Gun fight at the not OK corral

I went to visit my 98-year old aunt yesterday at the retirement home where she lives in West Virginia. And there on the front door of the building was a sign on the door that read “No guns allowed.”  Which struck me as (A) very good, and (B) a ridiculous thing to have to tell people. And this is why I am for gun control: If you have to tell the public not to bring their guns into a retirement home, then clearly we do not feel the public is responsible enough to know this on their own. I am sorry if you are reading this and you feel you are a responsible gun owner. I know, it’s complicated. I’ve never held a gun, obviously never shot one, and have never ever felt the need to do either act.

Am I really the exception in America?

I get that people like or need to hunt. I can kind of understand the desire to have a gun for that purpose. As a carnivore who does not kill my own food, it would be dishonest for me to judge hunters. (Although I mean just hunters for food — people who shoot lions and tigers and rhinos have a special circle in hell.) But for all the people who think they need a gun for protection, and who then use that to justify bigger and bigger toys — I have no patience for you. Sorry. Maybe I’m lucky — I’ve never known anyone who has been the victim of a gun crime at the hand of another. On the other hand, I have known several people who took their own lives with a gun.

Am I the exception in America?

Today’s Washington Post carries an article on where each of the potential Republican candidates for President stands on gun control, and it’s pretty alarming. (And yes, they should do the same for the potential Democratic candidates: and Hillary Clinton is mentioned in the article.) For example:

And in the Senate, Rubio, Graham, Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) all helped torpedo Senate bills that would have expanded background checks on gun sales and limited the size of ammunition magazines. The measures had been proposed in the wake of the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn.

Because god knows it will take more than a bunch of little kids being massacred before we make any meaningful changes to the way guns and ammunition is available to the average citizen in this country.

I know that people feel strongly about this issue. I’ve told you where I stand. If you don’t understand why, take a look at the website or Facebook page for the group “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.” It’s not about control, it’s about bringing some sense back into this idea: “Pro-gun activists are worried about losing their guns, and moms are worried about losing their children. You tell me who’s going to win.”

It’s an uphill battle, but my money’s on the moms.

Am I the exception?

Nom nom nom de plume

Are you really still following this blog? Well good for you!  And good things come to those who wait — I’m back!  And I’m gearing up for a feisty political season, and resurrecting our old friend Pooky Shoehorn. Why go “back under,” you say? Well, honestly there are some things that need to be said and that are better said under an alias.

Thoughts? Oh, I’ve got ’em. So stay tuned and get ready to hear what I think about Ted Cruz, ‘leaning in,” Indiana, and much much more ….

Wednesday Poetry Break

I had planned to write a post about how fast the weekend flew by, and here it is already Wednesday. I’m starting to understand that you can’t count on big chunks of money or time being there later. Every year when I wait for my tax refund I think “This year [insert large trip, expensive remodeling, lasik surgery]”  but then once the bills are all paid there is no surplus and we’re back to thinking: “Next year …” .

Weekends are kind of like that for me. As Friday approaches I always think about 99 bazillion things that I will be doing on my two days off from work and from commuting. But then, there is a car accident (not me, and no one was seriously hurt), and a drunken bender (also not me, and not related to the car accident), there is shopping, there is cleaning, there is an all day affair on Sunday for my father’s 90th birthday.

Don’t get me wrong — any day you can kiss your father on the cheek and wish him Happy Birthday is a good, good day. But all these other things of everyday life, they put me in a sort of a daze where there’s very little room for creativity. How does anyone do it? And the of course, I begin perusing poems for today’s post and am once again reminded that the lack of time itself has been a subject for creativity souls — probably since the first humanoid picked up a stick and drew a line in the dirt. And then there’s Shakespeare.

Sonnet XIX: Devouring Time, Blunt thou the Lion’s Paws

By William Shakespeare

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-liv’d Phoenix in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleets,
And do whate’er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one more heinous crime:
O, carve not with the hours my love’s fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen!
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty’s pattern to succeeding men.
Yet do thy worst, old Time! Despite thy wrong
My love shall in my verse ever live young.
From The

When in Rome

Another phrase I don’t really “get.” But it seems to be the common wisdom, so i took it to heart and flushed $7 down the toilet last night.

I couldn’t have had a more dichotomous day yesterday — I spent the daylight hours among glorious red rocks and rolling hills, taking about, mmmm, a thousand pictures. I climbed up dusty paths for a better shot of the rocks against a stunningly blue sky.

And then, I came back to the hotel and walked in my dusty boots through the casino. This fish survived to later meet up with a colleague who is very enthusiastic about the slots. So I decided to join in the “fun” (that’s just not the first word that springs to mind when I look out at the face of people sitting at the slot machines, but that’s what they claim.)

I asked her for the cheapest games I could play, and she told me the ins and outs of the penny slots. I decided to live it up and put five dollars in and play the 30 cent bets. I know, I know — “Slow down, girl!”

So, for the first few minutes it was fun because we laughed at my losing. Then I won a few cents back. And so it went, back and forth. At my highest I had about $15, which of course I should have cashed out, but with the small amount I had out in, it was really more about entertainment then making money, so I kept going. Eventually I had 10 cents left on the machine, which wasn’t enough to play again. So two times I put a dollar bill in to play some more, each time losing, and each time with me thinking it would get to zero.

Finally, after I was down to 20 cents, I printed out my ticket. I should have taken it up to the cashier, but I figured I would keep it as a souvenir but then I saw the penny machines and figured I get the full “entertainment” out of my money, and about 10 minutes later, it was all gone.

It was fun because it was just a little bit of money, and we were laughing and joking as we played. But for me it was the fun of making the best of a situation. I mean here I am, I am going to experience it.

I would very much like to go do something else today — and luckily, my conference begins today — yippee!

Like a fish out of water


I always thought that phrase was a bit hyperbolic. I am fairly uncomfortable in Las Vegas, but to say that I am like a creature gasping for air and destined to die if I don’t return to my natural environment is a bit over the top.


I can’t even honestly say that everyone should come here once in their life because, no. There are so many nicer places. on this planet. The only reason to come here is if you are on your way somewhere else, like Red Rock Canyon, just outside the city, or Hoover Dam up the road. But Las Vegas itself?  Save yourself the effort of travel and just drink a lot and then literally flush your dollar bills down the toilet. Have the Las Vegas experience — without the annoying time difference!

Some readers may be getting a little upset with me now, because I understand there are people who actually enjoy Las Vegas. Maybe I just haven’t found the right things to do here. I was here once before and saw Penn and Teller, and yes, that was fun. But incredibly expensive and not a ticket I would have purchased on my own. Maybe if I was a big Celine fan, but no.

All I see when I look around is ordinary-looking people sitting in front of slot machines, inserting a dollar, pushing a button, and repeating the process over and over again. Hey that looks like fun!

And then nothing says Americans value the sanctity of traditional marriage like a wedding party trooping through the casino, drinks in hand, the trail of the bright white wedding dress dragging across the casino floor.  Good thing kids can’t see this.

But wait! They can!  Because you can’t get to anything without going through the casino, kids CAN walk through on the way to the restaurants and shops. “Daddy why is that man kissing his dice and crying?”

If I were a millionaire and wanted to experience luxury, I would go to Paris, or London, or New York. But I am not a millionaire and I don’t have money to throw around. So to me, playing these games and acting this way as if we were all loaded just seems … silly! But what do I know — many years ago, some very nice people set up shop out here in the desert just so others could have a little fun and enjoy themselves. What nice, selfless people they were.

Flush.  Wheeeeeeee!


Friday, dear Friday

It was a tradition in the previous iterations of this blog to post a video on Fridays, and I think this is a fitting one for the way my week has been going. Fair warning, tomorrow I will be traveling and there is a SLIGHT POSSIBILITY I will not post tomorrow.

I promise to have pretty pictures when I post next.

Must. Write. Something.

Why is it that as soon as you announce your grand intentions, everything seems to conspire to blow up in your face?  From the man behind the house who was banging around in his shed at 1:30 am today (and the dog barking which followed that), to the web site I manage suddenly going down at some point last evening — this has not been the most peaceful and reflective of times.

Sometimes previously I’ve used the long drive of my commute to mull over topics for the blog. Today I was so deep in thought about the website and about my Dad’s birthday and about getting cat food before I leave on a business trip in a couple of days, that I drove right past my exit off the Parkway.

Well, I promised to write something every day.  I did not promise it would be profound.

“I am trying to resume my pen”

I suppose there comes a time in one’s life when you have to accept who you are and just run with it.  If you have any sort of creative bone in you at all, that can be tough when more of your bones are filled with insecurity and self-doubt. I don’t need a therapist to tell me what it means that I struggle to draw or paint — I know I’m supposed to just brush upwards in one bold stroke … but I can’t. I worry about how I’m holding the brush, about whether I’m pressing too hard, will it look stupid. And voila! It becomes a mess!

Yeah, painting’s not really my thing.  But I do like to write, and I do feel slightly more confident in my writing abilities than in my painting abilities. And just like everyone else who enjoys writing, I have a million story ideas running about in my head. The rub is getting them down on paper.  Sure I’ve read books on writing. (Which by the way, is a great way to avoid actually writing.) They all say things like “carve out time in every day to write, even if it means getting up an hour earlier every day.”  I already get up at 5 am for a long commute, so I don’t see that happening. Yet I know that some of the best authors in history also had a full time job while they wrote their masterpieces.  For years I wondered about Nathaniel Hawthorne working at the Customs House and writing, and then I came across these words he wrote to his friend Mr Longfellow:

I am trying to resume my pen… Whenever I sit alone, or walk alone, I find myself dreaming about stories, as of old; but these forenoons in the Custom House undo all that the afternoons and evenings have done. I should be happier if I could write.

See? I should be happier if I could write, too, dear Nathaniel! Much as he must have found time here and there in every one of his days, I hope to write something here at the old blog every day.  Some days it may just be a paragraph, other days it will surely be longer. Some days it will be serious, but generally not.

I look around at the elders of my family, and I see lives well lived, fully lived. Today is my aunt’s 97th birthday, in a few weeks my Dad turns 90. When we lost my mom last year to a stroke, she was just shy of her 92nd birthday. It’s quite possible I could live another 40 years, all the time saying to myself, “I really wish I had time to write.”   So instead, this place is going to be my exercise, my structure, my daily rant. Call it what you want. This little blog has been a faithful friend to me in good times and bad. As I flirt with Facebook and Twitter, Nailing Jello to the Wall is always here waiting for me. If I took the time I spend reading summaries of posts about celebrities on Facebook, and instead spent that time here, well. I think we know when there’s too much junk food in our diet. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Gawker.

So let’s do this thing.

(Hawthorne quote from: Miller, Edwin Haviland. Salem Is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1991. ISBN 0-87745-332-2.)