Saturday, October 4, 2008


Surely it's just coincidence that I blogged about Sarah Palin on October 1st and my StatCounter shows I got a blog visit from someone in Wasilla, AK - supposedly as a result of a search for the words: do I spell out the age 12?

Y'know, if you're from Wasilla, Alaska, you're welcome here. You can even get here by searching for "Sarah Palin," "candidates," "vice presidential debates," "first amendment," "politics" - gosh, lots of things. You don't have to pretend to be looking for the answer to "do I spell out the age 12?"

In case you didn't get the answer to your question, though: Yes. Spell out numbers under 100.

Trockle's Trick-or-Treat Tour Starts Tomorrow!


The little monster is just bouncing off the walls in anticipation - he's got his costume all ready (no, he doesn't realize he could go trick-or-treating just as he is!)

The following bloggers have promised to leave the front porch light on for Trockle from October 5-13, and have assured me they'll have plenty of his favorite treats on hand - Choco-Tacos and Brussels sprouts, for sure! Be sure to bookmark this page so you'll have the tour schedule handy; I hope you'll dress up and come trick-or-treating with us!

October 5:
Joyce Anthony @ Books and Authors

October 6:
Joyce Anthony @ Books and Authors

October 7:
Janet @ Janet’s Book Nook

October 8:
Kimberly @ All About Kimberly

October 9:
Jen (Pantheistic Mom) @ My Terrene Reality

October 10:
Elysabeth Eldering @ the Junior Geography Detective Squad

October 11:
Ron Berry @ The Surreal Writer

October 12:
Lynne Thompson @ La Vida Es Un Sueno

October 13:
Wrap-up by Holly Jahangiri and Jordan M. Vinyard

There Will Be Prizes!

Join us and enter to win one of two very special prizes:

Grand Prize: A customized Halloween short story featuring your child (or grandchild, niece, nephew, or friend) with Trockle - written by Holly Jahangiri and illustrated by Jordan Vinyard.

Second Prize: A $20 gift certificate to

To enter, complete the following steps:

(1) Purchase a copy of Trockle directly from 4RV Publishing ( between 12:00 AM October 5 and 11:59 PM October 13, and

(2) Send an email to with your answer to the question posted at

You may enter as often as you like, but all completed entries must be received before midnight on October 13!

Winners will be announced at and at

The winners will be chosen randomly from all correctly completed entries (see "To enter" above) and winners will be notified by email. IMPORTANT NOTE: The Grand Prize winner will need to work directly with the author and illustrator to create a memorable gift for that special child. To include the child's likeness in the illustration, you will need to provide a digital photo upon notification that you have won. Every effort will be made to deliver the prize prior to Halloween, but circumstances beyond our control may prevent that and we do not guarantee that it will arrive by October 31.


My coworker, K and I have a new plan. We've been "lunch buddies" for months - ever since we started working closely together. But we've been bad. She's a "lifer" in Weight Watchers; I'm a long-time member of SparkPeople. Our habit of eating out almost every day has landed us in hot water financially and weight-wise.

For a while, we behaved ourselves. We ate Lean Cuisine in the break room at work. Now, part of the joy of lunch time is getting away from the office. K. even came up with a way to make eating in a pleasure: She brought in some attractive plastic placemats, a bud vase with fake flowers, and a real (cardboard) salt and pepper shaker. We set the table and we dine like civilized human beings.

It's still not out. Eventually, we started "forgetting" to bring lunch from home. Neither of us minded much, and easily overlooked each other's "forgetfulness" in favor of increasingly expensive, fattening restaurant fare. We'd split dessert and tell ourselves we were being good.

My scales are brutally honest. There was nothing "good" about any of this. Apparently, K's were telling her the same thing. Friday, she came up with a new plan. She joined my gym. Yeah - that gym. The one I pay dues on monthly and rarely set foot inside. You know there's a problem when your former personal trainer calls you at home to see if you're dead.

"Will you go with me at lunch? Every day?"

"Uhhh...sure." Every day? We went to check out the facilities across the street from work. That's not my usual location, but it's convenient if you're going to work out at lunch time. There's also a really good little Mexican restaurant within walking distance. Okay, we won't leave ourselves time for that, but I thought you might want to know. The gym is really clean, there's a pool (not that we'll have time to swim during lunch), and the equipment is newer, better than the equipment at my usual location. This isn't going to be so bad.

So, while K signed her life away, I walked a brisk pace for fifteen minutes on the treadmill. Burned an easy 100 calories. And then I made the mistake of joining her and the sales guy. They showed me a special: five twenty-five-minute sessions with a personal trainer (which she also bought) and a bodybugg™ (which she didn't buy) for just $199. I've done well with personal trainers in the past. They keep me honest. Especially when they have scales and a tape measure. And ever since I saw the bodybugg™, I've wanted one. Just couldn't justify the hefty price tag. Not sure I'd have fallen for it Friday, had I realized a $99/year subscription to was required just to get the data out, but I'm confident that tool will help me stay on track. If it does, it's cheap compared to the alternative: ever-increasing weight and girth, and the new wardrobe I'll have to buy, in the wrong damned size.

I've learned some interesting things with the bodybugg™, and I haven't had it 24 hours. I've learned that I burn more calories in REM sleep, and the litte downloaded graph shows me exactly what my sleep pattern looks like. I've learned that I burn more calories driving than sitting at my desk and typing, but that walking up just one flight of stairs leads to a noticeable blip on the radar, too. And this morning, a disturbing thought occurred to me: Doesn't the bodybugg™ measure pretty much the same things a lie detector measures? So, I'm walking around wearing a lie detector, and uploading the data straight to a site that can be accessed by my personal trainer.

Remind me not to wear it while he asks how many pieces of cheesecake I ate in celebration of my father-in-law's 86th birthday, today.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Morning Coffee: Nothing's Off-Topic Here Except...

I don't like spam with my eggs.

I know people are going to ask, this morning (in a gloating tone, in an unsafe environment, before I've had my third cup of coffee): "So, what do you think of Sarah Palin now?"

I think she has about as much depth as a kiddie pool. But major kudos to Sarah Palin's debate coaches; they almost pulled it off. I would hire them in a heartbeat to tutor my kids. While many of Palin's answers don't really hold up to close scrutiny, and even my twenty-year-old daughter thinks that kind of last-minute cramming is "cheating" and utterly worthless in the long run, when it comes to things like, oh, dealing with foreign nations you can't see from your back yard, Palin held her own against Joe Biden last night.

My saying that she "held her own" isn't saying much; by last night's debate, the ability to form one coherent sentence that parsed to something like "subject verb" would have been impressive all by itself. And my TV is just damned lucky I like it; my daughter had to physically restrain me from throwing things at it every time Palin said "noo-kyu-lahr." For the love of God, is this the secret Republican rallying cry? "Noo-kyu-lahr"? My son has had two science teachers who pronounce it the same way, and it drives me absolutely batty. All together now:

Noo-klee-ur. Comes from noo-kyu--oh, @#$% they've almost got me doing it now. We are Borg...resistance is...

Nuclear. Noo-klee-ur. Nucleus. Noo-klee-us. (Not "Nukes 'R' Us.") Whew. Better now.

Am I overreacting? Language matters. Clear communication matters. While the Constitution might have more relevance to your average hacker if the Preamble went something like this:

wE 7eH pe0plE 0F 7eh un17Ed 5747e2, 1n 0rder 70 F0RM 4 M0RE PErfec7 Un10N, E574bL15h jU571cE, 1N5uRe d0ME571C 7R4NKW1l17y, PR0V1DE F0r 7eH C0mM0n dEFENCe, pR0m07e 7eH GeNER4L WeLF4rE, 4nD 5ecURe 7eh ble551Ng2 0F l1Ber7y 70 0uR5Elve2 4ND 0Ur p057eR17Y, D0 0Rd41N 4ND E574bL15H 7H12 c0N5717U710n f0r 7eh Un17ed 5747e2 0f 4mer1C4.

The rest of us would never have bothered to read it, now, would we? Think the young voters would prefer it like this?

We d ppl of d United st8z, n ordA 2 4m a mor perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide 4t comN defence, promote d general Welfare, n secure d Blessings of Liberty 2 ourselves n r Posterity, do ordain n establish dis Constitution 4t United st8z of USA.

And this one's for you, Joe Six-Pack:

We th' Varmints of th' United States, in Order t'fo'm a mo'e puffick Union, establish Jestice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide fo' th' common defence, promote th' juneral We'fare, an' secure th' Blessin's of Liberty t'ourselves an' our Posterity, does o'dain an' establish this hyar Consteetooshun fo' th' United States of South Car'lina.

Anyone else notice how, instead of being more inclusive and something we can all relate to, this kind of babble just alienates - even angers - huge segments of a very large population? I propose we go back to reasonably standard English, now (allowing for minor differences in spelling due to time and geography):

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

More importantly, I propose that we insist our children study and learn reasonably standard English, so that they are able to effectively communicate with one another (and us - isn't it remarkable how standard linguistic conventions are able to bridge the gender gap?) and not make fools of themselves in public. Who knows, one day, one of them might even run for President or Vice President of the United States of America. Or Congress. Or the Supreme Court. They might actually have to uphold that Constitution for this more perfect onion--er, Union.

Need. More. Coffee. Now. I think I'll indulge in just one more cup before braving the three-mile commute...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Interview Sarah Palin BEFORE Tonight's Debate!

"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."
H. L. Menken

And now, an exclusive (sort of) interview with Sarah Palin*... you get to ask the questions, over and over, until you get an answer that makes sense.

This is the most fun I've had all day.

* Okay, fine, it's a parody. But a damned good one. ;)

Tonight's the Night: Bring Popcorn

It seems that Joe Biden must "walk a fine line" tonight, careful not to tread on Sarah Palin's delicate toes. There's the risk that, by sounding reasonably articulate, he might come across as patronizing or condescending. Like Katie Couric, struggling not to roll her eyes and mouth, "What the heck?" during her interviews of John McCain's running mate. Oh, golly...

Please, Mr. Biden, be a gentleman. Try not to chuckle or patronize or look at your opponent as if she's just sprouted a second head on her shoulders.

Everyone says, "Underestimate Palin at your peril." All this admonishment does, for me, is make her sound like the embodiment of the Dark Side. If elected, will she have her detractors thrown in jail without trial? Or will she merely put pressure on their employers to fire them or deny them benefits? How does her affiliation with the A.I.P. (Alaskan Independence Party) compare to Obama's failure to wear a flag pin on his lapel? Race, gender, or past service to the country are no reason to idolize or insulate any candidate from legitimate, critical scrutiny. Just the facts, please.

Does anyone else have a little problem with the notion that a week spent in "Debate Camp" might prepare Sarah Palin to hold her own in tonight's debate against Joe Biden? Does anyone seriously believe that a week's worth of cramming is going to prepare this woman to hold the office of Vice President of the United States? I'm not confident that it will enable her to form a coherent sentence, but what if it does? Does the student who crams for the exam and passes it retain knowledge with any depth to it? Can you take someone who thinks foreign policy expertise is gained by geographical proximity to Russia, and turn them into a real expert on foreign policy - in a week?

Bring the popcorn. I hope someone throws the candidates - both of them - questions that aren't on the script, that they couldn't possibly cram for. I'm not holding my breath on that one, though.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Price of Thinking Clearly

"...when we decide that a person is a traitor and should die for having an opinion different than one’s own, then we cross into territory that puts all freedoms at risk."

Kathleen Parker, a Republican and conservative writer, has dared to criticize Sarah Palin publicly, and the hate mail is pouring in. Would it be unfair or unreasonable of me to point out that Democrats are fairly used to this onslaught of illogical, vicious, personal attacks whenever we venture to disagree with the "party line"? Is it any wonder, then, that the nation has become so partisan? Until one of their own dares to question the status quo and is seen as a "traitor," and speaks out about it, no one believes it.

What's happening to the Republican party is, I think, similar to what has happened to religion - a sort of mindless fundamentalism has taken root, turned the party into a caricature, and given everyone involved a bad name. Where Democrats often fail by lack of solidarity - by a sort of burning need to question everything, including each other - Republicans are seen as a herd animal. God help you if you anger the herd.

It may be unfair to make such broad, sweeping generalizations. That there are conservative Republicans like Kathleen Parker who are not afraid to stand up and criticize the actions of their party leaders gives me hope that Republicans and Democrats can still work together in the nation's best interests. But the bullies are prominent and their mean-spirited invective tends to drown out the wiser voices from the right. One of the things that initially drew me to Obama was the fact that he seemed so completely committed to running a civil campaign based on truth, careful thought, and intelligent rhetoric. One man can't do it alone, but one man can mobilize and energize a nation to work together. I seen McCain/Palin as a divisive choice. Obama/Biden gives me hope - not just for change, but for a return to civility, stability, and one nation pulling together in a way that can make us all proud.

M&Ms for Breakfast?

Mmmm...and they melt in your mouth faster, if you wash them down with hot coffee.

Yes, I am still dinking around with the blog. It's an evolutionary process. Which makes me question, for the fifty-thousandth time, why anyone thinks God and evolution must be mutually exclusive. I sometimes imagine God, out there in the universe...

"I like that. Looks like a blue marble. Hey, what do you think...oh, right." God hastily creates people. The universe is pretty, but kind of dull - to its creator, who knows all - without a little interactivity and feedback. God knows it's all good; he's satisfied with it. Pretty marble. God's not insecure; he doesn't really need constant praise. In fact, a little difference of opinion is sometimes much more entertaining. God dreams up free will to make people slightly less predictable, and trains himself not to always be peeking into the future. There's a real downside to being an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent know-it-all, but as Author of the Universe, God's infinite skill allows him to suspend his own disbelief. God really can create a rock he can't lift, provided his desire to do so outweighs his desire to lift the rock.

"Okay, cool. Now," God pauses. Seems the critter ought to have a name. That would be easier and more graceful (not to mention full of Grace) than Hey, you - yeah, you in the fig leaf! "...Adam, what do you think?" Note that God really does care, because the more Adam likes his new environment, the more he's likely to interact with it - and with God.

Turns out, Adam's not the most thoughtful guy, ever. He stands there, uttering monosyllabic praise, and it becomes clear that this creature - one day to be known as "Man" - isn't driven to introspection or verbal communication. He's not stupid, he just figures it all goes without saying. He wanders over to a rock and starts thinking of all the possible uses for it. So God gives Adam a companion at the cost of a rib he wasn't using in the first place, so that Adam won't be bored. A bored Adam might take it into his head to confront God, one day, with that rock. Maybe Eve can draw Adam out of his shell, make him talk. God knows what's going on in Adam's brain, but he enjoys the sound of his creatures' voices, too - sometimes. The more Adam interacts with Eve, the more they interact with the world God's given them, and the more interesting things will be for God.

But that isn't the end of the story, not by a longshot. God has imbued his creation with just a touch of his own creativity, curiosity, and capacity for boredom that he constantly has to change it up - turns out, "Man" (and "Woman," too) like challenges. So now and then, when things start looking too easy, God throws up obstacles. Knowing that his creatures also needed motivation and something to keep them from getting discouraged when those challenges seem overwhelming, he created "Heaven," a suitably vague but exciting prize involving untold riches and a concept that has come to be known by names like "happiness," and "joy," and "everlasting bliss."

So. Where was I?

On the second cup of coffee. And on the seventh cup...the blogger rested.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Don't Let Dirty Tricks Interfere with Election Results!

I received this email, and while I don't often forward or repost emails, this one is important.

Could a dirty trick played online affect this year's election results?

As more and more people turn to the web for voting and election information, there is a real danger that so-called "deceptive practices" that we've seen offline will move online this year.

Help Common Cause track and expose online deceptive practices!

In past election cycles, we've seen misleading flyers that tell people that Republicans should show up to vote on Tuesday and Democrats should show up on Wednesday. Or that say if you've ever gotten a traffic ticket, you're not eligible to vote. (See real-life examples here.)

We've already seen how misinformation spread over the Internet can have an impact on the political campaign: the emails falsely claiming Obama is a Muslim; fake Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani websites with misleading statements; a website offering to register people to vote for $9.95, a process that is free; and the head of the NAACP having to release a statement that an email listing "10 Reasons Not to Vote for Hillary Clinton" supposedly authored by him was a hoax.

Will we see similar online misinformation campaigns regarding how to vote, who can vote, where to vote, and when to vote?

Think about how fast rumors and misinformation can circulate on the Internet. We can't afford to have this year's election called into question because of online dirty tricks.

If you see a website or receive an email with questionable voting information between now and Election Day, please let us know about it. 

We're on the lookout for:
* Emails that appear to be from the Secretary of State or other election official, advocacy organizations, or some other supposed authority that contains false information about the voting process.
* Spoofed election administrator, government or advocacy organization websites with misinformation on the voting process.
* False information about how, when or where to vote spread through social networking sites like Facebook.

We're not looking for:
* Emails containing false information about a candidate, his/her record, or his/her policies.

Please let us know about any online deceptive practices that you see by going to or forwarding suspect email messages to  And please share this message with your friends.

Thanks for all you do,

Random Ramblings on Writing (and Editing)

Tag 'em and bag 'em...

1. Link to the person who tagged you.

Gladly placing blame where it belongs since 1968, when I said to my grandmother, "It's all your fault! You saw me wiggle!" In this case, let's blame Dani Greer (Twitterer Twit Extraordinaire) over at The Blood-Red Pen.

2. Post the rules on the blog.

Rules? We don't need no steenkin' rules... real writers make 'em up as they go along, right? Or so some have told me when I tried to edit or critique their work!

3. Write six random (writing/editing) things about yourself.

Oooh, déjà vu. Six things. Wimps... try writing "100 GOOD Things About Me" some time. In fact... consider yourselves tagged for that one, too. Okay, here goes:

- I am on a mission to stop the Serial Comma Killer. Serial commas serve a legitimate purpose; they are not just window dressing.

- Are spelling, punctuation, and grammar really all that important? Isn't it the ideas that truly matter? Won't a publisher hire an editor to take care of all that other stuff? Would you buy a dresser from a carpenter who didn't know a hammer from a saw? I have been known to correct commercial signs and menus with a Sharpie marker.

- I do judge people by their ability to write, assuming I think they have the native intelligence to do so with clarity and some attention to the mechanics of writing. I am willing to overlook about three typos and an almost unlimited number of fragments and run-on sentences in chat or late night emails, though. People who live in glass houses shouldn't sing high notes. (That said, txt me l8tr @ ur peril.)

- Want to drive me absolutely batty? Say "noo-kyu-lar." Then run. You feel lucky, punk? The word "monetize" needs to die; "aftermath" is overused; and WTF does "talk to the issues" mean?

- I have a pen fetish, my friend Jace is an enabler, and there is no 12-Step program for office-supply addicts.

4. Tag sixish people at the end of your post.

Guess we'll see if "sixish people" read my blog. Consider yourselves tagged. All of you. Yes, you there, lurking. I see you on my stat counter.

5. Let each person know he or she has been tagged.

I'll name six "sixish people" (just to give 'em the warm fuzzies and encourage folks to follow them) but the rest of you are "sixish" for the day, and I'm all about inclusion - so don't think if your name's not on here, you're off the hook! Leave your links in the comments so we can all come over and gawk. You can follow these people on


6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Yo, Dani...

100 Good Things About Me

It’s easy to write “100 Things About Me.” But a few years ago, I was challenged to write “100 Good Things About Me.” That takes a bit more thought and time. I like to post it in all my online journals/blogs - and add to it, now and then - as both introduction for those who don't know me, and affirmation on those days when I lack my usual self-confidence. (It never hurts to remind myself that I managed to come up with 100+ good things, after all.) Give it a try - leave a link to your post in the comments or a private message so I can get to know you better, too!

102. I’m afraid of bugs, but I joined Boy Scouts with my son and went on the family camp-out with his troop. I went on a 5-1/2 mile hike with him in the woods - and let him lead. Typical man: He never once stopped and asked for directions. Didn’t need to - he knew how to use a compass and a map! Update: In 2008, I swallowed my fear and hesitation to go camping with my son and some long-time friends at Lassen Volcanic National Park and hiking at Multnomah Falls!

101. I can spell “onomatopoeia” and “floccinaucinihilipilification” and “eleemosynary” without looking them up. I needed my husband’s help to finally get “broccoli” planted in my brain, once and for all, though. I was smart enough to marry a smart man.

100. I am confident, but not arrogant.

99. I am attractive, but not conceited.

98. I’m generous, even if I am a selfish only child who never had to share.

97. I’m loyal.

96. I can keep others’ secrets, but I have precious few of my own.

95. I’m honest to a fault, but I can tell a “little white lie” when the truth would do nothing but hurt.

94. I’m easy to please.

93. Patience is not one of my virtues, but ask anyone I’ve taught to do anything, and they’ll tell you I’m very patient. I have patience for those who try, sincerely.

92. I’m a good cook, when I bother to be.

91. I’m empathetic. By that, I mean not only can I imagine myself in someone else’s place, I can feel it — physically as well as emotionally. I don’t shut that off to protect myself, but I have learned to distance myself from the chronically miserable — the folks who enjoy their misery and really don’t want anything but someone to share in it.

90. When I love, I love deeply and forever. I’m not obsessive and weird about it, though. I just don’t say the word “love” if I don’t mean it.

89. I’m a good driver. I hate dealing with heavy traffic and crowds, but I don’t trust anyone more than me to drive my kids anywhere.

87. I’m calm in a crisis.

86. I’m a good problem-solver.

85. I don’t really have much of a temper, and there are only a few things in life I’d bother holding a grudge over. I get angry; I get over it.

84. I’m a fiercely protective mama tiger. I once killed a wasp with my bare hands, because it had the sheer effrontery to be in my baby’s room. I’m terrified of wasps. But in that moment, it could just as well have been a Bengal tiger or a flea — and it had to die.

83. So long as they’re not threatening my children’s well-being, I love animals. I just wish the possum that now visits me once or twice a week on my back porch hadn’t figured that out. I’d like him (or her) to think I’m a mean sonofabitch.

82. I will try any food — once. There are few foods I’ve tried that I don’t like. (Buttermilk, rosewater, doogh, beef liver, fried chicken liver — that pretty much covers it, I think.)

Actually, there’s a rule in our house: You can’t say “Ewwww, yuck, gross!” unless you’ve actually tasted it. However, you can say, “I’m not quite ready to try that just yet.” I’m not sure I see the point of eating something to prove your machismo (of course, I’m a girl - I have no machismo to prove, and that’s fine by me). I ought to amend that item, though - I am no longer willing to try certain foods that carry an unacceptable risk of disease (brain matter, eyeballs - CJD) or injury/death (fugu, scorpion stingers) - I mean, when I said “try any food” I really was thinking of things typically regarded by a large number of people AS food (that even included things like sheep’s eyeballs, at the time - you know, things like tripe and haggis). Only lately have I heard of things like eating live scorpions, or worse, live monkey’s brains. Nooooooo… to me, that’s just not “food.” That’s a sick sort of entertainment, maybe, but not “food.”

81. I’m pretty adventurous, but not foolhardy. I love to live life to the fullest, and encourage others to try new things.

80. I’m smart, but I have Swiss-cheese holes in my brain that keep me humble about it.

79. I appreciate the talents and abilities of others.

78. I write well. There’s always room for improvement (and what fun would there be in it if there weren’t?) but I write well enough to clearly express my ideas without frustration, and that gives me pleasure.

77. I’ve given birth to two gorgeous, intelligent, amazing children. Nothing I could create now would equal or exceed this accomplishment, and I’m okay with that.

76. I do know when to let go, when push comes to shove.

75. I can’t magically heal all wounds with a kiss. But I’ve learned how to apply a bandage, drive to the ER in just under four minutes, and distract a kid from pain and worry with a hug and a kiss and the knowledge that I won’t leave their side until they’re well.

74. I’m not jealous (not much, anyway) when the kids say Daddy’s grilled cheese sandwich is as good as mine. After all, I’m the one who taught them about tact and diplomacy.

73. I’m a material girl, but if the house burned down tomorrow and my family got out safely, I’d be okay.

72. I don’t wear make-up except on special occasions. I have healthy skin.

71. I wear sensible shoes that make my feet feel good (all the better to chase my children in!) — not spiked heels that make my calves look sexy.

70. I love my husband. But, best of all, he loves me.

69. I’m a good mother. Not a perfect, Donna-Reed-type mother, but a good one, nonetheless.

68. I love my children unconditionally, even when I wish I loved them less. I love them unconditionally, even when they say “I hate you!”

67. I am a lousy housekeeper, but I’ve learned there are more important things in life, so I no longer beat myself up over it or post armed guards at the door when the house isn’t “presentable.” I’ve discovered that most people I know are a mess, which only means we’re now welcome in each others’ homes on a moment’s notice.

66. I have a good eye for composition, and take interesting photographs. I’m not always as discriminating as I should be when I share them. There probably were not 800 great photos of Istanbul and Paris, but by God, I uploaded them all to Ofoto and sent everyone links, believing they’d enjoy them.

65. Some of my photos are selling as stock photography, right alongside professionals’ work. This has made me remember what it’s like to be a struggling, amateur writer and get that first acceptance note. It’s gratifying, humbling, and quite pleasing.

64. I love to teach and mentor others. I don’t mind at all — in fact, I’m quite pleased — when their skills and successes surpass my own.

63. I can be very intense and driven when a project piques my interest, but aggressively advancing my career is not a project that interests me right now. I manage to keep a fairly healthy balance between work and personal life.

62. When I volunteer to do something, I’m committed to seeing it through.

61. I work best with tight but reasonable deadlines.

60. I generally give people the benefit of the doubt. I’m honest enough to admit to my prejudices, but open-minded enough to put them aside and give everyone a chance.

59. I have never intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings.

58. I don’t pick at my food and complain the portions are too big. I know how to enjoy a meal when I’m hungry, I know how to stop eating when I’m satisfied, and I’m not embarrassed to ask for a to-go box.

57. I finished reading Anna Karenina. I didn’t skip the chapters about Levin. That took discipline! I do read the first couple of pages and the last couple of pages from any book I pick up, then decide if I give a damn how they got from A to Z. If I do, I read the book. Knowing the ending rarely, if ever, spoils the story for me.

56. I am a fast reader, and I inhale books.

55. I’m a good swimmer.

54. I do a beautiful back-dive.

53. I’ve traveled to many places in the world. I’ve never really felt like a tourist, even though I was one. I’ve felt — accepted, almost without exception.

52. I make a great cup of coffee.

51. I make a pretty decent cup of tea, too.

50. I can whistle a tune. I can sometimes whistle “Westminster Cathedral,” but not on a hot, dry day.

49. I can blow bubbles with bubblegum.

48. I enjoy a good water-gun-and-hose fight with my son.

47. I have thick hair that’s naturally blonde. I’d go naturally gray, but it’s more fun to play with color. I don’t mind the gray hairs, though; I never pull them out. I’m actually rather proud of them; I earned each and every one.

46. I give great advice. Proving, once again, that it’s better to give than to receive.

45. I’m trustworthy.

44. That’s my age. I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that in public.

43. I tend to “see” personalities before I really see people. As a result, appearances don’t matter much to me, unless there’s something especially off-putting about them.

42. I see similarities before I see differences. The similarities give us common ground; the differences keep things interesting.

41. I have a good job. Most days, I like it and most days, I do it well.

40. I don’t have any real regrets.

39. I will stubbornly stand on a matter of principle.

38. I’m not easily intimidated. I do tend to come across as intimidating, but usually to the wrong people.

37. I can have strong opinions and values without feeling threatened by hearing and considering other points of view. I enjoy a good, intellectual debate, and I’m not afraid to think I might be wrong, or admit it if I realize that I am.

36. I am quick to apologize when I’m wrong.

35. I am strong, but not rigid. Strength, without flexibility, tends to crack or break.

34. I have a sense of humor.

33. I appreciate the talents in others. My grandmother once said “I used to think I had no talent. Then I realized I had the greatest talent of all, the ability to truly appreciate the talents in others.” She was a wise woman, and a very talented one.

32. I love to sing, and I have a pretty voice. I just find it horribly embarrassing to sing in front of other people, so only my showerhead and a few random motorists have heard me sing in several decades. Oh, and my kids. One of whom laughs while the other politely covers my mouth with a small hand and asks me to stop.

31. I give good backrubs.

30. I chose my husband wisely and well. I considered my mother’s advice: (1) “If our approval or disapproval would sway your decision to marry a man, then he’s not the man you need to be spending the rest of your life with; (2) “You don’t just marry the man, you marry his family.” Yep, I chose well.

29. I don’t drink often or to excess. I don’t enjoy being drunk, nor does it heighten my creativity.

28. I don’t take illegal drugs and have absolutely no interest in ever doing so.

27. I’m not a prude and I’m not without a vice or two — I smoke [Ed. note: Not as of 12/08/2006!!] and I curse. I’m listing this among my “100 Good Things About Me,” because it’s one of those things that keeps me humble and human and able to be kind to other imperfect human beings.

26. I have faith. It’s gleaned from personal intuition and the best of many religious traditions, and it is constantly evolving. It’s flexible enough to consider all possibilities within the realm of God, and strong enough to leave me impervious to fanatics and cults.

25. I’ve never tried to “convert” anyone to my beliefs, because one of my beliefs is that we all come to our own faith in time and through experience — not through being told how we should think and how we should believe, or by being frightened into it by others’ visions of eternal damnation.

24. I have a nice butt. (That’s actually my husband’s contribution, but I have the self-confidence and sense of humor to include it.)

23. I’m not a mean person. (That’s his, too.)

22. If I’m having a hard time coming up with 100 good things about me, I’d probably have a harder time coming up with 100 bad things about me. 100 interesting things about me, or 100 slightly-eccentric things about me, or 100 cool and offbeat things I’ve done — those would be easier.

21. I’m not afraid of the dark.

20. I’m not superstitious.

19. I’m very trusting, until I’m given reasons not to be.

18. I’m an avid reader.

17. I’m a fast reader. The downside to that, combined with #18, is that I spend entirely too much money on books.

16. I hate to shop, and I’m not all caught up on what’s “fashionable,” “trendy,” or “in style.” Classic is classic for a reason. (That said, I do realize I can’t elevate jeans to the level of “classic style” just because I’m too lazy to explore the rest of my wardrobe or add to it, some days.)

15. I like to inspire and encourage others.

14. I have become much more punctual over the years. I procrastinate something awful, but I’m almost always on time, and rarely miss a deadline.

13. I have sensitive hearing, and I try to protect it. This is really amazing, considering all the ear infections I had as a kid and young adult. Never had tubes, but had my adenoids out twice.

12. I’m a good listener. I don’t always remember what was said, but I’m a good listener.

11. I have a lousy memory and a tendency to repeat myself. This is a good thing only in that I’m aware of it, and never give anyone else a hard time for doing the same. I do sometimes step on the punch line of old jokes, but better that than trying to fake laughter and pretend I never heard the joke. Of course I can’t remember half the jokes I’ve heard until they get to the punch line, so I’m usually willing to listen to the same ones over and over again. 645! (Yeah, I know — some people just can’t tell a joke.)

10. I’m computer literate. I once swore I’d have nothing whatsoever to do with computers — they were “borrrrrring.” Now I write user’s manuals for PCs and software. My third grade teacher, the one who wrote on my report card “antisocial, doesn’t pay attention, doesn’t follow directions” would no doubt have a cow if she knew what I did for a living.

9. I’m not antisocial. I love solitude. But I like people just fine, if they’re nice people.

8. I can always entertain myself.

7. I don’t judge people on what kind of car they drive, what kind of house they live in, how much money they make, or how they dress. I don’t judge people on how much education they attained, but a natural curiosity, innate intelligence, and a desire to learn more always gains a few points in my estimation.

6. I can BS my way through almost any sort of essay question, but I’m having a damned hard time with the last five items in this list!

5. I have walked over 100 miles for charity in my lifetime.

4. I have donated about 5 gallons of blood, and I’m on the bone marrow registry.

3. I’m not afraid to talk to anyone, regardless of position or rank. (I am afraid to crash a sit-down dinner for celebrities when there’s an armed guard at the door, but that’s different.)

2. I have always talked to my children. Not baby-talk, but full sentences with eye contact. This never struck me as unusual or special, but according to the caregivers at my son’s first daycare, it’s rather exceptional.

1. I am me. And that is good enough.

Now, why don’t you tell me 100 good things about you? Feel free to post a link to your post here, in the comments.

Morning Coffee Ramblings

Good morning, everyone! No brilliant insights to share, at the moment, but I did want to say hello and encourage everyone to leave comments (because I really do feel silly talking to myself - and it's nice if y'all talk back now and then, despite what my kids will tell you). Hi, Asdis! Hi, Miguel! (My most loyal blog readers. They deserve extra sugar in their coffee, or something, this morning.) Good morning, to Team Trockle:

to everyone who hosted Trockle's first virtual book tour, and to all the hosts of Trockle's Trick-or-Treat Tour, beginning this weekend!

I want to thank Nancy and Lynn, if they're reading this, for helping get Katie registered to vote. She's changed her strategy from plastering a certain someone's car with Obama stickers ("Turn from the Dark Side, young one - USE the Force!") to running around adding extra information to McCain/Palin posters, like, "You want to see 70 million kids without healthcare? So do we! Vote McCain/Palin!" (Of course she's not actually doing this, just...fantasizing.) That "certain someone" is now on the fence, reserving judgement until after the V.P. debates. Do you think Debate Camp can pull a Henry Higgins?

Has anyone come up with the idea for diaper covers embroidered with "Vote for Change"?

For some reason, this always makes me smile:

Here's one for the kids:

Okay - your turn! I'm going to get dressed and head to the office. I'm going to work hard. Pity me. Leave me comments. And someone make a fresh pot of coffee, please... this one (brewed at 5 AM) is getting... funky.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Trockle's Trick-or-Treat Tour


Trockle has twisted my arm into letting him go trick-or-treating. The following bloggers have promised to leave the front porch light on for Trockle from October 5-13, and have assured me they'll have plenty of his favorite treats on hand - Choco-Tacos and Brussels sprouts, for sure! Be sure to bookmark this page so you'll have the tour schedule handy; I hope you'll dress up and come trick-or-treating with us!

October 5:
Joyce Anthony @ Books and Authors

October 6:
Joyce Anthony @ Books and Authors

October 7:
Janet @ Janet’s Book Nook

October 8:
Kimberly @ All About Kimberly

October 9:
Jen (Pantheistic Mom) @ My Terrene Reality

October 10:
Elysabeth Eldering @ the Junior Geography Detective Squad

October 11:
Ron Berry @ The Surreal Writer

October 12:
Lynne Thompson @ La Vida Es Un Sueno

October 13:
Wrap-up by Holly Jahangiri and Jordan M. Vinyard

There Will Be Prizes!

Join us and enter to win one of two very special prizes:

Grand Prize: A customized Halloween short story featuring your child (or grandchild, niece, nephew, or friend) with Trockle - written by Holly Jahangiri and illustrated by Jordan Vinyard.

Second Prize: A $20 gift certificate to

To enter, complete the following steps:

(1) Purchase a copy of Trockle directly from 4RV Publishing ( between 12:00 AM October 5 and 11:59 PM October 13, and

(2) Send an email to with your answer to the question posted at

You may enter as often as you like, but all completed entries must be received before midnight on October 13!

Winners will be announced at and at

The winners will be chosen randomly from all correctly completed entries (see "To enter" above) and winners will be notified by email. IMPORTANT NOTE: The Grand Prize winner will need to work directly with the author and illustrator to create a memorable gift for that special child. To include the child's likeness in the illustration, you will need to provide a digital photo upon notification that you have won. Every effort will be made to deliver the prize prior to Halloween, but circumstances beyond our control may prevent that and we do not guarantee that it will arrive by October 31.

Sunday, September 28, 2008