Thursday, November 29, 2007


I will be away for a couple of weeks. It's possible that I may squeak out a quick post here or there, but it's also possible I may not. And I probably won't be posting comments on your blog during that time, but don't worry. When I get back, I'll get caught up on reading everyones blogs and leaving comments.

In the meantime, Wen has a post on her blog about a pay-it-forward blogiveaway. I left a comment on her post, and so now it's my turn:

If you leave a comment on this post, and I have a way to get in touch with you, I will send you a small gift. Just like that. However, you must pay it forward by posting this offer on your blog, too. This offer is supposed to be limited to the first either five or seven people who comment, but I don't think I even have five people who read this blog, much less comment, so I'm skipping on the limits. However, when you pay it forward on your blog, you can reinstate a limit if you like.

Remember I must have a way to get in touch with you -- link to your blog, e-mail address, etc. If you want to post anonymously, then use the link on the right that says "Send me an e-mail message!" to send your contact information in a private message, you can do that.

See you in a couple weeks!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I am

Jana, on her pilgrimsteps blog, posted a simple but possibly very powerful exercise in "flash poetry." The basic idea is that you answer, as spontaneously as you can, six questions. These are then, by a simple means, converted to a poem. Some of her reader's results, posted in her comments, were very moving.

It occurred to me that the spontaneity might be enhanced if the questions were asked interactively, so you only focused on them one at a time, and didn't think about how they might play into the end result. So, as an experiment, I wrote a little application that you can use to create your own flash poem. It will ask you the six questions, you type in the answers, and voila, you will have something that might give you reason for thought.

It only takes a minute. You can try it out here:

If you do, and you like the result, I would be happy if you added it to this post as a comment.

Remember that all the credit goes to Jana.

Oh... and my flash poem? I'm afraid it was way to personal to post. Sorry.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks Giving

Today was Thanksgiving Day. I'm afraid that to some, this day means nothing more than indulgence and football. To others, it's a day to gather with family that they miss. Or... don't miss. But to some of us, it's a somber day to contemplate and celebrate what we have, rather than pine over what we have not -- something we should do, perhaps, more days of the year than just this one.

Today we celebrated (among many other blessings) having in our lives a beautiful, charming, winsome, handful of a little beagle named Princess Sunni. Since her radiation treatments for her brain tumor, she has not only returned to a puppyhood self that she hasn't seen since she was maybe three years old, she also seems to have a reinvigorated nose that can sniff out the faintest trace of food in anything. She has become indeed, and to our delight, Something Else.

Here, she seems to think there's something in my backpack that I didn't share with her:

BackpackI'm sure there's something good in here

There wasn't, by the way.

And then she rooted out a bag of cough drops that quickly passed into the past tense:

So you think I did this?So you think I did this?

Well, my throat's not sore any more!Well, my throat's not sore any more!

Not since she was a little puppy did she get Judi's used tissues out of the trash and chew them up:

What?  Me?What? Me?

Maybe I can destroy the evidenceMaybe I can destroy the evidence

For Thanksgiving dinner, Judi bought a package of Parker House rolls. I carried the groceries in and set them on the floor of the kitchen, like I always do. Sunni stuck her nose in each bag, as she always does. But she seemed to be doing more than just sticking her nose....

Parkerhouse RollsThey really know how to make rolls at Parker House!

For Thanksgiving, we had a magnificent and special dinner that Judi and Sunni spent all week preparing. It was a beagle-friendly dinner -- nothing contained onions! Sunni was constantly at her Mommy's feet, helping out whenever she could. For example, the measuring cup needed to be cleaned out:

Can Sunni clean out the measuring cup?Can Sunni clean out the measuring cup?

Whoops!  It fell over!Whoops! It fell over!

The beagle is up to the jobBut the beagle is up to the job!


Monday, November 19, 2007

Gregory's Special Theory of Relative Differentiality

Lately I have been doing a lot of driving on Interstate highways, and while doing so I have discovered a previously unknown principle of physics. Now, I'm sure many other people -- probably including you -- have observed this principle in action, but I think I'm the first to have the insight that it is, indeed, a Natural Law, and to so codify it, and so I lay claim to name it for myself: Gregory's Special Theory of Relative Differentiality. Simply put, it is this:

The relative speed of another vehicle to your vehicle is directly dependent on whether or not the other vehicle is in your lane.

This seems simple on the surface, but the implications are profound. You can observe the Law in action for yourself. Merely do the following:

Drive along a convenient Interstate or other dual-lane highway at seventy miles an hour (because of course you never speed) in the right-hand lane. Note when you are closing on another vehicle that is in your lane and traveling slower than you. Let's say he is going sixty-five. The relative difference in speed between you is five miles per hour.

Now, using your turn signal (because of course you always signal your lane changes), move into the left-hand lane to overtake this vehicle ahead of you. At this point you will observe that you are no longer gaining on the vehicle ahead. Although you are still going seventy, and the vehicle ahead is still going sixty-five, the gap between you and the vehicle ahead remains exactly the same. The relative difference in speed is now zero. This is my discovery.

So, you think the vehicle ahead has actually sped up? You are wrong. You will realize you are wrong as soon as another vehicle going ninety rides up on your bumper so close that the two of you could share Grey Poupon. Since you aren't gaining on the vehicle ahead, you return to the right-hand lane (after signaling, of course). At this point, you will find that you suddenly resume gaining again on the vehicle ahead. With alarming rapidity, in fact. When you are in the same lane, the relative difference in speed is no longer zero.

After mister-going-ninety has passed, change back to the left-hand lane. You will find that you are once again no longer gaining on the vehicle ahead.

So, you see, the relative difference in speed between you and the person ahead depends solely on which lane you are in. Not on how fast either of you are actually going. I don't know what accounts for this phenomenon, though I suspect that the answer lies somewhere in Quantum Physics.

A corrolary to Gregory's Special Theory relates to whether or not you are behind of, or ahead of, the other vehicle in your lane. If you ever do overtake the car ahead -- say, by going eighty, naughty you -- and then return to the right-hand lane and slow back down to seventy, the vehicle that is now behind you, and only going sixty-five, will suddenly start gaining on you, proving that a negative speed differential is created by getting in front of the other vehicle. I'm still working the math for this one.

I have observed this Theory and Corollary in action many, many times in the past three weeks, on several highways, with many other vehicles. It's not an aberration. It is a Law of Nature.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Made me think...

At first, actually, it made me smile. This bumper sticker, seen on a car:

Republicans for Voldemort


Then it made me think:

Would the Dark Lord have been better advised to try to conquer the world, not by violence, but through democratic elections? I mean, if Bush and Cheney could get re-elected, you know, it's not much of a stretch.

Lord Voldemort, you went down the wrong road. Just look at the bumper stickers. You had base.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hello! You're alive!

Jalapeno peppers are God's way of reminding you that you are alive.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The end, and a new beginning

Today I drove Sunni for her last radiation treatment. I made out pretty well -- I only had to drive for six out of the seventeen treatments. And Sunni has been doing extremely well. It's almost as though she's enjoying a second puppyhood. And Judi has been doing better than I thought she might. She cries from time to time, but for the most part she is delighting in Sunni and her antics. Things have gone and are going much better than I imagined they would when I first read the deadly prognosis a month ago.

Michelle has been Sunni's Radiology Technician. Michelle has been the one to come out into the waiting room to get Sunni each morning, and the one to bring her back out later, her brain freshly zapped. Here's a picture of Michelle holding Sunni.

Sunni and Michelle

Today, When Sunni was brought into the consulting room for her official discharge from treatment, she was wearing an awesome pink bandana. It was preprinted with the words, "I survived radiation therapy at AVS and all I got was this lousy bandana!!" (If you've ever been a tourist in Florida, or I guess any other toursit trap, you'll get the joke.) But, better yet, it was inscribed and signed all over by the many people who've taken care of Sunni for these last three weeks. You might be able to make them out in the picture.


The final picture is the inscription on Sunni's bandana by Michelle, the radiology technician who was most closely associated with saving and extendng Sunni's life. In case it's not easy to read in the picture, it says, "Sunni You are such a sweet girl. Best of wishes. {heart}. Michelle."

Michelle's Wishes

Sunni did capture the hearts of the people at the clinic over these last three weeks. She's not a lay-down-and-blend-with-the-surroundings-until-I'm-called Labrador-like dog. She's a live-life-to-the-fullest and by-the-way-may-I-lick-your-face kind of dog.

And, for now, she's doing great.

Michelle is wearing an engagement ring. We wish you all the best, too, Michelle. I'm sure Sunni does, too.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007


We have an Ikea opening in Orlando in a week or two -- the first in this area, and only the second in Florida. (The other is in Sunrise, near Fort Lauderdale.)

Monday, November 05, 2007


This weekend I met, for the first time, my younger niece, Evelyn Grace:

Evelyn Grace

The occasion was the wedding of my elder niece, Karen:

Karen and Eric

It was a Catholic wedding. I have to say that Catholics know how to do a wedding right. Protestant weddings seem to last less than ten minutes: The party processes in, the bride and groom recite their custom-written vows, and the party recesses out. You, the wedding guest, end up thinking "I spent all that time getting dressed up just for this? If I had blinked I'd have missed it."

Karen's Catholic wedding featured two readings from Scripture, a very brief reading from the Gospel, and a lovely sermon which the priest leavened with humor. Then the vows, which were the traditional "have and to hold... in sickness and in health... 'til death do us part," which I find moving, although it rubbed me the wrong way that her vows included a promise to raise the children well, while the raising of children wasn't even mentioned in his. And then there were many blessings and prayers, including laying-of-hands on the heads of the bride and groom. Overall, I guess it took about forty minutes -- I wasn't checking my watch -- and I was left with the feeling that, indeed, there was enough pomp and ceremony here to make it worth getting dressed up for.

At my nephew's wedding, a year and a half ago, I saw something one doesn't often see at a wedding: The bride giving herself an insulin injection at the main table. The something-you-don't-see-very-often at Karen's wedding: The bride and groom standing facing the cake, getting ready to cut it, when the groom suddenly reaches into the pocket of his tuxedo pants, pulls out his cell phone, and takes a picture of the cake, and then returns the phone to his pocket. You know, like there weren't already a gazillion people (including the professional photographer) standing around with cameras taking pictures. Mr. Groom, taking photos wasn't your responsibility on this one day.

Finally, I'd like to know why it's so very common, at any wedding or formal gathering, to see ladies wearing nice dresses and shoes, escorted by men who looks like they're dressed for a day of fishing on the lake. You know, guys, it makes your dates look like they couldn't manage to hook up with anyone but a loser. For example, these two came to the wedding together (in case it's hard to tell, he's wearing ill-fitting and dirty jeans):

Wedding Guests

Anyway, it was a beautiful wedding, a beautiful day, Karen wore a beautiful dress, and Evelyn is a beautiful child.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Yesterday was Halloween

Today is about the half-way point in the radiation treatments for Princess Sunni, and she's handling it like a trooper. Even better, the treatments have rolled back the clock for her: She's resumed countless small habits that she used to have, and then lost without our quite noticing. Just one example: She's remembered how to open a door with her nose and squeeze through.

The joy that this has brought to our lives is more than I can relate.

Yesterday was Halloween. But for a Princess to dress as a Princess isn't really being in costume, is it? It's just the Royal Wardrobe. Here is Princess Sunni, yesterday, Royally Wardrobed:

The Princess


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