Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shame of Place

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," coming to you from the "Smokestack State" since 2005! I'm your hostess, Anne, and I live in New Jersey, USA. We just had a hurricane, and it was awful.

Lately I have been thinking a good bit about place. What happens if you find yourself living somewhere, and the people there don't share your values ... and you don't share theirs?

I think of this because we Northerners stereotype the American South as if the Civil War was still raging. It's Crackerville, it's the Bible Belt, it's the land of Honey Boo Boo and universities that did not admit minorities until the National Guard showed up with tear gas. It's the locus of violent reprisals against peaceful civil rights marches and the region that gives us country music.

This is partly on my mind because today I was discussing the death penalty with my sophomores, and certain states kept popping up. Georgia. Florida. Texas. Lots of other states allow the death penalty (including Pennsylvania), but it seems like Florida and Texas especially actually pull the switch. Often.

My own forays into the South have ended at the state line of South Carolina. It just felt prudent for me to turn around and head back to colder climes.

After the presidential election, many maps showed a distinct Southern bias against President Obama. (Actually it turns out that the bias is more rural than regional.) Facebook abounds with vitriol against Dixie, and I confess I snicker at it frequently.

Then, somewhere, I read a comment from someone who actually lives in the South and is an ardent Obama supporter. Point of fact, I know that one of my readers lives in the South and is a cheeky liberal.

It must be Hell on Earth to be stuck in an area where you disagree vehemently with almost everyone around you, and the local traditions make you sick, and you feel that you're being discriminated against or at least dismissed. Alabama liberal, I feel your pain. Every time you get into the car, you get smacked with Lynyrd Skynyrd lovin' the guvnor. Every corner a church. Every store a Walmart. And you're wiser than all of this ... maybe even a Pagan ... and you are stuck due to family ties, or work ties, or just inertia. Texas, I feel your pain. Electric chair working overtime, who cares if the poor defendant is guilty?

I used to hate New Jersey because it is so flat (mostly) and so crowded (truly), and so chock-a-block with industrial plants both active and inactive. But at least, in such a crowded state, it's possible to find like-minded individuals (many) and whole sections of roadway that are church-free. I don't think anyone would argue that it's easier to be Pagan in New Jersey than it would be in Georgia.

Am I as much of a bigot as everyone else if I express sympathy for Southerners who don't tear up at the sound of "Bonnie Blue Flag?" Are there more of these people than I think, based on my very unscientific collection of data from individuals?

I don't know, but all I'll say is this: If you find yourself living in a place where you feel like you don't belong, hold up your chin. It's your place too. You don't need to change the world, or change your location. To thine own self be true -- start there.

Hell is not in my future, but if I found myself in Hell, I would work at it until I made the best of it. Trust me, if you can find one thing to like about New Jersey, you could pretty much tolerate any chunk of the entire US of A.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Interview with a Bored God: Mammon

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Thanksgiving edition 2012! We had a lovely feast here at Chateau Johnson. In addition to my hardy mother-in-law, we were joined by the husband-and-wife sculptors who have hired The Heir as an assistant. They snapped this photo of the lot of us, missing only our kitty cat Alpha and the perpetually pissed off parrot, Decibel.

Thanksgiving is remarkable in that it is tied to no particular deity. Oh sure, there's that myth about the Pilgrims and the Indians, but it wasn't until the 1930s that the holiday became official. Having been created by the government, Thanksgiving is open to all the bored gods, as well as the busy one.

Speaking of bored gods, I have a visitor here with me today on Black Friday who thinks He doesn't get credit where credit is due. Please give a tepid and disdainful "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Mammon, God of Excess.

Anne: Hello, Mammon ... I suppose. What's that you're carrying? It looks heavy.

Mammon: These? These are my latest Black Friday circulars. Look, Anne! Deals! Deals! Deals!

Anne: You must really be bored to be spending time with me today. I've got one thing to purchase: a new tire. Why aren't you up at Best Buy?

Mammon: If only! Those idiots in the tents don't know they're praising and worshiping me! They think they're just chasing bargains. I hate being ignored.

Anne:  You must really boil when you see all the wretched excess spending in this nation, and no one gives you credit for it.

Mammon: They could throw me a feast, you know. The Romans gave credit where credit is due.

Anne: ... Thus paving the way for a prophet like Jesus who touted sharing and self-denial.

Mammon: Rub it in, why don'tcha. Greed is good.

Anne: Greed without compassion is a great evil. Trust me, if I wasn't so worn out from preparing yesterday's Thanksgiving feast, I would be picketing Walmart today.

Mammon: Walmart ... ahhhhhh .... Walton clan .... mmmmmm (drools)

Anne: Look what you're doing to my upholstery! Get outta here! Go be bored at the mall!

Mammon: Yeah, I can see this isn't a good fit. I wish the right people would be on the lookout for bored gods.

Anne: I'm the right person for this job. Tough beans, Mammon. I'm not promoting your stinking agenda. It doesn't serve the greater good. Oh, wait! You're a deity! Fix that upholstery stain before you go.

Mammon: Hold on and I'll give you an estimate.

Anne: STUFF YOUR ESTIMATE! Just go! You are in the wrongest of wrong places on a day when there are so many other places you could be! Hey! What are you doing with Mr. J's apple pie! Damn it!

Readers, can you believe it? He ate three quarters of a pie in one despicable gulp. And this deity drool on the chintz... it's a Black Friday indeed!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh Please, Like We Won't Have Twinkies!

The companies that bought Hostess face a daunting reality. People just don't buy Twinkies and Wonder Bread like they did back in the day when I was young. But soft (for a millennium), dear reader. Both products are still popular and still rolling off the shelves.

We are seeing here another case of union-busting. Owners make unreasonable demands that workers cannot accept. Bankruptcy is declared, and the "new owners" hire back the old workers with all the concessions and more. This is not good faith collective bargaining. It is despicable.

The workers at Hostess were fully aware of the depressed sales. I'm sure they would have been willing to negotiate a fair collective bargaining agreement. In this national climate, however, they never got a chance.

If the Hostess workers go back to their factories at pennies on the dollar, you should really forgo those snack cakes and Wonder Bread. What, you don't stock your pantry with such toxic waste? Me neither!

Still, we love our sweet stuff, don't we? If the Hostess workers get a fair contract, we'll need to buy Twinkies to support the cause!

How can we do that and not kill ourselves with Twinkies? Which, if you'll pardon me, are about the most unhealthy food product available to humankind.

BETTER USES FOR TWINKIES: FREE ADVICE!

1. Draft dodgers: Place those puppies end-to-end at the doors to your house to keep out the cold air.

2. Squirrels getting on your bird feeder? Put out a box of Twinkies. A cruel way to end the lives of cute furry mammals, but hey. Birds gotta eat.

3. I'll bet the cream inside those things works just like WD40. Haven't put it to the test, but for a fair labor contract, I sure will try.

4. Create a time capsule for your back yard. Put in ten boxes of Twinkies. Your descendants will wonder why they are so intelligent, if this is what you did in your time.

5. Parrot food. If you are really sick of your parrot.

6. I'll bet crumbled Twinkies would make your sidewalk less slippery in an ice storm, if you scooped out the white stuff first.

7. Target practice.

8. Keep a box or two around to prove that you can bypass bad, sugary, carb-laden food for good, healthy food like turnips. Remember to buy new boxes and throw away the old ones unopened. I don't think there's much danger that vultures will eat Twinkies -- and if they do, they're probably the only creature that could digest the damn things without bodily harm.

9. Adopt one as a pet. They're the size of gerbils and would last just as long.

10. Okay, okay, if you must do something kinky with them, well ... maybe as a massage item, but I wouldn't be keen on oral. Just me, though. If you don't swallow, then maybe.

As usual with my free advice, I'm mindful that this economy stinks. Therefore, as part of my salary and benefit givebacks, I must pay you to take this advice. Send me an invoice care of my email.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Ten Things To Do on Black Friday That Won't Get You Near Walmart

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," waging war on Walmart since its first slimy minions slunk out of Bentonville, Arkansas! No sirreee, you will find no support of this despotic, underhanded, and business-killing behemoth here among the Old Ones!

I've just finished reading a few stories about the first stirrings of labor unrest at Walmart. A fraction of the company's million or more hopeless slaves "associates" will stage strikes or walk-outs on Black Friday!

Walmart, you've done it this time. The company has ordered workers to its stores on Thanksgiving Day, in order to sell, sell, sell ... get a foot up on the competitors, who at least have the decency to stay closed until midnight.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" can remember a day when local families owned local department stores. The big spoiler was a retailer named Sears. It started putting older business districts on the skids in the 1960s. And now look! Sears can't keep its head above the water either! On rolls Walmart, the only game in town in far, far, FAR too many places. The company pays so poorly that some of its workers get Medicaid, food stamps, and child support welfare. We're subsidizing that place. So whatever ducats you save getting stuff cheap there, you are putting out in your tax bill.

Enough common sense! Let's generate a list of fun things to do that are better than going to Walmart on Black Friday!

1. Search your house for each and every stray sock. Put them all in a huge pile, and sort them by size and relative color. Fold them neatly. Re-arrange your drawers so that everything is neat and tidy. Then start looking for stray change in the same manner.

2. If you have a cat or dog, comb out every single strand of hair that might get shed onto your carpet (or worse, your upholstery). Don't stop combing until no more fur gets caught in the comb! And don't be a cheater. Use a real cat comb ... not some thing you pull out of the bathroom that you would use on your wet hair.

3. Organize your grocery coupons and clipped recipes. Group the coupons according to product, in alphabetical order, then put them in chronological order with the nearest date of expiration first, and the latest date last.  Recipes should be laminated, alphabetized by category, and carefully placed into file folders. Don't stop there. Alphabetize your cookbooks and put sticky notes on the pages of your favorite recipes. As you do this, study other recipes in case you missed something easy and tasty. (Considering that you will be doing this the day after Thanksgiving, you won't be as hungry while doing it.)

4. Clean out your email queue. Open and read any email that you don't remember the contents of. Make new folders and sub-folders for family, friends, associates, fans of "The Gods Are Bored" and enemies. (Hopefully the last two don't overlap!) Individually contact everyone in your email box just to say howdy.

5. Re-read all the statuses on your Facebook and make new comments on them. Individually contact each Facebook friend you have and write him or her a thoughtful, personal note based on fond memories you share.

6. Oh, look, there's that neglected ukelele! Practice makes perfect! Just make sure that your quickly-departing house guests aren't planning to biff off to Walmart!

7. Try on your Ren Faire/Fairy Festival/Pagan/Steampunk/LARP outfits and model them for an appreciative partner. If your partner is not sufficiently appreciative, sulk. If your partner is appreciative, switch on the Marvin Gaye music and ... mmmMMMMMMMmmmmm! Sexual healing, baby.

8. Repeat #7 as needed.

9. Enough with the factory-made sequins! Hand-sew those puppies onto your favorite costume! You only have 335 days until the next Halloween, so get cracking.

10. Put on your coat, your hat, your scarf, your sturdy boots. Seek out the small, local merchants ... the local farm store ... the local thrift store ... the crafter, the corner pub. Tip liberally. Tie one on in time to go to your local tree-lighting ceremony. Everyone in town already knows you're crazy.

BONUS ACTIVITY THAT WILL KEEP YOU OUT OF WALMART ON BLACK FRIDAY

11. If there are job actions planned in your area, buy a humongous bag of bagels (local baker) and distribute them to the strikers. Walmart is the poster child for corporate greed, the visible Scrooge among us. Just in time for the holidays, let's resuscitate old Mr. Fezziwig and do it his way!

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Frank Talk about Sex with Your Biographer

Hello and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" A little sex talk today. Keeps us all young and grinning, don't you think?

Let me beat around the bush first ... tee hee ... double entendre ... playground humor ...

I'm rather opposed to biographies about people who are still active in their lives. We can't even count all the biographies of Barack Obama, and wow! He's just beginning a whole new four years of lively history-making work! In a previous incarnation I wrote biographies about people, and trust me, they get out-of-date fast, unless the subject of the biography is embalmed, entombed, or otherwise off the radar. Even then people can have a lasting impact on society -- but that is not necessarily the realm of the biographer.

All this is an introduction to my posing a question. Whose bright idea was it to send a married 40-year-old  woman with children to Afghanistan for a year of intense biographizing of General Petraeus? No-brainer, folks. I'm pretty much made of steel where extramarital activities are concerned, but put me in that situation, for a year, and whew! He's a pretty dynamic guy!

Let the record show that "The Gods Are Bored" understands the Petraeus situation to be beyond the capacity of almost any heterosexual couple to endure. Biographers have to be absolutely consumed by their subjects (try that with John Adams ... zzzzzZZZZZZzzzzz). Biographers also have to be single-mindedly delving into their subjects' lives, probing and interviewing, and interviewing, and interviewing. On the other side of the bed table sits the subject, who -- and I don't care if it's Big Bird, for the love of fruit flies -- absolutely loves all that attention.

It's very flattering to be so adoringly scrutinized. Add to that a gender difference and the fact that both biographer and subject are still ambulatory, and you've got a 90 percent fail rate for marital fidelity.

This may sound harsh, but I rather think it's both unprofessional and unneccessary to send a biographer on a year's trek through tough country in order to craft a biography. Presumably the man had a job to do, and to me it seems like no place for close scrutiny by a civilian. (The military's gonna get him on this, I'll bet.)

A little less colorful, perhaps, but just as biography-worthy, would have been the notion of actually interviewing people who worked with the general in Afghanistan. Or talking to the general about his exploits in the cozy anonymity of a Starbuck's. This is called being scholarly and professional, and it doesn't get your picture all over Facebook.

Don't know about you, but the most annoying part of this for me is that General Petraeus is still alive. Alive and kicking. And we're still fighting over there, and he was running the freaking CIA. As a subject of biography, he's not ready for prime time deployment.

To put an emphatic puch upon this sermon, let's just face facts. Biographies are single-focus, and if you're writing it, and you fall in love with your subject, then you wind up having to write about yourself. Because ... oh, you know what I'm going to say ... the next biographer is going to write about you, at length, and probably after your subject is buzzard bait. A tad embarrassing, that.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Navel Gazing under Friday Night Lights

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Hope all is well with you.

The more footage and stories that come in about the hurricane, the worse I feel. It's horrible to see so much destruction. I hope that when rebuilding begins, people will think twice about construction right on the beach. But the ruination goes far beyond the barrier islands. We took it on the chin here on the East Coast of the USA. It was bound to happen. The atmosphere and the water and the cold fronts are going to bring stormzillas from time to time.

And then there's the day-to-day living that people do in the danger zone.

Some of you three readers might remember that my best friend in these parts is a street poet that I call The Monkey Man. I call him this because he rides around on a bike with a monkey puppet and is friendly to everyone, especially little kids.

The Monkey Man lives in downtown Camden, New Jersey. Most everyone there loves him dearly. But one evening, as he stood at the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge admiring the sunset over Philadelphia across the river, someone (or more than one) attacked him from behind. He was severely beaten, and the assailants threw his monkey in the Delaware River. He was not robbed.

My friend required hospitalization. The story made the newspapers, and that is how I heard about it.

Well, that was a wake-up call for me. I've been so wound up in my own business for months that I have lost track of my local friends, principal among them the Monkey Man. So I invited him to dinner on a night when the Snobville Fighting Wombats had a football game. The Monkey Man graduated from Snobville High and retains a sporting interest in his hometown teams.

Last evening he arrived right on time, and I threw on a pretty good feed bag, chicken cordon bleu, topped off with a delicious red velvet cupcake. He was subdued during dinner. It's usually that way. When confined to a house he's mostly quiet.

Then we left for the game: Monkey Man, Heir, and me. And the puppets. Somehow the monkey had survived a dunking in the river and looked better than ever, like new, actually. The other puppet, Butchie the Wombat, is a fixture at football games.

Once out of the house, the Monkey Man got his game on. All of the curbs here in the neighborhood are piled with leaves. We have leaf collection here, and the sucker truck hasn't come yet. Monkey Man began by jumping in the leaf piles, then entertained the kids at the game better than the Wombats themselves. At one point, Butchie was being tossed so widely through the stands I was afraid he wouldn't make it back to the Monkey Man. But of course he did. The monkey chatted with everyone ... as always.

In Heir's era at Snobville High, most of the students were stand-offish towards the Monkey Man. But this new generation of youngsters are wonderful to him! They all seemed to know him, and one very nice student came up, shook his hand, and said, "Hope I'll see you in church soon." That kid's friends were all so kind and respectful. It was a lovely thing to see.

Of course Heir and I treated our Monkey Man like gold. We have known him more than ten years now. How time flies!

Snobville High basically got their hats handed to them by their opponents, the Blue Collarville Fighting Cacti. The Cacti are always a great team, hard to beat, and this game was no exception. Oh well, our cheerleaders were good.

We walked home to my house -- me, Monkey Man, and Heir. On the way we came to a gigantic leaf pile that we had missed on the way to the stadium. With a fine "whoop," Monkey Man fell over backwards into the leaf pile. I followed suit. It was a fabulous leaf pile! The leaves conformed to my back ... and we looked up at the stars. Heir just stood there staring at us. Finally we coaxed her to give it a try, but she was still hesitant. I guess leaf piles are like everything else -- you love them as a kid, you go through a stage where you lose touch with them, and then in late mid-life you re-discover your inner leaf-pile-jumper.

The only thing that coaxed us out of the leaf pile was the fact that the leaves underneath were damp. Finally we de-leafed, walked the rest of the way home, and bid farewell to the Monkey Man, who bundled his monkey and Butchie onto his bike and pedaled off toward Camden.

I'm so relieved that my friend hasn't lost his groove after being attacked. I hope it doesn't happen again. He lives in one of the most dangerous cities in America. Everyone knows him, but there are bound to be some haters ... some punks trying to get props ... some cowards acting on a dare. But so long as no one out-and-out kills him, his fine spirit will prevail. Camden needs him, and so do I.

Thus begins an intention to reconnect with the friends I have in this region. There's a pudgy cat at a local shop who hasn't gotten enough attention either. Time to venture out again with those I hold near and dear.

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Friday, November 09, 2012

Mummer Time!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," your equal opportunity blog! I'm Anne Johnson, and this is my space, and girls just wanna have fun!

When the days get short and the nights are long and cold, it's time to pull out the gold spray paint and the comfy shoes and prepare for another strut with the 2012 champion Two Street Stompers New Years Brigade! Now is that time when we gather at the clubhouse to turn in our "suit" money and talk about defending our Number One status.

I moved to the Philadelphia area in 1987 and immediately became fascinated by the annual Mummers Parade, held on New Year's Day. For two decades, this 8-hour-plus event was the perfect excuse to wrap up in a warm blanket by the cozy fire and watch the t.v. to see other people dancing in the streets.

Then something started to shift in my head. I began to think, "Why am I making ten trips to the wood pile on New Year's Day instead of dancing in the streets?"

The weather has gotten milder too, though you might not agree if you've just lived through a long power outage in the East.

Then something else shifted. My hip got so bad that I could hardly walk at all. I had surgery, and when I felt better, walking ... nay, strutting ... became a "must." No more sitting out the party!

First I tried to join a small comic brigade that one of Mr. J's friends is in. They said they didn't have room for me. Well, now, that's just silly. But in hindsight I'm blissful, because in that group you have to make your own suit.

It took me a few calls to the big comic clubs before I began to hear from brigades where the numbers are unlimited. All roads led to the Stompers. I didn't know how competitive they were when I joined. All I heard was the magic phrase: "We supply the suit." Followed by another that was music to my ears: "We only practice a few times."

I did my share of organizing, running, creating, directing, and otherwise managing stuff when I was younger. Now, all I want to do is write a check and be told what to do and when to do it. What a relief!

Here we are, the Two Street Stompers, in all of our 2012 finery:

No, I can't tell you where I am in that picture. Which is the whole point. Other than our handful of front wenches, we are all supposed to blend in together.

We get a new theme and new suits every year. But then we get to keep the suits and all the accessories. I've already started a personal museum in a nice, waterproof container. Let me just say that my grandchildren, if I ever have any, are going to have a treasure trove of amazing Halloween costumes.

I'm going to sign off now, because at last night's Stomper meeting, I bought a DVD of parade footage from 2012. I'm keen to watch it. Time to get pumped up for 2013.

And speaking of 2013, well, I can't wait for it to get here! It shows how little I think of all this "end of the world in 2012" talk, because I've invested in a parade that's scheduled to go off after the end of the world has come and gone.

Getting my strut together ... now.

Photo credit: CNB news.

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Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Oily Kitchen Witch: Pre-Holiday Profile

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Wow, that's a sexy headline, huh? Conjures up some fun times by the warm stove, mmmmm!

I don't do many product endorsements here, but the bored gods (rightly) urged me to bring to your attention the fine cooking oils of http://cucinaaurora.com/ Cucina Aurora.

EXHIBIT A: CUCINA AURORA (Cute guy not included, alas!)

Dawn lives in New Hampshire and runs a small business that produces cooking oils that are ritually prepared with spell work.

Last summer at the Central NJ PPD,  I tentatively purchased a bottle of garlic- and herb-infused olive oil for cooking as well as protective purposes. The product is phenomenal. Delicious. Literally you could saute a chicken breast in it with no other seasonings and have a fabulous meal. Lately I have basically been just pouring some of Dawn's oil into a pan and throwing whatever I happen to have in there.

Protection? Also excellent! I often just leave the bottle out on the kitchen counter. This one keeps all kinds of vampires at bay, and other evils as well.

Emboldened by the deliciousness of my first purchase, I spent more liberally on Dawn's products at the Witches' Ball a month ago. Basically I bought one of everything her reps had at the booth. All perform splendidly for both cooking and intentional spiritual work.

If you are like me, with absolutely no aptitude for herbal concoctions of any sort, I do hereby recommend Cucina Aurora for all your infused cooking oil needs! Tell her Anne sent you, and she'll have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, because my endorsements are not purchased ... and won't be until poverty so dictates.

With this post I'm embarking upon a little pre-Yule free advice on where to get good gifts for your near and dear. Cucina Aurora? You betcha! And don't be skimpy with the sundried tomato if you need the next payment on your Mummer suit!

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Early and Often

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," voting through cynicism since 1977! I'm your personal exit poll, Anne Johnson. Results from Johnson voting: Obama/Biden, 4. Romney/Ryan, 0.

This was a big election year for famille Johnson. For the very first time, all four members of this family were able to vote. My daughter The Heir is 23. My daughter The Spare is 18. I am #@@#, and Mr. J is #@@#$. All of voting age!

And it's a beautiful thing. No political quarrels in this cozy nest. Not only are we all blue voters, we are all quick blue voters. I'll bet Heir was not in the booth more than 10 seconds.

Here's how the Johnson voting went:

Mr. and Mrs. J had breakfast and voted in Snobville, our creaky old Chrysler eased in between two black Lexus SUVs. We did not have to wait in line.

Spare voted in Center City, Philadelphia. I think that is special. If we really actually had liberty in this nation, she would have been exercising the franchise in the crucible of democracy. Oh well, let me not be too cynical -- Spare was eager to exercise her rights. She knows her history and has strong opinions. I'm proud of her.

Heir is still registered to vote where she went to college -- a brilliantly red-glowing suburb way to the west of Philly. She and I got in the car and drove out there. Zip! One touch and done. So the Democratic candidates in that area got at least one vote. Can't say any more than that, considering the territory out there.

By the time you read this, you will know whether the Johnsons are celebrating or grieving.

And I seriously cannot believe we are facing another storm here in NJ. It's so cold out that this one will be snow. My heart goes out to all the people who haven't even gotten their power back on from the hurricane yet.

I hope you voted. Some day it might even count.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Those Thingies That Make Sure You Aren't a Robot

What are they called, captchas? All I know is, I have taken a wide poll amongst the bored gods. Most of Them are wary of computers anyway, and They said that, if you can't comment quickly on this site, They know you're here!

A few weeks ago I wanted to respond to a comment while I was here at school. I could not get over how unseeable the characters were on those "make sure you're not a robot" thingies. It took me four tries to leave a comment on my own web site!

In the meantime, I'm getting spam comments just like always, sometimes tied to the content of the post and sometimes not. What, do they hire people to sit around and try to decipher captcha thingies all day?

And speaking of site traffic, here's a good one. A sort of cautionary tale about doing homework and not just looking for key terms and viewer stats.

About a week ago I got an email from a nice young woman who had noted that I reviewed a couple of books on my site. Would I be interested in a new Christian-themed fantasy/thriller?

HellllooooOOOOOOOOOOoooooo!

I told her to take a look at my web site and decide herself whether or not I would be a good fit for her material.

Next day, I heard back from her. Never mind.

Aw, shucks. I would just love to read a fantasy thriller where Jesus saves the day!

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Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sandy Relief: The Money Within

They are calling Sandy a "superstorm," but I am calling her "inevitable." First of all, if you're a geezer like me, you can remember an era where we never had 18 hurricanes in a season.  Second, if you're a geezer like me, you can remember a time when seaside tourism was more centered on the big resort towns (Atlantic City, Ocean City, Wildwood in NJ), and no one built houses right at the edge of the raging ocean. We've been lulled into a sense of complacency about waterfront property ... but that's over. The new normal is global climate change, and all the barrier islands, even the big ones like Long Island, are in harm's way.

I understand that on Monday there will be a relief effort for the victims of the storm. Do you have money to send to the people who got socked on the chin? Frankly, I don't. Not a brass farthing.

I can contribute, though. I can give blood.

Don't ask me the monetary value of a pint of blood. I know that some homeless people donate for the cash, but I can't tell you how much dough they get for their plasma. All I know is, the one thing that never goes to waste (one hopes) is blood.

So if you are all tapped out in the old checking account, turn to that resource within, roll up your sleeve, and let the nurses have at you.

Many community blood drives have been cancelled by the storm and its aftermath, so the Red Cross is reporting a shortage. Donate a pint, and the bored gods will bless you with peace and prosperity.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Nontraditional Halloween

Wow, what a world of woe we are experiencing here in the East in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy! If you love big, old trees (which I do), this is a heartbreaking time. All over the place they are lying uprooted, in lawns, on cars, on houses. And of course there are limbs down everywhere, so much so that it's frightening just to walk around. More could come down at any time.

I couldn't argue with Snobville's decision to postpone trick-or-treating until Friday. I would almost agree with Governor Wheezer Christie that it should be held on Monday. Nevertheless, I'm having Mr. J go out today and stock some more candy in anticipation of little cutie pies in costumes. Also, my dear friend the Monkey Man is coming for supper and a home town football game. Go Wombats!

This Samhain was a non-traditional holy eve, and I have to thank my dear father for his spiritual guidance.

Dad was not the kind of man to be sad for long. He found the fun in every situation. My maternal grandmother was much the same, even more so. Therefore, they led me into a shiny platinum prank on my daughter The Spare.

It occurred to me over a cup of tea in the late afternoon. It was Halloween, and The Spare had a scheduled class until 10:00 p.m.

Back story: When I was a teenager, growing up in the country, my gang and I would toilet paper houses. Not just at Halloween, either. All year long. We called ourselves the Wholly Rollers, and we did some whopper jobs. Out where I grew up, everyone had huge trees in their yards, and toilet tissue was affordable. We got such a rep for TP that people "contracted" us to do houses. Maybe I'll blog more about this, if you'd like some anecdotes.

Anyway, I got the idea to toilet paper Spare's desk and bed in her dorm room. Heir supplied the name of a roomie (Spare has three), and as luck would have it, that roomie was home. (Facebook is a marvel in these situations. There was no problem getting in touch with this delightful roommate.)

Mr. J and I drove into Philly. Roomie met us at the guard desk, and we proceeded to Spare's room. There I expertly wrapped her desk, paying particular attention to mummifying the picture of her beloved feline. We moved to the bed ... the extensive jewelry rack ... the full-length mirror ... the dresser. Toilet papering is like riding a bike. You never forget how to do it. I only used one piece of tape.

Photos to come. I'm at school right now.

I also left behind a little jack-o-lantern with candy, and a little bit of paper that college students really need, this one with Andrew Jackson on the front. I also left a "Wholly Rollers" calling card, as Spare knows of my checkered youth in great detail.

Two hours later I got a phone call. "You are the best mother in the world."

On Samhain, the veil is thin. If your family ran high to pranksters, they may stock your brain with notions that would not necessarily occur to you. This happened to me, it raised my spirits in more ways than one.

A happy new year to all. Did you make a resolution? I did. Pass the toilet paper!

For the record, Spare's 2012 costumes:
Rosie the Riveter
Angler fish
cat

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