Archive for the ‘ Anecdote ’ Category

The Postman Always Knocks…how many times?

This is one of the best tech things that has happened to me in a long time. I was in a non-technical law partner’s office. He wanted an hour of personal tutoring on his computer. I looked at his Inbox and commented on his 20,000 emails, 1200 of them unread. He got a bit excited and asked me how I knew these numbers. I pointed to them on the screen. He then told me he could not understand how there could be 1200 unread emails. He came in every morning and printed out that day’s emails. He didn’t look at his computer again until the next morning when he printed out THAT day’s emails. That’s right…he thought his electronic mail only came once a day, just like his snail mail. He missed all email that arrived after he printed each day. He had never noticed that some emails were bold and some were not. He had never noticed the Unread with the ever growing number after it. I almost reached for my cell to text everyone I knew right in front of him, but held myself back until I had time to post it to the entire internet.


Remember that old joke?

Monkey hanging on a fence with his private parts in his mouth

Monkey Business

Why do dogs lick their privates? Because they can. I did not take this photo. Someone emailed it to me ages ago and I saved the photo because I just knew there would be a day when it would come in handy. And here is the day.

The Venus of Willendorf and a modern naked lady

25,000 year old statue called Venus of Willendorf

Naked large woman
Modern Day Venus of Willendorf with black, over the elbow, evening gloves

I have just watched a series called How Art Made the World, narrated mostly by Dr. Nigel Spivey who teaches classical art and archaeology at the University of Cambridge. I am re-watching it with a notepad in hand. I very much enjoyed this series and now I have an opinion on much of what is presented. First, the Venus of Willendorf: Dr. Spivey states that she is a “grotesque exaggeration” of any woman who could have existed. He states this several times. Part of his thesis in this series is that humanity is driven to exaggeration…which I am not disputing in general. However, I think Dr. Spivey needs to get out a little more. There are many women who look like this. She appears to be a pregnant woman who conceived in December, has lived through an abundant spring and summer and is going to deliver her own abundance in a month or so. I doubt that the pregnant woman of 25,000 years ago had the baby bumps of a supermodel.

Other descriptions that I found on the internet stated that she is “a rather older woman, one who has certainly already had children.”  I also doubt that she is an older woman. The artist took great pains to put coiffed hair on the head. Why is there no pubic hair? Did she have a prehistoric Hollywood waxing? I believe body hair removal is a relatively recent phenomenon in women (last 100 years). This lack of pubic hair would tend to make me think she is a very young pregnant person. Humans have become less hirsute (great word for hairy) since prehistoric times, not more so, right? Within the last 5,000 years there have been some pubic hair removal practices in various geographic areas, but it is very difficult to imagine stone knives being up to this job 25,000 years ago. Also, the nipples are still pointing up and out. These are giant breasts, but old? I don’t think so.

Maybe she’s prehistoric pornography…this seems to be a subject that never goes out of style in any species. The original is only 4″ tall so if it is pornography, it is mobile pornography.

Or maybe she’s a prehistoric fad, like Cabbage Patch dolls or Miss Kitty.

Or maybe she is a figure of worship like a little statue of Buddha. 

Or maybe she was a decorative figurine; an object to be desired in the way that art is desired today.

It is now valued in the 10’s of millions of dollars.

I was sketching while thinking about this. The Modern Day Venus of Willendorf is actually my brother, Steve, in a nude woman body suit. He doesn’t read this so I am safe saying anything I want about him.

Johnny Appleseed and the symbiotic apple

yellow bowl of red applesI saw a special on apples. Apples originated in huge apple tree forests in Asia…all different kinds, sizes, shapes and colors. Apparently the genes of all these different types of apples are in the seeds of all apples. This is why apple seeds are not planted to grow apple trees. Apple trees must be grafted to guarantee a particular type of apple. If the seeds are planted, the odds are that you will not grow the same type of apple tree that you planted. This is a lot like people. You just never know how a person is going to turn out no matter who the parents are. Infinite diversity in everything.

An added bit of info about apples is that Johnny Appleseed was not poor, though I believe he was a tacky dresser. When he heard settlers were going to settle in a particular area he would go there first and plant apple seeds. Seeds you say…you thought I just told you to graft apple trees to get good apples. Well Johnny Appleseed was not after good apples for apple pie. His apples were all going for hard cider so it didn’t matter what type of apples he grew. By the time the settlers arrived in the new settling area, Johnny would have seedlings from his seeds and this is what he would sell to the pioneers. The hard cider was not just for fun. It was necessary because of water pollution. When humans settle an area one of the first things we do is ruin the drinking water.

The special I saw put forth the idea that the apple has become one of the most successful species of plants worldwide because it decided to hitch its wagon to the human train. It worked with humans to develop the kind of apples that would make humans spread it all over the world. Is this the same as flowers developing certain colors and scents to attract bees for pollination? I really enjoy the concept that other species are using us to make themselves successful. The special mentioned other plants that have developed the same symbiotic relationship with humans, among them were potatoes and cannabis. I should write a story about the secret agenda of the cannabis plant. First it made itself illegal by being a little too friendly with us humans and now it is trying to become legal, at least here in California. Clever little bugger, isn’t it?

green apple oil painting

Is the apple trying to take over our world? Or will cannabis beat it to the punch?

The Con

The day started inauspiciously enough. Becki had met an Australian guy the day before who was taking her out for the day (night!?!). We had been traveling for over 7 months and had been in London for over 2 weeks, so had long since passed the phase of needing to be glued to each other’s side. Actually I’m not sure we ever went through that phase. We were both small town mid-western girls, rooted firmly in the belief that nothing bad could ever happen to us. In retrospect I envision us like a couple of female Mr. Magoos…knives zipping past our ears, bullets whining overhead, vicious beasts snapping at our heals, all without any awareness by us.

We were staying in a small hotel run by 2 Irish wolfhounds and their humans, a couple of Aussies. They catered to Aussies, New Zealanders and the occasional Canadian or American.

Though I had graduated from college 10 months earlier and had had no job for almost 8 months, I still woke up with that sinking feeling of having missed an exam or overslept for work. After dropping back into bed, a smile would appear as I contemplated my absolute freedom…I had no place I had to be and nothing I had to do. This was the prevailing feeling that I recall on that morning. I moseyed down to the American Express office to check for mail, then strolled aimlessly trying to decide how to spend the day.

I wandered into a café for a bite to eat. Two men, at least 10 years my senior, began chatting me up. Neither was dating material…I had been appalled to find out the German man I had been seeing in Munich was 8 years my senior, so these guys were well past my emotional age limit; they must have been at least 35! However, they were friendly and interested in me so I had no problem chatting them back.

They invited me to sit at their table, which I did. They then proceeded to enlist me in a smuggling ring, sneaking Swiss watches into England without paying duty. I was stunned and excited. I now knew how I was going to spend the day: I would infiltrate and crack an international smuggling ring and then I, as a newly graduated journalism major, would have an incredible story. I could sell it to the London papers, plus I was sure the Wisconsin papers would be so proud of their native daughter they too would pay to publish my adventure. Visions of an international journalism career danced in my head.

I was given a code name, Pat McLaughlin, and the con was on. They told me the woman who normally made the pick-up was sick. All I needed to do was enter the women’s restroom in a specific underground train station, where there would be a man cleaning the bathroom (culture shock!: a man would be cleaning the women’s bathroom while women were using it! Would anyone be able to poop with a man in the room! I managed to hold my features as still as possible and pretend this didn’t blow me away…journalists need to be hip at all times, even in the face of such shocking news.)

I was supposed to say the code words “green cue” to this man and he would hand me a bag with the watches. The watches would all have tags on them. Some would be yellow, some green, some blue, some red. My payment was to be a watch with a yellow tag which I was to take at this time. They didn’t know how little I lusted after watches having never worn one in my life…good grief! maybe they noticed that I had no watch and this inspired the entire con! (Aside: watches have never kept time on me; I have noticed in recent years, though, that my cell phone is always correct…I know I know, different technology.)

They told me my contact in the bathroom had a bad twitch, but to pretend not to notice it as he was sensitive about it. My gawd—did they think I’d been raised by farm animals!? Of course I wouldn’t mention the man’s twitch!

Timing was the big issue of the day…or so I thought. The really big issue of the day was how they were going to part me from my money.

We took cabs all over London, from tube station to tube station, trying to contact the “Big Man.” First one of the men would get into the cab, then I’d get in, then the other guy would get in. The guy on my right would then reach up and slide the window closed between us and the driver. They would then quiz me on my instructions: Pat McLaughlin, guy with a twitch, don’t notice the twitch, green cue.

We’d stop in cafes in tube stations and the guy that sat on my right…I wish I could remember their code names, let’s call the guy that sat on my left Snake and on my right, Worm. Worm would leave Snake and me (Pat McLaughlin) at the table while he went to call the “Big Man.” I now firmly believe he had to leave because it was impossible for him to keep a straight face: he had to go off and giggle for awhile…the WORM!

Now, how did they get my money? They wrote down all the numbers of my travelers’ checks, then told me I had to cash them as they needed the numbers of the bills I got in return for the checks. They then wanted to exchange my money for the same amount of their money. This was somehow going to prove that I was involved in the entire plot so I couldn’t go to the police. I didn’t want to go to the police…I wanted to go to the newspapers. I had another secret code name I hadn’t revealed to them: Lois Lane.
It took some convincing to get me to do this…that’s why this con took all day and we took so many cab rides. But in the end, I figured no matter what they had on me, I could convince the newspapers I was innocent and together we’d publish an incredible expose.

But just at the moment when I was agreeing to the money exchange, Worm came back from a call to the Big Man and said the guy with the twitch, don’t notice the twitch, was in the bathroom and we had to move quickly. Hurry Hurry Hurry! We exchanged money and I ran to the bathroom.

As soon as I got in there I realized I was in trouble. There was a man in the women’s bathroom cleaning the sinks, but he was black and had no discernible twitch. If they mentioned the twitch, wouldn’t they have mentioned he was BLACK? I dashed outside but the boys, Snake and Worm, were gone.

Hope springs eternal in the human heart, probably because the brain is filled with the fluff of our own stupidity and hope has sunk to the heart. I went back into the bathroom, sidled up next to the man (the black man with no twitch) cleaning the sink, began washing my hands at the adjacent sink and whispered “green cue” out of the side of my mouth. He didn’t respond. I whispered it louder, making eye contact this time. A look of alarm appeared on his face, but I persevered. This time I dropped all pretense of a whisper and snarled “green cue” at him. He backed away from me, saying (in a Cockney accent I might add, which briefly distracted me as it was the first time I had ever heard a black man speak with that accent) “whatdya want, do you speak English?” Speak English! I’m an American from America!! Should I have said verdigris pool stick! No time to discuss this…tears are on their way.

I ran back outside and began to cry. I still hadn’t reached in my pocket to see what my new money looked like. Slowly I pulled out the bills. They weren’t British Pounds, surprise surprise. They were called Pengas and were printed in Budapest in 1946. My father confirmed that they were worthless a year later when the heat of my humiliation had cooled enough for me to relay the story to him and my mother…which is a story in and of itself.

One would think that not much more could happen in a 24-hour period, but one would be wrong if one thought that. I was now basically penniless in a foreign country, wouldn’t it be prudent to go back to the hotel and wait for Becki? Prudence, however, is not a name to which I answer! Ah, but that’s a story for another day.

Louis XIV vs. Christopher Wren

Somehow I originally added Louis XIV’s portrait for Christopher Wren’s. It is fixed now, but take a look at the similarites. Actually, now that I look a little more closely, the only real similarity is that they have similar poses and similar wigs. Hmmm…easy to fool me, isn’t it? This is why an eye witness identification is not particularly useful!

Christopher Wren

Christopher Wren

Louis XIV

Louis XIV

Famous architects: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin, Christopher Wren and Antoni Gaudi

Frank Lloyd Wright's home in Spring Green, Wisconsin: Taliesin

Frank Lloyd Wrights home in Spring Green, Wisconsin: Taliesin


Frank Lloyd wrights barn at Taliesin, Spring Greeng, Wisconsin

It was a beautiful day for a drive through Wisconsin. We drove from Hudson to Darlington and passed Taliesin on our way through Spring Green. My brother-in-law’s mother, Lola, once told us that Frank used to come into the bakery where she worked in Mineral Point and buy pasties (the kind you eat, not the kind you wear, though that would certainly make a more interesting story!). He invited her to a party at his house, but she didn’t go. My mother told me he wasn’t well-liked in the Madison area because people thought that he thought too much of himself…probably a far bigger sin than his lifestyle, which didn’t endear him to Wisconsin folk either. That dumping-the-wife-with-the-kids-for-the-younger-woman thing was not popular in Wisconsin in the early part of the 1900’s. My father actually went to a party at his house in Spring Green when he was a young man…Frank was a friend of Dad’s uncle, Tom Bowden.

I just realized I couldn’t name any famous architects other than Wright so looked up a list : Interesting to see that only a few names on the list jumped out at me, most of them were born over 100 years ago and there are no women on this list. Christopher Wren’s hairdo is the closest we get. (I did not take this picture of this painting of Christopher Wren…I keep wanting to say Christopher Robin!)

Portrait of Christopher Wren

Christopher Wren

Don’t women become architects? Why not? Considering how much building is always happening all over the planet, this is a remarkably small list.

One of my personal faves is Antoni Gaudi:

Image by BiancaSunshine of top of antoine gaudi church

This picture is from a blog by Bianca Sunshine…I don’t think it’s her real name, do you? Here’s another link to a video about Antoni Gaudi.

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