Friday, December 28, 2012

High-tech resolutions for the New Year

I resolve to be self-reliant enough to conjure my own resolutions. 

Yes, it’s come to this:  For those bereft of all sense of self, the terminally lame and commitment averse, we now have New Year’s Resolution generators.  

I hope you didn’t already know that.  

I only stumbled across this abomination myself in my research as I reflected on the status of my being, took note of possible areas of growth and assessed my own personal cosmos before setting a path toward universal oneness in the New Year.   

That’s right.  I take the resolution business seriously.  No casual promises.  If I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to take an earnest run at it.  Full tilt.  Head on.  Right up until the end at least.  That’s when the new “no helmet to helmet contact” rule kicks in.  Prevents self-improvement concussions.  Thank God.  

I figured these generators would be something like  You know, that really profound dating site that plumbs the depths of your soul and ferrets out the plums of your essence, helping you know your true self and find your yin if you’re a yang?  Yeah.  That one.  I could hardly wait to go through the process, answer the questions, cry at the revelations and resolve my guts out.  

But it wasn’t like that. 

Anticipating a high-tech tool that would take me to the next echelon of internal evolution, I inched toward the edge of my seat and clicked the link to find Monina Velarde’s 2013 New Year’s Resolution Generator.   

But to my dismay, Monina, clearly a shallow non-believer, delivers only pre-packaged resolutions in a most cavalier manner.  “In 2013 I resolve to make friends.”  “In 2013 I resolve to dress up.”  “In 2013 I resolve to watch an episode of Oprah.”   

What the what?  I could only imagine the poor mope who might subscribe to such goals.  Could it be Monina herself?  Is she an agoraphobic in sweatpants whose TiVo is so full of Real Housewives as to necessitate a promise to watch daytime TV?! 

After a faint attempt at cosmic consciousness, “I resolve to accept,” Monina lapsed into “In 2013 I resolve to get jiggy wit it.”  So 1998. 

Unwilling to be deterred in my quest I tried the Laughing Squid’s generator to find his solo offering, the fantastic – “I resolve to be a rock star.”  OK.  Following that, the Squid presented a link to Monina! 

People!  Where is the introspection?  The creative thinking?  Not to mention the self-respect. 

By the way, did you know the top reason people cite for failing to accomplish their resolutions is poor time management?  Interesting since improving time management is also among the top resolutions made. 

But making resolutions is a valuable use of one’s time, right? 

Therefore, with firm resolve (!)  I pressed on to The Network Geek who tendered a generator based on The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holiday edition.  At least it’ll be pragmatic, I thought. 

Eager resolvers begin with a sentence starter and a blank to fill in from among choices either to start something or to give something up.  But the convoluted wording of the fillers came straight out of Trivial Pursuit.  You remember those stupid questions - Which of these 1970’s soap opera stalwarts did not begin his career as a shoeshine boy in Des Moines? 

To wit:  I resolve not to complain more each day.  I resolve to begin giving advice less often. 

Still, the Geek was at least interesting with:  “I resolve to take a risk each week.”  “I resolve to start day trading right now.”  (See previous resolution.)  “I resolve to start fasting every day.”  (But…Isn’t that foregone?)  And, “I resolve to give up wearing underwear every day.”  (A struggle so many face.) 

I liked best the choice to “speak with the dead less often,” though I could never give it up.  No one else really listens. 

Then, just as I was about to retreat into self-righteousness, there it was.  A real, good idea for a resolution that could improve me and make the world a better place.  From the Network Geek no less.  A computer generated-something to strive for: 

I resolve to pray every day. 

I’ve already started:  Thank you.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Who's counting anyway? The Mayans?

By the time you read this, we may all be flying through space wondering why we didn’t go ahead and invest in that “survival pod” touted by doomsday preppers.  It would have been $48K well spent, given the circumstances of unprotected space travel. 

Of course, if we were hurtling toward oblivion you wouldn’t be reading this - so, thanks for your loyalty.   

You have to hand it to the Mayans, don’t you, even though they can be a downer.  I mean, way to go with the foreshadowing and suspense.  They’ve had the whole country leaning forward, tense, anticipating nothing.  Kind of like those “fiscal cliff” negotiators in Washington D.C.   

Thanks for keeping things in perspective too.  It’s never been clearer to me why it’s unimportant to run that dust mop down the hall again. 

But what better time than now (my deadline precedes the catastrophic demise of the planet), two days before the Grand Finale, to have one’s life glide past her field of vision?  

Let’s start with recent history and have a look at those 2012 resolutions.  Play along with a review of your own New Year’s promises, if you dare.  

First, I resolved to make a pie.  How did that go?  

Here we need a flourish - Ta dah!   

I made two pies!  That’s right, TWO pies!  I exceeded my resolution to make a pie by 100%!  (We’re going to gloss right over the fact that it took two years to complete this resolution.) 

The first pie was pretty darn good if I do say so myself.  Crust flakiness.  Fresh fruit.  Nummy num num num.  

And it wasn’t that hard to do…Hmmm!  I immediately told myself this could be my signature piece!  What I become known for!  Everyone will talk about my flaky-crusted fresh fruit pies!  When I’m invited to a potluck brunch they’ll say, “Oh Carolyn!  Please bring one of your beautiful and delicious pies!” 

So I made another one.  But the second pie exposed an internal flaw - my already waning commitment to the pie-making proposition (begging the question of why I set the goal to begin with).  It felt like doing a remake of “Casablanca.”  You cannot top the original.  

So, instead of measuring, sifting, blending and kneading, I bought a Pillsbury ready-made piecrust.  So ashamed. 

But the bigger mistake was telling my husband about the store-bought crust.  He said it wasn’t as good as my made-from-scratch crust.  That’s supposed to be a compliment, but it just adds pressure leading to a mathematically proportional decrease in the likelihood that I’ll make another pie.   

Oh all right!  I’ll make another beautiful and delicious flaky-crusted fresh fruit pie!  Sheesh!  But I will not reveal the origin of the crust. 

Second, I resolved to have an Elvis party. 

And oh yes, we partied with the King!  That party lives on.  Even now, weeks after he left the building, our guests continue to reminisce about the jumpsuits and capes, the wigs and sunglasses, the peanut butter and bananas and the Kentucky Fried Chicken.  We partied like it was the end of the 13th cycle of the 400 year revolution of the Mayan calendar.   

(You may refer to your “Think Dream Play” archives to relive the details – October 19, 2012.  What?!  You don’t save my columns?!  Well trust me, it was a lot of fun to dress up and sing.  You should come next time – if there’s a world, that is.)
So, two for two on the resolutionizing.  Extremely effective I must say.  How about you?  Are you keeping score? 

Now might be a good time to jump in since I have to fess up to a resolution that has eluded me through various permutations, compromises, rewrites and gnashing of teeth.  It’s in the category of hair shirts and self-flagellation – you know, “personal fitness.”  

My incremental progress in this arena led me to the wimpiest of all my 2012 resolutions – to keep better records of my radius and circumference in the faint hope that the other part of the resolution, to stick with my trainer, would produce measurable muscles and reduction in flab.  Oh well!  

I guess I’ll just have to adopt the Mayan attitude, “It’s not the end of the world.”

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wash your hands and play fair!

Here’s some good news:  The President and the Speaker of the House have agreed not to speak publicly about their negotiations toward resolving the great, fear-laden, nightmare-inducing “fiscal cliff.”  You know, the most recent thing we’re supposed to be in a lather about.

 But maybe we shouldn’t take this precipice too lightly.  After all, the deadline for averting that lulu of a last step falls on the date of the Mayan calendar’s end of days.  Who knows?  It could be that a Senate page pointed this out to our elected officials; hence their retreat into actual conversation and compromise.

 In point of fact, as much as I have clinched my teeth in preparation for the fall, I have dreaded more each new day’s reporting of the posturing and role-playing of the parties of both parts. 

 So, news of their silence is most welcome.  They are to be commended for their shutting up.

 Seriously, I know how hard it can be.  Sometimes, a person can’t stop herself from turning that clever phrase.  I just love a last word, a well-placed bon mot!
Why just the other day, I was one-upping a 2-year-old about the proper method for eating an artichoke.  I had him too!  He couldn’t overcome my lifetime of artichoke eating experience or my superior finger strength. 
But then, in a stunning turn of events, an ambush!  He reached up and touched my face! 
OK!  That was totally unexpected!  Dumbfounded, I had to concede.  You win, Little Buddy.  You win.
Of course I doubt that the President will touch the Speaker’s face.  For one thing, it’s unclear that they’ve been in the same room with each other since the last looming catastrophe.  Let’s see, what was that one?  Oh yeah, the budget deficit.  (In spiritual circles we call this recurring phenomenon “deja` poo”:  The creepy feeling we’ve heard this crap-ola before.)    

 On the other hand, if there were to be touching, the President would get first dibs.  Executive privilege.  Protocol.  Pulling rank.  Whatever you call it, in terms of debate strategy, it wouldn’t leave the Speaker any ground for recovery.  Everything’s second best after the first touch.  Mr. Boehner would likely burst into tears; pick up his toys and go.

 I don’t think a touch would be out of line, and it is disarming.  But the President’s a classy guy.  Even though you know that at the very least he wants to throw a pie, considering the Speaker’s propensities, he would probably extrapolate Robert Fulghum’s Rule #3 – “Don’t hit people,” and keep his hands to himself.   

Fulghum’s sweet and simple maxims to live by, found in his book All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten might well benefit our hapless representatives whose only stated motivation for resolving the nation’s financial debacle is getting home for the holidays. 

 God love ‘em.  If they would only follow Rule #13 – “Hold hands and stick together!”  That’s how compromises are made.

 Depending on your point of view, and on the outcome of this latest squabble in the Capitol, we might end up asserting that Rule #1 prevailed:  “Share everything.”  Or maybe we’ll get a true miracle of planning and execution following Rule #5 – “Clean up your own mess.” 

Fulghum got wordier as he went along, averaging only 4.8 words each in the first ten rules, then 26 words in Rule #11 alone.  Given that he allowed himself to go on and on, it’s surprising he stopped at sixteen rules.   

In these times of politicians needing guidance in the workplace, his Rule #17 might read something like this: “When you’re negotiating with your colleagues to resolve the complex finances of the United States of America, allow them to share the fruits of their hard work and acknowledge their ideas before your take your turn sharing yours.  

Or for their sake, we could speak simply: Rule #17 – Shut up.  Rule #18 – Listen to each other.  Rule #19 – Use the best of everyone’s ideas. 

Of course Fulghum never would be so crass or so terse.   

And since those guys in Washington so often behave like 2-year-olds, we may wind up with another punt of deal that delays disaster, but solves nothing.    

That’s when we can resort to Rule #9 – “Flush.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

This grid makes me itch!

OK, that does it.  Who do I talk to about getting off the grid?

 Oh wait.  No action needed.  Now that I’ve written the phrase, “getting off the grid,” someone will contact me!  Men in Black tapping on my windows with smart phones and flashy thingies in their hands ready to scan me, diagnose my disgruntlement, prescribe and deliver just the right thing to make me feel all better.
Most certainly I’ll be seeing ads alongside my Facebook newsfeed touting log cabins, the joys of solitude, composting, and raising worms for pleasure and profit. 

That’s right.  Before long now we won’t have to say much of anything to prompt the newest savvy search engines hovering in “the cloud” overhead to send down a lightning bolt of customized ads catering to our every divergent thought. 

Here’s the deepest darkest news:  If Verizon has its way, your TV’s about to become a two-way mirror.  

That’s right; soon what has been a joyously stress-free passive experience, an evening transfixed in front of the flat screen complete with bad posture and dribble spots on the fronts of our shirts, will be transformed into a self-conscious job interview with Big Brother:  As we gaze in, the plasma will peer back out at us.  Sizing us up.  Playing that game.  You remember the game that used to be innocent whereby you sit in the mall and make up lives and professions for the people you see.   

Technology exists now that enables our TVs to look back at us and say, for example, “butcher,” then send you an ad for an apron with that chart showing shoulders and rump roasts and loins.  You know the one.   

Oh yes.  Verizon, jointly with Comcast, Time-Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, has applied to patent technology that will enable TVs to see directly through into people's homes in order to sell them stuff.  It’s listed under “Dangerous Ideas” on Big Think. 

Get this:  Verizon wants to create a "detection zone" around your TV.  In that zone, sensors built into the TV would catch "ambient actions" taking place in the room and use that information to display relevant advertising on the screen.   

Oh.  My.  God.  If that isn’t the creepiest idea ever to slither its way into the baskets of the snake charmers.  It makes MarkZuckerberg look like Casper the Friendly Ghost. 

FYI – under the watchful eye of your service provider your unguarded behavior is defined in the patent application as “a wide range of activities, from eating to arguing to playing with a pet.”   

If that’s not a hacker’s field day!  You know you’re going to wind up in a video set to music on YouTube, struggling with your Schnauzer over that last bit of strudel. 

The area around the Plath TV encompasses an array cat toys in various stages of mutilation and dismemberment.  It might actually be interesting to see what the commercial response would be to such a crime scene.  Would they alert authorities, or send me my own CSI amateur mystery detective crime-solving kit? 

And what might happen if two people are observed to be “snuggling together” with the TV on?  Included in the patent application is an example of how the technology would work in such a situation:  Ads could appear on screen showing a romantic getaway, a commercial for flowers, [or] a commercial for a contraceptive.  They actually said that.  Like it’s a good idea.  Something people might be glad about.  

In the same vein, Google’s trying to discover our “unmet needs for information” via GPS chips and “other sensors” built into our mobile devices.  Google Now already offers unsolicited directions, weather forecasts, flight updates, and other information when it thinks you need them.   

Contextual data can provide clues about a person and his situation, allowing Google to guess what that person wants.  “We’ve often said the perfect search engine will provide you with exactly what you need to know at exactly the right moment…without your even having to ask for it,” says Jon Wiley, electronic stalker, er, User Experience Designer for Google.  

Ha ha ha!  Thanks Jon!   

Psst!  Rather than getmyself off the grid, I want to get the grid off me!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Just Google your clutter away!

I’ve just learned Google’s lofty corporate mission statement is “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Hey!  That’s MY mission statement! 

Well, at the very least I’d like to know what’s in these stacks o’ stuff on my desk.  There may be something important in there!  Something universally useful.

And I must sort through those piles of historic pictures of my family in stoic poses from Dust Bowl Oklahoma.  (My husband says I have the same stern look as my great-great grandfather, James Ledford.  Piercing eyes.  Pretty sure Grandpa got his way.  It worked for me too, in the public schools, that look.  But not so much with the husband and son.)

I have begun a preliminary assessment and laid out the pictures on our pool table in piles by generation and side of the family.  But people had to go and get married and then pose with each other across branches of family trees in many orchards, muddling up my system. 

If I ever achieve the mission of getting those pics organized and “universally accessible,” we’ll celebrate with a game of 8-ball.  How do you like that, Googlemeister?

Then there’s that cache of Tupperware containers in the closet in the guest bedroom that no one but the cats and I ever put noses on.  While I have no firm memories of precisely what’s in there, I’m sure as shootin’ not going to throw it away!  That closet has a door!

The utensil drawer in the kitchen reflects my ardent search for a perfect egg-flipping spatula.  Variations of imperfection are myriad, impressive and all present.  They don’t leave the drawer; they just work their way down, lower and lower in the spatula hierarchy, like items on pages 2 through 22 of a Google search.  No one’s ever going to look there, click on those links, or flip another egg with any of those rejects. 

That’s the utensil drawer.  If not organized, at least “useful” by definition.

But the most telling in the constellation of stuff needing a firm organizational hand in the Plath household is the de facto surrender of logic and incomprehensible attachment to the obsolete and unidentifiable jumble of the Junk Drawer. 

Chock full of paper clips, nearly spent note pads, rumpled recipes that sound really good, pens with a little ink, mechanical pencils without lead, and leads that don’t fit those pencils.  Oh we have crunkled cylinders of epoxy, a bent nail, an assortment push pins and that magnet with the vet’s name and phone number on it.  All of it filling the wells and straddling the dividing partitions of a drawer organizer.

Don’t judge until you eliminate your own Junk Drawer!

Google and I have this in common:  We provide the illusion of organization and accessibility.  We make our paraphernalia appear orderly.  I do it with closed doors and drawers, and squared-up corners on piles of papers.  I can find most of what I remember I have.  I can still get the car in the garage! 

I’m not worried about it.  I’ll get excited when our extraneous possessions come life at night and dance to the light of the moon.

But Google winks at us with instant access to colorful lists extending to the virtual horizon.  Answers to any query at any time.  Google’s actually at work now developing software that will anticipate our questions and provide us with what we “need to know” before we even think to ask.  Yikes.

This much is clear:  We both have too much crap-ola.  (Excuse me please.  I was overcome by an impulse of truth telling.)  

Ironically, you can find self-help sites dealing with disorder, confusion and chaos by Googling “clutter control.”  That search produces no fewer than 308 websites offering tips for putting a leash on your burgeoning bailiwick.  A person could argue that the list itself constitutes useless, disorganized clutter!  But it is accessible!

I didn’t see a single site that sorted out how to sort out too many options available on information searches. And I’m beginning to think Google is the one with the problem, highfalutin mission statement or not!

Meanwhile, I’m pondering Google’s Code of Conduct.

Really.  Honestly.  This is it:  “Don’t be evil.” 

Go ahead.  Google it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hi-tech holiday advances

Every year I start my holiday shopping with a few “to me, from me” items.  Just to prime the pump, you understand.  I eventually get around to the rest of the folks on the list! 

This year, to kick off the season I’m getting myself an invisibilitycloak.  I will wear it in my magic world.  It’ll be long and flowing and ride the currents when I stride toward my enemies like Darth Vader. 

That in itself will be off-putting, as you can imagine.  But I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces when suddenly I swirl the cloak around me, not unlike Dracula, and simply disappear from their baffled view.  Then I’ll be free to torment them at will, poking and tripping, tweaking and tussling.  Oh yes!  I will have my amusement. 

Actually, it’s on order, the cloak.  I saw it in the Christmas catalog from Duke University’s Center for Metamaterials and Integrated Plasmonics.  Yeah.   

I’m not sure how I got on their mailing list.  But those guys are always coming up with something clever for the holidays.   

I know.  I probably should wait for the next generation of cloaks.  After all, this one will only deflect microwaves around solid objects.  You’ll still almost certainly be able see most things if you squint your eyes.  But being first with the latest is half the fun.  And I’m betting they’ll offer the full trade-in value when the new light-deflecting model comes out. 

Too bad, but the cloak will most likely be used for evil.  I don’t think I can resist abusing its powers.  After taunting my nemeses, I’ll swoop around the neighborhood and put an unseen sock in that barking dog’s mouth, right in front of his clueless and inconsiderate owners.   

As an accessory to the cloak, an “obliviousness blaster” would have a market.  In its absence, my stealthy self might just have to administer a wedgy or two to make a point. 

Those high-tech/low-tech solutions will have to suffice until the next scientific breakthrough I’m anticipating - the “inaudibilty hat.”  When inaudibility technology is perfected we can simply lower the flaps to tune out Bowser along with garbage trucks, alarm clocks and all those people with whom we disagree. 

Advances in space travel brought us Tang and Tempur-pedic, but, aside from the prankster, I can’t help wondering who will benefit from the actual, practical application of such a thing as an invisibility cloak. 
No, the commercial value of invisibility won’t truly be known until we get the cream.  That’s right.  There will be a huckster with his business acumen tuned to the American masses (pun intended) and at last “concealer” will accomplish what it’s claimed to do since teenagers got pimples.  It’ll be a perfect stocking stuffer. 

 I for one would rub that stuff on my thighs faster than you can say Spanx. 

 But the logistics remain problematic.  I mean, consider the Incredible Hulk for example.  As you know, when he got mad he swelled to many times his wimpy day-job size.  And when he did, his clothes ripped and fell apart strategically, so as to highlight his newly buffed and chiseled, if green, anatomy. 
But will vanishing cream work that way with ladies’ apparel?  Will our clothes shrink to fit our newly sculpted sinewy selves, or at least appear to do so?  Or will our clothes stand out against the actual flesh that still exists though imperceptible to the untrained eye?
Those things will have to be worked out, of course.  But no need for concern, there will be plenty of willing guinea pigs camped out around the perimeter of Duke’s campus, living in tents and working in shifts to insure their places in the line, offering themselves for scientific experimentation.  I’d take a dip in that pool. 

Oh yeah.  There’s a buck to be made with 21st century vanishing cream.
And that’s the reason for the season after all, isn’t it?  Share the science!  Sneak around and surprise the ones you love!  Get them something practical, but extravagant.  Something they wouldn’t get for themselves:  An invisibility cloak.  Vanishing cream.  Love potions.  Magic mirrors. 

Treat yourself!  And make Santa proud.


Friday, November 16, 2012

At Your Service

In my selfless and never-ending efforts to be of service to my community, I subscribe to all varieties of newsfeeds.  My inbox is replenished hourly with cutting-edge data.  You may rest comfortably in the knowledge that I am on the vanguard of useful and relevant information.  And I am here to serve you.   

In that spirit, I bring this round up of crucial alerts and updates from NewsWise, MedWire and the brain trusts of scientists and top researchers in their fields:  

Wake Forest Baptist Physicians just published their immediately applicable research titled, “Is Housework a Health Hazard?”  In it they ponder the oft-repeated riddle:  What do a tight fitting bed sheet and a blood clot in the wrist have in common?  Answer:  They are part and parcel of a condition called “sheet fitting palsy.”  Really.   

True to its name, the palsy surfaces in those who spend long periods of time trying to pull a fitted bed sheet over the corner of a mattress.  

I had the palsy myself as a teenager.   

Not to be trifled with, sheet fitting palsy has also been reported among those who do push-ups as exercise.  More valid reasons to avoid calisthenics.  

You’re welcome. 

The University of California, San Francisco, recently presented their comprehensive survey of adult visits to emergency rooms entitled, “Painful Truths about Genital Injuries.”  UCSF researchers reviewed 10 years of mishaps with consumer products like clothing, furniture, toys and tools, (their pun, not mine) and found that such injuries are common and may be preventable.   

The write up is listed as “media embedded” but I didn’t click the link.  Didn’t want to risk that wince-inducing side effect, TMI.  I’m satisfied to learn that - like fitted sheets - many household items and even articles of clothing are fraught with peril, especially when used outside the manufacturers’ recommendation.  Beware of pliers, step ladders and skinny jeans.   

In the category of feeling underwhelmed, from the 116th annual meeting of the American Academyof Ophthalmology: “…Vision loss may increase the risk of auto accidents.” 

They didn’t put an exclamation point at the end of their title, yet somehow found their findings noteworthy.  We can only wish we had been there to hear the presentation.   

It put me in mind of my family back home.  My great uncle Earl used to pick up my grandma each week in Pawnee, Oklahoma, and take her grocery shopping.  She complained about his driving, but he insisted on being behind the wheel.  Then, one hot afternoon his oxidized green 1949 Plymouth coupe overheated, and they pulled off the road.   

They both got out of the car and Uncle Earl opened the hood.  They stood side by side, staring down.  Uncle Earl leaned forward and squinted.  “Harrumph,” he said. 

He twisted his torso left and right, thrust out his chin peering this way and that.  At last my grandma lost her temper.  “Here’s your problem Earl!” she said pointing to a black rubber hose, brittle and split open like a haggis.   

“What?  Where?”   

Grandma said she thrust her fist fully into the gaping wound, but Uncle Earl still could not see it.   

Grandma applied her astute observational skills, and from that day forward, she drove, thus obviating the need to conduct formal research studies into such things.  Evidently, the Academy never got the memo.  

Rounding out the classification of money spent to confirm the obvious, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance informs us that “Screening for lung cancer saves lives.”  UCSF steps up again with “Chernobyl cleanup workers have a greater risk of cancer.”  And from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology we learn that “Double pollen doubles allergies.” 

The University of Alabama issued a redundant piece of nagging called, “Women and Exercise: It may not be fun, but it’s beneficial.” 

And not to be outdone in the realm of implausible applications, Loyola University Health Systems released their treatise, “Stay in bed or feel the burn?” with tips for exercising when you’re sick.  Like that’s going to happen. 

In summary, excessive movement around the house is dangerous and ill-advised.  Exercise is not fun and can hurt you.  Plutonium causes cancer and pollen triggers sneezing. 

No thanks necessary.  I remain humbly yours.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Barnyard Wrestling ~ A Cautionary Tale

It’s finally happened.  I’ve learned too much about a “friend” through Facebook.   

I never thought I’d have to “unfriend” somebody I’ve known for such a long time.   

She’s always sort of lorded it over me, patted me on the head and dismissed me as na├»ve or maybe cute.   

OK, I thought.  She’s older.  Since my mom’s not around, I’ll let her think she’s the boss of me.   

Mostly she sent me sappy sayings about “liking this” if you love your children and how it’s a shame more people won’t “share” to show their support for our troops. 

But over time, she started sending anxious emails about how I might already be showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s, or throw up frantic posts like those urban legends that circulate saying “don’t flash your high beams at night or gangsters will turn around and shoot you.”  Or “be careful in movie theatres because people are putting needles in the seats.”   

In retrospect it’s uncertain, but I’d like to think in the beginning I responded out of an altruistic intent to allay her fears.  I’d go to Snopes and send her the link to debunk the scare.   

But she didn’t seem to like that.  She just wanted everyone to be informed, she’d say.  She wanted everyone to be safe.  So, if she posted something that sounded a little whacky, she advised me just to delete it and go on. 

But I couldn’t do that.   

I don’t like being scared unnecessarily, I told her.  So, if her posts seemed a little whacky, I’d be happy to check them out for her and let her know. 

She didn’t post that stuff for a good long while, but I don’t think she started doing her own fact checking.  She told me Snopes was unreliable.  I checked it out, and found information to the contrary.  Still I went on to citing Politico and Annenberg’s FactCheck instead.  Let her try to argue with their credibility! 

Maybe she quit caring if I was in danger. 

At last, we got into a tussle over the presidential campaign.  I kept insisting on running those fact checks on her wildly improbable assertions.  Then, and this is where I took a stroll with Rod Serling myself: I’d post what I learned.  That was my obstinate and oft-repeated error.  I guess I was trying to convince her of something.  Anything. 

I’m confessing.  I took the book of cardinal rules and ran it through the shredder.  Perhaps foremost among those rules is the one against trying to overcome the irrational with logic.  I used to coach debaters, so maybe my behavior is understandable to a degree.  But why Miss Manners didn’t step in eludes me. 

Oh we’d lay off for a while.  But the campaign wore on and neither of us could stop ourselves.  Out of patriotic concern for the ignorant, or maybe a hen’s worry for her chicks, she had to let me know the sinister motives of those truly in control and the newest catastrophe on the horizon. 

In the thick of our prolonged and pointless post and counter-post I guess my relentless insistence on reliable sources of information pushed her too far.  So she played her trump card; she said she has a friend in a position to know what’s really going on behind the scenes in foreign policy:  Government infiltration and puppets at the helm, bent on the destruction of the US of A.  


Oh.  Tina.  This crystalized the issue. 

How could I argue with Tina? 

Or, more importantly, why would I argue with Tina? 

What the heck have I been doing?  I’ve been arguing with Tina.  Trying to educate Tina.  Sharing facts with Tina.   

Ridiculous.  I know.  But here’s the weird truth I learned about myself:  I have the capacity to cast off perspective and wade into the swamp just like the rest of the whackos I mock.  In the most beautiful of ironies, I didn’t get a chance to unfriend my friend.  She unfriended me. 

Don’t wrestle with a pig, my grandma would say.  You’ll only get muddy. 

And I might add, whatever you do, don’t argue with Tina.  You’re going to get that mud on your face.  And you’re going to lose.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Princess Alice and the Beets


There Smarty Pants.  Admit it.  The very word is tantalizing.  See if you can resist the real thing.  

I know, I know.  You’re not supposed to buy your favorite candy for the Trick or Treaters.  You’re supposed to buy something you yourself, the self-possessed adult, won’t eat.  Like liver.  Or beets.   

Because honestly, I’d have eaten candy corn if I’d bought it instead, even though it has plummeted from one of the happiest Halloween acquisitions of my early youth – so fun for precision consumption, from white cap to orange body to yellow tip – all the way to the pit of disdain, in the misguided “strategic” thinking of one trying to delay the inevitable.  

These are the consequences of severe, self-imposed restrictions:  One will binge when in the possession of Halloween gold.  So I bought the Butterfingers.  As a mature adult, I refuse to over-eat bad candy. 

Halloween’s a once-a-year holiday after all and the Trick or Treaters will never miss the fun-sized bites I snarfed down in batches of three or five over the very few days between my ill-fated trip to Raley’s and All Hallows Eve! 

And what’s the fun in giving out candy that even I don’t like?  Kids assess things pretty quickly and when they’re disappointed, they can be vengeful.  Especially the little ones.  One pouty faced Tinker Bell can ruin your whole happy time. 

I don’t want to be known as the neighborhood health nut either, though currently that scenario seems remote. 

This whole Halloween thing puts me in mind of a troubling tendency among adults for trying to explain themselves by conducting investigative studies with children as the subjects.  Consider the “Marshmallow Experiment”:  A test supposedly created to measure youngsters’ ability to delay their gratification.   

Making the research rounds for over 40 years, I call it a classic method for shaking off the doldrums when life slows down in the torture chamber.  Hey watch this!  Will this hungry little kid eat one Sta-Puft now or hold out for two later?  

Another experiment shown on CBS Sunday Morning recently demonstrates how a child’s inclination to cheat can be ameliorated by an invisible being.  Oh yeah.  That’s some sick scientific shenanigans. 

First a group of six-year-olds are shown a Velcro dartboard and given little Velcro balls to toss at it.  The rules of the game are that they must stay behind a line on the floor, turn their backs and throw the balls onto the target over their shoulders.  An almost impossible task designed by fiendish “scientists” to thwart and torment the innocent.  

The “researchers” then observe through a one-way mirror as one-by-one the kids become frustrated and cheat.  Almost to a sweet tiny person, they face the target, step across the line, and in some cases walk right up to the dartboard to plant those sticky orbs, creating a perfect bull’s-eye. 

Then, and here’s where it gets really interesting, the lab geeks change the scenario.  They place a chair in the room and tell their next group of torment-ees that Princess Alice is seated there.  She’s invisible, you understand.  You can’t see her.  But she’s going to watch the game.   

Now the kids are skeptical, bless their cheating little hearts.  They immediately approach the chair, inspect the air around it, run their hands over it and tell their captors that as citizens of a democracy they owe no allegiance to royalty.  Yes I know, says He in Control.  But she’s there. 

Then, the kids each have their turn alone in the room with the dartboard, the balls and the chair.  And guess what?  They don’t cheat anymore.  

Weird, huh?  But cool in a way.  

I like it except as it applies to me and my pagan holiday.  Why do I feel guilty about my Butterfinger transgression?  It’s Princess Alice! 

She sees me when I’m sleeping.  She knows when I’m awake.  She knows if I’ve bought Butterfingers or beets, so get beets for heaven’s sake. 

There it is.  A grown person can’t even enjoy her own personal bull’s-eye of an evening without Princess Alice shaking her head and saying “tsk, tsk.” 

Fine.  My husband will spirit the remainder of the chocolate-coated flaky peanut butter morsels away to his office.  We’ll see if the Princess has gone corporate.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Life after death and the supreme pizza

This just in from the - Trending topics this week:  A brain surgeon says the afterlife is real.  And, Pizza Hut offers lifetime pizza. 

Now that’s my kind of news!   

Doesn’t it just take away the fear of death?  Relax!  You know everything will be OK if there’s Eternal Pepperoni!   

Maybe that was what Felix Baumgartner was thinking about right before he stepped away from his own personal Red Bull space pod.  Twenty-four miles up.  Eight hundred miles an hour.  Free falling.  He must have been contemplating life everlasting and a fresh calzone. 

Actually, I heard he’s a big romantic.  Just at that moment when you can’t take it back, he reported saying to himself, “I don’t want to die in front of my girlfriend.”   

But…but…Then why would you…?  Oh never mind. 

Now I don’t have a death wish, but I do have a death thought.  Totally unbidden you understand.  Still, almost every day “it” crosses my mind somehow, someway. 

For example, we recently bought a mattress with a 25-year warranty.  That’ll give you pause for a death thought.  This could be THE mattress.  If I’m lucky that is, and meet my demise while at home, smiling in my sleep, dreaming of a Chicago-style pan pie with everything on it. 

I often think of death when I’m at the gym, but not my own.  It’s not exactly that I’m wishing actual death on anyone.  It’s more like that commercial where an unwanted nuisance just goes “poof!”  There go those muscled-up guys who wear sweatbands and flex the tattoos on their biceps.  No more toned young women with ponytails and other things bouncing.  Abracadabra!  It’s satisfying. 

And I guess some might say I dramatize my near-death experiences in the U-Jam class.  Maybe I don’t have to bend from the waist and gulp oxygen quite so often.  No true need to hold up my hand for all to pause and watch as I declare my imminent end.  OK.  Whatever.  You try U-Jam. 

But I’m not preoccupied.  I’m not!  It’s natural to think about death and dying every day, isn’t it?  Admit it.  I’m not the only one. 

My center for rationalization has kicked in to assure me that we all do it – we all think of our own unraveling. 

I figure it’s a common train of thought or we wouldn’t have so many euphemisms for “passing away.”  You know, like the Eskimos and snow.  Or, MontyPython and the parrot.  

Or, maybe it’s unique to of those of us who’ve crossed a particular threshold:  More yesterdays than tomorrows.  A person occupying that spot on the timeline of life can’t help thinking about, you know, let’s see…what’s a gentle way of putting it - joining the crowd invisible (my own personal favorite nickname for “going to meet your maker”).   

An upbeat tidbit in the life-and-death dilemma comes from DiscoverMagazine’s online edition.  They report that reverse aging is not a physical impossibility, but merely a technological challenge. 

So, it appears that baby booming lab geeks are also mulling over the phenomenon of expiration.  They’re no doubt working on some kind of gadget we’ll clamp onto our heads to regenerate tired old sagging cell structure and pink up the gray matter.  Or maybe they’ll invent an immortality pill.  Either way.   

Perhaps they’ll wrap us in aluminum foil like Miles Monroe in “Sleeper” and freeze dry us in anticipation of death defying scientific innovation. 

I figure it’ll be a metabolism thingamajig.  Discover says a lifetime spans 1.5 billion heartbeats, give or take.  That’s true for any and all living beings.  Humming birds, grizzly bears, retired high school principals…all the same.  Critters with shorter lifespans just get their 1.5 billion in a lot faster than the rest of us.  So logically, all we need is an H.G. Wells sort of slow everything down pacemaker.  

The guy in the article actually said that he doesn’t expect to live forever, but when it comes to his grandkids “all bets are off!”   

Ha ha ha!  It’s just so much fun not to fret over the inevitable. 

Oh well.  There’s no point in getting morbid about it.   

After all, even when we do tuck it in, there’s always the pizza.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Elvis has not left the building

Like William Shatner, Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton, I too live with a disorder.  I know how it feels to struggle with reality.   

Happily, while our disorder can create an incongruous circumstance on occasion, day-to-day it protects us from unpleasant truths. 

Let’s call it reverse anorexia.  With this condition, in spite of our mirror’s testimony, we persist in thinking we look good. 

That’s what tripped me up for my Elvis party - I thought sure I would be the young, sexy Elvis.  You know, the one in black leather.  Or Jailhouse Rock Elvis in cuffed jeans and a striped T-shirt.  Man! 

That’s how I’d always pictured myself in spite of the obvious dissimilarities:  His black hair, my blonde.  His sneer, my lack of lip control.  His maleness, my femaleness. 

Does this sound weird?   

But I thought, what’s the fun of being Priscilla?  OK the big hair.  That could be fun.  So I bought a Snooky wig from the party store conceding Priscilla might be my fallback position.   

Her Cleopatra eyeliner could be cool.  But past that, what would I wear?  Priscilla’s only known wardrobe is a wedding dress!  I’d have to get a ‘new’ one at Goodwill because despite how my mirror assures me, my 1990 Battenberg lace is a little snug. 

No!  I wanted to be Elvis!  

And why not?!!  I know the lyrics to all his songs.  I practiced his moves - the twitching shoulder, the single knee dip and the tippy-toe walk.  I wind milled my arm all around the house in anticipation of this shindig.  I deserved to be Elvis! 

So you can imagine the disappointment, even disbelief.  What a slap in the face when I first caught sight of myself in my size large gold lame` suit and jet black wig. 

I never dreamed I’d look so pasty.  Or boxy.  Or genderless. 

I so believed I’d look cool.  Thank God I could hide behind those giant gold aviator sunglasses. 

Why didn’t I try everything on together BEFORE the party?   

Why?  Reverse Anorexia!  I was certain my imaginary self was my real self.   

I love my fantasy self even though she’s a deceiver.  Her clothes always fit and flatter.  She doesn’t need make-up what with her natural beauty.  Reverse anorexia may be the best defense mechanism ever clung to by a partygoer or party-thrower like me.   

I guess I can take some solace in the fact that pretty much everyone at the party looked ridiculous.  But they gave the impression it didn’t bother them.  They rather expected it.  Evidently, they’d been living in the real world from the start.  So when they donned their blue suede shoes, it was all good. 

Even my husband, normally reserved and circumspect, joined a cadre of Elvises in white jumpsuits with rhinestones strewn across their shoulders and down their chests - the chests exposed by the jumpsuits’ deep ‘v’ front.  They tucked their thumbs into their be-jeweled WWE-style belts, twirled their red scarves while prancing about in white boots.  Multiple pseudo-Elvises strode around our living room swinging their capes and saying, “Thankyaverimuch.” 

But their wigs didn’t fit either!  How were they OK with that? 

I had searched the internet in vain for an Elvis impersonator within my price range.  Then, when it seemed impossible, I got a referral!  

I approached this professional entertainer shyly, saying I was embarrassed to be asking on such short notice.  But he won me over with his willingness to appear for a pittance, and his response to my inquiry: “No need to be embarrassed, Miss CaroLynn,” he wrote, keeping in character start to finish, “there’ll be enough time for that during my performance.” 

So I was a dubious, but he was amazing!  His unabashed channeling of Mrs. Presley’s only son made our party a smash.  He took the mic in breakaway costumes and layer after layer he went through a sort of backwards evolution - from a chunky hunka burnin’ love, all the way down to King Creole!  

He might not actually be Elvis, but his imaginary self worked it.  No apologies.  No regrets.   

Now that’s my new coping mechanism:  How to deal with reverse anorexia and the clash between my mirror and my dreams?  Shake it, baby!  Shake it!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Reunion, Regression and Traveling Light

Our common experiences are the events that characterize our humanity.  Rites of passage carry us across in-born boundaries and reverberate in the deepest fibers of our being.   

At once frightening and thrilling these defining moments, and our responses to them, structure what comes next as we tiptoe through the tribulations and trials of quiet desperation. 

We must breach these cultural thresholds to make our way in the world.  We each have our own heroes’ journeys: 

Sleep away camp.  Prom night.  Public Laundromats.  Festival seating.  Marriage.  Divorce.  Marriage.   

Each daunting in its own rite.  Each with its own special brand of innocence lost.  

But few milestone events can bring a person’s life screaming past her field of vision faster than her High School Reunion. 

Oh no, no!  Not that!  Anything but that!  Not a Reunion!

Please don’t make me relive the days of self-conscious fear that everyone is looking, coupled with oblique terror that no one cares.  I don’t think I can take it. 

I can’t take it.   

I’ll crater.  I’ll buckle.  I’ll say something stupid, again.  I’ll freeze and say nothing.  I’ll revert!  I’ll be the exact same awkward, clueless, needy, uncertain, arrogant, unformed, human-in-the-making as I was, oh so long ago. 

Yet oddly, I can feel surrender creeping up on me.  My friends are my undoing.  They’re on each side of me with their hands on my arms, pulling.  “Come on!” they say.  “It’ll be fun!”  

I go limp like a child resisting bedtime.  I don’t want to have fun.  Don’t make me.  

But I can see they’ll prevail.  I’ll go.  

I’m pretending to hold out, but I can feel my feet betraying me.  They’ve begun to move, slogging, pulling out of the sucking mud of dread, marching toward the inevitable – old cliques, old crushes, old in-crowd v. old out-crowd.   


Here it comes:  A party where I’ll wear a nametag with my yearbook picture on it so my be-spectacled gray-haired peers can somehow bridge the chasm between that senior and this senior.  A raucous good time where the golden oldies play so loud I’ll have to shout well-meaning but inane questions about what you’ve been up to and do you have kids. 

In truth, I’ve already reverted.  My latent immaturity has bobbed to the surface and is treading water, waiting for an opportunity to embarrass me.  It twists every possibility into disaster and every nuance into innuendo. 

Do I sound neurotic?  Good then, you understand.  

Oh sure, on paper, I had a fine high school experience.  My pimples came mostly one at a time, and were strategically located.  I deployed my eyebrow pencil and disguised them as “beauty marks.”  I had long, straight blonde hair.  Priceless in 1968. 

I played what’s her name in “Barefoot in the Park.”  I was secretary, or historian, or vice president of my class or my club or something.  I was Student of the Month, but not until May. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but I’ve been told I was in with the in-crowd, the popular ones sharing inside jokes.  So why didn’t it feel any better?  If I’d only known I was cool, I would have relaxed. 

And there’s the rub.  Forty-five years later and that ole black magic has me stressing over who likes me, where I’ll sit, and if these jeans make me look fat, just like I did back then.   

Thank goodness those weren’t really the best years of my life! 

So I’m thinking this condition deserves a name all its own.  What shall we call it?  It’s a relative of that phenomenon whereby you reconnect with your old friends and take up right where you left off, as if nothing ever changed.  

Good grief!  Nothing ever did change!  Oh sure, I grew up, lived a life, did stupid things and smart things, suffered, loved, lost, won, learned and learned and learned. 

Yet here I am.  Getting ready for my reunion.  Regressing with every step.  Making reservations for a trip back home and packing all the baggage that adolescent girl carried with her.  So I hereby dub this constellation of swirling emotions the Samsonite Syndrome. 

I can only hope the airlines will lose my luggage.  Maybe I’ll travel light.   

Friday, October 5, 2012

How to Wrangle Your Irrational Thinking

From the Department of Stating the Obvious comes this revelation from Julia Galef, President of the Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR): Society would look radically different if rational thinking and decision making were widespread. 

Well now, that is a dream, isn’t it?  And coming from a card-carrying member of the New York City Skeptics too. 

But I kind of love what this bright young woman and CFAR have to offer:  training in rational thinking and strategies for employing such thinking in everyday life.   

Realistically though, who’s going to do that?  Think rationally I mean.  After all, things are going pretty darn well as they are.  No need to repair this topsy-turvy apple cart.  We’re bumping along quite nicely, thank you very much. 

Galef senses such resistance to the reasonable.  So, to warm us up to the concept of thinking and even acting rationally, she recounts a situation we can all relate to:  In 1985, Andy Grove and Gordon Moore, the co-founders of Intel, were reviewing the years of losses their mega corporation had sustained as a result of its repeated investments in the manufacturing of memory chips.  They put their substantial noggins together to try to figure out what to do with the grim data that showed them and their stakeholders losing money yet again in a long-term trend. 

Andy turned to Gordon, as the story goes, and asked, “What if the Board of Directors fired us and brought in a brand new CEO?  What would she do?”  

Gordon replied without hesitation, “She’d get out of the business of making memory chips!” 

(OK.  I’ll admit, Andy didn't made the new CEO a woman, did.  So, I put in the quotation marks, but that’s not an actual, direct quote.  It just makes sense though, don’t you think?) 

Once these two whiz kids agreed there was nothing to prevent them from taking that same hypothesized action, they took it.  They shut down the memory chip-manufacturing segment of Intel and staunched the flow of good money after bad.   

Huge success.  Genius.  Rock and roll.   

Who wouldn’t want to do that?  Be rational and all.  

But you can just hear the masses, their shoulders rounded, heads hanging low, groaning like so many Eeyores, “Oh great.  We’ve gotta be rational now.  On top of everything else.   

“It’s not as if we have a lot of empty slots on the dance card, you know.  We’re busy, what with all the repetitive, non-productive behaviors that fill our days.”   

We do love our routines, don’t we? 

Galef calls the syndrome the Intel brainiacs and the rest of us are mired in the “commitment effect,” wherein perfectly clever people stick with a business plan, a career, a relationship, or a pair of cruel shoes in spite of the evidence that they’re counterproductive or even destructive. 

It’s also been called, less diplomatically, insanity.  You know, when you keep limping around in those pointy stilettos in spite of the painful corns. 

The big question is why we cling to our self-defeating commitments.  Let’s see…Could it be that by nature, humans are illogical?  Why yes!  We maintain senseless commitments to the futile things we do.   

And those shoes are so darn cute. 

But rationality is good for you.  It can ease your pain.  So let’s all do what Grove and Moore did.  Let’s look at those shoes like a brand new CEO would.  Fresh eyes.  You get the idea.  

Why, she’d come in like my mother, take one look and say, “What?!  Are you crazy?  You’re ruining your posture.  You don’t want to wind up with a hammertoe, do you?  Here.  Take my orthopedic clogs.  Like buttah.” 

OK.  My mom was from Oklahoma.  She didn’t really talk like that.  Or wear clogs.  But to make a point.  You understand.   

Now I don’t want to dismiss Ms. Galef, CFAR or its mission, but I think I can handle the commitment effect.  No training needed.  Just call in mom. 

Yet Galef persists, warning against another common form of irrational thinking:  “confirmation bias.”  In this one a person first adopts a point of view and then goes about amassing evidence to support it, while ignoring any evidence to the contrary. 

That’s just bizarre.  Imagine if voters did that before elections! 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ann Curry and the Body Snatchers

I was thinking about Ann Curry the other day when I Googled “ageism.”  Came up with this link:  “Use ageism in a sentence!” offered at  It turned up a list of headlines reflecting news articles about people over 55 (FIFTY-FIVE!) who fall victims to cold hearted, bloodthirsty predatory ratings seekers.   

Oh.  Did that sound angry?  Too bad. 

Where is Ann Curry anyway?  One day it’s Ann.  Gracious, insightful, lovely Ann.  

Punching Matt.  Hugging Al.  Touching the knee of the Dalai Lama. 

Next day…Where is Ann?  What have they done with our Ann?   

I watched the Investigation Discovery channel expecting to hear her fate intoned by Bill Kurtis, that latter day Jack Friday on “Disappeared,” or even “Ghost Hunters.”  But no Ann. 

Then I remembered:  Ann’s on “special assignment!”  Right. 

“Special assignment.”  That’s network newspeak for their own particular corporate purgatory.  Ann’s no longer on the couch with Matt and Al.  Instead, after 16 years with NBC and barely one year as co-anchor of the Today Show, she’s circling the seventh rung of hell hoping to catch her breath after a sucker punch from NBC exec Jim Bell.  Rumor has it that Matt Lauer voted her off the fickle island of youthful ratings. 

 What’s wrong with Ann?  I love her in spite of her goofy wardrobe.  When I’m an old woman, I too shall wear big orange and fuchsia felt flowers appliqued on my tent dress.  That, and purple.  With a red hat.   

But I’m outside the 25 to 54 demographic so who really cares?  Certainly not the Today Show advertisers! 

Ann’s smart and beautiful.  And she’s a Duck.  A Fighting Duck!  You know, the University of Oregon.  The powerhouse Ducks!  (My husband’s also a Duck…that one’s for you, Honey.)  You’ve gotta love a Duck!  

Ann asserted her idiosyncratic self and resisted network pressure to conform to prescribed appearances.  Well, except for those torturous stilettos.   

In addition to her quirky clothing, she says she’s proud of her wrinkles.  They give her dignity and speak to the status she’s earned in her family.  Ok, the 14-year-old ratings analysts must have said.  She has the cheekbones to carry it off.   

But then, in a fateful act of martyrdom, she wouldn’t dye her hair either.  God love her, she may have gone too far beyond the shallow veneer of media mandates; the trapdoor opened. 

I know.  There’s nothing wrong with Savannah Guthrie.  

She’s cute and smart and socially adept.  She’s fine.  She’s more than fine, but I can’t trust her.  After all, she slipped onto Ann Curry’s warm spot on the Today Show sofa as smooth as a lounge lizard on Saturday night.  

And that’s just it.  The transition barely caused a ripple.  Oh sure.  There was a flutter of outrage right before the exit door bumped Ann’s butt.  Since then it’s just like nothing ever happened.  We’re chatting and laughing and punching each other’s shoulders all over again.  It’s eerily the same as it ever was.  Cue the Talking Heads.  Oh, the irony! 

Somehow, some way, I think the Stepford co-anchors are at work.  Face it; Savannah’s just a newer model year.  She’ll grow up to be Ann Curry herself one day, if she’s lucky.  And Matt will still be there to nudge her off the furniture. 

It’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” meets “Simone.”  (That’s the 2002 Al Pacino movie wherein he plays a producer whose film is endangered when his star walks off the set.  So he creates a digital actress to substitute for the star.  But then SHE becomes an overnight sensation that everyone thinks is a real person!)   

OMG.  I drifted. 

You can see it’s an emotional issue for me - Ann and ageism and Savannah and ducks.  Where’s a person in the 55-to-64-year-old dematerializing demographic to turn?  MacNeil Lehrer?! 

Sure, some readers get my rapidly-becoming-obscure references to rock and roll music and “senior” stars seeking roles for the mature.  But what about the new kids on the block?  (Sorry.) 

No really.  I’ve got broad appeal.  I’m still relevant.  I have something to say!  I will not go quietly into that superficial swamp of commercial polling! 

Where are you Ann?  Hold my hand!  I’m on your side.