Image

IS THERE AN APP FOR THAT?

Back when I was very much younger and hornier … like really horny most of the time … there was lots of discussion about The Spot. You know. That critical yet somehow elusive spot on the female anatomy? I assumed I knew what everyone was talking about though I was never sure because we can’t call anything by its proper name. Despite there being nothing dirty, offensive or immoral about correct names, we are still prissy about sex.

This produces some truly bizarre communication problems between the sexes. It’s akin to taking a vacation but not being allowed to say the name of the hotel. You can only identify it as The Resort. You are also forbidden to give the street number. Just Somewhere On Main Street. Good luck finding your destination.

It’s not only men who can’t find The Spot on wives or girl friends. It’s also persons of the female persuasion who (apparently) can’t find it on themselves. Say what? A friend of mind commented that even if the finger can’t figure out which bulge or lump does what, the spot itself should immediately contact the brain with the information — DING, DING, DING, THIS IS THE SPOT!

FlameHeartARTO-300-72

So what’s with all these girls growing up who can’t find it? I’ll bet every little boy in the world knows where his Spot is. He didn’t have to take a seminar. His brain said “Right here!”

More relationships have been destroyed by a woman’s inability to say “About half an inch to the left, please” than by adultery. The same people who fight, argue, email, text and post the most intimate details of their lives on Facebook are unable to tell a partner that he (she?) is missing The Spot. Oh puleeze.

I thought we got squared away on this 50 years ago. Or more. Apparently not. What are all the people who can’t find The Spot doing in bed? Playing canasta?

The time has come for technology to take a hand (no pun intended) in the matter. We need an app for that. How about one for the ubiquitous iPhone? Grab your phone and like a Geiger counter, it tells you when you’re hot — and when you’re not. As you zero in, the Hot Spot Finder App says “YOU HAVE REACHED YOUR DESTINATION!” in stentorian tones. The Hallelujah Chorus starts playing.

Everyone uses a mobile phone for everything, so let’s solve this problem once and for all. Give us an APP for that!

WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS – ALL YOU ZOMBIES, ROBERT HEINLEIN

all you zombiesTime travel makes my brain go “eek.” This is not a criticism. It’s a compliment. Not many things make my brain do back flips and somersaults. Time travel is an impossible concept I cannot understand because it is inherently incomprehensible. Therefore, I love it.

This review contains spoilers, so if you’ve never read this, you might want to stop now and be surprised by the story.

I first read this story by Robert Heinlein long ago as part of a compilation of his classic short stories. After all these years, it remains on the top of the heap of time travel tales. I couldn’t remember its title, so it took me a while to find it. It is called “All You Zombies.”

In a strange infinite loop, a baby girl is mysteriously dropped off at an orphanage in Cleveland in 1945. “Jane” grows up lonely and dejected, not knowing who her parents are, until one day in 1963 she is strangely attracted to a drifter. She has a brief passionate relationship with him and becomes pregnant.

RobertHeinleinThe stranger disappears.

During a weird and complicated birthing, Jane’s doctors discover she actually has two complete sets of sex organs. With her life on the line, the doctors change her from female to male. Jane is now a man. Then …. a mysterious stranger kidnaps her baby leaving Jane a man and childless.

Depressed, lost, he becomes a drunk and a drifter. He eventually, meets a young woman in a bar, who he impregnates during a brief affair. The story contains even more complexities, involving the Time Corps and a bartender. Throughout, everything continues moving forward and backward in time.

Read it, and get your own brain in a twist.

The story is a paradox, impossible yet structures with its own internal logic that you can neither reject nor accept. At which point, my brain goes “Eek!!” Jane is everyone. Everyone is Jane. She is her family: tree, trunk, branches and roots. I found this amazing diagram of the story. I do not know where it originated and I would love to credit whoever drew it in the first place. Tree of lives The circular logic combined with the impossibility of the sequence where the same person is mother, father and child forever in an infinite loop — the snake eating its tail — is deliciously mind-blowing. You can get it for your Kindle from Amazon for $1.25, or as part of an anthology of Heinlein short stories. There are several listed on Amazon, new and used.

Heinlein did much of his most creative writing in these early short stories. His later novels are better known today, especially Stranger In a Strange Land. The short stories have gotten a bit lost in time but are well worth your time. Most were written for the science fiction fanzines – newsprint magazines that were the primary outlets for sci fi until the genre broke into mainstream literature in the 1960s. Not only Heinlein, but all the classic great science fiction authors started their careers writing for the fanzines.

I’ve read many hundreds of time travel books and stories over more than 50 years of loving science fiction. But this one, this story, has stuck firmly in my brain as the most perfect paradox where the past, present and future come together in a perfect conundrum.

All You Zombies is my favorite for good reason. It’s unforgettable. I promise you will never forget it either.

 

Daily Prompt: STILL WAITING TO EXHALE

Still waiting. Still holding my breath. The loss of my job when the company went bankrupt — my career when my health failed — and my husband’s after 31 years for no good reason and at the same time. The loss of 100% of our income. Two years, zero income, no help from anywhere or anyone.

My son’s career crashing with the towers on 9/11. Huddling together. Three generations trying to survive as the world fell around us. Me, a botched surgery — getting sicker and sicker. No medical care until so close to dead I felt the reaper’s wings brush my face. Then — a miracle. Help! Better (is the siege really over?) until cancer. Surviving again, feeling better — NOW it’s my heart. But we don’t have the money to fund the surgery and rehab.

All lights are headlights of oncoming trains.

75NK-Train-36

Still waiting to exhale. It’s been more than a decade and my breath is tight and painful in my chest. Or maybe it’s my heart. Who can tell?

Yet we laugh. Often. Because life is absurd, hilarious, crazy, mad. Laugh or die sad and full of tears. After all, we shall all die of something eventually … I prefer to do it laughing.

WHERE DID YOU GET THAT THING YOU’RE WEARING?

“How come Gibbs is wearing a coat in Arizona in the summer?”

I was talking to Garry. It was an NCIS rerun. We watch a lot of reruns, though this new fall season of TV is shaping up better than I expected, so maybe there will be new shows to watch.

YLE Wardrobe

The question about costumes comes up often and on various shows. One of the more common “huh” moments is when the male lead is wearing a coat and the female lead is skimpily dressed. No explanation needed for that one. But more weird are when each cast member is dressed randomly, apparently without regard for the story in progress. One is wearing a heavy winter coat, another a light denim jacket. A third is in shirtsleeves. Some are clothed in jeans or other casual stuff while others look ready for Wall Street … or a cocktail party. Women are supposedly hiking and running from or after serial killers while they wear 4-inch spikes. My feet hurt just looking.

Garry and I have done a tiny bit of movie “extra” work so I’m guessing it goes like this:  “Go find something that fits in wardrobe and be on set in ten.”

Everyone hustles off to wardrobe, which looks like a jumble sale or the clothing racks at the Salvation Army store. Most of the clothing in wardrobe probably came from some second-hand source or other. Everyone dives in looking for something that fits. As soon as they find an outfit … any outfit … they head for a changing booth, then off to be on set before someone yells at them. Stars get slightly better wardrobe or wear their own clothing. Wearing ones own clothing, both on TV shows and movies is quite common. I understand why.

NCIS Filming

The real question is not why everyone on a show is poorly or inappropriately dressed. It’s whether or not the people who produce the show think we won’t notice. My theory is they don’t care if we notice or not. They are cheaping out on wardrobe figuring if you and I notice at all, we won’t care or we’ll keep watching anyhow.

It’s a bottom-line driven world and wardrobe is one area where corners can easily be cut.

The thing is, we do notice. You don’t need to be a professional critic or especially astute to see the incongruities of television costuming. Movie costuming is often no better. Whoever is in charge figures if you’ve noticed the clothing, you are must be watching the show. They’ve got you. Why worry?

The thing is, the overriding disdain for viewers adds up over time. Eventually it feels like a virtual slap in the face. As a viewer, I have to assume they think I am astoundingly unobservant or plain stupid … or so hooked on their product they needn’t worry about retaining my loyalty. They are wrong.

NCIS Filming

This nonchalance extends beyond costumes. Sloppy editing, crappy scripts, stupid plots that include blatant factual and continuity errors … Ultimately, we do stop watching. Because it’s obvious they don’t care so why should we?

You notice it on long-running shows that had good scripts and editing but suddenly don’t. The quality of the show starts to slide. Producers are baffled when loyal fans stop tuning in. It isn’t baffling to a normal person but is apparently incomprehensible to producers and network executives.

The most surprising thing is when quality stays high for more than the two initial seasons. Few shows survive more than 3 seasons anymore. An embedded disrespect for viewers is, in my opinion, the root of much of the illness besetting the television industry. They either treat us like morons or discount us because we are too young, too old  or some other incorrect and undesirable demographic. If you are under 18 or over 49, you literally don’t count. There are other, subtler forms of discrimination. Someone decided young people and old people don’t buy enough stuff. No TV for us!  Reality never intrudes into the decision-making process. I’m pretty sure I buy a lot of stuff and so does my granddaughter. Her and her friends are always shopping.

They should be nicer to us. We are, after all, the customers. Aren’t we?

All I Ask Is For All I Ask – THE BYRONIC MAN

See on THE BYRONIC MAN (DOT COM) …

And on Scoop.itIn and About the News

All I ask are moments of peace where I can stop and be in the moment.

All I ask is to be grateful for the things I have.

All I ask is for motivational images that don’t actually connect to the motivation.

All I ask is to be trusted and worthy of trust.

All I ask is to have the courage to try new things, and to be immediately better at them than everyone else.

All I ask is to be liked by people I can’t stand.

All I ask is the ability to orgasm at will.

All I ask is that my friends be less successful than me.

All I ask is to remain at my physical peak with little effort on my part.

All I ask is that “little effort” mean “no effort.”

All I ask is that the things I purchase never break or get worn out.

All I ask is that for one month a year (October?  May?) the schools be devoted to teaching good things about me.

All I ask is that, when I have a conflict with someone, they acknowledge that it’s them, not me.

No offense.

All I ask is for a state to be named after me.

All I ask is that it not be North Dakota or Florida.

All I ask is that the world’s population be reduced by 4 billion without anyone suffering.

All I ask is for a God who has the exact same opinions I do.

All I ask is to be able to make things explode with my mind.

And, really… is that so much?

About The Byronic Man

Recently voted “The Best Humor Blog in America That I, Personally, Write,” The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it’s all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it’s not. Ah, geez. Look, it’s a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

View all posts by The Byronic Man →

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

What he said. Like that.

See on thebyronicman.com

I’m not sweet

I can’t help it. I’m not. Sweet, I mean. Stuff about angels and how every cloud has a silver lining makes me ill. I want to scream and throw things. It makes me very angry.

I think it’s a big fat pack of lies. My life has not been sweet. I’ve had fun. I’ve had some wonderful times, great moments and I expect there will yet be some more. I’ve got a wonderful husband. Some fabulous friends. But overall, life has been hard. Angels have been noticeable only by their absence. Rain clouds have contained rain and lots of it. Usually lightning, too.

The up side of all of this is I have learned to go on with life, even in the rain and discovered that remarkably, I can survive even when I’m wet. I can cope with problems without an angel to lend a magical hand.

The thing about all of this stuff about super sweet angels watching over me is … it makes me feel bad. It doesn’t give me hope. I figure there must be something wrong with me because apparently everyone else sees angels and silver linings where I see obstacles to overcome and storms coming.

Saguaro Storm Passing

I’m not an atheist, but I don’t believe God spends much time watching over me. I figure He? She? They? are pretty busy. I was given brains and the ability to work through difficulties, to survive. I use my intelligence to come up with creative solutions to problems. I look inward to find strength and I don’t expect a supernatural rescue squad.

Does this mean I’m cynical? Maybe. Probably. I think it makes me down-to-earth. Realistic. I’m not constantly looking for help. I’m not expecting the cavalry to come charging over the hill to save me. I don’t expect bail outs. I hold myself responsible for myself, my mistakes, my life.

Would I appreciate unexpected assistance from a divine source? A few big cash windfalls? Yes, of course I would.

I just don’t plan on it.

Hello? Can you hear me? — I love progress!

Progress. I love progress and am strongly in favor of it, especially when we are progressing backwards. Kind of like technological time travel as gradually, by adding more and better high-tech devices, stuff that used to be simple and problem-free becomes much more complicated, difficult and expensive. The techno-version of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

iphone-whiteLet us travel together back in time to the halcyon days of yore. Not so long ago … the 1970s and 1980s. Even the 1990s.

Remember? We could make telephone calls without worrying whether or not the person on the other end could hear us. Without wondering if we would be able to understand them. That was so cool, wasn’t it? You didn’t have to shout into the phone, wasting half the call yelling “Hello? Are you there? Can you hear me? You’re breaking up. Can you hear me? Hello?”

You could have an entire conversation, from the beginning to end without getting disconnected, losing the signal, running out of battery. Getting dumped out by your carrier. Nobody said “What” even once! Unimaginable, isn’t it? I grew up and in my entire childhood, I do not remember ever having to ask “Can you hear me?” We could always hear. Sometimes, a long distance call had an echo, but you called the operator and they put the call through, no charge. No problem.

We’ve come a long way, my friends A long and winding road.

The other night, my husband and I watched — for the umpteenth time — Meet Me In St. Louis. It’s the old Judy Garland musical. Vincent Minnelli directed it. Great movie, one of our favorites. Terrific songs, Margaret O’Brien about as cute as a kid can be. Nostalgia on the hoof.

The story is set in 1904 when the World’s Fair was coming to St. Louis and telephones in private homes were still the hot new technology. A long distance call from a far away city was a very big deal. Early in the story, the oldest sister Rose gets a long-distance call from New York.

dining-room-21-512x384

The phone rings.

* * *

Rose Smith: Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?

Warren Sheffield: Yes, I can hear you. (Pause)

Rose Smith: What did you say, Warren?

Warren Sheffield: Nothing. I was waiting for you to talk

Rose Smith: Oh. Well, did you want to discuss anything in particular?

Warren Sheffield: What?

Rose Smith: I said, was there anything special you wanted to ask me

Warren Sheffield: I can’t hear you, Rose

Rose Smith: That’s funny. I can hear you plainly

Warren Sheffield: Isn’t this great? Here I am in New York and there you are in St. Louis and it’s just like you’re in the next room.

Rose Smith: What was that?

* * *

The next day my friend called.

Me: Hello? Hello? Cherrie?

Cherrie: (Faintly) Hello? I’m in New York … (something I can’t understand) … signal.

Me: Bad signal?

Cherrie: No signal.

Me: How are you?

Cherrie: Tired. Running around.

Me: Miss you.

Cherrie: Miss you too. Having trouble getting a signal here.

Me: We watched “Meet Me In St. Louis” last night. Remember the phone call from New York? We’ve gone back there. Worse. THEY had a better connection.

Cherrie: (Laughter.) You’re right.” (More laughter.)

Me: I don’t think this is progress. (Long pause.) Cherrie? Hello? Are you there? No, you aren’t there.

(Click. Sigh. Pause. Ring. Ring.)

Me: Cherrie?

Cherrie: Can you hear me?

Me: I can hear you, can you hear ME?

Cherrie: Hello? Hello? (Pause, faint sounds.) Is this better?

Me: Yes. A bit.

Cherrie: I turned my head and lost the signal. Boy, was that perfect timing or what?

Me: We couldn’t have done it better if we’d scripted it.

Cherrie: I’ll call you when I get back. I think I’m  losing … (Silence.)

* * *

As I said, I love progress. I most particularly love how advanced technology has made everything so much better. And easier.

Quote

Keep an Open Mind

“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.”

– Dr. Lee DeForest, “Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television.” 

“The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.”

Admiral William Leahy , US Atomic Bomb Project 

“There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.”

– Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923 

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.”

– Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949 

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

– Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943 

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.”

–The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957 

“But what is it good for?”

– Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip. 

“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”

– Bill Gates, 1981

This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us,”

– Western Union internal memo, 1876.

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”

– David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible,”

– A  Yale University  management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper,”

– Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in “Gone With The Wind.”

“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say  America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make,”

– Response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies.

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out,”

– Decca Recording Co. Rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible,”

– Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

“If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this,”

– Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M “Post-It” Notepads.

“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy,”

– Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”

– Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics,  Yale   University  , 1929.

“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value,”

Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole  Superieure de Guerre,  France  .

“Everything that can be invented has been invented,”

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899.

“The super computer is technologically impossible. It would take all of the water that flows over  Niagara Falls  to cool the heat generated by the number of vacuum tubes required.”

– Professor of Electrical Engineering,  New York   University

“I don’t know what use any one could find for a machine that would make copies of documents. It certainly couldn’t be a feasible business by itself.”

– Head of IBM, refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox.

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”

– Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at  Toulouse  , 1872

“The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon,”

– Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen  Victoria  1873.

“Who would want a F*****G Computer to sit on their Desk?”

– President of Warner-Swayze, 1977

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

– Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

L’appel du vide: The Biggest OOPS

promptless-lappeldevide

Maybe it’s stretching a point … maybe not. On a physical level, I have never had any kind of urge to walk through the fire or off the cliff. But that’s on the physical plane. My suicidal urges have been less tactile, more psychological, social, personal.

About my second marriage, the one I don’t talk about. I married a man blatantly wrong for me. As inappropriate, abusive, unintelligent and uneducated as anyone could be. That’s what happens when you marry on the rebound. In a foreign country. When you don’t speak the language and you’re lonely. Like the edge of the cliff or the fire, I knew with certainty before the wedding I shouldn’t do it. Bad idea. Big mistake. Why, then, did I?

Hormones? Hubris? Maybe because it was so wrong and such a terrible idea? Did I need to test the depth of the water or the heat of the fire? How long the fall down the mountain? Whatever it was, it cost me.

My mother met him shortly after the deed was done. She looked at me, sadly. “You’ve really done it now.” Cryptic though her words were, I knew what she meant. Knowing didn’t help. I had indeed done it. L’appel du vide describes it as well as anything. It took eleven long years to undo what had been so quickly accomplished. It was a learning experience. Not in a good way. Catastrophic stupidity on my part.

EverOn-MultiLayer-ARTO-300-72

There are many ways to achieve self-annihilation. A long walk off a short pier is less painful and more efficient. I recommend to anyone inclined to doing something highly self-destructive — take the short route, not the long and winding road.

Retrocausality: All You Zombies, Robert Heinlein

SnapIt-137

Time travel makes my brain go “eek.” This is not a criticism. It’s a compliment. Not many things make my brain do back flips and somersaults. Time travel is an impossible concept I cannot understand because it is inherently incomprehensible. Therefore, I love it.

One story by Robert Heinlein which I read long decades ago in a compilation of his classic short stories remains on the top of the heap of such tales. It took me a while to find it. It is called “All You Zombies.”

In this strange endless and infinite loop, a baby girl is mysteriously dropped off at an orphanage in Cleveland in 1945. “Jane” grows up lonely and dejected, not knowing who her parents are, until one day in 1963 she is strangely attracted to a drifter. She has a brief passionate relationship with him and becomes pregnant.

The stranger disappears. During a weird and complicated birthing, Jane’s doctors discover she actually has two complete sets of sex organs. With her life on the line, the doctors change her from female to male. Jane is now a man.

And then …. a mysterious stranger kidnaps her baby. Jane is a man and childless. Depressed, lost, he becomes a drunk and a drifter and eventually, meets a young woman in a bar, who he makes pregnant during a brief affair. It gets even more complicated with the involvement of the Time Corps and a bartender all moving forward and backward in time. Find it, read it, and get your own brain in a twist!

Suffice to say that all the characters are one. The story is a paradox, completely impossible yet so logical you can neither reject nor accept it. And, my brain goes “Eek!!” Jane is everyone and everyone is Jane. She is her complete family: tree, trunk, branches, roots. I found this amazing diagram of the story. I do not know where it originated and I would love to credit whoever drew it in the first place.

Tree of lives

The logic combined with the impossibility of the sequence where the same person is mother, father and child forever living in an infinite loop — the snake eating its tail — is delicious and mind-blowing.

You can get it for your Kindle from Amazon for $1.25 right now, click here. OR … probably you can find it as part of an anthology of Heinlein short stories, but I don’t know exactly which anthology. I’m sure you can find it somewhere, though. It’s a classic and if you read it, you will not forget it. I promise.

I have read many hundreds of time travel books and stories over more than 50 years of loving science fiction. But this one, this  particular story, has stuck fast in my brain as probably the most perfect paradox as the past, present and future all roll in on themselves.

Daily Prompt: Whose Planet Is This?

It doesn’t take much to feel like a visitor from a foreign planet. Humans are  good at making anyone even a little bit different feel like an alien.

shadow me

My body is a great place to start. It is rebuilt, an imitation of a human body. Fake breasts with no nipples. Missing internal organs. No belly button.

Yet nothing makes me feel more out of time and place than reading posts on Facebook. The inability of average people to use any grammar, to write in full sentences, to understand that “loose” and “lose” aren’t the same word leaves me feeling as if I have been inter-dimensionally transported to “The Planet Without Grammar.” Forget typos. I get that. We all make mistakes and usually know it. How often I have wished I could go back and correct them.

No, I’m talking about all the millions of people who don’t even know they are doing something wrong because they never knew their own language in the first place.

Then there’s music. I sound like every member of every older generation throughout history, but this didn’t start when I became a Senior Citizen. It started when I was a young music student and had to listen to 12-tone music. This is music?  To me it sounds like Tom cats locked in a trash can to duke it out until only one emerges. Howling, banging, shrieks, crashing, thumping. No rhythm. No melody. Just noise.

I can get into rhythm without melody. I can enjoy melody without rhythm. When you remove both? What makes it music? Please, someone, explain. Where do noise and music part company? My inability as a young music student to grasp what it was about these sounds that made them admirable as music signaled a lifetime of “not getting it.” Whatever “it” has been.

There are so many things I don’t get. Politics. Ignorance. Movies without scripts. Books without plots. Published authors without talent. Illiteracy (voluntary). A society-wide lack of compassion. Environmental destruction for short-term goals which will have permanent devastating planet-wide repercussions. Genocide.

And that old standby, stupidity.

I said I’m an anachronism. I wasn’t kidding. I really am. And everyday, I get worse.

 

For The Promptless – DIY: So, you made that yourself?

DIY

This will have to be a quickie since I have to finish my coffee — which I didn’t make myself, it being a task my kind husband has taken over — and get to a doctor by 9 am and it’s already 7:30. I really should stop reading until 3 in the morning. It’s ruining my early morning cheery face.

Back when the world and  I were young, I thought I should make my own clothing. My mother had made all my clothing when I was a child. She continued to make almost all her own stuff. Now that I was an adult with a full-time job and a toddler, she would occasionally — if I begged and pleaded — make something for me. Things I wanted but couldn’t find in the store, or afford even if I found them.

I yearned to go back to the days when she made my clothing. I hadn’t begun to appreciate the gorgeous outfits she created, how beautifully they fitted and how special they were. Then all I had wanted was to look like everyone else. Kids are dumb that way. I was as dumb as everyone. Maybe dumber.

sewing susan

I figured “how hard can it be?” I got a second-hand sewing machine, bought a few patterns, even took a class in sewing. Acquired some fabric, zippers, buttons, threads and all the little widgety doodads that sewing requires — there were a lot more than I imagined possible — and made myself some spiffy new outfits. I was thrilled at how much clothing I could make for a pittance … especially compared to buying it at Macy’s.

People stared at my clothing. Admiration, I thought. They must be impressed. I was right.

Long pause. “You made that yourself, did you?”

“How did you know?”

“Just a lucky guess.”

It turns out that you have to set both sleeves the same way so one isn’t puffy while the other flat. Then there’s pattern matching. Oh, and buttons. They are supposed to line up. Zippers are not supposed to stick out and be all bunchy and also, they are supposed to close so that both parts of the closure are level when zipped. Details, details. And about those hems? One length all around. And those pesky collars. I hated collars. Even is the word in making clothing. Both sides should be pretty much the same, unless you are oddly shaped or are making a costume for a party and want to look weird.

I took a second course in tailoring, but that didn’t go nearly as well as sewing had. You had to use padding and stuff that makes fabric stiffer to hold its shape and I was never patient enough to get it right.

I quietly gave up making my own clothing and returned to holding my little plastic card and yelling “CHARGE!” as I went into the mall. The sewing machine grew dusty. It is still gathering dust in my dining room lo these many long years later. It’s all closed now. But not wasted. It’s a lovely spare table on which to display dolls. I collect dolls. And no, I do not make their clothing.

I do many things myself. I get up and out of bed by myself. Every day, nearly, except once in a while when I need a little help. I wash dishes. I write, edit, take pictures, process photos. I pass out treats to dogs, lend money to my granddaughter. Manage the family’s so-to-speak finances.

singer sewer 2

Take more pictures. Water plants. Maintain this blog.

That’s pretty good, isn’t it? All by myself I mean?

Oh, and I fix the computers, install software and if you need anyone to explain how to use it? I’m your gal. Does anyone need an older, but barely used sewing machine?

NCIS Boss Opens Up About Cote de Pablo’s Surprising Decision (‘I Really Wasn’t Planning for This’), Hints at ‘Romantic’ Exit Storyline

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

As caught off-guard as he was byCote de Pablo‘s decision to walk away from NCIS after eight seasons as Ziva David, showrunner Gary Glasberg recognizes the seriousness of the situation and as such hopes he will do the character justice during her swan song.

On Monday night at CBS’ Television Critics Assoc. summer press tour party, Glasberg spoke with TVLine about the “very” surprising news, how he reacted to it and what “Tiva” fans can expect when Season 11 gets underway Sept. 24.

TVLINE| How surprised were you by Cote’s decision?

I was very, very surprised. I think it was you that I told at some point, that I was “very confident” that this was going to work out. And I was very confident. This is not what I was planning on. As [CBS Corp. CEO Les] Moonves said earlier [Monday], everyone really wanted this to work. She’s a part of this family and a part of this team, and the efforts were being made by everyone.

TVLINE | Was it, like, a matter of Cote wanting to re-up for just one year versus multiple years…?

It wasn’t even the specifics. It was clear at the end of the day that this was her decision. And we have to respect it. Someone asked me if I was planning for this, but I really wasn’t, so basically the minute that this became real, I had to throw out a lot of what I was planning to do and start from scratch. But what came out of it is a really terrific [season-opening] two-parter that I think people are going to be really blown away by.

TVLINE | You previously said that we would find out what Ziva and the others were up to during the four-month time jump. Will Ziva’s story now be different?

Basically, the Ziva story sort of intertwines with where we left Gibbs off at the end of the season, with the sniper rifle. That whole story arc unfolds through the first episode, and then Cote/Ziva plays very prominently in the second one. There’s a really significant Tony/Ziva payoff — everything I hope the Tiva fans have been waiting for.

TVLINE | Oh, but I can’t imagine it’s much better than heartbreak for those fans and for Tony.

It informs her in ways that I think the fans will enjoy. It gives us some insight into this decision that she’s going to make. It’s exciting. And it’s romantic.

TVLINE | Is Tony the first person she shares this “decision” with?

Oh yeah. Look, it’s a storyline that I took very, very seriously — I felt like I had to, for the fans. I recognize what this means to them, and I recognize what her absence is going to mean. Someone asked me what I plan beyond this, and I can’t replace her. I can’t even use the word “replacement” for Ziva and what she means to this team. The only thing I can try and do down the road is come up with another character who feels organic and fills a void of some kind.

TVLINE | Because at the end of the day, Gibbs’ team will be down a man.

Exactly. That desk, at the end of the day, is going to be empty.

TVLINE | So, what are we talking as far as the timeframe for filling that void? November sweeps? February…?

It’s going to be a little while, and I really don’t know who that character is yet. But that’s something we’re talking about right now.

Want more scoop on NCIS, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

We are going to miss her a lot. Big NCIS fans here. BIG.

See on tvline.com

85,000. What it means. What it doesn’t.

To put this into perspective, my “about” page and five top posts account for around 35,000 hits. “The Me Page” alone has gotten more than 12,000 hits.

75-85000-NK

Still, the cumulative effect is that a lot of people have visited this little blog of mine, for whatever reason and it’s a bit humbling to realize that’s the number of people in a pretty big town, more than a packed crowd in Yankee Stadium. I know there are people out there whose statistics put them into the hundreds of thousands. What’s weird is I see if I don’t quit, I’ll get there too. Not tomorrow, unless something I write goes viral (unlikely) … but I’ll get there. Because every day, I get around 200 hits, unless the première show for the 2012-2013 season of Criminal Minds is playing — in which case I get closer to 1000 hits (that’s how I know the show is airing).

I am writing this before I quite hit the 85,000 mark. At this moment in time, I’m at 84,958, so I’ll cross that bridge tomorrow. I don’t have the exact numbers, but it ought to be more than 85,000. I’m probably jinxing myself.

Number of posts? Closer to 1500, but I deleted several hundred and I’ll probably have to do it again to keep the website from collapsing under the weight of too many posts. I’ve been a busy writer. Meanwhile, I’m beginning to rerun posts because — hey — I think they’re pretty good and worth running again.

The ups and down of statistics can produce a lot of anxiety, so … you gotta have faith. I don’t just look at raw numbers because they are only a part of the puzzle. I don’t have more visitors or even as many as I did — the total number of visitors is down considerably from the peak last fall. It was the election and the Internet was a wild and crazy place. Yet the overall hit count has remained reasonably steady because guests spend more time on my site, read more posts, look at more pictures. The average number of posts hit per visit is greater than 2, sometimes a lot more. That tells me I’m doing something right.

It tells me I’m writing more interesting stories, posting better pictures. This matters to me far more than raw numbers. To know you come and stick around, enjoy my work enough to read more than a one post makes me feel pretty good.

The numbers of followers I’ve got has topped 400 from WordPress. I’ve got a bunch more from Twitter and Tumblr, maybe a couple of dozen from Facebook (not quite as many as WordPress counts them). A year ago I couldn’t even imagine so many followers.

Followers get  emails. Many people read posts in email and don’t bother to visit the website. It’s a peril of email notification. If you can read it in email, there’s no incentive to go to the main site since the emails contains 90% (or more) of the post. It’s a trade-off. Followers are good to have, even if they only read the email. Honestly, I don’t care if they read my posts on a telephone pole. Where isn’t important.

Sudden drops in hits are alarming and baffling, especially when numbers pop back up the next day. What was that all about? You will never know. One of the great mysteries of blogging. Numbers by themselves don’t mean everything, but they don’t mean nothing, either. A lot of hits indicates interest at the very least. Hit counts on individual posts tell me a lot too.

There are two kinds of posts in the blogging world. There are posts that are highly topical and burn really hot for a short time. Most of these involve breaking stories, current events, scandals, stuff like that. And there are slow burners. Timeless material, fiction, reviews.

Reviews can have a very long shelf life. People keep coming to read them over and over. Many of these are informational in nature, reviews of technology, books, movies. Oddly, reviews of extremely obscure movies do quite well, maybe because it’s difficult to find reviews of them anywhere. Camera reviews seem to have an eternal life. Book reviews of popular authors continue to be accessed months after original publication.

The posts with a long shelf lives gather a lot of hits over the months. One of my top three posts has more than 5000 hits, but it took more than 9 months. As long as the material remains relevant, people will find it. Good placement on Google helps too, but over all, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the longevity of reviews in general, technology in particular.

So for all that WordPress doesn’t think much of my work, a lot of other people apparently feel otherwise and in the end, that matters. It matters a lot. My followers, my readers have become a kind of family. We share each others’ lives, pains, joys. We celebrate and mourn together. We’ve never met, but we aren’t strangers.

I still save every “like” and every notification of a new follower. I would follow all my followers, but I’m out of time. I can’t keep up with that many blogs. I can barely keep up with the books I’m supposed to be reading and reviewing.

I can’t imagine how people do this when they have full-time jobs and young children. I’ve never been more impressed than I am with homemakers and career men and women who manage to handle their family obligations, jobs and blogs. All honor to you. You are the real rock stars.

Daily Prompt: Keep Out? No. Come On In!

When I started blogging, I decided I would never write anything I would be unwilling to share with anyone on earth, any member of my family — young or old. Former employers, colleagues, old boyfriends — wherever and whoever you are, this is public. Read it and weep, laugh, be happy for me, be jealous, whatever.

75-WelcomeSerendipityNK-1

I hope you like what you find. I you don’t, that’s okay too. Be polite to me and all my other companions. Express yourselves with civility, kindness and intelligence and we will all get along in this best of all possible worlds. In other words, be nice and don’t piss me off.

There isn’t anybody I hope isn’t reading this. I have put a lot of effort into making this a site which might occasionally be controversial, but never smutty, nasty, or narrow-minded. Should I ever wander into that territory, feel free to sharply remind me!

Sorry WordPress.You ought to know, above all, right?  If I am not willing that the world read me, I shouldn’t post it. More to the point, if it isn’t good enough for everyone, it’s not good enough for anyone. I’m no child or a bubble-headed adolescent on Facebook thinking only my circle of friends will read my stuff.

A blog is public. You and you and you and you (yes, even you, over there, hiding behind the tree). I include you all. Welcome to my cyberhome.