Donut Rooms in Vienna

During my first visit to Vienna in 1994, Paul and I were taken out to a heuriger by my new friends Evelyn and Gunther. (I wrote about that night here.) During the course of the evening, Guthner said to us that if we left early enough, we could visit the Donut Room. Keep in mind that he spoke as little English as we did German...


My Piddly Thursday 3

  1. Every week I think about joining in on the famous Thursday 13 meme, but 13 is just such a huge number for me to confront in the morning.

  2. Get mad. Get really effin' mad: 10 Things your hospital won't tell you.
    (Hat tip to The Boomer Chronicles)

  3. Morning goldmine: Emma has posted 50 of the best free web tools.

That is all I have energy for today.

The Line Forms Behind Me

So is everyone ready to form a paddle line and force Hung through it? If his attitudes toward Coloradans ("What do they eat? Baked beans, baked beans and more baked beans!?") and cooking wild game weren't enough to make me want to smack him, his lying to the judges about how much he enjoyed cooking the elk certainly was. I wanted him to get booted so badly! But he's going on to the finale, along with Casey and Chicken Head Dale.

What? Dale??

When he got his first win at the 11th hour, I think he was as shocked as everyone else was. I like Dale -- he's a sweet guy -- but I think Casey will win. God help us all if Hung wins. Except that it would really toast Marcel's ass (his buddy from last season).

What about that quickfire round? Tell me, what's so freaking difficult about frying fresh trout in a cast iron skillet? Sometimes I think chefs are so wrapped up in the art of food preparation that they can't cook for beans. I speak from experience. My brother is a chef -- a head chef to be exact -- who's been in the business for over 40 years. But put him in the kitchen to make something simple and things start getting out of hand. And he uses every pan and bowl in the house, too.

I'm almost glad that this season of Top Chef will be over by this time next week. Except that I'll miss Anthony Bourdain's weekly commentary about the show. By the way, where is his entry for this week, anyway?

P.S. Is there a reason I don't know about why they kept calling the fresh water trout they prepared right there on a riverbank in the Colorado Rockies "sea food"?


Creative Conundrums

Seems I'm faced with a few conundrums today. Oh, none of them are as earthshaking as the issues surrounding the cubed egg, and I'm not sure they even warrant a blog entry, but writing about them is easier than figuring them out. You see, my THS levels have started adjusting and my brain feels like a 33-rpm record set to play at 16-rpm. Those of you who were born before 1985 have no idea what that metaphor is referring to, but trust me. It means that something that already moves slowly is moving even slower.

The problem with creative conundrums, generally speaking, is that they're circular arguments with oneself: "If I do this, then that has to be done first, but I can't do that until I do those things over there. But those things can't be done until I do this." And I'm back where I started... or didn't start, because I haven't started that, and I can't until that gets done... But there I go again...


Exactly What I Wanted

My birthday yesterday was perfect. I slept until 9:30, spent the day doing whatever I wanted (which was mostly nothing), and then my son Joel took us all out to dinner to Bad Brad's. I got a Mystery Science Theater "Deep 13" tee and a button of Torgo saying, "The master will not be pleased." For those of you who aren't into MST, there's no way to explain this to you, but for me, this was a great gift! I also got a dvd of Immortal Beloved starring Gary Oldman, a film that Nettl and I have had on our wish list for a long time, simply because Oldman's performance is so wonderful. The music's not bad either!...


My Big Brother Ernie

When I met Ernie & the Emperors at the Dolphin Club in Solvang in 1965 I was only 14, but I'd already written a lot of songs and played a pretty damned good guitar. I may have looked like a little kid, but there was a whole lotta music inside of me.

The Dolphin Club (1610 Oak Street) was a members only place that had a pool, dressing rooms and a dance hall that included a snack bar. In 1965 the owners figured out they could make a little money by holding dances for the teens of Solvang, with live bands from all over the tri-counties. Within the year it became a venue that a lot of bands vied for. There was nothing else for us to do in Solvang in those days. The closest entertainment of any sort was an hour's drive away and a lot of parents didn't like the idea of their kids driving the San Marcos Pass at night...


Because my birthday falls on a Monday (tomorrow) this year, Nettl woke me up with breakfast this morning. Kaiserschmarrn! (pronounced "KY-zer-shmahrn"). Translated as, "The king's mish-mash" or "The Emperor's Mess", this is considered comfort food in my ancestral home...


The Night I Met Jimi Hendrix

My friend Debi (not Ville—she was only 8 months old at the time) lived in Goleta, just a mile from the UCSB student village, Isla Vista. Despite the block-after-block layout of mid-century apartment buildings, it was the hippies who hung out at Peoples Park, the political activism, and the strip of coffeehouses, mod boutiques, and headshops that had earned it the unofficial title of Haight-Ashbury South. It was a place cool enough that Edie Sedgwick chose to spend the end of her young life there. Today, it is best known for the riots of 1970 during which the Bank of America was burned to the ground, but before that happened, Isla Vista was a great place to hang out, promenade in your hippie finery, enjoy live folk music in one of the several coffeehouses, and crash a party. I often spent weekends at Debi's house, and we'd spend most of our time at IV...


Zenning Out

I've been hit by the sudden urge to clean out. To get rid of shit by giving it to someone else. By that I mean pictures mostly, but now that the weather is cooling down I want to get into the attic in the garage and start throwing. I want to put everything out and call my friends and say, "Come and take what you want." I don't even want to garage sale this stuff; I want to give it away. Pass it on.

Last night I started scanning all the pictures my friends and I took from 1985 to '87. I then uploaded them to a Photobucket account that I created just for these pictures and also saved them to a cd. That way, I can give the actual photos to Ville and our friends can go to Photobucket and download whatever ones they can't live without. All I know is that I want them off my hands. I have photos that I took with my first camera in 1958, for godsake. After I'm done with this pile of 1000 or so pictures, I'm going to go through the same process with our family pictures. Those I'll divide between my sons and I'll keep the cds. I might even burn copies to keep in a safety deposit box for safe keeping. Today I'll be plodding on through some more; in fact, that's my plan for the entire weekend. In a weird way I'm looking forward to it. I want to start traveling light.


Things I Need to Remember

When I get down like I am today, I constantly harp at myself with different favorite phrases like, "Buck up, little Buckaroo!", "Life's messy. Put on an apron", "Life's tough. Buy a fucking helmet" and "If the tide's too strong, turn belly up and float until you get downstream where it's calmer." You know what I'm talking about.

But there are more constructive, hopeful things that I need to remember:

  • This too shall pass.
  • The inheritance will come at the appropriate time, no sooner, no later.
  • When it does, I will pay off the student loans and debts, and exhale.
  • We've never been out on the street yet.
  • Karma works.
  • Vienna waits for me.

Linky Love (because being down isn't my style)

I learned many years ago that the best antidote to depression is to get one's mind off oneself and do something for someone else. Well, a bottle of champagne doesn't hurt, but that's hard when one is ill. Or broke.

Here are a few new links that I'd like to share with you. Pay these good people a visit. Broaden your horizons.
  • Unofficial Micah:
    With his Unmanifest blog becoming more and more dedicated to his musical and crafts projects, Micah missed blogging, so he created this blog as an outlet for his other offerings to Blogsville. It's new, but judging by what he has already, this is going to a great morning read.

  • Emma Alvarez:
    Senorita Alvarez of Madrid found my blog via Blog Catalog and quickly honored me with the Rockin' Blogger award. Actually, the honor is all mine, because her blog is truly beautiful. Besides being a gifted artist, she is a sensitive writer and gentle soul. Her blog has become, for me, a calm haven in an otherwise turbulent internet experience.

  • Hymn:
    This gentleman's blog has nothing to do with church, religion, or singing, but it is full of pithy, humorous commentary. I found it through Chasing Vincenzo, which is a great reference.

  • Nicole in London:
    And the States and France and... Nicole travels a lot for both pleasure and business. I love blogs like hers because I can vicariously ride on her luggage trolley. Funny, realistic and sometimes peevish, her writing is always honest and she's not afraid to talk about her life, even when it's a little messy.

Naming My Roller Coaster: "The Ball-Buster"

My phone rings, waking me from a deep sleep, the first I've gotten in over a week. It's my doctor's nurse-assistant telling me that my THS levels are too high again and she wants to change my Levoxyl dosage.

Before she can even finish her words I break into tears, begging, "Please, don't mess with my meds. The only thing I have going right now is that I feel good for a change."...


Favorite Songs of a Different Kind

Back in the day when I was a professional folk singer (yes, that's me, in 1969), there were certain songs that I just loved to perform. Because I was a singer-songwriter, most of the songs were those that I'd penned myself, but I also covered songs by other artists. I thought I'd share with you the top 10 songs that I enjoyed singing. In fact, I still enjoy singing most of them...


Expensive Oversights

Have you paid attention to the new Celebrity Cruises commercial? It sends a WTF kind of message to those who know the meaning behind its soundtrack song, "Fame", which was written by David Bowie and John Lennon, two artists who had a tough time grappling with the downside of rock and roll celebrity...


Saturday Story Time: *Unheilbarer Weingeliebter

*Incurable Wino

I think each Saturday I shall play the Old Salt and regale you with a yarn from my past. I've always described myself as a collector of colorful characters and human oddities, but in truth I'm a magnet. These people have always been drawn to me, but perhaps mine is a simple case of like attracts like. Today, I want to tell you about something that happened during my first visit to Vienna in 1994. This will of course have something to do with copious amounts of wine, which should come as no surprise to you who are regular readers...


To the Students Two Doors Down

Yeah, I'm the one. I'm the old fart who called the police at 1:45 in the morning. I'm the one who was patient with your front yard wooting and yelling on Wednesday from midnight to 3:30. I'm the one who heard the drunk girls screaming like yours was a Girls Gone Wild party. I'm the one who heard that fucking motorbike zoom past our bedroom windows a dozen times, the girl on the back squealing every time it passed your house. I'm the one who heard your friend with Button Mushroom Syndrome pounding on the pickup truck hood with his fist while the rest of you oohed and aahed at his masculinity. I'm the one who was patient because I thought that, being the first month of school, this was your first party. But last night I was the one who quickly figured out that you think this is a student housing neighborhood and that you will have your drunken, obnoxious friends and their drunken, obnoxious hoochie-mama girlfriends over every night if someone doesn't lay down the law.

So I did. I'm the one who called the police. And I'm the one who will call the police every night that you use your front yard as a party playground, until you get it.

Friday's Feast

When was the last time you visited a hospital?
That would be the night my mother died on December 5th, 2004. She was rushed to the ER when she was hit by a thrombosis. It was a complete shock and completely unexpected. I can't even drive past the hospital without thinking about that night and feeling somber.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being highest, how ambitious are you?
Five years ago I would have placed myself at about 11, but since Hashimoto's Thyroiditis slammed me, I'm down to about 6. Pisses me off.

Make a sentence using the letters of a body part. (Example: (mouth) My Other Ukulele Tings Healthily.)
Butt: Being Ultimately Toilet Trained.

Main Course
If you were to start a club, what would the subject matter be and what would you name it?
I've always been fascinated with the Algonquin Round Table, but finding that many brilliant and colorful characters isn't easy. The subject would be life, writing and the arts and I'd name it after whatever restaurant, bar or cafe in which we "set up house".



The World Without Us

Life is not sentimental. It doggedly stays its course, regardless of what happens to those who delve into it. Life does not remember, it does not record.

Do you ever wonder what will happen to the earth when the time of the humans is over? Alan Weisman has written The World Without Us, a book I read about at The Boomer Chronicles. On the book's site is an interactive timeline showing just how quickly evidence of our civilization would disappear.

Check it out!


Peeping Painter

There I lay fast asleep, when I suddenly hear a man talking on a cell phone. In my bedroom. Keep in mind that our bedroom is on the second floor of a detached house in a secluded cul-de-sac and that, because of the privacy we enjoy, we sleep with the blinds open. When I was awake enough to realize the guy was outside the bay window, I didn't quite know what to do.

Should I get out of bed and traipse right by him on my way to the bathroom, or should I just pretend I don't see him and crawl out on Nettl's side of the bed, which is closest to the bathroom? I opted for neither. I sneaked out of Nettl's side and went to the downstairs bathroom. It's a good thing I don't sleep el buffo. I don't know what I would have done. Hide under the covers, I guess. By the time I'd made the coffee, the guy was gone from my window. I promptly pulled the blinds closed. When he broke for lunch I went out to the front yard...

I've Been Nominated Again!

Last year I was forced to watch as everyone around me accepted the coveted Rubber Ducky award. Not that they didn't deserve to win, they did, and I'd voted for most of them myself. But sitting there next to Monty, Brian and the other winning bloggers, I vowed that this year I'd join the winners' circle and come home with an award to put on the bookcase beside my desk. Last year, all I came home with was a hangover.

Not that I'm complaining! I had a great time getting stupid with my fellow Okie Bloggers. But this will most likely be my last year as one and I'd really like to win before I become a Vienna Blogger.

Now that I've said all that, I'm proud and honored to announce that this blog has been nominated in two (count 'em), two categories:
  • Best Blog Layout
  • Best Culture Blog
Thanks to everyone who nominated me! Now, go vote!

It's Only a Movie...

There are days that really try my soul. The kind of day that feels like a dramatic comedy. I never know whether life is going to kiss me or kill me because so often, it does both simultaneously. I know I'm not unique in this; everybody has their off days.

The anniversary of 9-11 hit me hard this year and I'm not sure why. It was also the day that my stalker chose to strike another blow. Twice. Knowing her like I do, I know she chose this day quite carefully. She's the type of who can smell vulnerability clean across the Atlantic. I put out that fire then started in on the numerous chores I had to take care of. I didn't really sit down to relax until 9:30 pm.

All-in-all it wasn't a bad day, just demanding. Tomorrow I hope to get back to my writing. A day away from it makes me antsy.


RW is My Hero

Today, my buddy RW posted an entry that says it all for me. I couldn't possibly say it any better. But then, he's articulate in a way that makes me wish I could study with him.

"Welcome to the face of modern America as we present it to the world; Mechanical dicks, inflated tits, chemical courage, angry music, reduced attention spans, worship for the lowest common denominator, and virtually no sense of proportion or history when trying to decide the importance of one event to the other. And why not - in a society where the lies come from the top down, the values come from the bottom up, musicians from the coasts kill one another and rich little talentless tattooed runts have a pissing contest in public and this is big news - why should we expect better?"
Please leave your comments on his blog. He deserves all the credit.

Things I Don't Get

There are a few things I just don't get. Some I can look up on the web, but some just don't seem to have answers, not any that are easier to comprehend than string theory or Finnegan's Wake, anyway. Here are some that come to mind...


Xenophile Media Snags a 2nd Emmy!

Xenophile Media’s production of the Fallen Alternate Reality Game for Disney, broadcast on ABC Family won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Television Programming last night at the 59th Annual Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. This was ABC Family’s first Emmy Award. Xenophile President Patrick Crowe was there to accept the award with Marci Meron and Vickie Collier of ABC Family and producer Matt Wolf of Double Twenty Productions.

Some of you may remember that I was cast in a significant role in the game, that of the retired carny Tarot reader, Madame Steph. My part of it was shot on location in Florida in July of 2006. Of course, at the time I couldn't reveal to anyone what was going on due to a non-disclosure contract.

Congratulations guys!


Reclining Thoughts

Hoo boy, is a chair like that is beginning to look good to me! I've always resisted the purchasing of any kind of reclining chair, but something happens as we get older--we not only change our minds about what were at one time important matters, we add the disclaimer, "I don't care what I believed back then. I want one, damn it!"

Look at that sexy thing. Places for the remotes, book, pens, and a cold drink. Padded arms, back, and legs, and WHAMMO! a table for my laptop! Awesome! I'll never get one, you know, but I can look.

  • I sat up last night watching the Pope's Mass at Stephansdom (it began at 4 am our time), mostly because it was aired live from Vienna and because the music was a Mass by F. J. Haydn.
  • We slept with Radio Stephansdom on and I actually dreamed in German. I did that during both of my stays in Vienna, and Nettl told me that during the last one I spoke in German in my sleep. My German is basically nothing but nouns--I have a large vocabulary--but I'm not very good at stringing them together with verbs and adjectives. I know just enough conversational German to get myself in trouble. But we're determined to learn Viennese, not Hoch Deutsch.
  • There are things I should be doing--cleaning the Beta's tank, doing my laundry, getting something to eat--but here I sit.
  • My wireless mouse went kaput this morning. Now I'm having to use the touch pad. I'm too lazy even for that.
  • Today I am an armchair traveler. It's the Travel Channel that has my attention. I woke up in Vienna, I am presently in Italy, and I will be taken to Sweden in a few minutes. Looked at this way, I've been pretty busy today. Maybe I'm not so lazy after all...
  • Okay, I really have to go get something to eat. My stomach feels as if it's turning inside-out.


Tie Dye in Mariazell

Nettl and I often have the Catholic channel (EWTN) on during the weekend because we enjoy the musical programs they have. Where else on telly can you watch a Bach cantata, or a Mozart Mass? Last week they aired a concert of Haydn's The Seasons. Bravo no longer airs operas and concerts like they did when they first appeared (does anyone remember those days?) and A&E? Forget their early dedication to the arts, they've gone entirely into entertainment, and even that's iffy.

This Old Spouse

This is pretty much me today, except that I have the laptop on my lap. I'm too lazy to even put it on the ottoman; that would require me to sit up and lean forward. Yep. Too lazy for that crap today.

Jacey came over last night bearing pickled spiced garlic cloves. Out of respect for Anthony Bourdain, I tried one. It's not something I'd elect to eat more of, unless it was sliced and on a panini, or a pizza. We drank too much wine and Jacey entertained us with a YouTube search for videos of cats.

So here I sit watching This Old House.


Poem Wanted

As I lay trying to fall asleep last night, I began imagining one of the student recitals that we will be hosting for Nettl's voice studio in Vienna. I saw and heard it quite clearly, the entrance of arriving guests, the buzz of conversation with frequent outbreaks of laughter, the clinking of glasses... It was very clear.

Later, I imagined accompanying Nettl on one of my compositions and suddenly a new melody sprung to my mind. As usual, it began as a simple tune, but as I lay working with it in my mind, it soon developed harmony and structure. Well, there was no going to sleep with all that going on in my head, so I got up and crept downstairs to the piano, where I wrote out the best of what I'd created. Just the simply melody of the final twelve measures.

I intend to work on it over the weekend, but I need to find a text.
  • Key: G-major
  • Time Signature: Common time (4/4)
  • Tempo: Adagio
  • Text: I'd like to find a poem that contains a sense of wistful longing.
Any ideas? Do you have a poem you would like set to music and sung by one of the most beautiful Lyric Mezzo voices out there?

Es ist der Vollkommene Tag...

It's the perfect day to sit in Cafe Diglas with my journal and favorite fountain pen, drinking a Melange and enjoying some rich, chocolaty Viennese confection. After a couple of hours I would gather my things, open my umbrella and make my way back home, where I'd pour a glass of red wine and sit down at the piano to work on my Schumann.

It's gray and threatening rain outside, weather that always makes me homesick for Vienna.

More pictures...

Friday's Feast

Using only one word, how does grocery shopping make you feel?


What is your favorite part about the autumn season?

I like the cooler temperatures and that the house is quieter (no AC coming on)...


Screenplay Block

If it seems that I'm blogging more the past two weeks it's only because, well, I am. I have a severe case of screenplay block at present and I learned long ago to simply go with it when it happens. "You can't push the river" as the saying goes. To try to do so results only in more frustration...

Addio il Grande Pavarotti!

The great tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, has died at his home in Modena, Italy. One of the reasons I wanted to be a famous composer was so that he would invite me to his home, where he loved to cook meals for his guests. He'd show me his horses, critique my music, give me tip on writing for tenors, we'd consume a couple of bottles of chianti, and I'd leave with his recipe for Spaghetti Bolognese.

Pavarotti's talent will be missed. A humane and generous man, we will be the poorer for having lost him. Still, the world is richer for having had him at all...


Top Chef: The Good, The Bad & The Sweaty

I knew this would be Howie's week to pack his knives and go. In fact, I was surprised when Tre was asked to leave at the end of the last show, and Howie remained.

Howie. The man I'd expect to see cooking at Rib Crib or Ruby Tuesday's. The man who would keep me away from those places, not because of his culinary skills, but because of the way he poured his sweat into every dish he made. Literally

Anthony Bourdain's weekly blog on each episode of Top Chef is always a great and entertaining read. Tonight he put Howie on the psychiatric couch and I suspect he's spot on with his analysis, but still. I wasn't asking Howie to confront and battle his inner demons, or go within and nurture his hurt inner child, all I was asking was for him to buy a sweat band.


Where's the Irish Mafia When You Need Them?

Sometimes I wonder where all the asshats in the world come from. Those people who never think beyond their own genitalia to realize that there are other people in the world. No wonder there's war. As long as there are these kind of people, there will be those of us who get pissed off at them one too many times. One only has so much patience you know...

I Never Sat on the Senior Lawn

I've been thinking about this entry for a few days. I explore a lot of weblogs throughout the day. In fact, one of my favorite things to do when my health nails me to my chair is to "follow my nose" through Blogsville. I'll go to one of my favorite blogs and make my way through their blogroll. Sometimes I'll wind up several blogs away exploring neighborhoods I never knew existed. When I find a blog I really like, I put it on my own blogroll. I also like wending my way through Blog Catalog, a kind of guided tour of the blogging universe.

I don't build my blogroll to act as a popularity meter. It's my working atlas through blogs that I read each and every day and as such I keep it tidy. Here is a small list that I hope will explain things:
  • Mine is not necessarily a reciprocol blogroll. Sorry.
  • If I like your blog well enough to check it out every morning, it will be linked.
  • If you do not update your blog within a couple of months, it will be deleted.
  • If you are on hiatus your blog will be deleted, but I will bookmark your feed so that I'll know when you return. I will then link to you again.
  • If I comment on your blog a number of times and you do not respond to my comments, but do respond to the comments of others, you will be deleted. It's kind of like being shunned at a party.
  • If your blog isn't exactly my cup of tea, but there is a rapport between us and you've blogrolled me, I will gladly reciprocate.
That's it, I think. I'm not into the popularity thing, I prefer a small collection of blogs that I really enjoy reading over a sidebar full of meaningless links. I see it kind of like this: just because I overhear a conversation at the store, I don't go adding that person to my address book. That requires an introduction, some conversation and the possibility of further sharing. When I find a blog that I like it's like meeting someone I'd like to get to know better. If it happens, groovy. If not, no big deal.

All this having been said, I'd like to introduce you to 4 new (to me) blogs that I think are worth checking out:

Down With Pants: Brian lives in my old town of Ventura. That alone would be good enough, but his observations about life there are spot-on and funny. His blog lessens the miles between Oklahoma and the Land of the Lotus Eaters.

Eavesdrop Writer: What a great idea! Vienne hears snips of conversation around her and retells them in a way that always encourages thought and introspection. Her writing style is sensitive and she never tells the reader what to think.

Merisi's Vienna For Beginners: Merisi doesn't consider herself a photographer, but I beg to differ. Her photos reveal the real Vienna -- not the Vienna of tourism -- the Vienna of everyday life in the most beautiful city in the world.

Miss Meliss - Escribition: Miss Meliss is a working writer who writes about writing. Always informative, always thought-provoking, always on the precipice of being snarky, but never quite flipping into pithy cynicism. Interesting writing challenges, too.

I am currently building a page of the links that do not appear on my Blogroll.

That's all, folks!


'Tis the Last Grill of Summer

In our case it was the first as well as the last. Why? I usually grill a few times during a summer. Maybe it was the 40 days and 40 nights of rain. Maybe it was the triple digit heat. Maybe it was the mosquitoes. Maybe it was because I don't have a Cadillac grill. Most likely it was all of these. But this afternoon was a beer on the patio, burgers on the grill kind of affair and armed with a Bud and some Bug Out, I set about making the largest burgers you can imagine. I also had baked beans, potato salad and chips and dip.

We were going to have a watermelon seed spitting contest, but that's going to have to wait until tomorrow evening. Besides it being too damed hot, we all ran out of oomph as digestion set in. I took an hour-long nap on the sofa and when I woke up, all I wanted to do was come upstairs, put on my night clothes and kick back in front of the telly.

So here I am. Fat and indolent. I'd say it was a successful holiday.

Not Fair

On Friday evening, Nettl and I went to Bad Brad's for dinner. After our meal we decided to drop by the county fair, since we were on that end of town anyway and the weather was so nice...


The Sky is Falling!

Seems I'm writing about television lately. When you're in a precarious state of health, it's all too tempting to write and work from a comfortable chair than to sit at a desk. So sue me. I've always been able to do several things at once; I was one of those kids who could watch TV, listen to the radio, talk on the phone and do my homework simultaneously, while writing a new song on my guitar.

One of the things I've noticed of late is certain channels' predilection for sensationalizing so-called Acts of God: Mega-Disasters, It Could Happen Tomorrow, Last Days On Earth and Countdown To Doomsday, not to mention all of the disaster movies, which I won't bother to list because there are too damned many. And let's not forget all of the shows about the predictions of Nostradamus.

I propose that America is suffering from Henny Penny Syndrome, released upon us by the government to keep us in a state of fear so that we can't focus all of our attention on the corruption that has been given free reign amongst our national leaders. After all, there are greater, more pressing problems that we need to -- and can -- work out than worrying about the comet that MIGHT take us all out in 2013 IF it swerves so many degrees in the RIGHT direction, or the tsunami that MIGHT wipe out the entire eastern seaboard IF a certain mountain in Africa has a landslide in just the precise direction, at a particular speed.

But I hate politics and this isn't a political post. I just want to say that there are many mega-beneficial acts that nature performs, and it didn't happen yesterday, did it? And let's face it, nature isn't about or for us. It just is. Sometimes we're just in the wrong place at the wrong time and if it's going to happen, it's going to happen. There's nothing we can really do, so why fill our psyches with fear and worry?

Some people really do sit up worrying about these things. I'm not talking about those who have survived a disaster, or are in serious danger of something tragic happening in their area, I'm talking people who have nothing better to do than attach their fear of death (i.e. fear of life) to things they can't control. I know, because I'm one of those who, when a tsunami or an earthquake, or something of that nature happens, sits in front of the telly and watches the news with troubling fascination. There are some people who allow their fears to result in agoraphobia, and that's sad, because there are so many great things out there in nature and an individual's chances of being hit by a natural disaster are actually very small.

Being a native southern Californian, living in Tornado Alley for the past seven years has been good for me. I've been through countless earthquakes, so I know that most of them are barely even felt. In my 55 years only one earthquake I've experienced did any "damage". A picture fell off the wall. And I've yet to see a tornado. I stay aware when spring and fall come around, but I don't focus on the "what ifs". Preparation, not phobic self-torture, is best.