Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thanks for the visit.

It's 1:40 in the afternoon on this last day of the month and only 18 page-views away from the 500 mark.

I'm completely surprised how my visitors numbers soared after writing a silly review on a pizza product review and from blogging support a new book by an almost famous writer.

Of course, I have no illusion about this blog gaining fame and fortune. Who am I kidding? This blog is as visible as Kermit the Frog working on the movie set with green screens. I'm here, but where am I? "Adapt, Adopt, and Improve" is my play area and it shows. Hence, the lack of repeat visitors and comments.

So, as June passes by as an unexpected blip of popularity, who knows what July will be. No matter what happens, I just want thank you for visiting.

UPDATE: As of midnight: 502 hits and visitors.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Am I A Hottie, Baby?

I'm sweating to the oldies. That's right, the summer heat is in full solar nuclear bloom, the air conditioner is broke, and "I love Lucy " is on the TV.

The outside is at a record-breaking 40 degrees centigrade; or, as I prefer to call it, 104 degrees F! The "F" also stands for "Fahrenheit".

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It started as such a quiet day

Have you ever been in the solemn silence of a church or in a hushed auditorium just as a someone gently steps up to the podium? Then you know the thrill caused by a misbehaving sound system unexpectedly feeding back into the microphone. The resulting squeal has been known to take the curl out of many a fine hairdo, and elicit a surprising swear word or two from an otherwise peaceful person.

As a handy tool for today's musical prankster, this simple phenomenon is called feedback. Because feedback is a straightforward process, you don't have to have expensive, high-quality equipment to pull off this gag. Sure, you could buy EVH Amplifiers, and Sennheiser dynamic microphones. But, for a little more excitement with your joke, stick with the really cheap electronics – those made with duct tape, rusty wires, and glue strips. In fact, you don't even have to spend a dime to liven up your afternoon.

Start by casually walking into your local music shop. While no one is looking, connect a cheap guitar and low grade speaker to a bottom-of-the-line amplifier. Next, build another system, but use a microphone in place of the guitar. With the amps off, have the volumes knobs cranked to maximum.

Now the fun begins. Arrange the equipment by placing the microphone from the second group in front of a speaker from the first group. Repeatedly add speaker->amplifier->microphone groups with the microphone in front of the previous speaker and build your chain as long as you can.

Finally, with the prep work all done, turn on the electronics and rest. You've certainly earned it! Relax while you wait for some unsuspecting soul to pickup the guitar and strum.

One strum is all it will take to set off this Rube Goldberg chain of over stimulated sound. If you're lucky, only the store windows will blow out. However, if the amplifiers are extremely cheap, the howling noise will abruptly stop. Don't worry, the next sound to follow will be sizzling pops along with pretty sparks and rock concert-like smoke as the cheap components self-destruct.

At this point, you should quietly leave the store. While the store owner and the firemen will, no doubt, be laughing themselves silly over your little shenanigans, this is a good time to practice humility. There will be time enough to claim the credit due to you when the police arrive at your home.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

fantasy versus reality.

With all the chaotic stories on TV, I just want to make sure we all understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction. An recent example of fiction would be "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter", while a recent example of nonfiction would be "John Edwards: Rielle Hunter".

Just so we're clear.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hooray for our side … Almost.

I consider myself very fortunate to be living in this great age of human inventions – from the spectacular achievement of space travel to the insignificant triumph of the ShamWow.

Of course, just because we invent something, doesn't mean that the problem is solved. It's an amazing accomplishment that humankind has invented age-defying facial cream. At the same time, you probably notice that gravity has yet to lose its battle.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

too soon or not soon enough?

After being found guilty, I heard that Jerry Sandusky quickly cancelled his victory party at Chuck E Cheese.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fear Your Furniture.

Last week, the National Counter-Terrorism Center released its stunning 2011 Report on Terrorism. Guess what? The NCTC says you, as an American, are more likely to be killed by your furniture than by acts of terrorism.

What?! Have the terrible terrorists won by converting our innocent furniture? Have these meanies of the middle east broken our faithful wooden desks and chairs into tiny splinter groups?

Wait a minute. How do you know if your furniture has been converted?

I'm glad you asked. As an owner of fine furniture (until it gets repossessed next week - I didn't pay my exorcist bill), let me offer a few helpful hints.

You have justifiable suspicions if you noticed any of the following:
- Your Feng Shui has developed Feng bin Shui'n tendencies.
- Lebanese ceder furnishings have recently set up residence with your American pines.
- A sober you discovered your liquor cabinet stoned ... by rocks.
- After arranging your couch and davenport, you find them reorientated toward Mecca. NOTE: This must happen at least 5 times during the day. Anything less and you can blame your cat with have a little fun with your fears. Of course, you can stop your cat's shenanigans by casually mentioning how Persia rugs are made from skins of prankster felines.

Even if you notice a few oddities in your home (aside from the usual teenagers and spouse antics), you shouldn't worry. Our government is on top of it - napping in a recliner. No, just kidding. Our officials are busy revamping the terror alert color codes. You may remember the green "leave the house unlocked and the keys in the car while sleeping" color of safety, followed by increased anxiety-inducing colors of blue, yellow, orange, and finally "put your head between your legs and kiss yourself goodbye" red. We will soon have new stages of terror alert: starting with boringly safe polyester, then vinyl, silk, leather, and finally slip cover ("be as scared as you want, we'll clean it all off later").

Also, the fine folks at Home Land security ask that we take our furniture to the airports. There, competent agents of the TSA will put their well-rehearsed security talents to work by strip-searching sofas, undressing dressers, probing the cavities of grandfather clocks, and slowing all moveables to a dead stop.

Speaking of bureaus, our illustrious department of the FBI have already infiltrated several IKEA and furniture stores around the country. So you can sleep even safer tonight. If nothing else, the FBI will do its best to keep the Secret Service away from the love seats.

In short, rest assured that your government is doing all that it can. In addition to our current gaggle of counter-terrorism units, we'll soon be surrounding by forces trained in counter-top-terrorism. While you marble at their tactics, you can bet you won't take these superior forces for granite. (I apologize for the puns, but they are for your safety. If you heard groaning other than your own, take action immediately.)

Of course, the government can't everything (even if they spend like they can.) So protect yourself. Make a list of everything in your precious home. On your list, add a "Bin here, done that" column to mark off as you check IDs, and nail down everything that shouldn't move. We'll show those terrorists who's boss ... one stick of furniture at a time!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Perhaps it was a bad idea.

Perhaps it was a bad idea to have staring contests with the sun. What did I know? I was young and foolish and almost won last week's challenge.

So ... Hurray! I'm going blind. That news wasn't really a surprise to me - I could see it coming. Actually, it became more obscure - the floaters in my eyes and my nearsightedness have been getting annoyingly worse over these past few months.

No, the surprising news came from my eye doctor. Yesterday, he said I am developing cataracts. I said I'd rather be developing film - the photograph kind, not this wispy obstruction clouding my sight.

I am sure blindness will have its plus side. I won't miss looking at the ugliness in the world. Hopefully, I have enough memories of beauty to sustain me during my dark days.

While you can't have 'cataracts' without a 'cat', the untreated result involves a dog. Maybe I'll get a seeing eye dog. Then I could walk into a store, swing the dog by it's tail, and say I'm just looking around. Then again, if I do get paired with this life-saving animal, perhaps I better not ask if I can take my pet for a spin first.

I wish it were my sense of smell going instead of my sense of sight. Without my nose working, I could continue with my works of pencil sketches. Without my eyes working, the best I can do is rub my nose on the canvas. Unfortunately, I don't recall the guidance counselor recommending a promising career in "nose art".

Oh well. Please excuse me. The sun taunts me into just one more game. We'll see who wins this time. Or we'll just see ... for a little while longer anyway.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


As we sat at the table after eating our lunch, Mexican music blared over our heads. Odd because this was a Japanese restaurant. No, just kidding. My friends and I had gathered for our ritual Friday lunch at our favorite Mexican eatery.

One of my friends showed off the capabilities of her new iPhone by pointing it at the speaker while running an app called Shazam. Within seconds, Shazam not only identified the name and artist of this Banda song, it also begin playing the annoyingly melodious concoction of tuba and accordion for us. Amazing!

This would've been enough to impress us except for what followed. While sitting next to the proud owner of the iPhone, my other friend unexpectedly sounded an intestinal tweet* - or, as you old school types would have said - he farted.

The Shazam app faithfully reacted to that short burst of musical notes. Within seconds, it gave us the phone number to Congressional switchboard. Amazing!

*Sorry, just trying to keep it modern. Even so, you still have to watch out for those hashtags. They can get messy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Jeff's Challenge.

I almost feel like I've joined an AAA group. Sheepishly, I stand here in front of all of you and say, "Hi, I'm Ron. I'm a writer and I don't know what I'm doing. I don't need to be stopped, but directed - a knowledgeable critic, a helpful reader, an encouraging editor - just a little guidance with what I write."

But to say that feels like begging. "Say, buddy, can you spare an better verb? It's been a rough week, you see; my sentence structure is a little off. Whatever you can spare will help. A few words, even a couple of letters. Besides F and U, I mean. Yeah, that's ok, thanks anyway."

You know, if it wasn't for readers, writing would be much, much easier - just not as much as fun or rewarding. So I'll take Jeff's challenge to connect with other writers. Maybe they feel like I do.

"Hi, I'm Ron ..."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Soon To Be: MACC - Mothers Against Caffeine Consumption?

Want to treat your body better? Well, according to several kill-joy articles that crossed my RSS feed this week, we must drink little or no coffee. At the very least, these obviously perky morning-type writers want us to start drinking "responsible". As the old saying goes, "Friends don't let friend get wired." (Unless you're a puppet.)

You know, I thought I have been an excellent caretaker of that holiest of temples: my body. Aside from a few dusty pews (blamed on the dog, of course), I thought I was doing fine.

To me, responsible coffee drinking means going into Starbucks and ordering a Grande sugar-free, non-fat, heavy on the whipped cream, vanilla latte with 3 shots of espresso, filled 2/3 to the top, pouring whole milk on top with 3 shakes of Cinnamon, followed by extra whipped foam and a little soy latte. * The responsible part comes from you ordering this with a straight face and your pinky extended as you hand over your wallet to be vacuum- cleaned of cash (the vacuum-cleaning is a free service, by the way).

So how do you know if you've "coffee'd" irresponsibly? Fortunately, like everything else, there's an app for that. As of today, my ancient iPhone 3G runs the "Caffeine Zone 2 Lite" app. Once you have entered your weight, this handy piece of coding tracks the time you drank your coffee, how quickly you drained your cup, and the amount of invigorating goodness you poured down your throat. The app then shows you how long the caffeine lasts in your system as you buzz about saving the world from kill-joy articles on responsible coffee drinking.

Yes, I know. Some people do take things to excess. And yes, perhaps you need a wee less caffeine if you can thread a sewing machine while it's running. But aside from those who could stand still during an earthquake, most of us know our limits and act accordingly.

Not to brag about my actions, but my girlfriends have often compared me to coffee: I'm warm, dark (when the lights are out), and I keep them up all night - usually from snoring. I should point out these comments were made by ex-girlfriends, a couple of whom have been writing kill-joy articles on coffee.

Hey, just a minute ...

*A little coffee trivia: "Soy latte" is not Spanish for "I am late". I discovered this little fact when I added that phrase to my order one morning while in a hurry. The Mexican barista standing behind the counter was not impressed. Lucky for me, he did not charge for the spit added to my drink.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

not so psychic after all.

As I walked up to my car in Walmart's parking lot, I noticed someone had attached a flyer to my windshield. Being the curious soul that I am, I freed the paper and read the large, colorful print, "Call now for a free psychic reading!" I then threw the flyer into the trash. After all, how good can that psychic be if they didn't foresee me trashing their sales literature?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

today's revelation.

I just watched my friend sit on her glasses. That was silly of her. Everyone knows that hindsight is 20/20.

In all fairness, I should mention that she doesn't have any child. As we parents all know, once she has a youngster or two, those eyes should move to the back of her head. Of course, she will still have to watch where she sits.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Don't know nuthin' 'bout birthin' them words.

The more I work at writing, the more I think I understand the trauma of giving birth. Both processes are frustrating and painful and messy. But in the end, I have produced a wonderful child – one that I wish was just a little bit smarter and more beautiful than everyone else's.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

How to write a novel.

It's easy I'm told. Just write 250 to 300 words a day, you will have a novel at the end of a year.

Yeah. Or, as would be in my case, a collection of 100,000 words and a hope that the novel fairy will put a novel under my pillow. Something I can chew on during my sleep. When I awake, I can complain that someone has been putting words in my mouth. Maybe my girlfriend will be close by so she can take the words right out of my mouth. (Not that that has ever happened before.) How's that for a novel idea!

I guess collecting words wouldn't a bad hobby. Daniel Webster made a dictionary with his collection. And, so far, the TV show "Hoarders" hasn't featured anyone hoarding words. (Squirreling away books and magazines doesn't count. That's just amassing paper that has letter patterns.)

The secret to writing that novel, or collecting words, is ... to start: first an idea, turn it into a letter, then a word, followed by more words, then a sentence, then a paragraph. Putting off the 'start' step - or if you like big words: procrastination - gets you nowhere. Perhaps I could start by writing a mystery, science-fiction, romance book about procrastination. I could call it "Read Me Later When You Love Me On the Moon. (How Did We Get There?)"

Maybe not. Jumping into writing a book on procrastination seems self-defeating.

Monday, June 04, 2012

This is a toothful post. Weally and for twue.

With thanks to my still-in-operation postal service, I received a sales coupon for Colgate's "Optic White" toothpaste. I guess Colgate wants your eye teeth to do a better job of watching what you eat.

But what if you no longer have your eye teeth? Does Colgate have a comparable product? Is there a "Optic Clear", "Optic Non-white", or even "No-optic-for-you White"?

Of course, you have to be careful with product labels. Some cultural groups have a sensitivity to the most innocence of words. I'm surprised Colgate actually put "Optic White" on their toothpaste. No doubt this happened only after months of deliberation between their lawyers and various ethnic groups. The last thing Colgate needs is a lawsuit because someone is offended by the word, "Optic".

Friday, June 01, 2012

I must be a twit.

I read that you can use Twitter to boost your popularity, to get more traffic to your site, even to win friends and fame and money. But Twitter just frustrates me.

All I can say at this moment is ... #hashtag, you're it!

The Art of Perler Beads

As the North Carolina summer rolled out its heated welcome mat of sun and bugs and torrential storms, I thought back to my youthful summer breaks in New Hampshire - no air conditioning, 3 TV channels, bratty younger sisters, and boredom. Ah, the good old days.

One year, my parents tried to change this situation: they bought us Perler beads. You might remember these tiny, hollowed-out cylinders. You would arrange these rubbery grains of colored plastic on a pegboard to make all sorts of patterns that, nowadays, look like pixels on an flat-screen TV.

At first, my parent had a success on their hands. Instead of hours of us idiotically bickering, we spent many happy, often quiet hours creating our masterpieces. But then ... well, I now realize that our activities soon drove my parents crazy. The longer we contentedly played, the more these little bits of plastic would magically migrate all over the house. Until, one day, just before school started, all of our beads mysteriously disappeared. My mom said something about Perler pieces needing a vacation.

Years later, I decided to share my creative adventure with my young children as they whined about having nothing to do. At the same time, Sam's Club had a large set of the beads on sale. ("Large", in Sam's Club terms, means barrel-sized.) My innocent memories coupled with my adult wallet made my purchasing decision easy enough. So, for the first few days, all was fine as my peaceful children exercised their imagination. Then, slowly and maddeningly, those plastic pellets turned me into my parents.

It started as I began finding multicolored pieces randomly throughout the house. Then, I would find these tiny bubbles in every possible nook (and some impossible nooks) - in the car, in the dog's dish, in my shoes, in the wash machine. Thanks to the heat from the dryer, a few melted their way into my work shirts. And don't make me explain how they wound up in the toilet. Of course, after a few weeks, these toys of creativity also took a vacation - to the Salvation Army store.

That was years ago. I had assumed that the Perler beads went the way of Garbage Pail Kids and tamagotchi pets. But no. Yesterday, as I set up my sister's art site on, I discovered the artwork of Steve Moore, who uses Perler beads to create amazing photo-like pictures of celebrities. For example, take a look at these:

Great work, don't you think? I'm wonder whose portrait Mr. Moore will create next? With the resurging interest in the Rocky Movie series, I wonder if Mr. Moore plans a picture of Rocky Balboa? The only way such a portrait could be more incredible is for Steve to include Tiger Eye Beads for that "eye of the Tiger" realism.

Nah! I don't that likeness will ever happen. The last thing we need is someone else to complain about Sylvester Stallone's beady little eyes.

P'zolo not 'zolo in price.

Go ahead - torture yourself. Take a look at fast food flyers just before supper. Not one of the best ideas to act on, is it. Sometimes the print runs when your drool hits it, obscuring the 'great' deal on the special offer coupons.

So, with my body racked with hunger, I held Pizza Hut's P'zolo advertisement at arm's length. Soon I found myself magically in my car and then in the parking lot of the Hut. (Most of that magic involves a buttered muffin 14 hours earlier, followed by missed lunch.)

I bought 4 of Pizza Hut's newest offering - The P'zolo - 2 buffalo chickens and 2 Italian steak. My first thought after I opened the take-out carton was a wish: I wished I knew which store sold those p'zolos advertised in promo picture.

My Pizza Hut disappointments measured about 6 inches in length, about 1 and 1/2 wide, and 1/2 inch deep. Not bad except these measurements contained mostly bread and cheese.

The 'buffalo' chicken p'zolos had about 8 small cubes of plain chicken. With the absence of any spice, I don't know what was 'buffalo' about this cheese stick of an appetizer - unless it's Pizza Hut thinking, "How can we buffalo our customers out of more of their money?"

The good news is that the green pepper filler in my Italian steak was thicker than the bread. The bad news is that the bread was thicker than the layer of meat spread sparing throughout this ... snack.

All in all, $5 for 2 is not 'zolo of a price. I would put this latest treat from Pizza Hut at the tasty, almost-overpriced edge of food-for-value scale.

Oh, you do get your choice of marinara OR ranch. Note the "OR". When I asked for both, the woman behind the counter looked at me as if I had just asked for McDonald's fries. I don't know if I'm more embarrassed that I asked both sauces or that I admit buying these doughy concoctions for supper.

Did this post help you in any way? If you're too embarrassed, let me know what your 'zolo experience has been.