Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Beware List, Part 3 

The Beware List is a collection of red flags that indicates that a person's evil or emotionally messed up; it's intended to help you avoid or counteract the mistreatment that they'll almost certainly direct at you eventually... folks like these are relentless about doing dirt to everyone within reach, either intentionally or because they just don't know any better. It's extremely rare for someone who's capable of spitting in your face (metaphorically speaking) to fail to give plenty of warning signs before doing so; if you're paying attention, and using your brain rather than reacting blindly the way they want you to, you can side-step most of it... once you know what to look for, you'll find that they're amazingly predictable. I'm sticking with the numbering of the actual list rather than starting at #1 with every batch I put up; if you want to see the earlier entries, see my posts of 5-31-06 and 7-6-06.

Beware of anyone who:

21) Can’t handle, or is upset or offended by, things that no normal person has problems with.

We learn by observation what's ok and what's not, what's a big deal and what's not, and how to cope with the standard annoyances of life; anybody who HASN'T absorbed that stuff is emotionally backwards and socially clueless, and thus has no idea how to be a friend, how to treat people, or how to judge behavior. They view relationships as a small child does; they expect to be totally accommodated although they make no effort or sacrifice in return, and will be furious when it doesn't happen that way. Sadly, they don't realize how unreasonable and off-puttingly odd they are, and attribute their constantly being upset/offended, and their lack of friends, to how terrible everyone ELSE is... and feel no compunction about treating "terrible" people badly, including YOU when you inevitably displease them. It's also possible that they're FAKING their over-emotionalism in order to manipulate everyone into groveling constantly to them; this is a sure sign of sociopathy, not to mention contempt for people who're supposed to be friends (what else can you call it when they assume none of them are intelligent enough to ever realize that they regularly get "upset" over NOTHING?).

22) Has no grasp as to what topics are too boring or gross to talk about repeatedly, or at ALL.

Most of us enjoy the occasional crude joke, and have the occasional overflowing toilet or fungus-encrusted leftovers that we describe to our friends; only little kids, and, again, emotionally backwards and socially clueless types, want to go on and on and ON about these sorts of things, or lack discernment about, for example, who wants to hear the in-depth details of their every bowel movement (NO ONE), or when it's ok to talk about that kind of stuff in a group (NEVER). Being boring is a little more subtle, but once you're past early childhood you're expected to be able to tell whether people are genuinely interested in what you're saying or are just being polite, and, more importantly, to CARE; someone who drones away even when you look like you want to throw yourself under a bus rather than listen to them is a bad deal no matter how nice they seem at other times.

23) Suffers from a suspicious #, degree, intricacy and soap-opera-ness of misfortunes, which they regale you with at every opportunity.

I'll be blunt; anybody like this is a liar, a manipulator, and either a bad person who enjoys fooling others or a serious depressive who's learned that the only way they can get attention is to pretend that awful things are happening to them. Yes, sometimes regular folks have a run of bad luck, but they know instinctively to NOT harp on the subject for too long (because listeners can only stand so much before they get sick of it, and of the complainer), and when they do discuss it there's no element of melodrama; if you get the feeling that the allegedly beleaguered one is trying to get you emotionally worked up, all the alarms should go off.

24) Tells you stories of elaborate, Machiavellian ways that their spouse or partner has supposedly mistreated them (generally including cutting off their access to $).

There's no confusing these folks with those who are actually being abused, since the latter are generally secretive, ashamed and in denial, while the former are clearly trying to grab and hold the attention of anyone who'll listen. The financial aspects of the tales can verge on the diabolical; I've been told that a purported victim's husband "took" all her $ and put it in accounts under just his name, had secret deals with every financial institution in the city so that if she tried to open any kind of account, or even rent a safe deposit box, he'd be instantly alerted and the $ given to him, AND was doing regular searches of every nook and cranny of the house looking for hidden lucre... and I was told that by several different women who didn't know each other-did they all read the same book or something? I think the reason for this specific line of BS is to make it impossible for anybody to come up with a workable plan for them to leave their "abuser"; if they have no $ and no way to ever collect any, they have to stay with the man and keep being "abused"... which allows them to whine about their hard lives forever.

25) Claims to have been SO nice to, and done SO many favors for, a lengthy list of people who did nothing for them in return.

First of all; what kind of IDIOT would make a lifelong habit of doing all that stuff for people who aren't paying them back in kind? More to the point; why would so many people behave that way to someone who's allegedly so kind and generous? The REAL story is either that the "victim" is trying to buy their way into people's lives by doing unwanted "favors" for them, or that they're offering "favors" to everyone they encounter and the only ones who accept are heartless takers with no thought of reciprocity, or that they've got a convenient memory that only allows them to recall what THEY did, and not what others have done for them. Whichever is the reason, these folks are incapable of the balanced give and take of friendship, and they're so emotionally wedded to the idea of being unappreciated that no matter how good you are to them they'll find some way to see you as a bad person... and will treat you accordingly.

26) Gives you a list of ex-friends that they say were habitually cruel or abusive to them.

As a rule, only really weak and screwed-up people keep getting protractedly involved with nasty types; normal, healthy people DUMP so-called friends after the FIRST incident of malicious behavior, and LEARN from those experiences how to avoid unpleasant folks in the future... AND, don't feel the need to make a Federal case of past bad relationships. Failure to dump or learn isn't always the issue, though; the supposed misdeeds of their ex-friends are often exaggerated or just plain invented, as a ploy to gain sympathy or induce kind-hearted listeners to try to make it up to them... or, worst of all, to trick listeners into believing that the ex-friends are bad people, when the TRUTH inevitably is that the putative victims treated the ex-friends like garbage, NOT the other way around.

27) Says they’ve NEVER been in any sort of relationship with a mean, abusive or psychotic person.

Only those who are themselves rotten are so adept at avoiding getting sucked in by ugly types; every DECENT person has been burned a few times by those who seemed sweet at 1st and then sh*t on them without remorse, but baddies are so busy trying to mistreat others that it's very hard to mistreat THEM.

28) Is always unhappy, and always needs to be cheered up and encouraged, such that there are few (or no) fun times in your interactions.

No matter how much they claim to love you, a person whose very nature is joyless (as opposed to somebody dealing with limited-duration grief due to a major loss) isn't capable of friendship or true romantic involvement; you can't rescue them, fix them, heal them, or cure them... and if you try, you'll be encouraging them to continue being sad sacks to keep getting attention. The best you can do for them is hand them a list of psychiatrists and withdraw until they've handled their depression issues; it's the only sort of help a non-professional is qualified to give them.

29) Is weak, seems to really admire you, and praises you and your strengths alot.

The flip side of all that idolization is resentment; it seems counter-intuitive, but so are many other aspects of how weak, insecure people behave... they have a love/hate relationship with the strong, and hate usually wins out, no matter how well the strong have treated them. Excessive praise and admiration coming from somebody who isn't trying to brown-nose you at work or get into your pants is always a red flag, because only manipulative or messed-up people feel the need to try to sweet-talk their supposed friends; when it's your strength that's a big part of what's being lauded, and a weak person is doing the lauding, you can be fairly sure you've got a future enemy in the making.

30) Demonizes an individual or group (that they know personally), and makes pointed, repeated, and dramatically negative references to them, particularly if the target(s) doesn't seem to have actually done anything bad (former romantic partners are a different matter-most of us get nutso over THEM).

Only sociopathic, sick, or evil types are capable of that sort of intense, obsessive hatred. Normal folks don't even act that way about people who did them demonstrable harm (such as taking credit for their work at the office); they may fume for a while, but then they let it go... they won't still be making a constant issue about it months later, and probably not even weeks later. Imagine, then, how warped a person has to be to get like a broken record over a trivial incident, especially one that doesn't involve wrongdoing, such as when somebody disagreed with them or wouldn't do things their way; if you encounter someone who keeps squawking about stuff like that, especially stuff that happened weeks or months ago... RUN!!

I hope this latest installment of the Beware List has given you some food for thought; more importantly, I hope it's given you a better chance at ducking some potential problems... forewarned is forearmed.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Food, glorious food (and a laptop update) 

I mentioned in my post of 8-15-06 that my laptop had to go in for repairs, leaving me to try to handle all my online activities with older, inadequate machines. The good news is that I got the laptop back early Thursday afternoon, several days sooner than expected; the bad news is that, for no reason we can determine, the repair geeks re-formatted my frigging hard drive, which means that all my software has to be re-installed, all my settings and preferences re-done, and everything made to play nice together. The REALLY bad news is that the moron I'm married to had insisted that we didn't need to back up the hundreds of animated gifs and other image files I'd had on there, as he was SURE they'd just be replacing something on the motherboard and wouldn't need to touch that stuff; if I hadn't been so freaked out about his repeated failure to remove all the private and sensitive info from the laptop before taking it in, it would've occurred to me that it was CRAZY to not back my files up, as they could spill coffee into the machine and wreck it even if they were just replacing a broken screw, and that in general it's a bad idea to trust his judgment... but he's the expert, and I DID trust him. Now mind you, not having my files backed up didn't HAVE to be catastrophic, as they ask you to sign a release saying that there's nothing on the machine of value that isn't backed up before doing any repair during which they might re-format; at that juncture, my husband SHOULD have realized that they MIGHT re-format despite his belief otherwise, and either brought the machine home and backed it up, or called me and asked me what I wanted him to do, or even paid the $100 to have THEM back it up... ANYTHING but what he DID do, which was to be so sure that the desktop wouldn't be touched that he SIGNED the release!! Needless to say, when we got the laptop back ALL MY FILES WERE GONE.

If there were such a thing as a scream that could crack the planet in 2, the one I uttered upon learning this would have been it.

After I ran out of imprecations to heap upon him, he told me that he MIGHT be able to recover the files, IF the drive hadn't been replaced (it was a warranty-covered repair, so we didn't know at that point what they'd done), IF it hadn't been wiped, IF the planets were aligned properly, etc; much to my relief, a call to the repair place revealed that they'd "just" re-formatted the drive, so we had a shot at getting the files back. We had to pay $100 for a hard drive recovery thing, which spent several hours doing whatever it does to the laptop while I waited with my heart in my throat; the good news is that it seems to have recovered all the files, but the bad news is that it recovered about 5 THOUSAND files, 10x what I had on there, and none of them have names or dates, which means that we have to sort through all of them to find my personal stuff (the rest is mostly images from the cache)... or, rather, HE needs to sort through them, since this is 100% HIS fault-he'll have many hours of hard work during which to repent of his stupidity.

I've had my laptop back for 2.5 days now, and I'm STILL waiting for everything to be reinstalled and working so I can use it, in addition to waiting to get my files; we're having a pretty tense weekend.

The food news, luckily, is all good:

Quiznos has introduced a BRISKET sub, and it's soooooooooo good; it'll probably only be around for a little while, so try it while you can (if you've never had brisket, it's the meat next to the ribs, and tastes similar). To see where your nearest Quiznos is, and check out their menu, go here


I'm sure their different locations vary wildly as to what odds and ends they sell along with the sandwiches and salads, but in my area Quiznos is the only place you can still find the ultra-yummy Doritos Black Pepper Jack chips


AND they have single-serving sized carrot cakes that are to die for... if you've been getting your subs at that OTHER place, try Quiznos and see how much better they are.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed my husband in the kitchen wolfing down something I couldn't quite see; when I asked him what it was, he said "It's an ice cream sandwich-want one?". I hadn't had anything like that in ages, so I said yes, and was pleased to discover that it tasted better than I remembered; the chocolate part is usually a little bitter, and the ice cream is usually ice MILK or grainy from too much sugar, but this kind had excellent chocolate flavor on the outside and amazingly smooth, creamy, velvety ice cream on the inside. I reported these things to my husband, and he agreed, adding, "This is the 1st time I saw this brand-it's called Skinny Cow." "Waaaaaaaaaaait a minute!!" I yelped, "this is a DIET ice cream sandwich?!!" I'd never had any sort of reduced-fat ice cream that wasn't GROSS, and would've assumed that any that was decent, much less GREAT, existed only in the minds of desperate dieters, but here it is:


97% fat free and just 140 calories... and so good that my husband, who doesn't even like sweets, will suck down an entire package in a couple of hours. But wait, it gets BETTER; he brought home their "Vanilla & Strawberry Sorbet Swirl" ice cream bars


which are 99% fat free and only 110 calories... and totally wonderful. You don't need to be counting calories to try these, though, trust me; the only downside to them is that they melt a little faster than regular ice cream... but once you start eating one you won't want to put it down anyways.

And finally, some food-related marital humor:

My husband came up with a hilarious imitation of me consuming a baked potato: He started by miming me glopping all the toppings on (butter, sour cream, bacon bits and blue cheese crumbles), and then pretended to be me eating; "Chomp-chomp-chomp, yum-yum-yum, glop-glop-glop, chomp-chomp-chomp, yum-yum-yum, chomp.... ew, what's that, a piece of POTATO? Spit-spit-spit!! Ew, ew!! Glop-glop-glop, chomp-chomp-chomp, yum-yum-yum!!" When I'd finished howling with laughter, I protested the idea that I didn't eat any potato, and he retorted, "I could replace your baked potato with a PLASTIC potato and you'd never even NOTICE." lol

I sometimes wonder if people are puzzled by the wildly varying views of my husband that are given by the stories I post about him; actually, I bet you could get a pretty clear idea of who's married or in a long-term relationship (or once was) by seeing who's NOT puzzled by how all these stories can be about the same relationship... kind of like how my husband used to be puzzled as to the popularity of "Mad About You" because he thought it didn't make any sense, and then once we got married it made TOTAL sense to him. Anyways, while I was typing this up he made a bunch of progress with my computer issues, so... maybe he won't have to sleep in the shed after all. ;-)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Why do men like bitches? 

1st, the news:

It's a good thing someone was kind enough to help me resolve my sidebar issue (see my previous post), because Blogger actually ADMITTED in response to the request for help I sent SIX DAYS ago that they're not bothering with non-beta issues right now:

"This is an automated update from Blogger Support. We are currently focusing all of our efforts on Blogger in beta, and are unable to provide personal responses to other issues."

Well, at least they're honest; I feel bad for folks with NON-beta catastrophic issues, though. I'm not sure what WEBRING'S excuse is for THEIR delay in responding to my support request, especially since it's clear from their forum that other people are reporting the same problem; I'm getting kinda tired of having that wide banner sticking out like a sore thumb in my sidebar.

If you dropped by here in the past day or so, and were using certain versions of Firefox, you might have wondered what I meant when I said my sidebar was fixed, because you saw pieces of it all over the place; this occurred because I'd gotten lazy and hadn't tested how a cool new sidebar doodad


worked in different browsers. Sadly, having no way to fix it, I had to take it out before I even got to post about putting it IN; I'm just glad I brought up Firefox (which I rarely use) so soon after installing the doodad, or some of you would've been seeing the Cubist version of my blog for a long time.

Is it possible for a sidebar to be CURSED?

There's a fascinating article in the July 2006 issue of Cosmo (yes, I'm still WAY behind in my reading) called "Why Men Can't Resist a Bitch" which provided me with several revelations. Let's dive right in:

"'Guys secretly admire women who are willing to throw out the rule book that says you have to cave to their every need to keep them happy,' says Argov. 'They want a woman who doesn't assume a subservient spot in the relationship-this instantly intrigues them.'"

I'd guess that this works because the unexpected is always noteworthy, because someone who gives in all the time is sort of pitiful and a person who doesn't is NOT, and because the woman who worked hardest to fulfill a man's needs is the least sexy woman he knows (his mother), and the less a woman reminds him of her the more excited he can be by her.

"Bitchy girls ooze the kind of bravado that says, 'I'm so out of your league.' 'Nothing is more attractive to a guy than a woman who has dignity and pride in who she is and what she wants,' explains Argov."

Although we're put off by someone who's arrogant or a braggart, we're generally directly influenced in our opinion of a person by how that person sees themselves; if a woman thinks she's great, then, a man will probably factor that into his impression of her. Furthermore, since most men have been bummed out in the past by women with low self esteem who demanded constant attention and compliments, I can see how a woman who thinks she's all that might seem like a good deal. If you're wondering why the lack of niceness implicit in the bitchy attitude doesn't cancel that out, keep in mind that most men are not only not attracted to niceness, but are bored by it; worse, they don't even value it much... have you ever heard a man talking about how NICE the people he cares about are?

"Because of that aloof brand of confidence, she isn't going to spend her precious time cheerfully doting on him. In fact, she may just throw a little attitude his way. Bingo: He instantly wants to inch closer to her. 'Always wanting what we can't have is part of human nature, and for single guys, it's even more magnified,' says New York clinical psychologist Belisa Vranich, PsyD. 'Having a woman who is difficult makes her seem like more of a conquest and, therefore, more of a prize.'"

"The mental challenge of winning over a bitch is also incredibly appealing because men are competitive by nature, explains Argov. 'Guys don't want a weak woman who is too submissive or a woman who wants a boyfriend because she doesn't feel complete without one,' she says."

There are countless movies that show men chasing women who don't seem interested, which always confused me as a kid because it doesn't seem logical to keep pursuing someone once they've blown you off; it STILL doesn't seem logical to me, but this is one of those areas where I've learned to just accept that maleness includes certain attitudes that make as little sense to me as the female love for shoe shopping makes to men.

"'Don't make yourself available all the time... Leave him wanting more,' says Argov. 'Men equate longing with love. Longing is good.'"

I knew that wanting more led to trying to GET more, but that this feels like LOVE to men is a new one; this is a powerful tool, if true.

"The bitch might come across as abrasive in the workplace or at an airport counter, but to her guy's ears, it's the kind of talking that makes sense. She's no squawking shrew who goes off on him (which men can't stand, by the way), but she doesn't tiptoe around the issues, which guys like because they know what they're getting.

'Sometimes it's easier for a man to deal with her than with a woman who waffles or appears to be too emotional because the emotionally sensitive type of woman confuses him,' says Argov. 'The bitch knows what she likes and has an easier time expressing it. As a result, she usually gets what she wants.'"

Men see the way they communicate with each other as "right," and the female way of communicating as "wrong" (or at the very least unpleasant and undesirable), so it makes sense that they're happier when women communicate with them in the way they're used to and most comfortable with.

"Additionally, her man is able to find out exactly where he stands in the relationship. 'Let's face it, some guys need the subtlety of a brick to the head,' says communications expert Lorna McLaren, who teaches assertiveness skills to women in several countries. 'If they can avoid the dreaded guesswork of what their women want and avoid the ultimate blame for getting it wrong in the end, huge amounts of pressure are gone right there.'

Mike, 30, explains the unique allure of an unapologetically direct chick. 'There are fewer games and emotional hoops to jump through with bitchy girls. This makes for an easier relationship because all of your mental energy isn't spent decoding what your woman really wants or thinking of the next conversation to carry.'"

THAT was what stopped me in my tracks when I 1st read the article; we normally see a mean person of either gender as being MORE difficult to deal with in every sort of relationship, so the idea that bitchiness makes a woman EASIER for a man to be romantically involved with was mind-blowing.

But wait a minute; 1st the bitch was more attractive because she was more of a challenge, and now she's more attractive because she's LESS of a challenge? HUH?!! All I can figure is that the challenge of "getting" a woman is an enjoyable one, and the challenge of figuring out what a woman wants, something most men are awful at, is UNenjoyable and therefore UNdesirable... or, maybe it's just that once the prize is won, the man doesn't want to have to struggle anymore.

"And when you do pipe up, avoid pulling a damsel-in-distress act. 'Be succinct and speak in a bottom-line way without whining or letting your voice quiver,' says Argov. 'When a man hears you becoming emotional, he assumes has the upper hand.'"

Woe betide any man who thought he had the upper hand with ME because I showed emotion of any type or degree, lol, but in general I think this is a good one; men see tearful types as weak and inferior, and that doesn't inspire their respect, much less their romantic feelings.

"'It's like a reverse magnet: The person who is least dependent on the outcome of the relationship will automatically draw the other person in.'"

What a contrary species we are!! Why must our interest in a person be INcreased if they're less attached to us than we are to them?

"The funny thing about men is that while they live in perpetual fear of being trapped, they really thrive with women who can set boundaries and who push back when they try to cross the line. 'If a man doesn't have boundaries, he begins to feel a sense of aimlessness in the relationship,' explains Patricia Farrell, PhD, author of 'How to Be Your Own Therapist.'

Keeping him in line also appeals to his pragmatic side. 'It's easier for a guy to reason, She would kill me if she found out I went to a strip club, rather than, This is wrong, and it would cause me guilt,' says Vranich. 'Men may not always admit it, but they like having rules. As long as she isn't acting like his mother, it's more appealing for a guy to know he's with a woman who just won't put up with bad behavior.'"

The so-called experts have been telling women to be MORE tolerant of small-time bad behaviors from men for years now, to stop making a fuss if they don't show up on time and so forth, to just accept these things and not try to change the men... that's been truly harmful advice if the above is true.

I've got no way to judge how many of these things apply to the majority of men, but it's the simple truth that an alarming # of guys DO seem to be willing, even eager, to be romantically involved with bitches, so SOME of this stuff's gotta be right; I'm grateful to Cosmo for explaining an aspect of male psychology that'd eluded me for years.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Good news and epiphanies 

If you've been here in the past few days, you've probably already noticed what the good news is; the sidebar's fixed (mostly)!! :-)

When Blogger rolled out their new system, my sidebar dropped to the bottom of the page; if you saw it like that, sorry for having it look so bad and be a pain to get to everything. I hadn't changed ANYTHING on my blog that day, so I knew that nothing I'D done had caused it; the downside of that was that it gave me no clue as to what to do to fix it. Luckily for me, a tech god on a forum for Blogger issues found the problem; my Webring code is currently not playing nice with Blogger (if you're one of the other folks having sidebar issues, by all means try removing the code for any webrings you've got from your template and see if that helps).

The blog of the lovely person who helped me is here


and if you're interested in tech stuff, especially the new Blogger changes, go pay them a visit-tell 'em Omni sent you. :-)

My new hero used something I'd never heard of to determine the culprit in my sidebar train wreck; "Firefox DOM inspector"... which it turns out that my husband HAS and never thought to use to help me, grrrrrrrrrr. I've never seen this marvelous application in action, but apparently it can tell you what each bit of code for a page is doing; in my case, it revealed that the Webring script was opening tables but not closing all of them, and one of them was "trapping" the sidebar. I don't know whether this happened because Webring recently messed something up, and the timing matching the release of Blogger beta is just a big coincidence, or if the alteration to Blogger made it vulnerable to a pre-existing Webring issue; the unpleasant memory of how the last big change Blogger made allowed several of the scripts in my sidebar to ignore the right-justify command in some browser/operating system combos (see my post of 7-12-05) even makes me wonder if it's possible that Blogger is MAKING the Webring script malfunction... it doesn't really matter, though, as Webring's code HAS to be able to work on Blogger, so they're the ones who're gonna be stuck trying to fix things.

Until their code is corrected, I'll have their big banner messing up my layout a little from where I stuck it at the end of the sidebar (all hell would break loose if I just left the code out of my template), but I've given them a full report, so hopefully that last issue will be handled soon; in the meantime, at least my blog looks almost normal again.

As scary as it was to see my layout fall apart, it pales beside what all too many other bloggers have endured because of Blogger beta; while desperately seeking a solution to my own problem, I encountered a slew of people whose blogs have vanished, or frozen, or locked them out, or rejected their customizations, or lost all their comments. If you're thinking about migrating your blog to beta in the near future, DON'T; *I* won't be changing over until they hold a gun to my head, believe me.

Epiphany #1 came from reading a ridiculous post about how our leaders need to essentially act like saints rather than like human beings with power (I'm not saying that it's ridiculous to WISH we could have that, but that it's ridiculous to seriously suggest that it's possible in the real world). The thought that came into my head was, "I wouldn't WANT leaders who appeared to be acting like saints, because that'd mean that they were up to such huge wrongdoings that even in their arrogance they felt the need to cover up very thoroughly, and, worse, that they had the ABILITY to totally hide their evil deeds, which'd make them more terrifying than any totalitarian lunatic ever created"; this made me stop and think, because it was a new idea for me. Then it hit me; this is another part of why most people instinctively dislike and distrust the virtuous, and disdain to accept them as friends or romantic partners when common sense would indicate that they're the folks they SHOULD be seeking out and valuing above all others... because we subconsciously suspect that they're plotting mischief (or worse) beneath a false veneer of goodness, that they're the worst kind of baddies and are trying, not just to do us an ill turn, but to TRICK us, which we hate more than almost anything. Like with so many other counter-intuitive aspects of human nature, there's a reason behind this warped thinking; sociopaths, con artists and other evil types will often pretend to be paragons of virtue in order to deceive people long enough to do them harm, and by shunning those who seem "too virtuous" we avoid that... but at what cost, both to the truly virtuous and to the quality of people we accept into our lives?

Epiphany #2 came courtesy of my friend Jax, whose insightful blog is here


In her post called "Thoughts on future and past life friends"


this jumped out at me:

"Because time does not exist, looking into the future is no different than looking into the past, because it's all happening at the same instant of now. Therefore, those we have strong connections with aren't past life friends, but future life friends. Maybe that connection is telling us that they will be with us in the future!"

Time is one of my heaviest issues: quantum physics shows us that time does NOT exist like we think it does, and some theoretical physicists believe it doesn't exist at all... neurobiologists have discovered that much of our perception of time is created for us by our brains (see my post of 6-4-06), contrary to what the laws of physics say is going on... the existence of precognition proves that the future already exists, to some degree and in some form; I've posted about all these things, but I'd never made the leap that Jax did, that we could be "connected" to people (and presumably also to objects, energies, etc) in the FUTURE as well as in the past and present.

News flash!! This afternoon, it occurred to me out of the blue that, although I've probably watched 1000 hours of metal videos on VH1 Classic since I discovered it 7 months ago, I've never seen them show anything by Lizzy Borden; I wondered briefly why that would be, since, although it's a very minor band, MTV DID show them a handful of times on the Headbangers Ball and thus has them in the vault (they own VH1), but gave no thought to why that'd popped into my head. I'm watching Metal Mania as I type this, and GUESS WHOSE VIDEO JUST CAME ON? Coincidence? Not a chance.

Back to the post: I think it's very possible that time DOESN'T exist, that, as I've said before, what we perceive as the march of time might be no more than the equivalent of a cosmic DVD being played... perhaps over and over. The idea that we may be getting something more than precognitive flashes from the future seems obvious now that Jax pointed it out; since the future already exists, how could its energy, which must be ENORMOUS, NOT ever affect us? Does that explain deja vu, maybe? Are our subconscious minds filled with images from the future that haven't made the leap to precognition (aka conscious recognition)? When you think about it, how COULD it be that ALL the energy we receive from the future makes it with perfect efficiency into precognitive flashes? That's another whole new idea, which is AWESOME after the long spiritual dry spell!! So the new question is; what else from the future is lurking in the basements of our brains? Is there any way to access it directly?

Would we REALLY want to?

Well... probably not, as we're not designed to operate with that knowledge, but... still, imagine it!! Why do you suppose we even HAVE the ability to EVER perceive any portion of the future when we can't control it and can rarely USE the information we receive? Evolution doesn't develop sophisticated abilities for us that don't benefit us, so... did we USED to have this ability in usable form, and as we relied more on our ability to think it atrophied, like the appendix? Or, is precognition a side effect of the sort of low-grade telepathic abilities that would have conferred a clear survival advantage to primitive humans? OR, is it just the result of our connection to karma?

Would someone who was deeply psychic be stuck wading through impressions from the past, present and future, having to mostly guess which was which? Scott Adams tells the story in his book "The Dilbert Future" of a self-proclaimed psychic that he tried to prove WASN'T psychic by drawing cards from a tarot deck and having her guess them:

"In all, I picked five cards, and she missed all five. Amazingly, the five cards she described were the five I picked, just out of order. I had been careful to keep them all close to my chest to remove any possibility that she was somehow peeking. And we were alone in my house, so no accomplices were involved. I asked her why she guessed the cards out of order, and she explained that she can't distinguish between the near past and the near future. They are not relevant concepts to her. In her reality, the past and the present exist at the same time."


Could the cards have been marked? Of course. Would someone trying to fake out a skeptic decide to deliberately "guess" the cards in the wrong order and hope he'd buy the "all time is the same" idea? That's pushing it, but it's marginally possible; still, I wish I could meet that particular lady myself and ask her about her worldview.

There's a great deal of new stuff for me to think about, and hopefully some new ideas will come out of it. I'd been fretting a few days ago about how long it'd been since I made any spiritual progress, and clearly I did the right thing by visiting Jax's blog; thanks for the kick-start, Jax!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

When it rains it pours 

I don't even know where to start... I have bursitis in all 4 major joints (which means that the little sacs that cushion said joints periodically become inflamed and start imitating red-hot coals), and over the past few days I've had minor flares in 1 hip, a steady throb in the other (severe enough to give me a limp), and now my left shoulder is so bad that the arm is almost entirely useless... I cringe to contemplate what it'd feel like if I wasn't so full of ibuprofen that I rattle when I move. I'm used to having stuff hurt, so I'm philosophical about it; at least my RIGHT shoulder isn't affected (yet).

Adding to my stress is that I'm in the midst of being a "stand-by prospective juror"; this means that I'm on call for 5 business days, and have to keep phoning the courthouse for instructions until I've either gone in or been told that I'm excused... you can imagine what that's done to my schedule, since I don't know from one day to the next what I'll be doing when. I've gotten through the 1st 3 days without being summoned, and according to their website the only groups that've had to report for selection so far have much lower #'s than MY group (which is near the high end of all the groups involved), so, assuming they go in numerical order (which they may not, as this is the gov't after all), I've got a good shot at not having to drag myself out there, but anything could happen.

The oddest thing about all this is that this stand-by deal is totally new to me and everyone I've spoken to who lives in my area... what did they do, INVENT this new setup for some specific trial that they expect to be problematic juror-wise, or is it maybe a test of a new idea that might or might not eventually be officially adopted?

Here's the real killer from the past few days; my laptop developed a serious hardware issue and will be away getting repaired for most likely about 2 weeks... !! This leaves me with my husband's much older laptop, from which he removed most of the memory ages ago for reasons he naturally can no longer recall (same with the location and condition of said memory), which I can only have a couple of windows open at a time on (a dozen is typical for me normally), and then have to restart constantly. No matter how clever I get about cycling through sites, I've still had to put most of my stuff up on the desktop in my study, so I can no longer eat or watch TV in a contiguous fashion; I have to keep running back and forth between computers, trying to keep track of everything in my head and cursing a blue streak under my breath.

The MOST nightmarish aspect of this train wreck, though, was preparing the laptop to go in for repairs; since locking my stuff under a password wouldn't stop a technician for 5 seconds if he felt like snooping, my husband copied everything onto a backup hard drive and then deleted it all off the laptop. This shouldn't have been problematic, but sadly his common sense doesn't match his technical expertise:

1) A little while after he was supposedly DONE, I realized that I hadn't verified that he'd accomplished what he said he had, so I checked... and there was my stuff!! The frigging idiot had deleted it, yes, but he hadn't cleared the trash folder; anyone past the age of 10 would know to look there, but they wouldn't even have had to because the machine was still accessing it all as if it'd never been deleted.

2) Showing childish petulance at being found in the wrong rather than regret or embarrassment at making such a gross error, he cleared the trash folder; after he went flouncing away, I figured I'd better take a look just to be safe... and my stuff was still there. When forced to return to the task, still showing no sign of shame but adding belligerence to his sulkiness, he figured out that the process had hung up... but hadn't given an error message, grrrrrrrrr.

3) Finally, his THIRD attempt at deletion actually succeeding in eliminating the files from the laptop; when, a few minutes later, I thought to check and see if my scrapbook, which contains all sorts of sensitive info, had been included in the deletion... guess what. More sullen than ever, my husband deleted it.

4) Never one to learn from his mistakes, he'd failed AGAIN to clear the trash folder.

5) The 1st attempt to clear the trash folder failed AGAIN... and, again, *I* had to catch it-he'd literally shut down the machine to try to prevent me from finding more problems, instead of making every effort himself to be sure everything was truly squared away as he SHOULD have been doing. I'm not making this up; he'd rather have strangers have access to our online bank account passwords and such than be "bothered" and made to keep coming back and delete things.


Ok, let's switch gears to some entertaining stuff:

"Teenagers who toilet-papered and damaged a home now face felony vandalism charges because of a mother's extraordinary sleuthing."


I LOVE this story, both because it shows just how much a victim can do to bring criminals to justice and because for once the little sumbitches didn't get away with vandalism under the guise of "boys will be boys"; every hard-core criminal started out with more minor crimes, and I'm all for making the laws apply to EVERYONE, including groups of teenage boys.

If you're a fan of "Blue Collar Comedy Tour," and if you've ever seen this side-splittingly funny combination of 4 redneck comedians you must be, I've got exciting news; they've made a THIRD one!! (The 2nd one is "Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again," and was released in 2004.) It's called "Blue Collar Comedy Tour: One for the Road"


and it's showing now on Comedy Central; if you don't get that channel, rent the DVD-you'll be glad you did.

I've found what's probably the most eye-popping animal figurine ever made; it's a ram... and let's just say that it's VERY OBVIOUS that this is a ram and not a ewe... we're talking "how does the poor thing WALK?" kind of obvious:


Too bad the seller wants $50 for it, or I'd get it, if just for the shock value.

And speaking of shock value; I'd always known that some people have a 3rd nipple (yes, I 1st learned about it from that Bond movie), and I'd always assumed that those thus afflicted either removed it to keep from looking freaky shirtless or ignored it if it didn't bother them... but it turns out that there's a 3rd category of these folks; those who PIERCE the 3rd nipple. I've found a website with pics of this phenomenon; be aware that it features women as well as men, which means there are bare breasts... if you don't want to see that, don't go to this site:


I've also found a gif of a nipple being pierced; I was tempted to include it in this post, but I prefer to remain safe for work and all ages, so if you've got a strong stomach you can see it here:


Enjoy. :-O

Friday, August 11, 2006

Stupidity to the left, stupidity to the right... 

It's hard to mention stupidity without saying something about eBay sellers, so here goes: In my post of 7-30-06, I mentioned that a Swarovski crystal item I'd gotten from an impressive-seeming seller turned out to be, unbelievably, an imitation; given his 100% feedback rating, I was certain that he'd follow through with his promise of a full refund, including return shipping... but of course it was more complicated than anticipated. The evening after I mailed the package, I sent him a message giving him the exact cost for the return shipping; he got that box the very next day, which is unheard of even though he lives in the closest city... and guess what he did, a mere 12 hours after being sent a message containing a reminder that he owed me for return shipping? You guessed right; he immediately issued a refund MINUS the return shipping... and filed for a refund of his eBay fees, which generated a message to ME asking me to verify that I'd gotten a refund from him. I don't know which would be worse: if he did this hoping that I'd somehow forget about the return shipping over a half day period, or wouldn't find it worth bothering about once I had the rest of the $, or if he was just incapable of keeping track of what he'd agreed to from one day to the next, even in as important a case as when he was at risk of being reported for FRAUD. I sent him a polite message reminding him of what he'd agreed to pay, and to give him credit he ponied up right away, so this unfortunate incident didn't cost me any $; even better, I got the identical item from a different seller, who verified that the swan logo WAS on it, and it ended up being $9 cheaper, plus she sent a free display thingie for it... all's well that ends well.

The next item has 2-fold stupidity. Ask yourself this; what kind of a moron dedicates YEARS of their life to elaborately deceiving a broad-based online community... and then, what kinds of morons are deceived for YEARS by the clumsy maneuverings of the 1st kind of moron? You can find the answers to these questions here:


The long, long, LONG story "includes or touches upon many scandals and conflicts of the past five or six years in a certain sector of the Harry Potter fandom," but you don't have to know or care about HP to understand what occurred; I recommend at least scanning this story (it'll still take a while), because it shows how EASY it is for even someone who clearly has no life to fool most of the people most of the time, and teaches several valuable lessons:

1) Just how mind-bogglingly FAR a sick person will go to achieve their warped goals; normal people don't grasp this, and this allows the baddies to get away with murder over and over again because folks can't accept that anyone could ever invest so much time and effort in trouble-making.

2) a) That anyone who goes to great lengths to "get" someone, or a group of someones, is guaranteed to be a cockroach; good people just don't have the fanaticism it takes to pursue a protracted campaign against others.

b) When someone attacks an individual or group with personal insults and foul language, it's 99% guaranteed that they're a cockroach and the target person or group is innocent of any crime greater than disagreeing with them or having greater social success than them; it's just barely possible that a good person could become so enraged at actual mistreatment that they'd act this way, but don't count on it, especially if it goes on for post after post, site after site and day after day... rage isn't that long-lasting or that methodical.

3) The specific methods this turd used to pull people's strings, such saying she was a minority and then posting fake racial attacks on herself to generate sympathy from her target audience; I'd never seen THAT one before, but her claiming to have medical problems (including hospitalization) is standard cockroach behavior... how does every rotten person automatically know to pretend to have serious health issues to deflect criticism, do they all read the same book or something? Even if you don't care about the psychology involved, it's important to know about these ploys so that they can't be used to deceive YOU; you probably think you're too smart to fall for any of this stuff, but I'll bet that the many people who WERE fooled would have said the same thing.

I've never seen anything else that remotely approaches the detailed reporting of online misbehavior that appears in the story of this nutcase and her many dupes, much less the tracking of such a person over such a huge stretch of time; I'll be going back to it as my schedule permits and re-reading it in greater depth, because I think I can learn more from this depiction of real-life events than from a whole pile of books on psychological and sociological theory.

This next one goes beyond stupid to surreal: There are people online who combine an inability to spell beyond the grade school level with the refusal to use a spellchecker; they're mostly a harmless nuisance, but now they're halfway to enshrining one of their most pitiful mistakes as a real word.... the increasingly ubiquitous "sike." THIS IS *NOT* A WORD, FOLKS!! Ok, technically it IS, although it's so obscure that most dictionaries don't even have it; it means

n. 1. A gutter; a stream, such as is usually dry in summer.
1. A sick person.
v. i. 1. To sigh.
n. 1. A sigh.


but that's NOT how it's being used... it's popping up everywhere as a misspelling of "psych" (sometimes spelled "psyche," although that's also a different word), which is used as a shorthand for "I psyched you out" (aka "I fooled you"), such as "I actually hate blogs... psych!!" As is all too often the case, ignorant people who wanted to use a word they had no clue how to spell just spelled it like it sounds, withOUT the accepted disclaimer (sp?) to alert others that they were unsure of their spelling; other poor spellers, not knowing any better, didn't realize that the word was being so misspelled as to bear no resemblance to the original, and started using it thinking it was correct. There are plenty of examples of this unfortunate pattern (I'm seeing "hay-day" being used for "heyday" more and more, for example), but this one's reached a whole new level; if you look here


you'll see that although there ARE people who've indicated that "sike" is a misspelling, most of the entries claim it to be a valid word or valid version of the proper word... how long do you suppose it'll be before it becomes accepted as a true word?

What discussion of stupidity would be complete without the latest from my husband? He's always had an inexplicable inability to pronounce the name of that charming Warner Bros character, Pepe LePew, who, as you can hear here


pronounces his name "Peppy" (which isn't how the French would say it, but they didn't create him so they didn't get a vote); my husband's convinced that he'll get points in heaven if he pronounces Pepe the "proper" way rather than the correct way for the character, but that's not the stupid part... that'd be how he's incapable of PRODUCING the French pronunciation, so he refers to the poor skunk as "Pay-pay," no matter how often he's told it's wrong. He reached new heights of ridiculousness a couple of days ago, though, when, after being called on this for the billionth time, he "corrected" himself and called Pepe "Pee-pee"... I don't mean he said that to be a smart guy, I mean he honestly thought that that was a better pronunciation!! (Non-native English speakers who don't get the joke; "pee-pee" is what a child says to refer to urine).

When I was ribbing him about this later, we had the following exchange:

Me: What's next? You'll start calling him "Poo-poo"? (Non-native English speakers... don't ask.)
Him: You can call ME "Poopy LePew."
Me: Pepe's stinkier brother?
Both: {howls of laughter, after which he insisted on high-5-ing me with BOTH hands}
Him: Pepe's stinkier and more romantically inept brother?
Me: Ain't it the truth!!
Both: {more howls of laughter}

And that, dear friends, is what a happy marriage sounds like. :-)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Why does disaster = DESIRE?!! 

We've all seen countless movies and TV shows where a woman does something awful to a man, from spilling food all over his suit to involving him in a fender-bender, and in response he doesn't get mad, he gets romantically interested (or MORE interested)... even if she did whatever it was ON PURPOSE.


What is it about having his suit or his car ruined that makes a man amorous? I understand that both good and bad events can produce adrenaline and thus a feeling of excitement, but we normally have no trouble distinguishing between "bad" excitement (anger, dismay, etc) and the sexual kind, and the former does NOT usually morph into the latter... why is this scenario consistently an exception?

Why is it that if a woman demonstrates by her destructive proclivities that she's a virtual PSYCHO, that makes her EXTRA-desirable to the victim? Is it because he assumes that she must be ferocious (aka passionate) in bed as well as while she's busting his headlights with a baseball bat? That'd be pretty twisted, but I guess you can make a case for it; however, that still wouldn't explain why ACCIDENTAL assault is so entrancing.

In a recent issue of Cosmo, they had an article dedicated to describing unusual ways that couples met, and one of them was astonishing even given an awareness of this absurd tendency; there was a mixed group playing some sport or other, and a woman hit a man in the head with a ball, knocked him out, and was so embarrassed that she ran off and didn't come back... and I'll bet you can guess what his response was. Can you imagine being laid out by someone's clumsy or unfortunate ball handling and responding by wanting to DATE that person? (If you're male, you might have said "yes," but bear with me while I try to sort it out.)

There was a 2nd mind-boggling incident described in the article that, while not involving harm to a man or his belongings, was tangentially similar because it dealt with another sort of situation that would normally make someone want to distance themselves from the other person, NOT pursue them; having seen them make a fool of themselves. A woman used the men's room in a restaurant out of desperation, found herself without toilet paper, and came staggering out of the stall with her pants half up to find, what else, a MAN at the sink, looking at her and trying not to laugh. She bolted, mortified, to rejoin her friends at their table... where she received a dessert from the man who'd seen her and inexplicably found her humiliating display to be emotionally or sexually stimulating. Would YOU see someone stumbling around with their pants half-down in a bathroom as reason to want to go out with them?

This reminded me of an incident involving a notoriously standoffish singer (male) and a then-teenaged fan; the 1st time she met him, she'd somehow managed to get drunk during the show, and vomited all over him. Did he recoil in revulsion? Have her thrown out? Race from the room in a fury to change clothes, hating her forever after? No; he laughed his @ss off, and... it's left vague as to what sort of physical contact they might have had, if any, but she ended up being his "friend" and working for him as her career, so at the very least she was rewarded for her poorly-aimed reverse peristalsis by being given 2 decades (so far) of closeness to a famous person. My head swam when I read about this, because it seemed utterly surreal that a person would respond to being vomited on by a stranger with anything more pleasant than disgust; despite a singer being involved, we can't be SURE that sex, or sexual desire, resulted in this case, but in a broader sense this is still the same concept in action, I think, because at the very least it caused him to want to form a relationship of some sort with her.

In case you're wondering, it's not just straight men that fall prey to this irrationality; a gay man who's been with his lover for half his life revealed to me that the 1st time he went to bed with him, he fell asleep on him in the middle of the act... which you'd THINK would have made his now-husband so hurt and upset that that would've been the end of any possibility of anything further happening between them, but, surprise surprise, had the opposite effect instead.

My husband, who's usually utterly lacking in psychological insight, has provided me with a good explanation of what's going on in all these cases; when we initially discussed this topic a few years ago, he said that making a memorable impression was the key to getting a man to want to know a woman better (or another man, presumably), and that a bad impression was still an impression and so created the same focusing of attention (for the most part) as a good impression would. When I read him the examples of this concept in action from Cosmo, he came out with an even better thought; once disaster has struck, many of the emotional barriers that normally exist between strangers or acquaintances are shattered, AND it fast-forwards them past lots of "getting to know you" steps because you simply can't make tentative, painfully-polite conversational forays with someone once they've barfed on you or wrecked your car... a sort of intimacy is formed by shared participation in a disaster, and the achievement of this intimacy creates a feeling in the man of having "made progress" with the woman, which encourages him to strike while the iron is hot (and makes him happy to have been spared the awkward introductory phase, even if it means he was unconscious and possibly concussed).

It seems insane to me, but then again so do lots of common psychological patterns; all I can conclude is that, should I ever unexpectedly be single again (and either the body's never found or I'm acquitted, lol), I'm going to walk around with a Big Gulp with a loosened top that I'll dump all over the man of my choice.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Your brain... and the Brain 

From the May 2006 issue of Discover magazine (yes, I'm still WAY behind in my reading) comes an article called "Blinded By Science: What Were We Thinking?" which gives us the following fascinating info:

"Countless baseball pitchers have had their careers cut short not by a pulverized rotator cuff or a line drive to the eye socket but simply by thinking about what they were doing. Once a pitcher starts 'aiming his pitches,' as the commentators call it, their voices heavy with foreboding, it usually isn't very long before he's back riding a tractor near the house he was born in"

"The great British snooker champion Jimmy White (snooker, for the uninitiated, is a version of pool played on a table the size of a football field with pockets the size of pinpricks) was known for his habit of rhythmically tapping the table surface with his ring finger as he lined up his shot. A presumptuous interviewer once proposed to him that it was a timing device, like a drummer's four-beat count-in, a technique to help him marshal his powers of concentration. Not at all, said White. He actually found it incredibly distracting to have some idiot--albeit himself--tapping on the table as he lined up a shot. And that was the whole point. If he weren't distracted, he'd be calculating angles, and every time he had tried doing that, the cue ball had ended up in the audience."

This is surprising stuff, but it shouldn't be; we know that the subconscious takes in masses of raw data, which it selects bits and pieces of and strings them together with whatever alterations are necessary for it to flow smoothly for us (including distortions of our perception of time-see my post of 6-4-06), and does it all instantaneously... how could it do that unless it was able to perform analyses and calculations far beyond what we can do consciously, in #, speed and accuracy? Compared to what the unconscious mind does to turn crude sensory input into a usable version of the world around us, and to allow us to do difficult things like rock climbing and snowboarding without having to plan every muscle movement, aiming a ball is a snap.

Here's the part that IS validly surprising:

"researchers assembled a crowd of typical Dutch shoppers--sending home, one would imagine, the ones whose shoulder-slung panpipes and Caucasian dreadlocks marked them as liable to freak out in a laboratory setting--and put them through a series of tests to see how they make buying decisions. In one test, the volunteers were split into two groups and asked to choose among four cars. One group was given much more elaborate descriptions of the cars than the other group. Then half of the members of each group spent four minutes in a quiet room, carefully considering their choices. The rest were forced to spend four minutes doing anagram puzzles, in Dutch--which can't be much of a picnic even if you speak Dutch--to distract their conscious minds.

After the test subjects were dismissed and the research team crunched all the numbers, a startling truth emerged: 'Conscious thinkers were better able to make the best choice among simple products, whereas unconscious thinkers were better able to make the best choice among complex products.'"

Interacting with the physical world with precision is a skill with obvious survival value, and is reasonable to expect a successful species of animal like humans to be able to do, but why would our unconscious minds need to be able to analyze "non-sensory" information (like gas mileage and crash test results) such as was required in the above experiment, much less be able to do it better than our conscious minds? What kinds of complex intellectual decisions did primitive humans have to make, that they needed this ability? "Here's a bunch of facts about antelope species X, and a bunch of facts about antelope species Y; which one should we try to hunt today?"... and then, what, they'd focus on sharpening their spears for 4 minutes and then announce their decisions? Or; did they use those minutes to pray for "the god of the hunt" to tell them the right thing to do, attribute whatever their subconscious minds came up with to divine intervention, and act accordingly, because those types of decisions had been better in the past than the ones they came up with themselves? Is THAT the survival connection, that those who instinctively DIDN'T consciously think things through, and whose unconscious minds were able to handle increasingly complex theoretical scenarios, did better than their compatriots who tried to figure things out directly?

Is this part of why we do NOT (as a rule) want "heavy thinkers" to be our leaders, or even our friends or lovers... because people who try too hard to consciously sort things out tend to be less "successful" than those who go with whatever percolates up from the depths of their subconscious minds?

And; how much impetus was given to the success of religion in every human tribe by the realization that praying over difficult problems generally produced better solutions than thinking about them?

AND; how many times have you heard a religious person say that they prayed about a problem, or gave up on it and asked their deity of choice to handle it, and the answer "just came to them," which they believe means that the deity helped them? I'm unwilling to totally discount the idea of there being a deity, as I can't prove there isn't one (or several), but isn't it reasonable to assume that at least SOME of these cases are intervention by the subconscious rather than by the divine?

As I was mulling all this over, I realized that *I* use the power of the unconscious, er, unconsciously; if I'm going to toss a piece of trash and want to have it land in the can, rather than 3 feet away, I just toss it without "planning" the throw, and when I'm not quite sure how I want to word a portion of something I'm writing, I'll do eBay searches for a couple of minutes with no attention being given to the topic, and when I come back to it the words will just flow on out.

If we're capable of grasping the mysteries of the omniverse, it'll probably be our subconscious minds that figure them out; hopefully, we'll be paying attention when the answers bubble up into our conscious minds.

There are a couple of entertainment-type tidbits that I wanted to pass on, so here they are before I forget them in the continuing frenzy with my mother and visiting relatives (everyone's doing fine, just FYI):

The original Warner Brothers cartoons (with Bugs Bunny et al) and the non-verbal Pink Panther cartoons are by far the most brilliant creations of their genre; it's always amazed me that this decades-old stuff has never been equalled. There are only 2 cartoons that I'd call even remotely close, and I do NOT mean "The Simpsons" and "South Park," which pander to the lowest common denominator too much for my taste; I mean the "Dilbert" animated series, which is obviously based on the ultra-funny comic strip of the same name, and "Pinky and the Brain," which is the continuing saga of 2 genetically-altered lab mice who try each night to take over the world. The good news is that the latter has finally started coming out on DVD; only 22 of the 65 episodes are out so far (including the Christmas special!!), but the others will presumably be coming soon. If you already love this series, now you can own some of it, and if you're unfamiliar with it, by all means rent it... you're in for a treat.

I saw a movie during one of those times when nothing much was on called "The Emerald Forest," in which an American man who's helping to build a dam in Brazil brings his family to the site, which abuts the rain forest, and his little boy is abducted by a secretive, primitive tribe... and isn't seen again for 10 years, despite his father's endless attempts to locate him. When he IS found, he's fully integrated into the tribe that snatched him, and doesn't really remember his original family... and doesn't want to rejoin them. It's a cool concept, but what makes it riveting is that it's based on a TRUE STORY; I'm sure that endless dramatic license was taken, as it always is, but the basics of the story have to be real for there to BE a story, and the depiction of the Amazonian tribes and the struggles they face is thought-provoking and disturbing... it's well worth watching.

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