Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Total Perspective Vortex

Apparently it really is "Geek Week" here at Life, the Universe and Everything as evidenced by this post in which I quote Wikipedia* on information pertaining to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as it relates to a recent incident in my life.

The Total Perspective Vortex, in the fictional world of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is the most horrible torture device to which a sentient being can be subjected. Located on Frogstar World B, it shows its victim the entire unimaginable infinity of the universe with a very tiny marker that says "You Are Here" which points to a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot.

I got a little blog'verse style taste of the Total Perspective Vortex this weekend. I received the following comment on my For Maddy post from Nicki Mann:

Hey! I am in the same room with you at Blogher... the one about exclusion/inclusion. Great question you asked... I think thats the kind of thing everyone would want to ask but didn't want to be the person to say it! :D

Well, obviously it was a mistake since I was on my couch at home and not in Chicago with the BlogHer crowd. I emailed her back and apparently there was a woman in the inclusion/exclusion panel discussion who has a blog named Life, the Universe and Everything. She said something Nicki thought was interesting and she googled her blog. My profile picture was apparently a close enough match that she thought she'd arrived at the right LUE.

I decided to use Technorati to search for this woman's blog, this woman who looked somewhat like me and had chosen the same title for her blog. Quite a few results turned up.

I stopped counting after 20.

I guess I don't feel so clever and unique after all.


Oh well, at least I have the coolest looking blog** named Life, the Universe and Everything.

"Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information." Michael Scott, Dunder Mifflen, Scranton, PA

**Coolest looking blog design influenced by the work of Douglas Adams is courtesy of Izzy of Izzy Design and Graphics.

P.S. I have finally gotten around to putting up my Rocking Girl Blogger award. It is very pink, you can't miss it. Snoskred of Life in the Country very graciously awarded it to me a couple of weeks ago. Thanks Snoskred! I'm supposed to pay it forward and will do so sometime this week or the next.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Geek Alert! Geek Alert!

Something you may not know about me but which may not surprise you given my blog's title and design, which could be considered something of a geek give away:

I've been to a Star Trek convention.

It was years ago and I think the featured Trek celebrities were Terry Ferrell and James Doohan. It was fun and I bought a cool Bajoran earring. However, I did get some dirty looks from one of my friends because I wasn't sufficiently reverential to all things Star Trek.

I was reminded of my sojourn to the traveling Trek Mahal when I saw pictures online of celebrities at this year's Comic-Con, the annual "multi-genre fan convention."

"Some day," I thought to myself. "I'm going to Comic-Con."

This is the point in the post where you will either love and admire me more or be a little embarrassed for me.

P.S. The new Scenic View in the sidebar is worth the trip. I was alerted to this hilarious post via Toddled Dredge, Veronica Mitchell's blog. Don't miss it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

For Maddy

Yesterday in a comment from my Sunday post, It is Finished, Maddy (McEwen of Whitterer on Autism) asked me and I quote:

Well something is seriously wrong with the timing here, because that post was on Sunday, and you'd finished........now it is Thursday......what on earth [and I use the term advisedly as I see your space scene in the background] have you been doing!

I guess I haven't been posting fast enough for her!

Well, let me try this in a format I haven't used in quite a while. Since finishing HP7, here is my...

  • Soccer Camp for Marley
  • Washing Marley's soccer clothes every night
  • Dealing with very tired Marley's mood swings
  • Reading another Neil Gaiman book: Anansi Boys
  • Watching Dead Like Me, Season One, Disc Two
  • A Trip to Sam's Club during which I purchased approximately a gazillion gallons of beverages
  • A Play date with Sheila and her kids at their house
  • Complete malfunctioning of schedule on Wednesday combined with a very hot day and extreme tiredness due to OSA (obstructive sleep apnea)
  • Desperation at unsuccessful OSA treatment (CPAP therapy) leading to desperate measures.
  • Success! OSA desperate measures (which might be a wee exaggeration) leads to two full nights of treatment!
  • Watching Damages on FX. Wow! Glenn Close amazes me and looks fabulous. IMDB'd the actress who play Ellen, Rose Byrne, as she looks very familiar. Oh yes! She was great in I Capture the Castle.
  • My son informing me that hates me and is never going to respect me. Never. Ever. He means it. (He's fifteen. Need I say more?)

the Universe

The world wide web is a fascinating place. It is a virtual metropolis with a business district (such as finance and computer sites), a shopping mall (Amazon.com anyone?), suburban neighborhoods (Mommyblogger Heights, Political Pundit Point, etc.) and that part of town, the seedy area that you try to ignore: Spam Alley.

Every couple of days I have to make a trip to that seedy part of my internet town. Important things find their way there such as legitimate emails with attachments and my Netflix notifications. You can always find what you expect to find: promises of sex and money. In the last few days and weeks, I've noticed a steady stream of Spam directed to appeal to to a different need: friendship.

Fake emails from Blue Mountain, Hallmark and other e-card companies arrive, probably 5 - 10 a day. You've received an e-greeting from a "Friend," a "Neighbor," a "Family Member." My favorite? You've received an e-greeting from a "Worshipper." I have to admit to being curious about that one. Is it a fellow believer in Christ or my own personal worshipper, my status as Mary, Queen of the Universe made official when I wasn't looking?

Ultimately, any one of these Spam emails is designed to play on a person's desire to fill a hole in their soul, a hole which will be filled "if only." If only I can have incredible sex, if only I can get rich quick, if only I had someone who cared about me enough to send me an e-card. These if onlys are sad to me--not because I'm above them, but because I understand them.

(For an enlightening lesson on scammers who use the internet, check out this post by Snoskred. I read it right after hearing about two or three people who've fallen prey to this kind of scheme.)


I promised over a year ago to post a picture of me wearing my CPAP mask. After all, I showed pictures of me all wired up for my sleep study, why not show me in the mask. Well, I just never got around to it and it is one thing to show yourself wired up from head to toe, it is another (at least in my mind) to show a picture of yourself with something up your nose! Since I am so excited about my CPAP miracle from the last two days, I'm going to throw vanity and caution to the wind and show you a picture of me in my nighttime face garb AND explain the miracle desperate measure.

Are you ready?


(Why do I feel the same as I might if I were about to bungee jump off a bridge?)

Okay, one, two three... JUMP!

And the miracle measure? This is it:

Two little pieces of medical tape strategically placed on the side straps. Two. little. pieces. Somehow, these little wonders keep me from taking off the mask and turning off the alarm in my sleep. Go figure. Either way, I'm thrilled and hope that my good sleep continues.

If you've got oodles of spare time on your hands are are interested in reading Mary-LUE's Saga of Sleep Apnea, click here, here and here.

So, what about you guys? What have you been up to?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It is finished

Appx. 2:30 p.m. PDST: Began reading HP7: The Deathly Hallows.

Appx. 11:30 p.m. PDST: Finished reading HP7: The Deathly Hallows.

Appx. 11:40 p.m. PDST: Showered.

Now? Off to bed.

Friday, July 20, 2007

"Pink is my signature color."

From Steel Magnolias:

Truvy: What are your colors, Shelby?
Shelby: My colors are "blush" and "bashful."
M'Lynn: Her colors are "pink" and pink."
Shelby: My colors are "blush" and "bashful" Mama!
M'Lynn: How pretentious is this weddin' gonna get, I ask you?

This is the seven year old soccer version:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Things They Carried: A Hump Day Hmm-er Double Header

Hump Day Hmm

The things they carried were largely determined by necessity.

What they carried was partly a function of rank, partly of field specialty.

They carried catch-as-catch-can.

What they carried varied by mission.

If a mission seemed especially hazardous, or if it involved a place they knew to be bad, they carried everything they could.

On ambush, or other night missions, they carried peculiar odds and ends.

The things they carried were determined to some extent by superstition.

Often, they carried each other, the wounded or weak.

For the most part they carried themselves with poise, a kind of dignity. Now and then, however, there were times of panic, when they squealed or wanted to squeal but couldn't, when they twitched and made moaning sounds and covered their heads and said Dear Jesus and flopped around on the earth and fired their weapons blindly and cringed and sobbed and begged for the noise to stop and went wild and made stupid promises to themselves and to God and to their mothers and fathers, hoping not to die.

They carried the sky.

They carried their own lives.

The above are all quotes from Tim O'Brien's book, The Things They Carried. When I first began to ponder last week's Hump Day Hmm-er, this book immediately came to mind. I flipped through the book looking for a quote--one quote--to use and so many of O'Brien's sentences seemed to be metaphors for Life. In my Life backpack, I carry with me the basic necessities: faith, family, friends. I carry some things according to my specialty/rank of motherhood. I carry odds and ends, peculiar to some, that I have picked up along the way (fanatic faith in Myers-Briggs Temperament theory, just to name one).

Like the young men, O'Brien describes, I hope I carry myself with poise and dignity, at least some of the time. I have known those moments of panic, though, when I have cried out to God and flopped on my bed (instead of the earth) and made moaning sounds.

I realized along the way that the soldier metaphor is imperfect, though, as I thought about all the things in life you have to let go. (Coincidentally, this week's roundtable topic was just that: how do you let it go?) And while O'Brien says that the soldiers "would often discard things along the route of march," it isn't always so easy to discard our emotional baggage, as necessary as it might be to our welfare.

If only it were.

Even when we manage, through perseverance and hard work, to overcome a major obstacle in life, you still carry the memories of it. It may still determine choices you make. I'm not sure it ever truly leaves you.

Perhaps then, it becomes more about finding a way reduce its size and weight enough so that you can pack it in with everything else you need and want to carry with you, leaving you free to continue your journey in Life.

Friday, July 13, 2007

LUE Reviews: The Red Tent

Updated to be more expansive on the subject.

After years of hearing others rave about it. . .

After a few less than favorable opinions about it. . .

After seeing it in what seemed like everybody's Library Thing list. . .

After getting it on sale months ago. . .

I finally read The Red Tent.

I was interested in knowing where Diamont was going with the story and I read it in less than 24 hours.

But I didn't like it.

I know, I know. I'm a traitor to my sister-women. I'm brainwashed by the patriarchal society which strives to suppress women. Oprah would not approve.

I do understand its appeal. If you go to The Red Tent page at Amazon.com and sort the customer reviews in order of least stars to most stars, you can find in there most of my issues with the book.

I will tell you this, however. I am seriously considering setting up a red tent in my bedroom and disappearing into it for a few days every month. I definitely like that idea!


Okay... I've had two suggestions already that my post is too cryptic as to my dislike of this book. Instead of replying in the comments, I'll put my response here. Julie recommended listing my top five likes/dislikes. I probably won't manage five of each, but I will do a bullet point list:


  1. While I think portraying El as just one of many gods is accurate to the time, I didn't like how the acceptance and worship of El was strictly divided down gender lines. It didn't ring true to me.
  2. Along that vein, I thought Mists of Avalon was a far superior take on the differences between men and women as well as the impact of Christianity (as opposed to Judaism in The Red Tent) on an existing belief system. (Actually, I think if Diamant had explored that aspect of the story more, it could have been fascinating.) By using Arthurian legend as a backdrop, any liberties taken with the story are much easier to accept--at least for me. I'm sure there are some fans of King Arthur who have their own particular preferences which might not have been satisfied with Bradley's take. I think I was much less willing to suspend disbelief because it was based on a story in the Bible. Using my example above, in the Old Testament, the worship of other gods/idols is not accepted at all. Knowing that made it harder for me to embrace the women's worship of said gods.
  3. It might be a function of the first person narrative and there being so many characters in the story, but the characters weren't consistently three-dimensional to me. If I didn't know the story of Jacob from the Bible, I'm not sure I could have understood where she was going with him. He's handsome! He's thoughtful! He's smart! Oh wait! He's a simpering fool! He's a liar! He has no character! It isn't as if he is drawn as a good man with flaws. He's a good man, then he's a horrible man.
  4. I can make myself buy the love match versus rape, but the broad paintbrush which she uses to characterize the majority of the men in the story left me cold.
  5. Some of the midwife bits seemed a bit anachronistic. They might not have been, but they came across that way to me.


  1. I like the idea of the book. If it had been done differently, I might have loved it.
  2. I think Diamont is a good writer. I would read something else by her. Julie has just recommended The Last Days of Dogtown by Diamont. It is set in the early 1800's in a desolate part of Massachusetts. I have no qualms about reading it. I think my problem with The Red Tent is 80% about the subject and 20% about the writing.
  3. Like I said before, I want my own red tent.

I hope that helps. This is all very subjective, my view of how she could have dealt differently with the story of Dinah. As I said before, I do see the appeal of the book. Plus, I think I'm just getting crotchety and ultra-picky in my old age. I've probably disliked at least 50% of my reads this year.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Being Mary-LUE

If you found a secret tunnel which would take you inside of my brain, here are just a few of the thoughts and feelings you be privy to in the last day or so. . .

. . . Teenagers! Argh! (mild irritation at daily dealings with)

. . . Gilbert! Anne! Sigh! (heart feeling all squishy at coming across the last 10 minutes of Anne of Avonlea with Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie)

. . . If I buy the clothes, wash the clothes, fold the clothes, I do not want to put them up! (on folding clothes that are beyond wrinkled and taking up space on the couch. . . Irritation really directed at myself. If I would fold them right away, I wouldn't have 14 stacks of clean clothes to topple over, again and again.)

. . . $144 dollars for a parking pass???? For parking??? (brief annoyance followed by. . .) Omigosh! I have a parking permit! For college! I'm a student again! (with much excitement and only a little nervousness at the prospect)

. . . Wait a minute! What happened to Rose? Where's Rose gone? (befuddlement at preview of tonight's new Doctor Who on the SciFi channel. Frustration that I've not been watching the show consistently to know what is going on)

. . . ???? :/ Sigh! (on stepping on the scale. . . renewed determination to get to the gym)

. . . What am I doing? What kind of punctuation is this exactly? Go fix it! No! I don't want to be bothered. Just hit publish. Now! (on noticing erratic use of capitalization and punctuation in this post)

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Song Remains the Same

I met tonight with Book Club #1 to discuss Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. Those of us who finished it all agreed it is an excellent book. Macon "Milkman" Dead floats through life without any vision or purpose. As an adult, still living at home with his parents, he strikes his father at the dinner table before his father can strike Ruth, Milkman's mother. Afterwards, his father comes to him to explain his actions and to warn Milkman that he shouldn't assume his father won't fight back the next time. His explanation of why he has so much contempt for Ruth leaves Milkman uncomfortable and unsure. Later in the novel, Ruth tells her side of the story. Eventually, Milkman learns facts his parents aren't even aware of which put the events of the Dead family's lives in even greater perspective. Milkman is able to reinterpret the words and actions of his parents. His view of the world changes as he gains in knowledge of his family history and through his experiences. This peeling back of the initial layer of an event to reveal a deeper layer happens frequently throughout the story. Words and actions which seem easily interpreted have entirely new meanings as more information comes along.

I had a strong response to this. As I read about Milkman's discoveries, such as his grandmother's real name being Sing and how that completely changed the message his grandfather's ghost had shared with Pilate, his aunt, I thought about the times in my life when I have experienced my point of view changing based on a new piece of family information, revelations which have not always been positive. Sometimes the perspective I have gained has been disheartening.

In addition to reading A Song of Soloman, a recent event and last week's round table discussion over at The Ravin' Picture Maven's blog have had me thinking about secrets and lies in the context of family. Specifically, I've been pondering the secrets I have learned about my family and whether or not to share that information with my children, and if so, when. It is a tricky thing--knowing when and when not to divulge family history which has been kept secret. First, because it is often only secret to a few. Next, you are often only one of several people involved and it is hard to know exactly what is yours to tell.

The temptation to keep the secret is strong. If you keep it, there are fewer people to by angry at you. There is less explaining to do--not as many questions to answer. Milkman's mother and father kept their secrets for a long time. But, a foundation of secrets is like the proverbial house built on the sand. When the storms come, the sand is washed away and the foundation crumbles. Before the Dead family's relationships could improve, that house of sand had to be demolished.

Revealing the secret can also be a strong temptation. The pressure of knowing and pretending not to know is released like steam from a kettle's spout. To reveal information that is suppressed can be a way of saying, "Don't you understand me better now that you know this?" However, the revelation can also be a way of passing along a burden you are uncomfortable bearing and once you've shared it, you cannot un-share it. By attempting to divide the burden by sharing it, you might end up multiplying it.

Ultimately, I don't know that there is one answer which will fit every circumstance and let you know when to share and when not to share. For Milkman Dead, his journey of perspective changes his life for the better. He learns the truth about himself and his family origins and is able to help enlighten his father and aunt, to widen their perspective also.

I still have Frost's miles to go on my journey, but I think I prefer the knowing to the not knowing and I have hope that what is now a source of discouragement has already changed my life for the better and will continue to do so.