Blah, blah, blahg

Cod Liver Oil 

My wife apparently grew up getting a teaspoon of cod liver oil every day, and she claims she was never sick.  So, maybe a year ago, she started the practice of feeding the stuff to our kids.  They're 5 and 6.  

It used to be rather comical, actually, because she did it in the morning, but always forgot until I was waiting for the bus, outside, with my son (daughter was too young for the bus, still).  Linda would come running out in her fuzzy bathrobe with the bottle of "magic elixir" and a spoon.  Like I said, rather comical.  I wonder if anybody ever noticed that Tucker had "fish breath" every day.

We've since transitioned to a nighttime dose instead, which gets around the bathrobe scene and the fish breath.

Surprisingly, by the way, niether of the kids ever really minded. Still don't.  They sort of make a "yuck" face, but it's always in that fun sort of way that kids like to do when they're just naturally embracing things of a disgusting nature.

Until one day, we ran out of cod liver oil.  Linda was overjoyed the next day (in a sad, nostalgic sort of way) that she actually found flavored cod liver oil!  She said she couldn't even find the regular stuff (which would be... fish-flavored, I guess).   So she bought two bottles -- one mint, one cherry.

As it turns out, the kids hate it.  Oh, they're still going through the bottles now, because we won't waste it.  But they hate it more than the old standard.

The moral of the story, I guess, is that some things just shouldn't be flavored.

This now gets me thinking about whether or not I have other "cod liver oils" in my life; things that are probably good for you, but just plain yucky and ought to stay that way.

The Conversation 

"What do you do for a living?" the woman behind the counter asked, begging me to reply...

"What do you think I do for a living?"

Pause. "Well, I was thinking that you look like an author."

"Hmm. I've never gotten that one before." I hadn't.

Another woman behind the counter, the one who had just taken my money for a Cheese Steak Hoagie and made up my mind for me about what to drink, chimed in her agreement with the other, apparently her boss. "See, that makes two people," the boss woman asserted.

We proceeded to make some small talk about how I was actually an author of sorts – an author of software, that is. She played along politely, but that clearly wasn't what she had in mind. I'd been told many times in my life that I "don't look like a programmer," which I always took as a complement. I'd even been told often enough that I look like a musician, but then that was probably because I wore an earring and had long hair – not because I actually am, also, a musician. Today, I have no earring, and short (graying) hair. But, I digress...

"It's probably the coat," I concluded, as I walked away to wait for my sandwich to be made. I was wearing a waist-length, burnt orange, corduroy, author-looking jacket.

"Yes. And the turtleneck."

And that was the end of that, until my number was called, and the cook said something about the "author" comment as well, so it started the whole thing over again. So I continued.

"So what kind of stuff do you think I should write, being the author-looking type?" I asked the boss lady again. "I mean, do I look like the Stephen King type? That's probably pretty scary."

"Actually Stephen King is a pretty regular guy in real life," she says, "so it wouldn't be such a bad thing." Tilting her head at the cook, though, she remarked "he likes true crime stories, so maybe he's biased." The cook nodded his agreement.

For some reason in all of this, I found myself standing there filling two plastic cup things with ketchup while we talked. Lost in the ozone, I guess – I mean, why would I need ketchup with a cheese steak? So anyway, I took my sandwich, said my goodbyes, and promised to happily grant the cook's wish and give free copies of my novel to the folks behind the counter when I finally wrote it.

My sandwich was pretty damned good, too. Five or six napkins.

After lunch, I followed my feet towards the bookstore a block or two away (after all, where else would an author wander?). The owner was helping someone, and in passing she asked me if she could help me find anything. "You can help me find what I'm supposed to find," I replied playfully. But she was in a bit of a hurry.

It didn't take long for her to recover, though. I hadn't even gotten past soaking up the layout of the store, and browsing the "Language" section half-interestedly (no German, no Russian), before I overheard her apologizing to the other gentleman in the store for not recognizing him.

"I'm sorry, Tom – but I have that thing where I can't remember peoples' faces," she told him. Tom wasn't upset.

"I can remember faces," he said, "but I can't remember names."

At this point, I wandered closer to the checkout counter so that I could force myself into the conversation gracefully. "My issue is context," I said. "I can connect peoples' names and faces if they're doing the same thing, or are in the same role, as when I previously met them. Put them in a different context, and I'm lost."

The storeowner nodded and smiled, no longer in a hurry. "And years from now," she said, "when we recall this conversation, we can just say 'the conversation', and all of this will come back to us." To which, we all nodded our agreement. But I can admit to you now that I didn't quite get it at the time.

Somehow, the subject morphed, then, into how married people finish each other's thoughts. I told the story about how a long-ago, long-time roommate of mine (hello, Wayne) and I were once watching T.V. together, and at some point he stated absently, "Red. We should have done it in red." He was referring to a conversation that we'd had years before, and I was supposed to pick it up right then and there, right where we left off. I can't for the life of me remember the conversation now, but I do remember that I was, in fact, able to pick up right were we'd left off. Anyway, I connected this story with what we were saying in the bookstore by concluding that it was only really marriage if the thoughts are finished incorrectly, which got a laugh.

It was at this point that I mentioned to the bookstore folks that I'd been taken (or mistaken) for an author a short while earlier, and I told them that I would, in fact, write that novel, and it would be titled "The Conversation," and we were all in it.

Smiles and puzzled looks all around. So I finished with, "Well, I guess that's what I came in here for," and left, feeling quite pleased with myself.

Later, as I was entering a note-to-self about the whole thing into my phone's notepad while walking back into my place of business, I mentioned to a curious coworker what I was doing, and told him that he was now in the novel, too. And, of course, he is. Hi, John.

Note to self: don't forget the "It's worse than that" Appendix for John.  But that's another story.

On lashings and action figures 

I was just thinking this morning that it's a strange world where, in one part of it, a woman can be sentenced to a public lashing* for allowing her students to name a Teddy bear after a child in their class (who just happens to be named Muhammed), while elsewhere it's OK to sell Jesus action figures.

Furthermore, while the whole incident has been resolved as a "misunderstanding," I wonder what the misunderstanding was about.  The defense is, after all, appealing.  Was the outrage because of the name alone? Was it because it was a bear (which is not seen as a  "cuddly symbol of mercy" in Islamic cultures)?  (Do they even have bears in the Sudan?) And what of the lashing? We seem to be taking this kind of punishment with a shrug of the shoulders.  What if Gillian Gibbons had actually personally named the bear after the prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him)? And what if it had been a pig instead?  Surely there would have been a beheading, no?  What if it had been a stuffed Lion, would she have been given a medal instead?

...and, by the way, where are all the animal rights activists in all of this?  Isn't there a shred of compassion for the bear himself?  Doesn't anyone care about whether the bear is Muslim or not?  Does this all boil down to a case of stuffed-toy profiling? Am I the only one who sees the issues of religious freedom involved?  Clearly our priorities are way out of whack.

* I take it back.  From the same timesonline link above, it seems that it wouldn't have been a public lashing after all.  I quote:  "Had Miss Gibbons been sentenced to a flogging, the sentence would have been carried out by a woman, not a man, and in a private room rather than in public. And, like the murderer pinned against the wall, it would have been carried out promptly."

Well, that's a relief.  I guess it's not as bad as I thought.

Man, there's gotta be song in there somewhere.

Third Street Coffeehouse 

I played two songs at the open mic at the Third Street Coffeehouse in Roanoke (VA) last night for the second time, and had a great time.  Third Street is a completely granola place -- very supportive audience, and even pretty good pumpkin cheesecake on this particular night.  I'll be the featured performer on Friday, May 2, from 8:30-10:00.  I hope to see some friends there.   

When I got home, I realized that I'd signed up for a lot of practice between now and then.  I spent the evening putting together a first draft of a set list (even though I had tons of other things I "should" have been doing).  I also went over the notes I took during Jess Pilmore's set that night, where I took queues from her very seasoned performance.  Hopefully, next time I play I'll even remember to unplug the guitar before walking off stage.

Oh -- and my wife and I went to see Chris Smither play at 202 Market in Roanoke on Wednesday.  He was in fine form.  I got his latest CD (signed, of course).  During the break I told Chris that I was learning his song "Can't Shake These Blues" from his instructional video.  He remarked "great! that's a hard one!", and proceeded to play it in his second set.. He told me after the show that he would have forgotten that tune if I hadn't mentioned it, so I guess it pays to open your mouth.  Thanks, also, to Adam, our server that night -- he was awesome.  Adam, if you're reading this, I hope you've found that voiceover work we talked about.   Perhaps I'll see you at your open mic some day.

Bandzoogle Rocks! 

Well I'm impressed.  I've used web site builders in the past, and have been disappointed.  So far, this one really got it right.  I haven't yet bitten the bullet and actually paid for the thing (gasp!), but I'm on board so far.