Monthly Archives: January 2009

Painting pooties, or pooties painting?

Paint: v. to apply a pigment liquid to a surface; to decorate or adorn a surface with color and/or lines

Pooties: n. they’re still cute cats.

My blog friend Splodge responded to my poodle coiffure post with several pictures of cats, painted in all sorts of fabulous ways – like this:




Hands-down, my favorite is the retreating cat/clown. Particularly the bow-tie, which says it all.

The first question that comes to mind is how in hell did anyone get a cat to sit still enough to paint every hair so carefully? And as commentator Splodge noted, the cat would produce a helluva colorful hairball.

The painted cats reminded me of the wonderfully fanciful bestseller of a few years ago, called Why Cats Paint by Burton Silver and Heather Busch – written in the style of art conoisseurs:

Turns out, since Busch and Silver were on a money-making roll, with tongues firmly planted in cheek, they decided to take their photography and photo-shopping skills even further, and produced a book call Why Paint Cats.

Both books are so well done you can’t quite tell if they’re putting you on.

Update: Thanks to sharp-eyed reader Susan, it appears Busch and Silver have now created an online presence with the Museum of Non-Primate Art, which goes beyond cat art to include Bird Art, with scientific descriptions of the various shapes taken by bird poop as it lands, and an upcoming exhibit called “Hanks & Coils.The Shaping and Placement of Canine Defecatory Structures.”

Which circles us back to another fine P-word: POOP.

Poking thru the dirt: signs of spring

Poke: v. to pierce, jab or cause to project

The temperature has been hovering around 32 degrees for more than a week, and it’s that damp chill that makes you want to stay indoors with a cup of hot chocolate. (Shouldn’t have written that… it’s giving me a hankerin’.)

But aside from getting the sludge out of your veins, it pays to take a walk in late January. We’ll start with my own yard. Daffodils beginning to poke thru the dirt:

daffodils poking up

Then on this morning’s walk at Salmon Creek I noticed the hazelnut catkins were emerging:

And here the late afternoon sun shines through the Douglas firs in Whipple Creek Park:
Whipple Creek Park

“How can I keep from singing…”

Parody: Prince Reggie K’s “old-school hip-hop”

Parody: n. a literary, dramatic or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule

Prince: n. a nobleman of high rank or man of high standing in his field.

Last night I stumbled on this  video of hip-hop has-been  “Prince Reggie K” and laughed my head off. It’s been around for at least a year, but it’s new to me, and if you’re as “old-school” as I am, you probably haven’t seen it.

President “not a plates kind of guy”

Plate: n. a shallow usually circular vessel from which food is eaten or served – from Greek platys broad, flat

Our new president is a more casual guy than the former occupant of the Oval Office. According to a sweet story in today’s NY Times, he takes off his jacket to work, and doesn’t mind if his staffers take off theirs.

This is something the FO wouldn’t stand for – it was suits and ties always, or you got seriously chewed out. Which leads us to wonder: was W’s insistence on show to mask his deep insecurity and fear of being outed as an imposter?

The new pres seems more concerned with getting things done than protocol or decor. So far he hasn’t changed the furnishings of the OO at all, except yesterday he mentioned that Ws commemorative plate collection was going to have to go.

“I’m not a plates kind of guy,” he said.

Is anyone surprised? Commemorative plates are so last year; actually they’re so last generation (or even Grandma’s generation).

What we’re seeing is generational turnover, and not a moment too soon.

The  Times article also described Obama’s delight at being able to eat breakfast and dinner with his family, and see his kids off to school before commuting downstairs.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if this commitment to family and shared family meals set a new model for families across America? This is one old-fashioned idea that needs to return.

Pwned by family: Project renamed Operation Silver Fox

Pwn: v. Pwn is a slang term from Internet gaming, derived from the word “own”, that implies domination or humiliation of a rival (or in this case a parent)

My children have informed me that I am not to seek a sugar daddy (see yesterday’s post on this important topic).  And I have to admit their reasoning is sound.

#2 Son says:

a Sugar Daddy is a fat dude wearing a gold chain at a strip club who exchanges goods (da monies) for services (da sexytime).  This is not the image I want to have of my mother.

When he puts it like that, I definitely get the point. Yuck. Gold chain! Probably wears a pinky ring too. Double yuck. OK – scratch Operation Sugar Daddy. It hadn’t exactly gotten off the ground anyway.

If I’m going to embark on this mission, they say I should shoot for a more positive name, like “Operation Silver Fox”. Son #2 continues:

…Think silver fox, Mom. Think Sean Connery, Robert Redford, Richard Gere…

Richard Gere! Now we’re talkin’  – and he can even dance! Who cares if he knows which end of a hammer to use on a nail.

Operation Silver Fox it is.

Even with this name change, my daughter isn’t convinced that my eggs are in the right basket. I think she wants me to reduce expenses – sell the house and move into a mud hut.  In all fairness, she’s got a right to be wary – her 80- year-old mother-in-law has been living with them for five years and probably won’t be leaving except on a litter.

But she’s willing to play along for awhile if I put some thinking in to how I’ll brand and market myself.

“What’s your strategic plan, Mom?” she asks.

I’m thinking. I’m thinking.

Postponing penury: Operation Sugar Daddy

Postpone: v. to put off into the future

Penury: n. an oppressive lack of resources (as money) ; severe poverty

I have a predicament, no doubt shared by many single women in this time of economic hardship. I live in a house I love. It’s bigger than I need, and more expensive to maintain than I can afford (unless I want to spend my last years on the street).

Plus I’ve been single since 2001 and the solitary lifestyle is getting stale. So three years ago I decided what I needed was a sugar daddy… some brilliant, charming, loving, handy, and financially comfortable man with whom to share my life and my home.

Unfortunately, qualified men who were also eligible are scarcer than the dodo bird in my town. Especially since I disqualify Republicans and evangelicals.

So I foisted the task of finding me a new mate off on my son-in-law, who knows all sorts of fascinating people around the country.

Nada.  Plus I learned that he has several other female clients who have given him the same task – and they are younger than me.

Yesterday I was talking with my daughter about the sorry state of my finances, and she gave me a talking to:

“Mom,” she said, “Operation Sugar Daddy is entering into its fourth unsuccessful year. When are you going to come up with a different financial strategy?”

Hurt to the core by my daughter’s lack of trust, I started to write a P-word post on the subject, one with a hip name, like “Project Pwned,” to show how youthful I was. Unfortunately I was unsure of the correct usage of “pwned.”

I saw that my #2 son was on googletalk at the moment so I messaged him for illumination. And this is how that conversation went:

Me: Vocabulary help needed…   If Heather makes fun of me for falling down on my Operation Sugar Daddy Project, can I say the project was pwned?

#2 Son: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Actually… you’d say Heather pwned you.

Me: Oops. Glad I asked, because I’ve got P-word post in the offing about my abject failure in Operation Sugar Daddy department.

#2 Son: It’s about owning or dominating another person. Look it up here:

Me: So its done to a person not to a project or effort.

#2 Son: Well, kind of. If you were to have kicked ass at Operation SD, you would’ve “pwned” the project. As in, dominated it. A tough week at work could “pwn you”, meaning it defeated you.

Me: OK so I could be pwnd by Operation SD?

#2 Son: Well, not exactly. The project didn’t pwn you–it didn’t dominate you. It just never went anywhere. It was like that horse at the track that doesn’t move a muscle when the gates open, instead choosing to stand there, with a lost and slightly vacant look in its eyes… like a drunk who’s lost a bet.

Me: Jeez – Give me a break. Heather already pointed out the Plan had some flaws.

#2 Son: Exactly. The Plan had the fatal flaw of never actually existing.

I’ve got one more child to go to for sympathy.

Or maybe I ought to create a PLAN for Operation SD… ya think?

Practice, practice, practice: the theory of 10,000 hours

Practice: v. to do or perform often, customarily, or habitually;  to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient; to train by repeated exercises

You know the story:

The tourist in Manhattan asks for directions: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

Helpful local: “Practice, practice, practice.”

I have resisted practicing since I was a kid – starting with violin at age 7,  piano at 10, and as an adult – meditation, yoga, writing, you name it.

Resistance is a child’s tactic against a pushy parent though. How many decades does it take to outgrow this worthless ploy?

By now I know full well that whenever I do something repeatedly my performance soars. But that doesn’t make it any easier to knuckle down.

Stephen King wrote about his own writing habit in his 1999 book On Writing.  He poo-poos writing workshops and says in a nutshell, if you want to become a better writer, write a LOT.  (He also says to read a lot, but that’s another topic).

He writes several hours a day. Every day. Including Christmas and the Fourth of July. And he’s got more than 30 bestsellers to show for it.

Daniel Levitin in This is Your Brain on Music talks about the theory of 10,000 hours:

… ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert — in anything. In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is the equivalent to roughly three hours per day, or twenty hours per week, of practice over ten years. Of course, this doesn’t address why some people don’t seem to get anywhere when they practice, and why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others. But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.

Three hours a day (20 hours a week) for ten years. Or for the crash course, 40 hours a week for five years.

Alrighty then. At least I’ve gotten started.  Thank god there are at least 10,000 p-words. Check back with me in about twenty years.

Proud: Obama taps three Wellesley alumnae

Proud: adj. much pleased, feeling credited

Some years ago I graduated from a fabulous women’s college – one of the few that haven’t succumbed to coeducation.

At a college for women only, you don’t spend time fussing over your clothes or hairdo to impress the guys (and we could look coyote ugly* during the week), you don’t worry about speaking out in class for fear you’ll seem smarter than the guys, and you get to fill all the leadership roles – no competition from the guys.

As it turns out, with higher learning the main focus, you graduate well educated and qualified for great things – like being Secretary of State (Madeleine Albright**), Senator (Hillary Clinton), President of Duke University (Nan Keohane), a journalist (Linda Wertheimer, Cokie Roberts, Diane Sawyer), writer (Nora Ephron, “Carolyn Keene”, Carolyn Heilbrun) plus hundreds (thousands) doing less celebritous great things.

And now three Wellesley alumnae have been named to leadership posts in Obama’s administration, just one more example of the man’s good sense.

Hillary R. Clinton’ 69 becomes Wellesley’s second secretary of state.

Chicago business leader Desiree Rogers ’81, has been named White House social secretary – the first African American to serve in the position, which is responsible for organizing and overseeing all White House functions and ceremonies.

And Katie Johnson, class of 2003, is the new personal secretary to President Obama. As part of the position, Johnson will manage the president’s daily schedule.


* Coyote ugly is when you wake up, hungover, with a stranger in your bed who is lying on your arm and she/he is so ugly you’d rather chew your arm off than risk waking them.

** One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons ever (wish I could reproduce it) is of a woman skeptically trying on a new suit before a 3-way mirror,  while the saleswoman urges her on, saying, “Madeleine Albright kicked butt in that suit.”

Pun (Paronomasia!) RFP: your contributions?

Pun: n. a form of word play that deliberately exploits ambiguity between similar-sounding words for humorous or rhetorical effect. Also known (by an erudite few) as paronomasia. By definition, puns must be deliberate; an involuntary substitution of similar words is called a malapropism, after the verbally challenged Mrs. Malaprop in Sheridan’s 1798 comedy “The Rivals”.

Paronomasia: n. a play on words. (From Greek,  para beside + onoma name  – to call with a slight change of name).

The pun is often disparagingly referred to as “the lowest form of wit” – which my dad loved twisting into “a bun is the lowest form of wheat.”

Knock-knock jokes are almost always based on puns:


Who’s there?


Alaska who?

Alaska no questions, you tell me no lies.

The customary response to a pun is a groan, hence they’re often called “groaners.”

So here’s my groaner. Last week I had waited days for FedEx to bring me a 1 gig memory chip so my laptop would have enough oomph to do a presentation. When it finally arrived, hours before my deadline, I called my daughter triumphantly, “My chip has come in!”

I know you can do better..

Planned Parenthood rejoices: Obama commits to women’s right to choose

Planned: adj. devised with a specific intention or goal

Parenthood: n. the state of being a parent, having or bearing a child.

Becoming a parent is perhaps the most serious and sacred responsibility a woman can undertake. And boy did I feel it when my first child was born!  Bearing a child forever changes you. Every child deserves a mother who wanted and planned to have him.

The folks at Planned Parenthood and other public health agencies that support women’s rights to reproductive health care must be dancing in the streets. When was the last time we heard a president say anything remotely as clear and affirmative as this?

Statement of President Obama on the 36th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.

While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.

On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere.

Hallelujah! It’s a NEW DAY!!!

Update  Friday 1/23: It’s even better! Today Obama ended the Bush administration’s ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option. These groups did a whole lot more than abortion, and were really hampered for lack of funds to give out information on contraception, AIDs and other diseases, and provide basic women’s preventive health care.