Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Whirlwind + romance

Whenever I hear the word 'whirlwind', I think  'wild, crazy, wonderful, and amazingly fast'....  and I always think of the word as part of the phrase 'whirlwind romance'.    I have a friend who is in the midst of such a romance.  It's pretty cool and magical, even watching from the outside... I can only imagine what it's like, on the inside.

But you know me... I started wondering...  what does 'whirlwind' truly mean?  When you think about it, it sounds like a meteorological term.. perhaps a mini-windstorm.

Hmmm.. I think I'm sorry I asked...  it rather takes all of the romance out of things.  Oh dear...  definitions of whirlwind include 'a violent or destructive force', and 'a confused rush'.  That's not the sort of romance I would ever want, or that I'd wish on my friends.

But wait -- all is not lost.. the merriam-webster dictionary lists the following synonyms -  'blistering' (as in 'hot and heavy'), 'hot' (as in 'hot and heavy'), and breathless and dizzy.  That's not too bad.  Of course, it also lists 'whirlwind' as a synonym for 'whirlwind'...   that one's not too helpful, but I like the others.

And while I was wandering around, I found a really cool quote from D. H. Lawrence...
"And what's romance?  Usually a nice little tale where you have everything as you like it, where rain never wets your jacket and gnats never bite your nose, and it's always daisy-time."

Add a little hot and heavy, and a little breathless and dizzy.... and that's the sort of romance I'm thinking of.  And I really like that word ....  daisy-time.

So to everyone out there... young and old, single and newlywed and old married couple ....I wish you lots of daisy time.. and a good cup of tea.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Liebster Blog Award - part 1

So - a short time ago, there was a comment on one of my posts that I'd been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award.  Those who don't know what this is, were duly impressed, I'm sure, and perhaps wondering when the winners would be announced.  Those who do know what this is, were duly unimpressed... and knew that winners are never announced.

Nonetheless, being nominated, requires a response, by the very definition and nature of the award.  There are 5 'rules' to accepting the nomination.... all of which require a response.

So, first, let me thank Anya Lowery for the nomination....  you should check out her blog.

Anya Lowery's blog

Next, I'll explain what this award thingy is.  Simply put, this award is a way to encourage people who are reading at least one blog, to read at least one other blog.

Depending on which source you check, you'll generally see that the Liebster Blog Award is given to an 'up and coming' blogger, with a relatively small number of followers.  In addition, although most references call this an award, no one actually receives an award.. instead, people are awarded nominations.

Wait, wait, wait, don't run away, yet.  
Here's the bottom line.....

A few years ago, someone started this.  There's no committee, there's no award.  Bloggers who receive the award   nomination are supposed to 
a) thank the blogger who nominated them
b) list 11 random facts about themselves
c) answer 11 questions posed by the blogger who nominated them
d) prepare 11 random questions for their own nominees
e) nominate 3-5 more bloggers.

This creates a snowball effect....   readers of Anya Lowery's blog saw a link to my blog in the post she wrote accepting the nomination and moving it forward.  Readers of my blog saw her initial comment that nominated me... and included a link back to her own blog.  In addition,  readers of my blog will see the links to the blogs written by the bloggers who I nominate.

Feels a bit like a chain letter, doesn't it?  Except that it really isn't.  No one has any obligation to do anything.... I don't even have to accept the nomination if I don't want to.  There are no threats of dire consequences, the 'obligations' that exist are fairly nominal, and the reader has absolutely no obligations at all.  And the bottom line is that it gives me an opportunity... or rather encouragement ...  to share with you some of the blogs that I follow.  You might want to check them out.

So -- on to my lists....  and no, I don't know why the magic number is 11.  It's not my favorite number... but it's apparently the traditional number for the Liebster nomination... and I'm all for tradition.

11 Random facts about me

1.  I already gave you one... I like tradition.

2.  I like tea... a lot.  But then, you already knew that.

3.  I'm partial to tuxedo cats; my last 3 cats have been tuxedo cats.
4.  This, (not 11) is my favorite number.
5.  I like to play Words With Friends.  A lot.
6 and 7.  I grew up in Colorado, but I never learned to ski.
8.  If I had to choose between being a lion, a tiger, or a bear (oh my!)... I'd rather be a lion... but then again, I'm a Leo, astrologically, so I suppose that makes sense.  
9.  I'm not really fond of sharing random facts with people I DO know... much less those I don't know... which is why I kind of cheated, and #8 is kind of a spin-off of #3, below.
10.  I was recently told that I use far too many commas; I find myself agreeing with that assessment, and I'm working on fixing that.
11.  My favorite TV show is The Big Bang Theory.

Next, I'm supposed to answer the 11 questions that Anya posted for the people she'd nominated.
1. What is your least favorite shade of pink?
uhm... all of them
2. If you could go anywhere in Time and Space, where would it be?
here, and now.  Yes, I realize that might sound boring..  but if I went elsewhere/elsewhen, I'd worry that I might miss something.
3. Would you rather fight a lion, tiger, or bear?
A lion.  Oops, wait.. I read that as 'would you rather be'...   hmmm..I guess I'd have to go with a bear.
4. Sunshine or rain?
Actually, slightly cloudy and dry.  But if I have to choose between sunshine and rain, then rain.
5. What's the last book you read?
I often read more than one at a time...  kind of at the same time, I finished Gentlemen and Players, by Joanne Harris (the author of Chocolat), and The Twelve, by Justin Cronin.
6. What is your favorite Beatles song?
Really?  uhm.... perhaps Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds... perhaps not.
7. If you lived till you were 300, would you be happy or sad?
I have no idea.  Ask me in 245 years.
8. If you could be instantly fluent in any language other than your first, what would it be?
9. What was your favorite picture book as a child?
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, by Dr. Seuss.
10. Would you rather live in a Hobbit Hole or Rivendell?
11. Are you an introvert or extrovert? 

and.... I think that's quite enough for one post.  Shortly, I'll post part 2, in which I list my nominees, and the 11 questions I've created for them.  I feel quite an obligation here... not  to those who I might choose, but to you who are reading this.  The whole idea is to introduce you to other blogs you might enjoy.  So I'm considering other blogs carefully, trying to come up with a list that my typical reader (and I'm not sure who that is!) might find interesting... AND someone who has not already been nominated, or at least not nominated recently.

For now, I'll enjoy my tea, and consider my options.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother Nature ....

...  at her creepiest.

Sometimes Mother Nature can be pretty spectacular.  The trees in the fall, or the spring....  the deer and rabbits and other creatures of the woods...  the whales, and dolphins and other creatures of the sea... magnificent sunrises, inspiring sunsets, amazing rainbows.  As a general rule, I think Mother Nature does a darned fine job, and I enjoy her creativity, and variety.

There's no question that sometimes Mother Nature can be rather challenging.  Thunder and lightning...  snowstorms and hailstorms...  But even these things can be spectacular in their own way.

And sometimes, Mother Nature is just downright mean.  Sometimes her hurricanes and tornadoes get out of hand, and we have disasters like Katrina, and Sandy.  Communities are flooded, buildings are destroyed, and houses are dragged into the ocean.

But a situation has now come to my attention, and  - well - frankly Mother Nature, I say there is no excuse for this.

Just in the last few days, walls of growing, flowing ice have destroyed homes in Minnesota and Canada.  Now, I suspect that as an innocent homeowner, you probably don't care whether your house is destroyed by a tornado, or a hurricane, or a mudslide, or the tides pull it into the ocean....  or ice.  But there is a difference here.  Tornadoes, hurricanes, mudslides and the tides, are all moving things... they're SUPPOSED to move, we expect them to move, we even try to predict their movement.
Ice, on the other hand, is supposed to stay put.  The videos of this moving, growing, dare I say -breathing- ice...  look like something out of the science fiction films from the sixties.

If you haven't seen this yet, you really should watch this video.  You don't have time, you say?  This video is less than thirty seconds long.  And trust me, you'll want to see this.

I may never drink iced tea again.

I'm going to keep my hot tea handy at all times, as a weapon.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Friday, May 10, 2013

How to know when it's time to go home

Any country music fans out there?   Gretchen Wilson has a song called "You don't have to go home".  The song starts out by saying that the bar lights are flicking, indicating last call, and then goes on to say that 'you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here'.    It's a fun little song, I like it.  And for some reason, it always makes me think of that thing about serving guests hot meals, except that if they've overstayed their welcome and it's time for them to leave but they're still lingering, then you serve them cold shoulder.

So depending on whether you're in a bar, or someone's house, you know that it's time to leave because either the lights are being flicked off and on, or the food has become cold and unappetizing.
(by the way, I tried to find an unappetizing picture to put here, but I guess I'm hungry, because all the pictures looked good to me.)

But what about the rest of the time?  How do you know when it's time to leave?  There's the old saying that fish and houseguests start to smell after three days... but there are certainly times when it would be ok to stay longer than three days...  as well as times when a three-day-stay would be far too long.

In ancient times, time-telling was done by sundial.  Sundials were surprisingly accurate, but turned into paperweights, once the sun went down.  There were waterclocks, but they tended to be pretty big.. and not terribly precise.  But then, in the late 1200s, mechanical clocks came into use.  Accuracy was an issue, but over time, accuracy improved, and of course these days, clocks -- mostly digital -- are everywhere, and are generally very precise, and in sync with each other.

But this only tells you what time it is, it doesn't tell you when it's time to go home.

Today, I came across something, that mentioned candles.  And these candles weren't just for providing illumination, these candles were used to measure time.  Specifically, this article noted that - back in the mid 1800s, when you went to a ball, you knew how much longer the ball would last, based on the size of the candles remaining.  The hosts of the ball would put candles around the room, choosing certain types and sizes of candles.  There were 2 hour candles, 4 hour candles, 6 hour candles... well, you get the idea.  Not only did the candles provide nice lighting for the event, but when the candles burned out, it was time to go home.

I like that.  I like it a lot.  There are a lot of times when I'm at an event, and it's just not clear when the event is over.  If I'm one of the early ones to leave, I worry I'll offend the host, and I find myself making all sorts of excuses as to why I have to leave.  If I look around and suddenly realize I'm one of the last to leave, I worry that I've overstayed my welcome.  So I spend the evening keeping an eye on the crowd, trying to judge when departure levels have hit the mid-point.

Yes, I wear a watch.  Yes I have a cell phone, and an iPad.  All of these things tell me what time it is, but they don't tell me when it's time to go home.  I seldom stay overnight at other people's houses, and I'm in bars even more seldom than that.
Perhaps it's time to return to candles.  What a nice, subtle, genteel way to get the message across.

No, I don't really expect this notion to catch on, no matter how persuasive I am.  But I still think it's a good idea.

In the meantime --  I hear the kettle, and we all know that's time for tea.

But before I go, for those who are in the US, and elsewhere, celebrating Mother's Day this Sunday.... Happy Mother's Day.  Nope, with one exception, none of you are my mother... but it's not called MY Mother's Day... it's just called Mother's Day.  In fact, if you are or were a Mother, you have or had a Mother, or you know a Mother... I hope you have a Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Spam, Lovely Spam, Wonderful Spam   
                        Monty Python    

Those of you who are Monty Python fans ... and I suspect even a great many who are not fans... are at least vaguely familiar with the Monty Python sketch about Spam.  Spam is both ubiquitous, and inescapable...  even spam comes with spam.  And thus, spam has come to refer to something that keeps repeating, and repeating, and repeating, to the great annoyance of all concerned.

As the Monty Python cast informed us, Spam is a food...  it's actually short for spiced ham... it's a canned, pre-cooked meat, originally introduced in the mid 1930's.  Today, it comes in a wide variety of flavors, including Spam Jalapeno, Spam with Bacon, Spam with Cheese, Garlic Spam, and Spam Hickory Smoke Flavor.  Over 7 billion  (yes, Billion) cans have been sold  .... although I'm not sure how many cans of Spam have been eaten... and Hawaii wins the prize for the greatest per capita consumption of Spam in the U.S. 

Having said that, today - especially today - when we think of Spam, we think of email spam. Why?  Well first of all, today (May 3) marks the 35th anniversary of the earliest documented email spam.

So -- how did this food, which then became a part of a comedy skit, come to mean the junk that clogs up our emails and other internet communications?  
The Monty Python skit came out in 1970.  In 1978, some guy sent an unsolicited bulk email to 600 people.  Now, wipe that image of Eric idle and John Cleese standing behind the guy, singing the Spam song...  no one called it Spam at the time.  But marketing people quickly realized the potential... they could spend mere moments crafting a message, and then a few moments more addressing it to a gazillion email addresses  (well, not really a gazillion, but a lot), and then have plenty of time to sit back and relax and enjoy their tea...  well, this Spam thing caught on pretty fast.  It was actually when some internet users started flooding forums with the word Spam (in reference to the Monty Python skit where all menu items - even those with Spam - came with more Spam) that this practice of drowning out normal communications on internet newgroups and in forums and on blogs and in email, with junk mail advertising, came to be known as Spam.

Today, most email providers provide spam filters.  And a lot of them work quite well.  
Maybe too well.  
My email is processed through gmail, and I was so pleased with how well the spam filter worked, that I got lazy and quit checking the folder.  And then I found out that, for some reason, all emails from my mother  (who's a very nice person.. truly, she is)...   were ending up in my spam folder.  And I'm pretty sure she doesn't even like Spam.  So I fixed that, and now I check my spam folder regularly, to make sure that I pull out anything 'good' that gets dragged in there.
Those of you who have posted comments on this blog, may have noticed that in the beginning, your comment didn't show up until I 'approved' it.. and I put that approval step in place to avoid spam.  However, a few months ago, I decided to remove that step, and see how the spam filters worked.  And they seem to be working quite well.. you can thank blogger and google plus for their excellent filters -- you'd be amazed at some of the stuff that shows up, except it doesn't, because it's diverted to my spam folder for me to look at, and either delete, or publish.  Except that - again - I got lazy, and a few days ago I discovered that a handful of spam comments had made it through the filter.  Nothing bad, or offensive about the comments... actually, they were all fairly generic.. but they each included a link at the bottom, that was an advertisement of some sort.  So I deleted them, of course.  It's not a problem, I just have to check my comments regularly.

So... happy 35th Anniversary, email spam.  You may be an ingrained part of the internet experience these days, but I've managed to (mostly) keep you out of my life.

And I think I'll have my tea black, today... no lemon, no sweet-n-low, and definitely no Spam!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day, and all of its meanings

Today, is May 1st, also known as May Day.

I'd always thought of May Day as being a Druid sort of festival, envisioning young people attired in diaphanous garb, skipping around a May Pole, in a typical spring-time setting.  I'm not quite sure where I got this idea... I've never worn diaphanous garb  (although I do like that word)... I've never seen a May Pole, nor do I know who typically sets them in place, and while I have been known to skip, I've never skipped with a group, in a circle.

While my notion is far from being right, it's not quite entirely wrong.  In fact, while May 1 is when we often start seeing real signs of spring, it's technically closer to the first day of astrological summer, than the first day of astrological spring...  but it did originate as a celebration-of-nature sort of thing, with lots of flowers, and skipping in the fields.  And it is associated with the Celtic festival of Beltane and is a celebration of springtime fertility... so in the beginning, there certainly would have been lots of dancing and skipping around.

Ahhh... for simpler times.

Over the years, May Day has changed.  In the United States, May Day, at one time, was also  known as International Workers' Day.  IWD was first celebrated to commemorate an 1886 incident in Chicago, Illinois, where police killed a number of demonstrators at an assembly for a union strike, pushing for an 8-hour day.  Interestingly enough, IWD is now a national holiday in over 80 countries -- although not the United States.   In the late 1950s, President Eisenhower proclaimed May 1st as Law Day... a day to reflect on the role of law in the foundation of this country.  It's not a government holiday, and for the most part, the only group who takes note of Law Day is lawyers...  lawyers will often volunteer in special educational programs at libraries or schools, to emphasize the importance of legal rights.

And while May Day is also known as Labor Day in many parts of the world ... an official holiday to celebrate workers, in the U.S. and Canada, Labor Day is celebrated in September.. as an official holiday to celebrate workers.

I'm not quite clear on how a pagan ritual, celebrating fertility and springtime, shifted to a recognition of civil rights and workers rights, and a society based on laws...   and I am saddened at the loss of an excuse to skip, and perhaps frolic.  So I suppose I shall have to skip, and celebrate spring on my own time.

But before I leave this topic and have another cup of tea, I want to give a nod to one more meaning for May Day... or technically, mayday.  Mayday is a special word, a word used internationally, to signal an emergency.  In most languages, mayday translates as mayday.  It comes from the French phrase for 'come help me'.  I have been in a situation where it was necessary to send out a mayday signal, and rest assured that it was not a happy or carefree situation.    I know that not all mayday distress calls have a happy ending, but -- at least that time -- the outcome was wonderful, and everyone was safe and sound at the end of the day.  So - for me - even this meaning of mayday leaves me with happy thoughts, and makes me want to skip, and frolic and celebrate...   celebrate life.  Which brings me back to spring.

I think I'll return to simpler times.  In 'Laurie's world', May Day, or mayday, shall henceforth be known as a time to look around and appreciate nature.. a time to enjoy the budding trees, the flowers in bloom, the increase in hours of sunshine, the anticipation of summer.  It shall be a time to skip, and frolic, and celebrate life.  And if you want to have a cup of tea as you celebrate, well that's always good, too.