Friday, May 29, 2009


: harsh or discordant sound : dissonance 2 ; specifically : harshness in the sound of words or phrases

This was the word that came to mind the other day when I sat on a bench in the train station trying to read. Two little girls were invented their own clashing songs based on the electronic sign that tells you when the next train is coming. One kept repeating the minutes left over and over, changing as the sign changed. The other had some riff on the destination. I added a silent sigh to the symphpony.

Then I felt bad. They were just keeping themselves entertained and were not doing any harm. If anything, their train station melodies were very creative. I still wanted to read ( and couldn't because it was too hard to block them out), but as the train came I looked over an smiled at them.

Later that day, I was walking down the street when several emergency vehicles were screaming at the top of their lungs (as if they really had them). One added a horn into the mix because the likely stunned and confused car drivers weren't really getting out of the way.

That's it, I thought. Cacophony.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Just a Few Steps Ahead

In recent months, I've had conversations with fellow church-goers about why it sometimes seems like the meanest people in church sign up for hospitality-related work. In the past, the people serving breakfast are known to snap at you. (Although now there are much kinder faces; perhaps some of them needed to "retire.") Even a guest preacher told a story about how the ushers at his church did not simply seat you, they told you where to sit and did not stand for any protests from people who did not like the seat they were assigned.

So today I was gratified to see an usher who took her post seriously, but in a good way. I was on my way to sit in the balcony, when an usher politely asked me to step she could get to get to the balcony entrance 2 steps ahead of me where she greeted me with a purposeful "Good Morning" and handed me a bulletin.

Weighty Matters: Does being a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord include monitoring weight loss?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ask a Silly Question...

The other day I put some Haagen-Dazs into my shopping basket, thinking that I surely didn't need it, but who cares? It was a small carton, surely it would do no harm. When I got up to the cashier and started to unload the basket, I thought about the ice cream again: Did I really need it?

As I put it on the conveyor belt, I noticed that it was slashed in the back. I needed to get going and since there was no time to go back and get a replacement, my question was answered.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Art of Finding Lost Things

Just yesterday a friend reminded me that you never find what you are looking for when you are looking for it. Case in point: if I lose something, I often don't find it until I start looking for something else that I've misplaced. Now, car/house keys must be found immediately...everything else can wait. If I lose an earring, I may not see it again until I am looking for a headband that I can't find. The headband may turn up as I am trying to find a shirt.

So what do I have to lose to find the remote??!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Some Men Find the Pen to Be as Effective as the Sword

I've been in several discussions about the "why" behind the popularity of Steve Harvey's book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. One person said that it was because he had a good publicist, while others just marveled that the book has taken off as it as.

I try not to hate, but I have to admit that while I am happy for his success, I wondered about the white, leather-bound special edition that they were touting around Mother's Day. Is this really gift for your mom? The mom who has everything...except a man? Or is Mother's Day one of those occasions when you give gifts to women in general? Mind you if I had a book out, I suppose I'd squeeze every single money-making opportunity I could out of it...well, maybe I'd say no to the 3-D, pop-up, comic version that acts as a flotation device.

In any case, I was looking at his high ranking on the bestseller list in the newspaper (sometimes I still read it the old-fashioned way--on paper) and my eye wandered over to my bookshelf where I saw another very popular dating advice book that had a male (co)author: He's Just Not That Into You.

And I thought, maybe that is it! Women go crazy for dating advice from men because they figure that men are the experts on their own kind. Just as kids will pay attention when someone other than their parent tells them the same thing that their parents have said, maybe women don't want advice from other women or their close friends and relatives. Getting counsel from a stranger who is unconnected to you might make it seem more objective...Somehow I don't think that it would work in reverse: men would not go crazy for an advice book about women written by a woman. (Although, you never know: I was got an earful of male dating angst this past weekend as two twenty-something who sat a few feet away from me at an outdoor cafe went over their confusion and sex lives in great detail).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Beyonce's Band of Gold

A fellow Twitter-er (@suzywelch) mentioned this essay that examines Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” through the prism of that old song "Band of Gold." As you can imagine, the writer points out that the Beyonce song expresses some rather crude, archaic sentiments, but there is also an interesting analysis of how the music drives the story of the song. Sometimes we forget that the instrumentation is saying just as much as the lyrics...

Pop’s ring cycle

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We had beautiful weather this past weekend. While out, I saw a man standing about 1 foot away from a car. smoking and talking. When I got closer I could see that he was talking to a young child in a car seat. What I heard was him going over the day's schedule, telling the child what they would be doing and carrying on an ongoing, but audibly one-sided dialogue.

I don't know that standing one foot away to the open window really protected the child from smoke, I admire him for keeping the lines of communication open, even while he had to have a smoke.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Saddened by Violence Against Women

I was saddened to hear more of the story about a young, pregnant woman found dead on Mother's Day in Maryland. They arrested her boyfriend, believed to be the unborn child's father. Both of their families are shocked and grieving. Members of his family say they know him and cannot imagine him doing anything like this.

And last week it was reported that Chris Brown wants the charges against him dismissed on the usual technicality. He has a good defense and they are doing what a good defense does in such cases. I couldn't have imagined it turning out any other way...and yet I shudder to think of the continuing precedent that is set when one can does not have to take responsibility for one's actions. It happens all the time and this is not the first domestic violence case in which it has happened...but that doesn't make it any less disturbing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Live Long and Prosper

I boldly went to see a late showing of Star Trek last Friday, when I knew quite well that I would spend days trying to recover. No one said space travel was easy.

In the future, there will still be wars and conflicts; Iowa will still be filled with cornfields; a boy without a father will still rebel to drown his pain uptight nerds will still be at a loss to understand daredevils and people will still carry flasks with a little somethin' somethin' in them. Isn't it a comfort to know that the more things change, the more they stay the same?

Really though, I like the direction the took with the Star Trek prequel. It was a fantastic movie with a lot of action and a good storyline.

By the end of the movie, though, I had turned to my usual griping about the roles women, specifically women of color get to play. By then, it seemed that Uhura (played by Zoe Saldana) was only there to comfort her love interest. But then I remembered that her intelligence and competence had been established early on. She had been assertive with a superior to get the assignment she wanted and her knowledge had provided key information that the hero used to save the day. And as far as her being there to comfort someone, well back in the day audiences were scandalized when Uhura as played by Nichelle Nichols kissed William Shatner's Captain Kirk--the first kiss between an African American and a Caucasian on a television show of that type.

Her role may not have been perfectly balanced (who's is?) but Uhura did have range. And that is a lot more than many women get in movies that are primarily adventure stories that focus on male characters.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Cold Busted

In these harsh economic times, one cannot be too careful...and this is why I am so annoyed with myself for getting not one, but two speeding tickets along the same stretch of parkway. To go along with this, after the tickets arrived in the mail, I saw this newspaper headline, "Speed cameras bust taxpayers." What they meant was that not only will we be paying for speeding, we'll also be paying more for the costs of personnel to monitor and calibrate the speed cameras.

Really, I need to slow down, it seems. I looked at the dates and could not recall just where I was going. Since I have not raced to put out any fires or been a part of any other emergency operations in the recent past, I can conclude that there was no reason for me to be speeding.

When I talk to a friend about this, she pointed out something that got to my inner conspiracy theorist--it is interesting to see just where they put these cameras...often in places where you'd be expected to speed up a little, not in necessarily wealthy neighborhoods, and not where anyone is in any real danger. That parkway isn't a pedestrian walkway, it curvy so you naturally can't go ridiculously fast and it is not like you are going to roll over into a ditch because there are none.

Since I am slowing down (and it felt like I was crawling along the parkway), I've actually noticed the signs. The speed as I return home is 10 mph higher than the one I must abide by leaving home. Both times I was caught, I was going away from home. Had I been driving that same speed on the way back, there might have been no tickets...*sigh*

Monday, May 04, 2009

It's Clever (and yes, I am saying so myself)

The Other Side of Cinco de Mayo: 5 Ways to Pay Homage to the Defeated French
Hold the mayo...and the mocking

The other day when someone pointed out an error I'd made, I was reminded of the notion that you are supposed to use the sandwich method when dishing out criticism: It is better to point out an error if it is cushioned by two compliments on either side.

This really will not work in all situations, but when my mistake was pointed out, I was left thinking that I would have at least liked an open-faced sandwich.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Art Seems Different When You Get to Meet the Artist

I like art a lot, but I am much more into older and representational art than I am into abstract or modern art. But when the Smithsonian offered a press preview of a new exhibit, I was intrigued enough to go and found that I could relate to the artist's choices.

Jean Shin: Common Threads

Artist Jean Shin Honors Daily Tasks w/ "Everyday Monuments"