Saturday, December 28, 2013

Patience: the Most Annoying Virtue of All, Or, Fools Rush In

Imagine we have gone camping: you and I and a few friends. We are nearing the end of the trip and you and I decide to go for a hike. Not a long hike: just a few hours of nature and us. Because we are running out of camping time and the light is waning, we rush off into the woods. Sadly, we do not take our time and prepare for the hike. We don't bring some rations. Or an extra layer of clothing. Or a compass (pretend the GPS on our phones doesn't work because of low service). Plus, we are only planning on a few hours, remember?

We head off in a direction hoping for a little nature spotting. We chat as we walk. Our walk becomes more about our conversation than the nature so we don't pay enough attention to the foliage as we pass.

A couple of hours go by and we realize that we are lost in the woods without the proper gear, any food, or any way to determine which way we should head. Because we didn't bother with a compass, we don' t know which direction we have been heading in. We are starting to get cold and hungry.

Too dramatic? Perhaps, a more realistic example then.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Pinocchio Complex

As a girl, I was a Tomboy. As an adult, I feel like a girl. Well, a teenager. With an awesome fashion sense. I have a job. And credit. I pay bills. (Oh, the bills I pay!) I am on the third car I have purchased myself. And it happens to be my second brand new car.

But I sometimes wonder when I'll be An Adult.
Pinocchio from Wikipedia

I often find myself wondering when I will be A Real Writer. As I sit here, typing these words, working through what it is I want to say, I feel like a kid playing pretend. (I'm going to be a writer when I grow up!)

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Enemy Within

On the long, wakeful nights when I contemplate the End of Life as I know it, a heavy and wearying
depression tries to take hold. Its embrace at first seems light, as though it barely brushes against me. It whispers that it isn't dangerous. The Depression sings sweetly of a darkness without end that I can create if rule under the Mothmen is too oppressive.

Depression is a liar. It tries to trick me into thinking it's a long-forgotten friend. It is no friend. No confidant. It is an enemy that lives in the dark places of the mind waiting for a moment of weakness so that it can drag its victim into the Pit of Despair.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston, you're doing it right.

Yesterday, near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, about three hours after the winners crossed the line and approximately forty minutes after the Red Sox beat the Rays at nearby Fenway Park, two bombs went off within seconds of each other. According to USA Today, as of 1:42 AM EDT on 16 April 2013, at least three people were killed by the blasts and more than 141 people were injured.

From USA Today
The bombs went off around 2:45 in the afternoon. I heard about it from a coworker around 3:00. Because I was not in the area, I do not have firsthand information about the explosions. I do not have information that is not readily available to anyone with an Internet connection.

However, I was able to see live images of the immediate aftermath. For the most part, I would rather not have seen what people who, live on the scene, were able to post to social media sites. When I started searching for information, I knew this would be the case: I was researching a terrorist attack.

(Please note: when I say terrorist, I do not have any particular nationality in mind. A person who makes an attack of this sort, regardless of where he was born or raised, of his religious or political affiliations, is a terrorist.)

However, amid the blood and chaos, I saw something that gave me hope and made me proud: the people of Boston banded together, in their fear and pain, to help one another through the crisis.

While live camera feeds and still photos showed viewers the horrors of the day in intensely graphic detail, it also showed an almost unbelievably calm and orderly scene. Everyone was in shock, but I believe that the calm came from a deep routed resilience and sense of community. Those who were able helped those who needed assistance. The Red Cross announced that, at the time, they had enough blood and that immediate donations were not required. An announcement of this sort must have been prefaced by a surge of people wishing to help.


Counseling Centers in Boston

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

I'm sorry. You want me to sleep where?

When I was a kid my parents decided to join a camping club. On the weekends during the summer and early fall, we would pack up and head to a campground. They were big woodsy places, usually on Cape Cod or in Connecticut, with a clubhouse with a pool at the top of the Hill and a few random bathhouses strategically placed around the grounds. Invariably, there was a lake and a small, sad playground.

During the day, we kids would play in the woods or down at the lake. In the evenings there were often games at the clubhouses or late night swims at the pool. Late night went until about 9:00 PM. At the campsite, we would build a fire. By we, I mean my parents and whichever of the other campers were our weekend friends.

For some reason, even after my parents purchased a camper, the kids (myself, my sister, and two brothers) had to sleep in tents. Mom said something about not wanting to track dirt into the camper. There were rules about the camper. (They usually involved not being allowed to go into it and pretending that there wasn't a toilet in it.)

From Glamping Hub
I hated camping. There were bugs, spiders, wildlife, spiders, possible serial killers, and spiders in those woods. When it was time for bed, I wished I could sleep, but nature was too close. I was eleven when we started camping - practically and adult! - I knew that canvas wasn't keeping bears out! We never actually camped in bear country, but it wouldn't keep anything else out that wanted in. My point stands.

I still dislike the idea of camping and avoid actually doing it whenever possible. Even though it seems more appealing, I do not understand glamping. However, I have to admit, I learned some valuable survival skills during those summers of boredom and bugs.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Survivor's Toolbox: Negotiation Training

I am not much of a bargain hunter. I do not like to ask for deals or discounts or specials. I have heard of the Secret Starbucks Menu but have never partaken of it. I am that person who gets ripped off at a yard sale. What I am saying is that, until recently, if I were to end up in a position where I had to haggle or negotiate, I probably would not do well.

At my day job, I was given the opportunity to take a negotiation training course. I didn't want to take it (in large part because I knew it would not involve a Hostage Situation). I tried to get out of doing it a few times but eventually I caved. In hindsight, I most likely could not get out of taking the course because I did not know how to negotiate very well.

I did not become a negotiation expert after a five week, ten hour, course. However, I did learn a few things that will definitely come in handy when, after the Sentient Pet Rock Uprising, I am trying to negotiate with a farmer for a larger, yet less radioactive, chicken.

The following are a few tips. This list is by no means all encompassing.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Do Not Panic. I Repeat: Do Not Panic.

Here in the US Northeast, we are having a bit of a storm. The winds are gusting around 40 miles per hour at the moment. Visibility is nil. Massachusetts has a driving ban on that if violated could mean a $500 fine and a year in jail.

If you are in this part of the world: don't panic. We've done this before. We'll do it again.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Survivor's Bookshelf: How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It

Find it on Amazon
I've been working on this book review for a while. What I mean is I have been trying desperately to read the book all the way through. The book in question is How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It by James Wesley, Rawles the founder of

My problem with this book is not its content. I just didn't enjoy reading it. I found the prose both stilted and self-congradulatory. The author uses abbreviations that are overly long and unwieldy (e.g. - TEOTWAWKI). These two flaws kept me from being engaged by the material: they made reading this book intensely difficult because I felt like I was being lectured at rather than conversed with.

That said, How to Survive... works as a survival reference. The chapters are well defined. The index works as indices should. The author has included an abundance of useful lists. In fact, chapter two, Priorities: Your List of Lists, is a collection of lists; each of which has its own distinct purpose.

While this works as a reference guide, I found that some of the advice the author gives unhelpful for the majority of people. Perhaps some have the funds to have more than one home, stock all their homes with weaponry and food, and rotate their larders frequently. Unfortunately, most people do not have this luxury. However, if the reader chooses the advice she takes selectively, this is not a problem. We can also take the optimists' route and plan for when we will have multiple homes and the funds to stock them.

Misgivings about the prose and the helpfulness some of the advice aside, I would recommend this book strictly as a reference guide. I did not find it a fun read. I did find loads of information (via the index) about what to do before and during a social collapse to survive as well as possible.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fiction: Marie's Curio

The shop was somehow both claustrophobic and never-ending. Odd objects littered the mismatched shelving. Any bookcases, basement shelving, or crates that found themselves in the vicinity of Marie’s Curio couldn’t help but end up inside, forced to hold old books, ancient lamps, video tapes, trivets, magazines, bowls, teddy bears, crystal goblets, collections of China, singles of China, paintings set in China, bar sets, radios, ham radios and any other piece of usable junk. All sizes, shapes, colors, and textures of shelving found itself sucked into the store by some unseen shelving magnet.

An equally mysterious magnet drew the junk and treasure that littered the shelves’ surfaces. Customers were drawn in by something like gravity: a pull so strong that even though all they saw from outside were tarnished silver and junk drawers dumped out onto flat surfaces, they felt compelled to go in and search for Treasure.