Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Here is something interesting to do - Go to the webite below and there will be an image of a spinning lady. Which way is she spinning? Clockwise or counter-clockwise? Can you see her spin in the other direction?


(Sorry - you'll have to copy and paste - I tried three different ways to imbed a link, but it's not working for me today!)

Which way you see her first spin depends on which side of your brain is dominant. I am right brain dominant and severly so. I cannot see her spin the opposite direction.

We did this at work and 4 people saw the counter-clockwise spin, and 2 people saw the clockwise spin, but, I was the only one who could not eventually see it spin both ways!

Friday, October 26, 2007


Ribbons used to be something you wrapped around a package, tied in your hair, cut at an opening ceremony. Pretty things. Things that denoted a celebration of sorts. Something that prettied up celebrations. Pretty or celebratory, and sometimes both.

Ah, those were the days.

Now ribbons are symbols. It all started with the yellow ribbon. If a loved one had gone off to war, you put up a yellow ribbon somewhere; the front door, the mailbox, tied around a tree. Now that we are four years into a war, we've all seen these ribbons. The yellow ribbon also works for people who are missing or kidnapped (especially if the kidnappers are terrorists). These people, as well as the soldiers, are most often referred to as "hero". These ribbons stay up until the "hero" comes home.

Now I have nothing against heroes. I just think that the word gets thrown around a bit too much. Sometimes a soldier is just a soldier. If they were all heroes, they'd all be getting the Congressional Medal of Honor. Sometimes, the soldier is just the guy or gal who is loved and missed and stuck in a place called Iraq. I also have nothing against ribbons per se. They are pretty things. They make me happy. What I wonder is, has this bedecking with yellow ribbons become obligatory? Would your loved ones feel less loved if they returned to a house bereft of ribbon? Perhaps your community may think you are not supportive, or worse, not missing your hero? Some people don't have a family member making a personal sacrifice far away but they can put up yellow ribbons in support of those who do. Anyone can put up yellow ribbons - for their heroes. Or someone else's hero. Yellow ribbons say "I support our troops". Sometimes they say, "I support our troops even if I think this war was a mistake from the beginning and I'm still an American and I love my country, so don't think I'm not patriotic."

Next, let's examine from whence came the concept of the yellow ribbon. I do this for the benefit of those younger than myself; those who did not grow up with the dulcet tones of Tony Orlando and Dawn. "Who?" you ask. Precisely. Tony Orlando & Dawn was a pop group from the 70's – a musically weird decade where the still relevant driving rock of Led Zeppelin had number one hits alongside silly pop tunes like "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree".

More commonly know as "Tie a Yellow Ribbon", this is a song about a guy who is getting out of prison and he sends his girlfriend a letter – he will be on a bus that goes by the house and he'll stay on that bus unless she still loves him and wants him back. Now they need a sign…a yellow ribbon! Tie it around that ole oak tree out front (if you want me that is). If I see it, I'll tell the driver to stop the bus and let me off! If I don't see it, well then, sorry, and hey, have a good life.

That's where we get the yellow ribbon. When it changed from lawbreakers getting out of prison – you know, ex-cons – to heroes returning from someplace they'd rather not be but went to any way because it's their duty and if the didn't they'd end up in prison, I don't know. But the change happened and now we have yellow ribbons all over the country.

From the yellow ribbon we slid easily to the red ribbon. The red ribbon says: I support people with HIV/AIDS. I support finding a cure for HIV/AIDS. I support not ostracizing or marginalizing or discriminating against people with HIV/AIDS. These are all very worthy sentiments. I support all those sentiments and the people who have them. And by support I mean I agree with the sentiment but, like most people, do not support with actual money. And, I do this without ever wearing the red ribbon. Wait, what happened here? We don't tie the red ribbon around the ole oak tree? No. Now we wear the ribbon on our very person. But not all the time. And not everyone, just the high profile people - musicians, actors, directors etc. - you know - all those people who would be walking a red carpet at a premier or awards ceremony. Now this red ribbon can't be any style of ribbon. For instance, a guy can't show up in a tux with a cumberbund made of woven red ribbons and call that his "red ribbon"; and a lady can't show up in a black gown with red ribbons streaming from her shoulders and call that her "red ribbon". Nope. Now you must have a very specific, understated and stylish red ribbon that is pinned to what ever you are wearing. This is what I call the "Meta Ribbon". It is the form that all signatory ribbons will take, from now on. Until the end of eternity. No other style ribbon is acceptable.

Now we also have pink ribbons. These are to support the cure for breast cancer. Or, at least to support the idea of supporting finding a cure for breast cancer. Once again, a worthy cause. All of these causes are worthy, but, when did we become so obsessed with wearing our heart on our sleeve. Or, the idea of wearing our heart on our sleeve. Because we don't really, do we? When was the last time you saw a celebrity sporting the Meta Red Ribbon on the red carpet? It's been years hasn't it? When was the last time you saw anyone actually wearing the yellow, red or pink Meta Ribbon? I can't remember that far back myself.

What I do see are people sporting images of the Meta Ribbon. An icon of the symbol, if you will. These images come in all sorts of forms, the current most popular being the car magnet.

We also have the yellow ribbon/American flag combo magnet.

And the yellow ribbon soldier memorial magnet.

The yellow ribbon stamp...

The yellow ribbon interpreted in chysanthemums....

The yellow ribbon with flag pin, as well as the yellow ribbon charm bracelet...

And the always useful Meta Ribbon patch - you can cover a hole or just put it on you favorite jean jacket with all the other patches of things you love...

There are keychains, cufflinks, and nail appliques...

Fancy pins or, shoes!

So many ways to wear your heart on your sleeve, or feet, or car, or coat... And none of them are actually ribbons anymore.

I've been thinking about this for a while now. The first time I spoke of these things I was going somewhere with a friend, and we passed a car that had all sort of Meta Ribbon magnets on it. I said something like, "I hate those damn ribbons!" and my friend asked why. I related all of the above to her and she was: A) surprised at the Tony Orlando song connection, having miraculously lived her entire life without every having the agony of hearing that song (she's a bit younger than I), and B) obviously influenced by my rant, as I discovered some months later that, as a form of protest, whenever she sees a Meta Ribbon magnet on a car, and can get to it fairly easily, she takes it!

Note: I do not personally condone or condemn the wearing of your heart on your sleeve (or anywhere else), nor do I condone or condemn the pilfering of said hearts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I have been thinking about the cycles of natural disasters that come regularly to California, as I sit here in Seattle, far removed from the raging fires. Physically removed at least. I awoke this morning to NPR news of Rancho Bernardo burning to the ground and panic set in – my sister lives so close. I called her – she's okay – they haven't told her to evacuate yet, but her bags are packed and waiting at the door – she says three trips to the car and she's gone. I suggested leaving now and driving up to our brother's house to stay. No, she says, she still has to work – though she's lost two clients in the past day (she cleans houses), one who lived in Rancho Bernardo – their 3000 square foot house, now just ashes. Another client lost their home in Ramona. Two other clients have evacuated and she doesn't know their status, though she says if she looses them too, she will have to move to a cheaper apartment, a studio maybe. I think she can find more clients, she has a good reputation. Also, moving will be difficult now, with so many new homeless in San Diego County. I asked her where she will go if she has to leave – she says Coronado Island – put some water between her and the fire.

I worry about my friend, Susie. She lives in Castaic. I've heard they were evacuating people there too. I don't have her phone number on me. I sent her an email – hopefully she'll give us an 'all clear' soon.

I see on the news that houses in Poway were lost. I wonder about Mickey and Nicki, who's house is next door to my parents old place. I don't know how to reach them. Phone numbers have been lost over the years – I only have a snail mail address now.

I see there is a fire on the edge of Irvine and I think about my friends, Marilyn and Derek, and hope that they are safe also.

I always loved this time of year in Southern California. It's strange, I know, but I liked the Santa Ana winds, so warm and dry. I liked the fierceness with which they blew. But there always lurks the fire hazard, especially, if like this past year, the rain has been good. Good rain, lush green hills. Then the weather warms up and they hills turn that shiny, parched grass golden color that I miss so much. When they call California 'The Golden State', I always think of the golden rolling hills, so beautiful and so dangerous. That dry grass catches fire so easily and burns so fast.

Here's the formula: Rain = green grass + warm weather = fire fuel... wild fires = no vegetation X rain = mudslides.

Yes mudslides. Act II. If your house was spared, but the land around you burned, you run the risk of mudslides in February.

That's the cycle. Then there are earthquakes.
This is the San Andreas fault near Palmdale.

Also – flooding expected in New Orleans. Again.

10/27/08 UPDATE - Everyone is safe. In the end, my sister only lost one client, not two - but the one whose house is gone asked her to clean at her mom's place so as to maintain her spot in Amy's schedule - and no loss of income for my sis! I learned that my sister-in-law has a cousin in Rancho Bernardo, we still haven't heard how they fared.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I have a friend who refers to me as the Public Trannie Queen. No, I am not a trannie, nor a queen, but I ride public transportation all the time. I get a lot of reading done, I'm not stressed out by latent road rage, and I see some interesting things that I would miss if I were safe in the comforting confines of my own car.

But there are things that puzzle me...

So, you're at the bus stop waiting for your usual 8:10 to work. It's a bit drizzly out, but not too bad. An express to downtown comes by and offloads a bunch of people who stay at the stop. This is a clue that they are now going to get on a local, and you know the only local that comes by here is the one you are also getting on. Okay. It's going to be a crowded, damp ride to work. You may even have to stand, which means you're not going to finish your book this morning.

Ah, finally, here comes your bus around the corner, three minutes late – not too bad. Almost everyone who gets on this bus has been waiting for at least five minutes, but there is always one who isn't prepared. So tell me – why don't they have their fare ready or their bus pass out? Why do we have to stand and wait while they block the entrance going through their pockets or purse looking for their pass or the dollar fifty? Why do we have to say "sorry" when they turn around and ask if anyone has change for a dollar? Why didn't they get this all straightened out during the five minutes we were waiting for the bus?

I ride the bus five days a week to and from work, and several times a day on weekends getting to and from social events or doing errands. This fare jamb happens just about every single time I board the bus. Doesn't matter what day, what time, what route; there is always someone for whom the concept of having their fare ready, completely escapes them.

Why is this? Just wondering.