Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Tue, Sep 30 2008

No bailout, but maybe that's good news

Well, the bailout plan failed to pass and the world has not yet ended. The longer life goes on as usual for most Americans, the less support the administration is likely to get from us when it comes to those figures with all the zeros.

posted at: 16:07 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Fri, Sep 26 2008

Mirrors enable stroke victims to improve

It was of little surprise to me that health professionals were able to increase function in stroke patients by using mirrors placed against the patient's vertical midline. A couple of years ago I was having trouble following the advice of my dental hygienist, who recommended brushing my tongue whenever I brushed my teeth. When I would attempt to work beyond the tip of my tongue it would stimulate my gag reflex and make cleaning the tongue thoroughly impossible. Quite by chance one morning I glamced up into the mirror while brushing my tongue and found that keeping my gaze on the mirror greatly repressed that gag reflex. I don't know why this works, unless perhaps the mind is tricked into thinking it sees some other face in the mirror and we focus with detachment on the movement we see on that face, rather than on the sensations we feel inside our own mouths. The mirrors placed on the midline of stroke patients' bodies may distract their brain from their own weaker body side and allow them to mimic the free moving body they see in the mirror.

posted at: 11:01 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Thu, Sep 25 2008

Afternoon commute not dull

I went to my spouse's workplace today because we had to run some errands near there. The ride home was an adventure. We had a traffic slowdown on Highway 1, due to a small, contained brush fire across the highway from a section that was part of the Trabing Fire earlier this year. Then we learned that someone had apparently driven a vehicle through the garage wall of a house near our street, damaging the garage, a vehicle inside the garage and even the house itself. The house next door to the one in today's incident was also hit by a vehicle some months ago. We indulged in a bit of dinner, visited with friends for awhile and are now preparing for what I hope is a very dull night's rest.

posted at: 20:56 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, Sep 24 2008


I ran across a section of Urban Dictionary today that used a word I first became acquainted with after I met my spouse. I had no idea that "farble" had so many different meanings. The only one I knew of was their second offering, in which farble means to move around with something or toy with it without real progress. Their first explanation about men trying to empty their bladder quietly reminded me that a lot of females will go into a public restroom, enter a stall and then flush the toilet once or twice as they use it, presumably to cover up the noise of their own body function. Could that be a female version of farbling? In any event, it's a great word to keep handy for use during an election year, isn't it?

posted at: 22:20 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Sep 23 2008

Bailout hope teeters on dubious desks

As I come to the end of a working day in the midst of a week like this with negative financial news dominating both the dial and the internet, the best thing I can think of to do is be thankful for the strength to make it through the day. The next best thing I can think of to do is remember in November to vote in such a way that there is the least chance of this mayhem repeating itself.

I see that financial expert Warren Buffet is investing in at least one failing company. I heard some people say that Mr. Buffet should be running for president. But that's the problem. If he had to take time from his financial workings in order to run the country he would probably no longer be such a great investor. Instead, we're going to have politicians, not professional investors, trying to pick up the pieces of the lending and banking crisis. A friend of mine wondered how I could make jokes about it. I didn't have to make any jokes. The jokes are just built right in.

posted at: 18:00 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Sep 22 2008

Those plastic-protected products invite injury

I would add my vote to those who would like to do away with hard plastic bubbles that encase so many products lately. I have injured myself more than once on those instruments of torture, to the point of drawing blood on at least one occasion. And I doubt very much that the extra bit of clear packaging would deter a thief. How many of us are (at least) inconvenienced, and (at worst) cut open, because a minority of people in stores are stealing merchandise? And most people probably don't contact the manufacturer about such things. They complain at the store level. When that fails, they either buy elsewhere or find something with other packaging. The next time I start to buy something that looks as though it was designed to withstand the jaws of a mistreated, angry pit bull, I'm going to pay for it and then insist that the store personnel open it for me. If they refuse, I'm going to insist on doing a return transaction, then and there. If the stores are inconvenienced often enough, maybe they will finally carry our consumer concerns to those who can prevent injury. I detest being an honest consumer who is held hostage only because someone else might do something wrong.

By the way, the article's advice to use scissors is not something I would recommend. The scissors can slip and hurt you almost as quickly as the ill-designed plastic shell.

posted at: 11:35 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Fri, Sep 19 2008

Poorly executed, but nicely written and reported on

I actually got one of those "Nigerian scam" things in my inbox this morning. The odd thing was that its sad little hype seemed anemic in comparison to all the wild talk going on about our own country's financial woes. Phil Gramm, who once referred to Americans as a "nation of whiners", seems to be unavailable for even a whine of his own this week as some begin to criticize his financial policies. John McCain thought the fundamentals of our economy were strong and now he's taking a verbal pummeling for that. If you listen to people on the street you can hear them talk about everything from a threat of produce a run on all banks to a stark fear of martial law and riots. Some opine that hanging is not good enough for the scoundrels who have gotten us into this situation. People are letting go of the edge of their own cliffs in order to have a free hand to point a finger at somebody.

On the other side, Senator Chris Dodd gave new meaning to the term "understatement" when he called this "an extremely serious time". To parrot a friend of mine, "Ya think?" I suppose everyone (except perhaps, Phil Gramm) seems to feel the need to say something safely knowledgeable and patently wise at this point. The rush to avoid blame is giving even political rhetoric a bit of a vacation.

Lest you think it's only evil American banks and cheeky American journalists who have contributed to this, let me point you to the stories of how embarrassed KFW in Germany is after pumping money into the failing American institutions. Embarrassed? Have banks gone anthropomorphic? Britain's Lloyds TSB has taken over Halifax Bank of Scotland and the writers have turned to citing fabled tortoises and hares to underscore the scene.

If nothing else, all this madness has generated wild bouts of creative writing and perky little puns. I believe it was a headline from Forbes magazine that tagged the ban on short selling as "Get Shorty". Don't fault me too much if I have to laugh at all this. Desperate times call for desperate pleasures.

posted at: 13:26 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Compromise may give us a working state budget

I'm glad to hear that everyone went back to the table regarding the California state budget. Their choice to be flexibile in the face of adversity raises my respect for all concerned.

posted at: 07:49 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Thu, Sep 18 2008

Smithsonian to digitize and share

I was happy to hear that The Smithsonian Institution will offer more works online. Many never make it to see the collections in person. (A tip of the old Stetson hat goes to ResourceShelf for the pointer.)

posted at: 14:13 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Wed, Sep 17 2008

California budget: Can it be saved?

Tom McClintock tells us he's leaving the legislature as our budget heads into a black hole. One proposal would result in 10 per cent less take-home pay for workers in the state. That's going to be tough for those already struggling to make ends meet in their personal finances.

I can see why our governor wants to veto the budget. On the other hand, we can't keep going the way we've been going. We help take care of more and more people through our social welfare programs. We attempt to educate children at rates that are rising in part, because of union costs and also because insurance has gotten so expensive. We house and feed prisoners who put nothing back into the monetary system. If prison isn't free, then why is being it paid for by law-abiding people while being free of charge to those convicted of breaking laws?

We're each going to have to take long, hard looks at what we've come to expect from our state's budget and admit that we haven't been spending money responsibly for many years. We need to bite the bullet. And we need to make certain legislators know that they can either bite the bullet along with us or to expect to be voted out of office in favor of people who will do what it takes to keep this state strong.

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

Tue, Sep 16 2008

You own?

I apologize for the wretchedly executed headline in my last post. I did a spell check and I read what I wrote, but the problem with editing my own work is that I see what I think I wrote, instead of what I actually wrote.

posted at: 10:31 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Make you own word cloud

If you enjoy playing with words, you might have a great time over at Wordle, where you can create word clouds with whatever text you like.

posted at: 09:21 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Sep 12 2008

A library throughout the home

Though they're saying that libraries are back in style in homes, I doubt that books themselves ever went out of style. Homeowners may be asking for separate rooms in which to house their sizable literary collections, but almost every home I enter has books in one or more rooms. Many kitchens have a cache of cookbooks, even if they're tucked into a cupboard. Bedrooms often have a few books on a nightstand or in a basket. Living rooms house books on shelves or on coffee tables. Even many bathrooms have a reading rack. There's a great pleasure in entering into a room with books that fill floor-to-ceiling shelves, but there's also a kind of delightful surprise at finding books in unexpected places in a home. I've seen books on top of washing machines and in babies' playpens in dens. Some folks keep a book or two near the phone directory so that they have something to do if they get stuck on hold during a call. Others keep home improvement books in the garage near a workbench. If some of us gathered all our books in one place we could easily fill a whole library room with our treasures. But sometimes it's nice to find a book where one least expects to see one.

posted at: 15:52 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Thu, Sep 11 2008

From paycheck to pork

September 11 brings to mind the horrific events of this day several years ago. I've been hearing all the hoopla about lipstick on a pig in recent days. And the other night I watched as a PBS station silently rolled the photos and names of 18 service men and women who had recently been killed in the conflict in Iraq. I wondered what their families must think when they watch politicians tossing puns and silly accusations back and forth with such passion, while the families grieve for loved ones who have died while campaign teams worked hard to sling mud.

When I consider all the things we could be addressing on this planet, the whole matter of who called who which name tells me that, in spite of both major parties talking a great deal about change, very little has actually changed when it comes to politics. And, in spite of most voters claiming we want change in our country, we're very likely to keep right on voting for one of two major party candidates while more and more taxes are extracted from us, until some of us see nearly half our personal income going for either foreign conflicts or for domestic programs that we don't support and that benefit very few people except lobbyists and already-wealthy politicians.

We must not be tired enough of the way things are, or we'd make certain that we opened the political playing field up to people who desire to do more than spend money (theirs and ours), on the same wars, the same pet projects and the same bureaucratic briar patches. Have you sat down and figured out just much of your income goes to help finance local, state and federal pork these days? How much did taxes take from your paycheck last year against what you were able to save for old age or your children's education? The lipstick is on the political pig all right, and we've got the stuff smeared all over our faces too, since we keep smooching up this little piggy all the way to the bank.

posted at: 12:54 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Wed, Sep 10 2008

Why are more white women supporting a McCain-Palin ticket?

I keep reading and hearing that John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate has resulted in an increase in white females' support. I hope these women will think carefully about exactly why they suddenly changed their position. There is no more wisdom or merit in voting for a candidate simply because she's a woman than there is in voting against a candidate simply because she's a woman.

posted at: 07:39 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Sep 09 2008

Weapon becomes dog food

Since no one was really injured, people have been giggling about the odd burglary case in California's Central Valley this week. A weapon used in the burglary, an 8-inch sausage, was apparently dropped by the alleged burglar as he fled, and was promptly pounced upon and eaten by a nearby dog. I think it's fairly safe to assume that officers won't be introducing that particular weapon into evidence in court.

posted at: 09:00 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Sep 08 2008

Fur balls from horses?

I'm confused by Gregg Doyel's article for CBSSports.com. I'm sure he knows a lot more about football than I do, but if he was trying for an equine pun with his recent headline, it seems to me that he chose an odd phrase: "colts cough up fur ball"? Perhaps Mr. Doyel was actually thinking of the Detroit Lions or the Cincinnati Bengals.

posted at: 12:53 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Fri, Sep 05 2008

New noises for toddlers to make

This must be the human version of putting a bell on the cat. I can only imagine the sound of a whole store filled with toddlers running around in these squeaky shoes. But if the shoes give the toddler a sort of alternate source of noisemaking, they might be just the trick for the rest of us. A couple of evenings ago my spouse and I nearly had our respective eardrums obliterated by a (very cute) little girl screaming and running alongside the meat counter in a Nob Hill grocery store. (Maybe she had never seen so many plucked Cornish Hens in one place before then.) The mother seemed more amused than upset and just told the child she couldn't scream in the grocery store that way, but only after the mother caught sight of us flinching and holding our ears. The child did stop and did seem to be having fun more than having a tantrum. The next time we encountered the family the father had put the little girl inside their shopping cart and was keeping a close watch on her. Good Papa.

I shouldn't be too tough on the little girl's mother. If she's been listening to those screams for a year or two, she no doubt has hearing loss and probably isn't a good judge of how loud the toddler's screams actually are. (And a scream wouldn't seem as loud when you're walking behind the child. We were trapped at a 30-degree angle in front of the youngster's sudden blast.)

I think I'd take squeaker shoes over high-pitched screams. If riot police could harness the power of the shrill decibels a toddler can emit they would be able to disperse large crowds of angry demonstrators and deter looters in about 5 seconds. I'd wager that scientists are already working on it.

posted at: 09:31 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Thu, Sep 04 2008

Jack Abramoff apologizes in his Land of Oz

Abramoff was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, "I am not a bad man."

Methinks he could have added, "I'm just a very bad wizard."

posted at: 07:27 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Wed, Sep 03 2008

Writer's block visual dozen No. 1

Use the Images feature of Google to type in one of the word combinations below. The visual results should be good for kick-starting a scene or two in your old manuscript or for giving you an opening scene for a brand new story. Add some mood music and you'll be on your way to kicking that writer's block to the curb.

bryce canyon
confrontation police gear
cusco peru
huangshan anhui china
wagon trail
monastery russia
detective noir
county cork ireland
naxos cafe
amalfi positano
tidal basin
barcelona street artists

posted at: 17:15 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Sep 02 2008

Zucchini abundance

It's been a good year for zucchini. We didn't grow any but we still got a lot of it from neighbors and friends. And so, I've been reading about Grilled Zucchini, Zuchini Fritters, Zucchini Biscuits, Zucchini Coffee Cake, Zucchini Burgers, Zucchini Oat Bread, Zucchini Slaw, Zucchini Pancakes, Zucchini Mushroom Soup, Chocolate Zucchini Bread, Zucchini Bean Salad, Zucchini and Cheese on Toast, Zucchini Cheddar Bread, Zucchini Cupcakes, Zucchini Sorbet, Zucchini Bars, Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake, Zucchini-Coconut Bars, Zucchini Cobbler,

If you're also overwhelmed with extra zucchini I hope you can find inspiration from some of these links.

posted at: 18:41 | category: /Food | 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!