Man vs. Beast VII

Are you ready to find out how far the animals have progressed in their endeavor to take over the world?

I am.

Here we go…

A Texas man, diving off the southwest coast of Australia died over the weekend in an apparent shark attack.  Officials are taking this latest attack, the third in just two months, very serious.  They have organized an aggressive hunt for the shark with orders that it be destroyed on sight.   Rumors are flying.  Locals believe that they are dealing with a “rogue” shark who has developed a taste for human flesh.  Um…duh.  Of course, experts scoff at this idea and warn that killing the shark goes against conservation efforts to protect the endangered species.  As usual, the experts don’t know shit.   To me, it looks like the animals have deployed the big guns Down Under.  They have called in the ninja shark assassins.  No one is safe now.  My advice – stay the hell out of the water!  [Click for story]

Near Vancouver Island, a man mistakenly shot his friend when he mistook him for a bear.  The two men were camping near the Nitinat River.  During the night, one man was awoken by what he thought were the sounds of a bear trying to break into the tent.  Instead of trying to first identify the source of the ruckus, he pulled out his gun and began firing randomly, in the direction of the sounds.  He hit his camping buddy, who was still asleep, in the face and arms.  The man will recover, however, there is a valuable lesson to be learned here  – tents are for stupid people; be smart, spring for the hotel room.  [Click for story]

A Minnesota man was enjoying some peace and quiet on the porch of his cabin last month, when he felt what he thought was a mosquito brush the back of his neck.  Imagine his surprise when he reached back to swat it, only to come in contact with a wet, furry nose.  He  turned around and found himself face to face with a bear.  Having obviously read the manual on how to survive a bear attack, the man did not move a muscle.  He sat motionless as he bear stared at him for several seconds before becoming interested in a nearby bird feeder.  Still, the man didn’t dare move from his spot.  It was a good thing, too.  A few minutes later the bear returned to the porch and proceeded to thoroughly sniff his face.  Eventually, the bear lost interest and wondered off for good.   I think this animal might be one of the few that has not turned against the humans, though, I’m sure that is of little consequence to this man who likely had to change to soiled undies immediately following this encounter.  [Click here]

Last week in Newport, Oregon, a surfer was lucky enough to survive what could have been a deadly attack by a Great White.  In classic Great White style, the animal attacked from below, lifting the surfer up into the air.  Fortunately, the only thing the shark got its teeth into was the man’s board.  Beaches were closed as officials kept an eye out for the shark.  It seems that Australia’s ninja shark assassins are infiltrating our western coast, as well.  Though, this one does not seem as skilled as it’s Aussie friends.  The victim, who was understandably shaken by the incident, says he is done with surfing.  Finally, a surfer with common sense.  [Click here]

Just in case you were not aware of what a classic Great White attack involves:

And lastly, we have the Utah hiker who came across two moose – a male and a female – and decided the only logical thing to was approach them and capture them on film.  Thanks to the magic of YouTube, I can bring this man’s stupidity to you.  It’s okay to laugh out loud.  I did.

Things I learned this week (October 16 – October 22)

I learned this week…

…that Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale is bawdy, raunchy, and not unlike a lot of off humor comedies in popular culture.  It’s not usually the kind of thing I find entertaining.  I mean, I think I am the only person on the planet who was offended by The Hangover.  Having said that, this particular sequence in The Miller’s Tale was so unexpected that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud – after I figured out what exactly Chaucer was referring to:

The night was pitch dark, coal-black all about.
Her rear end through the window she thrust out.
He got no better or worse, did Absolom,
Than to kiss her with his mouth on the bare bum
Before he had caught on, a smacking kiss.
 
He jumped back, thinking something was amiss.
A woman had no beard, he was well aware,
But what he felt was rough and had long hair.
 

The Canterbury Tales, The Miller’s Tale.  Geoffrey Chaucer.

O.M.G.

…that in-class group projects suck.  Not because I am so anti-social that I am loathed to interact with my classmates….huh?  Oh, shut up.

…that my daughter seems to be embroiled in a sort of love triangle – with brothers!  She has made friends with two brothers, one in 7th grade, the other in 5th. They live just around the corner from us and have become something of a fixture around the house.  I believe that she has a bit of a crush on the older boy, however, both boys appear to be quite smitten.  I see heartbreak, tears and a trip to Sonic for the consolatory M & M blast in our future.

…that I really hate chronic complainers.  So much so that I find that my favorite new past-time is complaining about their complaining.  The irony is not lost on me.  However, at this time, I am going to choose to ignore the hypocrisy and continue complaining about other people’s complaining.

…that it was time to decatify my house again.  It seems like I just did it, but the dust bunnies rolling out from beneath the couch told a different story.  I spent my Saturday moving furniture, vacuuming, dusting and polishing.  With five cats in the house, we will never be completely cat hair free but, at least for now, it is safe to sit in my favorite chair again.

…that I really hope the Libyans have a plan.

…that sometimes my sweet-natured daughter needs to be reminded that I am empress of my domain and this empire does not lean toward democracy.  Luckily, she usually only needs a small reminder and peace is quickly restored.

…that at first glance my Western Civ test study guide appeared harmless.  Boy, was I wrong.  We are closing in on ten pages and I’m not done yet.  I have a feeling this guide will be my constant companion until Thursday’s exam.  After that, I just might have a celebratory burning – and a swig of something potent.

…that my daughter is at the age where doctors begin to encourage the HPV vaccination.  At her annual well check this week, her doctor (who has treated her since she was born and knows me very well – deals with me very well) urged me to have it administered.  I declined.  I’ve done a lot of research on this – both for and against – for a series of papers last year.  I see both sides of the controversy, but do you know what my biggest issue is?  Rick Perry’s mandate.  I’m still pissed about that.  I will revisit the issue next year.  Maybe I will feel differently.

…and last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by three little piggie bums.

Steffen Schmidt / EPA

Okay, not really.  But this picture did make me snort ever so slightly.  Please, no bacon jokes.  I have a little soft spot in my heart for piggies.

…Our real awww moment is brought to you by this baby Bornean orangutan born last month at the L.A. Zoo.  A true picture of maternal love:

Tad Motoyami / L.A. Zoo via AP

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.

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…

Things I learned this week (August 22 – 26)

So, here we are again – another week successfully muddled through, with virtually no collateral damage.  That makes for a good week, in my book. 

For those of you that pay attention to these things, there are only 27 days left until the official beginning of the fall season and only 120 shopping days left until Christmas. 

I’m looking forward to the beginning of fall, myself.  Though, I don’t know why.  I live in Texas.  Mother Nature tends to forget about us down here in the Lone Star State when she is handing out seasonal weather.  I’m starting to think that she doesn’t care for us all that much.  Or maybe we are being punished for something.

Rick Perry, perhaps? 

Just saying.

I learned this week…

Megan the Wise

…that my daughter is wise beyond her years.  She sat down at the dinner table and out of blue said, “So many years gone by so fast, huh?”  She’s had a lot of these little zingers lately.  I’m not sure how she became so mature or if it is even a good thing, but her frankness warms my heart.  I am so blessed to have her in my life.

…that even at my age, and with more than a few semesters under my belt now, I still get butterflies on the first day of school.

…that an educational institute’s library is still one of my top five places to people watch.  The eclectic group of individuals who choose to begin their quest for higher education at a Community College make for great character inspiration, as do the facility that are determined to teach them.  I spent two days this week taking it all in and playing my favorite “what if” game.  Perhaps I will share some of the things I witnessed with you in my next blog entry.

…that even though I am not a proponent of war, I am thrilled to see Gaddafi’s regime come crashing down.  Those of you old enough to remember Lockerbie, Scotland will surely share my view.  [If you would like to read more about the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, you can do so (here), as well as (here).] Now, the question is:  Will the liberated Lybians embrace this opportunity for a new beginning, free from oppression, or will they squander it away, allowing an even bigger evil to rear its ugly head.  I guess time will tell.

Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images

that I found this little tidbit regarding the founder of IKEA very interesting.  For those of you who don’t know, I loathe the Swedish furniture maker with the strength of a thousand suns.  I have no real problem with their products, per se.  I will readily admit that my favorite writing chair is from IKEA – though my choice of decor tends to lean more toward traditional than modern.  My biggest problem with the store is in its design and layout.  I don’t appreciate being herded like little lab rats through a never-ending maze while enduring the endless stupidity and rudeness of those packed like sardines around me.  I want to get in, get what I need, and leave.  An impossibility in IKEA.  Oh, and don’t get me started on the floor.  I have never left that store without an ache that runs from my right knee down to my right big toe.  Never.

…that I was mistaken in my belief, or perhaps hope is a more adequate word, that the middle school parents would have a better grasp of pick up and drop off rules.  Their children may have matured over the summer, but sadly, they have not.  Yesterday, I saw a white Chrysler 300 (with pimpin’ rims) parked backwards – complete with illuminated reverse lights – in the moving (in the opposite direction) carpool lane.

…that the weather folks on the nightly news are just screwing with us.  We might have fallen for the arbitrary 98 or 99 degree high temperature prediction stuck in at the end of the ten-day forecast, the first few half-dozen times, but now it’s just cruel to dangle such utter nonsense – complete meteorological fabrications – in front of our noses.  Haven’t we suffered enough?

10 day forecast courtesy of http://www.weather.com

…that adaptation is born out of necessity.  A couple of weeks ago I came back from vacation to find that most of the stationary bikes at my gym, including my beloved #3, were gone.  “Out for repair”, the pimply boy behind the counter told me.  I was forced to get my cardio workout on the elliptical.  I am surprised to report that I don’t hate it.  I’ve figured out how not to fall off and how to adjust it to fit my short, stubby stride.  As always, I judge the success of a workout by the amount of sweat dripping from my body and the level of numbness I feel in my legs when I’m finished.  The elliptical delivered on both.  This does not mean that it will replace the spinner as my workout apparatus of choice – I am a biker, through and through.  *HA!  I made a joke there.  See?*

…that though I searched high and low, I was unable to find any new reports of bear attacks.  However, I did come across another Great White shark attack.  This time off the coast of South Africa.  I don’t wish to belittle such a tragedy with insensitivity, but I must conclude that this surfer was either demented or had never watched the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.  Every episode I’ve ever seen features dumbasses shark enthusiasts in boats off the coast of South Africa surrounded by large numbers of these predatory fish.  You can read this surfer’s story (here).

…that insects can elicit the occasional awwww moment:

Miroslaw Swietek/liveScience

Okay.  Perhaps that was being a tad too generous, but you have to admit that the above photograph had you leaning in a little closer to your computer screen, musing, “What is that?”

My work here is done.

Things I learned this week (August 8-12)

Well, we’ve made it through another week.  That means we are one step closer to the end of this nightmare summer and the beginning of a refreshing fall, full of new and exciting possibilities – and lower temperatures.  But before we get too caught up in fantasizing about day time highs under the century mark, let’s take a minute to explore the useful, and not so useful, things I’ve learned this week.

This week I learned…

…that sometimes you just need a Red Bull.  Even if that Red Bull is inside Madonna’s refrigerator.

…that moving heavy boxes from a high perch to the floor can cause a hip flexor injury.  Who knew?  Though, I shouldn’t be surprised.  I did get golfer’s elbow from falling off a ladder while painting my bathroom last year.  An aging body is a strange thing.

…that I can mark camping in Norway off my bucket list.  You are either going to have to take my word for it or Google it yourself because the photo is just too gruesome to link.  (note: reference campers, polar bear, and Norway)

Dirty Dancing circa 1987

…that nothing in Hollywood is sacred.  I think I am going to have to devote another blog entry to this abomination.

…that for $32 you can get an ice cream sundae that smells (and I guess tastes) just like Justin Bieber.  So, I tried to think of something witty to say in response to this, but…yea…I got nothing.  I’m sure a few of my fellow WCers will do their part to fill the void.  In fact, I look forward to it.

…that reading your account statements from Fidelity Investments can be a lot like watching a Vegas magic act.  One minutes it there; the next, it’s gone.  My advise:  save yourself the ulcer and don’t even bother opening the statements until this storm passes.  If it ever passes.

…that the Stasi were not a fashion forward bunch as noted in the photo below.  For some reason, the first thing that popped into my head were scenes from the 1982 Clint Eastwood movie Firefox.

Reuters

…that after enduring 40 straight days of 100+ degree temperature, nothing is more beautiful than watching heavy clouds and an outflow boundary roll into the area.  No rain but that 84 degrees was mighty nice while it lasted.  Alas, it’s back to reality.  There are, after all, several weeks of summer yet to come.

…that just when my schedule is about to change and make it very difficult for me to write as often as I’d like, I find myself more inspired in my novel than ever.  I’ve had all summer – two whole days a week – to dedicate to full on, balls to the wall writing and all I’ve done (for the most part) is write these silly little blog entries.

…that in spite of the foregoing, I feel that I’ve grown both as a writer and a human being because of these silly little blog entries.  Putting my thoughts out there, for better or worse, has given me confidence.

…that the reappearance of the high school cheer moms at the gym means the gymnastic moms won’t be far behind.  There goes my peace and quiet.

…that every week should end with an “awwww” moment:

"Hold still! You've got a little schumtz on your face." Ilya Naymushin/Reuters

Awwww.

Things I learned this week (August 1 – August 5)

What day is it?

It’s Friday.  You know what that means.  Yep, time for me to bestow upon you the new bits of knowledge I acquired this week.  Think you can handle the excitement?  I think you can.  Let’s go!

"Nympheas" Claude Monet circa 1920-1926

I learned this week…

…that my skin isn’t nearly as thick as I thought.  Or maybe it’s just that I’ve had enough of the cyber-anonymity induced nastiness that seems to have inflicted everyone with a keyboard and an internet connection.  I think it’s time to bring back basic human civility.

…that I should never make the mistake of illegally parking in the capital city of Lithuania.

…that Utah governor and presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman plays piano (he used to play keyboards in a band called Wizard back in the day), likes Cherry Garcia ice cream, and is a fan of the Grateful Dead.  I think the good people of Utah have been holding out on us.

…that the idea of Texas Governor Rick Perry becoming a contender for the top office makes me want to vomit and move to Europe.  I was okay with him as long as he stayed in Austin, hidden from view, but to unleash him on the entire country…well, we might as well just lie down in the street and await the coming apocalypse.  Doesn’t make sense, does it?  I can’t explain it myself.

…that I am to be the grandmother of a bouncing baby girl.

…that I seriously regret complaining about the frigid temperatures and ice we were plagued with just six short months ago.  I sincerely apologize to my Karma and beg forgiveness – and relief from the suffocating heat.

Ten day forecast. - ugh.

…that not writing every day doesn’t make me any less of a writer.  Distractions are a good thing.  In moderation, of course.

Central Park Zoo peacock

that sometimes you just need to get the hell out of dodge.

…that “The cliché “start your novel with action” has a flaw—and it’s a major one: What good is the action if it isn’t grounded in context that’s important to the story or draws you to the main character? It’s much, much better to start your story with tension, like a character conflict or a character who’s not getting what he wants. This gives the reader a reason to feel connected.”  – Brian Klem, Writer’s Digest

…that MTV turned thirty this week.  In its inception, MTV was innovative and just plain cool.  It certainly shaped my exposure to popular music.  Now, thirty years later, is it still as ground breaking?  Well, you will just have to wait for my upcoming blog to find out my thoughts on this.  And I have lots of thoughts on this subject.  Shocking, right?

…that nothing beats my homemade sauce after eating out for a week

….that I am captivated by this face and the sage intelligence I see lurking behind his eyes.  I wonder what is he thinking?  What has he seen in his lifetime behind bars?  If he could talk, what would he tell us about ourselves?

Issouf Sanogo/AFP - Getty Images