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Yet another disturbing week…

Last week I shared a twitpic of a giant disgusting frog from my yard. This week, I stepped on (with bare feet, no less) one of those disgusting gecko lizard creatures. And yes, I shared my horror on the twitter.

But before we proceed with the update, I wanted to wish my dear friend Candy Steele a very HAPPY (belated) BIRTHDAY! Thanks for being awesome. I salute you:

And now, the best of me (or not) on the twitter this week:

@br8kthru So, rather than picking it up (with copious amounts of toilet paper) & throwing it in the toilet, I should put hot sauce on it (in reply to br8kthru @katdish So that when the dog tried to eat it, it would burn his mouth & he wouldn’t try it again. :))

@br8kthru Why would I put hot sauce on a dead lizard?

@CarrieKintz They’re so gross. And they lurk by the back door. When you open it, they jump in the house (in reply to CarrieKintz @katdish I just gagged. Doings some humming in the fetal position myself.)

@SBeeCreations GAAAA!!!! (in reply to SBeeCreations @katdish I guess it must be the time of year. We had one get in the house. Was sitting in my towel when I got out of the shower *shudder)

@br8kthru It’s like my own little horror show played out on a regular basis.
@br8kthru Yes. The cat likes to torture them until they die. Then the dog tries to swallow them and throws them up.

Just stepped on this with my BARE FEET! Going to curl up in the fetal position and hum loudly for a bit.

Unless there’s been an influx of Canadians that I’m unaware of.

Odds are pretty good that people coming into the country illegally on the border of AZ & Mexico are going to be Hispanic.

Police officer David Salgado suing over AZ immigration law b/c it would force him to target Hispanics. Um…okay

@SBeeCreations Thanks. You just don’t see quality tweets like that from your “social media gurus

@redclaydiaries Mandles:

@redclaydiaries No. The Apocalypse is a new frangrance by @weightwhat & @br8kthru, makers of the burrito fart vuvuzela mandle. (in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish Catching up on tweets… So apparently it IS the Apocalypse, but only if @weightwhat says so?)

@br8kthru Wait! First we need @weightwhat to trademark it: The burrito fart vuvuzela mandle (in reply to br8kthru @katdish & when it flickers, there’d B little pauses. I’m giggly just thinking abt this. Why is this not a thing? Get to work scientists!)

@br8kthru It would be like a more annoying version of the vuvuzela horn (in reply to br8kthru @katdish That’s very unsettling. Does it make a continuous noise as it burns? That would be quite awesome.)

@br8kthru Oh, excuse me. I’m getting my posts mixed up. I was thinking of the burrito fart scented mandle. (in reply to br8kthru @katdish point of order: refried beans not burrito. Carry on.)

@br8kthru @weightwhat I just find it funny that @helenatrandom is offended by the lavender, but not the tires or burrito.

Buddy Love is thrilled w/the positive response to his guest post on my blog today.

@weightwhat You can’t trademark the Apocalypse! (in reply to weightwhat @br8kthru I love the smell of Apocalypse™ in the morning! Now with bacon!)

I love automatic DMs after following people! Also? It’s opposite day.

Walking in my neighborhood. Guy just drove by in a convertible & I can still smell his aftershave. Dude! Gaaa!

Time for some serious #writing time. And by “serious writing time”, I mean “Skymall”

@SMBlooding Yesh (in reply to SMBlooding @katdish Oh, oh, and a BIG red hat! Yes!)

@RachelleGardner I think big hair and a feather boa say, “I’m a serious writer.”
@RachelleGardner So…like a Glamour shot or something? (in reply to RachelleGardner Writers: As soon as you get an actual book publishing contract, you need to get an actual head shot. By a professional. PLEASE.)

Just returned from the grocery store. Not so bad, really. Just kidding…it sucked.
@rmaxwell142 Yes. I’m contractually obligated to root for the Yankees. @billycoffey is very demanding. in reply to rmaxwell142

Why yes! Yes I do>RT @SandraHeskaKing: Do you think my husband is cheap?


I heart the car wash gift shop.

@redclaydiaries They have dogs, too.
(in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish Stuffed cat that breathes? GAAA. I need to get 1 for Bob. He’d think it was Yumtacular.)

@RobinMArnold Weird, huh? Stuffed cat. That breathes. Creeptacular. (in reply to RobinMArnold WTFrenchToast is that?)

@lainiegallagher Worst part? I suspect it may have been an actual cat at some point. (in reply to lainiegallagher @katdish Yeah, I’ve seen them before! I don’t understand who would buy one. Maybe if you refuse to buy your kid a real animal or something.)

@SassafrasHill Not a cat. A stuffed cat. That breathes. You know, for kids. (in reply to SassafrasHill @katdish – Cats creep you out? Why?)

These things creep me out.

New! From the makers of Cup-a-soup…

Katdishionary Part 9

I can hardly believe this is the 9th installment of the never-ending series of blog fodder known as the katdishionary. As I mentioned in my last installment, all previous katdishionary words are compiled for your convenience on the tab marked “katdishionary”. Um, except the last installment of words.

Hey…I’m busy.

And now, on with the katdishionary:

Decrapification (pronounced de-cra-pi-fi-ka-shun)

Definition: The process of purging a space of a bunch of crap you don’t need.

Origin: After months of allowing birthday party goody bags and happy meal trinket collections, et al, through my front door and into my children’s rooms, I had had enough.

Example: “My daughter’s room has reached critical mass. Let the decrapification process begin!”

grumpy ho (pronounced grum-p-ho)

Definition: slang term for someone who is often cranky, but simultaneously delightful.

Origin: Jake from Very Much Later. The original grumpy ho.

Example: “Jake Lee is my favorite grumpy ho.”

Lethargeriffic(pronounced le-thar-ja-rif-fic)

Definition: the condition of being perfectly lazy.

Origin: Brian Russell made it up on the twitter in hopes of making it into the katdishionary update more than once (see nerdgasm). A coveted distinction, to be sure. Or not.

Example: “Earlier this year, I watched the first five seasons of Lost in as many weeks, including some days when I never changed out of my pajamas. It was truly a lethargeriffic experience!”

Rectoretinitis (pronounced rek-tor-re-tin-ni-tus)

Definition: When the nerves in your eyes get crossed with the nerves in your butt causing you have a crappy outlook on life.

Origin: Candy Steele, RN and a co-worker created this diagnosis when looking for legitimate reasons for people being so difficult to work with.

Candy Steele circa 1981

“After 20 years of working for the U. S. Postal Service, Newman had a severe case of rectoretinitis.”

Vurp (pronounced verp)

Definition: a more expediant way of communicating “I just threw up in my mouth a little.”

Origin: My initial reaction after learning of Helen at Random Musing’s fondness for head cheese.

Example: “Wait…you actually eat head cheese? Vurp!”

This concludes this edition of the katdishionary. Keeps those cards and letters coming!

Declaration of Independence

image courtesy of

It’s been awhile since I’ve read the Declaration of Independence, but I think it is an amazing document. As I read it last night on my iPhone, head propped up on several pillows from the comfort of my very comfortable bed in my very comfortable, air conditioned house while sipping on an iced cold Diet Coke that I was able to purchase by getting into my late model Jeep and driving 5 minutes to the grocery store (which I will complain about in a post later this week), something occurred to me. Something that has been come to my attention more and more as of late. I take a lot of things for granted. Things that people left their homelands to seek; that men and women have fought and died for.

No, not my bed, or house, or Diet Coke, or car. Sure, I take those for granted, too. No, what I take for granted is the right to pursue the desire for all these creature comforts. Nothing on the aforementioned list is of great importance to me, but if I were to be denied the right to choose any of those things, or if I was told someone else with more authority would chose them for me, I wouldn’t like it. Not one bit.

I don’t talk politics on this blog. But as I read this document written and signed 234 years ago, it occurred to me that many have forgotten (if they ever knew) the reasons the founding fathers felt compelled to write it in the first place. If it’s been awhile since you’ve read it, I invite you to read it with a fresh perspective in light of the political climate of this country. Our United States of America. And remember that We the People are we, the people.

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. — The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free system of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislature, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


John Hancock

Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
Geo. Walton

Wm. Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
Edward Rutledge
Thos. Heyward, Junr.
Thomas Lynch, Junr.
Arthur Middleton

Samuel Chase
Wm. Paca
Thos. Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Th. Jefferson
Benja. Harrison
Thos. Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Robt. Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benja. Franklin
John Morton
Geo. Clymer
Jas. Smith
Geo. Taylor
James Wilson
Geo. Ross
Caesar Rodney
Geo. Read
Tho. Mckean

Wm. Floyd
Phil. Livingston
Frans. Lewis
Lewis Morris
Richd. Stockton
Jno. Witherspoon
Fras. Hopkinson
John Hart
Abra. Clark

Josiah Bartlett
Wm. Whipple
Saml. Adams
John Adams
Robt. Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Step. Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
Wm. Williams
Oliver Wolcott
Matthew Thornton

Lessons from Basketball Camp (by Sandra Heska King)

For those of you who don’t already know Sandy, I am very pleased to introduce her here today.

Sandra King lives in Michigan and is also know as Sandy or even Snady (long a), the result of a typo that stuck. She’s a Bible teacher and writer as well as a former surgical/public health/office nurse who keeps her license in tact. She’s a wife, mother and grandma who loves books, nature and all things chocolate. You can learn more about her at her two blogs, Beholding God and The Write Pursuit, and follower her on Twitter, @SandraHeskaKing.

Lessons from Basketball Camp

Gracee. Rising third-grader. Basketball camp. Three mornings last week. Early. Too early for summer.

 Day One

 She bounces out to the car in her new basketball shorts and shoes, Michigan State T-shirt, hair pulled back into a pony. She looks old.

 “Are you excited?”


 “Remember how Mom and I tried to talk you into b-ball last year, but you were scared?”

 “I’m older now. Look! There’s Olivia and her mom. You know her mom.”

 I wonder why I failed to slap on a little makeup.

 “Cool. You already have friends here.”

 I keep my head down as we go through the registration line.

 “I’m going to stay until you’re settled and then run home and grab some breakfast. I’ll be back.”

 After I slap on some makeup.

 “Okay, Gramma.”

 Later as she guzzles some water . . .

 “It’s so hot! Look how sweaty. And we worked hard. And I made new friends.”

 “I love basketball.”

 “I’m glad! Trying new stuff can be scary, but we’re usually glad when we do.”

 Day Two

 My phone rings. It’s my daughter: “She’s ready, but she’s so grumpy. Do NOT give in to her bratness.”

 She’s wearing her new Orioles T-shirt, but she’s not bouncing. Mouth corners skim the driveway gravel.

 “I’m tired.”

 “Well, you only have one more day. But maybe you better go to bed earlier tonight.”


 “Do not laugh. No laughing allowed in this car today. And I mean it.”

 She cracks up.

 “Will you stay and watch me?”

 “I have to get breakfast. Then, yes, I’ll be back to watch you.”



 Later, as she guzzles some water . . .

 “The kids say I look more like a soccer girl.”

 “Why’s that?”

 “I can’t make any baskets. I haven’t made even one.”

 I note that the baskets are still at regulation height.

 “Well, you just have to practice. Your arms aren’t quite strong enough yet. They will be. And you’ll be taller in the fall. And you can work on what you can do right now like dribble and guard.”

 “Practice makes perfect.”


 “I love basketball!”

 Day Three

 She’s not bouncing, but she’s not dragging either.

 “Last day! Are you glad?”

“No. Will you watch me?”

 “Yes. But parts are kind of boring. And I was the only adult who watched yesterday.”



 “If I do really good today, I get a bottle of Gatorade.”

 I go for coffee, and when I come back, she’s playing monkey in the middle—or whatever they call it. She waves. Then they scrimmage.

 She comes over to get a drink.

 “They were yelling at me.”

 “Who? The coaches or the kids?”

 “The kids. I don’t like basketball. I want to go home. Now.”

 She’s fights back tears, and I want to go fight the kids who are yelling at her.

 “It’s easy to give up. Shake it off. And get back in the game. Stick it out. You’re almost done. Besides, it looks like they are going to take pictures.”

 She grinds the heels of her hands into her eyes.

 “And no laughing allowed.”

 She flashes the hint of a grin and then trots out to slip into the group frame.

 After the photos are taken, they divide into small groups for drills. And then gather again for an awards ceremony. They all get participation certificates and rounds of high fives. And bottles of Gatorade.

 And then the coaches pass out individual “awards.” Gracee gets one for improvement—“in recognition of all the hard work it took to be better today than you were yesterday.” And everybody claps.

 She’s not only a Lady Oriole. She’s an improved Lady Oriole.

 “Can I stay and shoot a few hoops?”

 “Okay. For just a few minutes.”

 So she shoots. And shoots. And shoots.

 And I cheer her on.

 “Almost. You hit the rim. You skimmed the bottom of the basket. You’re getting there. Good job.”

 The varsity girls’ coach comes over and offers to retrieve the ball for her.

 She shoots. And shoots. And shoots.

 And the ball hits the rim. Rolls. Drops.

 Right through the basket.


 “I LOVE basketball!”

 Life can be scary.

 And hard.

 And sometimes people yell.

 And sometimes we fail.

 And giving up seems like a plan.

 But sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement, a little recognition, a little applause, a round of high fives.

 Maybe even just a bottle of Gatorade.

 And a lot of practice.

 Shake it off. And get back in the game.

 And be better tomorrow than today.

The little people (by Billy Coffey)

image courtesy of

Talk among the locals at the beach was most likely the same talk among the locals of anywhere nowadays—the oil spill. Particularly the part about how some scientists were predicting it could reach the waters off Virginia in a matter of months.

I was pondering that possibility while on the balcony of my hotel room one early morning, watching the fishing boats chug by on their way out to sea. I pondered the fragility of their livelihood and the courage required to partake in it.

And then I craned my neck and looked to the right and then the left, where hotels towered over small shops that sold everything from swimsuits to shells. And I wondered what would happen if worst possibility became stark reality.

It was the sort of thing affecting the Gulf Coast at that moment, I thought. People out of jobs and patience. Hurting. Scared.


I settled back into my chair and stared out at the orange sun easing over the horizon. Just off the pier, a pod of dolphins broke the surface and disappeared again. They would be victims, too. And the fish they ate, and the crabs we tried to catch and marvel at the day before.

It wasn’t easy back home staring at the horrible underwater live feed of that hole belching black into the water. It was worse there, staring out at such beauty and knowing it could be spoiled soon.

Two Navy F-18s flew overhead on their approach to Oceana Naval Air Station. In the distance, a destroyer crested the hazy horizon on its way back home. The Navy has protected Virginia Beach and nearby Norfolk for generations, but I knew it couldn’t protect them from this. Oil was an enemy that guided missiles couldn’t destroy.

There are few emotions worse than a sense of dread, of knowing a Big Bad looms over the horizon and that there isn’t much at all you can do about it. I’ve had that feeling before. I think we all have. We all live in a world that makes us feel powerless sometimes, leaving us to feel as if we are mere pawns in a game with rules we cannot understand.

Talk around the restaurant we visited for breakfast centered around BP and the government. From the conversations I overheard, it was a draw as to which was hated more and trusted less. Most of the rage that day was pointed in the direction of the CEO of BP, who had remarked the day before that his company deeply cares “for the little people.”

That quote did not go over well with the people sitting around me. Little? They didn’t think so. They thought they were just as important as any CEO.

And as we munched on a traditional beach breakfast of pancakes, sausage, and eggs, I had to agree. The restaurant was crowded. We were surrounded by construction workers, fishermen, police, and military personnel. People who kept that city propped up and moving forward, who spent their off days relaxing on their front porches and taking care of lawns rather than whittling away their time on yachts and golf courses.

I could see the effects of their jobs. The bulging forearms and calloused hands on the builder next to me. The way the cop near the door instinctually sized up whomever walked through the door. They didn’t reign in the boardrooms, those people. And there was a good chance at least one of their utility bills was overdue. From the snippets of conversation I overheard, their social life currently consisted of church-league softball and barbeque cookouts.

These were good people. My people.

Little people.

And you crossed them at your own peril.

That’s what I wished the higher-ups in government and business would understand. That they depended on us a lot more than we depended on them. The fact that they didn’t seem to truly appreciate our value and maybe never had struck me as almost as tragic as the oil that could wash ashore in the coming months.

The crowd began to thin out as the start of the day neared. That was enough talk. It was time to go to work. Yet another lesson I found myself wishing the higher-ups would listen to us more and pander to us less.

All this talk about how to stop the oil. How to fix things. We’ve been promised that some of the greatest minds in the world are working to fix this. Somehow, that doesn’t make me more comfortable.

Know what would? Putting the little people in charge.

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at his blog What I Learned Today and follow him on twitter at @BillyCoffey

The Scroll Marked X (Og Mandino)

(This picture has nothing to do with the content of this post. My friend Annie sent me a new pic of the Boz dog. Just wanted to share.)

“Oh, creator of all things, help me. For this day I go out into the world naked and alone, and without your hand to guide me I will wander far from the path which leads to success and happiness.

I ask not for gold or garments or even opportunities equal to my ability; instead, guide me so that I may acquire ability equal to my opportunities.

You have taught the lion and the eagle how to hunt and prosper with teeth and claw. Teach me how to hunt with words and prosper with love so that I may be a lion among men and an eagle in the market place.

Help me to remain humble through obstacles and failures; yet hide not from mine eyes the prize that will come with victory.

Assign me with tasks to which others have failed; yet guide me to pluck the seeds of success from their failures. Confront me with fears that will temper my spirit; yet endow me with courage to laugh at my misgivings.

Spare me sufficient days to reach my goals; yet help me to live this day as though it be my last.

Guide me in my words so that they may bear fruit, but silence me from gossip that none be maligned.

Discipline me in the habit of trying and trying again; yet show me the way to make use of the law of averages. Favor me with alertness to recognize opportunity; yet endow me with patience which will concentrate my strength.

Bathe me in good habits that the bad ones may drown; yet grant me compassions with weaknesses in others. Suffer me to know that all things shall pass; yet help me to count my blessings of today.

Expose me to hate so it not be a stranger; yet fill my cup with love to turn strangers into friends.

But all these things be only if thy will. I am a small and lonely grape clutching the vine yet thou hast made me different from all others. Verily, there must be a special place for me. Guide me. Help me. Show me the way.

Let me become all you planned for me when my seed was planted and selected by you to sprout in the vineyard of the world.

Humble this humble salesman.

Guide me, God.”

Excerpt from The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

What makes us laugh

When I go to the local bookstore, I browse for books much like I browse for clothes. I know what I like, but I’m always open to something a little out of my comfort zone. Which is why I made an impulse buy. I bought this book:

I wouldn’t say it’s full of profanity, but it’s got its fair share. But that’s not necessarily a deal breaker when I buy a book. I bought the book because the first reaction to the cover–I laughed. Then I read a few pages and laughed some more. And while I don’t agree with many of Denis Leary’s political and social views, I must admit he presents some pretty good examples of the sense of ridiculous entitlement many Americans indulge in.

But here’s where the book falls short for me–the snark (while sometimes needlessly cruel IMO) is funny at first, but after awhile it just sounds like a really grumpy, angry rant against anyone or anything that happens to piss him off. After awhile, it gets tired. Not funny anymore.

This got me wondering about what makes people laugh and why. After I googled it some in-depth search, I found an interesting article in Psychology Today. In part, it says:

“Over the past few years, laughter researchers have come to realize that the element of surprise was fundamental to most jokes…What Clarke realized was that while most jokes are surprising, the reason they are surprising is because everyone has an inborn pattern recognition system. It is the violation of standard patterns we find funny. And this violation is a universal.”

I suppose this is why, in part, Leary’s book ceased being funny for me. After the first several pages, everything he wrote was fairly predictable.

I think what we laugh at say much about our character.

Most of us have seen America’s Funniest Videos. We laugh when people fall off of bikes or fall down, but most of us would not find it funny without the disclaimer at the beginning of the show that “no one was seriously injured in the making of these videos”. Knowing that folks are okay gives us permission to laugh. (Well, that and the fact they sent the videos in in the first place.)

I hate to write a quasi-serious post about humor, but as someone who loves to laugh and loves to make others laugh, it’s disconcerting to me that so much of what we laugh at these days seems to be at the expense of others–often without their knowledge or permission.

The old adage still holds true: Laugh with them, not at them. If a person can laugh at themselves, they’re giving you permission to join in.

And now I will share a joke:

If you want to be a holy man, you have to be committed. When you make a decision you cannot waver in any way. You’d never see Gandhi during a hunger strike sneaking into the kitchen in the middle of the night. “Gandhi, what are you doing down there?” “I, um, I thought I heard a prowler and was going to hit him over the head with this giant bowl of potato salad.” – Jim Carrey

Okay. Your turn. Tell me a joke. Make me laugh.

Don’t worry — I’m easily amused…

Safe passage Captain Phil

image courtesy of

I’ve been a fan of the show Deadliest Catch since it debuted in 2005. I’ve seen just about every episode and I have looked forward to each season with anticipation. But this year I have been watching each week with a sense of trepidation and sadness, knowing that Captain Phill Harris of the Cornelia Marie would not survive the season. It’s been a difficult season to watch. I realize it’s just a tv show, but these are real people with really hard lives. They drink. They smoke. They cuss. They yell and scream at each other. But I cheer them on every year, because they’re real. And maybe their brokenness is what I identify with so much.

My favorite captain has always been Captain Phil Harris. Of all the crab boat captains, he seemed to have the biggest heart and the smallest ego. It seems as if he took care of everyone else except himself, and I think I identify with him most of all. His hard living caught up to him this season. He passed away after suffering a stroke in his quarters aboard the Cornelia Marie. As sad as it was to watch, it seems almost fitting that the boat he gave so much of his life to would be the place his life ended. (He didn’t actually die on the boat, but the stroke ultimately resulted in his death.) I don’t have any deep, spiritual truths about the passing of Captain Phil. I suppose I could draw some analogies if I wanted to. But I don’t want to. Just wanted to say, Goodbye, Captain Phil. You will be missed.

Happy Father’s Day

The Living Years by Mike & the Mechanics
Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door
I know that I’m a prisoner
To all my Father held so dear
I know that I’m a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years
Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got
You say you just don’t see it
He says it’s perfect sense
You just can’t get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talking in defense
Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye
So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It’s the bitterness that lasts
So Don’t yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different date
And if you don’t give up, and don’t give in
You may just be O.K.
Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye
I wasn’t there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say
I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I’m sure I heard his echo
In my baby’s new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years
Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

Painting blues

Today, if things go as planned, I will finish up a two day painting job. This is day three. If I wanted to be completely unbiased and forthcoming, I could admit that it’s been quite a while since my last painting gig and I’m not as fast a painter as I used to be, and to a certain extent that would be accurate—but mostly not.

No, the main reason this job has taken longer than it should have is cheap home builders. I’ve painted rooms in modestly priced new homes and homes that are not at all modestly priced. It matters not. Without exception, every wall where I’ve painted over the builder paint is the same:

Cheap, watered down and sprayed on.

If you’ve ever painted over builder paint, you may already know what I’m about to tell you. The walls will soak up the paint more in some places than in others because the walls beneath are unevenly coated.
When we had our current home built, I requested a satin finish. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t like flat paint—you can’t clean it. But more importantly, you can’t spray on a good quality satin finish paint – it clogs up the sprayer. It has to be applied with a roller and a brush. They didn’t want to oblige my request, but I pointed out to them that if they were going to call themselves custom home builders, then the home should be built to the buyer’s specifications. I had them there. Even though I’ve painted over most of their paint, I’m still glad we paid the extra money to have them paint the house the way it should be painted.

The superintendant in charge of the construction of our house confided in me after the painting was completed that the builder would no longer agree to a painting upgrade as I requested for other customers. It was too labor intensive and took too much time.

I realize most of you could give a rat’s patooty about cheap paint and cheaper contractors. But it’s bigger than that.

There are thousands of painters in my little corner of the world alone who go to work every day doing a job they know is substandard. I don’t blame the workers. They’re just doing what they’re told; what everybody else is doing. I have the luxury of being an independent contractor. My only boss is the person I happen to be working for at the time.

I was raised to believe (and still do believe) that anything worth doing is worth doing well.
Am I ridiculously old fashioned to believe this? That reputation and honor are more important than a job completed quickly, cheaply and for the maximum profit margin?

I suppose I should be happy that I can make money covering up other people’s less than excellent work. I’m grateful for the jobs, but it still makes me a bit disappointed that it wasn’t done right in the first place.


It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.” ~ Steven Wright

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