Saturday, April 29, 2006

Coca-Cola BlaK

I tried the new Coca-Cola BlaK today. First, let me tell you how Consumer Reports described it:

"It's Coke with coffee, double the caffeine, and half the calories"

I should have read that sentence before I tried it myself. That "half the calories" statement should be setting off alarms inside your head.
(Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!)
After reading that you should be asking yourself how is that possible? It is possible because Coca-Cola BlaK contains aspartame and acesulfame potassium- both being artificial sweeteners. Something I did not find out until after I drank the whole bottle. Aspartame is a migraine trigger for me so you can understand why my reaction to that one little word was, "Holy s**t!"

I know what you're thinking, "Well, besides that, how was it?"

Consumer Reports' taste test compared the US version of BlaK to the French version The French version has more coffee and is made with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Both things change the taste. The results:

Bottom line: If you like the idea of a hint of coffee with your Coke, you might give this a try. But if you're looking for more coffee with your cola, you'll be disappointed with Coke BlaK--unless you buy it in France.

Myself. I hated it. It was flat and tasted too much like coffee and not enough like Coke. I think Coca-Cola has created the New Coke for the 21st century. Like New Coke I don't think it will appeal to either Coke drinkers or non-Coke drinkers. It sure as hell did not appeal to me.

Friday, April 28, 2006

A Message From John Cleese

To the citizens of the United States of America:

In light of your failure to elect competent Senators and Congressmen and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (excepting Kansas, which she does not fancy). Your new prime minister, Tony Blair, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium," and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour. Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix "ize" will be replaced by the suffix "ise."

Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up "vocabulary"). Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.

There is no such thing as "US English." We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of "-ize."

You will relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen." July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but to be celebrated only in England. It will be called "Come-Uppance Day."

You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling "gasoline")-roughly $6/US gallon. Get used to it.

You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called "crisps." Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as "beer," and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as "Lager." American brands will be referred to as "Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine," so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in "Four Weddings and a Funeral" was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

You will cease playing American "football." There is only one kind of proper football; you call it "soccer." Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American "football," but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the "World Series" for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable.

You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

Thank you for your co-operation.

Sounds like a good plan.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Odds And Ends

1. Duke is still doing great.

2. The horse is buried.

3. The bird is back.

4. Why you should never get as drunk as hell. There might be somebody with a camera.

5. Trophy wife- The term is often used to imply that for the man, it is a form of display intended to exhibit their wealth and success to others. However, this term is seen by some as misandrist, as it is a stereotype that implies wrongdoing solely on the part of the male, who takes advantage of an innocent, younger female while simultaneously wronging his older, previous wife. A misogynistic counterpart to the term "trophy wife" could be considered to be "gold digger", which has the implication of a young attractive woman, seducing an older, wealthy man for purpose of financial gain. (From Wikipedia.)

Display wife is the currently accepted definition of trophy wife. It is an unflattering reference to a man who displays his success by acquiring a lovely young wife, like a winners trophy. (From

So, why would anyone think this is a good name for their book?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Animal Planet

Duke is doing extremely well. The swelling in his leg is going down and he is feeling so good we are having a difficult time keeping him quiet. I think there are three reasons why he is doing better than Emma did when she got bit. First, because Duke got bit on the leg and not in the face. Second, because we iced his leg right at the beginning. The vet said that helps to slow the spread of the toxins. Finally, because we are doing hydrotherapy on him. Hydrotherapy is vet talk for hosing his leg down twice a day with cold water for 10 minutes each time. This helps keep the swelling down.

On a sadder note when my husband took Kate for a walk on the river last night he came across one of our neighbors horses lying tangled up in the wire fence surrounding its pasture. When he got closer he could see that she was dead. When he got home he phoned the owner and told him what he had found. Later the owner called back and told my husband the mare was 29 years-old and had died of old age. She had died standing up and then fallen into the fence. It's going to be empty down there with out her.

Closer to home we had a couple unusual visitors to our bird feeders yesterday. I looked out the window yesterday afternoon and saw both a Red-winged Blackbird and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The blackbirds come to the feeders ever so often but I have never seen a rose-breasted grosbeak before. We are right at the edge of his range. He must like our sunflower seeds because I saw him one more time yesterday and I've seen him twice already today. I hope he sticks around until my husband has a chance to see him.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Living In Rattlesnake Country

I picked Duke up from the vet clinic this morning. Sunday night my husband took him for a walk up at the cemetery and Duke raced off the second his kennel door was opened. About twenty minutes later my husband was surprised to see him come limping back to him on three legs and in pain. He examined the hurt leg and found a one inch cut on the side of it near what would be the wrist in a human. The joint was also swelling up. He figured Duke had somehow banged the leg on something and given himself a contusion. When he got him home we put ice on his leg to keep the swelling down but a half hour later the whole leg was swollen to twice its size and we knew he must have been bit by a rattlesnake.

We rushed him to the vet clinic. That was an experience in itself. I hate driving after dark on country roads. Kangaroo rats kept darting across the road in front of us. (Yeaaa, Rusty's in the club!) One did not make it and the small thumping noise his body made after it was hit by the left front tire was upsetting to me. Then we saw a deer standing beside the road about a mile from the clinic and had to slow down. Deer crossing roadways do so in groups and sometimes one will panic and jump right out in front of your car.

When we arrived at the clinic the first thing the vet did was shave the fur off Duke's leg where the cut was. When he finished we could see that what we thought was a cut was a puncture wound. It looked like a cut because blood had trickled down into the fur right below the wound. The bad news was it was a rattlesnake bite. The good news was the snake had only managed to get Duke with one fang. Duke was immediately put on antibiotics, pain medication, and IV fluids. We had to leave him at the clinic because the doctor wanted to keep him on fluids for at least 24 hours.

When we got back home the house seemed empty with Duke gone and yesterday was just as bad. It was just too calm and quiet without Duke's energy filling every room. I took Kate with me when I went to pick Duke up this morning and they both were very glad to see each other. Duke is doing well and his leg, although still swollen a bit, looks a lot better than it did Sunday night. I swear, my dogs are going to be the death of me yet.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Let's Talk About... Sex

If sex is such a natural phenomenon, how come there are so many books on how to?
-Bette Midler
Asexuals Unite

Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place.
-Billy Crystal
The women who think housework is better than sex

Chastity always takes its toll. In some it produces pimples; in others, sex laws.
-Karl Kraus
Vatican 'may relax condom rules'

Sex: the thing that takes up the least amount of time and causes the most amount of trouble.
-John Barrymore
Sex not such a happy experience in male-dominated societies

In America sex is an obsession, in other parts of the world it is a fact.
-Marlene Dietrich
Lexington MA Throws Fit for a Gay "King"

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Young Masters Of Slam

The Rocky Mountain News has always been a tabloid newspaper. The Rocky Mountain News is the kind of paper that has its National and Word News section starting on page twenty-five. There are two major papers in Denver, the News (Rocky Mountain News) and the Post (Denver Post). The Post is considered the serious paper while the News is considered the one with the better comics. But the freedom that comes with not being the "important" paper allows the News to do in depth articles about things you would not think a major newspaper would waste space or ink on;
like poetry.

Friday, April 21, 2006


(photo taken by Tara Shannon)

Moreover, a close inspection of our countryside would reveal, strewn over it from one end to the other, thousands of derelict and worthless automobiles, house trailers, refrigerators, stoves, freezers, washing machines, and dryers; as well as thousands of unregulated dumps in hollows and sink holes, on streambanks and roadsides, filled not only with "disposable" containers but also with broken toasters, television sets, toys of all kinds, furniture, lamps, stereos, radios, scales, coffee makers, mixers, blenders, corn poppers, hair dryers, and microwave ovens. Much of our waste problem is to be accounted for by the intentional flimsiness and unrepairability of the labor-savers and gadgets that we have become addicted to.

Of course, my sometimes impression that I live on the receiving end of this problem is false, for country people contribute their full share. The truth is that we Americans, all of us, have become a kind of human trash, living our lives in the midst of a ubiquitous damned mess of which were are at once the victims and the perpetrators.

-Wendell Berry in What Are People For?

Thursday, April 20, 2006


(photo taken by Tara Shannon)

We do not take our disappearance lightly. It hurts to realize that most of what we cherish will someday be treated as garbage. Throwing away the memento of a loved one feels like we are consigning that person's memory to the trash.
-Wendy Lustbader in Counting on Kindness

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Land Of The Dead

(photo taken by Tara Shannon)

But after you have killed these suitors in your own palace,
either by treachery, or openly with the sharp bronze,
then you must take up your well-shaped oar and go on a journey
until you come where there are men living who know nothing
of the sea, and who eat food that is not mixed with salt, who never
have know ships whose cheeks are painted purple, who never
have know well-shaped oars, which act for ships as wings do.
And I will tell you a very clear proof, and you cannot miss it.
When, as you walk, some other wayfarer happens to meet you,
and says you carry a winnow-fan on your right shoulder,
then you must plant your well-shaped oar in the ground, and render
ceremonies sacrifice to the lord Poseidon,
one ram and one bull, and a mounter of sows, a boar pig,
and make your way home again and render holy hecatombs
to the immortal gods who hold the wide heaven, all
of them in order.

-The Odyssey Of Homer

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


(photo taken by Tara Shannon)

...Oh whither have the old trucks drifted?
All are remembered, but few are relifted.
Comfort and size now select the talent
And towing capacity, oh my, how valiant
Those old trucks had guts and desire
No new ones have that kind of fire
If an old truck were a person, I know it would say
“Hey you, get out, this here’s my hay.”
There is no way to get the classics to come back
Unless your memory is as sharp as a tack.

-Bret Hamilton, age 17

Monday, April 17, 2006

When The Earth Sings Lament

(Photo taken by Tara Shannon)

When the earth sings lament
There is no sound but picture:
Rusty pump in tall grass,
No one to work the handle;
Peonies without homestead
Yard empty no children laughing;
Child’s grave from long ago,
No one remembers Decoration Day;
Green grass mowed neat,
Wildflowers gone.

-George R. Pasley

Friday, April 14, 2006

Prayers and Chants

My sister sent me a e-mail with the following written in the Subject line:

Please give my your favorite prayers and tell me what culture, source, religion it's from!

I responded with :

When I find myself in times of trouble,
mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

-The Beatles song Let It Be

Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

-Catholic rosary chant

If we bless our bodies, they will bless us.
-Gloria Steinem

I know my life is peaceful and harmonious.
I see the larger patterns within and around me.
I open up to new insights.
I affirm the strength of bamboo.
I am an evolving soul.
I am one with Tao.
I respect myself and the process.
I harmonize with nature and all others in my world.
I accept greater peace in my life now.
And so it is.

-Diane Dreher, The Tao of Inner Peace

She replied:

They are so beautiful. Colleen, would you mind giving me a paragraph about what they mean to you, why you are drawn to it and what it has brought to you? They give me so much peace reading them.

This sounded like a good blog entry to me so here are my answers to her questions:

Hail Mary
Hail Mary was my favorite prayer when I was a child. But instead of saying:

pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death

I would say:

pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our need

I think I latched on to this prayer because everything else about the Catholic religion scared the bejesus out of me. For me, as a child, the whole church experience seemed to be one big test that could only end up in failure. I was afraid of the crucifix with its image of a half naked, bleeding, dying man. I was afraid of the priests and the nuns. I was afraid of God. All of those people seem to be judging me and there was no way in heaven that I could measure up to what they expected from me. Then I found the statute of the Virgin Mary and fell in love. This was the first face I saw that did not seem to be judging me so I prayed to her. Praying to her brought me comfort. The only formal prayer to her that I knew at the time was the Hail Mary so that was the one I would start with when I knelt down. This prayer is my link to the first time I felt part of something spiritual inside a church.

Let It Be
A song about Mother Mary is always going to get my attention but I also like the message in this song. Let It Be tells me that I am never really alone and that whatever I think is unbearable at the time will pass if I remember to let it be, let go and move on.

Gloria Steinem
If we bless our bodies, they will bless us. What does it mean? If we are good to our bodies, they will be good to us? If we do not hate our bodies, they will stay healthy? If we are happy with our bodies, we will be happy with ourselves? If we are happy with ourselves, we are blessed?

I like the gentleness of this affirmation. I like the way it circles outward like the ripples of a pebble in a pond. I like the peaceful feeling I get inside me when I say the words.

Actually, I am drawn to these prayers and chants because they all give me a peaceful feeling inside when I repeat the words to myself. They calm my mind. They bring me out of myself and into myself at the same time. They bring me serenity.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Here Comes Peter Cottontail,

Hoppin' down the bunny trail,
Hippity, hoppity,
Easter's on its way.

-Peter Cottontail

(making the e-mail rounds this week)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Oh God, Someone Save Me From Myself!

Via Crazy Dust In My Coffee.

Which literature classic are you?

J.R.R. Tolkien: Lord of the Rings. You are entertaining and imaginative, creating whole new worlds around yourself. Well loved, you have a whole league of imitators, none of which is quite as profound as you are. Stories and songs give a spark of joy in the middle of your eternal battle with the forces of evil.
Take this quiz!

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| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


The aura is a rumour
of thunder in the distance,
building into a storm
that rattles the shutters
and the beads of the chandelier
before punching a hole
in the load bearing wall.

The tap of construction
through the double-glazed windows
splinters your skull.
A forty-watt bulb blazes
like an eclipse on your retina
-part of Evelyn Lau's poem, Migraine

I've had two migraines since Sunday. I have been careful to stay away from nuts I so decided to search for a list of other foods that may cause migraines and found this list of triggers on the net:

* peanuts and peanut butter
* caffeine in all products, not just coffee
* dairy products
* yeast
* some beans (which includes peanut), as well as broad, lima, Italian, lentil, soy, peas
* avocados
* dried meats
* sauerkraut
* pickled herrings
* canned soups and packet soup mixes
* chicken livers
* ripe banana
* soya products as well as the bean itself
* sodium nitrate, which is used to preserve hot dogs, bacon and cured meats
* the preservative benzoic acid and its associated compounds
* MSG, common name for monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer which is now in almost universal use in almost all processed foods
* nuts
* sourdough breads
* cheeses which have been aged, i.e. cheddar
* red wines, beer, champagne, vermouth
* chocolate
* anchovies

Let's see, in the last week I have had caffeine, milk, avocados, sodium nitrate (bacon & bologna), cheese (cheddar), chocolate, beer, wine, and canned soup. The problem may be either the bacon (Which I ate because I had not eaten any in such a long time and I could not remember why I hadn't. It's because I don't like it.), bologna (Another food I forgot I don't really like.), or the cheddar cheese (When I picked that up at the store I ignored a strong urge to put it back).

I decided that the only way to find out which is the "bad" food for me is to eat one problem food a day. What will not be on my food list is bologna and bacon. I can live without them and the fact that they have sodium nitrate in them is reason enough not to eat them.

Since I really like avocados and would be very upset if I could no longer eat them I decide to try them first. I ate half an avocado with my lunch and am feeling fine. Tomorrow I will eat some cheddar cheese and cross my fingers.

Monday, April 10, 2006

"Most People Don't Grow Up. Most people age."

-Maya Angelou

I am reading A Wealth of Wisdom: Legendary African American Elders Speak. It is, as the book says, "a collection of stories, experiences, and observations of more than fifty African Americans, ages seventy and over." Life stories and lessons learned.

One of the people interviewed for the book was Maya Angelou, (again quoting the book), "Poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil rights activist, producer, director." Her story is about the time she was writing her book, Gather Together In My Name. Gather Together is the second volume she wrote about her life and in it she tells how she was a prostitute at the age of eighteen. She was worried how this information would affect her family but knew she had to write about it because it was the truth. It was part of her life.

After the book came out she was on a book signing tour in Cleveland when this happened:

The line was long, and suddenly there were two hands, black, young hands, with false fingernails. I followed the hands out: they led to false hair, lots of it, and to a young face, about eighteen, with false eyelashes.

It was ten o'clock in the morning.

She was a young street prostitute. She had heard me on television. She leaned over. She said, "You give me hope."

Later in the interview Ms. Angelou goes on to say:

Most people don't grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity, What that is, is aging.

But to grow up, to take responsibility for the time you take up and the space you occupy, to honor every living person for his or her humanity, that is to grow up.

I know what I've done. I mean, I've done it.

I'm on the board of lots of places, lots of universities. I teach all over the world and speak a lot of languages. But it's imperative that we not stand so upon the laurels. If you're firmly rooted in the ground, your not so easily pushed over.

This got me thinking about growing up and aging. I remember a time when I was embarrassed and ashamed by some of the stupid decisions I make and the stupid things I did when I was younger. My biggest fear for a time was running into someone who knew at the time I did these things. I was afraid they would try to shame me too. Now it doesn't matter whether they would try to shame me or not because I can no longer be shamed. I have aged enough to know that I am no longer the person I used to be. And grown up enough to understand that the person I used to be is the main reason why I am the person I am today. The person I am today is a person I like for the most part. What was it someone said? You have to remember who you were to get to who you are. Or did I just make that up?

As Ms. Angelou said, take responsibility for your life is what makes you a grown up. Denying who you were is denying your own humanity. And, as Ms. Angelou's story shows, just by being truthful about your own life you may give someone else hope. By beginning truthful, as she also said, "you're firmly rooted in the ground, your not so easily pushed over.

(No deep philosophical discussion on my part today, just mulling over something I read.)

Friday, April 07, 2006

And Another Week Gets By Me

Blogging has been the last thing on my mind with the weather being the way it was most of the week. It has been gorgeous. I have spent most of my time outside enjoying it. Last night I was awakened several times by the sound of wind-driven rain and ice pellets forcefully hitting my bedroom windows. All morning there was a steady downpour of water that cycled through rain, rain/snow, snow, snow/rain, ice pellets, ice pellets/rain, rain/snow, and then back to rain. Everything that came down did so sideways. Winds were about 30MPH with gusts up to 60MPH.

My husband and I stayed inside most of the morning while all the birds that knew about our birdfeeders stayed in our yard eating all the sunflower seeds they could in an effort to keep warm. We had to fill the feeders twice. Not only were the birds coming to feed but once when I looked out of the window I saw a squirrel in the pan feeder. Another time I saw a rabbit eating some of the seeds I had spread on the ground. Tomorrow everything goes back to "normal" with temperatures in the 60's and sunny skies predicted. Hopefully, I will be back Monday.

(The above photo is not that very good because I took it though window glass while standing on an unstable chair. There are about 25 Finches in this picture. There were another 25 birds on the ground. The birds that showed up at the feeders today were mostly Finches ( Gold and House) but I also saw Grackles, Ringneck Doves, House Sparrows, and Song Sparrows.)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Busby Berkeley, Dracula, and Me

When a Broadway baby says "Good night,"
It's early in the morning.
Manhattan babies don't sleep tight,
until the dawn:
Good night, baby,
Good night, milkman's on his way.
Sleep tight, baby,
Sleep tight, let's call it a day

-Lullaby of Broadway, music by Harry Warren, lyric by Al Dubin

It was Busby Berkeley Month on the Turner Classic Movie channel last month. Busby Berkeley was a movie choreographer who's greatest musicals were made at Warner Brothers from 1933 to 1937. Last week I finally got around to watching the three movies of his that I had TiVoed; Footlight Parade (1933), Dames (1934), and Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935). If you have never seen a Busby Berkeley movie you have missed out on some of the most mind blowing musical numbers that have ever been put on film.

Berkeley's musicals always have little stories wrapped around each extravagant production number. All his work is a little disturbing with a weird blend of eroticism and subliminal (and not so subliminal) sexual imagery. This was a man who's mother always lived with him, who drank heavily, who had three failed marriages and who, when he learned his mother had died, tried to commit suicide.

There was always an undercurrent of something dark in his work that reached its climax with the Lullaby Of Broadway number in Gold Diggers of 1935. I remember seeing that movie and Footlight Parade at an revival house in the late 70's and having the audience applaud after each number except for Lullaby of Broadway. At the end of that there was complete silence. I had my husband watch the Lullaby of Broadway number with me and at the part where you either gasp or sit dumbfounded, he gasped.

When I wasn't watching movies I was working my way through Elizabeth Kostova's 656 page novel, The Historian, and enjoying every page of it. The Historian is about a man who, in his search for the grave of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula), begins to suspect that old Vlad really is the Dracula of legend and that he may still be alive. The book is far richer in content that my one sentence summary may lead you to believe. I highly recommend it.

All in all, I had a very good week.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Little April Fool's Fun

(via Changing Places)

Quick, head over to here. Chevy is joking, aren't they?