Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Everyone has an opinion and they want to share it. We've merchandised our First Amendment rights on any number of products including billboards, refrigerator magnets, car magnets, license plates, hats, caps, and t-shirts.

I saw a provocative t-shirt recently that said "Walk with us or stand in our shadow." I couldn't figure out what their agenda might be and I looked on the web, but I found no exact references. There were variations but none seemed to be quite the same thing. I wonder why that person was wearing such a statement, but it annoyed me because the conformity that it suggested spoke to my inner rebel. I find the notion that someone should be marginalized if they don't submit to the dictates of another to be offensive to my sense of fair play.Do they want it to be 1984 where everyone must be controlled or fit predetermined criteria? Or do we all need to be Stepford Wives and become conforming robots? Viva la difference in my opinion. It seems simple-minded to want everyone to be the same. Benefit of the doubt suggests maybe the person belonged to a walking club, but I suspected it was either a political or religious statement. It sounded so controlling--do as we say, or you are unimportant. Yes, everyone has an opinion and it's worth what you pay for it.

Even so, one of life's small pleasures is reading T-shirts even when they offend my sensibilities. I've collected far too many of my own that I don't even wear.This isn't the only country that announces its opinion everywhere, but there are some countries where one could end in prison for wearing his/her opinions. This makes it even more delicious to be a rebel in a country where we can openly flaunt our views. When on a trip, it is too, too tempting to buy a few, especially some that are funny or profound. We were very amused with both the front and the back of this one that we found in Russia.

In London, the Underground or the Tube sometimes stops at stations where the platform is curved so there is literally a gap to step to the platform. An announcement warns "Mind the Gap". The T-shirt has at the bottom, small print that proclaims that the slogan is "Copyright London Regional Transport." It isn't to be confused with a department store.

We went to Hell and back in the Cayman Islands. We visited a tourist shop called Devil's Hangout in the town of Hell, Grand Cayman. I have the t-shirt as well as the salt and pepper shakers to prove it.

Being a retired person, I couldn't resist this t-shirt. I also like my hubby's cap that says, "I'm retired, this is as dressed up as I get."

I'm trying to swear off this little hobby/obsession of collecting too many t-shirts, but I had to giggle at these possibilities found at various sites around the web.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Storage and "Stuff"

Today, The One-Minute Writer asked, "What would you like to put into storage?" I was instantly reminded of George Carlin's routine about his "Stuff".

Asking a pack rat like me to name what I would want to put into storage is a little like Pandora's Box in reverse. There are so many things that I would like to eliminate, but putting them into storage would imply that I might want them again later. Many things that I would want to eliminate are so private and personal that this isn't the forum. Personality issues like anger or insecurity might be a burden to bear, but to put them into storage would be denying part of ourselves. Personally, I just try to cope with those and put them on the back burner to keep them tamed.

To name the physical "stuff" I would want to put into storage would create a long list. As a habitual pack rat, I find it hard to put things into storage. It makes me think of those storage rental companies with storage units where I would have to drive over to look at my "stuff." I don't hoard, but when I keep something, I feel I have a good reason. If I want to retrieve something again later, I keep it close and I don't think of it as storage. I could open a store and call it R.J.'s Attic, Basement and Garage if I wanted to cash in on all the "stuff" I keep around my house. However, I doubt that anyone would want any of my "stuff" so I haven't tried to auction any of it on eBay. I keep my "stuff" because it has meaning to me.

For example, I used to sew, but I stopped. I used to make dresses, vests, and apparel that would cease to be in style, so those clothes went into a back closet. I couldn't bear to throw them away or give them away, because I had spent a lot of time and effort making them exactly as I wanted, which made me emotionally attached to my clothes. Since I don't have unlimited space to store clothes, I stopped making my clothes.

Digital storage is most important to me. I love photos and collect endlessly so data storage of photos would appeal most to me. Since I began using digital cameras, the convenience of loading photos to a computer has astounded me. It makes me want to gather all of my slides and negatives from the past to store them in a digital format also. It would be a daunting task time-wise but it is a long term goal of mine.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Vail Yardstick

Around our house, the yardstick by which we measure all snow storms is a Vail blizzard we experienced in the early 1970's. We drove at night, in a blizzard from Vail, Colorado to Breckenridge "back in the day" when we were young and stupid. This morning, hubby bravely went out in the car on the streets near Philly and returned to say, "It isn't Vail yet." By late afternoon, Feb. 10, 2010, we reached Vail status, including the white-out and wind. The only thing missing is the cliff off the side of the road that we traveled on that nerve-racking trip. I'm trying to stay out of trouble during this blizzard.

What the Heck!

Hey, I'm lazy,
So sue me!
My couch potato status
Is rivaled by none.

Don't need accolades,
Don't need praise,
Don't want money,
Don't want fame.

Last time I worked,
I wasn't impressed.
It left me feeling dread,
Of more the next day.

So what to do instead?
Inscribe a book?
Fracture a poem?
Concoct a blog?

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Curmudgeon

The Portable Curmudgeon is a favorite book because it makes me laugh at the silliness of people and life. Like Maxine from Crabby Road, it makes it almost acceptable to be a little bit grouchy. The humor from either is hard to equal, but everyone can be a critic.

The One Minute Writer had a great prompt today to write about whatever annoys one online or in e-mail. That subject is worthy of a book or two. I usually deal with the bumps in the information superhighway by ignoring it, mentally rejecting it, or deleting it. When I think about it, a few pesky features online can get a rise from my anger meter.

One of my greatest pet peeves is spam in my e-mail. I have the spam filter turned on, but the sneaky e-mails masquerade as a person that has a sender name the same as a person in my address book so I open it thinking the person that I know sent it. I can't imagine how they think I would buy anything when they make me angry.

When people send me e-mail about religion or politics, that really annoys me. If I regularly get e-mail from them, I probably already know what they
think about those issues and they probably already know what I think about those issues. Nagging me with their views isn't going to change my views; it is only going to make me angry that they would think my opinions are less important than theirs. If I want their opinion, I'll ask for it. It does irreparable harm to relationships. Underlying the message is the assumption that they are right and if I disagree, I must be wrong. I'm not that easily manipulated; propaganda doesn't work. The assumption that they are preaching to the choir is insulting.

I don't mind the forwarded e-mails if they are funny. I don't respond to requests or threats that an e-mail has to be sent to ten more
people. I don't waste my time sending forwarded e-mails to a blanket mailing of my address book. If I think it is appropriate, I sometimes send it to a person that I think might be interested.

I can't leave the subject without venting about the destruction of the English language online. It marks my age, but I believe in preserving
communication that uses capital letters, punctuation and appropriate usage. I'm not referring to the occasional misspelled word, or typographical error that can happen to anyone. I choose not to text on cell phones and rebel against the shorthand that has evolved. I prefer to see complete sentences and I prefer to see acronyms kept to a minimum.

Often e-mails are forwarded that warn folks that gas tanks will blow up or microwaved hot water will explode, etc. It would be better if the sender spent her/his time checking the facts on before mass e-mailing an urban myth.

I don't mind if people want to be anonymous online, but I consider it cowardly if it is used to hide an identity when posting foul, judgmental, and insulting personal comments, whether it is a response to an article on a news site, or anywhere for that matter. It really isn't productive to the public dialogue. Maybe it makes someone feel important to bleed venom all over the Internet. No one respects the opinion of someone who can't disagree in a civil manner.

Thanks to the One Minute Writer--my anger boiled over and ran dry.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


The blizzard of Feb. 6, 2010, southeast Pennsylvania

Let's have lunch on the deck today!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Bridge

The bridge is long, tall, and the water is deep. It stands very gray and forbidding in a stormy night not fit for "man nor beast". As we start to cross the bridge, the deck can be seen stretching on in the distance, lit by some unknown source. The deck appears to be sections of macadam divided by grids of steel. The churning water below creates a foggy mist. As we reach the bridge midway, the deck starts to give way and begins to fall, and fall, and fall to splash into the cold, empty darkness. I remember thinking I can swim, but there is sharp debris everywhere. No matter which way I turn, there are obstacles. I feel very strong and confident anyway. I claw my way toward the direction I think is the shore. It makes no difference which direction I swim, whether back to the beginning shore, or onward to the other side. As I reach the shore, I am weary and drag my way onto the small stones and gravel on the beach. I look up to the area where the remaining bridge sways by mangled sections with a partial portion of deck still standing near the cliffs on both sides. I am elated that I escaped seemingly unscathed on the same side of the bridge where the crossing began. Suddenly, very strong arms drag me back toward the water and plunge me into its depths again.

That's when my self-preservation kicks in, and I wake myself from the nightmare that has visited me periodically for over sixty years. I haven't a clue where this strange dream originates from my strange mind, or why it appears when it does, but no psychological analysis cou
ches for me. It happens when it happens. I find it strange that I am always viewing the same bridge in living color and looking toward it in the left of my vision. It sounds like a puzzle that House would love to tackle. Brain chemistry is such a mystery. It is fascinating to me that I have that particular recurring dream as well as several others. It isn't particularly upsetting as much as puzzling. I wake up thinking, Okay, that one again. There is no compelling urge to either explain it or stop it. After reading much literature on the subject of dreams, one thing is obvious, a lot of disagreement exists by the so-called experts on the art (not science) of interpreting dreams. I remain a skeptic.

The video above was taken of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse, also called Galloping Gertie, of 1940. It opened in July 1, 1940 and collapsed into Puget Sound in November 7, 1940. I don't think my dream is related to that event, but it seems similar. Perhaps I saw films of it as a child and my imagination added to it. I'm not afraid of bridges; no vertigo for me. I think they are beautiful structures and I cross my fingers that all the decimals were in the right places when a bridge was constructed. I am eager to see the bridge in the photo below in its completed glory. This bridge was under construction near Hoover Dam when I last saw it.

My favorite bridge to date has to be the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado.