Sunday, April 19, 2015

Love on the Hudson Line - A Nickolas Sparks inspiration


                                                   photo: The Ballerina Project

By Ben Franklin Schumpeter VIII

After many years of watching bits of "The Notebook" movie, I have finally managed to see it all.  The ending was too sentimental.  How many couples die of a broken heart at the same time?  Be that as it may, the movie inspired this little story, maybe as a counterpoint to all that sentimentality.
----

She stood on the train platform patiently waiting for him to arrive.  She had been doing this every morning for the last five years.

It started by accident.  On that day, she arrived early at the platform and waited in her usual spot, and she chanced to see him.  She had chosen a special standing spot on the train platform, one that would make it easy for her to exit at her stop.  New Yorkers are like that, always working on ways to quickly get in and out of the train.  She stood ten feet to the left of the Canandaigua Station sign.  The sign reminded her that the Indians were here first and that she was now a part of Indian history.

She had been leaving early for work.  She particularly like her latest project, a study of the voting habits of middle age women, and was eager to get started each day.  She saw him as she entered the train car.  She did not think of him much except that he was handsome and well dressed.   He wore a beautiful grey suit cut close Mad Men style.  She liked that it showed his slim fit body.  He had the look of an actor, handsome and rugged, and she was sure that she had seen him in a movie at one time.   An unexpected side effect of leaving early for work was that she saw him in the mornings.  Not every time, mind you, but enough so that he came to register in her mind and became unique from all the anonymous passengers she saw on her train.

She enjoyed seeing him.  It was a cheery start to her day to see this handsome man.  She did not know why she found him attractive.  Perhaps it was the way she imagined his beard would tickle if she were to kiss him.  Perhaps it was the way she imagined his body would feel if she were to hug him.  Perhaps it was the way she imagined how his hair would fall if she were to muss it.  Perhaps it was the way she imagined he would laugh if she were to tell him her favorite joke.  All she could say was that he captivated her and that was that. 

She decided that she wanted to start every day with a view of him.  She needed to work out his travel pattern.   First, she arrived early at the train station.  She would then stand in her spot and wait for the train to come.  As each train arrived, she looked in to see if he was there.  If not, she let the train pass and waited for the next one.  When she saw him, she entered the train.  On the train, she noted where he stood so she could be close to him or at least within easy viewing distance.  She would just look at him for the duration of her trip.  She left the train at her stop and he went on to a further stop.  She never knew where he left the train and to follow him onwards seemed obsessive and creepy.  

She continued this way week after week until his travel pattern emerged and she could, with reasonable accuracy, be assured that she would meet his train.   Then, she started to plan her trip to work to match his travel times.  She would leave her home ten minutes early to just to be sure that if he chanced to be one train early, she would be there when he arrived.  On the days when she did not see him, she forced herself into her train for work instead of following her desire to remain on the platform waiting and hoping for him to appear.       

Some days, when she felt adventurous, she stood next to him.  She never spoke to him no matter how often she did stand next to him.  She did not know what to say to him.  As friendly as she was, she did not know how to break the ice.  It was an odd thing to her that she could be tongue-tied and feel intimidated by this man.  She could not think of any reason for this and as far as she could tell, he posed no threat to her safety.  Occasionally, as she stood next to him, the urge would rise up in her to say "Hello".  And each time, her breathing shallowed and sped up while weird wobblies came to her stomach.  She just stood there stuck on the consequences of such a simple word as "Hello".

"Hello" was such a treacherous word.  "Hello" was a risky chance to learn that he did not have a beautiful personality.  Then, his beauty would be destroyed.  His handsomeness needed to be attached to a beautiful personality.  "Hello" was a risky chance to learn that he was not compatible to her own personality.   Knowing that he was on the wrong side of these truths would have destroyed him for her and he would have returned to the pack of anonymous passengers on her train. 

She did wonder if he noticed her.  She stood next to him often enough for him to have noticed her but he never spoke.  She did chuckle once at the idea that perhaps, and this was the deepest thought she ever gave to her situation, just maybe, she intimidated him too.

So, every morning for the next five years, she just looked at him, enjoying him as he existed in front of her: his handsomeness, his sartorial magnificence, his elegant and graceful movements and the hints of personality that flickered across his face.  

Suddenly, he was gone.  She did not see him at all for three weeks.  She felt the lack of him in her life and the disruption to her feelings.  Every morning, she would leave her home in hopes that he had returned but it was not to be.  She trudged through her days, distracted and impatient, snapping at her colleagues, but always ending her evenings in rising hope for the next morning.   Had she fallen in love with a stranger?  Was that possible?  How can this happen with a man she didn't know, never spoke to, knew nothing of his personality or of his likes?  Had she foolishly let her imagination run away with her?  Was that the danger she fell into unawares, the trap that catches women like herself?  Love, after all, must go somewhere.

After three months of waiting on the platform and not seeing him, she resigned herself that he was gone forever.  She always knew that this was possible.  Events happened in people lives and some event happened to him.  She accepted that the hand of fate had moved against her.  It was inevitable.  They were still strangers and there was no connection between them to keep them together. 

She changed her way of traveling to work.  She returned to catching a train that minimized her travel time.  A month later, as she settled into her new routine, a shock came to her.  She saw him again.  He was getting off her train two stops before hers.  He had changed jobs and now took this train.

He looked just as fine to her as he did on the first day she saw him five years ago.  He was still handsome and he still wore those beautiful suits.  She still could not comprehend loving a stranger but it was only on seeing him again that the ache of having missed him so much overcame her.  She held on hard to the bar by the door and took several long slow breaths.  Her cheeks warmed and she nearly smiled at him.

She moved to stand next to him.  She desperately wanted to say "Hello" and to not let him get away from her again.  But, she said nothing.  When he got off the train, she immediately set to working out his travel pattern - the train he was on, which stop he got off, and the time she would have to leave her home to be on the station platform to wait for him.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The New Years resolutions that I will not make.

                  
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
What can I say, every year I make resolutions and every year they don't pan out.  This year I shall ease my guilty conscience and not make any of these resolutions:
  • "I resolve to lose weight."  This is the number one resolution failure.  I never lose the weight.  I cannot escape the annual eating season that runs from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day.  The best I can hope for at year's end is to weigh the same as I did at the beginning of the year.
  • "I resolve to save money."  Every year I plan to increase my saving.  This year I asked myself why?  The money goes into the bank and I get zero interest rate.  All it does is make some banker richer.  So I plan to spend my money on me.  I shall buy a big screen TV or a large glittery bauble for my wife.
  • "I resolve to be nicer to my wife."  I am always nice to my wife and I cannot be any nicer.  I will not share this resolution with her for she will “beg to differ” and cause all kinds of marital discord.
  • "I resolve to buy myself a Mercedes-Benz."  I always liked this one very much.  I so want to tell my neighbors that they are dragging down the neighborhood with their Toyotas.  I can brag that they are not keeping up with me.  Of  course, I will have to load up on debt and get a third mortgage to buy the Mercedes-Benz. 
  • "I resolve to be more interesting."  Huh, my life has gotten boring.  There have been no visits from Russian spies trying to squeeze state secrets from me. Nor have there been any bodyguards around protecting me from my overly enthusiastic adoring fans.  Maybe boring is good after all.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The State of My Year Speech

                           
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Every year, the President of the United States gives a State of the Union speech.  Following in his example, I shall give a State of My Year speech.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Universe, the State of My Year was good.  The first thing is that I made it to the end of the year in one piece. I am still alive and well.  Whatever the good time or the bad time, here I am and to me this is the best news.  Interestingly enough, I feel that have gotten wiser but I could not tell you one wise thing.  I don't know how that is.  My car also made it to the end of the year alive and well.  It's ten years old.  That like sixty in people years.  I can relate.

First the bad news.  There has been lots of illness in my family, from cancer, to knees, to back, and some other things.  We are still here and working on improving our health. This year, we have run up against the limits of The Science of Medicine and crossed into The Art of Medicine.  We ran into the limits of what doctors truly know and entered into the trial and error phase. "Let's do this and see what happens, then we will react to the results."  Scary, but what other choice do we have?  Doctors do not know everything as much as try try.

My father's treatments have worked so far.  Knock wood.  He is in good spirits and we expect that he will recover.  My health has not gotten any worse but I do have some aches and pains that come from aging.  I am the knees previously mentioned.  Just getting older and slower.  I like to go ooh and aah as I get started moving.  My own personal sound effects.  It sounds worse than it is.   

I had little personal troubles other than my ailments, at least nothing out of the ordinary.  Just the usual stuff of life.  One of the utility companies did some stupid billing, some dumb thing with the meter.  I am still struggling with them on that.  My credit card was stolen in the breach of Home Depot, Target, or some other place.  I don't know where the theft came from but I did shop in those places.  The bank caught it and dealt with it.  I ask them for more information but they did not want to say fearing that the thieves learn from it.

The good news is that I have started going to church in the middle of the week.  I go to the big church in the downtown area.  It is a huge Cathedral with the ancient architecture of spires and gothic trimmings.  The place is always full of people.  I light a candle and offer prayers for my family, friends, and even those people with whom I am in dispute starting with the utility company.

I am still married.  Not that there was any threat in this area but I want to acknowledge my wonderful wife and how much I still love her and want to keep her around for some more years.

The company where I work had improved economics and so management announced some pay increases .  This is the first increases since the pay freezes when the downturn began seven or more years ago.  Hopefully it is a good sign that the economy is getting better all across the country and the world.  I have gotten used to living with limited means and don't plan to change no matter what pay increases come my way.

I have met some nice people particularly the interns in my office.  They seem so young and so lost.  They are going to school but have no real definite shape to their future.  They go to college and hope that their future works out in some way.   I wonder if some person many years older than me would have said same of me.  There is one fellow who wants to be a Fashion Designer.  That's unusual but here he is studying business.  I would have advised him to give up the business study for now and concentrate on clothes.  He can always take up a business career later if designing doesn't work out.  One intern wants to be a lawyer.  Sheesh, we have enough of those but who am I to say otherwise.

Lastly, blogging has been interesting.  I can write anything I want and there is at least a handful of people who want to read it.  Blogging has been tougher than I thought.  It takes so much time to get it right.  So many times I have had to start over or to throw out an idea because I ran out of something to say after three sentences.   I now have a fine appreciation for those authors who turn out book after book every year. 

I do not know what will happen in the new year but right now, I feel blessed.  Maybe that extra week day visit to Church to pray has more to do with it.  One never really knows where and when God decides to show up to deliver His Blessing but you do know that He is always there.

Happy New Year and may God bless you all

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Awaken your Dreams

                               
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I am asleep and I am dreaming.  It's the beginning of Prohibition and two families start smuggling whiskey from Canada.  I don't remember their names so let's call them Crime Family One and Crime Family Two,  shortened to CF1 and CF2.  It's dangerous but there is lots of work for everybody so the two families are happy.  Prohibition ends and the two families take up other crime work.  They start expanding and are fighting, hurting and killing each other.

The two crime families decide to consult a self-help author (let's call him Dr. Smith) for a solution.  Dr. Smith says the solution is for CF1-Son to marry CF2-Daughter.  Everyone think that this is a great idea.  Problem is that the children are still children.  CF1 and CF2 agree to wait twenty years and to keep out of each other's way.  The two families keep expanding.  CF1 goes eastward and CF2 goes westward.  They fight, hurt and kill other crime families instead of each other.

Twenty years later, CF1-Son meets CF2-Daughter and they have no spark.  They like each other fine but no romance.  They don't want to get married.  The families are in a dilemma.

Some time later, Dr. Smith shows up and invites CF1 to his son's wedding.  They accept.  CF1 goes to the wedding and finds that Dr. Smith's son is marrying CF2-Daughter.  CF1-Son meets Dr. Smith's daughter and there are sparks.  They fall in love.  The CF1-Son marries Dr. Smith's daughter on the spot.

No need to interpret this dream.  It's a crime romance drama mashup of Mario Puzo and Nicholas Sparks.  See, I dream in novels.  There is some dialogue, people faces, and scenery but that is hazy in my mind and has passed from me.   I am lucky to remember this much.  One day my dream will stick and I will write my first book.

Good-night and sweet dreams.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Women rule the Airwaves

                   

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
For this fall's television season, I see more shows on network TV with women in the lead role.  There is The Good Wife, Scandal, How to get away with Murder, Madam Secretary, and in State of Affairs, not only are there women leads, the President of the United States is a woman.  In Person of Interest, the woman, Ms. Shaw, is an equal not a supporting role.  She gets to beat up and shoot up just as many people as the male lead.

These TV roles are so juicy.  The women get to strut their stuff and let their ambition run amok. They can be bossy, be mean and nasty, be clever and sneaky, and the viewers just love them.  The TV roles are so unlike movies roles where women are to only look pretty and show cleavage.  The TV roles are so good that movie stars are now grabbing them up.  You need name recognition to successfully audition for a role.  Think Tea Leoni and Oscar winner Halle Berry just to throw some names at you.

This is probably the first season on network TV with so many shows with women leads.  This is significant.  Women in lead roles are common fare on cable TV but cable shows get fairly low ratings, something less than one million viewers per showing.  One showing on network TV is seen by more people - twenty million or more - than a month of shows on any cable channel.  That the high ratings hold up week after week is proof that these women leaders are accepted by America.

All these shows on network TV are changing America.  The country is getting used to seeing women in power positions.  The women are setting an example for women in regular life to follow.  Young women do not have to search for a role model any more.  Young women now have role models thrust in their faces.  Measure up, step up, to your future. 

We see women in power over and over and over, every week.  We see them and start to think, "A woman can do this."  The viewers can imagine women succeeding in non-traditional jobs.  If it's OK in fantasy, it will be OK in real life.  So, in the next election, we may yet choose a woman as President of the United States.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Happy Money

                   

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Can money buy happiness?  Most of us say no.  But money does more than buy things.  Where and how one spends money sends messages and those messages can make us happy.

Money turns out to have more value than its economic use.  Economists look at money as a medium of exchange, that is, I can use it to buy goods and services.  Economists also say that money is a store of value, that is, I can save it up to use for some future purchase.  Economists completely miss the aspect where money stores social goodwill, that is, my deep friendship for you.

Let's say I take you to lunch.  We can eat, tell each other bad jokes, and gossip about everybody we know.  By treating you to lunch, have I bought your friendship or bought your time?  Sure I can buy your company but if that’s all there is then the happiness fades when I stop taking you to lunch.

Taking you to lunch sends subtle messages -- that I value you more than I do my money.  My money is important to me because I spend much of my time, knowledge, and skills at a job to get it.  I put up with annoying customers, demanding bosses and uncooperative co-workers to earn my money.  Now I am spending it on you.  I am telling you in deeds without telling you in words that, for all the effort that I put into earning my money, I like you enough to spend my hard earned money on buying lunch.  It makes me happy to buy lunch for my friend.  Whew, that’s a mouthful.

Money does not stop at just friendship.  Money has other social uses.  There is a weird ritual, Potlatch, where people destroy wealth to show their greatness.  It's an odd idea that one can gain great status and praise because one is so rich that one can destroy a Mercedes Benz automobile and not care.  I prefer to take you to lunch.  We can enjoy good food, drink too much, get fat together, and that is worth all the money in the world. 

But why stop at lunch?  For those of us who are friends with benefits, we can substitute money for physical intimacy in those times when, well… we just can't get a room.  We can go on a wild abandoned shopping spree, spending money outrageously, and then engage in an orgy of gift giving with each other.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Arms of Love

                  

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
While at lunch in the office, a woman blurted out that she offered her forearm to her boyfriend to play with rather than her breast.  She said, "My arm is attached to me just like my breast, has the same feel and touch and the exact same skin as my breast.  So what difference does it make to him?"

A good point.  At one time, women wore long skirts.  The sight of an ankle would drive men wild and they would think very amorous thoughts.  Well, I dare say that today, we see lots of ankles and yet no one, at least the normal amongst us, think much about them.  We are too busy thinking about other covered body parts to be bothered about ankles.

As ankles became more visible, we have trained ourselves not to think of ankles as sexy.  They might be nicely shaped but not worthy of amorous thoughts.  We have trained ourselves to think of red six inch spike heel pumps as sexy.  Put your unsexy ankles in shoes like that and suddenly your ankles get a whole lot sexier.  Our mind begins to think amorous thoughts.  Clearly, our mind likes to make up stories about our feelings.

Let's take this a bit further.  Suppose I train you to feel that forearms are an erogenous area.  How would you respond when touched?  Excited!  That is what this woman is doing.  She is training her boyfriend to think of her forearm as sexy.  He will be imaging her enjoying his touch there and he will imagine his pleasure at her pleasure.  Soon, it will make a difference to him and she will have to pick another bodily part to offer him.  Eventually, she will run out of parts.

Ahhh, how much more simpler her life would have been if she had just offered him her breast.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What's in a Name?

                               
This article by Vol-E was previously published elsewhere.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In the debate over whether children benefit more from a common name or an unusual one, it is necessary to examine what we mean by "common."  With a world population of over 7 billion souls, could there possibly be many names left that are entirely unique?  There are a lot of other Baracks in the world, and plenty more people named Britney, Halle, Khloe and Shaquille.  Parents who think they can beat the odds and raise the only individual on the planet with a particular name are setting themselves up for disappointment. 

Wait (I heard you asking) -- what about "Zezozose Zadfrack Glutz?"  

Nope, sorry. Charles Manson and Susan Atkins beat ya to it back around 1968 or so...

My parents often told me that they chose my name to avoid the "Kathy-Debbie" phenomenon that seemed quite popular in the late 1950s.  I managed to be the only Elaine in my school, all the way through 12th grade, but I also suffered the continual indignity of being called "Eileen," "Ellen,"Eleanor" and even "Heléneby people who had never heard of the name Elaine.  But by the time I reached my early 20s, the name had apparently caught on.  At the camp where I worked one summer, someone with a twisted sense of humor assigned me to a cabin with a CIT named Elayne and a camper named Elain.  Since then, nearly every environment has provided me with a name-twin.  The name is still unusual enough in these cases to cause confusion.  E-mails meant for "the other Elaine" find their way to me, and vice versa, invariably followed by "Oh -- that's right, we have two Elaines." 

Another advantage that the more well-represented Kathys and Debbie have is what I think of as a "convertible" name.  A Kathy of sneakers and jeans can transform into a regal Katherine for occasions such as interviews and formal dinners.  The same is true for Debbie/Deborah, Frank/Francis, Bill/William and even Millie, who can become a Millicent or a Mildred.  This is why I am often puzzled when parents intentionally give their child the shortened version of a name, right off the bat. "Jack," "Sam," and "Peggy" never get a chance to opt for the more formal "John," "Samuel," and "Margaret." Sometimes we need a dash of gravitas.

On the other hand, quite a few people have strong negative reactions to the common diminutives, under any circumstances. We all know a Susan who will threaten bodily harm toward anyone who dares call her "Sue," and a Michael who could probably stand to loosen up now and then and tolerate being called "Mike." 

An unusual name should, at the very least, provide some ease of pronunciation.  As many of us learned in high school English class, the word "ghoti" is actually pronounced "fish," using common spelling conventions.  But it is unfair and burdensome for a child to have to explain, day after day, how to pronounce one's name, especially if the spelling clearly implies one thing and the pronunciation comes as a surprise every time.  We live in a fast-paced, abbreviated sort of world where children are just as rushed and short on time as adults.  A child of a certain temperament will relish the spotlight and the momentary fascination of teachers and classmates, but children typically like to feel that they blend in and share common ground with their peers.  

The best place for exotica is the safe territory between the first and last name.  This is where parents can open themselves to creativity and pay homage to cherished ancestors or even admired celebrities.  There's also no limit to the number of middle names a child can have.  Middle names are handy for those unforeseen changes of identity that many children come up against.  A good example is a child christened Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda, who is today known as anything but a "plain" Jane. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Year Resolutions

             

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
It's that time of the year again when I start to think about what became of this year's New Year Resolutions.  Last January, I was stingy and I made only two resolutions on the belief that I could concentrate on only these two items and improve my chances of succeeding.  It did not turn out that way. 

The first and I suppose the most common New Year's resolution is to lose weight.  We all make that one and we all seem to fail at it.  I am no different and I want to make some excuses for my failure.  Obviously I cannot claim that the dog ate my lunch since I don't have a dog, so what kind of excuse can I give and yet sound reasonable.  I can always blame someone else - my wife.  If she did not cook so well then I would have lost the weight.  She made the most scrumptious roasted Rosemary Chicken, Coq au Vin, Chicken Tandoori, Chicken Parmigiana, Chicken Piccata, Jerk Chicken,  and, Curry Chicken, and that was just week one.   If I did not eat her cooking, she would think that she was a terrible cook and I would feel so guilty.   I did not want her to eat alone so I ate with her.  I ate her portion and mine, to save her from herself, you understand, so that she could lose weight too.  See what a thoughtful husband I have turned out to be.

My other resolution was to save more money.  Well, that did not work either.  Here I really do have a legitimate excuse, two of them really.  One, I just do not make enough money.  It's simple, if my boss paid me more, then I would have more money to save.  Second, my bills got bigger, much against my will.  The worst is always the cable bill followed closely by the cell phone bill.  We all know about the cable lament -- 1000 channels for hundreds of dollars each month and not a decent show to watch.  Now the cell phone is second but is working hard to replace the cable bill as my most irritating bill.  Used to be that cell phones were only to call people.  Now, there are data plans, texting, and apps for shopping, travel, games, pictures and some for rather nefarious purposes, all of which cost much more money.  The least thing done with a modern cell phone is to call people.

My next year's resolution will be the same as last.  This is the fifth year in a row, an anniversary of a sort, that I have made the same two resolutions.  All I can say is that I am in good company with the Lord on this.  You know how the Lord works, keep repeating the same experience until we learn His lesson.  I will keep repeating my resolutions until I learn my own lesson.  Don't bother me with what that lesson is as I haven't yet learned it.

So, see you next year at this time.
___________________________________
Note: Photograph shows the world-famous Maru.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Daily Sexist Commute

                          

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
My commuter railroad has new cars.  They are beautiful, fabulous and a joy to ride.

I don't know how they did it, but the inside of the new cars is wider with lots more space,  and the train still fits in the station.  Looks like they re-arranged the seats to create more seating.  What I like most is that there is a hand rail down the center aisle for those times that I get caught out of position and cannot hold on to the rails above the seats.

The new cars have gadgetry.  There is an electronic map with all the stations and it shows you where in the world you are on the train route.  Looks like a version of Google maps.  There is also a video screen that tells you the next station, the estimated time of arrival, and shows safety messages.  No commercials, at least not yet, unless you include the railroad's shameless self promotions, "We are the greatest railroad you have ever been on.  Here is our latest project to..."

The train still has audio announcements.  It a beautiful voice, very soothing, and the diction is perfect.  The station announcements sound so interesting that I am tempted to get off at every stop.  Clearly professionals,  you know, actors, the ones who do voice overs for radio commercials.

But here's the odd thing.  The voice that give us directions, that announces the next station and the transfer points is female.  The voice that give us instructions, the voice of command that tell us "Watch the closing doors" or "Get your fat ass inside" if we are too slow in obeying, is male.

Who knew that this iron horse, dripping in modernity, and completely devoid of gender, could be so sexist.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Training Bra

                     
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I still remember my first struggles with the clasp of a bra.  It is a rite of passage for young men just learning about relationships and women to struggle to open a bra.   Bras, in general, are like chastity belts for the breasts. They have a special lock, the clasp, and of course, are ridiculously difficult to open.

On the  eventful day, things started out normally enough with my girlfriend.  Let's call her by another name, Beverly, to protect her virtue (probably long gone by now).  Beverly liked to wear turtleneck sweaters.  You know how turtleneck sweaters just show off the female form.  Well, I got to noticing her soft round breasts, which lead to me taking liberties and having a wonderful squeeze.  Beverly's response to this was, "Did you enjoy yourself?"  Duh!!  Anyway, somehow I ended up trying to unclasp her bra.

Not so simple.  The clasps that close a bra are designed to frustrate us. Perhaps it is women's way of testing us. If you can open this mechanism, then you are manly, virile, and worthy of its contents. Yes, bra clasps are a conspiracy led by women. It’s not like Beverly needed to wear a bra.  She only had her breasts for a few years and they were perky enough to easily stand up on their own. Nope, she wore a bra to test me. 


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Low Art of Cat Calling

                                 

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
"Hey Baby, your headlights are on.  Come with me and I'll light you up tonight, all night long.  I'm cocked and ready to go," exclaimed Joe as the woman scurried down the street, blank-faced, clutching hard at her bag.

Charlie chuckled as he wiped down the backhoe, "Man, Joe, you sure have a way with words.  You should write a book."
"Nah, I ain't no writer. These things just come to me."
"Well it's like poetry.  You must do OK with the ladies?"
"No more than usual. But the ladies do like to be told how sexy they are."
"You should start a school.  Mind if I use your line?"
"Feel free."
"Thanks.  Tonight is Belgian Beer at Pinkie’s. You coming?"
"Nah, I'm tired.  Been a long day.  Nite."
"See you tomorrow."

"Hey Baby, your headlights are on.  Come with me and I'll light you up tonight, all night long," exclaimed Charlie in the dimly lit bar, to a buxom woman in leather pants with a tightly wound whip hidden on her opposite hip.
She looked at him, "So you think you can handle a woman like me?"
"Yup, cocked and ready to go."
The woman's eyes lit up wickedly as she touched her whip, smiled and said,  "My, aren't you the macho one.  I accept your challenge.  Let's go."


Meanwhile, Joe enters his front door calling out, "Hello, I’m home."
"Upstairs, be down in a minute," replies his husband.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cain and Abel and Ishmael

                    


Daniel Quinn's groundbreaking book Ishmael offers a fascinating, non-traditional analysis of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. 

First, the Biblical account: 

In Genesis Chapter 4, Verses 1-12, Eve gives birth to Cain, who grows to be a farmer, and Abel, who tends flocks.  Both brothers bring offerings to God, but only Abel's portions from his flocks are favored, while Cain's offerings of the fruit of the soil are not.  This leads to quick resentment on the part of Cain, who lures his brother to a field and kills him.  God quickly discerns what has happened, though Cain initially lies to cover it ("Am I my brother's keeper?").  God puts Cain under a curse ("Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground" - v.10 and "When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you." - v.12).  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Pot of Gold

                
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I have been thinking about my 401K.  For 2015, the maximum is $18,000.  I want to contribute the maximum money into my 401K.  I have never done that before. 

When I was young, just out of school, I had a life-changing  experience.  I was laid off.  The economy was bad and it was difficult to get another job.  I was down, literally, to my last dollar.   I was living on unemployment and my savings.  Eventually, my savings ran out and all I had was my last dollar.  I was worried.  I borrowed some money from my ex-girlfriend -- proof that it pays to be nice to your Ex.  The next week, I got a job and paid her back.  Lucky.

The experience scared me.  Saving money became important.  I read financial planning books and followed their advice to the letter.  I made a budget and I carried a little book to record every expenditure just to be sure that I would not forget any.   Eventually, computers came along and I transferred my budget to a VisiCalc spreadsheet. 

VisiCalc allowed me to go berserk.  So much easier to record and track how I spent my money.  Every penny of my pay check was accounted for and reconciled to the expenditure.  From big bills like rent, to the weekly bill for groceries, to the twenty-five cents for a pack of gum.  The spreadsheet summarized each expense by week, month and, of course, year.  I plotted out graphs of income and expense flows.  Today, I no longer have a spreadsheet.  Time does heal.

Unless I win the lottery, I will never own a Mercedes-Benz or live in a mansion.   Maxing out my 401K is my personal achievement statement, the same as owning a Mercedes or living in a mansion.  It is a confirmation that I had a great year, that I have made so much money that I have excess money to put into my 401K, and that I officially became a financial success.

Truth is that I don't have the money to max out my 401K.  I suppose I can find extra monies by cutting my expenses.  I can give up my expensive smart phone and use a phone that only makes calls.  I can certainly give up my cable.  I can give up wonderful Starbucks coffee and drink cheaper and horrible Cantina coffee.  I can give up tasty food and live on bread and water for the next year.  It is an awful way to live but I must stuff my 401K with money and not my belly with tasty pastry.   

Now where did I put that VisiCalc?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Speaking for the spoiled brats, underachievers, and bleeding hearts

                               

Your child does not have to love you every minute of every day. He’ll get over the disappointment of having been told “no.” But he won’t get over the effects of being spoiled. –Dr. Phil

…what we have is an entire generation of young adults who got everything they ever wanted with little or no work, we have a cultural norm and it’s a problem. –Kristen Welch

Perhaps the biggest problem with entitlement is that under its illusions, there seem to be no real consequences in life and no motivation to work for anything. Someone will always bail you out, get you off the hook, buy you a new one, make excuses for you, give you another chance, pay your debt, and hand you what you ask for. –Richard and Linda Eyre

The entire idea of my parents having four kids on one income made us make tough choices all the time. We hardly ever ate out.  We nervously asked my dad for two quarters to play video games…but never more. “That’s too much,”  we’d say to each other. –Ramit Sethi

The younger generation doesn’t want to have to really “work” for a living. They want everything handed to them. They don’t want to have to go without their “extras.” They “deserve” everything, and cannot fathom having to go without it because they cannot afford it. No one is entitled to anything, and unless one works for it, you don’t deserve to have it. – Kathy Lambert

~

If there were some sort of "agree-o-meter" to measure the extent of universally shared opinion on any particular topic, this one would probably be off the scale. It seems there's no one on this whole planet who sees any worth whatsoever in parents not running their households like pure capitalist systems - I give you a dollar, you'd darn better work your little tushie off to earn it.
Yeah, it's true -- kids as a rule don't understand the value of money, and they always want things. I don't think there's any force on earth that can change that basic psychological fact of the human condition. My son, raised in the 1990s-2000s, had that mindset, but so did I, three decades earlier. It might be a "new" thing, relatively speaking, as in, post-World War II, but it isn't something that just sprang up with the current generation.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I saw that!

                                
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
An intern in my office remarked, “I wonder what my life will be like.”   I don’t know if the intern realized it but she wants the ability to know the future.
 
What she really means is, “…tell me all the good things that will happen to me in the future.”   Yes, she wants to hear that she will be offered a job that gets her to the CEO position, then she will leave there to start a new company that creates a product that saves lives and changes the world.  Tell her that her husband will be handsome, smart, kind, love only her, and will never look at another woman, ever.  Tell her that her children will be well behaved geniuses.

She also means, “…tell me all the awful things that will happen to me so that I can change it.”   By sheer coincidence, her next boss is an ungrateful terror but she saves his job when she comes up with a brilliant idea for a product.  Her boss now loves her and promotes her.  Plus, she is getting mugged and this hottie man rescues her.  They fall in love, marry, and live happily ever after.

I am sure she did not mean that she wants to know the really awful things.  Tomorrow, you will die.

But you know, life is not so simple.  Life gets complicated.   Let’s say that she ends up married to a wealthy man and has fifteen children, one per year for the next fifteen years.  Is that good or bad? I don’t know.  How about this: she leaves home, gets run over by a bus, but she has the winning lottery ticket in her pocket.


Perhaps she should have wanted something far simpler, like to read people’s minds.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Book Review: The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb

                         

This article by Vol-E was originally published elsewhere.
~

April of 2009 marked the 10th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School.  Wally Lamb's novel, The Hour I First Believed, is a fictional account of one woman who was on campus during the shootings, and survived.  The story is told from the point of view of her husband. 

If the story had been told with the wife, Maureen, as the narrator, I suspect the novel would have been much shorter and more manageable.  As it is, Caelum Quirk, Maureen's husband, has a story of his own to tell.  Correction:  He has roughly a dozen stories -- everything from early marital failures, Katrina refugees, Mark Twain and his dinner guest Nicola Tesla, the Cocoanut Grove fire, post-traumatic stress disorder, women's prisons, the Miss Rheingold contest, illegitimate babies, and abused teens, to addiction, and beyond. 

Many of the elements that make this novel a success are the same ones that cripple it.  Caelum's story is told in real-time.  He is sitting down in front of you, spilling it all.  Is he a sympathetic character?  That is difficult to say.  He is blunt and truthful about his failings, but behind the confession is a wheedling plea for love and acceptance.  He can't help being angry, losing his temper, and letting his wife suffer alone and unsupported -- all this was caused by his childhood, and if you don't believe him, he's gonna take you back a century or two and work forward from there until you give in and tell him it's really, really all right. 

In Lamb's favor, every one of the sub-plots is fascinating, and each one "goes somewhere."  That's part of the problem.  You're trying to follow one storyline, but then have to detour into devices such as letters and psychiatric appointments.  Lamb gets back on track numerous times, only to find yet another spur along which to meander.  

The reader may find it useful to take notes.  Caelum Quirk's family of ancestry includes Lizzie, Lillian, Lydia and Lolly, and the story jumps back and forth through time, spotlighting each woman in turn.  There is, certainly, a point to all of these threads.  But ultimately, it is Caelum's story, not Maureen's.  Her part of the story ends on a less than satisfactory note.  

In Lamb's defense, it can be said that this is what life is like.  Working on mysteries without any clues, trying to keep plates in the air while the dog and cat are chasing each other around your legs and the phone is ringing.  He reminds us that for many of us, childhood should be classified as a terminal illness.  While we seek to recover from it, the here-and-now has a bewildering way of sneaking up and switching your medical records around.  

At the very least, we can read this novel and breathe a sigh of relief, that no matter how convoluted and exasperating our lives may be, they could always be worse.  We could always be Maureen or Caelum Quirk.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

MoneyKiss, an intimate performance app

                         

Disclaimer: This is not a real smartphone app -- yet. But if it should ever hit the market, you heard about it here first, and Your Faithful Correspondent gets the credit and the bucks!

 How long did it take you to get to first base?  Second base?  How many home runs do you have?  Now track your intimate relations performance with a new app, MoneyKiss

Yes, our society measures athletic prowess, ranks colleges, and creates  lists of the world's top ten beautiful people.  Thanks to MoneyKiss, we can now add your performance in intimate relations.

We have taken the statistical and mathematical evaluation methods developed in Baseball and explained so well by Brad Pitt in the movie MoneyBall, and brought you MoneyKiss to track your performance between the sheets.

Thanks to smartphones, you and your date can easily enter your performance into MoneyKiss.  You no longer have to spend the rest of your life wondering how good you are.   Learn how you compare to all the men in your town.  You will be ranked with the local men, and if you desire it, you can get a world wide ranking too.

A special feature of MoneyKiss for men is that you can enter your date's identity and you can compare your performance to the other men she dated in the past.

Women have their special features too.  Just enter your date's identity and you will immediately learn if he has the "package" you want.  See his performance ranking from his previous dates.  Weed out the duds.  No more trial and error.

MoneyKiss is revolutionary.

Here are some of the MoneyKiss performance indicators:
  • AT -- At Bat.  The number of time you were at bat or the count of your attempts to get to first base.
  • BL  -- usually has an asterisk to indicate the use of the "Little Blue Pills"
  • GL -- Girth Length ratio.  There is an old saying, " long d**k is not big d**k."  The girth matters too.  The closer to your number "1" the better.
  • KAT -- Kiss And Tell measures how many time you have been caught kissing and telling
  • OKI -- Orgasm Knocked In.  How many times you deliver the big O in one night's match
  • OO --  Oscar not orgasm.  Tells how good you are at faking your performance
  • RO -- The Romantic Operator indicates your overall performance ability to show a girl a good time.
  • HP -- Horsepower, your running power.  In short, how long can you last
  • SPM -- Strokes per Minute.  The strokes or hip thrusts per minute.
  • $$$  --  Measure of the "fat" of your wallet.  Some think that this is a superior size indicator than the GL.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Astrological insights into sticky relationships

                                                   

This article by Vol-E was originally published elsewhere.
~


If existence is a wheel, it isn't the kind on a stationary bike.  It's more like a wheel on a car, constantly revolving, but also traveling the miles, exploring new territory through the years. 

In light of this, we may wonder why certain patterns seem to repeat themselves, defying the convention of moving with the wheel, learning from the old, embracing the new.  In particular, when someone returns to an ex-partner or ex-spouse repeatedly, is it karma or weakness? 

The best recourse is to conduct a reading on both parties - since returning to a relationship requires two partners who allow it.  Clearly, this repetitive pattern indicates something gratifying and compelling -- if not in a lasting way.  A qualified astrologer or psychic can offer the detailed insights that go far toward answering these puzzling questions.