I grew up watching TV shows and movies about robots. I thought that by 2013 we would have flying cars and our own personal robots just like the Jetsons.
Can you imagine how much it would help working parents to know that their children can come home from school everyday and be greeted by a robot that’s designed to care for and protect them?
“Greetings small human how was your day at the learning facility?”
“I have duplicated the molecular structure of chocolate chip cookies for your snacking pleasure.”
“Your allotted snaking time is over. It is now time to do your homework.”
“I don’t have any homework.”
“Allow me to take your pulse. Please repeat that statement.”
“I don’t have any homework.”
“My built in lie detector tells me that you are not being truthful. I will engage my lasers.”
“NO! Okay I’ll start doing my homework right now. Don’t zap me!”
“Warning, warning an alien life form is approaching I will engage lasers!”
“What? That’s not an alien. That’s my big brother Zac. He’s into tattoos and body piercing. He’s moving into the basement because he can’t find a job. The man is holding him down. The establishment doesn’t appreciate his artistic nature.”
“Shall I vaporize him?”
“NO, mom wouldn’t like that!”
“Okay begin your homework while I start the cooking process for the evening meal.”
Nineteen people were tragically killed in a hot air balloon accident Feb. 26th over Luxor, Egypt when the balloon caught fire causing them to plunge 1,000 feet. It brings back my own traumatic memories of riding in a hot air balloon.
I used to see brightly colored hot air balloons serenely gliding across the sky and imagine how much fun it would be to ride in one.
My chance finally came when I heard that a new store was holding their Grand Opening and the free activities included hot air balloon rides. I talked my husband into going with me. When we got to the store and took our place at the back of a big line. The balloon was tied to a rope so it couldn’t float away (after seeing the Wizard of Oz we all know how safe that is). People had the chance to go up in the balloon, look around, and come back down. It wasn’t much of a ride. Our turn finally came and we climbed into the basket. As soon as we got up in the air we were hit with a big gust of wind. The wind was blowing the balloon dangerously close to the power lines. The guy in charge announced that we were making an emergency landing. The balloon started going down really fast and we hit the ground really hard. Imagine jumping off the roof of your house and not bending your legs when you landed. That’s how it felt! We were really shaken up. It wasn’t the fun experience I thought it would be.
Twenty years later, my granddaughter heard they were offering free hot air balloon rides at the county fair. She begged me to take her. I agreed to go and have a look.
We arrived at the fair. The balloon was set up in an open field. Good there were no power lines to worry about. It was the same situation. The balloon was tied to a rope. You go up, look around, and come back down again. We got in line to wait our turn. It was a really hot summer day and there was no shade. The person in charge knew that I had health problems so she told me to go to the front of the line. She also instructed a frail elderly man named Jack to go to the front. I was hoping to have a chance to watch the balloon. I didn’t want to be the first one to go up in it. The next thing I know we’re being led to the basket and people are helping us in. It was just me, my granddaughter, Jack, and the guy that owned the balloon. We went up in the air, looked around, and landed. So far so good I thought. The guy in charge and my granddaughter had just exited the basket when a big gust of wind came and blew the balloon sideways onto the ground. The basket tipped over sideways, too. Jack and I were hanging on for dear life. The balloon straightened back up again only to be blown down on the ground. We were being tossed around in the basket like socks in a dryer. After what seemed like 20 minutes they finally deflated the balloon and canceled the rides. Jack and I climbed out of the basket. I was pretty shaken but otherwise okay. I can’t speak for Jack.
That’s it for me. The next time I hear about free hot air balloon rides I’ll run in the opposite direction.
Have you ever gone up in a hot air balloon?
I was feeling depressed about not having a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day until I started watching the Investigation Discovery Channel. The ID channel broadcasts shows like: “Fatal Encounters,” “Happily Never After,” “Scorned Love Kills,” “Fatal Vows,” and “Deadly Secrets” just to name a few. Wow, I never realized there were so many lying, cheating, adulteress, murderers out there. Now I don’t want a boyfriend. I’m afraid to even date anyone.
I stumbled upon the ID channel and decided to check it out. After watching for two days I discovered that while the shows have different names they’re all basically the same, boy meets girl and they fall in love. If they actually survive their wedding day they eventually get bored with their partner and decided to have an affair. Then they decided that instead of getting a divorce, it makes more sense to murder their spouse so they can spend all their time having sex with their lover.
Almost all the people in these shows are leading secret double lives. How do they pull that off? I don’t even have time to lead a public single life. Between working full time, taking care of children, cooking, cleaning, after school activities, and social obligations, who has time for a double life? All that lying and cheating seems exhausting.
The show features real crimes re-enacted by attractive actresses and actors and it can be a shock when you finally see a picture of the actual person. I watched an episode about a Black Widow who seduced men and either ripped them off or murdered them for their money. According to the show, she manipulated every man she met by using her sexuality. I figured this lethal seductress must look like a sexy super model in order to wrap men around her finger. Image my surprise when she turned out to be just average looking. She looked like someone you’d see shopping at Wal-Mart. This confirmed my theory that it’s really easy to manipulate men. All you have to do is have sex with them. I’m sorry but I don’t feel sorry for old geezers that are ripped off by gold diggers. Did they really think a beautiful 20-year-old was interested in them because of their sparkling personality? They knew at the beginning that they were trading money and power for sex and they got what they deserved.
Women on the other hand aren’t so easily manipulated. The con men that prey on women usually appeal to their emotions by pretending to be loving, caring, attentive, and by making them feel special. I do feel sorry for women. They think, "I've finally met a great guy" and it turns out he's putting arsenic in their coffee.
The most shocking thing of all is how morally bankrupt these people are. How can you be so evil and gold blooded that you would murder your spouse and the mother of your children over money or sex? Despite the fact that killing is a sin, what about your kids? They have to grow up without a mother while knowing she was murdered by their own father who is hopefully spending the rest of his life rotting in a prison cell.
I stopped watching the ID channel because it was too depressing. But it did make me feel better about being single. At least I don’t have to worry about being pushed off a cliff by my supposedly loving husband just so he can collect on my life insurance policy.
Everyone knows that Feb. 14 is Valentine’s Day, the day when friends and lovers express affection, or in some cases unbridled lust, for one another through the exchange of cards, candy, flowers and other gifts. Yet most people don’t really understand the origins of the St. Valentine’s Day customs.
Several historians believe St. Valentine’s Day started as a festival celebrating the martyrdom of one of the Roman St. Valentines. The ancient Roman yellow pages listed eight Saint Valentines under the category of priest There are still many unanswered questions surrounding these priests: who were they, what did they look like, how did they all stay in business with so much competition, and why did they all have the same name? Despite the confusion, it’s believed that two of them were executed on Feb. 14 and a festival was held annually on that day in their honor. It is unclear why these particular saints were executed, but it is believed they were both small tippers.
There are many stories about the saints, but one of the more popular ones says that before his execution, Saint Valentine sent the daughter of his jailer a note that said, “Please water my rubber tree plant. From your Valentine.”
With the passing of time, the two martyred saints eventually merged into one figure with two different shoe sizes. This remaining figure later becomes known as the patron saint of lovers. This association appears to have been erroneous, since historians have uncovered information leading them to believe that Saint Valentine was actually the patron saint of rude cleaning women.
There is no accepted explanation for the connection between a dead saint and the custom of giving away heart-shaped boxes of chocolate on Feb. 14. However, etymologists have discovered that the Norman word “phaufex,” meaning, “to drool on members of the opposite sex,” was at one time written and pronounced as “valentin.” It would be a slight verbal jump from the word ‘valentin” to “valentine,” but that is pure conjecture.
Another group of historians believes that St. Valentine’s Day customs evolved from the common medieval belief in England and France that birds began to mate on Feb. 14. Some French peasants also believed it was the day that snakes got indigestion and field mice went on vacation.
In his famous sonnet, “Fowl Ode,” the English poet Horace Hedgeman wrote, “Every Synt Valentynes Daye the byrds doth wyne and dyne the fowl of its cheese.” Literary scholars point to this passage as proof of Hedgeman’s insanity.
The belief that birds choose their mates on St. Valentine’s Day may have led to the idea that men and women should do the same. However, that is purely theoretical.
Probably the least ridiculous of the St. Valentine’s Day theories is that it grew out of the early Roman Festival of Lupercuspid. The festival was celebrated every February in honor of the god Lupercuspid, who was similar to the Greek god Pan, except he was a goat with the legs, ears, and hairdo of a man.
In addition to rites of purification, fertility and the removal of unwanted hair, Romans had a ceremony in which all the single maidens wrote messages like, “For a good time call Tiberius,” and deposited them in a large urn. The single men of the village took turns taking messages from the urn. They were then obligated to take the woman whose name they had drawn to dinner and a show.
Of course, when the Christians came into power, they immediately tried to change Lupercuspid Festival in order to take all the fun out of it. Instead of drawing names for sweethearts, the Christians drew names for Bible study groups.
The pagan customs of the Lupercuspid Festival eventually caught on in France, where it became popular for both sexes to draw names. Peter Thomas, an Englishman who was visiting France during the festival recorded the events in his diary:
“I eagerly reached into the urn and withdrew a scrap of paper with a name scrawled on it. I examined the paper with dismay! Instead of picking the name of a beautiful maiden, I had drawn the name of a short, swarthy Frenchman named Henri! Since I was obligated to take this Henri to dinner and a show, I tried to keep a stiff upper lip and make the most of this blasted, situation. The whole evening was marred when Henri and I got into an argument on the dance floor over who should lead and fisticuffs broke, out.”
Despite its confused beginnings, Valentine’s Day grew over the years to become a national tradition, with millions of gifts and cards exchanged every year. Today there are valentines designed for nearly everyone, friends, lovers, relatives and yes, even IRS agents.
I’ve always been terrible at remembering names. Two weeks ago I met three new women at church. Instead of listening to the sermon or singing the hymns I spent the whole hour repeating, “Carol, Jane, Maggie” in an attempt to remember their names. A week later I called them, “Connie, Judy, and Mary.”
When I worked in the newspaper business, I met and interviewed hundreds of people. They usually remembered me (because let’s face it I’m unforgettable) but I usually forgot them. It was like the computer layout pages, as soon as an issue comes out; you delete everything and start over. This caused a lot of awkward encounters.
“I just wanted to tell you that I loved your story.”
“And you are?”
“And which story was that?”
“The one about Brad and Jenny.”
That really narrows it down. In order to avoid situations like that I usually just pretended that I knew what they are talking about.
However sometimes this backfired. My granddaughter and I were having lunch in a nearby town when a woman stopped at our table.
“Hi how are you?”
I had no idea who this woman was. She didn’t look familiar. “Good how are you?”
“I’m wonderful. Bill and I just got back from our vacation to Florida. We had a great time and we got to see Mindy and the boys.”
“I’d like to go to Florida to get away from this cold weather.”
“I know! We didn’t want to come back. I was so nice down there.”
The conversation went on for about 15 minutes until her husband came over.
"Are you going to introduce me.”
“You know Susan.”
“That’s not Susan.”
“What?” The woman stared at me. “You’re not Susan!”
At this point they were both looking at me like I was some kind of criminal who was trying to steal Susan’s identity! After giving me dirty looks they left in a huff! Hey I never claimed to be Susan. My granddaughter and I finished our meal and left. Hopefully I don’t find myself in a situation where a Mafia hit man mistakes my identity.
“How you doin?”
“Good and how are you?”
Are you good at remembering names?
I’m fascinated by Idiot Savants. No, I’m not talking about the cast of the Jersey Shore. An Idiot Savant is a person affected with a mental disability who exhibits exceptional skill or brilliance in a limited field like mathematics, music, or art.
The real Rain Man, Kim Peek, could speed read through a book and remember everything he read yet he scored below average on an IQ test. He lived with his father until his death. His father had to help him get dressed and brush his hair.
Then there’s the case of Jason Podgett a college drop out who was attacked outside a bar and sustained a head injury. He is now a math genius. This tells me that I’m one head injury away from being able to help my granddaughter with her math homework.
It’s obvious that even scientists don’t know what the human brain is really capable of. My theory is that the reason Idiot Savants are geniuses in certain fields is because they can devote all their time to math, music, or art. They usually live with their parents or in a group home. They don’t have to worry about relationships, paying bills, buying groceries, or any of the things most of us have to worry about. If I could devote all my time and energy to math then maybe I could be a genius too (okay that would never happen but I would be a lot better at math).
Most people have to spread their brainpower over a wide area. I don’t know how many brain cells I’ve wasted on trying to figure out what to cook for dinner every night. I like to cook but not when I have to. Then it becomes just another chore. Plus I’m trying to cook for someone who thinks she’s a chef. She’s always criticizing me; “You should have put more basil in the spaghetti sauce. Next time let me make it!” I feel like I’m living with a miniature female version of Bobby Flay.
How many brain cells have I wasted on trying to figure out what to wear? When I was working everyday I used to stare at my closet until I ran out of time and then I’d just grab something and throw it on at the last minute. I was ahead of my time when it comes to color blocking.
It’s obvious that if I only had a personal chef and stylist I’d be one step closer to becoming a genius!
I usually don’t make New Year’s resolutions but this year I decided to make one simple one – to try new things. I don’t like change and I thought it would be good for me to step out of my comfort zone.
When I heard that people in a nearby town were starting a small community theater group and they were holding auditions I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. I love the theater and I had small parts in high school plays but I haven’t done any acting in years. I was scared to audition but I figured this is a small town how good can the other people auditioning be? Plus the theater is producing a melodrama, which means over the top acting. You don’t have to be a Shakespearean actor to star in a melodrama.
I arrived at the theater to find other middle-aged men and women waiting to audition. Imagine my shock when I heard some of them reading from the script and found out I was competing against the small town version of Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro. I wanted to run away but it was too late. The director called my name. I was nervous but I tried to throw myself into the part.
Following the auditions, I eagerly waited for the director’s email to find out what part I would be playing. Would it be the kindly mother of the young innocent heroine, the flamboyant saloon owner, or the French maid? Finally the email arrived and I learned that I will be playing a railroad worker! I’m not even playing the part of a woman. My part calls for me to walk on stage wearing a flannel shirt and overalls. I don’t have any lines. That was a big disappointment but as the director told us on the first day of rehearsals, “There are no small parts in the theater!” I guess I’ll just try to be the best-darned railroad worker possible while lurking in the background.
I can just imagine the reviews, "While the entire cast displayed talent, it was the anonymous railroad worker who stole the show with her silent use of emotion. Her eyes told the whole story!"
My second attempt at change occurred when I decided to try a new hairdo. My hair is stick straight on top and curly on the bottom. I thought if I had the top layered it might curl and fit in with the rest of my hair. When they layered the top they cut off too much hair. It was raining when I left the beauty parlor. By the time I got home my hair looked like a haystack with bedsprings sticking out of the sides. It wasn’t the look I was hoping for.
Well my two attempts at change didn’t exactly turn out like I wanted them to but I’m not giving up. I’m signing up for an improve class at an area theater. With my luck I’ll be assigned the part of a construction worker with laryngitis!
Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, and Mathew McConaughey have been in the news lately because they lost weight to look emaciated for their movie rolls. Hathaway starved herself by eating nothing but two thin squares of dried oatmeal paste every day. They aren’t the only actors who have starved themselves for a movie role.
All I can say is I’m glad I’m a writer! No one cares if I gain or lose weight because no one knows what I look like. If I ever have a best selling novel they can put an air brushed head shot on the back cover. There’s no way I would ever starve myself or eat dried oatmeal paste (yuck).
If I were an actress the only body transforming roles I would accept are for parts that require weight gain. I could star in the Cass Elliot Story, Precious 2, or I could play the part of Jabba the Hut’s twin sister in the new Star Wars movie.
Every January millions of people make resolutions to lose weight. I’m not one of them because it’s pointless. I can’t lose weight because of the constant internal struggle between my two split personalities – the Puritan and the Heathen.
Puritan: “I’ve got the blueberries, grapes, broccoli, carrots, green beans, and kale. I think we’re all set. Where are you going?”
Heathen: “To the bakery section.”
Puritan: “No we don’t need anything from the bakery section. You are forbidden to go there!”
Heathen: “I’m just going to get some healthy whole grain wheat bread.”
Puritan: “Don’t take me for a fool. I know you’re going there to get donuts!”
Heathen: “So what if I am? I’ve been eating this healthy crap for weeks and I’m sick of it. I think I’m entitled to one little donut.”
Puritan: “That’s the trouble you never stop with one little donut. You eat a dozen.”
Heathen: “You’re ruining my life! I used to go clubbing every night and dance until dawn. I used to be fun. Now thanks to you I have to act like a mature responsible law abiding adult!”
Puritan: You should be thanking me! If it wasn’t for me you’d probably be locked up in rehab right now!”
“Heathen: “I don’t drink, smoke, or gamble. If I want to eat a donut I’m going to!”
Puritan: “Over my dead body”
That’s when things get really ugly and violent. Sadly, the Heathen always wins because she’s a dirty street fighter. But I think I’ve finally found a way to control the situation and lose weight once and for all. I’m signing the Puritan up for karate lessons!
It’s been three months since I adopted my cat, Louie, from the local Animal Shelter and I have to admit, I don’t know anything about cats! I’ve come to the conclusion that cats and humans are incompatible. While I’m up and about during the day, my cat is sleeping like a comatose fur pillow. At night while I’m trying to sleep, he’s racing around the house like a demonic speed freak. One minute he’s cute and cuddly and the next he’s using my leg as a scratching post.
Apparently cats hate the news media because every time I try to read a newspaper he comes over and destroys it. He also hates computers because every time I try to write he decides that he needs to take a nap on my keyboard.
The last few months have been a period of adjustment. The first week was very rocky. It started when I was lying on the couch watching TV. Louie jumped up on the couch by my feet and ran straight for my face. Naturally I was startled since it’s human nature to want to avoid having your face attacked by a cat. So I threw my arm up and accidentally karate chopped him and sent him flying across the living room. This occurred on his first day at my house. That was followed by me booting him across the room when he ran right in front of me. I think I should explain that I love animals and I don’t usually make it a habit to karate chop and kick cats. Please don’t call PETA.
The above two incidents are tame compared to what happened next. There was a time when I could sleep peacefully through the night but as I get older that no longer happens. I have to make several trips to the bathroom every night. I resent having to leave my warm comfy bed so I usually wait until the last minute when my bladder starts screaming, “Hey how long do you think I can hold back this tsunami of pee? You better get up right now or you’ll be sleeping in a water bed!” That’s when I get up and stumble half asleep to the bathroom.
One this particular night I was about to sit on the toilet when Louie jumped up on the seat at the last minute causing me to squash him and push him into the toilet. Since I have lightening fast reflexes I thought to myself, “I don’t remember having a fur toilet seat. Oh my God it’s the cat!” I tried to pull him to safety but the only thing I could grab onto was his tail. This was in complete disregard of the instructions the Animal Shelter gave us when we adopted him which included, “Never pick up a cat by it’s tail!” I felt so bad that I petted him for a long time and tried to calm him down. That left an indelible impression on him because now every time I’m sitting on the toilet seat, Louie races into the bathroom and jumps onto my lap. There are times when it’s inconvenient to have a cat sitting on your lap while you’re trying to go number 2. On the plus side he could come in handy if I run out of toilet paper (Stop dialing PETA I would never do that!)
I suppose being squashed by a butt and pushed into a toilet could give the average cat the impression that he’s not wanted. I think Louie’s trying to win me over because he keeps pushing his toy mice under my bedroom door. I close my door every night because I don’t like to sleep with animals or humans for that matter. I have restless leg, arm, and body syndrome I spend a lot of time tossing and turning so it works out better if I have the bed all to myself (which isn’t really conducive to most marriages and explains why I’m single). Plus I don’t enjoy waking up in the middle of the night to find a cat sitting on my head. Every morning when I wake up I find toy mice next to my bedroom door. I keep worrying about what will happen if he actually catches a real mouse. FYI Louie, if you want to give me a present, I would prefer a Target gift card over a dead mouse, just saying.
I don’t know if I will ever understand how the mind of a cat works but he probably thinks the same thing about me. Until then we’ll just take it one day at a time.
Happy New Year!
I hope 2013 will be a
good year for us all!