Hair Cuts Before Pay Cuts

Today’s guest post is by Donna.

Every 6 to 8 weeks I spend close to 2 hours and a bunch of money at a beauty salon called, The Stylist. It always goes pretty much the same way.

When I arrive, Gary, my stylist, greets me with a smile and escorts me back to his station. He makes a thorough assessment of my hair by running his hands through it and asking, “How has this cut been working for you? Have you noticed any problem areas? How have you liked the color? Are you thinking you’d like to make any changes?” Then he disappears for a few minutes and reappears with a bowl of coloring solution that he masterfully applies, separating the hair into sections and sweeping the brush upward to ensure complete coverage. It feels refreshingly cool and its fumes immediately clear my sinuses and cause my eyes to water and blink enthusiastically.

All the while he engages me in fascinating conversation. We visit about his back surgery, his parents, his herbs, his new sofa, and Mike and Sassy. (One of these is his Pomeranian and one is his partner. I can never remember which is which.) He asks me about the happenings in my life and I share a couple of anecdotes about my first graders and he laughs like I’ve said something hilarious, but we both know it wasn’t that funny and that my love life is still dormant. Next he brings me a bottle of water and coffee and some magazines to help pass the time while the color processes. I drink the coffee and have a sip or two of the bottled water, but no more, because I will take the rest of it home to share with my cat. Then I read a magazine until I nod off.

When Gary returns he gently rouses me to my feet and leads me over to the sink. This is my absolute favorite part because after the rinse, he caresses my head for an entire 60 seconds, using a massage potion fused with pomegranate and pesto.

All too soon it’s time to go back to the chair for the cut, and at first I watch him very closely because if I could learn how to do this myself, I’d save so much money and I truly do need to scale back because of the pay cut I have to take next year, thanks to our governor and legislature. Then I start visualizing the kinds of punishment that await them in the afterlife, and before I know it, Gary‘s moved on to the blow dryer and I’ve forgotten all about that impractical notion.

I compliment Gary on his remarkable ability to transform my fine limp hair into a temporary voluminous mane. He responds by holding up a bottle of heat-activated spray gel that smells like strawberries – apparently he applied some during my sadistic daydream – and hands me a ten percent-off coupon for any product in the store this week only! Then he says what he always says, “This color looks fabulous on you! I am so glad we let your hair grow longer!” And I say what I always say, “You’re the master!”

Then I go up to the counter and pay my bill and leave Gary a liberal tip. It may or may not surprise you to learn that I also splurge on the strawberry styling product. I do this not because I think it will actually give me salon results at home, but because it smells sooo good and because my pay cut won’t go into effect for three months yet.

How do you justify luxuries that are totally worth it?

The Duck Walk

Today’s guest post is by Jacque.

Tuesday morning I went to the gym at about 7:00am. I was still a little groggy, waiting for the coffee to kick in, as I wandered toward the door of the community center when I heard hissing. To the right next to a bush was a Mama Duck protecting at least 10 little fluff ball chicks. And that Mama was MAD. Clearly I had committed a duck faux pas by thoughtlessly walking too close.

One of the most fascinating things about living in the Twin Cities is the population’s attitude towards these broods of ducks and geese each Spring breeding season. Normally fast moving traffic on the interstate will slow to a crawl, then a full stop, to allow a misdirected Mama and her babies to clear the road. These are drivers who sometimes seem willing to run their own slow Mama off the road.

In the mid-1990’s when I worked at a local Chemical Dependency Treatment Center for teenagers and young adults there was a Mama duck who returned to an interior outdoor courtyard of the facility every single Spring to build a nest and raise her family. The facility custodian would haul out the kiddie pool each spring, install it in the courtyard filled with water then place a plywood ramp up to the pool so the ducklings could learn to swim. These ducklings learned to walk up the ramp then jump into the pool for swimming lessons. Our teenage addicts stood for hours watching this through the window. Soon they would have to learn to swim in life stone sober.

When ducks could swim and walk the facility Executive Director would announce the date of The Duck Walk a week in advance. Each treatment group held Duck Walk Orientation so the kids would know what to do! During the duck walk every juvenile delinquent in the place was responsible for holding his or her piece of large cardboard in just the right place so the Mama and Family could be escorted through the building without escaping, then out the door. These juvenile delinquents and addicts found this event thrilling, often mentioning it as a highlight of the rehab program.

Last year on my way to work a goose family was confused and stuck in the middle of a four way stop. Traffic was carefully edging by them, slowing, stopping. When my turn came at the green light the family was positioned in a place where I would hit them if I proceeded. No one was moving while the panicked Mama tried to get the goslings off the road. But one crazy driver behind me wanted to MOVE NOW and laid on her horn. Not one other car moved to allow that driver through. Did she really want to run down the geese? Apparently so.

However, that lady is the exception. If you want to see living beings treated with compassion, gentleness, great care and loving kindness come to the Twin Cities during the Spring when Fowl run our roads and nest in our yards.

Do you have stories of Families most Fowl?

A World Around the Corner

Today’s guest blog is by Anna.

My house is around the corner from a library. The same library I went to when I was a kid; the library where I got my first library card. My first card was heavy, blue-grey paper and had the old “bars” logo for the Minneapolis Library on it. It also had my six-year-old handwriting on it spelling out my full name, hyphenated first name and all. I can remember bringing that precious piece of paper into the library where I would hand it and a stack of books to the librarian where she would press a button on a machine that, with a clunk and a buzz, took a picture of the book and my card, allowing me to take the books home. The red-headed librarian that was there when I was a kid still works there. The kids’ books are still to the left as you come in, and the “grown-up” books to the right. I sometimes wander into the stacks of children’s non-fiction and sniff the loamy aroma of dust-jacketed books and the air of my youth (don’t tell the red headed librarian, she might tell my mom).

I have loved books and reading as long as I can remember, and have no clear memories of not being able read. I remember my father reading chapter books to me at night and I remember reading Dr. Seuss to myself. I remember yelling downstairs when it was time for “lights out” that I was in the middle of a chapter and couldn’t I finish it, then getting five more minutes to read and reading fast enough to go into another chapter so I could repeat the process until my mother’s patience for the game wore out.

Over the past couple of years I have been watching through different eyes the process that leads to independent reading. It is a profound thing to watch, especially when you have forgotten how it was that you learned. First there is learning letter shapes and sounds and putting those together so you recognize the sound for each shape. Next comes putting those shapes and sounds in combinations that make new sounds. Eventually you get to sentences and books. It is amazing all the abstract things we learn that all come together to allow us to recognize a bunch of straight and curvy lines as words we understand.

Earlier this spring Daughter got her own library card, with her own full name spelled out in six-year-old handwriting. She was thrilled. It has its own purple card case and she loves that she can scan it under the bar code reader, scan her books, and tap the screen to get her receipt on her own (technology has advanced a bit since I got my first card). Because we are just around the corner there is a weekly request, easily fulfilled, to go and read at the library. I think Daughter loves the smell of all the books, and the thrill of understanding them, as much as I do. And what better motivation to keep reading than your own shiny library card and the ability to use it to discover new worlds?

What were your favorite books when you were a kid?

Ask Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

Whenever I sit down to eat, I am careful to arrange the plate properly according to the standards I learned when I was young.

I start with a layer of bread, cereal, rice and pasta, then I put two half-layers on top of that – one that’s primarily vegetables and the other, mostly fruit. Over all that I spread meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts, pour on a few servings of milk, yogurt and cheese, and then I dot the tippy top with fats, oils and sweets.

According to the drawing I go by, all this food is supposed to stack into a tidy, healthy pyramid, but no matter how carefully I assemble it the whole thing always collapses when I add the dairy. Still, I persist because this is how my government tells me to eat. I have even scolded others at my table when they dare to arrange their plates according to their own whims. I’m sorry to have to correct people, but rules are RULES!

As you might imagine, the combination of my constant hectoring plus the predictable mess that happens every time my pyramid implodes has made me quite unpopular and I often eat alone. I sometimes feel sad about this but I’ve been able to comfort myself with feelings of smug satisfaction that I am the only one eating properly.

Now I see the government has abandoned the pyramid guidelines and has given us orders to assemble something that looks more like a plate, with only one layer of food!

I feel betrayed and humiliated!

Dr. Babooner, what use is it to be obedient and respectful of authority when that authority can suddenly change the schematic and abandon its old lessons? I am seriously considering arranging my next meal not as a pyramid or a lopsided circle, but as a trapezoidal collision of potato chips, salsa and Twinkies.

Clearly there are no rules anymore.

Peeved About The Pyramid

I told PATP that a fierce obedience to authority is a charming quality to have when you are 7 years old, but it soon becomes unattractive in adults. However, constantly questioning authority can also be wearisome, because life is beautiful and sometimes you can only see the sights when you are willing to let someone else drive for a while. I suggested that “Moderation in all things” is a good rule to live by, if one must live by rules. Since PATP seems to respond to graphic representations, I tried to draw that up as a diagram, but moderation is a hard concept to capture visually. It winds up looking bland and formless, like Silly Putty.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

A Cold One for Mr. Thayer

Today is the anniversary of the first publication of the poem “Casey at the Bat“, by Ernest L. Thayer. It appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3rd, 1888.

How quaint to think that there was once a time when a single poem could be widely known and symbolic of a national pastime. I love popular poems mainly for the opportunity they present for parody, and Casey at the Bat is a favorite.

The perfect poetic parody storm happened (for me) in 2002 when the great slugger Ted Williams died, and his family battled over the remains. One faction wanted Williams cremated, the other wanted him frozen at a cryonics lab in Arizona for possible re-animation sometime in the future. Of course.

The refrigerators won, and in the process I got a chance to imagine how it would all turn out on some distant sunny afternoon.

“What is science fiction, anyway, but something that might happen in the future?”
Dr. Jerry B. Lemler, chief executive, ALCOR Life Extension Foundation
(NY Times, Wednesday, July 10, 2002)

With apologies to Ernest L. Thayer –

The outlook, it was dismal for the Joyville nine that day:
The year was 2502, One inning left to play.
The fan base had eroded so, this game would be the last.
The one time national pastime’s time, alas, had finally passed.

A somber group of gravediggers were warming up their arms.
They prepared to bury baseball, the big teams and the farms.
A-Grieving in the bleachers the remaining faithful sat.
“If only we could liberate Ted Williams from his vat!”

For baseball’s mighty slugger had been frozen when he died.
They froze his sacred arms and wrists, they froze his rugged hide.
They froze him in the hope that he might someday un-retire.
But no one thought the sport itself would sicken, then expire.

And then from many thousand throats there rose as one, a breath.
A gasp of shock, surprise and glee, of victory o’er death.
For in the batter’s circle, for the multitudes to greet
In suspended animation, there hung Williams by his feet.

There was frost upon his biceps as they opened up his case.
Liquid Nitrogen was dripping from the creases on his face.
How the faithful cheered their legend as the slugger was unpacked
How he tipped his hat to greet them! How his knees and elbows cracked!

Now he stood there stiffly-legged as the light began to die
The pitcher hurled a bullet. Williams watched as it went by.
The catcher muttered softly “You took that one like a chump.”
“I’m adjusting to the temperature,” he said. “Strike!” said the ump.

The tumult from the bleachers was amazing to behold.
Not a fan among them noticed that the bat was green with mold.
Now his eyes returned an icy glare, he curled his frozen lip.
Now his red socks were de-icing. Now his cap began to drip.

Then came another missive from that demon on the mound.
Showing every indication it would splutter to the ground.
But then it rose, Phoenix-like, ’til level with his belt.
“Strike two!” The umpire said, as Williams felt his shoulders melt.

In the catered suites around the park the corporate sponsors groaned.
In the press box doing play-by-play, the glib announcers moaned.
In the stands, prevailing wisdom was, the greatest one had choked.
At the plate, the catcher noticed that the batter’s box was soaked.

For the frost upon the slugger’s brow had turned into slush.
His uniform was sodden and his mitt was leather mush.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now it’s on its way.
And now the air’s alive with a ferocious swing and spray.

Oh somewhere there’s a field of dreams with bleachers by the surf.
And somewhere bands are playing on some soggy outfield turf.
Although mostly it is dusty by the plate where umpires shout,
There’s a pool of mud in Joyville, for Ted Williams has thawed out.

Your frozen remains have just been brought back to life in a word quite different from the one you left. Comments?

Tarzan Yell!

It’s Johnny Weissmuller’s birthday today, way back in 1904. He was an Olympic champion in swimming with five gold medals, and a record contender in matrimony as well, marrying five times. Some things just come to certain people in handfuls.

And he played Tarzan, the original male bimbo.

I love these quotes in the New York Times obituary from 1984. In the first one he’s marveling at his good fortune to land the perfect job for a good looking, phenomenal swimmer who wasn’t very chatty to begin with.

‘It was like stealing,” he said. ”There was swimming in it, and I didn’t have much to say. How can a guy climb trees, say ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane,’ and make a million?”

And this, regarding his dance with fame:

”The public forgives my acting because they know I was an athlete,” he said on another occasion. ”They know I wasn’t make-believe.”

I’m guessing Weissmuller would be a reality TV star today. He was well built, amorous and carefree. And he got along OK with animals, which will always make you popular with the American public. In fact, people would approach him in public and request that he perform his character’s victory cry – the Tarzan Yell. Imagine being out to dinner and having to deal with an endless string of strangers asking to hear this:

Really, it’s no wonder he was divorced by four of his wives.

Tarzan was raised by apes. If you could choose to join a family of animals ….? (Please, NOT baboons!)

The Honorable Doctor

This is the season for commencement addresses, and lucky indeed are the schools that can draw a high profile speaker who is also inventive and succinct.

And then there are the others – places where exhausted and anxious graduates have to endure lengthy speeches from self-important outliers who thrive in the place where science, business and insanity meet.

Text of the Commencement Address by Dr. Larry Kyle, founder of the supermarket Genway, to the graduating class at the Designing Nature Academy (DNA), a Genetic Engineering School.

Hello Graduates,

Looking at all of you waiting to get your B.S.’s from DNA, it makes me think of my most favorite letter of all – I!

When I was in your position, I thought I would get a job in a big scientific laboratory, posing impossible questions and squinting at test tubes all day. I imagined that I would draw a huge paycheck for this work because my mind is nimble and original and I like to think up things that no one has ever thought before.

Little did I know how weak the demand is for unusual thoughts. Unusual thoughts are suspicious and are treated with disdain by the world at large. What the world wants are USUAL thoughts that are guaranteed to make money, but that no one else has ever thought of.

Some of you will manage to convince your clueless employers that you can come up with this kind of magical idea. I hope you’ll be gone with the money before they realize they’ve been hoodwinked.

A very select few will follow my path.

I have found that to do the truly weird, genuinely “out there” work that the world needs but can’t ask for, you must go on a personal crusade with three “I”’s to guide you.

Independence. Ingenuity. And Insanity.

I am that three “I”’d monster! That’s what allowed me to create some of Genway’s most famous genetically engineered produce, like Bumble Grapes, Screaming Pumpkins and Crayfish Kohlrabi!

When people heard about the kind of work I wanted to do, many of them said things like “No”, and “Stop” and “Great scott, your irresponsible ideas will end up destroying life as we know it!”

This was hard to hear, especially since I discovered early on that I am motivated by the approval of others. Yes! And yet true pioneers are seldom lauded by anyone at the beginning. Or ever. That’s why I took steps to ensure that my supply of approval would never run out.

I hired a yes man, and you should too!

The people who are the CEO’S of major corporations are smart, but they’re no smarter than you. The difference? They have yes men (and some yes women) who bolster their confidence and give them the energy to proceed with their crazy ideas. Confidence is what got them where they are, and confidence will keep them there. It all starts with the word YES.

Now, I realize that many of you don’t have the resources to hire a yes man to personally approve all your impulsive whims, and you might have to start being someone else’s yes man. But eventually, the goal should be to surround your self with feckless enablers!

Allow me to get you started. I want you to think of your weirdest, wildest, wackiest idea that does not involve nudity, gunfire, or invading someone else’s personal space.

Got it? OK.
I think it’s brilliant, and you should do it.
As soon as I leave campus.

Thank you very much, and good luck to all of us!

What is the key to success?

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