Monday, October 31, 2011

Gratitude Journal #111

Today, I am grateful that George had a good run yesterday at the Marine Corps Marathon. Over 43,000 people ran the race, which is mind-boggling. George's final time was 4:35, and our friend Jen fnished in 4:40. The finisher medals are spectacular, and I plan on taking a picture of George wearing his when he gets home later today.

Today, I am grateful for trick-or-treating. In general, I'm a Halloween Scrooge; the egregiousness of it all has worn me down ever since my firstborn hit preschool. I remember when Halloween was one extremely special night of homemade costumes and begging with a pillow case. Ah, the good ol' days! This year, thankfully, Nick's intermediate school isn't allowing costumes or parties but is collecting extra candy later in the week to send to the troops overseas. The soldiers use the candy to build good will and put smiles on kids' faces...and I imagine, to give themselves a tasty treat as well. That's a Halloween celebration I can get into!

Today, I am grateful for this verse shared by a blogging friend who is battling an inoperable brain tumor:

"I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him.'" Lamentations 3:20-24

Today, I am grateful for the new season of The Next Iron Chef. Generally speaking "reality" shows annoy me, but in The Next Iron Chef, competitors are all superlative chefs given unusual challenges to stretch their creativity and knowledge of food. Not only does the show give George ideas for the Iron Chef challenges I invent for him, it is exactly how I challenge myself with paper crafts. By forcing myself out of my comfort zone and creating random restrictions to push my creativity, I learn new things about paper and ink and stamps and design. And as my Word of the Year is Learn, this is a very good thing.

Today, I am grateful for this picture from Pinterest, which made me laugh and wish we could read animal minds:

What in the world are they thinking?

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

MCM Finisher George Raihala!

George finished the Marine Corps Marathon with a time of just under 4:40. Our friend Col. Jen Fullmer (USAF) finished just five minutes behind George. I'm so gosh darn proud of these two crazy people!

Marine Corps Marathon: My Crazy Husband

George is currently running in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. If you're interested in tracking his progress, go to the MCM website here, click on the Track Your Runner link in the right sidebar, and put in George's bib number 8922. It'll show you a map with a little icon running where he is on the course. How totally cool is that?!?!

As I post, he's 16.5 miles into it and running at a 10:10 pace.

Run, George. RUN!!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Words, Words, Words about Libraries

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." Jorge Luis Borges

"A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library." Shelby Foote

"Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul." Library at Thebes, inscription over the door

"We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth." John Lubbock

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Cicero

What are your thoughts on libraries?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Things on Thursday: The Library

I remember my mother taking me to the library when I was very little. I remember writing my name on check-out cards and the librarian putting the date stamp on the cards and in the books. I remember how we could check out as many as we wanted for free, the right of every person, rich or poor, old or young.

I remember the excitement of opening a new book and wondering what amazing characters and stories and places it would share with me. I remember words, words, words, and pictures.

I remember the different smells of paper in old and new books, the million shades of white and cream and yellow paper, the feel of smooth or rough paper and thick or thin, the sound of pages rubbing against each other and the cracking of spines, the feel of cloth-covered boards wrapped in slipcovers and of paperbacks.

I remember learning how to use the card catalog and Dewey Decimal system, and the amazement of finding a book just where the card catalog said it would be. I remember going to college and discovering the Library of Congress system and realizing how wonderful it was to get lost in the stacks in the PRs (English Literature) or the Ds (history).

I remember the graffiti in the library carrels. My favorite was "Free the Bound Periodicals."

I remember discovering inter-library loan in graduate school and suddenly the whole wide world of books and periodicals was just a request form away.

I remember deciding I needed to have my own library to dip into whenever the urge struck, and I have assiduously collected books my entire adult life. I remember deciding to teach myself how to bind books. I remember the joy of the first book I ever made. I remember feeling connected to anyone and everyone who ever made a book in the history of humankind.

Magic is in books and miracles are in libraries...from the ancient lost library at Alexandria to the tiny local library in your hometown.

I still love going to the library. I love taking my children to the library and letting them check out books. I love giving them the experience I had, watching them find just the right book for whatever journey through words and pictures they feel moved to take.

I love the magic of books. I love the adventure, the freedom, the accessibility.

I love the library.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Things That Go Bump in the Night

One morning last week, around 5:00 AM, George awoke and had a deeply weird experience in bed.

No, I was not involved. I was sleeping in Jack’s room to escape George’s snoring. Y’all have dirty minds, you know.

Anyway, George closed the master bedroom door at 5:00 AM. He didn’t want Nick’s 6:00 alarm waking him earlier than he needed to get up. After closing the door, he climbed back into bed and had almost fallen asleep when he felt a nudge on his shoulder. He sat up.

The door he’d just closed was half open.

No one was there.

Weird, eh? Who or what opened the door? Who or what nudged his shoulder? How much beer had he consumed the night before? I can’t answer the first two questions, but I can assure you alcohol was not a factor.

This time.

As weird as this nighttime nudge was, it’s not as weird as our experiences in our house in Boise, Idaho. We lived in Boise from 1996 to 2000, and we were convinced there was something odd—yet not at all threatening or scary—going on in that house.

One night shortly after we moved in, I was awakened by a knocking on the sliding glass door in the master bedroom. No one was there. George thought I was imagining things until we were both awakened by the same knocking one snowy night a few months later. No tracks marred the pristine dusting of snow, yet we both heard a couple of knocks quite clearly.

On another occasion, when George was home alone, a mysterious puppy gamboled through our master suite (and through George’s peripheral vision) while he was putting on his shoes…a puppy that looked nothing like our dog Shemya, who was at that moment in another room…a puppy who disappeared into our closet, never to be seen again…a puppy George knew could not possibly be real.

But then, gamboling puppies aren’t very scary, are they?

By far the weirdest event in Boise occurred one Friday night around 9:00 PM. I was teaching a Friday evening class at Boise State University. At the time, we had no children so our Fridays involved meeting friends in downtown Boise for dancing and drinks. I usually wanted to change clothes after class, so most nights, George waited for me to get home from school before heading out.

On this particular Friday, however, he told me he might go out with some friends for dinner before I got home, and he didn’t know if he would be driving or not.

When I pulled into the garage, his car was there, so when I walked in the house, I yelled, “George, are you here?”

He yelled back, “I’m in here!!”

His voice came from our guest room, clear as ever. I wandered in that direction.

No one was there.

No one.

Instead of feeling scared, I felt as though a practical joke had been played on me. Whether that joke was perpetrated by a puckish poltergeist or my own tired brain depends on your perspective.

I suspect all these odd experiences can be chalked up to brain hiccups, called sensory hallucinations, that result from a variety of causes, not just mental illness. People can have hallucinations they know better than to believe. One woman, for instance, saw a dozen or so dancing leprechauns on her dining room table but knew they couldn’t possibly be real.

Also, it’s actually fairly common to experience hallucinations when falling asleep or waking up. These hallucinations can be auditory, such as hearing a voice call your name, a phone ring, or a loud bang. Hallucinating a shove on your shoulder as you’re falling asleep is certainly weird, but hardly cause for fear or concern for one’s mental health.

Still, the open door definitely wasn’t a hallucination because I was lying awake at the time and definitely heard George close the door twice. He probably didn’t close the door all the way the first time, and drafts from open windows and the fans we run at night blew it open.

See? Reasonable explanations are fairly easy to come by.

Anyway, as long as these sensory hallucinations don’t lead you to believe that Satan wants you to strip naked, climb on the table at Olive Garden, and sing the Hokey Pokey to the dinner crowd, you’re probably not insane and certainly have no reason to be afraid. Your brain is just on overdrive, or tired, or medicated, or overly caffeinated. When you know you’re hallucinating, you’re not delusional, and that’s rather comforting, don’t you think?

Our experiences in the house in Boise show just how easy it was for early humans to ascribe supernatural, scary explanations to things that go bump in the night. Researchers have discovered that certain spaces thought of as haunted share common characteristics which may stimulate deeply primitive survival instincts. Dark, cold places made of stone with cavernous ceilings, for instance, cause people to react uneasily, even when those people don’t believe in ghosts and goblins. Other spaces, such as basements, attics, mazes, and dead end rooms can generate similar feelings of dread and danger.

George and I have both experienced being home alone with our dogs when they suddenly became alert, woofed or barked at something they heard, and then relaxed when they determined it was nothing. We generally credit these events with the dogs’ vastly superior hearing, but it is still deeply weird when they stare at a spot in the room intently, growl or woof, and then relax. What is that all about?

We seek out scientific explanations for such weirdness, but science can’t always explain it. At least not yet. So sometimes, when things go bump in the night, we get nervous. Maybe science has it wrong and zombies really are trying to catch us and eat our brains, but more likely, it’s a psychopathic serial killer.

Yeah, that’s comforting.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gratitude Journal #110

Today, I am grateful for laughter in all its manifestations, from gentle chuckles to belly laughs to laughter that is silent and so uncontrollable that it leaves you with a face full of tears and snot. Did I ever tell you about the time I was reading Bridget Jones's Diary in a coffee shop in Rapid City, South Dakota? I started laughing so hard I knew it looked like sobbing, so I held the book up so the strangers in the coffee shop would know that I was reading a funny book and not having a mental breakdown.

Why do we care what strangers in coffee shops think?

Today, I am grateful (once again) that George enjoys cooking because the following picture from Pinterest is so very me.

Yes, of course. But sometimes I wish it were going to happen. I mean, who wouldn't want Owl Post (Harry Potter) and friendly dragons taking you wherever you wanted to go in a few seconds (Anne McCaffrey's Pern series)?

Today, I am grateful for yesterday's sermon at church. Rejoice in the Lord always. Paul wrote this to the Philippians from prison. From prison, people! If he could muster up a positive perspective while awaiting the possibility of martyrdom, I can muster one for Jack's medication situation and for our new house dilemma. Rejoice, indeed.

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On Military ID Cards and Feminist Angst

When people with no prior experiences with the armed forces marry the military, they find themselves, quite unexpectedly and disconcertingly, in a painting by Dada. They are taken from all that is familiar and comfortable—family, friends, home—and are dropped into a landscape littered with an odd mishmash of patriotic symbolism; cold, cruel bureaucracy; instant, deep friendships; relentlessly stupid red tape; a profound sense of serving a great country with a great purpose; and loneliness.

Finding a way to relate to this bizarre landscape without losing one’s identity, one’s sense of self, is challenging. As far as the military was concerned, I was an appendage of my husband because he was the one who signed his life away to the government, not I. I was just along for the ride with no direct commitment to the military myself; my commitment was to George.

My identification card, for example, contained George’s social security number and rank, two bits of information that had absolutely nothing to do with me yet would define how the bureaucracy treated me at the base hospital, base housing, the base exchange, and the base gas station for the next twenty years and beyond. To this day, on those rare occasions when I am asked for my social security number, I have to think hard to remember it, though I can rattle off George’s without any effort at all.

My first Officers Club card named me Mrs. George Raihala. I didn’t care what Emily Post had to say on the subject: my name was not Mrs. George. My 21-year-old feminist self railed against this vestige of old-fashioned military tradition. I was certainly proud to take my husband’s last name when we married, but having myself labeled a “dependent spouse” and Mrs. George simply boggled my mind. How could our nation be so institutionally sexist?

Well, in the years since then, things have changed because “dependent spouse” now applies to husbands much more often than it did then. As more and more women wear the uniform, more and more men find themselves in the club which used to be called the Officers Wives Club (OWC) but is now known by the more politically correct name Officers Spouses Club (OSC).

Rather clunky, don’t you think? I have no idea how many husbands actually participate in the formal OSC because I quit long before the club went officially co-ed. Back in 1989, the first year I joined, it was all women, all the time.

I can’t imagine a husband who would have wanted to play with us girls anyway.

The OWC (because everything related to the military needs an acronym) proved to be the oddest group I ever joined. Think, for a moment, about the randomness of military wives. A bunch of men decide to commit themselves to their country, giving them all a common purpose and course of action. Their community is strong and tight, united by the common goal of service to country: fly, fight, and win. They come from all walks of life, all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and they are exploited by the military machine to work together, 24/7.

The military owns these people and can move them any place, any time, at a moment’s notice.

Where in the world does this leave their spouses? Well, it leaves them alone. Rarely are people stationed near family, and their active-duty spouses work long hours and frequently travel, especially if they are pilots or navigators. George and I spent only three of our first ten wedding anniversaries in the Air Force together; for the rest, he was away on temporary duty.

Needless to say, when a bunch of women are yanked from home, plopped into a strange place, and left alone for long hours, they need a support system, friends, a routine, and a job. When we arrived at Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Michigan for George’s first operational assignment, I immediately went looking for a job and found one at the base credit union. Most of the other employees were married to enlisted guys, so they couldn’t understand why an officer’s wife was bothering to work.

As I couldn’t understand why any woman, regardless of marital status, wouldn’t want to work, we clearly were coming at this whole job thing from wildly different points of view.

Generally speaking, my coworkers treated me with cautious respect, like I might tell my husband if they were mean to me, and he might pull rank to get their husbands in trouble. They never let me forget the difference in our husbands’ ranks. Few of them lowered their guard enough to become actual friends.

With the women at work keeping me at a distance, I needed to put my energy into making friends elsewhere. After my positive experience in college, meeting lots of people and making a diverse and interesting group of friends, it felt incurably weird to meet new women on the base and find myself repeatedly asked two specific questions. It was, in fact, rather like being given a double-elimination quiz at sorority rush for OWC (or, as I like to call it, Oscar Whiskey Charley). The two questions, in order, were

1) “What squadron is your husband in?”

2) “How many children do you have?”

More often than not, if a woman’s husband was in, say, the tanker squadron, she would immediately dismiss me as a potential friend because my husband was in the bomb squadron. Of course, we couldn’t possibly have anything in common if our husbands reported to different commanders, now, could we?

If a woman’s husband was in the same squadron as my husband, I passed the first test, but then she would ask me question number 2. Since we didn’t have children until we’d been married 13 years, I flunked this question every single blessed time.

How sad is it that people wouldn’t be my friend because of my insistence on using birth control?

At a luncheon for the OWC magazine team, the hostess politely tried to include everyone in the conversation. I was rather quiet, so she asked me, “How many children do you have, Susan?”

I replied, with a little smile, “None. We have a dog.”

She paused, clearly searching for words, and finally said, “That’s nice. Sharon, when is your baby due?”

It took every single ounce of decorum in my body not to burst out laughing at the absurdity of it all.

Interestingly, the Sharon who was pregnant at the magazine luncheon was my one friend who violated all these unwritten rules. Her husband was a major in the intelligence squadron. My husband was a lieutenant in the bomber squadron. By the rules, we should not have been friends because her husband worked in a different squadron and he also outranked George by a good bit.

I rather relished our friendship, not only because she was a really neat person and we had a lot in common (she’s a writer, too), but because we both felt like edgy rebels taking a stand against the oppressive old-school military-wife mentality.

In fact, Sharon and I may have been the thin edge of a wedge of social change for military wives, but I wouldn't know. That magazine luncheon signaled the beginning of the end of my time in the OWC. At subsequent bases, while I felt no hostility toward the OWC, I also felt no need to participate. Some groups are just not a good fit, and it’s important to recognize this before you commit to them for any sizable chunk of your life. I quit going, and no one seemed to mind.

This past Monday, I had to renew my military identification card. My feminist outrage twenty-three years ago at being labeled dependent spouse and Mrs. George Raihala by our United States Air Force has been replaced by a new outrage that has nothing to do with my name, George’s rank, or the fact they asked for my weight.

No, I was completely taken aback by the appallingly poor quality of my photo. On my new ID card, I look old, frumpy, and annoyed. I do not look like me at all. In fact, I look like the stereotype of a middle-aged, bitter, angry feminist.

The clerk who took the photo was a woman…a woman who should have let me see the photo before printing the card, a woman who should have given me a second chance to set the photo straight, a woman who clearly needed new glasses.

Feminist outrage has given way to feminine outrage.

I just can’t decide if this is progress or not.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gratitude Journal #109

Today I am grateful for these pictures, taken by my husband, during our metro park hike yesterday.

Fall walks are a tradition in our family, and the only thing that kept yesterday's hike from being the awesomest was Daisy's absence. She still can't go on walks and probably won't be cleared to do so until December. She would have loved meeting and greeting all the people and dogs we passed on the trail.

Today, I am grateful for apple fritters and pumpkin picking, which are also Raihala family fall traditions.

Today, I am grateful for kind blog readers whose comments and emails keep me going, both in general and in the specific of my Friday post. Our Big Decision is no closer to resolution, but what makes it hard is that there is no wrong answer. It's just a choice between two very different and important priorities. And it's a choice neither George nor I are comfortable making. If one of us had a clear preference, the other would say, "Sure!" But we're both on the teeter-totter, neither moving forward. We hate being the grown-ups! But I am grateful that we have the opportunity to even consider the choice because we are truly blessed and fortunate to be where we are right now.

Today, I am grateful for church yesterday. The sermon was delivered by one of our lay speakers, and addressed the issue of not looking back but pressing on to the prize. No answer to our Big Decision in that (both end results would be prizes in their own way!) but Jack Hott's words definitely encouraged me to stick with whatever decision we make and not second-guess it. There's comfort in that, at least!

What are you grateful for today? Please share. There's value in stating our gratitude out loud, don't you think?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Words, Words, Words about Decisions

George and I have some major decisions to make in the near future...decisions we have neglected before, much to our lasting regret. Big decisions make me and George kinda crazy. Our minds are swirling in circles, so I sought out some quotations to help us along.

"Indecision may or may not be my problem." Jimmy Buffett
We can relate to your lyrics, Jimmy.

"Some persons are very decisive when it comes to avoiding decisions." Brendan Francis
Yep. *raises hand*

"Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions."Author Unknown
George and I have plenty of experience. That's part of what makes us indecisive.

"It doesn't matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions." Jim Rohn
The fence is getting very uncomfortable.

"Quick decisions are unsafe decisions." Sophocles
I don't want to hear this. Can't we just get it over with?

"Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come." Robert H. Schuller
Isn't waiting just a nice word for indecision?

"High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true." Robert H. Schuller
I want to be a high achiever, Mr. Schuller, but Sophocles clearly disagrees with you, and he was a high achiever. Are you smarter than Sophocles?

"The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live." Flora Whittemore
Nothing like a little added pressure, Flora. Thanks a lot.

"An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgements simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore." Edward de Bono
Finally, someone who can help. Edward, you helped me focus, and I thank you. George and I need to gather some critical information before we can proceed, but we also need to ask what information is truly important, and what information we should ignore. Something useful to think about.

“It is not always what we know or analyzed before we make a decision that makes it a great decision. It is what we do after we make the decision to implement and execute it that makes it a good decision.” William Pollard
Ah, yes, follow-through. It helps to think that no matter what we choose, if we execute it well, it'll be good in the end. Takes a bit of the pressure off. A bit.

But we have to choose our path first.

What do you do to help you work through difficult decisions where options are many and arrows pointing the right way are few? Prayer, certainly. But what else?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Things on Thursday: Grammar Is Easy

When I found this on Pinterest, I fell off my chair laughing.

Personal Note: I've been extremely distracted this week and haven't whipped an essay into shape, although I have tried. Lots going on, including Jack's first appointment with the new developmental pediatrician on Friday. Hopefully, I'll be back next week with something scintillating, or at the very least a post that uses Miss Grammar successfully. She's such a slut.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'm Tickled

When I was a child, I hated being tickled. It was the worst. I couldn't stop laughing but really hated the feeling of being out of control, of having someone making me laugh.

Real laughter should be honest, not provoked or forced out of a person by harrassment and torture. So when I saw this on Pinterest the other day, of course I laughed out loud and pinned it on my Truths board.

Pinterest Link

When I looked at my pin boards today and saw it again, I remembered a tickle incident at the Officers Club at Wurtsmith AFB in 1991 or 1992. George's aircraft commander, call sign Lex Luthor, snuck up behind me at the bar and tickled my sides. I whipped around, pointed a finger in his face, and through slitted eyes  said, "Do that again and I will break your finger."

Lex had some issues with inappropriate touching of other people's wives, and this wasn't the first time he'd touched me. I was done with him.

He was, needless to say, taken aback, and glanced at George for back-up. George shrugged. "I'd listen to her if I were you."

He never touched me again.

What are your feelings about being tickled? How would you have reacted to someone like Lex tickling you? Am I completely humorless or completely justified?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Gratitude Journal #108

Today, I am grateful to have our Daisy home from her second knee surgery. She is recovering well, much better than last time. We have to take the Cone of Shame off for her to eat, and as you can see, she doesn't want it put back on. As soon as she saw me coming with it, she scooted her head under a chair.

Her tactic didn't work. How sad!

Today, I am grateful for the Ironman Championships in Kona...always a good thing. George was able to hook his computer up to our television to watch the streaming internet coverage live all day long while wearing one of his Ironman Wisconsin finisher shirts.

This is, for George, much better than waiting until November for the networks to splice together 90 minutes of sappy coverage with voice-over by Bob Costas. I actually prefer the Bob Costas version because he talks about the age groupers and their stories of Ironman challenge. Yes, I'm sappy. George is not.

Today, I am grateful Nick coined a new word when he described a drugged Daisy as comatoast. LOVE that.

Today, I am grateful for our Stephen Ministry's study on Spiritual Gifts. Our teacher Karen did a great job guiding us through it, and it was very affirming and uplifting. Karen gave us each a rose on the last class Thursday. Mine is still beautiful.

Today, I am grateful for federal holidays not observed by our school district. George has today off, and the boys don't. We have an all-day date!

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Words, Words, Words from Steve Jobs

"Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." --Steve Jobs

Also, there is a wonderful video over on Mental Floss. I remember the original commercial, but hearing the voice-over in Jobs' own voice really is touching. Hope you are as inspired as I was to let your inner crazy one change the world in whatever small way you can.
Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Questioning the Screen Nation

I visited two different aquariums this summer and found modern technology used ineffectively at both, thus proving that you should probably not do something just because you can.


You need a better reason that that.

At the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the dolphin show has been taken over by two giant screens of rather poor quality. About half the show consists of watching a documentary the audience could just as easily (and much more comfortably) watch at home on Animal Planet.

Similarly, at the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky, the new Penguin Palooza exhibit consists largely of a television screen (not even very big, actually) and a dreadfully cheerful man wearing a Macaroni penguin headband and ear mic. The banal banter between the live, dreadfully cheerful man and the animated penguins on the ten-minute video might entertain a four-year-old, but my family pretty much agreed it was just annoying, not to mention barely informative.

On a mildly relevant tangent, the new part of the penguin exhibit shared a cacophony of recorded penguin sounds that were too loud and annoying to do much more than make me feel really sorry for penguin researchers in the field, who must wear earplugs to prevent their becoming insane and accepting jobs as dreadfully cheerful people wearing Macaroni penguin headbands and ear mics while exchanging banal banter with animated penguins on a screen.

Maybe we Raihalas are missing the point.

Which leads me to offer up the following observation for all zoo and aquarium planners. While recorded videos can provide relevant information and enhance the educational experience of certain exhibits, their use in animal performances is distracting, unless they are giving the audience a better view of what is happening in a tank or habitat. When people are watching a recorded program on a screen, they are not watching the living, breathing animals you have so thoughtfully placed in captivity for the people's edification and education.

When people are no longer looking at the animals, why do the animals need to be held in captivity?

Just a thought.

Since you, my wonderful readers, have so kindly endured my rant, I invite you to share your own. Where have you noticed screens in places they should not be?  Have you seen them used appropriately or helpfully someplace?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Weekly Giggle: Retro (Geek) Cool

You know, I'm finding that some of the most amazing, cool, and fabulously silly things are created by clever people in their spare time, and thanks to the joys of the Internet, the whole world can enjoy them. We humans love creating, and if what we create is epically useless yet utterly fun, so much the better. Case in point:

Imperial March Performed by Floppy Disks

Remember floppy disks? I sure do. I lost all 50 pages of my Great American Novel when one failed spectacularly in the Great Corrupted Disk Tragedy of 2003.

But I don't like thinking about that. Instead, I'm going to watch the Imperial March again and giggle with glee over the antique-looking wires and chips and disks in it. Then, I'm going to pull out my Blackberry and play around the Internet with it, not a wire in sight. Maybe there's a version of the Imperial March played on the accordion. Or reed pipes.

Now THAT would be retro cool.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gratitude Journal #107

Today, I am grateful for the movie The Dolphin Tale. What a sweet, heartwarming movie!

Today, I am grateful for pork barbecue, slaw, and my husband who took me back to my North Carolina childhood on Sunday with his culinary skills.

Today, I am grateful for the kindness of strangers.

Today, I am grateful for coffee with my friend Angela on Friday at Barnes & Noble.

Today, I am grateful for Daisy's blissful ignorance of what will happen to her tomorrow as she undergoes surgery on her left knee.

Today, I am grateful for the spam filter on Blogger comments.

What are you grateful for today?