Saturday, January 17, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

I wrote this from a fun little facebook tag assignment. This could probably be 25 blog posts but since I"ve not had time to do anything blogwise for months and I forgot I even had a blog and since Sheila said I should get a blog I'm pasting it in so my followers can read it at their leisure (haha! That would be my dear young friend Whitney-the lone disciple).  

1. I only participated in this writing assignment because Sheila my cousin is the closest thing I have to a sister (I was an only child which probably explains my lack of social skills incidentally) and this was probably the 3rd time she's requested I do this or something like it so I’m doing it. Then after I did Whitney tagged me too with 5 additional things. We all know I cannot refuse a request by my dog's stylist. Yes my dog has a Stylist. Also a Body Guard and an offical photographer.

2. I sent my original list of 20 Random things to Sheila by email because it was too embarrassing. I will never be a novelist because I write intensely personal things and then worry people will misinterpret them or think my fiction is obviously autobiographical so I stop. Of course now I'm blogging so who the hell knows what's going to happen. My colleague across the hall at work thinks I'm neurotic to care about what people think. I don't care so much as I hate being misinterpretted and judged especially judged inaccurately. Also I won a poetry contest in high school writing about how much it sucks to be a teenager -what else does one have to say at age 17 I ask?. My mother totally took it personally like some sort of indictment of her as a human being despite the fact that it sucks to be physically grown and yet poor and micromanaged which is the plight of 98% of teenagers living at home. I could write a best seller and she would decide it was a critique of her. Boy I think this one should count as another 5 items...Did I mention this same woman once told me I didn't need to have children since Oprah didn't have children? I don't even like contemplating what a horrid child I must have been that my mother thought it quite unnecessary to have children. Then  she used Oprah- not Mother Theresa-OPRAH,  to justify it as a good plan for my life. Its a good thing I was born before Oprah's time or I might not have been born...And no I don't have children and its probably too late now. But I didn't select this lifestyl because my Mom or Oprah legitimized the decision. Lets just say the maternal gene pool is not very deep in our bloodline... 

3. I have never been drunk-but I did have an interesting evening once with a really bad cold and some codeine prescribed by my college health service. Go Deacs! That whole thing ticked off my mother. She's a nurse and didn't think people under 20 should be prescribed narcotics. She's probably right. 

4. I have 7 dogs. Used to have 9. Cowdogs, Terriers, and Spaniels. And no, they don't all get along. People always ask, hoping for it to be true. Like dogs can get along when people can’t and I must be some kind of miracle worker to make this happen. Everyone wants to believe I'm Santa Claus or Gandhi and then when I'm not  they're always crestfallen.  What people who don't live in multidog, multibreed households don't realize is that its like I have furry Isralies, Palestinians, and the Swiss all living under one roof. I am seriously stupid. Seven is too many. Two can be too many if it’s an Israli and a Palestinian. Here the metaphor melts down. Some of the terriers simply can't be with anyone at times. Its really more like 2 Somali pirates, one of who is friends with a Hamas leader but the other of whom isn't, some refuges from some war ravaged state-Bosnia, maybe Georgia, and a couple of Isralies all living under one roof. Do I look like Hilary Clinton or even Condi Rice? Previously I did mention that I have social skills challenges. How can I be expected to deal with these myriad dog personalities. I just try to avert disaster at every moment. We have no peace process just a management plan.  The experts say they wouldn't really fight to the death but my mother (who does actually know a few things) says its just mother nature at work; strong will winnow out the weak. This is why the supreme being (me) has to protect the weak. 

5. I work in a different state than the state where I live. This freaks me out. Not only the commuting but the people are different and I have to adjust constantly wherever I am-red state, blue state, red state, blue state. Guns & defense vs health care, social entitlement programs. Office mates happy about election. Neighbors not so much. And then visa versa. I cope by listening to NPR AND Conservative Talk Radio. I know a lot about a lot that's happening in the world but its not really convincing me that this is a post-partisan world we live in and I couldn't really tell what the objective truth is about anything. I constantly fantasize about winning the lottery and moving someplace with a stable moderate climate and never driving anywhere again. Possibly a gated community of buddhists who practice radical acceptance and would tolerate my carnivorous ways. 

6. I showed my dog at Westminster last year but you didn't see us on TV since we didn’t win. This did not alter my affection for my dog (much). I would still consider marrying him if he wasn't a deadbeat and a dog and I wasn't spoken for. People think I’m insane to like my dog so much but he’s quite a good companion, we never argue and he lets me control the remote on the rare occasions I watch TV. If anyone can hook us up with Ralph Lauren so he can assume his rightful place in the pages of Town and Country Magazine as a model I could die a happy person. How's that for a shallow life ambition. My friend Whitney came with us to Westminster and helped me buy the most expensive shoes I ever bought but we rationalized them because I wore them practically everywhere all year (think costs per hour of wear and really it was mere pennies). The only other Whitney I knew ever in my life was my mother's best friend's dog, a cute little Yorkie. I so loved that dog. Whitney is 13 years younger than I am so possibly she is that Yorkshire terrier reincarnated. This would explain her good taste in accessories, her loyalty and very pretty hair. It does not explain her fantastic literary talents or the fact that she looks nothing like a yorkie. 

7. Believing in God is a challenge for me but I pretty much think an Internet astrologist has the future nailed. Go figure. Fortunately after 12 years the astrologist says I'm to be the Celestial Darling this year. I wonder, is it more farfetched to think Jupiter would have an impact on Uranus and that would affect me or to think Jesus loves me (or anyone else). I'm sure its all the Barnum effect but I'm going with it for now and it seems to be working which is just eery! At least though its eerily swell and not eerily scary.  Too bad you can't be Celestial Darling more than once every 12 years. 

8. Despite not being very religious I feel guilty about everything pretty much constantly ranging from this tendency to read my horoscope to how much money I spend on hair conditioner (alot but then my hair has never really looked this good and I really think its helping my performance appraisals when I make my boss look good) to the fact that I’ve been divorced and therefore am clearly going straight to hell. That’s what Catholic School does to a person. Catholic school and estrogen keep me in my place. Lucky for everyone. 

9. I believe genes determine much of our daily experience and in ways we don’t even realize. For example, y chromosomes endow people with testosterone and that makes them confident and that governs many of their choices which determines where they go and what they do and the risks they take and the success or failure they have. Consequently therefore I believe you can’t therefore talk someone out of most bad habits unless you give them a switch to trip to mess with their genes. Counseling, advising. Not going to work. I went to school for 9 years to learn how to modify behavior and most of it boiled down to teaching and reinforcing new skills but frankly that's just not enough without a biological switch. Nicotine, Ritalin, birth control pills and low carb diets can all help in this regard. If I were practicing psychology I would need to be a biopsychosocial psychologist which is really what psychiatrists are sans the behavioral training and plus a prescription pad. I think people can be changed but really only with a ton of conditioning and a therapist who has control over the most important things-pleasure or punishment that the client values. At this point nothing short of an extremely bad war (on the order of nothing we've seen so far-literally the US being under assault) is about all that could get me to go to Medical school at the age of 40+ which is what I'd need to do to practice the kind of therapy that I believe now could really help folks make changes in all their bad health habits which cause them all way to much angst. Too bad I didn't have this insight in graduate school but it was a life lesson not a book learnin' type lesson. 

10. I think Obama and everyone else who goes out to get a dog for the first time would probably be much better off getting a getting a purebred dog. Mongrels are for dog owners with TONS of experience. (yes I'm aware that would have been more elegant with some sort of segue but the assignment was 25 RANDOM things.)  I will blog about this more soon. 

11. I really want to go to Hawaii. I don’t know why. I just do. Its not Obama influenced either. I've wanted to go since childhood when my parents used to ditch me for business junkets (ahh the Reagan years when materialism was a family value nobody minded). Hopefully this will be the year I can go as prices are ridiculously low which is not a good thing economically but is good for my budget. Mr S and I went to Bermuda for our honeymoon because I didn't have enough time off to go to Hawaii and my boss neglected to inform me I could be advanced leave. Bermuda smells like diesel fuel, is hard to get around and has bad customer service. Don't go to Bermuda unless you go in November to get a Bermudan Championship on your dog. And if you go then, bring a wetsuit so you can snorkel. 

12. I like to ski but only when its sunny. I won't be skiing in Hawaii even though I could because I REALLY hate packing and no sense in packing all that crap to go to Hawaii when I just want to hang on the beach and snorkel until my lips crack. I have been skiing like 6 times since I got married, but I've not been to the beach except to go to Bermuda and I love the beach. What the heck is my problem? 

13. Economics is my new hobby (that is not the answer to the rhetorical question in #12). After following Nouriel Roubini on line for 3 years I’ve learned that in times like these people should stay out of debt, (he didn't say this but I would say even student loan debt should be avoided) This is because of deflation which is pretty much like financial tuberculosis. When deflation happens debt will suck so much more than it already does. If we hit double digit unemployment and the credit card companies have to start writing off debt they don’t have the balance sheets to cover its going to get way FUGLIER than what we see now. Students are getting sold the same load of goods home buyers did. The people loaning money to them now should be ashamed. It will suck to pay off student loan debt on 20% less salary than you figured you would be making. And they can follow you around for the rest of your life for student loan repayment. 

14. When I wrote the original list apparently I reminded my cousin of my grandfather which is really not a compliment since he was an old credit union auditor who went to the bank, grocery store and drug store EVERY DAY after he retired and knew EVERYBODY and generally bugged them all about what they should or should not be doing. Philosophically I'm actually opposed to advice giving. I've heard in the Jewish culture you're supposed to make people ask for advice 3 times before you give it to them so they understand that they REALLY were soliciting the advice and can't blame you for it later. This is a good policy I think. And yet here I am blogging. So if I say anything here-please remember its not advice, just opinion and you are free to do anything else you want. 

15. My favorite books when I was little were Gone with the Wind and all the Dr. Doolittle books and anything by Roald Dahl. I have had as many husbands as Scarlett O'Hara (I am not proud of this but it is what it is), and I named one of my dogs after the spoiled little girl in Charlie in the Chocolate Factory who wants EVERYTHING NOW because A. she does and B. because a person I used to be involved with thought anyone who wanted anything was selfish and bad. So in your face evil ex husband # 2-Veruca Salt rules! As to how Dr. Doolittle influenced me...

15. If I could make one science advance in my career or select one that would win a Nobel Prize to just give to a friend (because that’s the kind of gal I am) it would be giving the power of speech to animals via brain computer interfaces. But I can’t come up with a really good reason to do it. A friend of mine thinks there’s nothing we would gain that we didn’t already have if we could have this. A dog can sniff and alert a human to the presence of a bomb so do we really need him to say “Hey! There’s a bomb there.” Maybe it would be helpful if a dog could tell a blind person how many steps to take to get to a curb but they sort of already do this, just not in so many words. Would it be worth the investment if it could be done? And I’d have to listen to all 7 dogs complain which I sort of already do when they bark but it might be worse-furry Swiss, Palestinian and Isralies all moaning about how I like the Somali pirate the best. That would be pretty unfun. Of course maybe they wouldn't say anything directly to me. A family I know has a clear pecking order of who the favorite children are but nobody SAYS anything about it around the parents. Still I want this animal speech thing anyway. Or even better still, just helping them understand what I'm saying would be good. The thing that’s stopping me is the same reason I won't go to medical school unless there's a patriotic catastrophe demanding sacrifice (in which case the military could pay my tuition). Its the thought of spending 20-30 years on something and maybe not having a product in the end. I am a scientific wuss. I blame my ADD genes. Twenty-thirty years on one thing seems like it would be boring and if there’s one thing I struggle with it’s the stick-to-itness needed for most big life endeavors.

16. My current favorite place is Lily Pons Maryland. I like to walk my dog and take pictures. Its also where I train my dog. It’s my little respite from life with herons and lotus and lillies of ever color imaginable. The fellow who is helping me train my dog is extraordinarily skilled-an insanely good behaviorist without formal psychology training 

 I can explain theoretically why he does what he does since I have formal training in psychology but I could never have put together what he has in terms of training even with my degree. He doesn’t have the background in learning theory but by golly his protocols are textbook sensible. Before working with him I truly never believed in certain methods that you learn in textbooks. Then I saw his dogs work. Until you witness that a person can get a wild high drive animal to sit calmly, watch the sky, look for birds falling from the sky, memorize where they land and then send them 300 yards in a different direction following nothing but hand signals and a whistle and get the creature to find a hidden bird it never actually saw fall because some helper hid it earlier in the day and the dog sniffed it out and you watch the dog bring it back and then return and find the duck they did see fall and bring that to you, all around and through a pond of water over the dog's head and you see it happen fast as falling star and happy as a bumble bee in lavender you just don’t realize what people and dogs are capable of together.  Even if you believe in gun control and are a complete and total vegetarian you will be awed knowing what it took our forerunners to eke out a living on the frontier with just a gun and dog and wits and training and patience. 

You will also know why the best thing for that job is a retriever and not a terrier or a border collier or a mongrel. And then you’ll understand there must be other jobs of equal value requiring different skills and shapes for the terrier and border collie etc... That’s when you start to get it. The big why of why things are the way they are. Its literally as mind boggling as something like that we managed to build the pyramids before we had electricity and autocad programs. And did I forget to mention its not like retrievers just do this naturally (you might think so since they're call retrievers but they don't always retrieve-sometimes they take the bird and eat it or parade around just out of reach. An untrained dog around a gun and a boat and a bunch of birds is liable to go nuts and get people shot, wet and possibly dead. The potential is inside the little acorn but the human knowledge passed down from hunter to hunter and artful application of this body of knowledge brings it out. 

17. When I write a paragraph like the one above I feel like I’ve got a handle on some of the mystery of the universe. Then I go to a book store and see all the computer books and realize it’s a good thing there’s no time travel. I might be able to live in the past but I’d be screwed if I ever went to a future where all the jobs are probably going to be in IT. I couldn’t program anything if my life depended on it.

18. It bothers me that half my life is probably over and the second half I’ll have to spend in a used and aging body. I probably should have studied computer science when I was in school. I really think the programmers will have the edge going forward.

19. I have an insatiable need to write my congressman and letters to the editor whenever I feel like the people are about to get screwed. They have started replying. Yesterday I got a 98 page article about the Uptick Rule and short selling from Frank Wolf. I don’t recall “sharing my support for reinstating the uptick rule” as he stated in his letter. I do recall ranting at him about the TARP bailout but he never wrote back about that. The stationary he wrote on was recycled but the article was on normal paper. I might have requested the article from his website-I’m not sure if I did or not but if I did an email with a PDF would have been a more economical way to go. I mean how many people can he afford to send a 98 page document to? It was double sided but still!

20. I suspect my propensity to voice my opinion and inform people of things is genetic. My dear grandfather once called the Maxwell House customer service department to ask whether it was ok to drink expired coffee. They said no. He said "well this stuff I’m drinking now is 5 years expired and seems fine to me but I'll call you if it kills me." He was also known for being a general busybody about things. That would be me. Some sort of “oh by the way” gene or “hey you need to do something about this” gene. I miss him a lot. 

21. I hate homework assigments like this. If feel compelled to do a good job and then I feel especially guilty about the tag X # of people part because I don't want to inflict this burden on other people. I know 1 liners should have been better. In the words of my pal Tricia-Boo! Not "boo" scary like a halloween ghost, "boo!" like a toddler stamping her foot and sticking her lip out when she can't have candy. 

22. Dogs again. Yep. Dogs, gotta love them. I had 3, my husband had 4 and then we stupidly had to "procreate" so we got a puppy. But then I realized the puppy would probably adore him and I'd feel jealous so we got her brother too. I've had 2 puppies at the same time and its the WORST idea ever but I did it anyway and I can't even blame my selfish genes. If you listen to nothing else I say here NEVER EVER GET 2 PUPPIES at the same time. Nonetheless these dogs are completely the favorites. 

24. I feel guilty about having favorites but secretly I think these two dogs are superior. Isn't that awful? But both have huge personalities and we raised them from puppies which makes them just so our dogs. A deep dark secret and another reason I'm going to hell if there is one. 

25. My husband and I talk on their behalf with accents specific to each of them. When I was in college my Freshman year the girls across the hall spoke to each other as if they were the Martian from Bugs Bunny-that high nerd voice-they even called each other "earthling". It drove my roommate and I insane and fortunately they forgot all about it when they came back from Xmas break. Of course the things we hate about other people we frequently don't mind in ourselves. So my husband and I think this is hilarious of course and carry on all kinds of conversations on their behalf. I wonder if the other dogs despise us because of this just like I hated the gals across the hall. Anyway, the girl puppy's fake voice is so high pitched it makes my throat hurt when I do her and I deliberately gave the boy a speech impediment so he can't say his Rs right and he sounds sort of slow like Forrest Gump despite the fact he's a genius. Seriously-he's no border collie or anything but he knows tons of tricks and has a labrador like ability to concentrate. Unlike children dogs don't care if you mock them openly or talk about them on a blog. That is yet another fun thing that would be shot to hell if I had the power of Dr. Doolittle so its probably good to be happy for the things you don't/can't have. 

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