Monday, July 31, 2006

Movies: Lady in the Water, Miami Vice, Monster House

I saw Lady in the Water last week. I agree with a fellow blogger who wrote that it was a marvellous movie, geared toward intellectuals and dreamers more than the common crowd, and I am still wondering how so many movie critics panned it. Perhaps it simply wasn't sexy enough for them.

I saw Miami Vice over the weekend. Apparently others did too, since it took in $25.2 million. It sucked.

As the movie opened, the first thing I thought was "Wow! Hollywood's trying to bring back white trash hair!" Colin Farrell, who plays Sonny, was sporting the same 'do we see in trailer parks across the nation: down to the shoulders, slicked back into a gooey, spackled mess with hair gel. He also has grown out a mustache worthy of any white supremacist. Could someone else have pulled this look off? Maybe... But Colin Farrell sure couldn't!

Eventually he was placed with an unbelievable love interest. There was no chemistry between the characters, and her sudden transformation from ruthless business woman to a bashful sex kitten is simply silly.

I think there is more time devoted to boring sex scenes between the different characters than there is time devoted to the plot. Sure, sex is great! Sex sells! So then do something worthy of 9 1/2 Weeks! I was yawning in my popcorn.

The plot is also the basic drug plot. For me, that is the most boring theme anyone could work with. It's worse than mafia plotlines! Well, no, it couldn't be worse. But it sure wasn't good! The guy I was with wanted to see it for the fantastic cars. Those lasted for the first 5 minutes, and after that, nothing else impressive rolled across the screen.

Miami Vice is hardly memorable. If you want to go see a great movie, and you don't want to try Lady in the Water, go see Monster House. It's not just for kids, and you'll lose yourself in the movie. For some of us, that's the only reason we go.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

So Hezbollah Wants Peace?

Hezbollah is crying uncle. I am not surprised. It's like the neighborhood bully who finally is getting the snot beaten out of him by a kid that he always thought he could pick on. Funny how they didn't want peace until they're losing.

"You start it, *I* finish it," my parents always warned me. That seems to be Israel's attitude right now. I wonder what they'll do? Will they take the high road and let the bully up off the pavement, or will they finish teaching him the manners that he's needed to be taught all these years?

The world awaits with baited breath.

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." - Albert Einstein

Friday, July 28, 2006

Panhandling Perfected

The ex-boyfriend has been checking in with me periodically. He's been "clean" for about 2 weeks now, and although he continues to struggle with the addiction every day, he claims he's making headway.

Now, before you panic, let me say again that I am strong, there is no trust left, there is no chance of his moving back in with me, or of my helping him financially. However, I also had 6 years with this man, and I know him well. In the past, he's been my best friend. I don't throw people away. I do what I have to do to stay sane, however. That means that I do keep him at a necessary distance.

Anyway, my ex has a marvellous marketing background. He's engaging and winsome. Yup! All the makings of a great con artist (which he is). In his program, he mixes with people from all walks of life: doctors, lawyers, or derelicts. When they come to this place, they've all hit rock bottom.

One of the men in the program is a panhandler. He would stand at street corners with a handmade sign begging for money, saying he was out of work. One day he asked my ex what he was doing wrong. My ex said "If you want to really make some money, you need to change a few things. First, get rid of the fake leg brace and get something smaller. Clean yourself up a little bit, and use a razor. Just make sure that you scrape the razor up a bit so that you don't look entirely clean shaven. Most importantly, get a new sign and write "Need money for booze".

The panhandler did exactly as he was told. The next day he made three times what he normally made in a day.

See? It always pays to hire a marketing consultant.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sexual Harassment at Tastee Twistee

I was reading about this topic in Deb's blog recently. I have experienced more than my share in the workplace, but I've never chosen to prosecute. (Life is short, time is sweet, and besides - there's no real money in it. Hey! I'm noble, but I'm not so noble that I have to clear the way for all my sisters out there. You're on your own. I'll support whatever you do, including kneecapping the jerk.)

I have a couple great stories, including the time that I was the only female executive in a male dominated company and still was expected to perform secretarial duties. Who knew that if you had a vagina you got to take phone messages and do light typing?

Anyway, this story happened when I was about 20 years old. Yeah, it was that long ago. :P

I was a perfume model for a large department store. This means that I had to look pretty and walk around extolling the virtues of whatever Cologne Of The Day we were promoting. I was at the front of the store when an entourage came strolling in.

The obvious leader of the entourage stopped when he saw me. I mean stopped, cold. The others grouped about him. He stared at me appraisingly and spoke in Spanish to a woman who translated for him. "He says that you may be exactly what he is looking for to promote his product," said the woman to me.

I won't name the product directly, but it was new to our market. It was a type of iced dessert. Let's call it Tastee Twistee. It turned out that he wanted a spokesmodel to show up at local events, and help promote Tastee Twistee. He offered to pay me twice what I was making as a perfume model and that's all it took for me to make up my mind. Sold!

I went on a couple gigs with different employees at first. But one day the owner did a gig with me, which was unusual. However, he was active in his business and friendly with everyone, so I didn't really think twice about it. We didn't communicate much, because his English was terrible and I knew very little Spanish. But for the most part, we were able to talk about the basics.

After the gig, as we were going home, he suggested that he take me out to dinner. It was late, I was starved, and (being naive) I thought he was an exceptionally nice boss to take me to Olive Garden.

Halfway through the meal, the conversation began to take an interesting turn. He asked if I liked clothing and jewelry. Well of course I do! What girl doesn't? Let's face it, guys. You may pretend otherwise, but you wish you could adorn yourselves like we do. Admit it! That's why rap stars are so busy throwing on the bling! They've got Vagina Envy, as Freud might say. If he was really drunk, that is.

So I said yes, and we began talking about what types of jewels were on my wish list. Then he began telling me about the country he was from, where jewelry was inexpensive and emeralds were readily available. From my perspective, we're talking about "a land flowing with milk and honey", so to speak.

He also brought up the proposal that I could start "tutoring" him in English. Not really, I said! I don't know Spanish! He argued that it wasn't necessary to know Spanish, which I found to be very odd. I recommended that he learn from the employee who was his translator during the day.

That's when he began talking expansively about how most men from his country keep mistresses, and that he could provide me lavishly with clothes and jewelry and a wonderful place to live.

I was married at the time, and I suggested slyly that it might be difficult for my husband to buy into the arrangement. I also indicated (very politely, since I didn't have another ride home and I didn't want to create a scene) that I was ready to go home.

As he dropped me off that night, he said "Goot bye, dahling! I luff you!" as I sprinted for my apartment where my husband patiently waited.

The next day I called his "translator" and told her of the incident. "I find that hard to believe," she said firmly.

"Well," I replied tartly, "I'm sorry that he hasn't approached you yet. Perhaps you're not his type. However, I assure you that it happened. I will not be returning to work."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dysfunctional Dr. Seuss

This poem was written about 8 years ago by a good friend of mine (who's agreed to let me publish it here). Another one of my silent readers is a big fan of it and says there are many fellow dysfunctionals out there, so here it is:

Dysfunctional Dr. Seuss
For grownups who aren’t

I hate my job, I hate my hair
I hate my boss, he doesn’t care!
My boyfriend’s ex is coming down,
I wish that I were out of town.
My own ex is a lunatic,
And acts so foul he makes me sick.
I’m going to court to show I’ve made
The child support I’ve already paid.
My child is told I’m going to hell,
Am I? I can no longer tell.
He’s also told I’m a bad mother,
And yet he says he wants no other.
Confusion reigns supreme in my life,
But thank god I’m no longer my ex’s wife!

(Hey! Don't blame me! I know it sucks! But I'm short on material today, because Wednesdays are deadline days. Too much work, not enough time. You know? So cut me some slack!)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What Time Would You Live In?

I have a meeting which will take most of the day today. It is preoccupying my mind to such an extent that I am experiencing writers block. However, I'm also currently working on a novel and would like to ask you this question:

If you could choose any time period to live in, which one would you choose and why? Please be realistic. For instance, if you say you want to live in the Dark Ages, be fully aware that you could die of the Black Plague. (Only in the last 70+ years do we have the great advantages which we take for granted). So what's the trade-off for the era you choose? If you are willing to face the Black Plague, what is so special about that era that makes it worth living in?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Too Pushy

OK, everyone sing along with me (in the tune of "I'm Too Sexy" by Fred She Said):

I'm too pushy for my love
Too pushy for my love
Love's going to leave me
I'm too pushy for my shirt
Too pushy for my shirt
So pushy it hurts
And I'm too pushy for Milan too pushy for Milan
New York and Japan
And I'm too pushy for your party
Too pushy for your party
No way I'm disco dancing
I'm a model you know what I mean
And I do my little turn on the catwalk
Yeah on the catwalk on the catwalk yeah
I do my little turn on the catwalk
I'm too pushy for my car too pushy for my car
Too pushy by far…

I've been told that I'm doomed and will never be able to have a satisfying relationship because I'm pushy: I'm too strong-willed. The truth is, I've been told these things while I'm trying very hard to not be pushy or strong-willed. What to do about it?

First, I know that not all of my friends see and think this about me. It's perceived by people who are weaker or more unsure of themselves. However, if someone is of a weaker temperment, it isn't my wish to make them uncomfortable.

Second, I can't help who I am. There's no doubt I'm opinionated, but I try to temper it with gentleness and humor. If I were in school, I'd probably be the class clown again. If I try to sublimate that, I would be stressed, grumpy, and then I would really become strident.

One of my well-meaning friends has suggested I date European men, because they are supposedly more in-tune with themselves and accepting of intelligent, strong women. Sure thing! I'll just strap on my backpack and hit Europe, staying at hostels along the way! Or is there something I'm missing, like a European Lonely Hearts dating service? Exclusive European Dance Clubs? Nope, scratch that idea. It isn't happening.

Another friend has told me to simply be quiet when I first meet a guy. OK, great. And just how is he supposed to get to know me? Can you picture our first dinner out together?

Bachelor #1: So, Saur, tell me about yourself!

Saur: (awkwardly) Well, Bachelor #1, I ... oh look! A dinner roll. Hang on a sec! (applies butter furiously) So, how 'bout them Devil Rays?

So that idea's out the window, too.

Although this sounds appallingly Zsa Zsa Gabor, men are attracted to my looks. But once they get in the door with flowers and chocolates, and I open my mouth, the chocolates go one way and the flowers go in the other direction as the guy beats a hasty retreat. "What?" I would say to his back as he ran for the car. "What did I say this time?"

The truth is that I'm 40. I'm too old to pretend that I'm something which I'm not. If I have to be Bambi to catch a guy, then I'd prefer to become an eccentric old maid. It just sucks that there aren't a lot of other options.

Due to my wish to protect my privacy (and due to the fact that many friends and family read my blog at times) I have to be careful what I say. There have been some wonderful opportunities but I have passed on them all for now. It's not that I need time to heal from my last relationship (which was over almost eight months ago now, and he's been gone for two). It's that I don't wish to continue to repeat my mistakes.

And it's tough to find a guy that wants a girl that thinks like Elayne Boosler, even if she does come in a pretty package.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

My Geography Lesson

Americans have a rotten grasp of geography. And I am living proof. It's not a gap in my knowlege: it's a gaping wound.

Jack and I were talking the other night. I am a descendant of people from Wales and related to the royal family of the Netherlands, and it came up in conversation. "Where is Holland?" asked Jack suddenly (knowing fully well that I am completely retarded when it comes to geography).

"What does Holland have to do with anything?" I asked.

"Holland is just another name for the Netherlands," he answered.

"No it isn't!" I said. I was thinking of a little girl I had known when I was very young, who had been from Holland. She was introduced to me by the same grandparents who always pounded my lineage into my head. Surely they would have told me if we were genetically related? They were so obsessive about all of our ties.

"It is!" said Jack. "Jean-Pierre's mother is from Holland. Where do you think Holland is?"

"Um," I said intelligently, "Near Germany?"

"Argh!" said Jack, or something equally gutteral. "OK, if I'm right, what do I get? No wait, scratch that. I'm pretty sure that I'm right and that's terrifying."

"Whoa, bud! Don't get ahead of yourself! You are so wrong. C'mon! Let's go check it out online," I said assertively. I pulled him into the study and cleared the paperwork from the extra chair next to me. "Sit down!" I commanded, dramatically motioning him into the chair. I googled maps of the Netherlands. "See?" I said triumphantly. "Holland isn't even near the Netherlands!"

"You're doing something wrong," he said. "Try putting in Holland and Netherlands maps." I did, and came up with maps showing that Holland and Netherland were somehow intertwined. When I went to the Wikipedia reference, it turned out that Holland is a province in the Netherlands, just as Florida is a part of the United States. So, I wasn't entirely wrong, but I sure as heck wasn't right, either. Jack retired to the couch, triumphant.

I need a remedial course in geography.

Friday, July 21, 2006

My Dad's Surprise Party

My family has two "birthday weeks": One in July, one in October. Being as this is the July one, we are partying like you wouldn't believe (all this is taking a toll on me, since my neck still isn't fully healed). Last night was my Dad's surprise party.

SaurKid and I got there just on time. Mom and Dad were due in another half hour. We were immediately swamped by family and friends we hadn't seen for a long time and, to our surprise, the crowd rapidly grew until it was standing room only. There were over 100 people there by the time Dad and Mom arrived.

The room was set up with at least 10 long tables, and a head table at the front. By the head table was a continual slide projection showing our family as we grew up and my father grew progressively balder. SaurKid watched it for a while as I murmered whispered in his ear. Finally he whispered back "I just realized something! There's a good chance I'll go bald, isn't there?"

"Since baldness is a hereditary trait passed through the female line, I'd have to say it's possible," I admitted. He grimaced.

The woman who had organized the party came by to tell everyone to take our places. SaurKid and I looked about for a place to sit, when she informed us that we were expected to sit at the head table. Good grief! SaurKid was nonplussed and all I could think about was the casual top and jeans I was wearing. Never the less, we took our places. About 90 people stared back at us. Thankfully, they turned out the lights and covered the slide projector. The room hushed. Mom and Dad had just been sighted.

"I hope this doesn't give grandpa another heart attack!" SaurKid muttered. Dad's best friend (and cardiologist) echoed him from a nearby table.

Within moments, they walked into the darkened room. The lights flashed on, and everyone yelled "surprise!" Dad gave the crowd a slow grin, and then began circling the room until the master of ceremonies demanded he take his seat up front. Mom simply looked startled. She later admitted to me that she had no idea that so many people were going to show!

After we sampled the buffet and visited with many of the people who were there, we settled back for the guest speakers who spoke of Dad in times and stories past. Some were hysterical, some poignant, but all were lovingly retold. Being as my father is quite famous in certain circles, there were many stories to go around.

The first speaker began, "When I first got the call to do this, I was on the road and my cellphone reception wasn't clear. I heard his name mentioned, and the date, and something about speaking here tonight. Well... given his age and his current state of health, I figured that he had just passed on and I was expected to give the eulogy! Since I haven't had the time to revise my notes..." (here he produced a stack of 3x5 cards and flipped dramatically through them) "...I will merely modify what I've prepared." He cleared his throat. "Dearly beloved..." he intoned.

It deteriorated rapidly from there.

After the speakers had done as much damage as possible, the gifts were passed around. By far, the best and most spectactular gift was a massive tarantula which was the size of a large seat cushion. Being a quirky scientist, Dad was very appreciative. I expect to see it hanging from the ceiling in his study when I go over to their house the next time.

It was yet another day of love and laughter, and a celebration of one more milestone which has been passed in our family. May there be many more to come.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The 5-Star Restaurant

Mom and Dad took me to a 5-star restaurant yesterday, to celebrate our birthdays (my father and I are only 2 days apart and Mom is next week).

Because I work from home, I generally can be found in yoga pants and stretchy shirts, so Mom reminded me that I was expected to dress up. I know! I know! Don't you think I remember all the times we went to the opera and we were the only ones in pantyhose and furs, Mom? (Note: we weren't wearing only pantyhose and furs, I must add. I have to protect Mom's reputation). I soon put their fears to rest. They were suitably impressed when they picked me up.

Outside the restaurant was a sign which read "Happy Birthday, Saur!" Being a complete cheeseball, I had to stop and snap a photo of it with my camera before we could go any further. Mom and Dad took my childish behavior with good grace. 40 years old and still as unsophisticated as a 20 year old: There should be a cautionary tale in there somewhere.

It appeared the restaurant had been opened solely for us. We were seated, and introduced to the chef, and the experience of a seven course meal began.

Our first course included two tiny, savory appetizers; one of raw, minced spicy tuna and one of tiny little grape tomatoes sauteed in butter and drizzled lightly with a spiced sauce.

The second course included three wonderful soups; maize, butternut, and sorrel mushrooms. This was followed by a Meyer lemon sorbet to cleanse the pallet.

The fourth course was a salad which included very fresh goat cheese. Not so fresh that they brought the goat to the table, mind you, but I think I heard it bleating out back.

The fifth course was the main course; a solitary prawn, displayed with it's claw reaching out toward us helplessly. I commented on it before I saw the chef behind us. He took it in good grace, and explained that the prawns were shown that way so that the customer knew it was a true prawn and not simply a shrimp. Once I tasted it, I really didn't care if it was a sea slug. It was fabulous! It was accompanied by a delectable filet of bison.

The cheese course consisted of little tasty balls of cheese formed about a solitary red grape and rolled in chopped nuts. We were allocated three each, and that was exactly the right amount.

The dessert course included a large spoonful of freshly made cheesecake icecream, three select imported chocolates, and a puff pastry oozing with a compote of fresh fruit poached in wine.

We were very grateful that the portions were as small as they were. Even so, we left stuffed!

When we arrived back home, I thanked them again for a wonderful meal and an enjoyable time. Our conversation had been as interesting as it always is. Dad walked me to the door. He is 70, I am 40, but he is still a gentleman and my father, and I am still his little girl.

I am very blessed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My "Surprise" Party

Ozma was a little miffed as we left the party last night. "You knew!" she said accusatorily.

"Of course I did!" I answered. I had told her that on Sunday.

"Someone told you!" she declared. There was no way she would believe otherwise.

Poor Ozma. It sucks to have a friend with a great memory, who also listens carefully to everyone and files it all away for later reference. Because the honest truth was, no one told me. I'm just trained to listen and I put the pieces together. And you know what? It was a good thing that I knew it was coming. I've had wayyyyy too many surprises lately and it would have added additional stress, even though she meant well.

Michelle and Hubby were there, along with my Mexican Family which includes Ozma and her daughter (Kitten), Ozma's sister Carmen and her hubby (Sam), Jack, their brother Dan, their cousin Steve, and Mom & Dad. We had drinks, snacks, a birthday cake, love and laughter.

Kitten got me the yellow sign above, and handed me a card with a lei wrapped around it. When I opened the card, it read "The lei is so that you can tell everyone that you might be 40 but you can still get laid. :)" Ohhhhh, so it's like that, is it? Thanks, Kitten. You brat!

Ozma and her parents got me a lovely pamper-me gift. Carmen and Sam got me a nice little set of perfumes. Dan got me balloons and cake (brimming with enough candles to set the restaurant on fire) and it took me two deep breaths to blow the darned things out! Everyone else contributed with their presence and love.

I wore my lei all night.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

News Flash!

Last night I met up with Chris, Carrie and Carrie's sister. We had a ball! I don't think I've laughed so hard in years. As Chris said later, we've never seen 3 hours fly by that fast! But I can't say any more. What happens in Dunedin stays in Dunedin. ;o)

Well, OK, there's one more thing I can say: There are people who would've given their right arm to have been there. They would've had enough material in three hours to write a novel. I was going to write more about the entire experience, but I think it needs to wait for another time, when I can get the others involved in the post.

A very special thank you to Chris for sponsoring the whole thing!

Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro are divorcing. I know, I know, this comes as a great shock to all of you. Apparently Carmen must've noticed the same thing *I* did: Hubby drooling over the different starlets he encounters. He was so obvious, he was probably leaving puddles all about, which is very inconvenient and could lead to all kinds of "slip n' fall" lawsuits. He was a walking liability.

Hezbollah vs. Israel: All I can say is "Go Israel!" I have no sympathy for the bad guys. And yes, Virginia, there still are bad guys. I just hope it doesn't escalate. Obviously this whole situation is a little unnerving for everyone in the international community right now. However, fellow blogger Barbara (an attorney in California) feels comfortable enough to be heading over there on vacation right now. My prayers go with her.

Homeowner's Insurance: I am one of the lucky ones still insured by Citizens (the state fund). But I have many friends who are riding out this hurricane season without any insurance whatsoever. Michelle's hubby recently informed me that my parents are considering dropping their hurricane coverage and simply doing what they can to "batten down the hatches" and hope for the best. He also told me that this is common for anyone with property on the beaches where (if they can get coverage at all) it is prohibitively expensive.

Florida is in the midst of an insurance crisis, and somehow no one knows what to do about it. This is shocking, when you realize that most of our elected officials are actually supposed to be both competant and representative of us. So, apparently we're all a bunch of weenies.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Big 4-0

I'm turning 40 this week. I am not looking forward to it. Last week I handed Zen Buddhist the phone. "Ozma wants you to call her. It's about my surprise birthday party next Tuesday. Tell her if you can go, but don't bother to confirm or deny it to me. I know," I said. Ozma is The Queen of Surprise Parties and All Tremble in Her Path.

I'm also going out for dinner and drinks with Chris (of the Sweet N' Saur blog) tonight and my parents are taking me to a 5-star restaurant on Wednesday. All this support is equivalent to a funeral wake. I am experiencing the death of my thirties.

Terrazzo was apparently invented by Satan himself, along with lima beans and hairnets. The stain didn't take, and I will need to do something else. As I meticulously painted the floor yesterday, Ozma sat nearby, mooning over her ex-boyfriend. By the time it was over, we were both so depressed that I was sawing at my wrists with a spackling knife. As I told Ozma's brother (Jack) later, some day I want my tombstone to read "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time." This seems to be the Theme of My Life. Obviously it's time for Plan B. I'll let you know when I've figured out exactly what Plan B is.

As you recall, I got the ex-boyfriend help from a drug treatment program through my church. He had promised he'd never go to the 9 o'clock service so that I could attend in peace. However, yesterday he was there. He approached me and we spoke pleasantly for a couple minutes. "This is what I screwed up and lost," he told a man that was with him. He always knows what to say, or so he believes. Truth can be charming, but he never overdoses on it.

Initially, I was polite and allowed them to sit with me. Although I tried to stay through the service, I realized I couldn't handle it any longer. You see, I can't worship in peace next to someone that I would prefer to mutilate. I whispered to him that I was leaving, and he left, too. On my way to the parking lot, he called out for me to wait. I did, and he walked me to my car.

I continued to be courteous until he attempted to kiss me. That's when I pushed him away and told him firmly that it was completely unacceptable as I wiped my mouth on my arm and spit in an unladylike way (picture Elmer Fudd after Bugs has kissed him). I also told him that although I wished him well, I would no longer attend that church. I will be going elsewhere from now on. This is a complication that I don't need.

I could hear my wallet moving around restlessly, however. I knew she wanted to get back into his pants. The slut!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Bathroom

Today I start on my son's bathroom. There's a lot of work to be done. I'll be taking before and after pictures of the floor. It's terrazzo, which is a concrete treatment that's not done anymore. The problem with terrazzo is that it turns colors and can be a nuisance to upkeep. You can either strip and refinish it or do what I'm going to try; staining it in a lovely fawn/beige and finishing it with a glossy topcoat. I'll let you know how successful I am! Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 14, 2006


My ex-boyfriend called last night. He's now in a rehab program and has been clean for 3 days. I would avoid his calls, but this is my business phone and I don't recognize the number.

"What are you wearing?" he asked, seductively.

"What am I...? A MuuMuu," I snapped.

That took him aback for a moment but he tried again. "What's under the MuuMuu?" he whispered.

"Another MuuMuu," I snarled. "OK? Basically it's layers of MuuMuus, I've gained 50 pounds in a month, and I don't shave any more. Anywhere. Look, I know it's my wallet that you miss. She's looking fine, and she's in leather today."

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I met Lana many years ago, when The Suncoast Resort became one of my organization's clients. For those of you who don't know this, it's advertised as the world's biggest gay resort and it's located in St. Petersburg, a neighboring town.

Due to my attempt to keep my friends and clients confidential, I need to add that the resort is no longer a client of mine (and there's no way of knowing which organization I represented at the time). Additionally, Lana moved to another state some time ago.

Lana called the other night to chat. She knows I'm a quasi-retired counselor and she wanted some objective advice. I've decided to share her story because it has a great deal in common with so many relationships, whether they're gay or straight.

Lana was in a steady relationship for over 10 years, but as with so many relationships, eventually little was left but friendship. So she struck out again, in pursuit of the Ideal Mate. She met Kim online and they began a relationship which ended in Kim's moving to the same town so that they could see each other more regularly.

Kim is in her mid thirties. Although she seemed initially perfect (who doesn't, at the beginning?) Lana is seeing red flags everywhere. "Am I nuts?" she asked. "What do you think?"

Kim is not able to be self-supportive. Her cousin has provided her with the rent for the house she's currently living in. No one else in her family wants to have much to do with her. Her ex-girlfriend claims that Kim robbed her blind when she left. And Kim is prone to wild mood swings and great insecurities. When Lana takes her anywhere, Lana is left footing the bill. Kim never offers to pay. "It's like I'm the Rich Boyfriend," complained Lana. "Am I being taken advantage of?"

Since I wasn't in professional mode, I was able to offer my opinion. "Yes!" I said. "I think you are." I also pointed out that if there was theft involved in the former relationship, there is something ugly which lies beneath the surface. That, combined with the mood swings, made me wonder if drugs were involved. But even if there weren't drugs in the equation, we are left with a selfish, needy individual who may simply be after Lana as a substitute mom.

What struck me is how universal these problems are. I have a straight friend who is going through the same situation. She finally asked her Boy Toy to step out of her life, once it was apparent that this was all he was.

In a world where there are so many people willing to drain you dry and use you up, how can you evaluate which ones are safe? The answer is, use caution. Examine everything. Never hesitate to ask questions. And, if worse comes to worst, there are always private detectives. I wish that *I* had hired one during my last relationship. But, most important of all, follow your gut instinct. Too many of us are willing to ignore the little red flags until we can make a quilt out of them.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Fallen Woman

Remember, click on the pic to view it in larger size.

My poor parents. Shortly after my breakup with my last boyfriend, my dad sat down next to me and asked for an update on what was going on. I caught him up on everything. Dad sat there in silence for a moment, and then said gently "You know, you really need a different class of friends, my dear."

ARGH! No matter how much I tried to explain to Dad that this guy was the exception and all my friends were kind, upstanding, loyal people who didn't do drugs or anything else illegal, I could see my Dad remained skeptical. Visions of his daughter whoring about in nightclubs, snorting coke and holding up banks probably pranced through his head.

Despite the fact that it remains unsaid, my parents secretly wonder what is wrong with their daughter. She's about to turn 40, has a series of failed relationships due to poor choices, although she's successful in every other area of her life. (Well, OK, I'm not a successful housekeeper, that's for sure).

And you know what, there's nothing wrong with me. Oh sure, there's something wrong with my choices so far. And I'm fully aware of that, and am trying to prevent such horrible decisions from happening in the future. But if you can't live life, make mistakes, and pick yourself up and brush yourself off and try it all over again, what is there that's left?

I'll tell you what. Sanity. That's what. :P

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My Experience With the New Lie Detector

Last week I was invited to a very secretive meeting by a software company that wants me "in" on the early stages of a new product: the legal lie detector. Now, they're very careful to never call it a lie detector, and they're very anxious to point out the differences between their product and the polygraph. But what it amounts to is a product which can get around the Employee Polygraph Protection Act.

It's mistakenly believed that the reason Congress passed the act was due to the unreliability of the lie detector. However, the primary reason that many congresspeople objected was that they felt it was an infringement on privacy rights. In my opinion, that is the biggest concern.

This new software is actually something that was developed by another government to combat terrorists. It has been repeatedly shown to be highly accurate. When initially tested, they screened 266 applicants for a job. Of those applicants, 27 scored as "high risk" and 199 scored as "low risk". The 27 were immediately pulled aside and subjected to additional testing using a polygraph machine and other tests. In the end, 89% of them admitted that they had made "material misstatements".

The 199 were hired. After a year, they were retested. A whopping 96% of them showed that there had been no deception or betrayal of the employer during that year of employment.

They wanted me to see a real demo that was applicable to me. So I took the test.

The test I took was structured as a screening tool for applicants for a telemarketing company. It's very convenient: people can be accurately tested over the telephone, with the software gauging the tones of the voice and making a judgement about what the applicant is feeling as they answer the questions. This is not technically detecting truth or lies. Instead, it is detecting emotion combined with other factors which indicate a subject may or may not be lying. It is this particular distinction which is key to the legality of the product.

Initially, they asked me to speak briefly about my day. They had the machine calibrated to my voice very quickly, and we moved onto the questions.

I was asked to relate a difficult customer problem I had encountered. I remembered this incident and re-told it. The second question was about how I solved the problem, and I told them what had been done. I answered a couple more questions. Then came the last question: if I knew another employee was stealing customer information and using it for fraud, would I report it? "Yes, immediately," I replied.

There was yet one more question that they could have asked (but didn't): "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" This is a tough one for me, because although it's a legal question, I believe that when someone has served their time, they should be allowed to continue to live their lives with impunity unless there's overwhelming evidence of recidivism (repeat offenders) in their particular area of crime.

When they analyzed my answers, the evidence came back showing that I was telling the truth. But I also got to see the data, and they explained each piece of it to me.

Being an emotionally charged person, my emotions consistently registered higher than what would be considered "normal". However, the voice fluctuations and rapidness of response indicated that I was telling the truth. My emotions averaged around 104% for each question (100% is average). But for the last question, my percentage shot up to 143%, with the rapidity of my response being the highest out of all the questions. Therefore, the auditor concluded, I was telling the truth but was very emotional about such a scenario. He was right.

Since this is not my particular area of expertise, I would be very interested in seeing what independant analysts thought of this product. However, from what I've seen, it's the wave of the future. And that is exciting from an employer's perspective, but frightening from an employee's perspective.

Applicants will no longer be able to exaggerate their importance in previous jobs. Employees will no longer be able to lie about why they're leaving the company in their exit interviews. There are myriad ways this product will enable the employer to accurately peer into the minds of their employees. But the potential for misuse is apparent. And the question remains, just as it did years ago: What about the individual's right to privacy?

And the other question is, what will my role in this be? I haven't decided yet.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to...

SaurKid and I were driving along, listening to heavy metal (our favorite type of music). The singer was intermittently screaming and singing something about gouging his eyes out. Even though I hate country music, there are times which both genres are eerily similar! :P

As we were getting out of the car, SaurKid commented "You know, when people go through a nervous breakdown, they usually get depressed and start talking about stuff like this. But what would happen to this guy if he had a breakdown? Would he start singing about soft, fuzzy bunnies?"

Good question.

Friday night Michelle, her hubby, and I met up with some of the readers of our school blog. Although some people opted to stay out later, I left around 9 PM and headed home.

I was in a town I wasn't familiar with, and when I suddenly saw a cop pull out behind me with lights flashing, I immediately pulled over with the realization that I must have violated some traffic law or missed a sign in the dark.

As I turned off the engine, I got out of my car and headed over to the police car. I forgot that they see this as a sign of aggression, although I was trying to be helpful. A woman's voice said "Ma'am, please get back in your car." I hastily complied.

She came up and asked for the usual information. I politely gave her my license and asked what I'd done. She told me that I'd blown through two stop signs! I apologized, telling her how unfamiliar I was with the town. I also said I'd have to look through my glove compartment for the insurance and registration. She said the license would do, at least for the moment.

As she ran my license, I located my paperwork and had it ready for her when she got back. I started to hand it over to her but she shook her head and gave me back my license.

"Nevermind," she said. "Just do me a favor. Don't run through any more stop signs, OK?" she asked.

"Oh wow, thank you!" I said, shaking her hand fervently. "You have no idea what I've been through this past month. I really appreciate this, more than you know!"

"No problem," she said, grinning. "By the way... you've got great hair!"

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Weekend Story: Humpty Dumpty

OK, due to Fred's request, we are going to embark on another Weekend Story.

The rules are simple: Keep it PG-13 or cleaner, if you post something at the same time as someone else, the one posting sooner keeps their post up and the one posting secondary needs to delete theirs and start fresh (believe it or not, this rarely happens). Feel free to contribute as much or as little as you want, and enjoy!

Humpty Dumpty

Prime Minister Dumpty was strolling among his roses when some street urchins went running by, chanting that obnoxious chant:

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses and all the King's men
Couldn't put Dumpty together again!"

The Prime Minister shuddered. He positively loathed children, and this was one reason why. Couldn't he be allowed to forget that traumatic incident? He was still missing a small part of his shell, which had to be filled in with spackle. But thanks to the miracle of Super Glue and some very talented girls at a nearby nail salon, he was as close to his original self as he ever would be.

His butler, Tom Thumb, came running up to him with his cell phone. "It's for you, sir!" reported Tom breathlessly. "The King!"

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Doggy Cafe

My life is terribly busy right now, and yesterday was no exception. Ozma turned out to be OK, but we're still awaiting her results.

My day began to decline in the afternoon when I saw how low my bank balance had fallen with all the home improvements that we've been forced to do lately. It got worse when I got a hoarse call from the ex-boyfriend, who said he simply wanted to let me know he was still alive (after no contact for 5 days). There will be some people who will be terribly disappointed to hear that.

But at 8 o'clock at night my phone rang, as I was lying dejectedly in my bed, trying to get into a new novel with few charms. Rico, one of my employees, was heading home. He knows what I've been going through, because it happened to him as well. He had simply wanted to check in, but when he heard my voice (yeesh! Am I that obvious?) he suggested that we take our dogs and go to The Doggy Cafe instead.

I opted to leave BoBo and BugEyes behind, but I met Rico and his dog at the cafe in Dunedin (a small town nearby). I was surprised to see the swarming nightlife that came out on a Wednesday night in their downtown area! There are quaint shops, restaurants and bars, and all were full of people milling around.

We joined other local pet owners outside the restaurant, where there are tables scattered about the broad sidewalk. Rico ordered a Bud Lite, I ordered an iced tea, and we munched on appetizers. He's apparently a regular, because countless people there approached him and introduced themselves to me. There's something about having a dog that makes us all approachable.

I met many "movers and shakers" who were reduced to the average after hours. This was a time to kick back with friends, relax, drift from table to table and dog to dog.

One dog there had recently been hit by a car, and was lying down, unable to walk well after her surgery. Other dogs were brought over to rub noses with her. Her owner demonstrated how she helped the dog walk by wrapping an elegant scarf around her back hips and holding them up while the dog moved about using her front paws. We watched as they walked into the night, the owner holding the colorfully patterned red scarf as a sling with the dog limping gamely along.

A pretty young black girl came by and fussed over Rico's dog. When we began to talk, I found out that she worked for a local newspaper and that we knew some of the same people. Then I discovered she had a dog like BoBo and that she was looking for a stud to mate her with. When I told her excitedly that I wanted to breed BoBo (so I could have one of his puppies) we became fast friends (and I became a doggy pimp!) We excitedly exchanged numbers. I may have a new miniature poodle puppy in the next 6 months or so!

Soon enough I was saying goodnight to Rico and his dog, and The Doggy Cafe. It was a warm but breezy night, and the stroll back to my car was pleasant. Next time I will take BoBo. Perhaps he'll have a chance to meet The Future Mrs. BoBo.

P.S. Due to a couple private questions, the answer is NO. Rico is not, nor will he ever be, a love interest.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Resignation from

I briefly signed up with but decided that I have way too much going on in my life to have to field emails from a bunch of different guys. It's difficult and draining.

And I've also re-affirmed that men are very visual creatures. Post a photo and if you're good looking, they don't care if you drool while you talk. ;o) Or course, I'm somewhat visual, too. We all are. But there's a difference between being attracted to someone or allowing it to make-or-break the deal. I was instantly bombarded when I posted a couple pictures, and I know it wasn't because of my sparkling wit!

Following is what I posted.

At this point, I've decided to remove my information. My dance card is full. Thank you so very much for your interest and I wish you the very best in your pursuit of The One.

As long as I have this platform, I'd like to say that I've heard repeatedly from many men that most of what they encounter are "gold diggers". To those men, I'd like to advise that you check to see what income bracket the woman has chosen for her date before you pursue her. Unless she's making the same income, she has no right to demand that of you. It's the mark of someone shallow and self-centered. Run while you can.

If for some reason you are going to turn someone down, be kind enough to at least write her and tell her why you're not interested or you changed your mind. She has the need to hear that. I've done it myself. It's not pleasant, but it's important.

Remember that "he who hesitates is lost". If you take too long to ask her out, she may get asked out by someone else. Of course she may be a serial dater (just out for the next meal) but she also may be looking for a relationship and you've just lost out.

Avoid talking about how "hot" she looks, or how you'd like to lick that outfit right off her. Unless she's a ho-bag, those comments are the kiss of death. Keep such comments to yourself until you've established a better chance of doing it.

If you're too choosy, you'll meet no one. Remember, you have baggage, too! Everyone does. She may be no Cinderella, but let's face it, guys - you're not Prince Charming, either.

I think this forum is the best one I've seen. I tried eharmony with terrible results. You're in the right place, and you have the opportunity to meet the woman of your dreams. I wish you the very best of luck.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th, everyone! I hope you intend to enjoy it as much as I do!

While you celebrate, please remember that we are not as independant as we should be. We are dependant on other countries for oil, food, and supplies. We left self-sufficiency behind many years ago.

Although this is not wrong, I see a country that has lost it's sense of self, it's sense of pride.

We are a people that sometimes mistakenly believe that other cultures are equivalent. This becomes a heinous mistake when we abandon our principals and beliefs in order to be politically correct. It is the erosion of these values that has caused the problems we are experiencing in modern-day America.

Still, we should embrace other peoples and other cultures, choosing the healthy values which will not conflict with our own. And cling to the standards of liberty and equality for all, as these are the values which often set us apart from the rest of the world. Only this way can we all be truly free.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Bam Bam

I was out till midnight last night, and in bed by one. Hey! Don't ask / don't tell! I'll fill you in someday. Trust me. *whew*

Anyway, at 7 AM this morning, Ozma showed up at my door. Moaning, I stumbled to the door and let her in. "Go away!" I griped. "I got to bed at 1!" Laughing, she ignored me and pushed past me. I was very glad she did, because I was horribly sore (the neck surgery 7 months ago never completely took care of the pain) and she's one of the most talented masseuses I've ever met. While she worked on my neck, we visited and I caught her up on my weekend (which was awesome!).

Ozma showed me her latest website, where she has pictures from her life over the years. That's when I saw a guy she affectionately calls "Bam Bam".

"Who is this?" I asked. I'd never met him.

"Oh, that's Bam Bam," she said. "He was a Calvin Klein model for a while, and he had a terrible crush on me. He flew down one year for Halloween and I made us matching costumes. He was Bam Bam, I was Pebbles. He was amazed that I remembered his proportions exactly. The costume fit him perfectly!"

So where is he now, I asked. She lost touch with him after a while, but believes he is now a policeman in a small midwestern town. So that's where models go when they retire. It's either that, or work in low-grade C movies.

Somewhere, somehow, someone is bent over a squad car, being handcuffed by this guy. There is a fine amount of irony in that.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

What is Your Favorite Fairytale?

I'm doing some research for a book I'm going to begin writing this summer, and I'd love to know what your favorite fairy (or folk) tale is, and why. Please give me as much info as possible, and (if it's obscure) tell me where I could find it. I appreciate any and all feedback!

Update on Ozma: She's better today, though still having some mild complications. Michelle informs me that Edward White Hospital sucks royally (which is obvious, I suppose). If Ozma continues to have problems, I'll drag her to a real hospital! Otherwise, her surgery is still scheduled for Thursday. Thank you so much for your concern.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Ozma's Health Complications

Ozma was admitted to the hospital this week, with heart palpitations, fatigue, backache and headache. It turned out that she needed a blood transfusion. This Thursday I'm taking her for exploratory surgery. They want to see what's going on (I suspect it may be an ovarian cyst).

Last night she called me because she was bleeding profusely again. I told her to get to the hospital. She called the hospital, instead. They told her "we don't handle that sort of thing. You need to call your gynecologist." I pointed out that there will be a lot of women in labor who will be quite disappointed to hear this.

Of course the hospital closest to her is a substandard hospital (Edward White) and I assume their idea of quality medical care is an x-ray. They didn't even put her through an MRI when they discovered the blood loss (with no identifiable source for the loss). An upper GI revealed nothing.

She finally reached her gynecologist, who told her that she needed to have bedrest for the entire weekend. We are all on tenterhooks until we get this solved.