Things I learned this week (September 24 – September 30)

I learned this week that…

…that it feels good to bump the elliptical resistance up to 9; bumping it up to 10 feels even better.  However, it should be noted that doing it too many days in a row leads to über sore thighs and hamstrings so it might be necessary to alternate resistance levels.  I will have reevaluate my workout routine accordingly. 

EliptiGo

…that my newfound affection for the elliptical sorta makes me feel guilty.  I see my beloved bike number 3 sitting across the room empty and looking forlorn, and it’s almost as if I’m cheating on it.  Maybe we need couples therapy.  Or perhaps I need an EliptiGo.     

…that thankfully it didn’t take long for my daughter to get the hang of the clarinet.  After nearly six weeks, the strangled goose has been replaced with a fairly pleasant, deep-throated sound and tunes that are clearly recognizable.  I’m sure the private lessons didn’t hurt the progression of this process.  Money well spent, indeed.

…that signing up for Sting’s fan club just to find out that pre-sale tickets were only available for a short window of time – an expired window of time – sucks.  Successfully navigating Ticketmaster and getting decent tickets on the day that Sting tickets go one sale to the general public, makes everything right in my world.  I think I even saw a rainbow the minute the sale went through.  Seriously.

…take home tests are just weird.  I sort of understand my professor’s reasoning behind it, but I still feel like I am somehow cheating.

The Debt

…that the movie The Debt is a spine tingling spy thriller that left me breathless.  I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a movie so much in quite some time.  I highly recommend it to anyone who likes this sort of thing. 

…that having aging animals is emotionally and financially draining.  Two to the vet this week.  One with good news; the other very bad news.  Our oldest cat has been referred to an animal oncologist for treatment for Lymphoma.  She’s very old and we have some seriously difficult decisions to make. 

…that my husband doesn’t get my writing.  Oh, he likes learning about the things I’ve learned during the week and enjoys the animal attack entries, but anything else – not so much.  I have tried to not allow this to influence what I write and my approach to this blog, but it does and it has.   I’d like to say that I don’t care what people think , after all, I dabble with this site solely for creative purposes and to exercise my writing muscle.  In truth, I do care.  Can you say crushing period of self-doubt? I think I am in need of some serious validation.  Hugs?  A pat on the head?  Anyone?  No? 

…that sometimes you just can’t wait for Wednesday to highlight man’s stupidity in dealing with Mother Nature’s most ferocious predator of the sea.  A 42-year-old British man lost a good portion of both legs when he decided he was smarter than shark spotters at a beach in Cape Town, South Africa.  Shark spotting is serious business in this part of the world.  They have individuals who are strategically situated and do nothing all day but watch for Great White sharks lurking just off the beaches.  On Wednesday, several were spotted in the water.  The appropriate action was taken – beaches were closed, warning flags hoisted.  This future Darwin Award winner disregarded all of it and went into the water anyway.  It didn’t end well.  You can read his story [here].  Take notice of the amateur video halfway down the page.  The camera will pan down and you can clearly see the monstrous shark in the shallow waters.  This man is very lucky to be alive.

…last but not least – this week’s awww moment is brought to you by Tango, a little ginger-haired Francios’ langurs monkey, born at the beginning of the month in London.   ***Thank you to my friend, Kelly, for bringing this gem to my attention.***

Zoological Society of London/PA Wire

Man vs. Beast Part IV

My perfectionist troll will be happy to see that I took special care in the typing of my title.  No embarrassing Freudian faux pas for me this week.

So, let’s delve right in and find out what the animals have been up to since we last checked in on them.

Champion surfer Mathieu Schiller was attacked and killed by an aggressive tiger shark just off the shore of the French island of la Reunion.  I had to do a quick Google search on this place because I still haven’t had time to take that geography class.  It’s located in the Indian Ocean just east of Madagascar.  Good to know – I plan to avoid this area like the plague.  Contrary to what the local shark experts says, there seems to be an upswing in attacks in this area of late.  A coincidence?  I think not.  In my opinion, this was not a case of mistaken identity – a shark looking for a tasty seal and mistook the wetsuit clad surfer for prey – but a sanctioned hit.  The shark struck suddenly in an attack that lasted nearly 30 seconds and then swiftly fled the scene, the body of the surfer was never recovered.  Yea, this has shark mob written all over it.  You can read the story for yourself [here].

Last week a 12-year-old girl in Forest Falls, California scared off a bear that had made its way into her kitchen.  This is not the first time this particular bear has made an appearance at the girl’s home, nor even the first time he’s tried to get into the kitchen.   In the weeks prior, the girl’s father scared it away as it tried to climb in through a screened door.  This bear is obviously looking for something, though I suspect, whoever tasked him with this assignment did not take into consideration his lack of subtlety – or immense stupidity.  Perhaps they will send a grizzly next time.  On a side note, I surely hope the condition of the kitchen as shown in the [this video] is as a result of the bear.  If not, perhaps the bear was simply trying to tidy up.  Good grief.  How do people live like that?  ***Thank you very much to my brother, Rob, for sending this one to me.***

An 80-year-old Ohio man is recovering from a lengthy attack by a 6ft tall male kangaroo.   It appears this man did not adhere to the rules of Kangaroo Fight Club.

Kangaroo Fight Club

In Idaho, a bow hunter was seriously injured when he and his companion startled a grizzly bear while stalking elk.  The man’s hunting buddy doused the bear with “bear pepper spray” and managed to scare it away, likely saving his friend’s life.  Okay.  So you mean to tell me these dumbasses experienced hunters trekked out very close to Yellowstone National Park, in an area known to have a substantial bear population, armed only with a bow and arrow and pepper spray?  Seriously? Maybe I should send them a link to my Man vs. Beast blogs.  They seem to be in desperate need of a refresher course in the dangers of venturing into bear country without proper preparation.  You can read about this latest attack [here].

I would like to bring you an update on one of the items I included in last week’s Man vs. Beast entry.   It was reported that two men in Montana shot and wounded a grizzly bear, who in turn fled.  When the men tracked it down, the bear attacked, killing one man before being killed by the other.  As it turns out, the man who died was not killed by the bear at all.  He was shot and killed by his friend.  Police do not believe this to be anything other than an accident – though, I think I saw this play out differently on an episode of Bones once.  You can read the updated story [here].

A man in Roselle, Illinois, died after he was discovered unconscious outside his home this week.  The medical examiner has determined that his death was caused by multiple – and when I say multiple, I mean hundreds – of bee stings.  This is not the first time this has happened in Roselle.  In 2003, a man died after disturbing a hive of yellow jackets while mowing his lawn.  No word yet on the species of bees guilty of this attack or if it is connected to the recent attacks on the West Coast and in the Southwest.  Could be that we have a rogue colony of bees on a killing spree.  I will keep you posted.  You can read about this story [here].

Things I learned this week (September 17 – September 23)

I learned this week…

…that the first day of fall is the perfect way to end the week.  It doesn’t matter that there will be no earth shattering kaboom, no fireworks, or fanfare.  The revelation that summer is finally officially over is enough to make it all worth it.

…that when facing a big project for school, with just days to go until its due date, all I want to do is write a scene for my novel.  However, when I have no homework deadlines pending and can write said scene at my leisure, all I want to do is clean toilets.  I suppose I am well versed in the art of avoidance and procrastination.

…that my public speaking anxiety is slowly improving.   This time, I wasn’t plagued with uncontrollable shaking, only pit sweating.  Even that was manageable.  I feel like I am making progress.  Maybe by the time my next one comes along in November, I will be able to forego the extra deodorant.  Yeah…I’m not that hopeful.

…that I am still amazed how good I feel when I don’t let anything interfere with my daily workouts.  I am also amazed that I have taken so well to the elliptical after years of loathing it.  I guess the change just came at the right time.  I have worked my way up to level 8 resistance and I think beginning on Saturday, I’m going to give 9 a go.  Oh, and in addition to feeling revived, both physically and mentally, I have lost that 5 lbs I gained when the semester started and my groove was all screwed up.  That makes it all the more sweeter, I think.

…that four semesters of math + $2,500 on tuition, books and supplies = priceless.  I can sit down with Megan and confidently help her with her PAP math homework.  This week – factoring.  I am a factoring pro!

…that rushing to get a blog posted without thoroughly inspecting it for typos will lead to utter humiliation.  Well, I guess that’s an exaggeration.  It was funny, but my perfectionist troll was not amused.

…that Ovid had an odd sense of humor.  I like it. 

that Hollywood is at it again.  This time the movie to be rebooted – Scarface.  Yes, I understand that the 1983 Pacino film was technically a reboot of a much earlier film, but does that make it okay.  No.  Not okay at all.  This drives me completely batshit crazy. 

…that I don’t like the new Facebook changes.  Clutter is one of the many things in life that makes me twitchy.  I love you all, really I do, but I don’t give a rat’s ass whose status you are commenting on, or what video link you like.  Seriously.  I’m sure you don’t want to see what I’m trolling around doing either.   It certainly isn’t mind blowing or earth shattering.  I suppose we will all get used to it, though.  We are all slaves to social media and will conform accordingly, else risk complete alienation.

…that I was so self-absorbed this week that I failed to learn all that.  There’s always next week.

…this week’s awww moment is brought to you by a funny little snow leopard.  He is a new arrival at the Albuquerque, NM zoo.  I think the verdict is still out on whether he is down with the new crib.

Morgan Petroski / Albuquerque Journal
Morgan Petroski / Albuquerque Journal

Man vs. Beast Part III

Well, here I sit in my college library screwing with this silly blog when I should be reading Metamorphoses by Ovid or catching up on my Western Civilization chapters on Ancient Rome.  I am, however, thoroughly addicted to perusing the internet, searching for gruesome animal attacks and proof that the human race is under siege.  Do you think there is something wrong with me?

Don’t answer that.  I don’t want your opinion.

So, here is what the animals have been up to:

In Santa Ana, California, a man in a wheelchair had to be rescued after he disturbed a very large hive of bees.  Estimates indicate that the hive contained some 60,000 bees!  That’s a lot of regurgitated bee spit (aka honey). The man, who fell out of his wheelchair in the attack, was said to have been stung at least 60 times.  The attack was so ferocious, it took three bystanders several tries before they were able to rescue the man.  They too, were stung numerous times and had to treated at local hospitals for symptoms.  You can read more about this story [here].

You might think bee attacks are rare.  You’d be wrong.

In Bisbee, Arizona, a 1,000 pound hog (that’s a lot of bacon) and an 800 pound pregnant sow were attacked continuously over a two-hour period by swarming Africanized bees.  Their horrified owner helplessly witnessed the carnage and, unsuccessfully, tried ward off the attack.  In the end, poor Franklin the hog died.  The sow, went into a coma and lost her litter.  No word on if she met a similar fate in the end.

In northern Arizona, a man remains hospitalized when he too was attacked by a swarm of aggressive Africanized bees.   He was stung over 1,000 times.  I am actually very shocked that this man lived.

On the Idaho-Montana border, a hunter was killed by a grizzly bear after he shot and wounded it.   The bear was eventually killed, though he didn’t go down without giving as good as he got.  To all the idiotic adventurous hunters out there, I say:  this is what happens when we don’t follow the rules.  Grizzly bears are illegal to hunt.  They are an endangered species.   If you can’t tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly, you don’t need to be hunting them.  Karma will turn around and bite you in the ass every time.  You can read this is story in greater detail [here].  My husband believes these hunters should have employed [this] hillbilly’s way of dealing with large predators.  I mean, what animal doesn’t respond to a firm “Git, git!” and a big stick.  He also informed me that these guys did not arm themselves with the proper ammo.  Apparently, everyone knows, or should know, that if you’re going to go traipsing around bear country, .454 Casull rounds are a must have.  Good to know.

Don't be fooled...

In the Sea of Japan, off the coast of Russia, two individuals were attacked – on separate occasions – by what is believed to be the same Great White shark.  One man lost both arm from the elbows down; the other suffered a leg injury.  I think perhaps a geography class is in my near future because when I read this, I thought to myself: “Russia? Shark attacks? No way”.  Way.  You can read more about these attacks [here].

And last, but not least, Southern California is dealing with an infestation of the Asian Tiger Mosquito.  A nasty little bug that attacks during the day and carries all kinds of equally nasty viruses. 

As you can see, the animals have now enlisted the aid of the insects in their quest for world domination.  Not only must we worry about physical attacks, but also biological attacks.  The tide is turning.  I am beginning to feel a little concerned.  We may need to start considering our counter-attack options.

**Disclaimer:  As always, I don’t wish to trivialize the loss of a loved one under any circumstances.  Any loss of life is tragic.

Things I Learned This Week (September 10 – September 16)

I learned this week:

…that my daughter has kicked “Georgie” to the curb.  She took exception to his giving out her phone number without her permission.  “I gave him two chances, Mom.  He’s not getting a third.”  Good girl.  Of course, it came out during casual dinner conversation that his offenses were far greater than just mishandling her private telephone number.  He was two timing her with a 13-year-old.  “I saw them together, Mom.”  Little bastard.  Good riddance.

…that I am getting the hang of this whole elliptical thing.  45 minutes/4.8 miles total.  Lots of calories burned.  I love it when I burn calories and sweat – a lot.  I think my loyalties are waning.

Suzy Allman for the New York Times

…that speaking of loyalties – I have been a Roger Federer fan for years.  Seriously, since he burst onto the scene and became a nagging thorn in Pete Sampras’ side.  However, during the last couple of tennis seasons, I’ve watched while my champion has slowly lost his mojo.  I am disturbed by this because, if he is on his way out, who will be worth of my unwavering devotion?  Nadal?  Egads, no.  There is just something about him that makes me want to box his ears and tell him to stop digging his undies out of his butt crack before every serve.  It’s so….ew.  I didn’t get to watch much of the US Open this year, but I did catch the semis and of course, both the men’s and women’s finals.  I watched the men’s final – well, in two parts.  I was glued to the first two sets, but was forced to drag myself away from it to take Megan to gymnastics.  When I returned an hour or so later, they were still battling it out.  It was a fierce game  – almost as exciting as the 2009 Federer/Roddick  epic Wimbledon final.  Almost.  In the end, Djorkovic dominated Nadal.  I think I may have found my new champion.

…that I was right about Mother Nature’s vindictive side.  Just when we thought we were making a clean break into fall, she zapped us with a few more days of scorching temperature.  I think we’ve been properly chastised, don’t you?  I mean, who are we to think that we are anything more than mere pawns on the board of whatever sick game she is playing?   Let’s hope that the 107* record high on Tuesday was her last little jab at us.  I think it’s time for her to move on and torture someone else for a while.  Perhaps our neighbors to the far north?  I think they are due for a little snow right about now.

…that two people died as the result of a fire on board a cruise ship off the coast of Norway.  First, let me say:  What the heck is going on in Norway?  They seem to be in the headlines a lot lately, and not in a good way.  Second:  This is one of those “I told you so” moments.  I have come a long way in conquering my fear of boats, but I have steadfastly maintained that nothing – and I mean nothing – would ever possess me to step one foot on board a cruise ship.  Ever.  Not even in the pursuit of personal growth.  I have to draw the line in the sand somewhere.  If you would like to read more about this story, you can do so [here].

Justin Lane/Pool via EPA

…that even after ten years and numerous remembrance ceremonies, the footage of 9/11 still breaks my heart and makes me cry.  In a very unpatriotic move, I didn’t watch anything but tennis this past weekend.  I just couldn’t do it.  I feel selfish. 

…that the Iliad was not as difficult or as boring as I remember.   Who knew?  Oedipus Rex is wonderfully tragic and chock full of irony.  I love irony. 

…that caterpillars possess a gene that makes them vulnerable to a certain virus.  What makes this interesting enough for the old Friday blog, you ask?  This virus takes over of the caterpillar’s brain and turns it into a freaking zombie!  Under the control of this virus, the caterpillar climbs to the top branches of a tree, where it is then liquified.  As the oozy remains of the caterpillar rain down from the tree tops, the virus is spread, thereby ensuring its longevity.  Ingenius…but what I want to know is, if it is this evolved now, how long before it mutates and we find ourselves with a real life zombie crisis on our hands?  Quick!  Somebody send me the rules for surviving a zombie attack.  You can read about these caterpillars [here].

…that there are people out there who think Do-it-Yourself botox is a good deal.  And a good idea.  Okay, I can’t even wax my upper lip without taking off my chunks of skin and breaking out in a nasty rash.  Why would anyone attempt to paralyze the muscles of their face with an injectable toxin all by themselves.  Is this stupidity at work or the desperation of a society dying to be what the media and Hollywood have defined as youthful and beautiful.

…and this weeks awww moment:

Anatoly Strakhov/Caters News Agency

Tell me, how on earth could any mother walk away from that face? 

Man vs. Beast Part II

Well, it’s Wednesday.  I wasn’t very optimistic about getting enough material to post a second “Man vs. Beast” blog entry.  I was wrong.  Granted there have not been that many attacks since last week, and I was forced to broaden my search, but I do think I found some interesting ones.  Ones that give credence to the notion that the animals of the world are coming together, in some sort of organized uprising.  Their motives are still unclear to me, for I know not what they hope to accomplish. 

I guess time will tell.

Here’s what I found: 

In Tulla, County Clare, Ireland, a farmer was attacked by an otter.  Yes, you heard me right.  An otter.  You know, those furry little river rat looking things we see at the zoo.  In a small Irish village, a farmer filling his vehicle with diesel spotted the creature struggling to remove a “crisp bag” from its head.  Being the good Samaritan that his mother raised him to be, he came to the animal’s rescue only to be bitten for his trouble.  In addition, the ungrateful otter took his bad attitude out on the poor man’s truck.  And if that weren’t enough, once the farmer was able to release the “fanged fish-gobbler” onto the shores of a nearby river, it had to be rescued, yet again, because it nearly drown from exhaustion.  I was unable repost all of the photographs as they are copyright protected, so please take a minute, and click [here] to view the calamity for yourself.  It is well worth it.  I got quite the laugh out of it.  On an a side note, “fanged fish-gobbler” is now my new favorite animal description.

In Lincoln County, Wisconsin, a man out hunting with his buddies shot and wounded a bear.  The bear then attacked the man, injuring him.  Of course, the bear lost in the end when he was hunted down and killed by the man’s buddies, in what can only be described as a revenge killing.   Again, I’m no bear advocate, but I think this is a clear-cut case of what’s good for the goose…

A kite-surfer (yeah, I don’t know the heck this is) in Papua, New Guinea was attacked by a tiger shark on Sunday.  While wave-running (again…no idea), the man was bitten and knocked off his board by the shark.  This was a strategic attack on the part of the shark, for the man states that it catapulted out of the water and aimed right for his leg.  When I read this story, I couldn’t help but think of that video they play over and over again on America’s Funniest Home Videos – the one where the toddler is just walking along, minding  his own business, and along comes a frisky kitty who launches himself at the boy, knocking him to the ground (looked – could not find it for the life of me).  I wonder in this case, if the shark had ill intentions or if this was simply a case of “I have an uncontrollable urge…”.  You can read more about this story [here].

I may not be a bear advocate, but I am a big cat lover.  Of course, I’m not going to go around camping where they make their home.  That would be stupid, but I do enjoy looking at them and have a healthy respect for their prowess.  Sadly, in a case of guilt by association, on Vancouver Island, two cougars were killed when they were spotted near popular campgrounds.  These killings were in response to an attack on an 18 month old boy by a different cougar at a different campground.  This one sorta pisses me off and I have nothing real snarky to say about it.  If you would like to read more about this one, you can do so [here].

At the El Paso Zoo, a Malaysian tiger on loan from the San Diego Zoo, killed her mate over the weekend in an apparent love triangle gone bad.   To quote Chicago’s Velma Kelly and the other ladies of murderess’ row, “he had it coming”.  The male showered an older female with attention.  This, in any relationship – man or beast, is not to be borne.  She did what any self-respecting female would have done in her position.  She took him by the neck and squeezed until he was dead. 

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, No hell a fury like a woman scorned.”  William Congreve, The Mourning Bride

 

Photograph by Michael Nichols

      

Fall Fever

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face.   ~John Donne

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.   ~ Emily Bronte

After such a brutal summer here in North Texas, and really, most of the country, we’ve been granted a slight reprieve.  I am sure it will be short-lived. Mother Nature is a fickle bitch.  She would never let us glide into fall without throwing an obstacle or two in our path.  Something to let us know how unworthy of her time we are.  Or perhaps it is her way of keeping us humble and appreciative of her gifts, however scarce they may be.  Whatever, the case, the taste of cooler temperatures have left us – at least me – craving more.   I refer to this insatiable yearning as Fall Fever. 

If I had to pick a season to be my favorite, it would be fall.  There is something about the air, the smells, the sights, that fill me up with all sorts of things.  Things I couldn’t begin to explain.  I feel my most creative during this time, almost like I’ve been reborn.  A strange notion, I know, given that most everything is in a downward cycle.  Trees are going dormant, annuals are shedding the last of their colorful blooms, birds are flocking to warmer shores.  Soon the first arctic blast will come barreling across the plains, rush in uninvited, and leave the landscape barren.  But until then, I am ready for the magic of autumn. 

I’m not a holiday person. 

Show of hands. Who’s shocked by this?  I didn’t think so. 

My distain for Christmas has earned me the title of Scrooge by many a brave person.  I’ll own that.  It doesn’t bother me, in the least.  I think Christmas is an over-commercialized holiday, shoved down our throats under the guise of being something holy.  I could go into a whole history lesson here, but I will refrain.  It will only piss you off and make me feel like I’m beating my head against a brick wall.  Who needs that?  Certainly, not me. 

Fall is different.  Fall is all about Halloween and the harvest.  It’s a time of fun and frolic.  Apples, pumpkins, and spice.  Ghouls and goblins.  There is no pressure, just good clean fun.  Soon front yard haunted houses will take shape and pumpkin patches will begin to pop up, here and there.  For some, the State Fair is the event which ushers in the season.  I don’t go to the fair, if I can help it.  It’s one of those things on my list that I’ve done, didn’t enjoy, and will try to avoid at all costs.     

However, I do enjoy a good pumpkin patch with all the fixings.  To me, those are the reason for the season.  On October 1st every year, along FM 1171, the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch opens its gates and allows us onto their quaint and festive property.  There is kettle corn, face painting, a maze, a huge haystack, a hay ride and pumpkins – as far as the eye can see  – lots and lots of pumpkins.  Big ones, small ones, and every size in between.  I love it.  Pumpkins make me smile.  Indeed, a  gourd near and dear to my heart.

Cody, Cory, and Megan

I’ve spent many lazy Sunday afternoons at this particular pumpkin patch.  Usually with Megan and the nephews in tow.  We always have a blast.  The price is always right and they never fail to pick me out the best pumpkins in the place.  

My nephews won’t be here this year, but I plan to spend at least one Sunday in October there.  Hopefully, on a crisp day, with just enough breeze that I have to wear a sweater.   Megan and I will traipse through the dry grass and scan the rows of pumpkins, looking for just the right ones.  Pumpkin choosing is serious business.  After all, they are to sit in sentry at the front entrance .  Devotedly keeping watch as the ghouls and goblins darken my door, in search of candy and treats.  They have an important job, indeed.

A thankless job, however, for as November dawns, they will be forgotten – left to rot on the front porch.  Or worse yet, become a victim of the pumpkin kidnappers and murder in the streets. 

Ahhh…fall.  It is the most wonderful time of the year.

The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Things I learned this week (September 3- September 9)

Mother Nature

I learned this week:

…that someone was kind enough to satisfy Mother Nature’s chocolate craving.  Why else would we suddenly be allowed to enjoy some fall-like weather?  Surely, it wasn’t because she felt sorry for us.

…that after living three months or more in an oven, it’s funny what we consider fall-like temperatures.  When I was a kid living in Germany, fall was decidedly cooler, more refreshing, and the landscape was as colorful as an impressionist’s canvas.  I miss that place more than ever, during this time of year.

…that I really am not a fan of young people.  Their parents should be held legally liable for unleashing their inconsiderate, rude asses on the rest of society.  I find it astounding, and frankly, down right disturbing, that they are our nation’s future.  I’m telling you, we are so screwed.  Screwed.

…that sometimes I have trouble acclimating.  I’ve always thought I was the queen of adaptability.  Perhaps it is my advancing age and a certain resistance to change that comes with that.  This semester brought a lot of changes.  Megan is now in middle school.  She goes to school later in the morning and gets out later in the afternoon.  I’ve had to alter my work schedule to accommodate this change.  In addition, my own school schedule was made around her schedule.  When I did all this initial planning, I failed to allot myself sufficient time for lunch and a daily workout at the gym.  For the last three weeks, I’ve struggled with finding a balance.  As a result, I’ve allowed myself to eat fast food, on the run, for lunch and to skip the gym altogether.  I will tell you, it’s not been a pretty couple of weeks.  I find exercise to be an essential part of maintaining good mental health and boosting my immune system.  Not working out has made me feel disjointed, grumpy, rundown and fat.  Not a good combination for me or the people who must endure my general pissiness on a daily basis. This week, I was determined to get into the groove.  I brown bagged my lunch with healthy but filling foods, found a better parking spot that allows me to avoid the 2:15 pm mass exodus from campus, and am at the gym, changed and ready for 45 minutes of a good, old-fashioned calorie burning sweat-fest by 2:35 pm.  I have found my rhythm and it feels good.

…that my daughter is growing up and there is nothing I can do to stop it.  This week, a certain little boy has finally discovered where we live.  At 4:45 pm everyday, we are now treated to a very loud knock at the door.  When I open it, there stands little – let’s call him Georgie to protect his identity.  “Is Megan home?”  “She’s doing homework.  She can’t have visitors until she’s done.” “Okay, I’ll just wait right here until she’s done.”  Um…okay.

…that, in relation to the above, my daughter was asked by three boys to the sixth grade dance.  Three!  Seriously?  Nolan is going to have a stroke.

…that even though I’ve never really been a Rolling Stones or a Maroon 5 fan, I love the song “Move Like Jagger”.  It defies reason, but that song makes me wanna shake my money-maker.  You can get your own groove on [here].

…that nothing gets people’s attention like putting the word “porn” in the title of your blog entry.  Wonder how many readers were disappointed that it was actually pictures of books and not real porn?  If you don’t know what I’m talking about and would like to check it out for your self you can do so [here].

…that it is possible to be mauled by a polar bear and walk away, albeit minus your pants.  Just ask the poor woman who was attacked by one in the middle of town, in northern Russia.  Conveniently, someone had their handy-dandy cellphone at the ready and caught the whole thing on tape.  Good thing someone else had the presence of mind to put down their electronic recording device and come to the woman’s aid.  You can see the video of the attack [here].

…that some people are brilliant storytellers.  Unfortunately, their fabricated tales are not the kind you find between the pages of a book, lack entertainment value, and do irrevocable damage.

…that there are three C’s in life:  choice, chance, and change.  You must make the choice to take the chance, if you want anything in life to change.  This little piece of brilliance was stolen from my good friend Cyril.  I have a lot to say about this.  Maybe I will ponder it and write something on it in the future. 

…and last but not least…our weekly awwww moment:

L'Hoest's Monkey

Stay tuned for another exciting episode next week.  Same time.  Same channel.

Man vs. Beast

I’m not big on wildlife.  That’s not say that I don’t appreciate the importance of nature.  I do.  I even marvel in the majesty of it.  I just don’t want to be out in it for too long.  I have a deep fear of being devoured by the predators that roam freely upon this vast planet of ours and as such, choose to avoid activities that put me on a collision course with these animals.

Being the sick, demented person that I am, I find myself drawn to news stories about the lesser intelligent ones those among us that fall victim to these predators.  I don’t wish to diminish the significance of their deaths.  Any loss of life, no matter the circumstance, is tragic and I have great sympathy for their loved ones.  However, I will readily admit that these kinds of stories give me a feeling of vindication, a sort of “I told you so”, aimed at all those who made fun of me for my irrationality.

Every Friday for the last couple of months, I’ve posted a little blog entry about the things I learned in the preceding days.  I reflect on this and that, things that happen to me, an inspirational quote or two, news stories that make me laugh or shock me, etc.  One of the recurring themes that has emerged with these entries has been the frequency of animal attacks on humans.

Nature kills.

A lot.

Seriously.

At the suggestion of my fellow WC-er, Kelly, I am going to do a little experiment.  I am going to attempt to construct a blog every Wednesday devoted entirely to animal attacks and sightings that make the news.  Just a few, don’t want to overload the senses and it might very well be a short-lived thing.

Here are a few that I’ve come across or have been provided in recent days:

  • Knut Haavard Solberg / Varingen - Scanpix via Reuters

    On September 4th, in Bunker Bay, Australia, near a surfing spot called the Boneyard (really?), a 21-year-old man was bitten in half while bodyboarding.  The suspect?  A Great White.  It is, after all, Australia.  No one saw the attack or the alleged attacker, but the presence of copious amounts of blood in the water was a sure indicator that something was amiss.  You can read this truly gruesome story [here].

  • On September 5th, outside of Oslo, Norway, an uphill race competitor was attacked and injured by a moose.  As you can see from the picture, the moose seems quite irritated.  I guess he had enough of those silly uphill racers trespassing through his territory.  Can’t say that I blame him.
  • Last week, a 90-year-old woman out for a stroll was viciously attacked by an alligator in Copeland, Florida.  She lost her leg but thankfully, she survived.  You can read her story [here]. I really have nothing snarky to say about this one.  This woman wasn’t doing anything stupid – just found herself in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with a hungry alligator on the hunt.  Could happen to the best of us.  Well, except me, of course.  You will never find me meandering by a drainage ditch in Florida.
  • On September 2nd, in Birmingham, England, a woman awoke to find a fox standing on her chest, clawing at her face.  It appears fox attacks are becoming a big problem in the UK.  Who knew?   You can read this woman’s harrowing story [here].
  • In late August, a woman in Freeport, Maine rolled her jeep several times and then struck a tree.  Her reason for the crash?  A spider.  It apparently appeared in front of her face, out of the blue, while she was driving.  In her attempt to swat it away, she lost control of her vehicle.  Now, I know this is not really an animal attack, but it made me laugh – and think of my friend Bobbi’s husband, Gabe, who squeals like a girl whenever he sees a spider.

And last, but not least:

  • In Sweden, an elk had to be rescued after becoming entangled in a tree.  It appears the wayward elk went on a fermented apple bender and in his attempt to indulge further, got himself good and stuck.   Sweden is a socialist country, perhaps they have state funded elk rehab.  He obviously needs an intervention.  You can read more about this [here].
Drunken Swedish Elk

See?  I told you so.   Mother Nature is a nasty bitch and so are her minions.  I think they are mobilizing for something.  Something big.  Perhaps a full on assault against the human race.   A campaign to take back their land.  I think it is only the beginning.  The worst is yet to come.

***Special thanks to everyone who sent me animal attack articles.

My Very Own Stash of Bookshelf Porn

I found this mess to be quite pleasing to the eye. Shocking.

I never really understood the term “bookshelf porn”.  Sure, I get the concept.   Orgasmic state of euphoria induced by photographs of artfully (and not so artfully) arranged rows of shelves crammed full of books of all shapes and sizes.  I love books – love looking at pictures of books on shelves, but sadly, I’ve never had such an experience.  I guess that makes me a bookshelf porn virgin?

I guess so.

Until now.

I should probably preface the loss of my bookshelf porn virginity by putting it into some sort of context.  Last week, I had an interesting conversation with my World Literature professor while waiting for yet another library tour to begin.  I am a seasoned library veteran, so I don’t really know why I can’t just sign off on some legal document that says “I get how to use the databases, reference desk, and online book reserve.  Really – I got this” and dedicate that hour and fifteen minutes of my life to something a little more meaningful, but, alas, it is not to be borne.

Dr. W. is an interesting woman – I’ve taken a class or two with her in the past.  She’s older, compact, with a quick wit that would do my writing group proud.  I usually try to avoid making small talk with my professors.  I find it awkward for both of us.  I’m not good at it and frankly, neither are they.   Dr. W. is different.  She sits with her students, engages them in frivolous conversation that tends to lead to more in-depth and often times, humorous discussions.  I enjoy her very much and as such, she has become a frequent pawn in my “what if” game – without her explicit knowledge, of course, I value my A.  I’ve decided she would make a great super secret spy, long retired  – a mentor for a younger generation of super secret spies, teaching them the ways of the world with sage advice laced with sharp sarcasm.  Think Hetty Lange meets Yoda.

Hm.  What was I talking about?  Oh yes…

It was in the midst of one of these such conversations – in the library while waiting for the coma inducing tour to begin – that she revealed to me her favorite book reseller.  Her enthusiasm and description of the place piqued my curiosity, and when I awoke from my coma, I did a quick Google search. The bookstore she was referring to is called Recycled Books in Denton, Texas.  They are located on the square. in what used to be an old opera house, across from the historical Denton County Courthouse.  She told me, “You can’t miss it.  It’s painted a lovely shade of lavender.”

Indeed.

Recycled Books

Yesterday morning, on a whim, my husband, daughter, and I piled into the truck and took a little jaunt north.  My husband, always one to make up his navigational plan as he goes along, took us on a pleasant journey through many of the small towns that lie between the house and our final destination, foregoing the more direct route via the interstate.   It’s nice to be reminded that we are just a stone’s throw away from rural America.  It would have been a prettier drive had all the vegetation not been dead and turning to dust, but we can’t have everything now, can we?

Dr. W. was right, of course, you can’t miss it – and we didn’t.  Though, to be honest, I was expecting a more vibrant color, but the building’s exterior was indeed an interesting shade of lavender with slightly darker trim.   She tells me the color was retaliation for the city’s heavy-handedness regarding the condition of the building’s previous paint job.  The owner seems to be a rebel of sorts.  I can respect that.

Upon entering the store, I had what I can only describe as a religious experience.   I don’t have many of those, so I can’t be completely sure, but there was definitely something going on for a light shone down from the heavens and angels began to sing.  When the roar in my head receded, my senses kicked in and I noticed the smell.  My fellow WC-er Bill loves to remind us that it is the smell of molding and musty paper – he is a chemist – but I don’t care.  I love the smell of molding books.  It is an aroma that brings me peace and fills my cold heart with comforting warmth.

This place is not your typical Half Price Books and it’s certainly no Barnes and Noble – it is a mess.  The carpet is filthy, the shelves are crudely made, the walls are covered with posters, drawings and other hodge-podge turned yellow with age, the books were utter chaos.  Or so it seemed.  It is true, there were books everywhere – stuffed in every nook and cranny, slipping onto the floor at every turn.  But it was a kind of organized chaos.  There was a method to the madness, I could see that.  This hint of organization was likely the only reason my anti-clutter troll didn’t jump ship and flee.

The place itself was cavernous, 17,000 square feet in all.  I began to slowly make my way from room to room, the battered floor protesting with my every step.  It seemed never-ending.  Upstairs and downstairs, row upon row, room after room there were books everywhere; and just when I thought I’d reached the end of the line, around the corner there would be something new.  With so much to choose from, so many things to look at, it was hard to really get a feel for what real treasures the place holds.  I am determined to try – no matter how many visits it takes.

This, of course, brings me back to bookshelf porn.  I’m not one to take a lot of pictures.  I usually forget to take any at all – I almost forgot to document the Coliseum in Rome.  My bad.  I was too busy taking it all in.  But something about this place inspired me.  I wanted to capture it so that I could take it with me, and hang on to it.  I wanted to be able revisit and relive this feeling of ecstasy the shelves gave to me over and over again.

I took a page from the Book of Bill, whipped out my cell phone and started shooting.

Now, I have my own little stash of bookshelf porn.  Wanna see?

Things I learned this week (August 29 – September 2)

Hello, September.

I thought you’d never get here. 

That means there are only 21 days left until the official start of fall and 114 days until Christmas.  Tick-tock.  Better start working on that list and checking it twice.

Since last Friday, we’ve been allotted a few passing showers – though temperatures have not been any less scorching.  However, in the midst of one random rain shower on Tuesday morning, I believe I smelled a hint of fall.  Or maybe it was just this cold Megan was kind enough to share.  Hard to tell.

This week I learned:

…that I sadly, I jumped the gun last week when I reported there were no new bear attacks.  It seems that on Friday, they found the body of a hiker killed by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park.  This makes two for them this year.  You can read more about this attack (here).  I think something hinky is going on with this nation’s bear population.  Perhaps they are plotting a hostile take over.

…that reading page after page of text regarding dawning civilizations (the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Arameans, Philistines, Hebrews, Assyrian, Persians…) right before bed will give you very bizarre dreams.   I also learned in regard to these readings, that the hours I spent glued to A & E’s Mysteries of the Bible and the History Channel’s Engineering an Empire were not in vain, contrary to what my family said.

…that sometimes you just have to say enough is enough.  No matter how much it hurts.

…that hearing my beautiful, sweet-natured eleven year old daughter announce that something, “just sucks, mom” and that she just didn’t “give a crap” will leave me speechless and floundering for a response.  (It should be noted that this was her way of voicing her frustration over something that happened at school and not in response to something I said or did to her.  There would have been a decidedly different outcome if that had been the case.  I don’t do sass.)

…that Dick Cheney still reminds me of the Penguin.

The Penguin/Dick Cheney

…that Mother Nature seems to be having a bad case of PMS.  Tornados, fires, floods, endless scorching temperatures, hurricanes.  I think somebody needs a hug and a big box of chocolates – the really good expensive ones and not that milk chocolate crap.

…that I miss the music of my youth; the music of my parents’ youth.  You know, music that had a soul.  By and large, popular music today sucks – no soul.  Sure it’s catchy – gets stuck in your head – but it has no relevance and therefore, no staying power.  I say this now because I watched today’s biggest artists “perform” their over played, auto-tuned bullshit on the VMAs this weekend.  I’ve come to the conclusion that humanity, as we know it, is doomed.  I blame the hip-hop.  Seriously.

…that the local weather folks have pulled the old switcheroo on us again this week.  When we began the week, we were to be in the 90s by Thursday with a good chance of rain by the weekend.  Now, it looks like we will have to wait until next week for relief from the temperatures and can kiss the promised chance of rain goodbye.  I think the weather folks are spin doctors and liars.  Just like our politicians.

…that sometimes bears get what is coming to them.  You can read about this heroic Alaskan hairdresser who saved her dog by punching a bear in the snout (here).  She is my hero.

…that in all the excitement of the last couple of weeks, I forgot that my favorite sporting event began on Monday.  I’ve missed the first week of competition at the U.S. Open.  I hear Robin Soderling has dropped out.  Maybe Rafael Nadal will retire, as well.  I’d like to see my boyfriend favorite player, Roger Federer, win again.

…that I am suddenly hungry for some pumpkin pie.

…that there is a Mrs. Smith’s pumpkin pie left over from last Thanksgiving still in my freezer.  Wonder if it’s any good?  Hm.

…that I just can’t resist clicking on the headline “Raccoon Found in Naked Man’s Car Near NASCAR Track”.  I understand that it takes all kinds of people to make this little world of ours go ’round, but come on.  Shouldn’t there be some sort of law against this kind of stupid.  Anti-reproduction clause, at the very least?

…last but not least – our week-ending awwww moment:

Caucasian Leopard cubs (AP Photo/dadp/Uwe Meinhold)

Until next time…