August 26, 2015 § 1 Comment
Those furry, four-legged bundles of wonder we call dogs are nothing short of miracles. Every last one, from Lassie and Rin Tin Tin to Santa’s Little Helper.
Dogs are what we should aspire to be, you know? Loyal and forgiving and non-judgmental. Even on our best days, try as we might, we’d still fall short. Humans just aren’t capable of such boundless, jumping for joy, full body exuberance. We’re too self-conscious, afraid of looking foolish. Not dogs. The mere sight of us sends them right over the moon, even first thing in the morning when we’re all morning breath and bad hair. They don’t mind. They greet us as if we’ve just returned from the dead.
Dogs are the best, most wonderful invention ever. And they deserve to be treated like royalty all day every day. Rescue one from a shelter if you can or support your local humane society. Every dog deserves to know kindness, to know what it’s like to be loved back. It’s the least we can do.
So take a moment to pat a dog on the head today. And wag your tail, while you’re at it. Let them know they’re appreciated.
August 23, 2015 § 21 Comments
Throughout history, women have been characterized as chatterboxes, windbags, motormouths, and et cetera. According to legend, we never shut up. I’d like to upset that little applecart right here and right now. Men are the big, fat blabbermouths. At least in the world of bugs — entomology to you brainy, scientific types.
Cicadas, defined as a homopterous insect with long, transparent wings, are a raucous bunch. We hear them on summer nights, filling the air with their loud, insistent droning. Maybe they’re partying, maybe they’re arguing, we don’t know. We do know the noise is the result of two membranes vibrating on their itty-bitty abdomens. Male abdomens. Not a peep from the females in the group . So, ha, take that.
Yesterday I heard them at lunch. That’s not good. When they pipe up during the daytime my heart sinks, free-falls into my shoes. Do you know what the sound of cicadas during daylight means? Summer is ending. Whoa, whoa, back up, has that been scientifically proven? Beats me, but I believe it. Summer is on the wane and I hate that.
Guess what other horror daytime cicadas unleash. Atrocious memories of summer camp: the food, the showers, the latrines, no TV, and that ever-present smell — leaf mold and mildew with a soupçon of latrine. Nose plugs should’ve been on the list of recommended equipment for campers to bring. It wasn’t. I spent two long weeks holding my nose, trying hard not to breathe.
You may be surprised to learn I was a member of the Girl Scouts. A Brownie, too. I’m just not clear on why my association with them ended — I think I quit, but suspension can’t be ruled out. Or expulsion. Girl Scout camp was probably the cause. I didn’t thrive there. I like indoor plumbing and electricity, the modern conveniences, always have.
Besides, Kumbaya is a drippy song, as is Michael Row Your Boat Ashore. Campfires and marshmallows are a good mix, though. And on two excellent occasions we crawled into barrels lined with quilts and got shoved down a hill. Whoever thought that up was a genius, in my 10-year old opinion. If we could’ve rolled down hills in a barrel all day everyday I wouldn’t have minded the smell. As much.
The tents we stayed in were straight out of M*A*S*H. Sturdy canvas jobs on wooden platforms, the flaps rolled up, slept four to a tent. We were perched high atop a steep ridge in heavily wooded surroundings. Every morning at the crack of dawn we were forced into a line, single-file, for a head count and the march to, urp, breakfast.
One morning, as I waited with pillow creased face and hair poking out, I glanced at the girl behind me. Her name was Susie, hand to God it was. I did a double take. Her face was covered in scratches and welts and bruises, swollen, she looked like a prizefighter, post-fight. ‘Holy cow,’ I gasped, ‘what happened?’ ‘I fell out of bed and rolled down the hill,’ she answered.
I laughed until my knees went weak. First aid would have been the appropriate Girl Scout response.
Copyright © 2015 publikworks
August 19, 2015 § 4 Comments
The IRS was hacked. The Internal Revenue Service, for crissakes. Tax records. Income statements. All that data fluttered away, drifted off into the ether of cyberspace. Hundreds of thousands of poor, unsuspecting taxpayers, (600,000+ in round numbers) are no longer private citizens. They’re public dupes.
The worst part is, the IRS had been warned by security researchers about how unbelievably easy it was to hack into their system. Which leads you to wonder: is there such a thing as privacy these days?
Last year, 22 million federal employees, contractors, their friends and families had their personal and confidential details exposed. From fingerprints to financial and health records. Thanks to the crummy security of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) systems.
In the IRS hack, the Russians — gasp! –are being fingered. That old ruse is so creaky and lame it needs crutches. Seriously, it’s on a par with ‘the dog ate my homework.’ The Chinese — gasp!, gasp! — are said to be behind the OPM debacle. You know, if you’re going to make excuses for being lazy and inept at least put some thought into them.
Where was the crackerjack NSA during the pillaging and plundering? Well, fair question. They were hard at work reading emails, eavesdropping on diplomats, kissing up to AT&T. Priorities, you know. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the doors and windows are wide open, the burglar alarm’s off, the welcome mat is out, and there’s beer in the fridge. Go on in and help yourself.
It’s self-serve, but there’s plenty of data to go around. Please grab a shopping cart and proceed in an orderly fashion. Single file, no cuts allowed. Thank you for your cooperation.
August 16, 2015 § 8 Comments
Yes, all telecoms assisted in government surveillance, but they didn’t go about it with anything close to the same eagerness and enthusiasm. They were slackers by comparison. AT&T was singled out by the NSA as “highly collaborative” with an “extreme willingness to help.” What did they do to earn such high praise?
Well, the company cheerfully handed over billions of emails — more than a million a day. They offered tech support to wiretap the goddamn United Nations headquarters, a customer. And brought in twice the financial support from the NSA as the next-most-enriched telecom. When asked to respond, an AT&T spokesman sputtered, “We don’t comment on matters of national security.” Ooh, good one.
Boys and girls, we’re never off the grid. Never. We’re being watched and tracked 24/7. We don’t need to carry a cell phone or use email, either. Heck, no. Do you use a credit card? Debit card? Do you go to the doctor? Have insurance? A library card? Go to the pharmacy? The mall?
Information from all those sources is readily available, providing an insider’s guide to the complete and very personal details of our daily lives. In metadata. That’s the stuff they contend is harmless, but is, in actuality, a gold mine.
Well, what can we do? We’re sitting ducks, powerless against the prying and snooping. No, we’re not. There’s an easy, obvious solution staring us in the face: pen and paper. Go back to letter writing. If you’re super-duper paranoid, use disappearing ink. Do something, for crying out loud. Fight back.
Here, use this. Fun, kicky paper designed to be opened like the fruit it represents. Peeled, in other words. Available in apple, banana, orange, and watermelon from A-maze paper on etsy.com. For best results, pay in cash. It doesn’t leave a trail. And good luck.
August 15, 2015 § 15 Comments
This calls for an apology.
You know Lillian Hellman? Playwright, paramour of Dashiell Hammett, a friend and, ultimately, a Judas of Dorothy Parker? Old Lil had a reputation as a difficult woman. That was the title of her biography, actually.
She wasn’t difficult, she was scheming and conniving. I’m difficult. Big difference.
All I do is whine and complain and, once in a while, snivel. Hang on, there’s more. I’m compulsive, stubborn, opinionated, and completely deaf to reason — a huge pain in the ass. You probably wonder why anyone bothers with me — given my sour disposition and general curmudgeonliness.
Well, they wouldn’t if they had a choice. But those people I call my friends didn’t volunteer, they were drafted. Waylaid, really. I’m a flipping barnacle; I’ve attached myself to some stunningly patient, easygoing, generous, very forgiving, and very funny people. Saints, really. Or, in keeping with the barnacle metaphor, they are my crustacean hosts.
A few have been around practically my entire life. The Other Lisa came tripping along in grade school; happy and outgoing, she was game for anything. We’d cheerfully step into traffic, bring it to a complete stop, then re-direct the cars for our own amusement. We’d sneak out in the middle of the night and TP anything that stood still.
On a field trip to the state capital, we got bored and wandered away from the group. We went on a fun tour of our own. The buses, of course, left without us. Eventually, someone did a head count, discovered we were missing, panicked, and came racing back to search. It wasn’t a rescue so much as a capture. Ai-yi-yi, such a fuss.
Jacque sat behind me in homeroom. One night, she borrowed an aunt’s Corvair and we zipped around the baseball diamond in that little car — first base, second, third, and across home plate. Score! Why are we the only ones who think we’re funny? We are, we’re hilarious. These days, she’s all that stands between me and utter self-destruction. I haven’t grown up, she did, though. Into my abiding and unwavering guardian angel. Even now she shows up at my window instead of the door and I’m 15 all over again.
Rachel was in my P.E. class, she was my unwitting cover. A good student, no one ever suspected her, they didn’t see the rebel within. They saw only a quiet, sweet, popular well-behaved kid, which she certainly was. Until I talked her into smoking, drinking, sneaking into the fair, going for a joyride in my mother’s car — juvenile delinquent stuff. I should be ashamed of myself, but, damn, we had fun. She moved far, far away after college. You can understand that, I think.
Ronnie came later. We worked together. Smart and easygoing, she was my superior in every sense. She fed me, humored me, covered for me, excused me, entertained me, and supported me. Most impressive of all, she stood between me and idiot clients. Right in the cross hairs. A dangerous place in the best of circumstances, which these were not. I was in the middle of a raging, undiagnosed thyroid storm and I made her life miserable. Insufferable is what I was. And, yes, I’m ashamed of that. Deeply.
I moved and haven’t seen her in years, but I know she’s there; I pester her constantly. And, bless her heart, she keeps answering my emails. I have her phone number, too, plus I know where she lives. So she’s welcome to try — I wouldn’t blame her — but she can’t hide.
I’ve fastened myself to you, too, here on my little blog. Every one of you. I wouldn’t be doing this otherwise. You make it all worthwhile. So, see? I’m a lucky girl, I have nothing to complain about. But I like to bitch. Who needs a reason?
Happy Best Friends Day everyone! And, again, my sincere, heartfelt condolences.
August 12, 2015 § 8 Comments
‘There are three responses to a piece of design — yes, no, and WOW. Wow is the one to aim for.’ — Milton Glaser
Design you say? Wouldn’t that principle apply to just about everything? Plus, there’s a fourth response nowadays. You left out dead silence, which, technically, is no response, but let’s not split hairs.
The ‘yes’ is good, we like yes. The ‘no’ stinks, but it’s clear, definite. The ‘WOW’, well, what lunkhead doesn’t aim for that? It’s the brass ring for the whole flipping bunch of us. Everyone from cooks to magicians to scientists shoots for WOW.
Dead silence, on the other hand, is the pits. A slap in the face. I’ve never been spit on, somewhat surprisingly, but the reaction is probably similar. You shake it off, look daggers at the spitter, and move along. Carrying your new grudge with you. Alas, we’d better get used to it. Silence is fast becoming the default response in the world of online communications.
You know why? I’m paraphrasing here, but ‘the high volume of submissions makes it impossible to respond to all’. Yeah? Phooey. The publishing industry is tight-fisted and understaffed, with a pinch of lazy thrown in. You can’t argue with silence, though, it’s not there. You’ll be tilting at windmills if you try. And that, boys and girls, is no fun; it’s a headache. I know this because I’m a tilter.
I’m tilting right now. Filling the place with the constant tappity-tap-tap-tap-tap-tappity-tap of my computer. Would one of you please come and slam the lid on my fingers? Thank you.
Copyright © 2015 Publikworks
August 10, 2015 § 14 Comments
Seriously. August 10th has been officially sanctioned, designated, and appointed as such. Probably has something to do with these being dog days, what with summer and all. Does it matter? No, we have 24 glorious hours devoted to nothing but sloth and shiftlessness. So, go ahead wallow. Be a slug. That’s what today is for.
It’s your golden opportunity to be the feckless good-for-nothing you’ve always wanted. Come on, don’t think about it, just stop what you’re doi — is that the ice cream truck?