Happy Tweezers Day to all the moms out there!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The skin on an average adult covers 12 to 20 square feet and is about 12% of a person's body weight.

According to a recent Time magazine article:
[D]ust consists of some combination of shed bits of human skin, animal fur, decomposing insects, food debris, lint and organic fibers from clothes, bedding and other fabrics, tracked-in soil, soot, particulate matter from smoking and cooking, and, disturbingly, lead, arsenic and even DDT.

I'm allergic to dust. So, if dust contains human skin, then I must be allergic to 12% of you . . . and me.

Hmmmm . . . I'm not antisocial, I'm just allergic to you. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Vampire Squids and Clocks

While doing a little random reading this weekend, I stumbled across an article about Vampire Squids, which are neither vampires (my friend, Tim, will be disappointed), nor squids. It's a cephalopod. (Didn't Will Smith's character chase down a cephalopod in Men in Black? I don't think he'll be running this critter down in a sequel. It lives at least 300 feet below the ocean's surface.) When startled, it turns the webbed area with its eight legs inside out. If you don't believe me, check out this link

I also read an article about why clock hands run "clockwise." The direction is a leftover from the early sundials. In the northern hemisphere, the shadow of the dial on a sundial traces "clockwise" as the sun moves through the sky. So, when clocks were first made during Medieval times, the hands were made to run in the same direction. (This begs the question -- wouldn't it still be "clockwise" if they all ran the other way?)

Some randoms on sundials:

1. Before wristwatches, people carried folding sundials with a small magnet to find north.

2. What is possibly the world's largest sundial is actually a bridge connecting the two parts of Turtle Bay Park, spanning the Sacramento River in the heart of Redding, California. You can get a look at it here =>

3. The thin rod or sharp, straight edge a sundial uses to case a shadow is called a "gnomon." Gnomon is an ancient Greek word that means "indicator", "one who discerns," or "that which reveals."

And, finally, I didn't post last Friday because I was feeling "under-the-weather." Now, I'm back to feeling "over-the-weather."

Have a great day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


My day job revolves around laws and regulations, so I often have a chance to wonder -- Now, why did they make that a law? Sometimes, I even find out the answers. But there are a few laws that it's probably more fun not to know.

For example, in Atlanta, Georgia, it is illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole or street lamp. Just how many giraffes have there been roaming the streets of Atlanta that this had to be made into a law? And, is it okay to tie an okapi to a telephone pole or a street lamp?

Another law that makes me giggle -- it's illegal to whale hunt in Oklahoma. Uhm, was that necessary?

And finally, it's illegal to plow a field with an elephant in North Carolina. I understand this one comes results from a P.T. Barnum publicity stunt, but really how many times did he try that one?

So, while you're thinking about that, I'm going to find out if it's okay to raise alligators in the Houston suburbs because it's not legal in Corpus Christi.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Would you want to live in Boogertown?

I love funny street names and town names. Some stretches of highway are filled with great ones that will make you laugh for a mile or two. One of my faves is a street in Lake Jackson called "That Way." I understand there's a "This Way" too.

But street names don't affect as many people as town or city names. How many people keep a straight face upon learning that a new friend is from "Boogertown, North Carolina?" How about "Ding Dong, Texas?" Or, "Toad Suck, Arkansas?"

So, in honor of funny place names, here's today's set of randoms:

1. Los Angeles holds the title for longest official U.S. city name -- El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Rina de los Angeles de Porcluncula.

2. "Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg" is the longest place name in the United States. Yes, that's 45 letters. It's a lake in Webster, Massachusetts. The name means "Englishmen at Manchaug at the Fishing Place at the Boundary," but the name is sometimes facetiously translated as "you fish your side of the water, I fish my side of the water, nobody fishes the middle".

3. Rhode Island's official name is "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

Well, that's all for today!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Marine One

My husband was in D.C. for work reasons yesterday, minding his own business while walking down the street. Suddenly, he heard thump, thump, thump. He turned to see Marine One rising over a building. It was so close that he could see the pilot's sunglasses.

What's so exciting about Marine One? Marine One is the call sign for any Marine Corps aircraft carrying the President. Specifically, it is most often the President's helicopter. So, in honor of my hubby's sighting, here's a little Marine One randomness:

1. A Marine Corps aircraft carrying the Vice President is called "Marine Two."

2. A Marine Corps aircraft carrying the President's family is called "Marine One Foxtrot."

3. For security reasons, Marine One always flies in a group of up to five identical helicopters. One carries the President. The others act as decoys. Right after taking off, they begin shifting in formation to hide the position of the President. This is sometimes referred to as the "Presidential shell game."

Semper Fidelis!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Two weeks ago, few in the world had ever heard of the Eyjafjallajokull (ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) volcano. Now, hardly a news hour goes by without some mention of it. Who knew that a pesky volcano in Iceland could wreak such havoc?

I have a co-worker who's been trying to get back from Egypt for days now. Last I heard, he was in Jordan. Hopefully, things will be better today, and he can catch a flight home.

But here's the thing -- Eyjafjallajokull is the "little" volcano in the area. It has a bigger neighbor named Katla, and if the Katla volcano erupts, the eruption would be 10 times stronger and shoot higher and larger plumes of ash into the air than the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. (Much easier to pronounce, but much deadlier.) So, things could get worse.

According to the AP, Katla is showing no signs of activity at this time, but each of the last three times Eyjafjallajokull erupted, so did Katla. So, don't say I didn't warn you.

Today's word challenge: How many words can you make using the letters from Eyjafjallajokull? (For example, "fall" and "joke" are two.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Yesterday morning, I overslept. So, now bloggity blog for me. Kinda threw the whole day off. I got to work on time, but it was a telecommuting day, so there's not really any excuse for being late.

That made me think about the kinds of excuses people give for being late to work. According to a 2008 survey, 15% of all employees said that they were late at least once per week to their jobs, and roughly 24% said that they made up excuses about why they were late. The survey listed some of the wacky excuses given. My favorite of the bunch was "Someone stole all my daffodils." Really? I'd be lucky to notice that my daffodils were missing in the morning. Plus, I'm such a poor gardener that I'd assume they'd all just died. But I digress.

I also liked "I was indicted for securities fraud this morning," and "I didn't have any gas money because all of the pawn shops were closed." Another one was "My route to work was shut down by a Presidential motorcade," but I didn't think that one was funny. I actually drove in the tail-end of a Presidential motorcade, so I know that they don't shut down the road completely. They just close the exits while the motorcade goes by.

What's the wackiest reason you've heard that a co-worker (not, you, of course) has ever given for being late to work?

Friday, April 16, 2010

R.I.P. Keith Hogan

Every now and then, you meet someone you never forget. Someone that makes you think the world is a better place just because he or she is somewhere in it. Keith Hogan was one of those people.

His life was an inspiration to us all as he showed us how to find a way to live out dreams despite serious obstacles. He didn't let his muscular dystrophy stop him from obtaining his college degree, working, or enjoying a full life. His ever ready smile drew people to him, and you always felt special in his presence, even though he was really the one who was special.

We'll miss you, Keith. R.I.P.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Do pigs sweat?

Last week, a friend of mine said that she'd been "sweating like a pig." Which made me wonder, do pigs actually sweat?

Turns out that pigs are very poor sweaters, and some breeds of pig don't sweat at all. So, when we're all saying that we are "sweating like pigs," we really mean that we aren't sweating at all. Pigs, in fact, cool themselves by wallowing in mud. I, frankly, would rather stick with the sweating.

Horses are really great sweaters. Even cows are better sweaters than pigs. However, horses are by far the best at it. Perhaps we should change our little saying to "sweating like a horse."

So, next time I go for a run, you'll probably see me sweating like a horse.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Inventions Part II

Answer from yesterday: They were all invented by women.

1. The windshield wiper.
Mary Anderson invented the first windshield wiper, and received a patent for it in 1905.

2. The home diabetes test.
Helen Free invented the home diabetes test. She was also one of the world's leading experts on urinalysis.

3. Liquid Paper.
Bette Nesmith Graham, invented Liquid Paper, which was originally called "Mistake Out."

Now, what would have happened if the lady who invented Liquid Paper had married one of the guys who invented Spell Check? Would all of our misspelled words be invisible?

Monday, April 12, 2010


What do the following three things have in common?

1. The windshield wiper.

2. The home diabetes test.

3. Liquid paper.

Answer tomorrow.

Friday, April 9, 2010


So, it seems I'm not the only one who can't function without spell check. When the San Francisco Giants' Eugenio Velez took the field on Wednesday night against our beloved Houston Astros, his jersey read "San Francicso." Even I can see that's wrong.

Apparently, last year, two Washington National players hit the field with "Natinal" scrawled across their jerseys. Looks like you can't run spell check on baseball jerseys.

I'm not making fun. I'm merely recognizing a kindred spirit or two out there. I misspelled my own first name until sometime in the second grade. (I plead the fifth on whether I have misspelled it in the past year.)

All I can say is that those six linguists from Georgetown University who invented the first spell-check system for IBM are some one of my heroes. (Like how I worked something random into a sentence?)

On a different note . . . You've probably heard or seen the Spellchecker Poem. If not, here's a link:

Right on.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Drip Dry

Have I mentioned that I hate ironing? (Wait, we're trying hard to get our girls to stop using the word 'hate.) Have I mentioned that I have a feeling of intense hostility toward ironing? (See, isn't that much better?)

But I do it almost every Monday morning during the school year -- generally between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. because that's the day my girls have to wear their dress uniforms to school. Given the uniform, it seems reasonable to require ironing -- no matter how intense my hostility toward the effort is.

What doesn't make sense is the care label on my husband's swim trunks that includes "iron when necessary." When is it EVER necessary to iron swim trunks?

That said, did you know that there's a whole little system of symbols for care labels?

This one means drip dry:

This one means Chlorine bleach may be used:

This one means use hot iron (220C/392F) for cotton, linen, viscose:

You know I'll be on the lookout for that last one . . .

Monday, April 5, 2010

To the Zoo

My daughters and I are going to the zoo today. I love going to the zoo. (Shhhh. Don't tell them that -- they think I'm being totally selfless and must be forced to go.)

We have the world's cutest animal at our zoo (that's what the signs say, and I believe them) -- a red panda. Here's a link to a photo of one:

Judge for yourself. Only your own child could be cuter.

They are an endangered species, with only about 2500 adults in the world. Next weekend is Red Panda Awareness Weekend at our zoo, so just to get you ready for that. . .

Pandomly speaking:

1. Red pandas grow to about the size of a house cat.

2. Red pandas have been thought to be a relative of both the giant panda and the raccoon, but are now thought to have their own family -- the Ailuridae.

3. A male red panda is called a "boar" or a "he-bear."

4. A female red panda is called a "sow" or a "she-bear."

5. A group of red pandas (which is uncommon) is called a "sleuth" or a "sloth."

Don't forget to check out the link. They are so darn cute!!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Extreme Clean

When did toothpaste stop being just toothpaste?

It's almost bewildering to pick out a tube of toothpaste today. Even my favorite brand carries so many options that I feel as if making a choice means that I'm failing in some other area.

For example, I can get a tube with baking soda, peroxide, and tartar protection in a "fresh mint." But that means I have to forgo the breath freshening Scope add-on. So, what does that say about me? Clearly, I care more about my own hygiene than whether you have to be subject to my bad breath.

I recently ran out of my favorite toothpaste and had to scramble around to find a travel tube. In desperation, I opened a travel tube of something other than my favorite and discovered that it isn't toothpaste, it's a "whitening mint experience." So, now I'm putting an "experience" on my teeth multiple times per day. That's just weird.

But toothpaste or "whitening mint experiences" are not really modern inventions -- despite the ability to buy all sorts of flavors and add-ons. The ancient Egyptians are believed to have made a "dental cream" by mixing powdered ashes of oxen hooves with myrrh, burned egg shells, pumice, and water.

The earliest record of an actual "toothpaste" (I don't know about the "whitening mint experience")was in 1789. A recipe of the day called for using burnt bread. (Probably someone with my track record for cooking made this one up.)

Another toothpaste recipe at the time called for:

1 1/2 oz. dragons blood (Now we know why we can't find them.)
1 1/2 oz. cinnamon
1 oz. burnt alum

Well, brush on, everyone. I'm going to return to my "whitening mint experience."

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Answers

TRUE 1. I've kissed an alligator.

It was a baby alligator, and a handler was holding it. Not the smartest thing I've ever done, but probably not the dumbest either. As to what it was like -- Have you ever kissed a leather purse?

TRUE 2. I don't cook very well, but I can order take out with the best.

This was a giveaway!

TRUE 3. I appeared in a Las Vegas show.

My hubby and I and another couple were in the opening scene in a Cirque Du Soleil performance. I didn't catch on at first that we'd been invited to join the clown on stage, but once I realized the spot light was trained on us and we were heading through the stage doors, I finally picked up on what was happening.

TRUE 4. I played the violin in my high school's orchestra. (Go, Stings!)

My freshman year, I was third chair in first violin. I sat behind Mike Montgomery, who was a year older, and not only one of the smartest people I've ever met, but also a wicked fiddler.

TRUE 5. I have one newspaper photo publishing credit.

I took the cover shot for a local paper running a piece on a charity fundraiser that I was volunteering for.

TRUE 6. I collect tea cups from Occupied Japan.

It all started with a pair of cups my Great Uncle brought back from WWII to his mother. I somehow inherited them. They looked lonely, so I began collecting play mates for them, and now, I have a little collection, but am always looking for more of them.

FALSE 7. I was once stuck in an elevator with Anthony Bourdain.

I met him at a book signing, and to answer Gretchen's question -- he was very nice. I had my then five-year-old daughter with me, and he talked to her and autographed his very bloody mystery novel for her. (We'd skipped the talk because I didn't want her repeating any of his adult language.) But no, I was never stuck in an elevator with him.

TRUE 8. I've ridden a bike for a total of 150 miles over two days.

Yup. MS 150.

TRUE 9. I worked in a tackle repair shop in high school.

This is just one in a string of odd jobs I've had.

TRUE 10. The first plane I ever rode in was the one I took to Germany as a kid.

My ears popped so loudly when we landed that I thought my ear drums had broken. By contrast, my oldest daughter took her first plane ride when she was only three months old.

So, who got it right? Kristen! Yay! Whoo-Hooo!

Thanks for playing. Now, you need to do the same and invite me and others to guess. HINT: Facebook works well for that sort of thing . . .

Monday, March 29, 2010


Here are two hints for last Friday's "challenge": Numbers 1 and 10 are true.

Come back Wednesday for the answer.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ten Things About Me -- Nine Are True

So, here's the ultimate random Petula challenge. (Well, at least for this week.) Below are ten things about me. Only nine of them are true. Can you guess which one is not true? (If you're related to me by blood or marriage, you're not allowed to guess -- at least not here.) Put your guess in the comments section below.

1. I've kissed an alligator.

2. I don't cook very well, but I can order take out with the best.

3. I appeared in a Las Vegas show.

4. I played the violin in my high school's orchestra. (Go, Stings!)

5. I have one newspaper photo publishing credit.

6. I collect tea cups from Occupied Japan.

7. I was once stuck in an elevator with Anthony Bourdain.

8. I've ridden a bike for a total of 150 miles over two days.

9. I worked in a tackle repair shop in high school.

10. The first plane I ever rode in was the one I took to Germany as a kid.

You have until next Wednesday, March 31st. The one who guesses correctly, gets . . . uhm . . . a shout out on this blog!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bosu, Bosu, Why Art Thou Bosu?

So, I decide that it's time to get rid of my couch potato status, starting out with some core exercises. My doctor suggested that I get a Bosu. Stupidly, I listened.
In my excitement, I also purchase a workout DVD that combines yoga, Pilates, and the Bosu. Yeah. There's a good idea. Let's take someone with a weak core and balance issues, plant her on a thing that looks like half an exercise ball with a lid slapped on it and get her to do balancing exercises.

Not pretty. I look like someone in a log rolling contest. But the nice lady leading me through the torture, I mean, exercises, assures me that I'll get stronger and more stable. She makes no promises about not looking stupid in the meantime. So, if you drive by my house and think you see someone waving her arms like a windmill, that's probably just me on the Bosu.

Today's random time waster is to see how many words it takes to get from "Bosu" to "pain" by changing one letter at a time. (For example, to get from "cup" to "sat," it takes three words -- "cap," "sap," "sat.") It took me ten.

Have fun!

Bosu, by the way, stands for "Both Sides Up."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gone to the Dogs

I'm a dog person and can hardly remember a time that my family didn't have a dog as a pet. Each one notable for its own idiosyncrasies, and the current alleged "lowerer" of blood pressure certainly has more than his share of quirks.

For example, he loves stuffed dog toys that look like squirrels, or foxes, or hedgehogs. When he gets a new one, the first thing he does is tear off all its limbs, ears, and tail (as applicable). (Oops, there's the law degree rearing its head.) Then, he sucks on the poor mangled critter like a pacifier. Within a few weeks, this leaves the critter a perpetually soggy mess with an unpleasant odor, which is why he frequently gets a new one.

In honor of our German Shepherd Dog, today's randoms involve the origin of dog breed names.

The second half of the Cocker Spaniel’s name comes from its country of origin, Spain; the first half of its name comes from its ability to flush out woodcocks.

The Doberman is named after a German tax collector, Friedrich Louis Dobermann, who was so unpopular that he needed a little extra protection. He bred Manchester Terriers with Pinschers and Rottweilers with Greyhounds until he ultimately produced the Doberman.

The Dandie Didmont Terrier is the only dog breed named after a fictional person, Dandie Didmont, who was a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Guy Mannering.

And, finally, the expression "gone to the dogs" means something is not as good as it was. It is thought to have its origins in ancient China where dogs were not permitted within the walls of cities. So, stray dogs lived in the areas outside of the city walls and survived off of the trash thrown out of the city. Criminals and social outcasts were often expelled from the cities and sent to live among the trash – and thus, the dogs. These people were said to have “gone to the dogs”, both literally because that's where they lived, and figuratively because their lives had taken a definite turn for the worse.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Yesterday morning, I finished the first draft of my manuscript. I felt out of sorts -- like one might feel on the day after a friend moves out of town.

But after putting the manuscript aside for a few days (not such a good idea to set a friend aside, but I digress), I'll be back at the keyboard tidying up a couple of loose plot points and digging into the comments on the first draft from my critique group to create a second draft. Ah, revision-land.

I've also starting taking a revision class from the wonderful Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson. Just in the comments I received from my synopsis, I've already been able to improve my manuscript. Hopefully, the class will help me get to a third draft. Maybe, just maybe, the third draft will be ready to go visit an agent or two.

In honor of the revision process, today's random timewaster is to see how many words you can make out of the letters from 'revision.' For example, son, sin, and nose are three words.

Have fun!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Opposites Attract

English is a messy, inefficient language. I mean, think about the follow:

Why isn't "untoward" the opposite of "toward?"

Why don't we say "unprofessional" instead of "amateur?"

And, if we "regurgitate" when food comes back up, why don't we "gurgitate" when we eat?

If I were to say these things out loud in front of my family, this would be the point where my husband would say "You have too much time on your hands." Then, I'd say "I have too much time on my brain."

Speaking of the hubby . . . (see, there's a segue) . . . yesterday morning, I received an e-mail from him that said "So THAT'S what an earthquake feels like."

He goes back to bed while I'm pelting him with e-mails trying to get more details. I assume in the end that if he were able to e-mail me from his Blackberry, he must be okay. He finally e-mails me back about two hours later noting that he was surprised the earthquake was as strong as a 4.4. He reports that it's not fun to be awakened at 4:00 a.m. by something lifting your bed off the floor. I'll be glad to take his word for it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Uhm, I need a new floor

So, while I'm working on the taxes, my husband and daughters decide to find out if they can pull out a few kitchen tiles, starting on a project so that sometime in the slightly distant future, we could have a new floor put in. Thirty minutes later, half of my kitchen tiles are gone.

Uhm, you might say they were way more successful in pulling up tiles than they thought. It actually took them longer to go to the store to get safety goggles than it did to pull up the tiles.

Not really making me feel good about how securely my tiles were put in place.

This means I need a new kitchen floor WAY sooner than I expected. Bear with me if I have floor tile on the brain.

Today's randoms are about what else -- ceramic tile:

1. There are approximately 34,000 glass coated ceramic tiles on the Space Shuttle.

2. The word "Ceramic" comes from the Greek word "Keramos," which means "Pottery," "Potters' Clay," or "A Potter." This Greek word is related to an old Sanskrit root meaning "to burn" but was mostly used to mean "Burnt Stuff."

3. People began putting ceramic tiles into kitchens and bathrooms in the 20th Century as a sanitary measure.

More than you probably wanted to know . . .

So, no segue to this, but . . . Happy Birthday, Crystal.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Forward. Fall Back.

Randomly speaking about Daylight Savings Time:

1. 47 U.S. States observe Daylight Savings time.
2. Daylight Savings Time was originally called "War Time" and was instituted year around by President Franklin Roosevelt.
3. Benjamin Franklin originally came up with the idea.

You can take a Daylight Savings Time quiz at this link:

Ever notice how the first day of Spring Daylight Savings Time isn't so bad? It's the second day that really gets to you -- just like trying out a new exercise. Oh well, at least the time change is hitting us during Spring Break this year!

Try not to hit the snooze button too many times on Monday!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

There's Gold in Them Thar Hills

Today's bit of randomness:

1. An ounce of gold can be stretched into a filament 35 miles long.

2. The specific gravity of gold is 19.3, which means that a quart of gold weighs 19.3 times as much as a quart of water.

3. The Periodic Table symbol for gold is Au, which comes from the Latin word "aurum," which not surprisingly means "gold."

"Gold" is the subject of today's bit of randomness because I'm suffering from the Post-Winter Olympic blues. Sure, I'm getting more sleep. Sure, I've spent a lot less time in front of the TV since the games ended. But come on -- how often is curling televised in Texas? When else am I going to get to watch cross-country ski racing? I live in a place where we all freak out over "hard freezes," and we really only have two seasons - hot and hotter.

But I digress.

We were talking about gold. So, here's a word challenge for you -- changing only one letter at a time, how many words does it take you to get from "gold" to "bent?" (For example, to get from "cup" to "sat," it takes three words -- "cap," "sap," "sat.") I can get from "gold" to "bent" in four words. How about you?

While you're working on that, I'll be searching for curling on YouTube . . .

Monday, March 8, 2010

Stepping Out

Deep breath in. Deep breath out. I'm posting my first blog entry.
It's kind of like throwing a party. Will anyone come? Will they have a good time if they do come? I don't have a thing to wear.

So, why am I blogging? To have a place to share those really random things that pop into my head so that more people will be thinking about really random things.

Also, I'm blogging because I'm in the process of writing a children's books and wanted to share my journey. I have two children, work full-ish time, and write. It's a full, but wonderful plate, and I sometimes wonder how I can make it work. So, in case you're wondering, here's what the daily routine looks like:

5:00 a.m. Alarm goes off.
5:00:30 Hit alarm button and wonder what jerk set the alarm for 5:00 a.m.
5:01 Remember that jerk was me. Give self permission to sleep for five more minutes.
5:15 Remember that no one can read my book unless I write it. Roll out of bed.Brush teeth. Make large pitcher of iced tea.
5:30 Hit the keyboard.
6:30 Fantasy world torn rudely away by reality. Time to get children out of bed and get ready for the day, get breakfast, make sure socks match.
7:35 Hit the car for school drop off.
8:00 MWF -- exercise. TTh -- get into traffic to commute to office.
9:00 Log onto work computer to save the world one benefits compliance question at a time.
3:00 p.m. Log off work computer. Hit carpool line and begin afterschool routine.
6:00 Try to remember what the dinner plan was.
7:00 Dinner
7:45 Kids prepare for bed.
8:15 Start reading books with youngest; yell at oldest about watching too much TV.
9:15 Start dozing off while watching TV with hubby.

That's it. That's the plan to get my idea to paper and from paper to some wonderful agent's inbox.

Write on, everyone.