Saturday, April 27, 2013

X - Xenophobia

To be xenophobic means to be afraid of foreigners. I got cold chills when I remembered this word.

It got me thinking about the history of the United States. Growing up, I'd always heard that we thought of ourselves as a country made up of a "melting pot" of all different kinds of people and nationalities. It's a lovely thought, but I don't think that's how it's worked out, really.

We've had a history of discriminating against various nationalities of people throughout our history. The Irish, the Italians, the Germans, the Japanese. And we can't ever forget the First Peoples.

Given the events of 9/11, and now the Boston Marathon, I can't help but wonder if our collective xenophobia is going to be ratcheted up again, this time against people from the Middle East.

I sincerely hope not. Some of the most consistently kind people I know are from that area.

We have to keep remembering that every group, from every part of the world, has a few bad apples. We have to remember not to color everyone with the same crayon.

Let's all keep clear heads.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W - The Most Powerful Letter in the Alphabet

The title sounds a bit boastful, doesn't it? How can a rather nondescript letter like "W" be so powerful?

It's simple. Like everything, it's more powerful when it works in a synergistic relationship with others. Most importantly, in the phrase "What If...?"

The possibilities that phrase opens up are limitless. Literally. What would you do if you could do anything you wanted? Anything at all you could imagine?

See what I mean? The letter "W" is the beginning of a transformation. A transformation of life, circumstances, health, name it. Anywhere, everywhere, anything, everything.

All we have to do is say, "What if...."

C'mon. Say it with me. What kind of glorious world can we imagine together...?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U - Unflattering

I did a very bad thing. I looked out of a window. Not just once, but multiple times. That was a big mistake.

Let me start at the beginning. This week is finals week at the college where I work, so I've been proctoring exams since Monday. Boring, but necessary.

Now, one of the rooms where the math classes take their computerized final has three walls that are floor-to-ceiling glass. This glass faces the woods at the back of our campus. This is another bad thing.

It's nesting season here in Central Florida, which means it's also mating season. And we've got some territorial birds, some of which are very, VERY, big.

Take turkey vultures for example. They're big, black birds who do a marvelous job cleaning up road kill. They have an important purpose in the larger scheme of things. But not when it comes to math finals.

The previously mentioned windows have a peculiar shape to them. They throw off reflections extremely well. So much so that the vultures (and a red-headed woodpecker) attack the windows. They see their own reflections and think another bird is encroaching on their territory. First line of defense - attack.

This is unnerving to the students on the other side of the glass. So, I decided to walk over to them and see if my presence got them to go away. No such luck.

The luck wasn't with me personally, either. I caught a glimpse of myself in the window. Wow. This is not a good thing. I have an a$$. And it's a helluva revelation. Not a good one. Now, I've always been told I have a nice a$$. Since I don't have eyes in the back of my head, I have to trust others' opinions.

The reflection was the worst thing I've ever seen. But it didn't stop there. Oh, no. Today, in the same room, in the same place - I caught another reflection. But it was for the front. Again, terrible.

My diet changes, as of tomorrow morning. I'm going vegetarian. Vegan if I can stand it. I've got to ditch the "unflattering" and maybe come up with something better.

Here's hoping!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

So Much T, So Little Time

There's lots of words I like that begin with T - like "twit", "truculent", and yes, "time."

When people really piss me off, I usually call them ignominious twits. Most people have no idea what that means, so they don't know they're being insulted. (Gosh, in print, that sounds terribly mean. I think I might have to modify my behavior.)

"Truculent" was suggested by my roommate. Probably because he generally is. And he prefers it that way.

"Time" is probably my favorite, though.

I have a theory about time - I think it's subjective. I know from experience it doesn't flow smoothly. For instance, when I flipped my car down a ravine during a snowstorm, all the stuff flying across my car went in slow motion. I just said, "Aw, shit" as the car started to tumble. The flipping was quick, but the stuff rolling around in the car went super slowly.

I also think we experience it in a linear fashion because we have a linear nervous system. Think about it for just a moment - nerve impulses jump from synapse to synapse, really quickly, sure, but in a domino-like progression. There is no other way we could experience time. At least, I'm not sure we could. I'm not sure our minds could make sense of impressions that didn't seem to have any kind of logical, predictable order.

What do you think?

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"R" - Raptor

Raptor. Even the word is cool. Just the sound of it sends shivers down the spine, even if the meaning is unclear.

Debates about evolution v. creation aside, these are creatures that HUNT. Owls are raptors. Hawks, ospreys, eagles - they're all raptors. Those beaks and claws can rip into things like nothing else. But the most dramatic representation of raptors came in the film "Jurassic Park."

Remember the velociraptor in the beginning, when Sam Neill described to the obnoxious child exactly how the velociraptors behaved? It sounded creepy even then.

But later in the film, when they got loose and started hunting the people, the creep factor escalated exponentially.

I have a theory about why so many people were fascinated by them - and to some extent, still are. I think it's because mammals were prey animals. Maybe it's still coded somewhere in our DNA to be fearful of things that can rip us to bits and start eating us while we're still alive.

Either way, it works well for authors and filmmakers. It'll be interesting to see how well Jurassic Park does now that it's come out again on the big screen in 3-D.

See you tomorrow!

Friday, April 19, 2013

"Q" - Quiet

Quiet, blessed quiet. How I need thee.

I guess it's evident I'm an introvert. The only way I can recharge my batteries is through some alone time that's also quiet time. And, oh, it feels so, so good.

When I was living in Michigan, I used to love to lay out in a meadow, flat on my back, and take strength from the earth. All my stress just melted away. And it was all because of quiet.

It doesn't seem in today's modern society that most people, the younger ones especially, appreciate the value of silence. That's unfortunate.

I wonder if they're afraid - maybe afraid of being alone, of having to actually take time to ponder things if their senses aren't being bombarded by something outside of themselves.

But the silence really isn't. If you unplug, you can hear lots of things. The wind, the rustle of trees and grasses, birds, insects; really, too many things to list. It's music you don't have to purchase, pirate, or download.

Try taking a media fast. No television, music, podcasts, or computers in any form - except what you need to do to work. Take some time and open a book. A real one. With pages. Sorry, no Kindles or Nooks or eReaders of any type. If you're concerned about missing your weekly episodes of Survivor, that's what Tivo's and DVRs are for.

It's thoroughly relaxing too, in the short term. Take a break.

You've earned it.

"P" - Potato

The humble potato. A prolific tuber that no one would eat for the longest time. At least, not in Europe.

But potatoes have addictive qualities. I know, because I'm addicted to them. It's part cultural, part genetic. A great deal of my heritage is Irish. Growing up, my uncle and I used to have mashed potato races. (Wow, that just made me laugh out loud. That was probably my introduction to competitive eating!) Uncle Ron always won. I was a kid - I was okay with him winning. But the potatoes were always marvelous, with lots of butter, cream, salt and pepper.

But potatoes change and mutate as people grow up. As little children, we like mashed potatoes. We like the way it felt in our mouths. During holidays we enjoyed making little wells in our potatoes to hold our gravy.

As teenagers we headed toward the crunchy aspects of potatoes. Chips were great. We had them everywhere. They were especially useful during crises and stress, when their crunch was just something we needed that helped comfort us. And french fries...things to crunch on, nibble on, and even to gesture with as an extension of our fingers during particularly vocal and vociferous meals. They're also really good for surreptitiously starting food fights.

With adulthood comes the gourmet aspects of potatoes - roasting them with garlic, olive oil, fresh rosemary, and a bit of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. On the Fourth of July you can show you patriotism making potato salad with blue (okay, purple) Peruvian potatoes. Great texture and flavor, and they hold up in salad form.

I guess it's evident I like them.

Lots of other people do, too. Americans list potatoes as their number one vegetable. (We won't tell them that it's really a starch.)

Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"O" - Obstinate

That's me. In spades. Stubborn as a box of rocks. I've always been that way, too.

From the time I could talk, my favorite word was "why." It drove my parents crazy. And then, if I felt they didn't give me a complete answer, or if their answer led to something else, I kept hammering away at it.

This was probably my earliest manifestation of the disease commonly called "insatiable curiosity." I've pretty much got a terminal case -- which is a really good thing.

Writers need to be inveterate snoops. In any and all directions. The more the better, for your plot, your characters, and your conflict.

So be obstinate. Don't worry about the negative connotations. We know it's a good thing. Snoop, spy, watch, analyze and pick things apart to your heart's content, all you creative people out there!

Your stories will improve, your fan base will grow, and your satisfaction level will go through the roof.

Now that I've got my first coffee in my hand, I'm going off to do some creating of my own.

Have a productive day!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"N" - Narcomancy

I came across this really cute word today. But when I found the definition, I thought it was way cooler than I thought.

Narcomancy is the ability to practice divination during sleep. Tons of really great story ideas and characters started churning in my head.

Is there a way to legislate against it? Or is there a way to prevent it? And if you try to keep a narcomancer (new cool word) from sleeping so that he/she can't access that incredible talent, what happens then?

Humans have a disturbing tendency to fall into psychotic breaks without enough sleep that includes good REM sleep. It's when the brain relaxes, slows down and processes things. Some of those breaks never heal.

A fresh psychotic who can predict things. What a tool. Could be used for counter-intelligence.

Wow. I need to get back to my fiction now.

See y'all tomorrow!

Monday, April 15, 2013

"M" - Mouth

Now, I know what you're wondering - what in the world can be said about your mouth? Haven't we talked about it all - stuffing feet into it, stuffing chips into it, swilling liquor into it...what more can there be?

Something that will knock your socks off.

I was driving to Cocoa Beach last weekend for a board of directors meeting, and as I drove I was listening to National Public Radio. I'd flipped on the radio in the middle of an interview with Mary Roach.

In case you aren't familiar with her work, she's a science writer who penned a great book called "Stiffs" about what happens to people after they die. Fascinating, well-written, and even a bit comedic in spots (if I remember right).

She has a new book out called "Gulp." It's about what happens to food, from beginning to end, so to speak. But in the interview plugging the new book, I learned something amazing.

We have two sets of nostrils.

Yup. One external, one internal. The second set lets you taste your food more than once. Apparently if you're eating, and your mouth is closed (hopefully!), and you breathe out through your nose, you'll be able to  smell all the original goodness of what you're eating.

In the name of scientific inquiry, I had to try it. It worked. Very well.

And it made me giggle.

Try it. It's kinda neat. Who knew?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

"L" - Luscious

One of the guys I work with, Peter, made a comment before my first math class walked in today. Someone commented on his beard, and they called it "luscious."

Wow, there's a great word. It has its own mouth-feel, like forbidden, decadent food that's high in fat, calories, and satisfaction.

I imagine Rubens though of his models this way - an abundance, a plethora of attractive, enticing flesh that he shared with the rest of the world.

Guys can be luscious evidenced by the popularity of male models with oiled-up bodies.

"Luscious" appears in our lives in lots of different ways, and we get to indulge our senses in all of them.

Lucky us! (Oh, look, another "L" word!)

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I don't have anything to report. I think I've written maybe a thousand words, but I've gotten really caught up in accounting work before the 15th.

I probably won't be able to check in until after that. In fact, I've got to dash out right now to do some more work tonight.

See you after tax season!

"J" - Jasmine

I've found the perfect stress-relief. Yes, and you can do it in public, too...

It's jasmine. Specifically, the scent of night-blooming jasmine. Down here in Florida, we've got it all over the place. It's a climbing vine that gets all over everything. It covers fences. It grows up in huge green walls that are only supported by a wire frame. Heck, people plant it around their mailboxes and the mailboxes end up disappearing inside a plethora of white blossoms.

As soon as twilight falls, jasmine's scent permeates the air. I don't know why, but when I take a deep breath of that, the weight of the world falls off my shoulders and all my stress goes away.

Now, if we could only bottle it...

(It someone already did, do me a favor and let me know, okay?)

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

"H" - Hospital (Food Hospital)

I discovered a BBC show several weeks ago. It's called "The Food Hospital" and it's all about treating diseases with food.

Now, Hippocrates said "Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food." Good words to live by. Oops, pun intended.

Until I started having seizures, I wanted to be a surgeon. In the process I found out that in most medical schools, nutrition classes aren't even offered. And if they are offered, they aren't mandatory. That, coupled with a mother who became severely diabetic, drove me to learning about food. And about our relationship with food and the corporate food machine. Lots of people are happy with the status quo.

But our perspectives have to change a little bit, I think. Everything we put in our body becomes part of us. It,  literally, outwardly defines who we are. What other people see. Perhaps how the judge us - both good and bad.

Health insurance expenses are such that the most cost effective thing we can do to maintain our health is to eat healthy and exercise.

Most people have no idea of the power of food in the body. The Food Hospital has episodes on YouTube.
Check it out. I'm sure you'll find it fascinating.

Monday, April 08, 2013

"G" - Gothic

Long before the Goths, there was Gothic. I got my first introduction to this peculiar word through Du Maurier's "Rebecca." I was really young when I read it, so much so that I can't even remember how it ended.

Even the first line is brooding and dark: "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again." How evocative is that?

But it didn't end there. Mom was a huge "Dark Shadows" fan, and I watched it with her as a little girl. (In retrospect, that could explain a LOT.)

I'm even a fan of gothic architecture. How cool are those gargoyle downspouts? What kind of imagination did someone have to have to visualize something like that? Wow.

Anyone else out there familiar those gothic guardians?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

An Interesting Week...Oops!

It really has been an "oops!" week. Final exams are coming up quicker than I thought - I hadn't really looked at my calendar for anything, and the date just wacked me upside the head. I've only got two more weeks with my students before finals, so I've been scrambling to make sure everything is ready for them, and they are ready for finals!

My words have suffered. At least, in quantity. I think I've only written about 1,000 words this week. My goals might be a bit lofty; readjusting might be in order. Not sure. Yet.

I also (during a momentary lapse of brain function) decided to take up the A-Z blogging challenge for the month of April. So far, it's turned out to be rather fun. And I've even gotten a few more followers! Yay!

So, it's been kind of a chaotic week. Hopefully everything will calm down by Wednesday and I'll have more production to report.

See y'all then!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

"F" - Ferocious

I love this word. Probably because I have out-sized fangs that tend to pop out at times. No, I'm not a werewolf. Or a were of any kind. (Actually, when my lips are dry, they catch on my fangs and it just looks like my canines suddenly become huge.) It still surprises me to hear that I scare people with them. I've been called ferocious before. The last time was during my divorce.

I started thinking about the word, and I've come to the determination that it's gotten a bad rap. We should embrace our ferocious selves. Rip into things that excite us and suck the marrow out of every last bone. Get everything we can out of everything that fuels our most secret dreams. Be bold. Be ferocious. Take a lesson from the alphas of the pack and never back down. Revel in your own personal palaces of joy. Ferociously joyful.

And don't forget to flash your fangs in a feral grin!

Friday, April 05, 2013

"E" - Ensanguine

I came across an intereseting word today - ensanguine. It means "to cover with blood." Wow. The images that conjures.

Immediately I thought of the Coutess Bathory, she who used to sacrifice virgins, drain their blood and bathe in it to keep herself looking young. At least, that's how the story goes. Hmm. And I guess if her maids didn't get all the blood off her after her bath, she'd be shedding flecks of red dandruff. Not too sexy there. Not to mention pretty. Might have been counterproductive.

In ancient times some cultures used to paint their deceased with red pigment to simulate blood, the blood of birth. Supposed to help the person be born into the afterlife or into the next incarnation of life on earth, depending on the belief system.

I just think it's weird that we have a word at all for it. How often are things covered with blood?

And if someone was going around covered in blood, or covering something or someone in blood, medication would probably be called for. In huge amounts, delivered intravenously. Preferably in a secure room.

And far from me.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

"D" - "Dog"

Cats yesterday, dogs today. I couldn't go without talking about my favorite animal. Our four-legged friend, the canine.

I was very lucky. My first birthday present on my first birthday was a dog. A black-and-white Shetland Sheepdog named Lady. (I don't think the person who named her had much imagination.) She was adorable, and I loved her for a very long time.

I've rescued several dogs, and was involved with wolves for a while. When I got divorced in 2008, the only things I wanted were my books, clothes, personal stuff, the car and the dogs. The hubby got the house. The car got stolen. But I got the dogs.

Cody was a rescued Siberian Husky. He was a perfect dog, lovable, well-trained, gorgeous. His only problem was that he was going blind in one eye from cataracts. I think that's why he was in the pound. That's only my opinion, though. The official line was the family was moving. He died in 2009 before I could pick him up from the ex. Jon called me and asked me to come over and look at him. He thought he had an eye infection. Cody could barely walk. I sat on the floor near him, and he crawled over and put his head in my lap. I told Jon he didn't have an eye infection, and that he had to get Cody to the vet immediately. The next morning the vet said Cody's abdomen was full of cancer. We gave him mercy.

Jordan was a rescued Shetland Sheepdog/Border Collie cross. He was wonderful too, but kind of neurotic. Jordan had a huge passion for cheese, so it was easy to figure out what his training treats were going to be! I lost him on March 13, 2012 from kidney failure.

I love dogs. They love unconditionally, they comfort continually, and they are unflinchingly loyal. Truly a piece of heaven on earth.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

"C" - "Cats" or... "Coffee" or... "Cooking". How About "Confused"?

When I started this challenge, I immediately thought of "cats" for the letter C. But as I sat down in my writing chair, with "Worst Cooks in America" on in the background, and realizing I didn't have coffee yet, it popped into my head that there are lots of things I LOVE that begin with "C".

Cats? Well, I like them. But I'm a dog person. We'll talk about that tomorrow. There is a cat that lives in my apartment. She's a Russian Blue (I think) but she has golden/green eyes instead of blue. She's a pure grey shadow, though. Her name is Mara Jade, and she belongs to my roommate, Todd. Thing is, I don't think she believes that anymore. I feed her. My lap is her favorite spot (which is why my laptop isn't there as often as it should be). She talks to me, and I talk back. Todd has turned into her second favorite person. My other roommate tells me, with inordinate glee, that I have acquired a cat. He says she's "voted with her feet." Crap.  Did I mention that I have a cat allergy and I can't take antihistimines?

Cooking? I adore cooking. Buying packaged food is anathema to me. Well, except things like pasta. I don't have a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid. Time has been short lately because I picked up a third job, so I've not been cooking as much as I'd like. Maybe I'll add that to my goals - do some freezer cooking.

Coffee? Who can say enough about coffee. I need it to write. My nurse sister heard that and she told me I have adult ADHD. Possibly. It would explain a few things. But it's more than that - heck, I need it to breathe. (No, it's true - I found out from some friends of mine that have asthma that caffeine helps you breathe. It opens up the alveoli in your lungs or something. And for someone who's allergic to the planet and can't take allergy drugs, coffee is my best friend.) Now, you might be wondering about Mountain Dew? That has lots of caffeine. True, it does. It also has lots of sugar, and since my late mother was badly diabetic, I try to avoid that.

There's lots of stuff for "C". I bet I could even come up with more. Like College. Or Curmudgeon. Or Confused...?

Glacial Start

My goals are lofty; my achievements are not.

I'm participating in CampNano this month. The goal that my friend Livvi and I have chosen is 50,000, so we're looking to achieve 1,667 words per day. So far that hasn't happened. But I Have Plans...

I'll finally get some alone time this morning, and then Livvi and I are going to meet at Starbucks. Perhaps the words will flow today. Wait. That's really no excuse, though. I'm going to have coffee, and then castigate my muse until she relents and gives me what I need. B*tch.

Good luck everyone.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

"B" - "Boobs"

The inevitable frustrating contemplation of bra shopping overtook me today. Now, I'm not what you'd call model-thin. Nope. Curvaceous would be more the correct term. And with the shopping comes the reflection on boobs.

Guys like them. But I don't think they understand them. I mean - well endowed women often have back trouble. That hurts. Not to mention how boobs can hurt during that special time of the month. I quit running cross country because of boobs. Gravity is not a woman's friend. And fighting that belongs in the gym.

Have you ever seen women trying to fight physics? Innumerable hours with machines or free weights, trying to build up those chest muscles so they can hold up masses of flesh. And then, when those pieces of curvy flesh grab the attention of every man within a 500 foot radius, many women get offended when those same men don't even know where their eyes are.

Despite all this women like them. We want them. We can't wait to get them when we're growing up. And as girls we agonize about whether we have enough.

Wow. Boobs sound schizophrenic. That explains a lot...

Monday, April 01, 2013

"A" - "Abandon"

I only heard about the A - Z Blog today. So, I jumped in with both feet, not even really thinking it through. And then it struck me. That's a perfect beginning for this blog entry.


Everyone needs it. Shaking up the patterns of your life and sucking in great gulps of whatever fills you with joy is the way to go. Reckless abandon. Joyous abandon. Permanent abandon...maybe not permanent. It might not have the same effect on a full-time basis.

Passionate abandon. Sensual abandon. Sexual abandon. Whatever it is that fills your heart with joy.

Jump in with both feet. Abandon the strictures of your day-to-day life and pursue your dreams.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

See you tomorrow!

Round 2 Goals

My goals are simple again - even though I'm also doing Camp Nano this month, with a goal of 50,000 words.

Once April is over, I'm going to attempt to keep up my momentum by continuing the 1,667 words per day. That, and continue planning far enough in advance that I'll always have something to write.

It sounds simple, but I have to do everything on my terrabyte drive and take it with me everywhere I go. Scrivener is on that drive, as well as my projects, so I can work anywhere there is a computer. My laptop is on its way out, so I made everything portable to use the computers at work instead.

Hmm. Maybe it doesn't sound so simple after all.

Looking forward to jumping back into ROW80!