Wednesday, March 23, 2011


This one is going to get me in trouble. When someone comes up to me and says, let me tell you about this dream I had last night, I wish my sense of civility would be hit by REM sleep and I could bolt. Or say NO. Please, please do not tell me about your sleep saga.

  • First of all, the Eraserhead quality of dreams is most interesting to the one dreaming them. Not so much to the innocent bystanders. There have been exceptions to this but not many.
  • Second, stop saying how bizarre or weird it was. Dreams are bizarre or weird by definition. They're an amalgam of reality and fantasy and fear. Of course they come across all crazy-quilted.
  • Third, you don't need to start at the beginning and trundle all the way to the bitter end. Hopefully, one part of the dream is more interesting than the rest. If you have to tell, tell that scene.
  • Context? Context is often irrelevant. If not, a quick summation will suffice. It's tortuous for your listener to hear you launch into Act I after 20 minutes of the acid-trippy preface. Watch your audience. Are they drifting? Wincing? Grimacing? Praying for death?
After all that, I am going to tell you about the dream I had last night. I will make it as painless as possible. It has a point.

My dreamlife is clearly affected by watching CSI just before bedtime. Last week I was stuck in a cult. Last night I witnessed a van come careening around the corner (all TV-car-chase angles) which begin to hit parked vehicles and people indiscriminately. Car sides were sheered off. Kids' legs were amputated. It was a very disturbing conglomeration of crime scenes.

The significant part was me desperately trying to get through to the 911 operator. The hold portion of emergency services had been bought by advertisers. That's right. Advertisers were pitching their goods and services with commerce-perky voices while I watched dogs and children bleed out. The most maddening thing was that when I tried to dial "0" to get back to the operator, it thought I was "clicking" on the product (like getting my gutters cleaned was suddenly more pressing than triage) and transferred me to the advertiser.

I woke up jonesing for retirement.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

oh word nerdery!

Didn't win the AWAD haiku contest (honoring 17-letter words) but out of 6,000 entries mine was one of the honorable mentions! My haiku about the word predestinarianism is 13th from the top. Good thing I don't have triskaidekaphobia.

predestinarianism (pri-des-tuh-NAIR-ee-uh-niz-uhm)
noun: Belief in the doctrine of predestination, that the divine will has predetermined the course of events, people's fate, etc.

puppets we would be
the mythical creator
...a ventriloquist.
I love A.Word.A.Day. Period.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

to market, to market

I was sorting through the Roma tomatoes today at the farmer's market. Not a big fan of Romas (prefer the globe variety) but they're cheap and great for drying. The place was moderately busy for a Saturday morning but not maddeningly so.

Our farmer's market is not of the hyper-local, chi-chi organic ilk. No. It's in an economically lower-end area of town, run by members of the local Hispanic population. Some of the fruits and vegetables are grown nearby and some are trucked in from parts unknown. I suspect little of it is organic. You're not going to find any fussy heirloom tomatoes, hydroponically grown radicchio, or cunning containers of edamame (delicious foods for which I am constitutionally unable to hand over that much of my income). But you can get stuff that is in season and reasonably priced. They've also got bulk rice and beans on the side and a flotilla of above average taco carts out back. Across the street is a panaderia full of pan dulces that are tasty, artificially colored and probably have never been compromised by ingredients as expensive as butter.

It is, as close to the traditional, enduring marketplace as you can find in a large urban area. A large urban area rife with brightly lit, flagship supermarkets, big as a football fields.

The place has rows and rows of low-walled wooden tables, each piled high with fruits or vegetables. As I picked through the ripe Romas, I looked up and saw an older Hispanic woman doing the same, focused on her task with sure, slightly arthritic hands. While a middle-aged Asian woman at another table sorted through beans next to a young woman eying the peppers, I experienced a rare moment of connectedness to women who have visited marketplaces for millennia. Going through the ordinary, mundane act of sifting and sorting through foodstuffs to find the best items at the best price, in order to make meals for their families.

And I felt honored to be counted among them.

metrics schmetrics

My daughter posted (or reblogged in tumblr-ese) this on her blog:

Saturday, March 05, 2011


What percentage of airline ticket holders have never ridden in a car? How about not ridden in one in the past 30 years?

My guess is less than one-percent edging towards zero.

So why lecture us on the complexity of operating a seat belt? Who out there over the age of three is still stymied by the buckle mechanism? One wonders why they're not demonstrating how to flush the toilet.

"Place index and middle finger onto the lever. Push down. Then, release. Check bowl for success."
If they are going to approach us as if we're imbeciles, how about reviewing the following during the pre-flight presentation:

Use your fucking inside voice. There are people's ears uncomfortably close to your blathering pie-hole and the only way they'd be less interested in your "story" would be if they were dead.

Harsh you say? I don't think so. I've sat in front of blowhards trumpeting their entrepreneurial virility, drunken escapades and vast, tedious knowledge of oil pipeline geography for hours. With voices that bludgeoned right through space-age earplugs crammed so deep into my auditory canal they rubbed shoulders with my eardrum. Just shut it or lower it.

When they say items may have shifted in flight, they should also threaten to drop a roller bag on anyone who blithely yanks open the overhead bin in the rush to stand sardine-like while waiting for the door to open.

Our personal space is critically violated for the length of the flight. In our regular life, we'd move or shove anyone encroaching on us this way. SO, follow this simple rule: if you seat mate is wearing earplugs and reading a book, that mysterious signal is code for I'm not interested in having a conversation. Not about your grandbaby. Not about your sports team. Not about your latest acquisition and dear Lordy, not about your relationship.

Since the airlines have gone all cheap-ass on us with their wee bags of pretzels and nuts, folks often bring along a little something to tide them over on a long flight. Roger that. But since you're within copulating distance to the person next to you, how about avoiding the sardines? The egg salad? Perhaps the haggis can be enjoyed in the insulated comfort of your own home? In a practical sense, you want to reduce the likelihood of your noxious-smelling foodstuff triggering the gag reflex of your reluctant bedfellow.

Finally, if at all possible, stall the baby's nap and mealtime until the flight takes off. That way, a little boob* or bottle will send the darling off to dreamland. If the baby is a toddler, BE PREPARED. Sorry, but this is more critical than the space shuttle checklist. New toys to play with. Snacks. Drinks. A change of clothing when they puke. PLASTIC BAGS to seal the vomit- or excrement-covered clothing so your entire section does not feel like they just shifted from coach to open-sewage class.

Children will not be as polite about sitting still in cramped spaces as adults. They are simply acting out what we've all been conditioned to keep under wraps. Totally understandable. Much as I like the idea, I don't think we should drug the little fuckers. What to do: use all the resources available in your parental survival kit. Entertain them with plush toys, juice boxes, electronic gadgets, chex mix, music, etc. When possible, walk them around. Aside: Do NOT allow them to roam unattended down the 15" wide aisle. The drink cart will win and, by god, the audience will cheer.

I have been far more irritated by grownups (a group including but not limited to idiotic breeders) while traveling than by children. If I witness a parent doing all of the above to keep their child happy and well-behaved to no avail, I have nothing but compassion for them.

Airline attendants, it's all yours. Look, I don't envy your job. It doesn't look like fun. But neither is cattle class...try not to take it out on us. Oh, and by the way, unless you are really funny, stop trying to entertain us. The microphone is not your karaoke machine.

*Anyone who has issues with breast-feeding a screamer into silence at 30,000 feet should be thrown out of the aircraft.