Monday, October 31, 2005

One Man's Junk...

...turned out to be my treasure.

Remember that garage sale that I had with Bob a few weeks ago? When we were setting up, I began to put a rusty old clock out on the table, and Bob said, "pitch that; it's junk." PITCH it? Awwww, it was kind of cool, in it's day. And it could kind of fit into my decor, which I'm calling RetroGarrish.

Heh. Pitch it I did...right into the back of my car. I tore it apart and polished it up. Well, I tried to polish it up. I was whistling and polishing my little heart out when one of Brian's friends pointed out, "uh, I think you're making it worse." He was right. I wasn't polishing brass, I was removing paint.

A trip to the craft store then, a little gold paint, the clock was finally aesthetically pleasing, if not functional. Brian and I tried to install a new motor, but we couldn't quite modify the hands to fit without running the risk of destroying them. I turned to the yellow pages, found a man that repairs clocks out of his home, and dropped it off to him for a few days.

Voila! I picked up my New Old clock last Friday, and I love it!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

That 70's Costume

Brian's Halloween Costume: Steven Hyde, from That 70s Show.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Friday, October 28, 2005

Bum Card #2

If I may, I'd like to waste your time for just a few more minutes:

The Booze News has spoken:

Last week was the premier of “The Bum Trading Card” and it seems like people either like it or hated it. For those who hated it, it was extremely nice of you to send lengthy emails and post us on your blogs, but in the end you just wasted a bunch of people’s time and didn’t help anyone. Rather than blame us for their situation, get up from your computer and go work in a soup kitchen.

Anon: I respectfully ask you to take just ONE more look at the Bum Trading Card #2 link, and read the stats on this weeks 22-year old young man.

I wonder, do you still find honor in their intent, of "elevating the homeless out of invisibility?"

Am I turning into a dour old closed-minded school marm with no sense of humor?

I do not blame The Booze News for Richard or Sean's situation. I still find the cards tasteless, condescending and inappropriate, and I'll waste my time and yours saying so if I choose to.

And they're right, volunteering in a soup kitchen would do me no harm.

Until then, I will continue, as I always have when solicited, sending along whatever few bucks I can to support these two local charities:

The TIMES Mens' Emergency Shelter
70 E. Washington Street
Champaign IL

A Woman's Fund
501 W. Church Street
Champaign, IL 61821

There are plenty more where those came from:

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Look at my cute new dishes; I finally got dishes, after 14 months of eating off of a set of $2.50 plastic dishes that Target sold to incoming UI students. PLUS these are the first dishes I ever picked out for myself; I was not a sophisticated, "register-at-Macy's" sort of young bride.

NOW, I can pitch the plastic ones, and get rid of all the old mugs, and have nothing but pretty new dishes in my little kitchen.


#1: Flowers were delivered in this mug, from a special friend.

#2: Mojo mug; it has a cute red travel lid, Carol gave it to me in 1989.

#3: Diane gave that mug to Brian when he was 9, along with a tin of chocolate-covered-cherry hot cocoa mix.

#4: Also from Diane to Brian, a mug that says "Bite ME" on it.

#5: Ok, this mug is crap, I can get rid of it.

#6: "I'll Get You, My Pretty"; a mug from Princess P's trip to the MGM hotel in Las Vegas. She probably doesn't remember she gave it to me; but I do.

#7: A stuffer in one of Brian's stockings. It has his name over and over in 10 different languages. I can't get rid of the Brian, brian, brian mug!

#8: Awww, hand painted in Cub Scouts, "Happy Mother's Day" it says. That one stays.

#9: The Holy Grail of all coffee mugs: Woke up in August '81 in my father's house, went home that night with my new husband. I was 18, and this was the first thing I ever purchased for myself as an "adult"...on my Disney World, Mickey Mouse honeymoon. Gallons and gallons of hot tea served up in that mug.

Fine. I'll move some of the Gladware around, and #5 can go to the Goodwill bin, but I have to keep the rest; they have history.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Here's a great entry containing letters to the late Rosa Parks, from a classroom of 4th- and 5th-graders. I loved this.

Vicks VapoRub: NOT a comfort food.

I have a confession to make: I love this stuff. I LOVE the smell of Vicks VapoRub! Never mind lavendar; Menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor all glopped together into some sort of petrolatum, and then smeared on chest, throat, temples or nose instantly relax me. It makes my headache go away. It helps me sleep, when I cannot. It is comfort glop.

That Vicks has any comforting properties at all for me will surprise you when I make an even bigger confession:

My grandparents and parents ATE this stuff when they were sick, and it was shoved down my throat on more than one occasion as a kid. When that common cold showed any sign of advancing into pneumonia or bronchitis, it was Vicks to the rescue! "Eat some Vicks!" Oh, god, the griping and moaning we'd do, forcing down a spoon of that glommy, nasty-tasting stuff, shuddering and gagging.

LO, we were always cured the next morning. One hundred AND TEN percent cured! We were so much cured, we could play the piano, though we'd never touched one in our lives, *that* is how cured we were.

How in the heck, then, could we argue with Moms & Pops at Vicks time? Look at this then:

Ah-HA! I was well into early adulthood when I finally thought to read the label on the side of the bottle. "LOOK at this, Mom! You're not supposed to eat this crap!" "Mom, it has cedar leaf and nutmeg in it." (Ok, those sound pretty good.) "But Mom, it has turpentine oil in it! Turpentine—you should not eat." Probably.

"Pfffft! Next you'll be telling me that pork should be refrigerated! Hush now, and eat your potato salad, before it gets any hotter in this sun."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sunday afternoon

The leaves are turning, NOW! It's almost as if you could take a seat, and watch them change before your very eyes. I am taking the long way home, constantly resisting the urge to pull over and take just one more picture...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Does anyone know?

Do these buttons have any actual electrical wiring connected to them, or are they mere pedestrian pacifiers?

I have a favor to ask: If you find this offensive, can ya send off a note to and say so?

This is a 1/4-page "feature" in local small rag. This guy is one of our local "panhandlers." "Help out the Homeless" he calls, as he walks by, followed by a crisis du jour: he burned his finger, it's his birthday, he hasn't eaten in 3 days. He annoys us, but we admit he's imaginative, and wonder which of his tales profit the most. Sometimes we give, sometimes we do not.

Tongue-in-cheek humor and satire have their places. I cackle at Jeff Foxworthy's Rednecks and Carlos Mencia's Beaner-humor poking fun at generalized aspects of human nature. However, I find nothing funny about this "trading card." Highlighting one human being, printing his name, and making fun of his homeless/mental/financial situation...ugh. They surely had permission to take this photo, and maybe they gave him a few bucks in exchange. Does that matter? Not to me; I'd rather have given him the $5 to walk away from this tasteless trading card deal.

We worry that Margaret, our "Two-Dollar Lady" (Hey, luv, do you have two dollars?) is next up. It's enough she has to ask in the first place, gets yelled at and shoo'd off, and shuffles back to try again. I'm sickened at the prospect of her being on Card #2.


THIS is a photograph by David Hagen, of Cleveland OH. He took this photo of a homeless Twila Felder, a few years ago, for an exhibit he called "Face to Face" a project to raise awareness of the homeless situation in his city.

"I wanted to photograph the homeless population in a way that might make them look like you, your father, mother, brother, sister, friend or neighbor," Hagen said. (

Here's an excerpt from that article:

"Look at all that joy just busting out of me," Felder said as she proudly showed off the picture next to a more serious one.

They were taken two years ago, just before Felder says she sought help for crack and alcohol addiction that caused her to lose her home.

"When I saw both of these pictures, I knew what I had to do. I had to go through the storm to reach sunshine," the 38-year-old Felder said.

"My whole life has changed. Just seeing the two different mes helped me."

Enough said.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

What can you get for a nickel these days?

4 minutes of parking at the University of Illinois.

Put in your nickel and run like hell. If you Take 5, it'll cost you $15.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Let there be Seaboat in Heaven. Amen.

I am not a franchise sort of girl; I prefer to frequent small businesses. I'm going to blog about a few of my favorite places now and in the future, in hopes of convincing you to do likewise. If you can't make it to Champaign to meet us for dinner or shopping, then start exploring your own neighborhoods NOW for similar establishments. The food's better, and people are nicer. It's win-win.


The Seaboat.
1114 N. Market Street

Get ready to carry out the best fish sandwich you've ever eaten in your life. One will easily feed two, for only $5. I can't decide which is better, "The Seaboat" sandwich or their shrimp and rice, a combination of white rice, shrimp and a secret spice/sauce recipe. Again, $5 will get you a vat of this stuff enough to fill two people.

The ingredients are fresh, and most dishes are cooked while you wait. Other offerings there include shrimp dinners, chicken tenders, spaghetti, and sweet potato pie.

It's family-owned and operated; the atmosphere is jovial and friendly, and the place is usually bustling. Their sandwich is voted The Best Fish Sandwich, in this town, year after year after year.

Oh, I might mention that it's in a "Bad Neighborhood." There are those that would *like* to try a Seaboat Sandwich, but worry about that bad 'ol neighborhood.

To you I say "Get Over Yourself!!" You're going to stand in line with mama's and papa's and brothers and sons, while more mama's and grandmama's whip up a fantastic hot meal, and you're going to chat about "what is bean pie anyway?"

This is one "poor neighborhood" that I hope ends up in Heaven.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Heaven: The Original Gated Community

No 'hoods in Heaven? Hallelujah! Step right up folks, and convert thyselves to Christianity, because whoseover believeth in him shall walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death into the gold-paved streets of an Influential Neighborhood.

Do I hear an AMEN?


Sigh. Who knew the Gates of Heaven would turn out to be an actual gated community?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Monday, October 17, 2005


As if I didn't have enough stress in my life. As I left work tonight, our jack-of-all-trades guy at work sang out "Goodniiiiiggght." Very merrily. Hmmmm...

As I approached my car, I noticed this deadly, venom-spewing creature at the base of my car door, and slowed my gait considerably. Is that a rubber hose thingy? It looks like a snake. A snake, it IS a snake.

I am NOT jumping over that snake to get in my car. It will sling itself up my pantsleg and bite my butt. I'm not getting in on the other side and crawling over either, cuz I'd probably still run over the thing, and have snake guts on my tires.

And I know, I KNOW that it's that blasted co-worker of mine that planted that serpent at my door; in 19 years of working together, he's left many a creature in my path to scare bejeezus out of me. Have YOU ever bent over your t-square to find yourself face-to-face with a dried-up tarantula? I have.

I'm telling you this now, so that you all can testify for me in a court of law, after I get done with this guy tomorrow. I'm sure you'll all find me justified.

Worse yet, I might just tell his wife on him.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Rollercoasters, eh?


Angst, yes? One blog full of angst and teeth-gnashing, and the next lighthearted garage sale tallies.

I never intended for this blog to be "diary-esque." At one time, I had another blog, on another station, used for the sole intent of venting. Spewing. Working off steam, coping with changes, ranting, raving.

I worked through it somewhere along the line, the rant grew tiresome.

And yet, here I am, I could not hold back the emotional barrage of the last week. In fact, you have no idea. And comments and e-mails have poured in, and though I never meant to burden you with every gory detail, I feel a responsibility now to report:

Brian did NOT sign with the Marines. Apparently they made some bogus promises, go figure. I was relieved that he recognized it, and passed.

He is, however, now looking at the Army. A Suh-WEET $20K signing bonus they are offering him, after bootcamp and a preliminary class. $20K by 2006. The U.S. Army is a stranger in a van, offering candy to my 19-year-old son.

I don't know who I am here.

Is this even about me?

The bottom line is: I do NOT want my son to go to the into the military. I don't want him to see war. Death. Blood. The kid is still terrified of a needle for christsakes, and no matter how many times we've locked horns (believe me, it's aplenty!) I still have maternal instinct enough to want to protect him from witnessing these things. Hell, I'd want to protect ANYONE from witnessing these things, why not my son too?

I have sat him down and asked him: If he had the option to go to the trade school he dreamed about earlier, would he choose it over the military?

He suggested maybe yes.

I asked him for this reason: I don't want him to make the military his choice out of desperation, out of believing he has no other options, out of thinking he's a financial or emotional burden.

Am I making a last-ditch attempt to manipulate him out of making this decision?

I have no idea. I like to think not, but it might be clear to you all that it's clearly the case.

Perhaps CJ got to me, and I am trying to clear my conscience; perhaps I need to know, if he marches off, that I did everything in my power to change his mind, and he went anyway.

And yes. CJ got to me. You all got to me. Everything you've said, every "you can't control him," every "you should talk to him", every "did you consider..." has cut through my soul. I am listening, and trying to do everything right here...

And the bottom line is...

It's his life. And








Stay tuned.

Garage Sale #2 results

Judy: $25.65
Lori: $52.65
Tom: $52.75
Bob: $320.00

Did I not tell you?!!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Dear CJ

Take this you stupid f***#@$%#$^@@$%%^*

I am currently a little tense. A couple of blogs down, you might have read, that my son is flying the coop. I always knew he would, of course, and I had planned for it, mentally: He would find a crappy job and get his own place, where he would barely be able to make ends meet, and I would bitch about loaning him money, but drop big pots of chili and bags of grocery and toilet paper off at his house, and nag him to clean the bathroom every once in awhile. It was going to be lovely, our next phase.

He's decided to join the military, which is exciting for him, and makes him feel great, but is putting a major kink in MY plan. He is tired of wandering, looking for structure and discipline and a career. I know this solution makes sense for him, and he's seemed more at peace with the world since he made the decision. I am proud as hell, and rattled and scared and happy for him. Mostly, I don't want to say my first goodbye, but all mothers do, yes? I've been on-deck for a year, and it's my turn at bat. [ha! I made a sport's reference!]

I got home from work tonight, and opened the doorbell to a community acquaintance, CJ. "LORI! I have to talk to you. He proceeded to tell me that Brian informed him of his decision, and to chastise me for letting him go, to BEG me to make him do something else.

WHAT, I can't make this young man do anything—no matter which other choices I'd rather he made. And between you and me, why would I want to hold back the one person I love most in the world, because of my own fears? No, I don't want him to go into the Marines; this country's a mess, and there aren't a whole hell of a lot of Pro-Soldier Moms out there right now, I'd wager. But I support him. I'm proud that he's tired of wandering, that he's pursuing something. I'm scared for boot camp...and I'm scared of things too unbearable to say.

But CJ said them. CJ came right out and rattled of statistics that my son might die. CJ has seen so many disfigured soldi—I CAN'T HEAR THIS RIGHT NOW YOU CAN'T SAY THESE THINGS TO ME. "Wait...I care for Brian, and I want you to..." I SAID I CAN'T LISTEN TO THIS RIGHT NOW, DO YOU HEAR ME? GOODBYE.

I've never acted thusly; bold and walking off. Walking off ANGRY. Anger I haven't ever known, I wanted to go back and race across the parking lot, and tackle him and pummel holy hell out of him. How DARE he? How DARE he put this kind of pressure on me? What if something DOES happen to my kid?? Will he fuckin' be there with an I told you so? Will I be sorry for not taking his advice? Why did he make me think these things?

I came into the house and slammed the door, marching in and spewing and spitting like a tasmanian she-devil. Brian, of course, looking at me and probably wondering what he'd done NOW...I recited the sidewalk conversation through clenched teeth...

And Brian laughed. That crazy CJ.

I was instantly calmed.

I can see that I'm going to have to make some decisions here, about who I'm going to be in this next phase of my life. I've been inundated with supportive and encouraging emails, and offers to talk or go out or get drinky if need be. People are going to say insensitive things, and I've got to decide who I'm going to be in the face of them.

I hope for strength and grace.

And it won't be the worst thing in the world if I walk away, if I need to. I won't apologize for it.

Let me just not hate.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

This brala bugga me!

I dropped in to Victoria's Secrets yesterday, to pay off my credit card balance.

The clerks at Vickie's do not prance around in lingerie, as you imagine they might; they are suited up and they are wearing headphones and microphones. Apparently hi-tech electronics are necessary for 4 clerks to communicate across 2-rooms of bloomers & boulder holders. The only thing missing is an air-traffic controller, with those orange popsicle-stick flashlights, directing me into the dressing room.

As I stood waiting, the young woman waiting on me announced, ever-so-loudly, that she needed help. "I have a problem with a check!" she yelled, into her microphone. "I don't care who comes, I just need help!"

Well, geez. If there's not enough money in my checking account to cover my $22.56 balance, something has gone terribly awry. "We have a slight problem here," she finally told me. "I did something wrong. You now have a $283,000 balance on your card."


I didn't want to panic, so I smiled and said, "That's a lot of panties." Clerk was by then sweating bullets and in no mood for panty humor. She scowled at me. I wiped that smile off my face to indicate I understood the graveness of the situation.

Not being much of a financier (obviously—I'm making payments on undergarments, for chrissakes), I stood contemplating: With over a quarter-million dollars in panty debt, at 23% interest compounded daily, I'll probably leave this place with $100 in interest fees!

*Smile* "It's all taken care of!" the panty brigade announced. Receipts were flying, and don't think I didn't notice they kept them all to themselves. I have no evidence of my balance and payment in full.

Covering their asses, they were...which was my very mission when I made my initial purchase.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Oh God. Ouch.

My son has announced to me that he is enlisting in the U.S. Marines.


I swear, I support him.

Give me a minute. I can't stop crying.

Toothpicks, anyone?

I need to hire someone to boss me around, and make me get my jammies on, and get in bed at a decent hour, and to scream LIGHTS OUT! at a consistent time every night. I am completely undisciplined. I need my Mommy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Photo Surprise #2

I've been to New York City only once (so far). I had purchased tickets to visit my friend, Jennie Tonic, in 2001.... As it turned out, 10 days after the Twin Towers were hit. I contemplated canceling the trip, but decided security would never be tighter, and I went.

I was there just for a long weekend, and though Jennie gave me a hell of a whirlwind tour, I'm sure that my next NYC experience will be a different one. Traffic was still eerily quiet when I was there; no horns honking or brakes screeching. Subway queues were calm and organized, and people around me helped others with packages and doors. I remember asking Jennie several times, "is this normal?"—especially when I inadvertently stepped out into the street against a light, and forced a cabbie to hit the brakes. I waited for a barrage of profanity, but he smiled and waved me across, telling me "no problem." "Not normal," she assured me.

I had my camera with me then, too, and though I felt an urge to document everything I saw, there were so many pictures I could not bear to take. Weeping people searching for loved ones on billboards at St. Vincents. Dusty firefighters taking a break on the sidewalk; oh please, can I just take a picture of a real live hero? The urge is there to ask, and not of disrespectful spirit. But no. This is not Disney World. These people are exhausted and lost, and I will not impose on them to be a part of my *vacation* pictures.

I still came home with a lot of photographs: Photos of letters and photos of photos. Photos of flowers and candles, and sidewalks covered with candle-wax. Of intersections and playgrounds and posters and shop windows, and of trucks hauling twisted metal from Ground Zero.

But none of people. None of hope and fear and broken hearts.

I thought.

Union Square (I believe it was) was filled with a park-sized memorial. Unimaginable piles of flowers, and burning candles. Cameras everywhere, professional cameras, and personal cameras, lined up forever. Look at them all, I thought. Are they fascinated tourists, or cheesy paparazzi? I had to take a picture of these people taking pictures.

Below is my Surprise Photo-within-a-photo, #2. It aches me.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Photographic Surprise #1

I love toying with photography; I am one of those folk always carrying a camera to every event, and often, to no event at all. Missing a photo-op irks me to no end. When crawling or climbing, or permissions are required for my perfect shot, I am sometimes bold, and sometimes meek. I grumble for ages after missing a shot due to a bout of insecurity. I've been incensed for weeks over missing the running nuns (August blog).

I snap and snap and snap. I experiment, try to catch a mood, a light, a scene. I stage photos for websites, practical jokes, inside jokes, christmas and birthday cards, and e-mails. The highlights are printed at home, the best are printed professionally and framed, and some have been entered in amateur photo contests, for kicks. And, most are deleted. I tried.

I always zoom in and go over every square inch of photos (mine and yours too!) looking for things I hadn't noticed when I took the picture, or looking for a photo within the photo— maybe there's something amazing that I can crop out, to make another image.

I often find something surprising, especially when I'm taking busy scenes, while on the run, or site-seeing. I have been thrilled, amused, and also heartbroken, to see what I have accidentally captured when I scour my photos.

Here is a shot from a fish market in Chinatown (NY) that I brought home with me, and tooled around with. I'd lightened it a bit, and zoomed in, started at the left corner, moving down, back up, checking out the neon sign, the shopping bags, the employee's boots, the fish, the clock, the scale, OH!

Oh Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!! Yay, I brought home a friendly face, too! Two of them actually! Ha!

I want to run and find them, and tell these guys "thanks for waving at me! It totally made my day—3 months later!"

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Thundercats, HO!

Halloween is my Holiday-o Favorit-o. I've dressed up for most Halloweens in my lifetime, even if it means merely grabbing a headband with a Tarantula atop.

I went digging for a particular photo tonight, to prepare for The Halloween Blog, and I came across several other photos of Halloween Past.

Here is Halloween 1989. I'd grown weary of 12 hours of ghoulish makeup, and had rinsed mine off; gray hairspray still remains. And there's a little trick-or-treating Lion-O, Age 3 (Thundercats, Thundercats, Thundercats HOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooo!!!!)

My son went through a "stage" when he insisted on being called Lion-O—and in turn, I was referred to not as Mommy, but as "Cheetarah" for almost 6 months, while his father was addressed as "Mumm-ra" (actually, Mumm-wa).

Here he is then, in orange tights and Rit-dyed blue underpants and sox, as the all-powerful Lion-O...

And, imagine, if you will, my carrying home a tuckered out Lion-O, after visiting babysitters and Grandparents, past his bedtime, and cold-creaming all of that orange crap off of his soft little face.

Stay tuned for more Halloween Pastl

Drawing flies...

Last night was art night with the kiddies. We did cartooning, and had to draw something that's happened to us recently. Here's my drawing.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

And THEN...

[Continued from Last Blog]

So, I'm still at the park, in the woods, actually, feeling self-righteous for saving a life, when my son called me, and we ended up getting in a COMPLETELY ridiculous argument over a baseball mitt. It's a long story, but we both were right—BY GOD!—so neither one of us would apologize, and I ended up leaving the park wah-wah-ing like a 2 year old child.

The day went from bad to worse: I had walked off some stress so I could work on the new part-time job tonight.... I'd gotten the go-ahead to purchase software, begin working...only to find that I'd left my laptop at work

I *think.*

The electronic doorlocks are not working on my car. I cannot remember if I manually locked the door. I was so upset when I left work, I have no recollection of whether I had my laptop on my shoulder or not. I'm drawing a complete blank.

HENCE: my laptop is either at work, or stolen.

I do not have security codes to get into the building. I don't know what to do now, but start some laundry, and pour some Pinot Grigio from the 1/2 bottle I have left.

My friend Momo calls me, and she asks me to come out (everyone's here!) and feel better. I tell her no thank you; I have mascara running down my cheeks, and I'm having a glass of wine and enjoying a good hard pout. I love, love, love that she called me, but I'm teary and emotional and .. gah! I'll stay here and do housework, I say.

I head back to my bottle of wine, for another glass (constructive, I know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time).

Hm. You see the photo.

Sighhhhhhhhhhhh. Tomorrow will be a better day, yes?

P.S. The kid came home and we hashed out our lives. There is no conclusion to The End.


Ok, I had one of those crap days. Two of the Upper Echelon snapped my head off out of the blue, leaving me with cartoon-y question marks over my head, followed by big black clouds, even though I know better.

I bucked up and took my new camera out to a local sculpture park that also has these Rent-A-Garden plots. Admiring fall harvest, I came across THIS little guy, completely flustered, and unable to get out of his web (click on that picture to get a better idea of just how tangled up he is!)

Being the Bird Whisperer, I told him "Hang on a second while I take your picture, and then I'll get you out of there, Buddy." I actually called him Buddy. So he sat still and said cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese, and then I saved his life, and then I felt better about the day.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Driving While iPod-ing

According to an article in from the
New England Journal of Medicine, talking on a phone while driving quadruples the risk of an accident and was almost as dangerous as being drunk behind the wheel. I surfed around a little and found several gazillion websites, from DMVs to insurance companies that back that up: You increase your chances of having an accident 400% while talking on the phone and driving.

Baby, I'm calling it: Cellular phone distractions are NOTHING compared to those of tuning your iPod to your car radio while driving.

They should just start legislating iTrip laws this very minute.

I recently purchased a new iPod and the accompanying iTrip attachment that allows you to play your favorite music through your car stereo. I took off from my driveway, plugging that puppy in while I drove. I tuned my radio to the proper station, turned on the iPod on, hit "menu", scrolled the wheel around to find my music du trip, right-arrowed over, hit the play button...

...and then realized I was 1/2 mile down the road, and was either still alive thru the powers of superhuman peripheral vision or the grace of God.

I've talked to other friends who have admitted the same thing: scrolling their iPod wheels and looking up to find the car in front of them closer than they had realized.

If we can't practive mindfulness awareness anywhere else, we should at least commit ourselves to it behind the wheel. I'm guilty of talking on the cell phone while I drive, all the while knowing the statistics, but thinking that I'm more alert than those "other" drivers. I also know damned well that it's not true, when I lose track of whose turn it is at a 4-way stop.

I annoy even myself, and I get off the phone, and I try to stay off it.

And I have definitely, 100%, forbidden myself from ever tuning the iPod/iTrip while I'm operating a vehicle.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Garage Sale Grumblings

I'm a glutton for punishment. The house is finally (nearly) settled, and I had a ton of "leftover" junk. I decided to have a garage sale. I HATE having garage sales, it's so much work, and the money I make is never worth it! Never, never, never! "I will never have a garage sale again," I tell myself, after every garage sale.

In years past, the garage sale venture has been shared with my friend, Bob The Garage Sale King. Bob lives on a main drag in this town, one in which college football traffic backs up, etc. Location, Location, Location!!! Plus, Bob could sell an ice cube to an Eskimo.

I have never developed a knack for throwing a profitable garage sale. One of my problems is that I get too embarrassed to sell junky junk. "Who would buy that?" I think, and I pitch it. I only put the very best junk in my sale: an immaculate bar stool, an extra crock pot [it works], Sony telephone that does everything but the dishes ($90 new!) with low, low prices.

And though Bob & company have some pretty good loot also, they don't exclude their junk. Broken toys, used toothbrushes, his mother's underwear,* a keychain that came in some junkmail: Anything Bob doesn't need gets a price tag on it. A PRICEY price tag too! Bob seems to have figured out some weird garage-saler psychology that I just can't get through my head: If you put a hefty price on something, people will think it must be worth something!
"$14.00 for a 64 oz. plastic Big Gulp cup from the 7-11? Ohhhhh, it's 1995 Big Gulp cup; a collector's item someday! You can't get these anymore!! I wonder if he'll come down to $12?
How does he do it?!!! After every sale, my profits are counted out from the muffin tin we used to separate the coins. Meanwhile, Bob is hiring security guards and backing an armored Brinks truck into his driveway to safely transfer his proceeds from his garage to the bank vault.

I spent 3 evenings last week putting little dot-stickers on my crap. My son went through his childhood toys. We bought inner tubes and fixed up a bike with flat tires. I borrowed tables. We swept the garage and placed the ad and posted the sign, and proceeded with the garage sale.

Without Bob. What a heinous mistake.

90 minutes into my sale, I'd sold $3 worth of stuff, while my son was up $1.25. I spent the morning getting grouchier and grouchier at every customer, having wicked little conversations in my head:
"Buy that! It is SUCH a great deal! JESUS! 50 cents was too much for ya?!! That was a $30 spice rack!! Don't you have any grandkids that need those toys? Oh, PLEASE don't spray that perfume in here. Next time I sell a 1/2 bottle of perfume, I'll put it OUTSIDE; this garage smells like a french whorehouse. Oh!! yeah!! That's right, you need that. Buy it, buy it, buy it...DAMN!!"
By the end of business hours, I had about $30 to my name. My son made $16.50. The newspaper ad set me back $20.

I deflatedly boxed everything up, pouting and swearing that I will never EVER have another garage sale as long as I live. I grumpily calculated that I made about 78 cents an hour for the endeavor. When will I ever learn, this is the LAST time I ever do this, as long as I live.

I came in for coffee, and settled myself at the computer to find an e-mail from Bob. He'd had a garage sale this morning too! HE had made 300 [that's three HUNDRED] American dollars in 4 hours, and they had had so much FUN!! What a beautiful day!

In fact, they had such a profitable beautiful day, that they're going to hold another 4-hour sale 2 Saturdays from now!!



C'mon! I HAVE to do it! My stuff is already marked, and I have a lot of really good loot left!!!

*I admit to embellishing this part of my griping. To my knowledge, Bob has never tried to sell his Mother's underwear.