Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I had this great idea. Cale and Ramona, my niece and nephew, were going to be spending Sunday night at our house, and I thought of something fun for all of us to do on Monday. We were going to COOK.
Both Jeff and Cale are always watching cooking shows on The Food Network, and they both received a video game for their Nintendo DS called "Cooking Personal Trainer." It walks you through each step of a recipe with detailed instructions, and you can interact with it through voice commands. Brilliant! Since of course I know nothing about cooking this seemed like a way we could all learn together.
I drove all the kids and the game to Meijer where we picked out and purchased the items we would need. We even bought a pan. We had to double the recipe, so the kids got to practice their math skills! They had selected Chicken Chillindrone which is from Spain. (Sneaking in some Geography here too)
As soon as we got home the kids divvied up the peppers, onions, garlic, and ham that needed to be cut up. Then Jeff handed out cutting boards and knives. They enthusiastically chopped away and were very careful about avoiding their fingers. They were less careful about setting the knives down hanging over the edge of the counter, or walking to the sink while swinging them around. Luckily there was no blood but there were a lot of tears from those onions.
The program said that the recipe would take 35 minutes to prepare, and even times the steps for you. I had the kids calculate back when they would need to start the cooking in order to have it ready to serve when Mary Beth came at 5:30. (Time management!)
It told us to use chicken legs with the bones still in, and to cut it up into pieces. What size pieces? We squinted at the picture but it just looked like thighs and drumsticks to me, which is how we bought them. I remembered how my mom always talks about the germs on Chicken, and washes it. So I had Cale do that, and then wash his hands.
It said to cook the chicken in some oil until it was brown on one side. Cale put the chicken pieces in the pan but they didn't fit, so we added another pan to the stove. They started to hiss and pop and spray oil all over the place. The kids got scared because it hurt when it went on their arms. The chicken did not turn brown in the ten minutes that the game told us to cook it before turning over, so they had to keep yelling "repeat"into the screen to keep it going.
Ramona was safely in the other room, ironing the tablecloth.
The next step was to create a white wine reduction sauce. They all wanted to know if this would make them drunk. The game didn't say but I told them that I didn't think so as Jeff poured in the Chardonnay. Mary Beth arrived and the meal was nowhere near complete. It was time to add the vegetables but when they did that it sputtered and Jeff got a little burned on his arm. He gave me the onions to put in and as I did that some oil splattered onto my hand, I screamed and dumped the onions all over the floor.
We scrambled all around trying to clean up the mess and get the rest of the steps completed.
An hour and a half later than we had estimated, Ramona lit the candles on the table and we enjoyed the meal. Cale noted that it took only minutes to consume yet hours to prepare.
The next day I was talking to my mother and I asked her about washing the chicken. She said that she always washes and then dries the meats, otherwise the water will make the oil spatter all over. And there's the lesson that I learned from this experiment. A computerized program can be very good at telling you what to do and when to do it, but it would take a person to look at what you are doing wrong and tell you not to do it. Lesson served!
Friday, December 26, 2008
This actually did grow from seeds to 6 inch tall grass in 3 days. Jeffrey had set it up under a desk lamp in my bedroom closet (to keep it secret from Missy.) She loves it!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I decided that this might be a good opportunity for us to go somewhere. Since we have a little bit of money available and investing it no longer holds any appeal I am going with new approach which is to spend. I looked into cheap last minute flights to Florida, but that still seemed like a lot for a last-minute trip. Plus the weather still might not be so great there. So I decided to take the boys to the Kalahari Indoor water park in Ohio. Since Larry still has to work I invited my nephew Cale to come along. It is less than a 3 hour drive from here, so the only weather risk is a sudden blizzard but I think I can vary the travel times to get around that if I have to.
I was upstairs packing the boys bathing suits when my mother called.
"So I heard about this thing you are doing." Translation: I can't believe you are risking the lives of my precious grandchildren by driving somewhere in the winter.
I put some T-shirts into the suitcase. "Yes, the boys are really looking forward to it."
"Did you see the weather report? They are predicting 25 mile per hour winds."
"Well, it looks like most of the snow will be North of here, and I think we should be able to make it to Ohio." I said as I tucked in some extra socks.
"It could be dangerous. Are you PREPARED to do this?"
I folded Jeff's pajamas neatly so they would lay flat. "Yes! Timmy and I went to get the car washed this afternoon, and we bought gum and snacks for the drive."
Her voice started taking on a mild shriek tone. "A car wash isn't going to help you get there safely. Do you have EMERGENCY SUPPLIES?" I remembered that my mother always has a "winter emergency kit" in her trunk. It includes a coffee can and candle for melting snow to delay death by dehydration. She went on. "What if you get stuck? Do you have a small shovel in the car? And a bag of kitty litter for traction?"
I did buy a new ice-scraper at the car wash. I stretched that one. "Yes, I have some supplies for that."
"What about a blanket? And extra food?"
"Sure!" I figured I might have some beach towels with us, and those car snacks count as food.
She wasn't letting up. "How about flares? Do you have flares in your emergency kit in case you have to send out a signal?"
I was trying to think if we had anything that lights up, but then I realized what was happening here. "Mom, I am going to be on a major, highly traveled highway the entire trip. In the daytime. And I have a cell phone. And if the weather is just too bad we'll wait to leave. I don't think I'll be needing flares."
"Well, I just don't know about this. I hope you're ok."
I told her that we would call her once we arrived there safely, so she could suspend her worrying until we had to drive home on Tuesday. She reluctantly accepted this. I said goodbye and added a sweatshirt and zipped up the suitcase.
And now I'm really hoping that the weather doesn't get too bad. But once we get there is should be a lot of fun. I'll let you know how it goes.
Monday, December 15, 2008
"I thought we were going to Meijers." He complained.
I asked him why he wanted to go there, and he showed me that he'd brought along his wallet.
"I wanted to buy something." He told me.
"What were you going to buy?" I wanted to know.
"Well, it's something that the other kids are playing with at school, and I wanted to get one too."
I was interested in the idea of a toy that he might want, I've been wanting to get him a couple more small gifts for Christmas, and he's almost outgrown most of the stuff in the toy aisle these days. I told him that he shouldn't be buying himself anything this close to Christmas, but that he should describe it to me, just in case I happen to be communicating with Santa in the coming days.
"Well, it's this thing, where a thing comes out of the thing." He tells me.
Not very helpful. I ask for a better description.
"I think that there is a TV show of it. And it starts with a "B."
And that's all I could get out of him. Then later I was describing this conversation to a friend at a party, and she knew what he was talking about! The hot toy of the season! She described it a little better, and I went to the toy aisle at Target, and there it was! So I bought him one.
I would tell you what it's called, but I already forgot, except that it starts with a "B," there's a TV show of it, and "the thing comes out of the thing."
OK, figured it out. Here it is:
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Well, it has changed some things and not others. At the moment everyone who still works here keeps coming in to work each day and doing what they are supposed to do. Sometimes I hear people walking out of the coffee room talking about the very incredible news events as they unfold each day. For a while I was reading all about it and listening to the news on the radio in my car. I found myself agreeing with the points made by GM (you can read their official positions here) but then sometimes I would find myself nodding along with what the critics had to say too. The conflict of it was too much for me so I switched the to Elvis Radio on XM, broadcasting straight from Graceland! Much better.
Some of the people around here seem nervous, and there are signs of things being different. The shop went to a 4-hour workday. It's kind of spooky to drive up in the morning to an empty parking lot and the lights out in the area that I have to walk through to get to my desk. They have also turned down the temperature to save money, and so it is uncomfortably cold in the office area. Bob has taken to wearing a hat while he works.
But there are occasional bright spots such as today which was bagel day. (FYI it's funded by coffee profits.) You never know when bagel day is going to come and today I had already eaten a half bagel from home on my commute, so I picked out a donut. It was the kind with no hole and chocolate frosting on the top. I expected there to be custard inside but was caught by surprise when it turned out to be LEMON filling. That's just wrong. Of course I ate it anyways, and then later noticed there was a similar donut in there but with nuts sprinkled on the top. I had to know. Sure enough, my investigation proved that the nuts indicate the filling type. Very useful information. I told Bob that I wished I could erase the calories of the first, wrong donut after I had discovered and eaten the correct one. He suggested exercises that I could do in my cubicle. Another guy was listening and came up with an invention for exercising using hangers tied together with rubber bands. This got us to imagining the possibilities in the wide-open field of cubicle exercise. Then we stopped that and got back to work.
It has been said that if they don't get the bailout (loan!) money that GM could cease to exist. That's difficult to even imagine. So many people have had their entire careers here. At least I had my little break about a year ago, and I think that gives me some perspective on what life could be like without GM. Others are faced with considering it for the first time. Often that can lead to interesting conclusions. In addition to cubercise inventions, one co-worker came up with this alternative career idea:
Can you just imagine the fun of pushing this thing around all day selling "snow cream" to happy customers? But don't even think about getting one for yourself, we don't want too much competition around here. And if my kids ever see this I'll never get them to go to college.
So while dreams of alternative careers and Rockabilly avoidance techniques are helpful, there isn't much else to do except keep on working, and perhaps contacting a Senator in the hopes of influencing the outcome their vote, or buying a car. I can get you the employee discount again, now through Jan 5.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
We got a lot of snow yesterday. It's early in the year to have this much, and I hope it's not a sign of the winter yet to come. We seem to live right on the edge of some weather system, because just a few miles south of here they hardly have any, and at my mother's house there's no snow on the ground at all.
The kids remembered all the snow days off from school they got last year, and discussed taking actions to do what they could to encourage one for today. Apparently it is some kind of kid legend to do the following things to cause the cancellation of school:
1. Flush an ice cube down the toilet
2. Put a spoon under your pillow.
3. Wear your pajamas inside out.
There must have been enough people with their pajamas on correctly to cancel them out, because school was in session as usual. I think it's interesting how all kids seem to know about these procedures, yet I never heard about it when I was little. Who starts these things?
Friday, November 28, 2008
So yesterday he wrote down some of the gift ideas for people in our family.
I am so getting Larry that third thing, he deserves it.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
We kept gathering even a couple years after graduating, but eventually I lost touch with all but a couple of my closest friends, and even that turned into some years where Christmas cards were our only contact. Some I know I will never see again, and other pop up once in a while. There was a 20 year reunion that I didn't go to, but when we found out that some of our old friends were there Renee (my HS BFF, center in blue) and I made a pact that if there was ever another one we would attend. So here we go, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.
One of the guys from the gang also works at GM, and he instant-messaged me about plans for the reunion. Then he had to go and google our senior class president. Turns out she is a lawyer. (I never did finish getting my master's degree) with a high-profile job for the US Attorney General (my company just asked the government for some money) She is president of the local Bar Association (I wish I'd gotten that patent now) and has co-authored several books (I have a blog...)and is the mother of FIVE children (I only have two!) and from the picture she's still thin....ARRGH!
I forgot about the part of reunions where everyone wants to see what became of you, to find out if you lived up to your potential. At least I think they do that. I can't change the major events of my life at this point, and losing those 40 extra pounds is likely out of the question for this evening (how do body wraps work?) and my tanning experience quickly ended with an itchy rash.
I decided that the only action I could take was to do something about my hair. So I went to Sabrina's, the nicer salon here in town, and told the hairdresser that I had my reunion coming up and to make me look gorgeous. She cut it, and put these crazy foil things in, and sat me under some kind of steamer hood, for what I think might have been a little too long while she dealt with another client. When she finally spun me around and leaned over next to me as I observed us together in the mirror, I realized that she had styled my hair to look exactly like...hers! When she asked what I thought I said the one and only thing I could "It's gorgeous!" But that same night I went to a demonstration party and the women there started a conversation about letting your hair go salt-and-pepper gray. My "highlights" came out a little too light, I fear.
And then there are the clothes to obsess about, I bought this dress, and some sparkly jewelry to go with it, but then worried that it's too glitzy and I'll look like I'm trying too hard, even if I am.
By now you are saying to yourself "Oh good grief Mindy just stop it!" and I agree. Because when I think about it I'm not planning to make judgements about my old friends, and I don't actually care what they might think about me. I just want to enjoy being together with them again for this one night. I'll let you know if anything interesting happens, such as bursting into song.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Education and Culture are well and good but in stressful times there's nothing like being so happily and thoroughly entertained. I hope you had some fun this weekend too.
Friday, November 14, 2008
There is also the issue of the “Almighty Dollar.” The fear of the sun generated by dermatologists feeds a multi-billion dollar industry lead by huge special interest groups who conduct and promote most of the research on skin cancer. Lobbyists for pharmaceutical firms that sell billions of dollars worth of sunscreens and SPF cosmetics have teamed with the dermatology industry to promote a misinformed campaign of sun abstinence.
Conversely, there is no major industry except the indoor tanning industry that makes money by promoting the positive effects of sunshine. The indoor tanning industry consists of small companies that can’t match the marketing power of the multi-billion dollar "sunscare coalition."
Over the last few years, thousands of indoor tanning professionals have supported an organization – the Indoor Tanning Association – which was founded “to protect the freedom of individuals to achieve a suntan, via natural or artificial light.” This organization is currently working to develop a national advertising campaign that will increase public awareness of “smart” tanning, the importance of avoiding sunburn, and the many positive effects of regular, controlled UV exposure.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I am fascinated with the field of economics, the way that they take data and use it to identify trends and draw conclusions from them. I like to participate in that except for the data part, where I substitute my own observations and then make stuff up.
I have such an observation about the first snowfall in this area each year. Everyone seems to go a little bit crazy and the amount of traffic accidents are way out of proportion to the truly hazardous conditions we will experience later in the season. It is possible that everyone forgets how to drive in snow and ice and then re-learns it throughout the season. I used to think maybe all these accident-causers were the people who were new to the area, such as having moved here from the south, and were experiencing cold weather for the first time, but that theory doesn’t hold now that nobody has actually moved into this state since about 2005.
And then there’s this:
Notable expert Mindula Oblongatta has been quoted as to the spike in traffic accidents on the first day that there is noticeable snow drifting through the air. “It is due to the phenomenon of light reflecting off the snowflakes and into the retina of the eye of the driver causing a blockage in the brain that controls proper usage of a steering wheel.”
I knew it! Be careful out there.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Timmy took this picture, which I think is pretty good. Then he cracked me up when he put a title to it:
"I'm Missy and I approved this message."
Can you see why he said that? You know that the message is getting across when it seeps into a kid's humor.
The only thing I know for sure about this election is that I will be glad when the campaigning is over, so we can all move on. Such as to Christmas Music, which they started playing on the radio this week.
Happy Election Day!
Friday, October 31, 2008
The horrified look on the mother's face was priceless, and I got my laugh for the night.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Most of the time at work it seems just like any other day, but there are signs of change. For example, I just got an email stating that they will be shutting down the escalators at the VEC. This is huge, it really is. Those escalators have been there probably longer than I have been alive. I first experienced them when I worked in what was then the Fisher Body Building in 1985 as a summer intern. They have this distinctive noise, and a sort of an oily smell, and for a while one of them had a little plexiglass window where you could look in and see the workings on the inside. The engineers liked to do that.
Over the years the building has been repeatedly renamed and remodeled, but the escalators remained. Periodically there would be times when we were commanded to come up with cost savings ideas for the company, and just about everyone would submit the suggestion to turn off the escalators. There are other ways to get up to the second floor, and the things seemed to be under repair about as often as they were running. Legends began to circulate about why they just wouldn't shut them down. Some thought it was in the Union agreement for the repair guys. Others speculated about some kind of accessibility law. It was what you talked about as you escorted visitors to the conference rooms. But not anymore. And GM just won't be the same.
Also, as part of a Turnaround Plan that was announced in July, a huge wave of people are leaving the company, mostly retirements. For the past few weeks I have been getting emails filled with names of people that will be leaving, and it is with some sadness that I notice the ones that have meaning to me. The first boss that I had as a jobbie out of college. The director who hired me back from Chrysler. The guy who taught me about seatbelts. My last two managers in engineering. Many people that I'd worked with in one way or another over the years, and several of the friends I've made since arriving at my current job. And on my instant messenger screen I will never again see a green dot next to the name of my pal JJS. I'm happy for all of them as they move on to their next thing, but for me, GM just won't be the same.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I was working from home and it was nice and quiet without the kids around. Almost too quiet for me, so at lunchtime I heated up a piece of leftover pizza (chicken with feta!) and turned on the T.V. for some company. The news was all about the global economic crisis, and I wasn't in the mood for that, so I flipped the channels looking for something else and came across the movie Titanic already in progress.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The English Language doesn't have enough words to describe the colors I saw, such as:
The gleam off the band instruments as they marched by in the homecoming parade.
The big bright lights shining down onto the blue uniforms of the football players, cheerleaders, and a crowd containing most of our town acting out the high school homecoming football rituals that could be anywhere in any year.
The glittering dresses and black tuxedos that I saw as a crowd of teenagers gathered in front of a nearby house, getting ready for the big dance.
The glistening chrome on Darrin's motorcycle.
The GREEN and WHITE on our TV screen as the Spartans won another one, Go State!
The silvery gray of the water and the sky as I took a turn around our lake in my kayak just after the sun set, with a bright white almost full moon glowing high above.
The blaze of a backyard bonfire, and the toasty tan on the marshmallows hovering above it.
The speckled pattern of the sunlight coming through the trees onto the brown dirt roads as Timmy and I cycled along the back roads of Clarkston in the "Back 40 Challenge."
The murky orange of a cup of fresh apple cider.
The yellow and black backs of the wasps swarming over the donuts.
The orange of the pumpkins piled up at farm stands, waiting to be picked.
A sky so vibrantly blue it almost looked fake.
Oh, and these:
Saturday, October 4, 2008
It makes little donuts right there on the counter-top.
There used to be a mini-donut stand at Tiger Stadium and that basket of freshly fried minis dipped in chocolate was one of the best things I've ever eaten. And then this year it was gone. I know because I walked around the entire perimeter of the stadium, twice, searching for it.
Now the family will know what to get me for Christmas. I also think this could be solution to our nation's economic problems. The perfect invention. Someday we will wonder what the world was like before this thing was around. Kind of like crocs.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Lately I have been feeling like I need a change. Shake things up, meet new people. When it turns out that I don't have anything better to blog about than a toothache and a wasp squish, maybe my life has started to sink further into the abyss of mediocrity.
That energetic and convincing Jody called again. She wanted to invite me to a debate-watching party on Friday, and to come along canvassing on Saturday morning. I said that I already had plans to go scrapbooking on Friday but MAYBE I could show up on Saturday.
During the scrapbooking workshop I suggested that we turn on the TV upstairs, just to check out what was happening in the presidential debate. A couple of my scrapping friends followed me up there. We heard Obama make some familiar remarks and then McCain said something about the beginning of the end of the beginning. Huh? I complimented Lynn on the rearrangement of her family room, didn't the TV used to be against the other wall? We all agreed that without the wall unit the room was much more open. Soon there was a lively discussion going on that had nothing to do with foreign policy.
I decided to go on Saturday. I was curious about what kinds of people would be there, maybe they'd be interesting and informed. And I wanted to do something new, make a difference. They were meeting at Starbucks, a place that seems trendy and slightly collegiate to me, how fitting. I wore a lightweight sweater and my khaki crop pants, looking like the suburban housewife that I am. When I got there it was Jody, a pair of bouffant old ladies, a woman with a foreign accent and her very strange long-haired son. I was picturing a larger crowd, more interesting and activist-like. Then a guy named Eric showed up, he is some kind of regional campaign leader. He had short dark hair and squarish glasses. He handed some packets and brochures to Jody, thanked the group for coming and emphasized that the brochures were to be given out sparingly, only to the undecideds. Then he left.
We had agreed that I would be paired up with Jody. She would do the talking and I would stand there and smile and hold the brochures. Our packet had us going to the Waterstone subdivision, an area where the large 3-car garage homes look out over a plush golf course. When we got to the first house, I remembered that I hate going door to door, ever since the time I was a girl scout and ran home crying after Mrs. Zabawa complained to me about the high price for a box of cookies. What was I doing here?
I reminded myself of a saying that I once heard: You must do the thing of which you are afraid. It's all about personal growth, stretching my comfort zone. I tried to focus on that.
There was no answer at most of the houses. I figured that the people were either at the soccer fields or hiding. When someone did come, Jody would introduce us as "from the Obama campaign." I thought that might be a bit of misrepresentation in my case, since all I'd done so far was order a car magnet and down a tall french vanilla latte, but I went along with it.
Of the few people who we talked to, they either said they were already supporting Obama, or else politely admitted to being Republicans. There were a couple of undecided women who Jody talked to for a bit and then I would give them one of those brochures.
Jody noted that I seemed uncomfortable. I decided to try to look less uncomfortable by kind of swinging my hip out and putting my hand on it, but then I thought I only looked like someone who was trying very hard not to look uncomfortable.
Mostly we just walked through this very nice neighborhood chatting about our kids and our houses, and noticing the people's landscaping, all very well done. One consistent thing seemed to be that just about every house had a dog. At one house two large doberman types came rushing out and jumped all over us, which is when I decided I wanted to change my "Thing I Fear the Most" to LARGE DOGS although I doubt that getting mauled is any kind of path to elightenment.
After about an hour and a half we were finished and I was glad because my feet were starting to hurt and I had to go to the bathroom (that latte.) Jody commented that she didn't think I'd be doing this again. I said probably not but I was glad that I came this time.
And I was. Even though I did not accomplish what I thought I might, such as meeting new friends or impacting the results of the election, I did learn a couple new things, always worth it:
1. Spirea and Hydrangea go nicely together in front walkway landscaping.
2. It's not too early to put up fall seasonal decorations.
3. Most people are still in their pajamas at 11:00 on a Saturday.
But then the Sarah Palin nomination came along, and suddenly I was energized. To simplify greatly, I feel that her selection was a huge move against women, and it bugged the heck out of me. I wanted to actually DO SOMETHING.
I read an article that said if you just let people know where you stood, it has the potential of influencing their position. So I decided that what I should do is get a magnet for my car. My first-ever attempt at political expression.
I went halfway down the stairs to our basement, and shouted down into the man-cave at Larry.
"I am going to donate $5 to the Barak Obama campaign so I can get a magnet for my car. I know you disagree, but since you go all around with the Catholic Radio magnet on your car I think it's fair."
His response: "Whatever."
So I clicked over to the campaign website, signed up, donated, and then waited for it to come in the mail. A couple of days later, on a rainy Saturday morning, the doorbell rang. Embarrassed that I was still in my pajamas, I opened the door to find 2 perky women with Barak Obama baseball hats standing on my porch. They introduced themselves and said that they were canvassing the neighborhood and wanted to know whether they had my support. I was excited to tell them that I had gone so far as to order a car magnet, that's how much I supported them. I was also curious about what they were doing out there in the rain, and just who were the people that would be so actively involved with that in this town. They said that they were energized about the issues in this election, and this was their way to help. Then they asked if I would like to join in, the leader for our township even lives in this sub. I told them maybe, and wished them good luck as they went on their way.
A couple of days after that, the phone rang. A woman identified herself as Jody, and said that I didn't know her but she is one of my neighbors and learned that I might be interested in helping with the Barak Obama campaign. I said "Oh hi Jody, it's Mindy, I do know you, you moved into Laura's old house." It actually took some talking to convince her that I was that Mindy, "the one from the Glenmoor Gals." I said that I wasn't comfortable talking with people, but that I did order a car magnet. Since that sounded kinda weak in comparison to what she was doing, I added that I was even considering getting a lawn sign. She said she was calling from the campaign office and would drop one off at my house on her way home...ok.
I put the sign up when Larry was away at a prayer meeting. I sat in the house feeling all bold and political, thinking of all the neighbors driving past and changing their political allegiances. When Larry saw it he grimaced and said, "I don't think they allow signs like that in our sub." It turns out that's what the neighbors were thinking too. The next day while I was out, the President of the Subdivision Homeowner's Association came over and told Larry that was against the rules, we'd have to take the sign down. Of course Larry readily agreed, and we gave it to my sister Becky to display in Hamtramck where they have no such rules.
Next: Mindy hits the Campaign Trail
Friday, September 26, 2008
It has been beautiful weather this week. Which makes it hard to sit for long at my windowless desk. So I got up and did this little walk I like to do, where I swipe my card and go out one door of the building, walk around the corner by a parking lot, and come back in another door and back to my desk. It isn't much, but I get to feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair, for a moment at least, and I think it helps to get through the day.
When I got back to my desk I clicked on my computer to undo the screen saver, and swiveled around in my chair to gaze at Bob's empty cube. As I wondered where he might have gotten off to, I noticed out of the corner of my eye something moving on my leg.
I looked closer and focused in on a giant, spiky WASP wiggling and creeping up my leg. I instinctively let out a loud, unprofessional shriek, and leaped out of my chair batting madly at the thing like a crazy lady. I ended up in the cubicle aisleway staring the thing down as it writhed on the ground. A guy who happened to be nearby came over to see what was happening. I pointed out the monstrous beast, which was kind of blending into the pattern of the industrial carpet.
In one swift motion he stomped the thing dead with his foot, squished it up in a Kleenex, and tossed it into my plastic garbage can.
If only every crisis could be so easily solved.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
This weekend I concluded my study of the Music of Toby Keith by attending his live concert at Pine Knob.
The reason for this experience was to celebrate my dear friend Alisa’s 40th birthday, which coincided with the concert date. It turned out that the concert date also coincided with the final remnants of hurricane Ike slapping rain and wind across Michigan as it followed an unusual path Northeast after making landfall.
But a little blast of torrential rain isn’t enough to stop the party so there I was on the top of the muddy hill huddled under a large umbrella, peeking out of my Mickey Mouse rain poncho to observe the spectacle that is Country Music.
It all started with a projection screen showing a commercial for a Ford truck, and a trailer for a movie called “Beer for my Horses” both starring Toby Keith. Then an explosion of fireworks to reveal the man himself.
He proceeded to work through his repertoire of very famous songs that I had only recently heard for the first time. Rather quickly, eminent themes emerged. These would be: drinkin', cheatin', smokin', tokin', cussin’ and more drinkin'. It was kind of a double theme if you include the act of leaving the “g” off of participles. There were also frequent references to guns, trucks, hot chicks, and “Jeee-zus.” (That last one seems like a bit of an anomaly to me, but what do I know.)
Between the wind and the accent I found him difficult to understand, but he did introduce one song with something that ended with “and they can kiss my a**!” (Who?) He frequently encouraged everyone to obtain an alcoholic beverage, and at one point asked us all to hold them up in the air and sing along to yet another song celebrating the pleasures of alcohol. It was a lot like worship, but with more stagger in the sway. He did prove to us that he was aware of his geographic location by asking the audience if there were any rednecks in Michigan which We the Crowd affirmed with a resonating cheer.
Previous to this I was under the impression that the word “redneck” was a derogatory term and not very PC but here I was witnessing a joyous celebration of redneckity and all of the clichéd references usually associated with it.
There were fireworks throughout the concert which served well to refresh my state of alertness as the songs went on, until finally the lights turned off to signal the interval of screaming before the encore.
More fireworks ushered in a song that was accompanied by a video that could be best be described as an armed-forces recruitment tool. I wasn’t sure of exactly how that fit in with all of the cheatin, smokin, drinkin references except that maybe you get to use a gun to defend your right to do those things “raht here in the USA.” Then came a segway into a full-blown tribute to patriotism itself, all meant to make you feel just to be so proud to be an alcoholic - I mean American.
I went into this experience with the intention to learn and appreciate a form of music that I am unfamiliar with, because I believe that music can represent a culture in a way that quickly impresses the listener with an image of the people who embody it. I feel like I was successful in understanding the themes of the music of Toby Keith and his vast base of fans, but as a person who also considers myself a patriotic American, I’m not so sure that I would describe this particular genre as one that makes me proud.