Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Wed, Jan 31 2007

Get pictures of the body

This link is for everyone who's ever been annoyed by a telemarketer's call. Part of the reason those calls are annoying is that the caller interrupts your day and then proceeds to make their pitch as though he or she has a perfect right to commandeer your time. I would love for one telemarketer to call one time and ask if it's a convenient time to chat. None do. Turn up your speakers and imagine the look on the caller's face as one man has a little fun playing crime scene investigator during a telemarketing call.

posted at: 06:11 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Tue, Jan 30 2007

Imagine yourself older and wiser

I once had a friend tell me about a mental exercise similar to the Imagined House. But the version she described had one other step for gaining insight into one's own thought processes. Once inside the house, you imagine choosing to go into a room where there is an elderly person seated comfortably. You join the person in a nearby chair. You recognize that the person in the room is actually an older, wiser version of your own self, so you imagine asking the person about the decision you need to make or the insight you seek. They lovingly give you an answer that seems as though it was the right one all along.

This particular visualization isn't intended to take the place of moral choices in major circumstances, but if you can successfully put yourself into the exercise you may find it useful. What you really feel concerning certain issues may have been interfering with your decision-making process and may have even led you to procrastinate in making any decision at all.

This could also be a great tool in character development for any fictional story you might be contemplating. I've always like the idea of imagining an interview with a major character, but this sort of exercise would take the process a layer deeper and might give you the answer as to what you character really wants to do. You maintain control of the story, of course. But if you find that a particular character doesn't feel genuine or hasn't fleshed out properly in a story, you might imagine them seeking their own older and wiser self, as a journey to make your reader more empathetic to their thoughts and actions.

posted at: 07:53 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Mon, Jan 29 2007

Frozen, dried-out crops and lawns

We've been cold and somewhat dry this winter in Santa Cruz County. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that we're probably going to have the driest January on record since 1893. Several of us had been tempted to water our lawns before we had this last set of showers over the weekend. I know that sounds a bit daft to those of you in other climates, but our winter lawns here, rather than being dormant, are often long and in need of extra trims during the winter, due to the lack of freezing temperatures and the usually abundant of rainfall. Not so this year.

posted at: 10:07 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Jan 26 2007

Now that the smoke is cleared...

Several sources have been reporting the wonders of using your handy home microwave oven to kill bacteria on kitchen sponges and dish cloths. It seems that people began grabbing dry sponges and tossing them into the microwave with less than desirable results. It's not really a good trade-off to eliminate potentially hazardous lifeforms by killing yourself with smoke inhalation.

I've been zapping sponges for quite some time. While I don't recall where I first saw or heard the information, it must have been long before this month's sudden revelation that sent people dashing off to smoke their too-dry sponges. The Journal of Applied Microbiology was reporting successes with microwave techniques at least as early as 1998.

I wonder. Could any surviving bacteria mutate into heat-resistant forms? Maybe this whole thing could be paving the way for some kind of weird ecological adaptation to future global warming conditions. On the other hand, we could end up with smoke-resistant humans from all those flaming dry sponges.

posted at: 09:21 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Thu, Jan 25 2007

Is it about to get even hotter in desert conflicts?

When I read about the new "heat ray" weapon my first thought was a tongue in cheek question, similar to the headline from the Chicago Tribune. Will the heat beam even phase menopausal females, many of whom are already accustomed to a sudden rush of heat? One article said that the heat was about 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This is probably quite a bit higher than the skin temperature of a woman experiencing a hot flash. Also, it may be the fact that the heat source comes from outside, rather than from within, that makes it so uncomfortable.

At least a hot flash does pass after awhile. I wonder what the effects of a long-term exposure to the heat ray weapon might be. I'm thinking particularly of a situation in which the rays might be used to control a violent crowd. If someone was knocked down by the crowd's rush and was hurt too badly to move from the direct path of the heat rays would they suffer tissue burns if the weapon kept firing? (I have not yet been able to learn how wide or how narrow the weapon's range can be.)

I also wonder if the heat can penetrate through one person's body into another body standing behind it. If not, enemies in combat situations would probably just tie up a front line of innocent bystanders as a literal human shield and let them take the discomfort. Even if the human shield didn't keep the beam from the enemy, the enemy might place innocents or captured soldiers in the path of the beam to discourage its use. And if they manage to get their hands on the weapon itself and have torture or terror on their minds, safe use will be the last thing on their minds. So I have some reservations about the system being the wonderful thing that some believe it is.

We've actually been hearing about this non-lethal weapon for several years. I'm sure the testing is done under the best of circumstances, but I still read that the weapon, though non-lethal in controlled conditions and when used properly, is capable of producing corneal damage when used indiscriminately. Let's not kid ourselvses. A non-lethal weapon may be preferable to a missile launcher, but it's not without risks. I hope the developers and the intended end-users proceeds with that in mind.

posted at: 08:55 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Wed, Jan 24 2007

State of the Union

The State of the Union address brought many comments from journalists, but I especially enjoyed the political cartoons. Dwayne Powell of the Raleigh News and Observer reminded us that there's a lot of behind-the-scenes work before the delivery of the address.

Editorial cartoonists have a knack for being able to give a subtle nudge to the ribs while they take dead aim at the tough issues. The work they do probably chronicles at least as much of our nation's history as presidential speeches do. So it's nice to see them take it full circle by giving a nod of amusement to those who write and deliver the speeches.

posted at: 07:33 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Jan 23 2007

What was Liz Cheney really saying?

I'm not sure why she chose this time to write about Senator Hillary Clinton, but Liz Cheney did just that in an Op-Ed piece. (You may need to register in order to read it.)

It seems to me that most of the resulting backlash is more about her writing skills and writing style than her choice of topic. Several blog writers have made remarks about her writing.

To be fair, let's say that a lot of people were probably already highly prejudiced against anything Ms. Cheney would write. There was a lot of anger unleashed on her in the comments accompanying her Op-Ed piece. Several people reminded her that she could certainly enlist in the military at any time, but that neither she nor her father have been in active service. Someone even brought up the old notion that Ms. Cheney's birth may have been at least part of the reason for her father's own military deferments during the Vietnam conflict.

The problem for me is that her writing does come across as a student piece, written hurriedly in the nyah-nyah style of a junior high girl who is jealous of a classmate and takes a few verbal swings at said classmate with feet wide apart and hands on hips, full of so much emotion that she doesn't really take time to choose her facts carefully or to brace her stance with a line of thought that flows to a logical conclusion. It could have been a really powerful piece of writing. Instead, it comes across as pitiful venting from a hurt little girl who aims for acceptance but sabotages herself by evoking negative attention. My big question is: Didn't she know this is exactly what the reaction would be?

posted at: 12:01 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Jan 22 2007

Depressing math?

It's Monday. Are you having a tough day? At least one psychologist has come up with a mathematical formula behind Blue Monday. I was in a fairly good mood until I tried to deal with his math. There's all that math having to do with how many days there are until spring—which are fewer now than this time last month. There's all that math measuring inches of snow—which we don't really have here. We could be dwelling on the short number of daylight hours—which are at least increasing right now. Those dollar amounts on the post-holiday credit card statement are ugly—but we didn't rely very much on credit cards this past season, except in the cases where we knew we could pay the bill in full.

Dealing with math in general could be depressing to me. I've never been very good at it. But now that I realize I've already countered most of the psychologist's math factors with my own naturally positive outlook, there's very little reason to fret. It really isn't Blue Monday unless we give in to it—now is it?

posted at: 09:27 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Fri, Jan 19 2007

Headed to the gas station? Body Armor? Check. Gun? Check.

Tommy Wilson, the Milwaukee officer mentioned in this story, has (perhaps unintentionally) made a good case for everyday citizens being armed and wearing a protective vest. What I'm unsure about is whether the civilian overcoat covering his uniform made the suspects more likely to target him as a possible victim. If his uniform and weapon had been clearly visible they could very likely have passed him by in favor of someone else who looked to them less capable of fighting back.

Arguments go back and forth all the time about the good and bad points of ordinary citizens carrying weapons, particularly concealed weapons. Though the officer's weapon was concealed only by virture of the fact that he had put on a coat after work that night, and though he might not have been targeted at all if his firearm had been visible, in this case the gun clearly contributed to saving his life and possibly the lives of others, since it helped take the suspects out of circulation so that they targeted no one else on that particular night.

The nagging idea remains with me that Officer Wilson was probably approached because he looked like a civilian. Thankfully, he was armed, wore and armored vest and was trained to react sensibly in that type of situation. I can't help but wonder if you or I in our civilian clothing should be concerned enough to think seriously about preparing and training for the real possibility of similar encounters as we go about our daily lives.

posted at: 08:08 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Thu, Jan 18 2007

Ethanol is in, but so is Middle Eastern fast food: Do Brazilians know something we don't know?

Someone passed along to me something written by Byron King at Whiskey and Gunpowder, entitled Investing in Ethanol. Ethanol, via corn production, has been touted lately by some folks as the answer to all the oil woes we might face in the U.S. But every focus on a solution usually raises new problems and ethanol is no exception. Particularly interesting to me were the comments (and answers to comments) in a separate column. What doesn't show there are some of the added comments (perhaps to be posted online later in Part II) by Mr. King regarding Brazil's successful use of ethanol. He points out that Brazil's climate, lack of suburbian commuters and sheer number of vehicles make ethanol production much more feasible for Brazil than for the U.S. He also mentions that Brazil's gas consumption is less than three percent that of U.S. consumption. (They also make their ethanol using sugar cane and not corn.)

Whiskey and Gunpowder's focus is more on making sensible moves in investing than on saving the planet, but the two may be bound together in ways we never thought would matter. And I'm fairly sure that most of us just don't want to hear the news that the solution to our heavy consumption of oil and oil by-products is not going to come in the form of some miracle crop. We're going to have to decide how we want to live in the future and start taking some responsibility to prepare for that kind of lifestyle in the choices we make in the present.

If you really want to jump on the kind of bandwagon that's taking off in Brazil, you might try to get yourself a Habib's franchise. One article from Saudi Aramco World claims that Habib's is now second only to McDonald's in Brazil. And of course, they hope to grab the attention of U.S. franchise-seekers soon. I smiled at the names of the other Middle Eastern fast-food chains popping up to rival Habib's, particularly one called Mister Sheik. Well now, did we really think that Middle Eastern influence, oil or otherwise, would just disappear that easily from Western culture? I'd venture to say that Sheik and Steak will be here soon enough.

posted at: 08:31 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, Jan 17 2007

Cleaning up

I used to know a female human who cleaned house just like Judy, the chimp. But she weighed less and drank a lot stronger liquids on break than Judy did. (A tip of the Stetson goes to Dave Barry for the link.)

posted at: 07:04 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Jan 16 2007

Santa Cruz County power outage least of cold weather woes

Our home near Watsonville wasn't affected, but more than 66,000 other PG&E customers in the county were without electricity for awhile this morning.

I wonder if the unusually cold weather will be at least indirectly blamed for the interruption to the electric service. Even Southern California has been feeling the nip in the air this round. The lingering cold is decimating citrus and artichoke crops and we're getting word of red flag warnings around the state, due to the cold's dry air and accompanying winds.

And other states have it much worse than we do. The TV news broadcasts are full of videos of drivers sliding on icy roads. This going to be one winter when a January thaw will be even more welcome than usual. I feel particular sympathy for firefighters, who have to battle blazes with water that is already miserably cold to work with and then runs along the ground and freezes into slick paths that make walking a major hazard.

posted at: 10:54 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Jan 15 2007

Please encourage one wounded soldier

Please go to J.R Salzman's web site and click on the link to his blog (or go directly to his blog—and then send him a note of encouragement.) The rest of us have no right to think of war as a little inconvenience while soldiers on the front lines suffer in ways most of us can only imagine. If you think we're doing the best thing we can do by being there, encourage this soldier. If you don't back the actions the U.S. has taken, encourage him anyway. Or, find someone else to encourage or take care of. And then let our country's leaders know how you feel with your voice, your vote and your pocketbook.

We argue all day about escalation of troops, budget build-ups, offending or retaining this or that ally. We watch political careers carved out by both veterans and non-veterans. What real difference will these things make in the long run? I wonder. I watched people sit in protests and make peace signs and paint flowers on their faces all through the whole Vietnam conflict. It never really changed the workings of the self-perpetuating political machine. But soldiers came home and suffered physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. And it was worse in some ways during that time, because many of them had been drafted into military service.

We have a right to say things about it all and voice our opinions. But we need to stop pretending that our use of free speech is a substitute for sharing the misery of current realities. The more we each accept responsibility for the true costs of war, the less likely we are to see future physical confrontations as an answer to problems and the harder we'll work to find other ways to share the planet. War isn't easy. It isn't supposed to be easy.

posted at: 08:14 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Fri, Jan 12 2007

I disavow all knowledge

Please remember that I was a bit under the weather and out of circulation earlier this week. So, I'm sincere when I say that I had not seen this when I wrote this. A few photos of the parody can be seen here. I knew that Mr. McMahon had no fear of aberrant entertainment, but I'm fairly certain that even he never thought that someday he'd be hosting such an act featuring caricatures of Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump.

posted at: 11:16 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

We're temporarily cold

Our outside thermometer read 26.6 degrees this morning. We don't dip below the freezing mark very often here. And we're apparently in for a second night of similar temperatures tonight. I know that some of you out there feel the same way Mike Cassidy of the San Jose Mercury News feels. Cold is a relative concept. When you've lived in Minnesota and had to ride down the road holding onto an older car door because the closing mechanism froze open or had to scratch ice off the insides of the house windows, you either decide you love it or you leave it. Our 26.6 degrees has already popped up to 40 degrees a few hours later.

The second round of temperatures below the freezing mark will come tonight and then leave us in tomorrow's warming sun. We'll still get a wave of fresh blossoms and buds on the trees by the end of January and we'll be pulling out the sunscreen long before the folks in Minnesota trade in their ice scrapers for mosquito repellent.

While we whine about our little cold snap they're hoping to use real ice, instead of plastic blocks, for the upcoming St. Paul Winter Carnival—now that the forecast is for colder weather in Minnesota. Talk show host Dave Letterman apparently wants to send someone to get lost in the ice maze there, but only if they use real ice. Carnival lake-racing events may have to be cancelled this year because the ice is not thick enough to be safe. The idea of plunging through thin ice into a Twin Cities area lake gives a whole new meaning to the word cold. By next Tuesday St. Paul's forecast high for the day will still be 15-20 degrees below our forecast low. I hope they get all the natural ice they want with no more whining. I'll be watching Dave Letterman's coverage of it all from the balmy Central California Coast.

posted at: 09:42 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Thu, Jan 11 2007

Just like that?

I don't belong to either of the two major political parties in the U.S., so this question is not bipartisan. How on earth did an anti-terror bill that was five years in the squabbling process pass so quickly all of a sudden? If bipartisan nit-picking really has gummed up the works that badly in our legislative branch then we are in need of another major party or something to at least upset this whole teeter-totter kind of playground complacency. Real legislative work for this country should be done between elections and not because of elections.

posted at: 10:52 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Did she ask for it?

We've all heard the phrase "the news behind the news". The public is almost as swift to react to those kinds of stories as it is to frontline reports. Take a look at the comments beneath an ABC report on New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall. The New York Times has taken its share of criticism, but it was disturbing to me that some people would see the attack on Ms. Gall as something she brought on herself and possibly even deserved.

It's true that everyone takes risks in their professions, but reporters often take risks that most of us would shun in favor of sitting in a long commute on U.S. freeways. Reporters are not soldiers and I doubt very much that they expect to be treated as soldiers. Most travel with very little protection and place themselves in harm's way in order to get a story. That's their choice, of course. What bothers me is the shift lately toward demonizing reporters in the midst of very complicated political issues that are straining diplomacy between even the closest of allies. Most of us have no real idea of the moves a reporter has to make in order to gather information that will expose the actions of very powerful, very angry, very frightened or very desperate people. We participate in journalists' work by proxy, reading a few words or looking at a few videos or still photographs. Sometimes we become a kind of Monday morning quarterback when we take in the news they gather and disseminate. We assume that what we see is all there was for the reporter. But news is more than a set of facts. If you don't believe me, think back to the last time you were at work at a company in the midst of an upper management scandal or other upheaval. How long did it take for facts, rumor and gossip to change alliances and erode trust between co-workers? How easy was it for you to find out what was really going on? Did you consider the possibility of having to do or say anything that you thought might compromised your own job or your own personal morals? And did you get much actual work done with the distractions going on at that time?

When we take in the news we have to remember that journalists are not just flies on the wall. They have to interact with law enforcement, politicians, informants, spin doctors, angry citizens, religious mobsters, paradoid insurgents, Mother Nature and the various people who just want to be seen on camera or have their names in print. They need to filter many voices at once and have eyes in the backs of their heads.

We each need to read and watch what is reported with a mind toward the true nature of a reporter. They aren't deities. And they chose their profession. But they don't deserve to be beaten on the job any more than a baker or computer programmer does. To think otherwise could be counterproductive to our own American ideal of freedom and could even contribute to the eventual death of the very important freedom of the press.

posted at: 07:41 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Check your credit card activity

We seem to be having some issues with small unauthorized charges to one of our credit cards, so I'm going to tell the rest of you about it, in case it happens to you. Thankfully, we have very quick-witted people who check our card activity and they promptly notified us about four separate charges that were for one dollar each. The phone numbers of the companies charging our card were 800-316-8774, 877-636-6858 and 800-333-1915. There were two separate one-dollar charges from that last one. We have no record of any business transactions or agreements with any of these companies. With a bit of research I'm finding names such as SavingSmart, At Home Rewards, Bargain Network and some outfit called Vertrue, Incorporated, which has addresses in Norwalk, Connecticut and in Omaha, Nebraska, and which seems to be associated with programs such as Deal Pass and Passport 2 Fun, among other interesting situations. Adaptive Marketing LLC/Homeworks Plus seems to be a part of all this conglomeration, and the Better Business Bureau has given them a rating of F, which is about as bad a rating as a business can get.

My spouse attempted to call the companies, but their automated answering systems demand a membership number before allowing access. We don't have a membership number to punch in because we are not, nor have we ever been, members of any of these companies or programs. If these unscrupulous people attempt to collect any funds from us they will get a swift, negative response.

If you use credit cards, be sure to check the activity on your card often. We have no idea how these particular companies got our card number, but we'll be passing along the information to folks who investigate these things.

posted at: 05:32 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, Jan 10 2007

Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump: WWE-like escalation

When I'm under the weather I tend to lose concentration easily and I also tend to notice things I wouldn't generally pay much attention to. The latter has definitely been the case with the recent apparent bickering between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump. I've never met either of these people, but it strikes me that the squabbling being happily carried back and forth by various members of the media is reaching the point where something has to give. If you've been out of the country and haven't heard about all this, ABC gave us all an up-to-date timeline of the feud.

I can't help but notice an obvious similarity between this feud and the soap-opera-like story lines that have, sadly, taken the place of athletic ability in the world of pro-wrestling. Please, don't misunderstand. I'm not suggesting that Mr. Trump and Ms. O'Donnell are about to climb into a ring and then crawl back out of the ring just long enough to pick up folding chairs as weapons. I'm just wondering if the increasingly bizarre plots of the WWE personnel are enticing other entertainers to want in on the action.

If it's an act, it's not a very good one for teaching children to take the high road. Whether real feud or publicity stunt, I do hope that folks from both the O'Donnell and Trump camps make it clear at some point that these two well-known people are not encouraging young children to follow their example of name-calling and one-downmanship. I hope they will at least do that for the kids everywhere who are looking up to them as role models.

posted at: 11:37 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Kids in cars getting second-hand smoke

Rush Limbaugh grins from his photos this morning as he strikes a pose or two with a lighted stogie and speaks wearily of Bangor, Maine's new law against smoking in a car while children are present.

The Bangor law isn't the first. Other states and municipalities now restrict smoking in cars while children are in the vehicle. Last fall the Belmont, California City Council began steps to pursue an ordinance against just about all second-hand smoke, similar to one now in effect in the city of Calabasas, California.

I have subjective feelings about legislating morality for humans in areas such as smoking. I lived with second-hand smoke the first several years of my own life and am extremely allergic to cigarette smoke. It has been wonderful, in areas where the stuff is banned, to go into businesses and other places without feeling as though someone has a choke-hold around my windpipe. I'm legally an adult now. If the laws against smoking were eliminated today I could choose not to walk into establishments that allow smoking. I could stay out of cars where someone chose to light up. But I toddlers can't do that. And I always want to be on the side of protecting kids. These are tough issues. I just hope everyone will choose to keep their heads about them and do what is best for children without lawmakers having to turn the whole country into a police state just so that kids get the best chances for a healthy life.

posted at: 09:43 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Tue, Jan 09 2007

Stretching CSS design into the future

I keep hearing good things about a book called Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design (Voices That Matter). My main focus in web work is always about doing research to produce information. In fact, I have to spend so much time on content that the design side of things invariably suffers, as does the technical upkeep of web pages. And when one is more creative than technical by nature it's easier to stick with old-school HTML structure instead of studying to catch up on CSS and upcoming versions of CSS. The learning curve for someone like me is such that, by the time I begin to catch up on new HTML rules, the next generation of language is already way down the road and I end up discouraged before I ever start. So the idea of a thought process that takes current CSS and sees the potential of a design way beyond where it is now is very intriguing to me. I don't know if I have the skills needed to match the level of knowledge it will take to use this particular book, but I think I'm just about ready to jump in and find out. It would be extremely uplifting to feel ahead of the game for a change.

posted at: 08:58 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Mon, Jan 08 2007

Hacking for weeks?

The spousal unit has brought home and has shared with me some virus from the workplace. It seems to be the one local papers have mentioned recently. I haven't developed the rattling cough he had yet, but I've definitely curtailed most voluntary activities for the next few days because my energy level is unusually low and my characteristic multi-tasking whirl has slowed to the point where concentration on one simple duty at a time takes a great deal of energy.

A kind friend brought books and munchies to me this morning and I plan to spend the afternoon in a heap on the sofa with a heating pad, warm beverages, reading material and old movies.

The spousal unit is suffering what he hopes is the back edge of his viral visitation and is currently managing a shortened day at work after taking a long weekend to recuperate. One nice thing about working from home is that one's schedule is more flexible when it comes to claiming a rare afternoon on the sofa. I'm off to do just that. I do hope those of you who read this stay free and clear of the hacking bug.

posted at: 12:06 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Fri, Jan 05 2007

Muslims in America: Finding a way to grow

LA Weekly gave us a fascinating recent look at Maher Hathout's work among Southern California's American Muslim population. Muslims in America seem to be seeking their place as they position themselves among other people in a country that has been, for the most part, abruptly introduced to major Middle East religions through violence by religious extremists.

I've often thought that the terrorist events of 9/11 were ultimately not so much about the American government or the American people as they were about the failure of certain extremist Muslims to allow themselves to bend and grow in ways that would allow strong faith to propel them into the future. Their crude terrorism on 9/11 did much more harm to the Muslim communities everywhere than to Americans in general. It may take Maher Hathout, and others like him, a very long time to learn to speak and act in ways that convince the rest of us all that there is something positive that could come from having a strong Muslim population in our midst. Unfortunately, they're having to do it while the extremists' hatred for them grows and while the patience of non-Muslim Americans is tested on a daily basis.

posted at: 08:30 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Thu, Jan 04 2007

The sure word of prophecy and—what's that He's saying?

I've been a bit busy today, but I see that other writers are covering the latest thought droppings from Pat Robertson. I had to go have at least a look at the like-minded Brujo Mayor's site. That presentation looks a little dark for me—a little too much like an outtake from a Quentin Tarantino film (with apologies to Mr. Tarantino, whose work I do appreciate.)

The Wichita Eagle blog reminds us that Mr. Robertson has been known to make a few predictions that failed in past years. But is Mr. R. hedging when he says that God told him about attacks but didn't tell him the attacks would be nuclear? Can he be sure? Maybe the Lord meant "nuclear" but used "nucular". A gentleman who speaks in tongues should surely be open to the possibility of interpretation.

posted at: 16:46 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Wed, Jan 03 2007

Generating stories

If your New Year includes a plan to weave the next great blockbuster novel or movie script, you should take a look at the Crazy Libs All Movie Talk story generator. You can use the random word listings or type in words of your own. Silly things like this are sometimes just the thing to quiet up the old inner critic and let you have fun with your craft.

posted at: 15:11 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Pimp my fireplace

There are already flashing Christmas lights set to music by way of computer software, but now people are beginning to combine fire and music. YouTube has a brief video of the colorful Reubens Tube. I know someone is going to figure out how to sequence this with computers and add colors to the mix. Home-grown pryo-musical entertainment could soon be coming to a gas line near you.

posted at: 06:01 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Tue, Jan 02 2007

Now buy this

I noticed that the cable TV shopping channels were a great barometer of the past holiday season. Show hosts cooed over the 12 pounds of black sequins on the Plus Size party jackets and then called the crew over to hold pound cake squares under chocolate fountains. But the party atmosphere disappeared in a hurry as soon as the first hour chimed in the New Year. The hosts wiped the frosting and cheese dip off their lips. Weight and ab equipment (and accompanying buff models) were positioned on the set in record time. Giddy remarks about the ball dropping in Times Square gave way to twenty minutes of discussion on exactly how many centimeters your new fitness ball needs to be. And forget dipping chips into gooey cheese dips in shiny new appliances. Now they want us to purchase those resistance bands and dip our cream-puff tushy into a deep squat. But rest easy. Next push—cocoa-butter-laden truffles in a heart-shaped box and the crew invited back onto the set to run pound cake squares under the chocolate fountain. Valentine's Day cometh.

posted at: 10:00 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!