"Look Up High!"

It was my dad who taught me to look up. I remember sitting on the front porch with him on a summer night in Solvang. I must have only been eight years old. An inventor, he'd built himself a telescope through which he showed me Jupiter and some of its moons, as well as the craters on our own moon. He told me the Pleiades were also called the Seven Sisters and pointed out to me the different constellations. Then, as he took a drag off of his Pall Mall cigarette, he said something that I've never forgotten, something I hear every time I'm outside looking up at the stars...


10 Things Real Estate Agents Must Get Sick of Hearing

I watch a bit of HGTV. Most of the shows bore me, so I don't watch them, but I do like Househunters and Househunters International. Watching these shows I've come to realize that people are the same everywhere and that there are certain things home buyers always say, things that must drive real estate agents nuts...



Ah, now. This is much better. In my hammock working on my screenplay with Mark Tillman on the stereo and a cold Corona beside me.

Now this is restorative...

All Used Up

I have nothing left. I'm not only burned out from the past week, but from an entire life of abuses, caretaking, drama, and trauma. My health is bad, I've not accomplished the things I've worked for and, frankly, I'm not a bottomless well. I can't even be a cheerleader for myself right now, much less everyone else. I feel like a vending machine that no one has refilled and that whenever someone comes to get something and finds it empty, they kick and pound it, forcing it to give up a supply it just doesn't have...


Happy Anniversary to Us!

In my life I've made exactly two really smart decisions: One, I joined my life with Nettl's and two, I gave her complete control of the money.

On this day in 2001, Nettl and I were joined in a Holy Union service at College Hill Presbyterian Church by Rev. Radford Rader, in the presence of family and friends.

The only "bad" decision we made about that day was the actual date. We didn't realize that it was Memorial Day weekend and that in a few years we'd have a number of graduations to attend, all of which would deny us the ability to get away for the weekend. We have yet to really celebrate our anniversary like most couples; seems there's always someone or something else to do for.

The next step is to actually be recognized by our country as having been "created equal".

Happy Anniversary Lynette! Whether or not our commitment is recognized has no bearing on its validity and the immense love and dedication we have for each other.


Top Steph-Where Are the Judges?

Sorry I've been incommunicado this week, but I really am busy. Still, I thought that I'd share with you the menu I'm preparing for Heather's graduation party. Because she likes all things Anime, I decided on a mostly Asian theme. I promise I'll be back to Blogsville on Saturday...


The Busiest Time of Every Year

Not much time to blog this week. Friday night is Heather's graduation and I'm really busy getting ready for her party. This involves both indoor and outdoor chores, plus, we have to get ready for Nathan's summer with us (he's coming on Friday as well) and Lauren's return from her year in Brittany (in a few short weeks). Lots to do!


Cats and Ladders

The weekend was all about gardening, decorating the patio, watching the two little swallows that have built their nest in a corner of it, and laughing at the cat who knows she can't get to them. Mostly, for me, it was about trying to get my lazy butt out of the hammock.

Yesterday I was up and down the ladder putting up a new strand of lights. There are things to do before Heather's graduation party this coming Friday night.

Last night I dreamed of cats and ladders, so I was really happy when I found this painting by Brazilian artist Marcio Melo called, appropriately enough, "Cats and Ladders".


Some People Should Not Be Thawed

MTV animation Beavis And Butthead is set to be the latest TV series to make it to the big screen. The show was broadcast on the network in the 1990s, and creator Mike Judge concedes he's now ready for a live-action revival.

He says, "For some reason, I used to hate the idea for years. Now, I think maybe there's something there." Judge adds at one point in the 1990s Johnny Depp wanted to play Beavis...


Your Turn

This time, I'm going to ask you a question and you can tell me the story.

Why do I always think of Marilyn Monroe when I eat a salami sandwich?


Now This is Cool

I love having books in the downstairs powder room. I think it's fun for guests. Some of the books that I've put there include a book about shoes (nothing but pictures of shoes through history), a book of dirty limericks, travel books, and a little book of Mozart trivia. Oh yeah, I really love trivia, so this book is sure to join my collection. Here's a sampling...


From the WTF Files I give you Roger McMillian & Kieran Maye

Well, it seems that life in a small, respectable city in the buckle of the Bible Belt grants no guarantees. Of course, I've known all along that people are people regardless of where they set up shop and that those who think they have power never change their M.O.

Remember Oklahoma judge Donald Thompson, who got caught using a sexual device under his robes while hearing cases in the courtroom? Well, we have another winner, this time here in Stillwater.

Mayor Roger McMillian is being sued for sexual harassment by three of his employees at the Stillwater branch of The Bank, N.A., stating that he was guilty of creating a sexually-charged workplace and hostile work environment, and that “it was necessary for women to grant sexual favors to McMillian for professional advancement.”...


Conceding to Defeat Isn't Easy

It's ironic that my last post was about blindness, because yesterday afternoon I got a last-minute call from Maestro Lawlor, who told me he was in a real bind and needed a page turner for the pianist who accompanies the Stillwater Chamber Singers. I wasn't feeling well (I haven't felt well in weeks), but seeing an opportunity to do something for him, I said that I'd be happy to do it...


Seeing is Believing

I love to learn new scientific reasons not to buy into old religious hype. Take the miracle of Jesus making the blind man see. Did you know that even if he had performed this act, the man still wouldn't see like we do? He'd still need a cane even if he had the benefits of modern surgery and eyewear.

The problem doesn't lay in Jesus healing the man's eyes, it's in the brain itself. Instead of laying his hands on the man's eyes, he would have had to lay them on his head because vision is more about the brain than the actual eyes. See?

Since infancy, our brain is constantly learning new shapes, dimensions and colors and putting those together with words. How do we know that a cup, for instance, is a cup? Our brain catalogs everything the eye sees that relate to the word, "cup" and stores that away for future reference. This is an integral part of our early life and if a person, say our friend the Blind Man, doesn't go through this in his childhood, he's not going to recognize anything.

I saw a special on telly a few weeks ago that demonstrated this, using a man who had been blind for 40 years. After undergoing stem cell surgery, all he saw was weird, blurry amorphous shapes. While walking outside, he still needed a cane because his brain had never learned how to discern distance and depth perception. His vision did not include spacial relationships. When coming upon a curb, he saw it as flat and had to teach himself to step up or down, as the case may be.
Michael May's sight is skewed. He can see things well, but he doesn't understand the language of the visual world. He has trouble recognizing objects and faces and things that take a lot of experience to make sense of.

"Taking off the bandages was a very new vista," May said. "First thing I saw was this whoosh of light and black and white instruments in the exam room and my wife." But even after seeing his wife's face, and his son's faces, May can't readily recognize them. Mike has the same experience with faces as some may have with distinguishing sheep. To him, human faces all look alike. Doctor Ione Fine has been tracking May's vision since the surgery. She says visual pathways in the brain withered from lack of use.

Three years after his surgery, May still walks like a blind man—relying on a cane rather than his eyes.

"If I was using my eyes for mobility, I'd have to be looking all the time: Is that a shadow? Is that a curb," he said. "And it would be so much hard work."
I found this fascinating. Jesus making the blind man see is one thing, but making his brain pick up on all that lost information and patterning would have been a real miracle.

Quoted text source


Saturday Story Time: Altered States

I don't remember if I was actually there or not (Ville can let us know when she visits here). That's the way it was in the mid-to-late 80s: I remember a great many things that I never actually experienced because my large circle of friends (La Boheme) had a lot of tales to tell from both the past and the then present. We were a colorful lot of young to youngish people who were dedicated to taking in all that life had to offer. In that regard, I experienced more of the 60s in the 80s than I actually did in the 60s...


One View Short of Paradise

The only thing that could possibly improve my present situation (that is, lying in my hammock working on my clients' sites in 70-plus degree weather) would be if the vista beyond my feet was the Gulf of Mexico or the South Pacific. But who's complaining?

After several days and nights of thunderstorms, torrential rains and tornado warnings, it's nice to be outside again, listening to music mixed with the fountain and the chirping of the Martins who have built their nest (once again) under the eaves of the house next door. Sometimes they fly up under our patio to roost on the blades of the ceiling fan, which drives the cat nuts. There is a privacy fence between that house and ours and the birds like to sit there as well and tease the cat, who crouches beneath a patio chair just 8 feet away.

Well, back to work. I'm kind of wanting to change the look of this blog for the summer...

Out of the Blue

Suddenly, I'm swamped with web design work. Over the last two days I've worked for three different clients from 9 in the morning to 3 a.m. the next morning. Business lunch, emails, phone calls, and did I mention that I was also interviewed by Newsweek?

Well, that wasn't related to web design, but it added to the soup. I didn't even have time to post an entry yesterday. But it's officially the weekend and I have plans for that hammock on our patio and the six-pack of beer in the fridge.


A New (to me) Book Meme

Hat tip to CJ Hill at Dustbury for this.

"What we have here is the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish."

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked: the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian: a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela's Ashes: a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People's History of the United States: 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake: a novel
Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics: a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity's Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood: a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Are these really the least read books? Unbelievable!

Weird Dreams Redux

I'm back to having vivid dreams every night. Night before last it was something about a native American spirit guide and last night I was on stage with Arlo Guthrie and his touring group. I had a great time playing a 12-string guitar and singing, but I'd forgotten my guitar strap and all of my picks were too thin. After the concert, we went to a backyard pool party at Judy Collins' house. Joan Baez also was there...


Doc Tease

Why do doctors do the things they do? Why, when I saw my doctor last month, did she give me free samples of Celebrex for the deteriorating disks in my lower back, knowing that I can't afford a prescription? For a month I knew what it was like to be pain-free, and now it's back. This is blinding, chronic pain that I've had for nearly ten years.

What a cruel tease that was.


A Hammock of One's Own

Yesterday, Nettl and I spent the afternoon getting our patio set up for summer. The fountain was cleaned and filled, the floor was swept and washed and the chairs were cleaned. We want to get a cocktail table and a new BBQ/smoker. More flowers will be added and the new ones will flourish and grow. Our newest addition is this hammock, which was installed beside the jasmine that I planted last year and which survived the winter. I anticipate many pleasant hours ahead.


Flutes, Bells & Oh My God, Is That Girl Topless?!

Last night we attended a performance of Mozart's The Magic Flute in Tulsa. At curtain rise there was an audible gasp from the audience as we got our first glimpse of the stage. Set in the Amazon rain forest (it's usually set in Egypt or there abouts), it was as timely a location as the maestro could have wished. The stage was lush with green, verdant jungle, vines, mossy outcroppings, ancient trees, caves, and paths leading into humid, moonlit places beyond; even the lighting was dappled and mysterious. This is set designer Boyd Ostroff's Tulsa premier; he has not disappointed!...


Friday Happs

Tonight we're going to see Mozart's Die Zauberflöte in Tulsa. The Tulsa Opera is a great company. I've thoroughly enjoyed every production I've seen there, better, even, than other places, including the Met. It remembers that opera is supposed to be about enjoying opera, not about the elitist crap I've encountered elsewhere. You can hear clips from the performance here. Nettl and I are taking Heather with us as part of her graduation gift; hopefully, it will include a late dinner afterward. Tulsa could learn more about after-hours dining that doesn't offer only 24-hour family restaurants.

Last night we had a hell of a storm. They even issued a tornado warning, but as usually happens, today the sky is clear, the wind is gone and it's already getting warm.

Yesterday's trip to Guthrie to sell the Ford went okay, although I had to sit outside the garage for two hours waiting for the owner to show up. The note on his door said that he was on a tow job. I took highway 33 home, instead of the interstate, which was a beautiful drive.

Is it just me, or does that silhouette look like Alfred Hitchcock is starring as the Queen of the Night?


Simple Pleasures

There are few morning experiences better than that first cup of coffee. For me, this is only enhanced by taking my coffee in a smooth, white ceramic coffee bowl and saucer. I like the way the light reflects off of it and I like the feel of the cup between my lips. The coffee even tastes purer and cleaner somehow; the non-porous surface doesn't gather coffee essences like most mugs do. At least that how it seems.

Nettl and I went to Linens N' Things last night and found the cups I've always wanted, so we bought some. And now I'm going downstairs for a refill.