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.