And Told To Hang

Mr. Wintle, ever the instigator:

The damn liberal left has no regard for people’s health or safety.

Lately they’re trying to put up these (noise) polluting windmills. Watch this video to see what happens when one fails. They say nuclear is dangerous. It’s nothing compared to wind. Anyone within a 100 yard area could have been killed by this accident and it remained unsafe for minutes afterwards.

You have been warned!

To Fall Down At Your Door

Pete and Drusy watch TV.

Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, asks an important question.

So I was at a museum in Jersey about fifteen years ago and I saw an exhibit by a guy who put together pieces of swirly formica tabletops from the fifties to create these huge flat pieces that were totally fabulous. I can’t remember the artist’s name. I can’t remember the name of the museum. I can’t remember shit any more. If I didn’t have my Palm, I’d forget to put on my pants. Anyways, does any of that ring a bell? I’ve searched online, of course, but I can’t come up with a thing.

I got bupkis. Any ideas?

As Long As I Stay I’ll Be Waiting

Yesterday, a post on dKos, which I don’t generally read because I have two jobs, a handsome dude and sometimes require sleep, reminded us that though the blogosphere raised enough money for the trust to buy a house for the Pretty Bird Woman House shelter, other needs are coming to light. For example, many generous people have sent new and gently used sheets and towels, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. The shelter has set up a Target Wish List, which is completely awesome. I didn’t realize the shelter would need alarm clocks, but of course, the shelter needs them, duh! I have one still in the box in my hall closet, and next time I send out a box of donated items, I’ll drop in the alarm clock.

Needs will continue to make themselves known. This week, they discovered they had three blankets. A few days ago, it was -17 degrees in McLaughlin, South Dakota. Three twin or full size blankets doesn’t cut it any way one looks at that situation. You don’t have to go crazy, though. At your house, you probably have sheets, towels and blankets you don’t use. Put ’em in a box and send them to:

Pretty Bird Woman House
302 Sale Barn Rd.
McLaughlin SD 57642

This week, I sent out three boxes full of Daria’s bras and children’s clothing, so I can tell you with certainty that UPS or FedEx will be cheaper than the Postal Service. As long as you’re mailing stuff, keep in mind that when women leave a hospital after an assault exam they often leave their clothes behind as evidence. Sweats, bras and underwear don’t seem all that important until you face leaving a hospital in nothing but a blanket, which has happened.

Finally, the shelter will need office supplies. Staples and Office Depot will ship gift cards for free. Come to think of it, so will most retailers. If you think of a need the shelter will encounter, I hope you will mention it in comments on this or the shelter’s blog.

The other day, I was looking through the closet containing the life’s work of the person we refer to as Me. It all stacks very neatly on a top shelf where I don’t have to look at it. Thing is I didn’t plan to stop being Me, so I have all kinds of office supplies. I debated sending them to the shelter but it would be prohibitively expensive. I’ve decided to call Elijah’s Promise on Monday, and if they don’t need folders and reams of paper, I’m sure Planned Parenthood does. These things are a weight on me now but they might lighten the load for someone else.

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

Drusy demonstrates exceptional flatness.

Yesterday, I dragged my new maroon bicycle down a small flight of stairs, across what passes for a lawn and into the street. Then I rode to work at the family store, pretending I didn’t look or feel like Angela Lansbury in the opening credits of Murder, She Wrote. No, no! I am far more rugged and burly! I am fierce! I am also smaller than I at first appear, so dragging the bicycle down a twisting flight of stairs inside the family store exhausted me completely. Anya, laughing hysterically, said, “Plainly the workout is when you get off the bike.” No kidding. She would not have enjoyed watching me walk the bike through her store full of beautiful things after closing, which I will never ever describe to her and hope she never sees.

Man, I hope I got all the little pieces!


Last night, it started snowing. This morning, I looked out my front window and said, “No way, I’m risking my life for the unnamed university. This cowgirl’s going back to bed.” When I woke up twenty years later, I shaved and looked outside again. Oh, those kids with their rock music and snow plows! There’s a path out of the cul-de-sac by the river and Pete reports the roads aren’t so bad. Still, my laundry’s washed. As it dries it humidifies my arid apartment.


I’m making a shopping list. Cat litter, coffee, unbleached filters, hand soap, special overpriced shampoo for my overpriced hair, body wash, NyQuil, eggs, vegetables. It’s raining outside, turning the slippery layer of pressed snow into slush. I hate this step in the thaw but let’s be realistic. Siobhan and I have a date with Suzette for martinis tonight, and I am loath to get my paws wet. Staying dry will require ingenuity. I’m considering building my own diving bell.

Two days ago, Daria returned from Virginia with another carload of stuff that used to be Dad’s. This time, more jars for jarring spring fruits and vegetables. In a few weeks, we’ll stage a final garage sale, then our stepmother Darla will pack up and go back to Canada with her cats. I regard these new items with some nervousness. A time is coming when Dad’s death and all events rippling through our lives for the last year will smooth out into the flatness of History. I am not sure how I feel about that and I can tell Daria isn’t either. In the meantime, my grandmother’s, then Dad’s convection oven has a new home with me.

I do not know how to use it but I will learn that, too.

We’d Like To Feel You’re Respectable

Yesterday’s WikiHow article title caught my eye. How to Not Be Annoying does not just fracture syntax in five words. No, the article goes for broke.

Most of the time, an annoying person doesn’t realize how his or her behavior is perceived by others. If you suspect that you’re annoying others – or you’ve been told you’re annoying and think they might be right, here’s how to avoid the little things that often get on people’s nerves.



1. Think first. Think about what you are going to say before blurting it out.

Oh, come now. If I’m busy thinking, I’m not blurting. And then where will we be?

4. Respect boundaries. Everybody has boundaries – you need to learn what they are and try to avoid crossing them. Boundaries vary widely from culture to culture and even from individual to individual.

* Do not go around poking people constantly. In fact, don’t touch them at all if they don’t like it. Of course if they grant permission, then by all means have fun, but otherwise cut it out before you start.
* Mind your own business. Avoid butting into a conversation by (for example) saying, “What are you talking about?” If you hear someone talking about something with another person, and you only catch the last sentence, leave it be.

I take offense at the suggestion I quit playing my favorite game: I’ve Never Heard Those Words Before. For instance, sometimes people talk and talk and finally I hear something exciting – “Children’s shoes appeal to my pancreas,” say – well, you can bet your sweet patootie I’m going to blurt out, “WHAT are you TALKING about?” But let’s go back to Step 2.

2. Build self confidence. Being insecure can lead to annoying traits. Until you have built your self confidence up don’t try too hard.

3. Break counterproductive habits. If you laugh loudly at everyone’s jokes, even if they’re not all that funny, read up on how to avoid laughing at inappropriate times. Try a different approach – be genuine and be yourself. If people find you annoying when you’re being true to yourself, then you need to find new, more accepting people to be around.

Last week, I annoyed a Quaker. He almost said a dirty word. They don’t, you know.

5. Be humble. Just because you’re confident doesn’t mean you have to act like you’re better than anyone else. Don’t do or say things that might let you appear to be arrogant, like bragging about your wealth or success.

* Don’t correct bad grammar/spelling or inaccuracies of others because most people don’t like being corrected.
* Don’t excessively tell people that their beliefs are wrong; gently and nicely mention that you disagree.
* Don’t complain all the time. Remember the world does not revolve around you. If you complain too much, others will find you depressing and avoid you. Read up on how to be optimistic.

The world does revolve around me. Not me, but Me. Certainly. What are you talking about? And by the way, is there a Ronco Confidence Meter, like those insulin testing kits, so I can measure whether a new outfit makes me radioactively overconfident?

8. Be conscious of your surroundings. Be aware if you are standing in doorways while having a conversation, driving 20MPH in a 40MPH zone, or if your children are being obnoxious in a public place. Consider how your actions are likely to affect the people around you, and you will gain their respect.

In this article, the word respect is a hotlink. I am not clicking that. Since meaning there is up for grabs, I fear a Blues Brothers-style dance number will break out in my office. Cue Aretha in three, two, one…

9. Be polite and hygienic. Don’t peek down people’s shirts for instance, don’t pass gas, don’t talk about looking down people’s shirts or passing gas. Take care to brush and/or floss after meals so as not inflict your breath on others or allow strings of food to flap back and fourth when you speak, and don’t talk about specific instances of impolite or unhygienic actions that offended you in the past.

Fantastic. You’ve just described C-SPAN in Smell-O-Vision.

9. Learn to read facial reactions and body movements. Pay attention to the facial expressions and body language of those around you and work to immediately identify and stop whatever you’re doing that is annoying others.
10. Think of others. For some it is easy, but for others, it is not. Try to put yourself in others’ shoes and treat others the way you would like to be treated.

I’m so altruistic I never stop thinking of others. I worry and wonder and hope and dream and just know they’re thinking of Me! Because, frankly, who would not? I’m Me! And who can help but think about that!


* It is easy to be annoying if you talk too much. Think about what you say before you say it. Remember the famous quotation, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” Not talking at all is no fun for anyone, so you should try to strike a balance in conversation.
* Don’t know if you are annoying? Ask a person that you would find likely to give you an honest and constructive answer. Be prepared for criticism and be willing to accept it gracefully. The person may not be ready to give it all immediately, so give him/her time by explaining your situation, thoughts, and feelings to make it clear you can handle helpful criticism. Don’t take this to an extreme, either, as it will probably be quite annoying, itself.

I suppose those tips might be helpful if they weren’t so…um… But this is my favorite:


* If you are unable to stop being annoying, be wary that some people will not be able to stand you anymore. They may physically assault you causing serious injury or even death.

This just gets better and better. Threats before breakfast! Also: though I didn’t read this article very closely, I corrected egregious punctuation problems. The writer will either thank me later or quit respecting my boundaries. I’m learning so much!

A Good Babysitter Is Hard To Find

This is Frederick by Leo Lionni, the first book I picked for myself. I was in kindergarten, I believe, which would be either 1968 or 1969. Frederick has a specific lesson for children about how art is as important in life as bread, but there’s a secondary consideration I took away: if we pool our talents our lives are immeasurably better. Curiously, this book is the story of my life, however one interprets those things. I expect Mickey Rooney to show up any time with a barn and a plan for a show, though my mom is not making costumes.

My sisters own a toy store with a fantastic selection of imaginative children’s books. I try not to open them because I can’t close them and put them back. My tantrums are setting a bad example for the kids. Anyway, I mention this because yesterday was Mr. Rogers’ 40th anniversary. I appreciate the peaceful gentleman more as time passes, as I play with finger puppets in department meetings, as I eye hollow trees for Lady Elaine Fairchild infestations. Maybe Pete can build me trolley tracks!

And Dedicate Them All To Me

Re: Your Terrible Commercials

To Whom It Concerns:

We’ve had a long relationship, what with it being impossible anymore to watch TV via a signal that travels though the air. In that time, you’ve promised me the NASA Channel and BBC America, both of which you failed to deliver. Remember that? Ah, good times! Lately, every few minutes my picture goes all pixilated, which is mildly annoying, and every time I try to get the channel guide the screen goes to the iO logo because somehow the signal gets cut off for at least a few minutes every day, which is also annoying. But that’s not why I’m writing. Nope: about half your commercials sound like they were written by drunken, 22-year-old county college communications majors, and not the smart ones.

See, the thing is these commercials were written by people who don’t understand the phrases they’re using. I know, I know. People misuse English all the time, but it takes special talent to get that blatant, craptastic phrasing through a room full of proofreaders and – curiously – grownups. This talent is usually reserved for really cute girls or that frat boy who by virtue of his size intimidates anyone who’s ever cracked a dictionary. Fortunately for you, I don’t scare easy.

Example Number 1: Last year’s jarring mistake was the tagline “Who says the world isn’t flat?” That one’s easy. Sailors, pilots, astronauts, astronomers, meteorologists, geologists, and every mapmaker in the world know the world isn’t flat. Little children know the world is not flat. It is an obloid spheroid. Your copywriter was making ham-fisted reference to Thomas L. Friedman’s recent book, which in itself was a ham-fisted attempt to be clever.

When your narrator intones “Who says the world isn’t flat?” smart people say, “Huh, maybe I’ll go read Profiles In Courage.”

Example Number 2: More recently, two commercials use the words “Here’s something else too good to be true,” and recommend your service. The problem is these words mean the exact opposite of what your commercial suggests. Here’s the breakdown.

If something is too good to be true, that means it’s a lie, it’s a falsehood, it’s a swindle.
If something is almost too good to be true, it’s a dream, it’s Heavenly, it’s a great offer.

In other words, your commercial, as it’s written, suggests your service is worthless.

Let’s not even discuss the iO international commercial set on a beach with a throbbing beat and amateurish choreography. In its way, that ad must be effective because I recite the phone number in my sleep, but it is grating beyond endurance. I keep hoping that guy in the lobster suit goes all full-metal Godzilla on the beachgoers, but the commercial ends the same way every time. Alas!

There’s no need for iO to transgress against the English language. Any experienced copyrighter should be able to untie the half-assed linguistic rigging, provided you let him or her push overboard the person or committee who committed these word crimes. If all this was the work of your brother-in-law, I’m sorry. It’s time for him to pursue other career opportunities.


Peter Pan, Frankenstein Or Superman

Pete’s a cyclist. He’s sitting on the living room floor now, greasing a chain, and I’m not even talking dirty. Months ago, he tried out a friend’s folding bike and for me it was like watching a fish get back into water. With the end of winter, he feels confined indoors, as do I. Some time ago, he decided that for my birthday we’d pick out a bicycle for me. We studied catalogs and the net. Today, we drove all over Central New Jersey, looked at a handful of bicycles and rode a few, too. I’d ride a bike, then he’d ride it. If it was comfortable for me it looked like a circus tricycle under him. Finally, we found one in Princeton for a price we liked and the bike lacked a mysteriously femmy paint job found on most of the women’s trail bikes. The bike guy at the bike shop liked Pete’s talk about cycling across Utah and when it turned out they’d had the same bikes growing up I declared them separated at birth.

The bike guy will build my bike and it’ll be ready tomorrow. I’m so thrilled to pieces with the promise of getting outdoors I let them talk me into a helmet.

Pete: Go pick out a helmet.
Tata: I cannot deny my high-hair heritage. I can’t wear a helmet!
Bike Guy: This one is less than $100 and won’t obscure the hair.
Tata: I feel glamorous. Note my extreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeme beauty!
Bike Guy: It looks great.
Tata: I can’t wear that. It clashes with my maroon bike. Got anything in silver?
Bike Guy: Here you go!
Tata: Dude, that was eight feet off the ground. You should audition for Cirque du Soleil.
Bike Guy: That one’s got a visor. It comes off!
Tata: Pete, the silver helmet looks like it’s going FAST!
Pete: It’s going, all right.
Tata: See the thing that’s keeping brains inside my head?
Pete: Ah, yep.
Tata: It’s flattening my hair!
Pete: My dear, that’ll never happen.

The kickstand comes separately.

The Newsman Sang His Same Song

As I left the family store tonight, I stood on the sidewalk talking with Anya about a disk full of images for the website. I work on the store’s website. The toughest art is getting good images of merchandise from manufacturers because artists and artisans are suspicious, for which we can’t really blame them. This disk, then, would be a boon to me. It was in a bag in Corinne’s car at Anya’s house. I said I’d stop by and pick it up. Fifteen minutes later, I was sitting in my living room wearing pajamas when I remembered. Corinne is so used to this she wasn’t even surprised when I called and said I’d forgotten before I even crossed the street.