Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Men and literacy

Are men really the illiterate blockheads that the publishing industry makes them out to be?

I was reading a recent article in one of my writer's mags, and they were rehashing once again that men just don't read much. Oh sure, they read the occasional business how-to or sports magazine. If they're really literate, they might choose a non-fiction historical or maybe a Tom Clancy novel. But don't write a novel the target the male populace, cuz it just won't sell.

Seriously, is that really how the numbers play out, or do I have a lot of unusual men in my life? Not to knock Tom Clancy or a good non-fiction. I enjoy suspense novels and the occasional true life book too. But there is so much more out there to read, and I know a lot of guys that find it.

Science Fiction usually get relegated to the Geek Squad or Nerds, but that's not true either. I know a lot of men that enjoy Science Fiction and they don't own a toy light saber or a pocket protector. (Okay, actually one of them DOES have a pocket protector, but really, he's not a nerd.)

The article claims that because women are the shoppers, they're more likely to buy new books. And the men who do shop are brand loyal, so they stick to the same author they always read, like Clancy. Maybe the problem is that the marketing towards male readers hasn't been strong enough. Maybe publishers should push more than the latest How to Survive the Business World book to the male population.

Or maybe I'm being too hard on publishers. If we women love to shop so much, why aren't we buying the men in our lives more variety in reading materials? In my family we all tend to enjoy a wide range of books. If I read one I really love, and I think Dad will like it. I pass it on. He reads it and, lo and behold, usually loves it too.

There was even a quote in the article by a male journalist, stating that men didn't like to be involved in emotional dramas, so they don't like to read. They watch sports instead to escape. It irks me that some men will make such sweeping generalizations about their own sex. It's like saying all women read nothing but smutty romance novels. Sure, there may be a few read in our lifetime, but that doesn't compose our entire literary adventure.

If men aren't reading as many genres as they could, it's because they've been pre-conditioned to avoid looking un-manly. Read a book with a pink cover? No way. Read about adventure, romance, love, loss and redemption? Hmm, can't I find that on CNN? No? Must not need it.

Well my advice is, get a clue. If you aren't trying out new authors, that's your utter loss. Don't lump all men in with your sorry selves. I happen to know quite a few REAL men that could teach you a thing or two about finding literary escape.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Midsummer Night's Back Yard

I could give you all kinds of reasons for why I've been quiet for the last few days, but suffice it to say that life got in the way.

Suffice. Hmm, Lindz would be having a cow over that word. I used 'que' over the weekend in reference to people lining up and she flipped out.

"Que?! Did you just say Que? No one in America uses that word. That's a Brittish word! We say line up."

Ah, a thousand apologies, Lindz. I know you've recently returned from Europe and found their terms extremely funny. I'll blame my 'que-ing' on reading too many Brittish romance novels recently. Although, in my defense, 'que' is a perfectly good word.

My weekend was slow, but nice. I've discovered something especially cool about my backyard. After 10 p.m. it turns into the faery bower from A Midsummer Night's Dream. My yard has 13 trees, plus it backs up to a wooded area. My fence is covered with flowering vines too, so it's already very 'faery' like, but when I looked out my backdoor the yard was flooded with fireflies. It looked like the night was wearing sequins. It was so cool. I could almost imagine Titania and her entorage taking up residence among the lights. I've just never seen that many fireflies at one time before.

Or better yet, imagining Adam Black (known as Puck to others) coming to life in all his Celtic, muscled glory. *sigh* You have to read Karen Marie Moning to get that one.

Wow, I have got to get a life.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Okay, just one more

You Are Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

You are kind, popular, and generous.

You tend to be successful at anything you try.

A social butterfly, you are great at entertaining a crowd.

You are most compatible with strawberry ice cream.

Quiz Time

You Are a Beagle Puppy

Cheerful, energetic, and happy go lucky.

And you're sense of smell is absolutely amazing!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Scotch Fever

I wanna go to Scotland! Waaahh!!!

Okay, I'm not the type to be envious of other's good fortune, but... . Lindz just got back from a two week tour of Scotland. She brought her pics in to work to show us and now I want to go more than ever. I know that pictures never do a place justice, so when her snapshots take my breath away - I know I'm missing something fabulous.

I'm sure everyone has someplace they've always dreamed of seeing. I have several - Hawaii, Australia, Venice - but Scotland is my Holy Grail, so to speak. It's where our family finds it's roots and and my imagination takes flight. Plus, how do you beat a country that has beefy men in kilts? Not to mention the BEST accent on the planet.

Lindz showed us pictures of Edinburgh castle, Holyrood Park, Fairy Park, Loch Ness... . The list could go on forever. All places I'm dying to see. Angel and I keep talking about taking a tour with our clan so we can visit all the Irwin/Erwin clan holdings. One of these years, I'm actually going to find the money to do it. I'm thinking now is the time to start a fund.

Sigh. On the bright side, she brought us back really excellent gifts. Compact mirrors with celtic designs on the case and Shortbread cookies direct from the Royal Mile. So cool.

*Sniffle* I'll just have to wait for my turn,

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Nocturnally Challenged

I'm the proverbial Night Owl. I've always been one to stay up into the wee hours of the morning. Usually reading. Sometimes by flashlight.

As a kid, Mom enforced the lights out policy. But the older I get the later I seem to stay up. Used to be an average bedtime was midnight. Then it was 1 a.m., then 2 a.m. Lately I've even hit a few 3 a.m.'s. I blame it on the computer. Once I log in, whether it's to write, design or surf, I lose track of time. It never fails. Most weeks though, it's just a variation of those times.

But someone has hi-jacked my nocturnal sensors and now I'm all screwy. I've been walking around with my eyelids at half mast all week long and practically falling asleep by 6 pm. I sit down to read or watch TV and I'm gone. Lights out, comatose, drooling. If I can manage to stay awake until 9 or 10, then suddenly I'm wide awake and I can't sleep for hours.

Unfortunately when THAT happens I can't wake up the next morning and I look like this until noon.

Maybe I just need a vacation. Yeah, that's it. It can't be that my sleep deprivation has caught up with me. Besides, I hate to waste my evening doing something like sleeping. I spend more than 40 hours a week doing something I totally dislike. Shouldn't my evenings be free for all that other stuff I want to do? Why interrupt all that stuff with sleep? That's what Saturday mornings are for.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Blessing in Disguise

Tonight I took a trip down memory lane. It started, because I was looking for my baby quilt. It was my favorite as a kid and I intend to save it for that great someday when I have kids of my own. I used it with my surrogate kiddos and then packed it away again when they were too old for it. However, since I’ve moved (two years ago) I can’t find it. I hate to say it, but I STILL have boxes that haven’t been unpacked. I finally went through them tonight - No baby quilt. That means I have to go back to my parents place and dig for it. Who knows when I’ll unearth it?

In midst of all my digging, I came across some interesting tidbits from my childhood. I’m one of those “memories should be cherished” people, so I have a lot of stuff. I found both mine and my dad’s blessing gowns (two separate ones, we didn’t share one.) My graduation cap and tassel, some programs and report cards from grade school, a box with my coin collection and a box of old letters. I thought it would be a trip to read back through the letters, so I dug them out.

The first layer was from a guy I met at Church camp. He wasn’t much of a writer, but I was. Apparently I ‘lettered’ him to death. Most of his responses consisted of one page and said basically the same thing. But, he was a pen pal and we got along well at camp. I’ve always been wordy with a pen, so maybe he’s forgiven me for using up so much postage and ink on him. Despite the brevity of his letters, there were at least a lot of them.

I remember being really excited to get my mail. I had an obsession with it. (Come to think of it, I still do. I think my mail man hates me.) I used to sign up for catalogs and stuff just so I’d get something with my name on it. I had several pen pals from camp but only two that were really consistent. I saved my letters and re-read them occasionally. I know a few have been lost here and there over the years, but I did try to hang on to them. At one point, I went through a massive ‘de-junking’ phase (it didn’t last long) and I nearly threw them out. What point was there in keeping old letters from Jr. High? Some part of me just couldn’t do it. I don’t know if it was my Granny Boo’s genes (she has practically every card she’s ever received.) or my own sentimentality, but I’m glad I hung on to them.

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Ivy and our friend Micah at Church camp.

Under my guy friend’s letters were several others from various girlfriends (girls are much better at correspondence) and then three from my friend Ivy. Those got my attention right away. Ivy and I met at Junior High Church camp and were friends instantly. She was the sweetest person I’d ever met, and pretty too. Everyone liked Ivy. She bubbled and had a light inside of her that didn’t go out. She was so full of love for Jesus that it was just visible, plain and simple. We became pen pals and corresponded for a couple of years. We prayed each other through some really tough times and even though we only saw each other one week out of the year, we were good friends. When she moved to another state at the end of those 2 years, she was going through a rough time and we lost touch. I couldn’t find her new address and somehow we never found each other again.

I’ve often thought of her. I wondered if she was married or had kids. Did she still live in the northwest? Then last year my office mate told me about a woman that he met at his new congregation. She had Ivy’s last name and I was pretty sure it was her mother. I was ecstatic! I asked him to find out if she was related. The next morning he told me that yes, she was Ivy’s mother, and she was sad to tell me that Ivy died several years ago in a car accident. She was seventeen. It would have been just a couple of years after we lost contact. I was devastated. You know someone has had an impact on your life when you can feel their loss so strongly after nearly 15 years of silence.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to find I still have three of Ivy’s letters. When I read them I remember how much her spiritual strength helped form mine. She was the one that taught me to look for the blessings in disguise. Those good things that come out of real tragedy. She encouraged me in my faith and challenged me to keep trusting in God, no matter what. I never doubted Ivy’s relationship with Jesus and I hope that I’ve managed to emulate her example at least a little bit.

In the end, Ivy’s letters were the blessings in disguise this time. Here she shines on paper forever, despite the tragedy of a life lost too soon. I never doubted that her friendship was a blessing, but finder her letters all these years later has blessed me all over again.

What are your blessings in disguise?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Da Vinci Code gets Chop Sueyed

I find it interesting that China pulled this movie. Was it because in their strongly Anti-Christian country they can't stand to hear Jesus talked about at all - derogatory or not? Did they fear that the controversial topic would drive the public to read the prolific amounts of literature that countermand Dan Brown's theory?

Or are they just opposed to Tom Hanks new hairstyle?

I have to say I'm kind of on the fence with this movie. I absolutely DO NOT agree with Dan Brown's theory. It's a load of Bull Dung. However, I did enjoy the read. It was fastpaced and intriguing. Two important things in a book. Maybe not the best WRITTEN, but a fun read. In truth, there ARE groups throughout history that have bought into this load of bunk, so from a purely historical point of view, the puzzle was fun.

On the other hand, do I want to encourage that false belief? Promote the lie to unknowing and unbelieving masses? It's a tough question for me. I want to see the movie, and yet... . Of course I don't want to encourage lies. I guess my point is not whether the movie has value or is any good. It's more of just an interesting little tid bit.


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China Pulls 'Da Vinci Code' From Theaters
Thursday , June 08, 2006
Associated Press

HONG KONG — The Chinese government, in an unprecedented move, has ordered movie theaters to stop showing "The Da Vinci Code," movie industry officials said Thursday.

Chinese authorities said the withdrawal of the movie from theaters Friday was to make way for locally produced films, one industry executive said, declining to be named because she wasn't authorized to speak to the media on the matter.

But another Hollywood blockbuster, "Ice Age: The Meltdown" was to be released in China on Friday, said the executive, who added that "The Da Vinci Code" was the first foreign film to be pulled from theaters in China after being approved for release.

"The Da Vinci Code," which has been opposed by Christian groups because it suggests Jesus fathered children who continued his lineage, has made $13 million since its release on May 19. It was on its way to becoming one of the highest-earning foreign films in China, the executive said.

A man who answered the phone at the press office of China's Film Bureau in Beijing said he was "unclear" about whether the film was pulled from cinemas. He declined to give his name.

Wu Hehu, a spokesman for Shanghai's United Cinema Line Corporation, said he received a notice to cease showing the film, but he didn't know why the order was made.

"This is such a short notice from the film's distributor. They will stop showing it from tomorrow," Wu said.

"I don't know the reason either. We just do what we are told to do," he said.

"Pearl Harbor," which made $13 million, has been the No. 2 foreign film in Chinese box office history, the industry executive said.

"Titanic" was first, fetching $45 million.


Monday, June 12, 2006

To Twist or Not to Twist...

I went bra shopping this weekend.

(Guys, if you want to understand the feminine population a little better, stick around.)

I hate bra shopping. I'm lucky if I find one bra every three years that I really like. Then they go and discontinue it. I've been scraping by with my old ones for months now, because I just can't find new ones that fit right. Most of the ones I've been wearing are missing the underwire on one side. I'm sure that just does wonders for my figure.

Anyway, my girlfriend told me about a place in town that specializes in bras. They'll even custom fit them for you for free. I figure, what the heck? What have I got to lose other than these raw spots that my bras are rubbing on my ribs now? So Angel and I went Saturday.

This was my first 'official' bra fitting. On our customer questionnaire they asked what size I thought I was. My guess was nearly right on. I had the band size correct, but my guess at a D cup was apparently laughable. So begin my workout for the day.

I played contortionist, fastening the first few myself. Then my arms begin to go numb from reaching behind me to hook them, so my fitter graciously fastened them for me. It was that or wait outside the dressing room for an hour while I tried to make numb fingers work. I wasn't too worried. I knew once I was home I'd be able to fasten them just fine. I mean my arms were just tired, right? After wrestling in and out of at least eight different power net, underwire, super-support bras, I found one that fit fine. Cup size 'F' (Wholly Moley!) I told her I'd take two. Plus a lacey one I had just tried that didn't need altering. I left the last one on and gave her the tag. No sense in wrestling it off until necessary.

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She altered them and then rang me up. Good Grief, I could support a couple of small countries with what it cost for those slingshots. Actually, according to my corrected cup size, I AM supporting a couple of small countries!

This morning, I jumped out of the shower and saw that I was already running late. I dashed madly about the room finding clothes. Oh yeah! New bras! I excitedly grab a new one to put on. I slip my arms in, put the girls in their new boulder holders and reach behind me to fasten it.


No can do.

Hmm. I take the girls back out so that I can pull the back down further to meet hook and eye. Nope. That doesn't work either. Neither does the near back bend I'm doing in an effort to make my arms longer. Fine. We'll try twisting. Taking it off, I turn the bra around and hook it in front. Grabbing the band I try to twist the cups back to the front. Nope. Won't budge. The wires are too big.

Crap. Now what?

I unhook it and try the other way again. Still no go. I'm getting desperate at this point. The clock is ticking away and the logical side of my brain is telling me to just put on an old one and get going. The frantic bookkeeper side of me says, "Are freakin' kidding me? We paid for small country covers and we're gonna use 'em!"

Suddenly I have an idea. What if I put it on over my head? It's worth a try. I take it off, fasten the hooks and then proceed to try and pull it over my head like a t-shirt. It's a little snug, but not too bad until I get it about half way down. I realize then, I'm stuck. My arms are trapped over my head and one wrong move could cause this power net to strangle me. I have horrifying visions of my family coming to search for me, only to find me strangled by my bra, arms over head, flashing God and country. Heaven forbid. I start wiggling again. After a good deal of sweating and pure fear, I managed to get it in place. I'm panting, sweaty and strangely limbered up - but thankful to be alive. My clock tells me this near death experience has cost me fifteen minutes of my morning routine.

At least it came off without a hitch tonight. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? One thing is for sure, I will find a way to conquer these things.

On the bright side, I've never been perkier!

Friday, June 09, 2006

I See Marley... Everywhere

I finished 'Marley and Me' by John Grogan. I absolutely LOVED it. The story of a young family and their lovable, crazy, loyal but kinda dumb dog is more than heartwarming. It's hysterical. They aren't kidding when the tag line calls Marley the world's worst dog.

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What made it even more hysterical for me, was that I see Marley all around me. Especially Angel's dog Bear. Our dogs aren't nearly Marley's size (only about 50-60 pounds) but the traits are still there. It's amazing how 'human' dogs can really be.

I especially loved the storys about Marley and his fear of thunderstorms. That's actually kind of a common thing for dogs, but Marley and Bear have taken their insanity to new heights. Tearing through drywall, chewing up sheet metal and burrowing behind washing machines. Luckily, my dog Jack, is just nervous - not psychotic.

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Jack on our backporch

I spent the few days I was reading this book, reliving memories of my own family pets. Especially at the end where Marley is old and dying. I had to put my own baby, Raquel, to sleep a year ago last month. It was one of the hardest thing I've had to do.

Raquel, Rocky for short, had bone cancer. It was bad. She'd already lived months longer than the doctors thought she could and she was old, 13 years. She was to the point where she could barely walk and the pain pills weren't helping. You reach a place as their 'mom', that you realize you can't prolong their life for your own needs. Rocky was suffering terribly. Dad and I took her to the Vet and they lifted her onto the cold metal table. I stood in front of her and took her head in my hands.

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Baby Raquel

Rocky was a beautiful Shepherd/Husky mix that I had raised from birth. Her fur was black with cream and tan Husky markings. A black stripe ran from her forhead down her nose. Where the black fur stripe ended, her nose was striped pink. I called it her racing stripe, she had the fastest tounge of any dog I've ever seen. She could lick you before you had time to blink - and her tounge was long. Gross as it is to say, I've had my tonsils licked many a time. She had a peanut butter addiction and if we left the jar anywhere she could reach it, she'd cabbage onto it. We'd come home to find the peanut butter jar sitting upright in the floor. The lid, riddled with teeth marks, unscrewed and laying neatly beside it, and a canyon licked through the middle of the peanut butter.

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Raquel all grown up

Holding her head, I kiss her striped nose for the last time. I tell her good-bye. That I love her and she's been a really good dog. That I'll miss her and it's okay, she doesn't have to be scared. I'm crying, and so is Dad. He's got his arm around her side. I keep my eyes on hers and keep whispering, "It's okay, shh, it's okay." The doctor injects the blue fluid in her paw. She's gone in seconds. I cried for days.

Reading about Marley's illness and death brought all those feelings back for me and I cried all over again. But it was a good cry, too, because it was like a shared sadness with someone who understood. Maybe you have to be a dog lover to understand, but when you give your heart to a dog they give you so much more in return. And it doesn't matter how naughty they are sometimes, they're worth it.

I highly recommend this. Everyone needs to cackle and sob withing the pages of a book. Especially the reader.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sign of the Times

My friend Eric sent me this video. I don't know if any of you have seen it or not, but I find it both amazing and timely. Of course now that the government has it, we're looking at YEARS before we get to benefit from it and it will probably cost a fortune to buy one when they do make it public. Too bad. My lead foot is itching to hit the road and water fuel sure would save me some money.


Funny Videos at Virob

Blogging 4 Books Contest - Magic

I found a contest on line called Blogging 4 Books. They give you a topic, you blog about it, and if you’re any good, you could win an autographed book. Seeing as this month’s guest author is, Shanna Swendson, one of my fav’s, I couldn’t help but give it a try. You should too, so get blogging!


Magic is one of those words that can be construed as many different things. Probably the most common is the hocus pocus kind we read about in fairy tales as kids. I had a really active imagination. I don’t know how many times I wished that I could turn veggies into carriages and hand me downs into ball gowns.

It didn’t stop with fairy tales though. For me, I discovered that a sense of ‘magic’ was in a whole lot more than Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Disney didn’t own the market on it. In fact, as I grew I began to realize that although fairy tale magic was fiction, there was in fact a real kind of magic. One that had nothing to do with hocus pocus.

Magic became more of a broad term for the mystery of the unknown, another way to describe how I felt about God’s amazing creation. Suddenly it was found in the massive depths of the Ocean. Sea creatures that were more alien than animal, plants that were more rock than vegetation. How could I describe the beauty and grandeur as anything but amazing, fantastic - magical? It entranced me. I devoured books of every kind about whales, sharks and marine biology. The more I learned, the more magical the place seemed.

The same holds true for the infinity of space. I guess that one seems more obvious, since Sci-Fi is so wildly popular. But it was the magical feeling of ‘what if’ that drew me to that final frontier. Not just the space travel, but the science that made those things possible. The idea that just maybe there is more out there than we’re willing to admit.

Maybe what makes magic real to us isn’t the fairy tales, or the movies, or the magicians that work so hard to cast their illusions. Maybe what makes magic real is the source of curiosity that is born in all of us, that rush we feel when we find something new that fascinates us. Maybe the real magic is in the awe and wonder we feel at a world that is so much more than just a chance of Fate.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Fav Songs

I just signed up for Rhapsody. We'll see if it was worth it. In the meantime, I thought I'd share some of the songs I'm listening to right now. Enjoy!


Rhapsody Playlist: "1. Father Figure - Ace Young
2. Because We Believe - Andrea Bocelli
3. The Prayer - (with Celine Dion) - Andrea Bocelli
4. I Dare You To Move - Switchfoot
5. Ever The Same - Rob Thomas
6. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers
7. Takin' It To The Streets - Taylor Hicks
8. Now Comes The Night - Rob Thomas
9. Stars - Switchfoot
10. Turandot - Andrea Bocelli
11. Forever 17 - Zoegirl
12. You Get Me - Zoegirl
13. Beer For My Horses - Toby Keith
14. Home - Marc Broussard
15. Goodbye For Now - P.O.D.
16. Photograph - Nickelback
17. Come To Jesus - Mindy Smith
18. Jolene - Mindy Smith (featuring Dolly Parton)
19. Because Of You - Kelly Clarkson
20. Breathe (2 AM) - Anna Nalick
21. Beautiful Disaster - Kelly Clarkson
22. She Believes In Me - Kenny Rogers
23. Lady - Kenny Rogers
24. L.O.V.E. - Ashlee Simpson
25. I Need You To Love Me (LP Version) - Barlowgirl
26. Never Alone - Barlowgirl
27. Alcohol - Brad Paisley
28. No Rush - Josh Turner
29. Only You (Single) - Josh Kelley
30. Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off - Joe Nichols
31. Hide and Seek - Imogen Heap
32. Moody'S Mood For Love - Elliott Yamin
33. When I Get Where I'm Going - Brad Paisley
34. Love Like Crazy - Chris Rice
35. Cartoons - (live) - Chris Rice
36. Superstition - Bucky Covington
37. Top Of The World - Dixie Chicks
38. Wanted Dead Or Alive - Chris Daughtry"

Monday, June 05, 2006

Marked Woman

Why is it that I attract creepy men like iron filings to a magnet?

Today started out as a typical Monday. Phones ringing like crazy, people screaming at each other… . Then Mr. Creepy came in. This particular customer is actually a relative of someone I know, so despite the fact that he makes my skin crawl, I’m nice and friendly.

Now, Mr. Creepy hasn’t been in to the office for probably two years, but you don’t forget someone like him. So when he came in, I recognized him and called him by name. That was mistake number one.

“Hi, Mr. Creepy. Haven’t seen you in a while.” I smile and wave him into my office to see how I can help him.

“Yeah, been a while. I need to get a couple of catalogs,” he says as he rounds my desk to stand as close to me as possible.

“Sure. I don’t have any in here though. Let me get them from the warehouse.” I stand to leave my office, but he won’t budge, so I squeeze past him. Unfortunately, he’s not content to wait for me. Instead, he follows me into the warehouse.

“Yeah, I gotta have two catalogs, because sometimes I buy stuff for my kids. They make more money then me, though. They should be buying mine.”

His eyes are burning holes in my back.

“Ha, ha. Well, I suppose that’s the way things go.” Just be friendly and it will all be over soon.

I grab two catalogs and hand them to him. “Here you are. These are the most current.”

“Thanks.” His eyes run slowly up and down me like a sleazy human scanner.

“Um, sure.” Once again I’m forced to pass him so that he can follow me all the way back into my office.

“So, how long have you worked here?”

“Ten years this summer.” I use the fake cheery voice that says ‘I’m being nice cuz I have to’.

“Do you live in this area?” He’s still eyeing me.

“Yeah, my sister and I grew up here.” I gesture toward Angel as we pass her office.

“Oh.” He ignores her office and keeps staring. “So where did you go to school?”

“CPRS, a local private school.” I’m trying to make my answers curt without losing the fake cheery.

“So what year did you graduate?”

“Uh, ’95.” We’re back in my office now and I hide behind my desk.

“Oh, so I’m about 20 years older than you.”

“Really? Well, you don’t look it.” I say to be nice. And that was mistake number two.

“Really?” His eyes light up. “Thanks! I just went to my 20 year class reunion and no one there recognized me until I showed them my old school ID. Here, wanna see?” He rounds my desk and pulls the picture from his wallet.


“Oh, well, the mustache makes you look different in the picture, but other than that, you still look pretty much the same.”

Mustache makes you look sleazier.

“Thanks.” He puts the picture back in his wallet. “Areyourmarried?”

It takes a second for his quiet mumble to make sense. Are you married?

“Ha, ha, ha…” I’m laughing because I’m stumped for any other response. You can make anything a joke if just laugh it off, right?

“You’re sweet. Wannahavedinnerandtalkaboutitsometime?”

My brain translates his latest mumbled sentence. Wanna have dinner and talk about it sometime? Crap.

I chuckle again and he laughs with me, but I see him blushing.

Aw, dangit. I didn’t want to embarrass him.

“So, did you need to order anything while you were here?” I’m trying my hardest to keep up the friendly tone and change the subject.

“Nah. I just needed these.” He picks up his catalogs. “It was really nice seeing you again. I’ll see you around. Probably soon.”

“Sure, nice to see you again too.” And that will probably be mistake number three.

He left and I shuddered. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s not that he’s nasty looking. I suppose he’s average. I don’t really care, because it’s not his looks that creep me out. It’s HIM. There is just something oily and creepy about him. And despite that, I still have a hard time being mean. I suppose laughing could be considered mean, but I wasn’t laughing at him. I was laughing it off as if I thought he was joking. Which I know he wasn’t, but I honestly didn’t know how else to respond.

Actually, I’ve found laughter is my knee jerk response when I don’t know what else to do or say.

Anyway, I was complaining to Angel that I can count the number of times I’ve been seriously hit on, and they were all creepy. What’s the deal?

There was Mr. Blockbuster who wanted me to go see Romeo and Juliet with him. Which, in essence should have been a great thing for a Shakespeare buff, but I just chuckled and left. (Note: I’m not sure, but I suspect this type of laughter may sound slightly hysterical.)

Then there was Mr. Shoe Store. He zeroed in on me while I was shopping and kept asking for my number even after I told him I didn’t give it to strangers. He just kept coming back. I finally gave him my business card with my work number. He didn’t call – Thank goodness.

There was Mr. Destiny. He was the not quite divorced nephew of a friend. I walked into my parent’s house and he was there with his aunt. The minute I stepped through the door, it was like seeing Pepe LaPew with hearts zooming out of his eyes. I could actually FEEL those little hearts coming off of him. The next day his aunt told me he couldn’t stop talking about me. He said I was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen and did she think I’d date him? I was saved the embarrassment of having to turn him down in person because she told him I wasn’t interested. (Most beautiful woman he’s ever seen? Does he live in a cave?!)

There was Mr. AMC, a complete stranger that started talking to me in the theater and before I knew it was seated right next to me, laying his head on my shoulder and trying to buy me popcorn and a drink. He actually got up in the middle of the sold out movie climbed out over everyone to get popcorn after I told him I didn’t want any. Then climbed back in, tripped, landed in my lap, apologized, then offered me popcorn. I again said, no thanks and he responded. “You should have said you didn’t want any, I wouldn’t have bought this big bag.” Nuff said.

There have been others as well, each one creepy in their own way. The thing is, most of them look normal until they start talking, then it’s like, “Whoa, what planet are you from?” And my downfall is, I just can’t be mean to them.

Do I have “Desperately seeking Loser” stamped on my forehead? I’m not even LOOKING. I mean, if I met somebody that I was interested in, I’d be totally open to pursuing a relationship, but I don’t date just to date. Unfortunately, all the normal men are apparently hiding under a rock somewhere.

Fully Depressed,

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Did you all hear this story on the news? I can't even imagine how devastating this would be. On one hand, it would be like a miracle to discover your daughter wasn't dead. On the other, you have a family who invested five weeks in hope and prayers, only to have them dashed. I'm glad that both families have a relationship with Jesus. It would be near impossible to handle this ordeal otherwise.

WHITNEY LIVED, NOT LAURA: ID mix-up after crash in Indiana stuns the families of 2 Michigan women

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She emerged from her coma-like state and started to speak more than two weeks ago.
By Memorial Day, the young woman in the Grand Rapids hospital was playing a board game with a therapist, walking a bit and passing simple tests like reading signs out loud.
But, to the family gathered at her bedside, she was still saying things that didn't make sense.
Now they know why: She wasn't their sister and daughter, Laura VanRyn, 22, whom everyone believed had survived a van crash five weeks ago. In an incredible mix-up, she was really VanRyn's fellow student, Whitney Cerak, an 18-year-old woman also in the April 26 crash that killed five people along an Indiana highway.

Cerak's parents, meanwhile, believed they had already buried their daughter near their home in Gaylord.

On an Internet blog site, where the VanRyns posted what they believed were updates on Laura VanRyn's condition since April 28, sister Lisa VanRyn wrote Wednesday: "We have some hard news to share with you today. Our hearts are aching. ...

"Over the past couple of days, as Whitney had been becoming more aware of her surroundings, she'd been saying and doing things that made us question whether or not she was Laura."
Bruce Rossman, a spokesman for the hospital, said the VanRyns told him of their suspicions.
"When she was called 'Laura,' she would say 'Whitney,' " Rossman said.

In Indiana, the Grant County Coroner's Office notified the family and Taylor University, in Upland, Ind., where the two women were students, about the mix-up after a positive ID was made this week.

On Wednesday, Coroner Ron Mowery explained the confusion by saying that IDs were strewn about the accident scene and one of the first rescue workers apparently attached VanRyn's identification to Cerak as she was airlifted to a Ft. Wayne hospital.
Mowery said faculty from the school identified VanRyn's body as Cerak. Family members were not consulted, he said, adding that regulations don't require him to do so.

"This is one of the most tragic upon tragic experiences," Mowery said. "We did what was routine."

The women's families weren't available for comment, except through a joint statement released to the news media.

According to the statement, both women had similar builds, facial features and long blond hair. Cerak's injuries included a broken elbow, a broken leg, ribs and clavicle, cuts, bruises and facial swelling. She also was wearing a neck brace during her recuperation.

Progress with frustration
Cerak had been staying at a rehabilitation facility in Grand Rapids, near the VanRyns' home. Although she could respond to some simple commands just days after the crash, the VanRyns said she remained in a coma-like state until May 16.
The family's Web site updates indicated she had a tracheotomy that would have made speech difficult but, after it was capped on May 15, she responded to physical therapy and questions. But she seemed frustrated at times.

She tried to tear her neck brace off at one point. At another, she took a swing at one of the VanRyns.

Rossman said that recently Cerak "began to look more like her usual self."
Confirmation of the mix-up was made through dental records, and Cerak's family traveled to the woman's bedside Wednesday.

At the VanRyn home in Caledonia, near Grand Rapids, a reporter was asked to leave.
On the Web log, Lisa VanRyn wrote: "For us, we will mourn Laura's going home and will greatly miss her compassionate heart and sweetness."

Looking back and forward
VanRyn died in the crash April 26 on I-69 northeast of Indianapolis as she and a group of nine other Taylor students and employees were returning to the school.

A tractor trailer driven by Robert Spencer, 37, of Canton drifted across the median and smashed into the van, police say.

Several of the van's passengers were thrown from the vehicle. Authorities are still investigating. Spencer referred questions to his lawyer but did not identify his attorney before hanging up.

A month ago, an overflow crowd of more than 1,400 people turned out for what they thought was Cerak's funeral in Gaylord.

Joe Sereno, associate pastor at Gaylord Evangelical Free Church, told the Associated Press the casket was closed both for visitation and for the funeral. It was not immediately known if or when VanRyn's body would be exhumed, but a memorial service is planned for Sunday in Grand Rapids.

A speechless father
Outside the Cerak family home Wednesday evening, motorists honked their horns and passersby left flowers and notes.

Neighbor Sue Awrey dropped by the home to pick up Hunter, an aging golden retriever belonging to the Ceraks.

"I really can't describe my emotions," said Awrey, a teacher who has known Cerak's mother, Colleen Cerak, and her family for 16 years. She talked to Cerak's father, Newell Cerak, earlier Wednesday. "I said, 'I really don't know what to say.' He said: 'I know. I'm the same way.'
"You wonder what she's gone through for five weeks, lying in a hospital with all these strange people around," Awrey said of Whitney Cerak.

"A lot of people here are struggling to process it, too. My 9-year-old said to me, 'But mom, we went to her funeral, I cried for her.' "

Contact JIM SCHAEFER at 313-223-4542 or jschaefer@freepress.com. Naomi R. Patton, Dawson Bell, Ben Schmitt and the Indianapolis Star contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.

Road to Reality

I've always been a naturally curious person. I like to know what makes things and people tick. Maybe that's why reading has always been such a passion. It's such an easy way to absorb new information. It's always amazed me how much you can learn from reading, even when it's just a Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden mystery.

When I was eight I decided I wanted to be a marine biologist. I read every book I could find on ocean life - sharks, dolphins, whales, etc. I even read all the books I could find on aquariums and pet tropical fish. I could name and identify hundreds of species, tell you what they ate and where they lived. My favorite book during my fish phase was a biography about ichthyologist Eugenie Clark. I swore some day I'd swim with sharks, too. Unfortunately for me, I'm a lousy swimmer and have never seen the ocean in person. I eventually figured out that it wasn't the career for me, but I've kept that love of marine life and I still dream of swimming in the ocean with God's creatures.

When I was thirteen I decide that astronomy was what I was made for. I got all the star charts, memorized the constellations, and wished on every star possible for a telescope. That ran for a couple of years before I realized my math skills just weren't where they needed to be and I moved on.

I don't think it's a coincidence that those two fields fascinated me so much. I was drawn to them for the same reason I'm drawn to good Sci-Fi. It's the call of the unknown. The mysterious 'what if' and 'how'?

Those same questions still tend to drive me today. Especially in my reading. I still get on stuck on a certain topic and read it until I'm ready to move on. Recently it's been the Physics of the Universe. Weighty, I know. And before you scoff at my ability to absorb such knowledge, I'll say up front. I'm no mathmetician. However I've discovered that there are a number of really good books that explain the laws of the universe mathmatically in laymens terms.

Which is excellent for me.

I posted a while back that I was reading "The Road to Reality: A complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe" by Roger Penrose. I still am - but in my defense, it's over a thousand pages. What fascinates me about this book though, is that it explains things in ways I never knew before. Did you know that there was more than one form of geometry? Or that they actually make sense?Maybe you did, but I didn't.

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In his first chapter the author talks about the roots of the science and the philosophers that started the movement. Plato's idea of a perfect 'world' or 'dimension' that encompases three absolutes - Truth, Beauty and Goodness, fascinates me. In his explanation, this place exists outside of our own physical universe and is an eternal place. One where all laws, ideals and morals of the universe have been in existence for ever. That no matter when man might have discovered the truth of these laws, they were always there. The author goes on to elaborate, that everything in our universe is goverened by a mathematical law. Down to the smallest of the microscopic world, you can see elaborate patterns that are governed by math. An expample of this would be the Mandlebrot set. The deeper the microscope goes, the more intricate that patterns.

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To further this explanation, he explains that there are three 'worlds' or 'dimension' so to speak that all come into play. The diagram below shows how they relate to one another. The Platonic world of pure truth governs our physical selves and world completely. In turn, our physical selves control the amount of mental capacity available to us. In theory, our mental selves are able to completley comprehend the pure world of truth, we're only limited by the physical limits our body's set upon us. It all flows perfectly in a never ending circle.

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So why does this excite me so much? Because it's a perfect type and shadow of God and His creation - whether science wants to admit it or not.

God and His kingdom is that place of absolutes. Of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. His law is perfect and He wove it seamlessly into His creation. Those perfect laws are eternal and have been there since the dawn of time - regardless of when man 'discovered' them. They govern every part of our physical world. We, as humans are limited in our understanding. God says 'My ways are higher than your ways, My thoughts higher than your thoughts.' But does that mean we aren't capable in some way of completely comprehending the pure world that God resides in?

I don't think so. Let's look at the fact that at best we only use 10% of our brain capacity. Actually Einstein probably used 10%, the rest of us - not so much. SO, what would happen if that changed? Doesn't God tell us we will be 'changed in a twinkling of an eye'? Whether it's after we die, during the resurection or some other time, the reality is that if God were to unlock that dormant part of our brains, theoretically we could comprehend all of His world. How exciting is that? It's a mathmatical trinity, yet another example of the number three that is woven throughout the scriptures as a witness of God's perfection.

It's just all so exciting. I wish I had known in highschool, that this is how math was meant to be studied. I dare you to check this out, you'll be surprised just how much you comprehend - and how exciting it will be.