Monday, February 28, 2011

Gratitude Journal #80

Today, I am grateful for all the people who left comments on Friday's post. Braver, smarter, stronger. Yes. You are amazing women.

Today, I am grateful for Oscar. Yes, the show is ridiculously fawning and self-congratulatory, but I always enjoy the clothes. And sometimes the speeches are sweet. I loved the older gentleman who started his speech with "My father always said I would be a late-bloomer." Also, Kirk Douglas saying, "You know...." His presentation could have been sad; instead, he really stole the show!

Today, I am grateful for food, for George's cooking skills, and for abundance.

Today, I am grateful for Darth Daisy, wielding her light saber, and for Nick, who shot these pictures.

Darth Daisy Gives You the Evil Eye

Darth Daisy: "Say what?"

What are YOU grateful for today?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Words, Words, Words from Christopher Robin

"You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." Christopher Robin

Insecurity and self-doubt are serious hurdles in life, and all of us stumble over them at some point. Was there a time in your life when you realized Christopher Robin (a.k.a. A. A. Milne) was right, when you realized you were braver, stronger, smarter than you'd previously thought you were?

For me, it was Jack's diagnosis of autism. A parent usually doesn't expect something like that, and at least for us, it came out of the blue. Autism? Seriously? But four-and-a-half years later, I certainly feel braver, stronger, and smarter than I felt in that first moment Dr. Z said, "I think your son has autism." 

Your turn!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Things on Thursday: Pioneer Woman's Love Story

Here's the book I read earlier this week. Black Heels to Tractor Wheels is the unashamedly romantic story of how a city girl meets and falls head over black heels in love with a cowboy. The book wallows in the giggly silliness of love without making me want to gag in the least. But then, I'm a long-time fan of The Pioneer Woman blog, so I'm hardly objective about anything she does. She writes in the same breezy, informal, self-deprecating style of her blog. If you're looking for Literature with a capital L, look elsewhere...this is a bodice ripping romance told by your best friend over coffee in a country kitchen...or at least that's how it feels.

Black Heels is sweet, sad, scary, and honest, but mostly it's funny. If you believe in love--or really want to--read this book. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Occam's Razor and Conspiracy Theory

While watching a show about 9/11 conspiracies, I started thinking about conspiracies and why I am so reluctant to believe them. For the record, I don’t believe that either Kennedy assassination was a conspiracy, I don’t think Big Pharma is conspiring to cause autism with vaccines, I don’t think the moon landing was a hoax, and I don’t think historians invented the Holocaust to make the Nazis look bad.

Of course, I could be wrong.

But I’m probably not.

Because of Occam’s Razor.

Most people think of Occam’s Razor as the principle that the simplest answer is usually right, which is sort of what Occam said. I like Wikipedia’s succinct summary a bit better: the theory “generally recommends selecting the competing hypothesis that makes the fewest new assumptions, when the hypotheses are equal in other respects.”

The so-called Truthers of the 9/11 conspiracies make a whole bunch of unnecessary assumptions about the way the Towers fell. There are LOTS of things people can very legitimately criticize the United States government for (fraud, waste, abuse; stupidity; greed; underhanded dealings; being peopled with oversexed idiots) but when people argue that our government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, they lead us on a merry chase into speculation, hyperbole, rhetorical flights of fancy, paranoia, and denial of facts.

Cold-blooded terrorists planned and executed an attack on the United States: that’s the simplest answer and it makes the fewest new assumptions.

Of course, I could be wrong.

But I’m probably not.

That’s the beauty of Occam’s Razor.

There’s been a lot of research done on why people come up with conspiracy theories when actual evidence is thin on the ground, and if I live long enough, I’d like to read some of it. I have, however, read a lot about autism, and particularly the vaccine issue. Lots of people continue to believe that vaccines cause autism, despite the ever-growing body of evidence to the contrary. The doctor who started the whole bru-ha-ha, Andrew Wakefield, has been thoroughly discredited, but parents whose children were recently diagnosed will still find scads of information about how damaging vaccines are all over the internet and by listening to celebrities on talk shows.

The rhetoric these sites and celebrities use to argue that vaccines cause autism is, at least superficially, convincing. It appeals to distraught parents on many levels, and many people defend Wakefield despite the rather (to my mind, at least) definitive evidence that he falsified patient records, tampered with test results, and did his testing in an uncertified lab with deeply faulty lab practices. Plus, no other licenced lab has been able to duplicate his results: the kiss of death according to the scientific method.

Unfortunately, the scientific world of mainstream medicine has failed to come up with a really good explanation of the cause of autism to counter the conspiracy theories. Science just can’t give parents a meaningful answer, so parents look for a nice, systematic answer elsewhere. And they find it in accusations of greed directed at Big Pharma...accusations that are at least credible given Big Pharma's history. Until science figures this one out, we parents have to muddle through as best we can, and I really can’t blame those who fall for the conspiracy theory. An answer, after all, is easier to live with than no answer at all.

What little I’ve read about conspiracy theories stresses the fact that our frontal lobes are really active places that like to make all sorts of connections between things; this is a large part of what separates us from, say, golden retrievers. We come up with systems—of government, of manufacturing, of law, of health, of education, and so forth—systems that allowed the Romans to build aqua ducts and Americans to build Apollo 11. I’d like to see a golden retriever do either of those things.*

Conspiracy theories are systems: increasingly elaborate and inherently attractive systems that give meaning, sometimes much greater meaning, to events. Our brains derive pleasure from knowing secrets, figuring out puzzles, and getting at “the truth,” so it’s not hard to see why people who are quite intelligent and reasonable get sucked into believing conspiracy theories. It’s fun to feel like we figured it out.

Furthermore, as much as we like to be right, we are even happier when we think everyone else--especially everyone in authority--is wrong.

Unless, of course, I am wrong.

But I’m probably not.

Because of Occam’s Razor.

*Please note that I’m not maligning golden retrievers, who are pretty special in their own ways. I’d like to see a human find a victim trapped under rubble or shed glorious fur all over someone to cheer them up. You really need a golden for those tasks. But a big frontal lobe is not a gift golden retrievers can claim, as any owner of a delightfully dopey golden will tell you.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gratitude Journal #79

Today, I am grateful for steak. Ribeye steak. Medium-rare ribeye steak. Just call me carnivore.

Today, I am grateful for our recent unseasonably warm weather...the sunny side of things to come.

Today, I am grateful for color. Jack's room is the saddest, blandest room in the house, and this week I'm going to transform it into a happy place that's color-coordinated (in blue...his favorite color) and decorated with framed masterpieces from his own hand and some cut-up Thomas the Tank Engine books.

Today, I am grateful for automatic bill pay.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Words, Words, Words on Books and a Few Random Subjects

"Hold a book in your hand and you're a pilgrim at the gates of a new city."
Anne Michaels (because I bought a new book today and feel the privilege of it)

"It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (because my boys are overachievers)

"All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed." Sean O'Casey (and even when we are rehearsed, we can still act like idiots, sort of like I did tonight in the kitchen)

"Television – a medium. So called because it is neither rare nor well done." Ernie Kovacs (because George and I can not find anything worth watching tonight)

What random words are appealing to you right now?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Things on Thursday: Best Dog Toy EVER

Daisy loves these knotted ropes with handles. She pounces on them. She chews them. She runs around the house with them as she growls viciously and happily at the same time. She drags hapless Nick across the carpet with them. She shakes them to death...a deed that is unsettling similar to self-flagellation since the knots and handle thud painfully into her body yet she appears not to notice.

She is a dog on a mission: Kill. The. Rope.

These ropes have also lasted weeks longer than other toys. We had to stop buying stuffies or those awesome unstuffed soft toys. She ate their faces off within minutes of getting them.

She also eats carpet. And rocks.

She is not sensible, yet we love her all the same.

Monday, February 14, 2011

What Happens To You When You Work for the Military Industrial Complex

Take a look at this picture of our dining room table, which isn't a dining room table anymore. It's been taken over by technology. And George.

Me: This is sad.

George: Yeah. I've been thinking I need to think about cleaning it up.

Me: You need to think about thinking about cleaning it up?

George: Sure. First, we need to do a Desk Cleaning Analysis. Define the requirements for cleaning. Do we have to get everything off or just some stuff? Also, how many hours will it take to clean? Next, we need to do a Feasibility Study. Is it even possible to clean the table, especially during tax season? Then we should draft a Request for Cleaning Proposals, see if we get any bids. Award the contract. Then get whoever wins to come in and clean. It's going to take some planning to get all this done.

Welcome to my world.

Gratitude Journal #78

Today, I am grateful for my honey, my partner, my personal chef: George. Happy Valentine's Day, honey-bunny! I love you!

Today, I am grateful for mammograms, as awkward and uncomfortable as they are. If you need one, get one.

Today, I am grateful for my readers, who daily encourage me and lift me up.

Today, I am grateful for warmer weather.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Poem by SueB

The following was left by my very kind reader SueB in a comment on my other blog, and I thought I'd share it here for any of you who are feeling poorly at the moment. This is excellent advice, and I'm taking it. If you're sick, you should, too. Thanks, Sue.

comfy jammies,
cozy bed,
big soft pillow
for your head.
worry not,
the world can wait.
take your time,

Words, Words, Words about Wisdom

"The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom." H.L. Menken

In my mid-twenties, I had to appear in court after a man in a GMC Jimmy ran a red light and totalled my Acura Integra. While waiting for my case to be called, a little old gray-haired lady was brought out in an orange jumpsuit and cuffs. She had a bandage on her head. A little old gray-haired man, with a matching bandage on his head, was called forward from the audience. Turns out, the little old gray-haired lady was the little old gray-haired man's girlfriend. They both got drunk the night before, and the little old gray-haired lady threw a brick at the little old gray-haired man's head, overbalanced, and fell down, hitting her own head on a table.

This whole experience made me sad. Now I'm a little middle-aged gray-haired lady who's very careful not to get drunk. Does this mean I am wise, or merely sensible?

I had a number of elderly professors at Duke. Some were excited about learning and enthusiastically conveyed that excitement to students. Their wisdom seemed to lie in an insatiable wonder of the world around them. Other elderly professors were simply tired. New thoughts seemed to require a bit more effort than they had energy for, so they relied on what they already knew, a bit like Professor Binns in the Harry Potter books.

If age does not by itself confer wisdom, what does? Please share your thoughts.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Things on Thursday: A Mentholated Surprise

These are my new favorite cold treatment item.

Unfortunately, when you take the wrapper off the box, there's very little on the box to warn an unsuspecting drippy nose of the addition of Vicks to the tissues. So when George grabbed a tissue and inhaled deeply before blowing, he felt a blast of menthol which, oddly enough, came out of his eyeballs.

I laughed helpfully. Then apologized. Then laughed some more.

We're a little short of entertainment around here.

If you get a cold this season and don't mind menthol coming out your eyes (I find it rather nice), Puffs Plus with Vicks are really quite comforting. And no, Puffs isn't paying me to say nice things about their Vicks-enhanced tissues, but if they read this and send me free boxes, I'll be really grateful.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ingst and Other Nonsense Words

If you have hung around in Cyber-Land very long, you've probably had to enter a word verification when you've posted a comment or entered information on a website. You are shown made-up words or squiggly letters and have to key them in as they appear in order to post. This helps keep electronic spammers at bay, but even more usefully, it provides entertainment for word lovers who can then play nonsensically with the nonsense words generated by the word verification programs.

When word lovers are hopped up on heavy-duty cold medicine and desperately trying to distract themselves from a flaming sore throat, the fun is intensified, as you will see if you keep reading.

I do not recommend that you keep reading. Which pretty much guarantees that you will, because you have an insatiable curiosity to see the train wreck and be grateful that it isn't you.

I recently had to enter the nonsense word ingst and decided that ingst is really just a blending of ink and angst, and it’s what writers get when confronted with a blank page that they must fill with writing. Ingst. I’m experiencing ingst today. Virtual ingst, since of course I’m not using ink on paper but typing letters into a computer. But it gave me an idea for this week’s essay.

Note that I said an idea, not a good idea.

Since I truly feel I haven’t given you enough evidence that I’m obsessive compulsive, let's hammer the last nail in that coffin by telling you that I collect these nonsense words. In fact, I have a business-size envelope overflowing with index cards on which I have jotted the best nonsense words I’ve encountered.

I’ve even begun to categorize them under three general types.

1. Nonsense words that should be in the English language but, sadly, are not. Most of these are supremely easy to spot and require very little cleverness to define.

unduo (verb: to divorce, break up. They decided to unduo after he left the toilet seat up one too many times.)

relike (verb: the reverse of unduo. She reliked him after he bought a house with his and her bathrooms.)

repint (verb: to refill a beer glass. "Repint me," George said.)

nongynal (adjective: a medical appointment not pertaining to women’s issues. I need a nongynal appointment for my cold.)

unsin (verb: to make right a wrong. Most sins cannot be unsinned.)

repie (verb: to get another piece of pie…duh)

restic (adjective: the state of being both restful and rustic. Our stay in the cabin was restic.)

blogied (verb, past participle: when your mom shares embarrassingly funny things about you on her blog, you’ve been blogied)

gawdly (adverb: same as godly, but spoken in rural Alabama. That there man is a gawdly redneck.)

homater (noun: a promiscuous tomato. That's one skanky homater!)

spousion (noun: what happens when your spouse explodes in your face. Leaving the toilet seat up guarantees a spousion.)

grome (noun: a grown-up human with an unfortunate resemblance to a gnome. That grome really should not post his picture on eHarmony.)

luveywu (noun: a sickeningly sweet term of endearment. Come here, luveywu, and give me a kissy-wissy!)

swoog (verb: what I did when I saw the gelatin-womb cake on Cake Wrecks)

glerc (noun: the sound I made when I swooged. My glerc made the dog swoog in sympathy.)

smalloid (noun: new term for Pluto since it’s no longer a planet and I feel sorry for it.)

Please note that if I were distressingly obsessive compulsive, these words would be listed in alphabetical order. They are not, and it was not even a little hard for me to leave them that way; therefore I am not mentally ill. Just weird.

2. Nonsense words that are fun to say out loud but for which I’m not clever enough to invent definitions.


3. Nonsense words that are not particularly fun to say but for which I’m still not clever enough to invent definitions.


Since I am not clever enough to invent definitions, I thought I’d use the nonsense words in a poem, which is only a poem because it’s broken into three stanza of five lines each and not for any other reason. Remember, this idea came to me after a massive dose of cold medicine, which does amazing things to my creativity, and not necessarily good amazing things.

The Fiaboo

The spepias deretoph
Laid a blantel of cherb
Over the ploble dedredi,
Whose sounds of prolu
Were dreadful to hear.

The spepias deretoph
Felt bad for his deed,
And sang, subclef,
A hyperin dirge
Of cousious sublime.

The dignied clorp
Made the fiaboo right
By removing the dedredi’s blantel
And ingly whacking the deretoph
Until he shut up.

Which seems like a really good idea for me at the moment, so I’m going to pop a throat lozenge and contemplate the piles of laundry that I should have been doing instead of writing this post.

Stay well, people. Stay well.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Too Many Ps

Nick, for some reason, decided to pull for the Steelers in the SuperBowl, but had to go to bed before the game was over. Sunday was a school night. Monday night at dinner, the following conversation took place.

George: I'm sorry, Nick, but your team lost.

Nick: I know. But I decided I don't like the Steelers anymore.

George: Really? Why?

Nick: Pennsylvania has to many Ps.

George: Huh?

Nick: Well, there's Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, and of course, Philadelphia. Too many Ps.

George: Oh. I've often thought that, too.

I love eleven year olds!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekly Giggle #27...or Something

Oh. My. Gosh.

I can't unsee this, so YOU might as well suffer with me.

Cake Wrecks occasionally does this to the blog-reading world, and I really don't know why no one has sued them yet for extreme mental anguish.

The first six pictures are bad enough, especially the "Farewell Baby Noh" with mom's leg half-eaten, but the last...

the last just...

well, all I can say in response is to quote Kurtz from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness:

"The horror, the horror."

The Cake Cannibals

Gratitude Journal #77

Today, I am grateful for the note Jack's teacher sent home Friday: "Made grilled cheese today. He wouldn't eat his, of course. He kept saying 'I'm so brave' when at the stove flipping the sandwich." At least he got close enough to the evil grilled cheese to flip it. It would be silly of us to expect him to, you know, eat it.

Today, I am grateful for this picture:

Today, I am grateful for commercials, although the best SuperBowl commercial was the Volkswagon Darth Vader one, which I'd already seen before.

Today, I'm grateful that my weekly Bible study resumes tomorrow after a two-month break. I've missed it.

What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Daisy Shots

Snow Daisy

Head-Stand Butt-Scratches

Contemplating a Laundry Basket, with Boy

Human Furniture
All photos on this post by George.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Words, Words, Words from Albert Schweitzer

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve." Albert Schweitzer

I have finished the first volume of the Stephen Ministry training manual, and while each chapter has had a huge impact on me as a person, one that clarified much for me was the chapter on the difference between servitude and servanthood.

Servitude is slavery, service without choice. Servitude is oppression, where the one serving is powerless to change his or her position and often feels humiliated or abused, worthless or hopeless.

Nobody wants to be a slave.

Servanthood, as modeled by Christ, is a form of love. The servant chooses to do tasks that help others out of love for them, not out of obligation or duty, force or social injustice. Servants don't expect anything in return for their service because it's given freely, out of love.

Anybody can be a servant.

Not everyone chooses servanthood, but those who serve, in the sense that Schweitzer uses the word, find it's a kind of addiction. You do something for someone out of love and kindness, and you feel good. So you do something else. And you feel even better. And the service snowballs from there. And one day you realize that doing for others out of love is as necessary for you as breathing. Sometimes it's hard--even painful--but that doesn't matter.

What matters...what makes us acting out of love. Very few of us are called to the level of servanthood of, say, Mother Teresa, but all of us are called daily to little acts of service: making a donation to a worthy charity, taking a meal to someone in need, scrubbing bathrooms so our family stays healthy, holding a door for someone, letting others into traffic, returning a shopping cart for a mom who's loading kids in the car, paying for someone's coffee, bowing our heads in prayer to the Most High. What matters is choosing love.

How can you be a servant today?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Things on Thursday: Ice

For obvious reasons, ice has been the most important thing in our lives this week. Here are a few pictures George took Tuesday night, and we were just on the edge of this. Not a half hour north of here, things were still really bad today. Our ice is gone, now. But tens of thousands in Ohio are still without power.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


As I sit here at my computer, I am surrounded by piles. Piles of papers, piles of magazines, piles of books, piles of piles. Piles on my desk, the kitchen table, the floor, the kitchen island. There are even piles hanging on my cork board: piles of papers hanging vertically and precariously held that way by a single push-pin. These hanging piles occasionally flutter to the floor and cause a panic until we find the push-pin. We don’t want Daisy to eat the pin or for someone to step on it.

One day, they will find my cold, dead body under collapsed piles of paper products.

Piles are useful for sorting stuff, but it’s too easy for them to grow all by themselves, merge into each other, and take over a house. I have to make myself go through them periodically, but what I really need is a schedule. Go through this pile on Monday, this one Tuesday, and this one Wednesday…you get the picture. Or maybe it would work better to schedule it by room, since the piles are somewhat unpredictable in their nature and growth. Kitchen piles Monday, living room piles Tuesday, library piles Wednesday….

Such order and discipline won’t happen. It never does in my world. I just fantasize about it. It’s much easier to think about how to tackle the piles than to actually tackle them. Oh, I’ll get around to each one eventually, when the situation is urgent. For instance, as soon as I finish whining to you about piles, I’m going to clean the piles off my computer desk.

My poor computer is completely surrounded. I can barely use my mouse on the square inch of bare space left for it. I’m not exactly sure what is in all these piles, though I see George’s ear buds which I borrowed and haven’t returned, a box of tissues from when I had a cold last month, an art project Nick intended to give to his dad at Christmas but gave to him last night, a calendar my friend stamped for me, a stack of business cards I pulled out of an envelope on the cork board so I could find the number for the optometrist, a small olive-green moleskine notebook that I keep prayer requests in (along with five or so other notebooks used for various purposes), some sticks of never-dry modeling clay, the boys’ most recent report cards, a wad of receipts stuffed behind a basket overflowing with paperwork, and a lovely hand-thrown pottery vase that holds dull pencils and dried-out pens.

What a lot of stuff to sit precariously around a large laptop on a 39-inch by 22-inch desk.

I also just noticed the phone isn’t in its cradle. Funny how chaotic a house can get when people don’t put things back where they belong, eh?

As much as I would love to slide the whole mess into a trashcan and walk away, I think I better just get to work. At least I know I’ll be happy when this one messy corner of my life is tidy once again.

Because that’s all I get in this mess that is life: one tidy corner at a time.

Today, I am okay with that.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More Randomness

1. George, after introducing me to, a website that shows traffic conditions in Ohio: "I get a bizarre satisfaction from being inside and seeing how crappy the roads are." Our next-door neighbor's car is at the base of his driveway. Another neighbor's car is on his sidewalk.

2. This is because everything outside is covered in ice. Covered. In. Ice. I finished all my laundry yesterday so we would have plenty of clean underwear in the event of a power outage. I want credit for that advanced planning.

3. I do not like ice.
4. Mother Nature doesn't care what I like or don't like.

5. My next book order: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels: A Love Story. A steamy real-life romance will make me forget about ice. Too bad I don't already have it in my cold, cold hands.

6. My hands are cold because my husband keeps the thermostat at 64 degrees. All. Winter. Long.

7. I need a hug.

Random Tuesday

It's been a disappointing few days.

1. Ice. It's great in a glass, on a skating rink, or in Antarctica. It's most definitely not great on sidewalks and roads. Mother Nature, you seriously need to make up your mind. Snow or rain. Those we can deal with. Ice. Not so much.

2. See how vicious Daisy can be? Check out those fangs, the crazy demon eyes, and the way she uses her paws to defend herself against the big, bad daddy with opposable digits poised to strangle her.

It's all an act.

Daisy was attacked yesterday by two miniature schnauzers who broke out of their electronic fence and methodically attacked her butt. Despite the fact that she equalled the two dogs in weight and could have chomped them both with little effort, Daisy tucked her tail between her legs and bravely tried to hide behind me. While one schnauzer barked and harassed our front, the other would sneak behind and bite Daisy on the backside. She cried, yipped, whimpered, and looked at me with hurt eyes that said, "Why don't these dogs LOVE me?"

This must have been a shock to her because not thirty yards before we reached the schnauzers, Daisy had had a happy butt-sniffing visit with a 75-pound golden retriever named Rose. The two of them try to out-submit each other. It's really quite funny.

Fortunately, the mean schnauzers didn't break her skin, but poor Daisy had schnauzer spit all over her backside. Those yappy mongrels would be in low Earth orbit if George had been walking Daisy. I, however, sternly told them "No!" and moved Daisy away as fast as I could without running. Then...oh, I'm really stern, aren't I?...I left a stern message on their owners' answering machine and paced shakily for a while. Turns out their electronic fence collar batteries were dead. The owner apologized and said she was going to replace the collars with ones that also keep the dogs from barking (good news because they are a serious nuisance at 6:30 in the morning).

So I guess the viciousness with which Daisy plays doesn't translate to the real world. Or perhaps she was picking up on my own viciousness when confronted with two attack schnauzers.

Really, we're just a pair of pansies.

3. Word Mole. I hate this game. I just discovered last night that it's NOT like Boggle. You don't have to make sure the letters are adjoining to form words; you can touch any letters anywhere on the screen to form words. This rocked my world, and not in a good way. Within just a few minutes, I'd beaten my top score by hundreds of points and could have kept going indefinitely. It's not fun anymore because it's just too easy. What's the point? I guess I should be grateful. Instead, I'm just mad.

4. I had two different companies solicit interest in my blog on the same day, and neither struck me as worthy of follow-up. Why oh why won't Starbucks or Barnes and Noble or LLBean offer to give stuff away to my readers?

5. I tried the Thai Chicken Salad at Panera for lunch yesterday, and it's not good. I ate it because I paid for it, but it's just not good.

Now Panera won't ever offer to give stuff to my readers either.

6. I scheduled my annual mammogram for February 14. 'Cause nothing says romance like not wearing deodorant and getting your boobs squished.  

It's a good thing all this didn't happen last week when I had PMS. If it had, I'd be curled up in the fetal position on my bed sucking my thumb.

See. I knew I'd find a bright side. It could always be worse.