Tuesday, June 25, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen

I think if you are looking for a great beach read, anything by Carl Hiaasen is a good bet!  He is a master of creating quirky characters, who, at first blush, seem just plum crazy, but after you get to know them, have some sort of message to bestow upon the reader ... in a completely non-preachy way, of course.

As with all of his books I've read thus far, Carl Hiaasen sets his plot smack dab in the middle of South Florida, and spends the majority of his time, spinning a story revolving around the seemingly crazy nature of South Florida.  The fast paced switch from one richly written character to another is anything but seamless, and you are left laughing in spots ... nodding in agreement in others ... and absolutely mystified by the demoralization of human nature in others.

Stormy Weather is set in Miami, right at the hurricane of the century is preparing to level this area.  A whole raft of characters set on evil deeds begin teaming from the proverbial woodwork in the after-math of the storm, and the literal and figurative storms they must all weather in their unforgettable and inevitable end is both entertaining and humorous.  

Buckle your seat belt!  It will be a bumpy ride! Definitely a book to pack for your next water-front vacation.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My High Horse -- In Defense of Miss Utah

I am not going to launch into a lengthy diatribe on the evils of beauty pageants.  I could.  I have lots of ammunition.

But I won't.

I won't rant and rave about the fact that here we are, the year 2013, and we are still judging women on how they walk in an evening gown and how they look in a bathing suit.  I mean, ACTUALLY. GIVING. THEM. A. NUMBER. SCORE. FOR. THIS. SO. CALLED. TALENT.

I could. But I won't.

And I won't bore you with the details of my arguments against judging someone merely by their outward appearance.

I could.  But I won't.

I will not go into the details of how most of these women desperate for a college scholarship (thus the reason they say they do these things) spend thousands of dollars on gowns (or search for sponsors of said gowns), not to mention the number of dollars spent hiring a consultant to help them win the competition.

I don't know. Since I see no athletic ability going on here (unless you want to argue prancing around on a stage in 4 inch heels while attempting to make sure nothing falls out of the bathing suit you are modeling for a live, squealing audience is athletic), so the case for a "coach" seems limp at best.

Why not just save all that money for college to begin with?

No, I could.  But I won't.

What I will do is say that I am so beyond weary of the over-play Miss Utah's train-wreck of an answer to a train-wreck of a question has received.

The question:

"A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?"

My answer?

Ummm..... that it's unfair?

Do you honestly blame Miss Utah for tripping over her tongue on this one?  I mean, I would have!  How is there a good, intelligent-sounding answer to that question?  Really.  I defy you to come up with anything other than It's. Unfair.

Because, ummm, it is.

Then, if tripping over her tongue on a stupid question wasn't bad enough, she is now the butt of every comedians' jokes from coast to coast, not to mention, having to be part and parcel to the repeated review of the colossal flub on national news channels around the nation.  Heaven forbid if it went around the world!  If it went around the world, then perhaps we've come to a somewhat logical answer to that question in the first place.

Without knowing a thing about this girl, who by the way, is probably only in her early 20s (a time in your life when you are probably at your least confident, besides the middle school years), she is being judged by the lack of substance in the question given to her in the first place. To top it off, she's being invited on to news shows to defend and explain herself.


Where is the person that wrote the question in the first place?  I am pretty sure I'd LOVE to hear how he or she would defend THEMSELVES, because that is where the real offense lies.

And the judges?  They somehow hold the ability to appropriately deem the answer acceptable or not?  Really?  Because the vast majority of them are celebrities.  That makes them qualified to judge intelligence how, exactly?

Judging intelligence, which, unless you are doing MENSA tests, which would NEVER be sexy enough to land next to the bathing suit competition, is such a subjective endeavor to begin with ... well, it seems that pageant officials and the legislatures responsible for education "reform" have a lot of the same philosophies.

If it had been me, I believe I would have formulated the following answer to that asinine question:

"It says about society that we place too much emphasis on stupid stuff like celebrity and beauty and wealth and fame and not enough emphasis on the character of the person or the ethics of hard work and intelligence.  I would say that it says about society that we value too many of the wrong things and not enough of the important things and that therefore we'll never have world peace."

But then again, no one would have ever wanted to see me prance around in a bathing suit due to the fact that my bathing suit would have to be much, much bigger than that of a band-aid.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Accountability #5

Ahhhhh well ..... accountability has gone completely out of the window as of late.

I have a million excuses why, and trust me when I tell you that I could list them all quite articulately here on this virtual page.

But seriously.

Do you really want to read through all million of my creative excuses?

See.  I didn't think so.

I will say that I have fallen off the weight loss wagon.

Truth be told, I was run over by the weight loss wagon.

It wasn't pretty.  Lot's of carnage.

The bottom line is that I have been up, and I have been sort of down, but I have NOT lost any significant weight that would register on any official scale. In the words of my mother, "I have been fiddly-farting around."

And really, the only person here I am hurting is myself ... and well, my health.

I have a weigh in tomorrow, and I am not expecting it to be even close to good news.  I will be happy if I've just stayed under the 220 lb mark, but we shall see.

In the meantime, not all is for naught.  I have managed to average about 3.5 miles on a consistently daily schedule (minus some Saturdays and Sundays), and my plan is to try to get some evening walks in that would round out my walking mileage to an even 5 miles (more miles on my brand new shoes ... yay!).

I have been fighting sheer exhaustion which I feel fairly certain has more to do with the fact that I need to detox from sugar than actual physical tiredness.  So, I checked out a sugar addict book from the library.  It seemed relatively easy to read.  We shall see.

So, there you have it.  I am still fat.  Nothing much has changed in that department.  However, as some smart individual said a while back, "I don't feel like this has been a waste of time because if I hadn't been working on losing this weight, the time would still have passed."

My Brain

I've come to the conclusion that I am weird.

I write, and because of that, I have this weird, creative brain that doesn't work like everyone's.

It has taken me a while, but I am finally comfortable in my own skin, weird, creative, hard-wired for weirdness that it is.

If you can't deal with it, I really don't have the time or patience to help you along to the point that you can deal with it.

Sorry.  That's just how it is.

A few weeks back, my mom and I were chatting on the phone, and she was telling me about this individual that she works with that drives everyone around them CRAZY.  The capital emphasis was, indeed, on purpose.

However, she informed me, as soon as she realized that his brain, and I quote, "worked just like yours, I realized how I needed to interact with him."

Isn't that nice that she was able to figure out how his brain worked.  It's what we teachers are trained to do.  Figure out how kids' brains work, and then teach to those inner-workings. Some of us are better at it than others, but it doesn't necessarily take a Bachelor's and a Master's degree(s) to figure this out.

Sometimes, I think it just takes a keen observer.  Again, some of us are better at it than others.

My brain works differently than most.  I am not saying it works better or worse than others.  I am just saying it works differently.  And to try to describe that to someone is nigh unto impossible, for one because I cannot properly articulate it without coming off sounding insane or egoistical or both.

You see, my mother recognized that often, it appears as though, I've zoned out and tuned the speaker out when one is talking to me.  Nothing could be further from the point.  In fact, my brain, beyond processing what you are telling me, is jumping to new topics that relate and that challenge me and somehow the conversation you were having with me has triggered my brain to think about other things and chew on stuff and fire numerous times in a matter of minutes.

True, this can be extremely distracting, and often, it does appear as though I am distracted.  I might even reply as though I've not been listening, due to the distracted nature of my brain.

Despite what others might think, I have manage to over-compensate and manage life without drugs to mitigate the over-firing.  My mother has been one of the few that has managed to figure out a way to work through it without becoming accusatory or mean about.  She merely redirects my conversation/thoughts with a simple reminder question. Granted, sometimes that frustrates, but most of the time, I am able to jump back to the topic at hand and move on.

Nothing frustrates me more than an individual who automatically assumes my lack of reply or my "far away" look equates to boredom or lack of interest -- and so therefore decides they must do two things:

  1. Repeat themselves over and over again to make sure they've driven the point home -- which they have ... to the point of making the dead horse STINK.
  2. Accuse me of being uninterested and selfish -- you never let me finish!!!  You always interrupt me!!  You never truly listen ... why is it your eyes always glaze over when I am talking to you (another misinterpretation ... they don't glaze ... they go to the other place ... where my brain works to process or chew on something).
Nothing could be further from the point.

For the first time since ... well, ever, my mother put into words what I've been struggling with others with whom I communicate.   I feel validated ...

And just so you know, it's taken me at least an hour to write this little ditty due to the fact that my brain jumped over three or four significant subjects while I was thinking through my thoughts, leading me down numerous rabbit trails, which in my world, is always a fun, adventure.

Be prepared to embrace the differences.  That's all I'm saying ...