Category Archives: Life

The Wheels, I love them

If I’d been born a boy, I would’ve been a total gearhead, and am happiest behind the wheel driving anything, anywhere. I don’t know if it’s the driving or the going that’s most satisfying, but  both at once? Oy, heaven. When I was young I generally always drove a little too fast and imprudently, and got a ticket for that once, Failure to be Reasonable and Prudent, that was the actual charge. The cop informed me that was what they hand out when the offense isn’t quite bad enough for the Reckless Driving jackpot.

The first car I was allowed to drive didn’t exactly set the road on fire, though. My dad’s beloved ’66 Corvair had all the torque of a sewing machine.

So, 14 years old, Saturday afternoon with best friend Nancy, driving by the house where the absolutely most cutest boy in class lived and just happened to be in the yard with his friend, the other most cutest boy in class. We didn’t exist in their world which was pretty liberating actually, permitting us to indulge in dunderhead behavior trying to get their attention without all the risk of actually getting it.
By this time I knew I was ultra talented with the clutch and hardly ever killed the engine when the light turned green. Of course this allowed us to drive ultra fast past his house with Deep Purple on 11 and hair streaming out the open windows looking ultra sexy.  My extra smooth driving skills at their peak,  I missed second gear and hit fourth and we drove by lugging the engine at 15 mph with no hope of going any faster, at which point I dropped it back to first and we bunny hopped by his house, teeny tiny Corvair engine screaming pain and humiliation along with Nancy.

It’s probably a good thing Dad garaged the fragile little Corvair because I would’ve killed it, but that meant I inherited the vast 1970 Ford Sturdywagon with its very own snotty Republican bumper sticker. However, it also had an 8-track, which made up for some; the fact you could pack 15 people and a pony keg in it made up for the rest. And it taught me an incredibly valuable life lesson I’ve used a lot: knowing your ground clearance is a good thing.

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Coffee Ramble

Caffeine junkies, break room drinkers, morning gulpers or aficionados we like our coffee. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was fifteen and worked at an A&W root beer joint where I added enough cream to my first cup of coffee that I invented the latte. Since then I’ve run the gamut, or maybe gauntlet, of everything that coffee has to offer—black coffee, coffee with cream, with cream and sugar, with cream and various artificial sweeteners banned because they cause cancer in California, twelve to thirteen cups per day of vending machine urine with artificial cream wannabe, homemade battery acid from a French press, homemade espresso battery acid from one of those little aluminum one-cuppers, new and improved battery acid using a cheap counter top espresso machine and a tiny stick-your-pinky out espresso cup, the same battery acid in a grown ups cup with steamed milk reminiscent of A&W latte, espresso cum latte cum cappuccino from a counter top DeLonghi machine that actually produced a layer of crema and tasted enough like true espresso that in two years my love affair fatally injured the lining of my stomach and returned me to regular coffee with cream ala A&W but on speed dial via a Bunn coffee maker clocked at zero to twelve cups in sixty seconds. Then I retired. Visited Louisiana. Discovered café au lait from Café DuMonde — coffee with chicory served with hot milk. Bought a Kuerig one cup coffee maker, put the other machines in the rummage sale, now start the morning with a single always exactly the same strength and quality cup of–Emeril’s Big Easy Intense, Coffee People’s Doughnut Shop Coffee, or Newman’s Own Extra Bold. The next and final two cups of coffee later in the day are hand made café au laits built from a can of Café DuMonde Coffee with Chicory. Then I switch to Scotch.
Wait, I forgot about the John Wayne battery acid, cowboy coffee brewed in one of those classic blue enameled pots sans basket burned black on the outside and grossly funky on the inside. Fill with water, pour coffee in and boil directly on the hot coals of a campfire. Lastly add a raw egg when the coffee is ready to cut some of the acidity, plus as the egg sinks it pulls a lot of the suspended grounds to the bottom of the pot. Never ever wash that pot and the coffee gets smoother and more palatable as the years pile on. Then I switch to Scotch.

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Valentine’s Day Trivia

* 73% of people who buy flowers for Valentine’s Day are men, while only 27 percent are women.

* 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second-most popular greeting-card-giving occasion next to Christmas.

* About 3% of pet owners will give Valentine’s Day gifts to their pets.

* There are 119 single men (i.e., never married, widowed or divorced) who are in their 20s for every 100 single women of the same ages.

* There are 34 single men (i.e., never married, widowed or divorced) age 65 or older for every 100 single women of the same ages.

* Alexander Graham Bell applied for his patent on the telephone, an "Improvement in Telegraphy", on Valentine’s Day, 1876.

* 2.2 million marriages take place in the United States annually. That breaks down to more than 6,000 a day.

* California produces 60 percent of American roses, but the vast number sold on Valentine’s Day in the United States are imported, mostly from South America. Approximately 110 million roses, the majority red, will be sold and delivered within a three-day time period.

* While 75% of chocolate purchases are made by women all year long, during the days and minutes before Valentine’s Day, 75% of the chocolate purchases are made by men. Over $1billion of chocolate is purchased for Valentine’s Day.

* Cupid, another symbol of Valentines Day, became associated with it because he was the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty. Cupid often appears on Valentine cards holding a bow and arrows because he is believed to use magical arrows to inspire feelings of love.

* February 14th was formerly thought to be the first day of bird’s mating for the season. This sparked the custom of sending valentines to each other.

* In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.

From Ruth White’s blog

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How much humiliation are you prepared to take?

I’m not a fan of TV in general. These last ten years we didn’t have cable, nor did we have an antenna, so the only use of the TV we had was to watch movies. When we switched telephone provider, however, they were offering a package that included cable so we decided to give it a try.

I’ve gotten out of the habit of sitting in front of the tube to watch a program, although I’ve tried a sample and I must say I’m pretty appalled that in TV humiliation is the new black. From American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, who put themselves on the line only to be told, in compassionless words, that they stink, to Oprah and Oprah-like reveal-all, to improvement shows such as W Network’s Save us from our House and Trial by Jury, there is a slurry of shows that has humiliation as its central theme.

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Root canal and music

About ten years ago, every time I’d go to the dentist, I’d end up fainting or close to it. The fear and stress built over the years and it came to a point where I just couldn’t stand it: even the thought of going made me break into sweat. The problem was, I needed a lot of dental work, and still do, probably due to the fact that I could not drink milk when I was a baby.

Then I discovered a book that pretty much changed my dental life: The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit.

The Mozart Effect was one of the first widely read books about Music Therapy, a form of “treatment” with great claims: using music can cure cancers or help kids to learn better, among other things. While I can’t attest to any of those claims, the American Music Therapy Association was founded in 1998, schools have grown across the States and Europe (where it originally started) to form music therapists, and music therapy is used in nursing homes, schools, hospitals, even with psychiatric patients.

What changed my life are the very short few paragraphs in The Mozart Effect about using music to counteract pain, especially pain from a surgical operation or dental work.

Part of the stress in a procedure is the noise. Think of nails screeching on a blackboard. The sound of the drill (the big knubbly one, that makes your entire body shake, or the high-pitched one, that brings a scent of burnt enamel with it) in your head. The surgeon’s words, the suction sounds, the… (shudder). You get my drift.

The principle of music therapy as applied to surgical and dental procedures is to counteract this noise by filling your head with music instead of harmful noises. The theory is that your head is a resonance box and that the bones of your head also conduct noise, especially the bones in your ears. Music competes with other noises and acts as a form of white noise.

There are a couple of requirements in listening to music for that purpose: the music should be without words or with unrecognizable words, and preferably classical or special music therapy music (think spa music). The first is because words hold emotional connotations and what you want to do in part is remove that emotional field. A specific song might evoke sadness, wistfulness, or specific memories which would interfere with the white noise effect or intensify your stress. The second is because you need music that has a lot of vibrato, such as cords, that will resonate in the bones of your head. I found Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Gregorian Chant, or meditation music ideal for that.

Does it work? You bet. Everyone who’s used it that I know now swears by it. My dentist is always happy when I plug myself in. The latest specialist I went to for a root canal (upper front tooth) was quite amenable to me listening to my own music. It’s become more and more acceptable, and last year I used my music during a surgical procedure with the surgeon’s encouragement.

There were several immediate benefits for me when I began to use music at the dentist. First, I can start listening to my music as soon as I leave the house, and find a zone of calm that helps with the overall stress. Second, I feel less during the procedure, in part because I can focus on something else but also because I do hear less of the noise. And third, the pain after everything thaws out is minimal. Gone are the days where I needed drugs for several days to counteract the pain. Because I’m much more relaxed, I can absorb whatever pain a lot more easily. Overall, that means a much shorter recovery and healing time.

And you know what? It sure beats the Muzak-type drivel I would have to listen to in the dentist’s chair. So in this case, it’s no pain, and all gain. I’ll take that any day, even if it’s all in my head (well, duh).

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