Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I'm wondering why we never give appreciation to the individual who made Thanksgiving possible. Most of us think only of eating enough to feed a small village and then fall asleep in our cushy leather recliner. I think the true story of Thanksgiving will make you ponder gratitude.

He was a Patuxet Indian, and his name was Squanto. His story is remarkable. When he was a young man, he went to England on a trading ship. He was made part of an Indian Exhibit on a London stage, he worked as a servant, was tricked into going on board a slave ship to Spain where he was sold.

Luckily, he fell into the hands of a group of friars at a Catholic monastery. They freed him and turned him into a Christian. By the time he located a ship captain that would agree to take him home, twelve years had passed. When he returned home, there was no trace of his family or friends. They had all been struck with a great sickness. Every one of them had died. He was the last of his tribe, but at least he could speak english. Heh.

Squanto was the one who showed the Pilgrims how to build warm houses. Then, taught them when and where to plant. He showed them how use fish for fertilizer to grow corn faster. He even taught the women how to cook the corn. He acted as an interpreter, guide, and gave advice on bargaining with the natives. Without him, the pilgrims would never have survived the season.
After further investigation, I found there was one particular pilgrim woman who rankled Squanto to the edge of insanity. It turns out she was the great great great great grandmother of Martha Stewart. Her name was Martha Wart, the daughter of Stu and Penelope Wart. It seems she delighted in following after Squanto to improve on his demonstrations of planting and cooking.

Martha Wart was the first woman to use lobster claws to hold the corners of the tablecloths down when feasting outside. She served Brunswick stew richly seasoned with her very own garden herbs and often substituted squirrel or oppossum for deer. Squanto was used to one-pot meals but Martha rarely stuck to one pot. Often, she served Racoon wraps with her soups and stews and used sun-dried ceramic plates which she had fashioned from the loamy soil from her courtyard.

It wasn't unusual to see her gathering sweet gum tree spurs to make place cards for the harvest festivals. She showed Squanto how to make decorative turkeys from autumn leaves and roasted nuts over an open fire using a wire basket she molded from abandoned horse shoes. She constructed a still made from a boiler chamber and pipes she smuggled aboard ship.
Soon she had a wonderful mix of homemade vodka that served as the core of many 'happy hours', which she named them. Blackberry crushes and Lemon Shadies wer the favorite drinks of the ladies while the men preferred her brew strait from the jug. They showed Squanto how to do shots.

It has always been believed that Squanto died of pneumonia however there were some questions when the mortician found a lovely organza draw string bag sewn to the inside of his deer skin jacket, filled with dried buds, barks, roots, seeds and berries. Martha explained that it was for luck, however it was suspected that some of the ingredients, when mixed together formed a lethal bacteria.
The Pilgrims mourned Squanto's passing and held a wake lasting more than a week. Of course, Martha was head of the entertainment committee. Soon after, the women began asking Martha for tips for gardening, decorating and cooking. The rest is history.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


It is a little known fact that women have been inventing useful things for years. Unfortunately, it seems that unless you are a mom, or better yet, a single mom, you will most likely remain unknown.

For instance, Mary Anderson was granted her first patent for a window cleaning device in November of 1903. Her invention could clean snow, rain, or sleet from a windshield by using a handle inside the car. Her goal was to improve driver vision during stormy weather - Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper. What would the Internet say? ‘Mom wipes away windshield wetness one stroke at a time.’

Virgie Ammons invented the handle for the fireplace damper. Her patent was issued in 1974 complete with diagrams that explain how the tool ceases damper chatter caused by air pressure in the room or wind coming from outside. However, if it were today, the Internet would boast…’Mom finds cure for ghostly, rattling and whistling sounds.’

Katherine Blodgett’s research on monomolecular coatings with Nobel Prize winning, Dr. Irving Langmuir (for his work in surface chemistry. Hmmm) led her to a revolutionary discovery. She discovered a way to apply the coatings layer by layer to glass and metal. The thin films, which naturally reduced glare on reflective surfaces, when layered to a certain thickness, would completely cancel out the reflection from the surface underneath. This resulted in the world’s first 100% transparent or invisible glass. Ever heard of her? Me either. But today her credit might read, ‘Single mom discovers a way to reduce pesky glare.’

Silver Screen superstar Hedy Lamarr invented a secret communication system in an effort to help the allies defeat the Germans in World War II. The invention, patented in 1941, manipulated radio frequencies between transmission and reception to develop an unbreakable code so that top-secret messages could not be intercepted. What would the Internet say? ‘Mom uses musical notes to send top-secret messages.’

Stephanie Kwolek’s research with high performance chemical compounds led to the development of a synthetic material called Kevlar which is five times stronger than the same weight of steel. Kevlar, patented by Kwolek in 1966, does not rust nor corrode and is extremely lightweight. Many police officers owe their lives to Stephanie Kwolek, for Kevlar is the material used in bullet proof vests. Other applications of the compound include underwater cables, brake linings, space vehicles, boats, parachutes, skis, marching drumheads and building materials. Well now, this is big stuff. How about… ‘Single mom stumbles upon material stronger than man made of steel.’

It was originally called "mistake out", the invention of Bette Nesmith Graham, a Dallas secretary and a single mother raising a son on her own. Graham used her own kitchen blender to mix up her first batch of liquid paper or white out, a substance used to cover up mistakes made on paper. She happened to be Michael Nesmith’s mom. You remember Michael? He played guitar for the Monkees. Well, you know how the ad would read today…’Single mom discovers way to correct Monkee business.’

You never read ads about single dads doing anything as important as coming up for a formula for whiter teeth or a hauntingly healthy Halloween snacks for toddlers. Why? Hey dads, get busy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Unique Lounge Act

Recently, in Newark, Ohio, a 28 year-old-man was arrested for drunk driving. We all know that things like this happen every day in every state. The interesting thing about this incident though, was the fact that he was driving a bar stool. He already had a suspended license and was not supposed to be driving a vehicle, so the logical thing to do, of course, is to weld a lawn mower engine onto a favorite piece of furniture. His favorite happened to be a bar stool…and, voila! Now we’re legal because technically the alleged vehicle is really lounge gear. Well, it seemed to be a good idea at the time. It all began after the fifteenth beer and he had some trouble negotiating a U-turn and crashed while going over twenty miles per hour. He was taken to a local hospital to treat minor injuries.

After doing a bit of research, I found that barstool racing has become quite popular in Wisconsin and you can even purchase motorized bar stools online. No kidding, they offer a 4.5 HP engine, powder coated bar stool with cushion seat, slick racing wheels, disk brakes and a factory warranty. You tube has a video of a V-8 bar stool. Man! You’d have to be very cautious about bellying up to the bar in that.

After studying the picture of the bar stool the man was cited on, it is clear that he was in violation of several obvious safety hazards. No seat belt for one. How on earth does he think he could safely execute a u-turn on this homemade contraption? Drunk, no less. There have been times that I wished I had a seat belt on a bar stool that I was using and I wasn’t even in motion. Another risk is riding backless. And what about an air bag?

If this keeps up, I’m sure the DMV will begin to implement bar stool driving tests. I suppose the test would include making a successful u-turn, handling an unexpected wobble, driving through three inches of peanut shells while negotiating tables and chairs.

I took this picture over to my mechanic today and asked him how much he would charge to pimp my ride. You know, hot pink, forged steel, 360-degree swivel seat, 100% faux leather upholstery on a soft cushiony seat and a wooden backrest with a cherry wood finish. He laughed and said it sounded like a sissy bar stool, and then he said he would need a stool sample.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Enlisting My Brain in Higher Learning

In my ongoing quest for self-betterment and mental health, I am actively following suggestions set forth by my psychiatrist, Dr. Neil Weakly. The following transcript documents the session I had with Dr. Anthony Bennett, a well-know physicist, and Nobel Prize winner.

Dr. Bennett: So, my friend, Dr. Weakly has sent you here?
Me: Yes, he believes my brain is functioning at an extremely slow rate. Because I am at such a low learning level, I am in what is known as the ‘drone zone.’ He says, if it is left unchallenged, my brain may turn off altogether. (quivering voice) The idea of this happening to me is terrifying.
Dr. Bennett: (gazing at me as if I were under a microscope) And you would like to find the optimal state of challenge, stretch your brain, and ultimately be exhilarated by a sense of accomplishment?
Me: Yes!
Dr. Bennett: On the other hand (holding up his left hand), if we tackle learning that is too much of a stretch, you will be in the ‘groan zone’. (He gives me a quirky smile).
Me: Is there some type of IQ test that I can take that will find the right level of challenge in terms of pace, level and precision?
Dr. Bennett: Forget about IQ…it’s bogus. I would like to begin by addressing your reptilean brain.
Me: Excuse me?
Dr. Bennett: There is a center in your brain that carries the legacy of our evolutionary past, with emotions such as fear, anxiety and passion. Depending on which emotion you are tapped into, you can speed up or slow down your learning to a Worm Lizard’s pace.
Me: Oh my God! I had no idea.
Dr. Bennett: Well of course you didn’t. That’s why you’re here. Let’s begin with the theory of the universe.
Me: Really? That’s a stretch. You don’t think that’s a bit advanced for my reptilian brain center?
Dr. Bennett: (giving me a look of disgust) who is the Nobel Prize winner in this room?

Me: You are.
Dr. Bennett: Exactly. (assuming a more comfortable position) If the universe was created from nothing, then nothing has potential that you have never dreamed of before. This brings us to the idea of you.
Me: Okay.
Dr. Bennett: We cannot see two points because they are at zero dimensions. But, if you make a line between the non-points, then there can be a relation between them. Imagine this now.
Me: Does it make a difference how fast the line is going?
Dr. Bennett: It takes no time for the universe from one point to the other. You would have to reduce the speed infinitely, which translates into eternity. (appears bored) Perhaps Dr. Weakly’s suspicions about your brain shutting down are well-founded.
Me: Wait…can there be a negative speed that I don’t know about?

Dr. Bennett: There is a way, through reducing the rate of the line at which potential information can be received; and in this way essentially, have our whole uneaten pie while enjoying a piece of it because we are continually creating the pieces. Do you understand this hypothesis?

Me: (staring blankly) Where did the pie come from? I thought we were talking about lines. Now you have introduced something circular. It’s hard to wrap my brain around two theories at once.

Dr. Bennett: Of course it is, my child. I’m talking about two, zero-dimensional points creating a single dimension. Your question of how it is done is, by way of time reduction, or in other words, is nothing more than stalling. It is not a velocity-dependent line. Time, slowed down, is the sole determining factor of conscious reality. Avoiding my question most likely reveals some emotional disorder or mental illness.

Me: What kind of pie is it? Fruit or cream?

Dr. Bennett: What is so difficult about imagining a cycle? They have beginnings and endings much like the four seasons; and do they not keep repeating themselves?

Me: I had a gift certificate for the Four Seasons once but it expired before I had a chance to use it.

Dr. Bennett: Discard the notion of seeing in the literal sense. If you could see absolutely nothing, it would be the same as if you could see everything simultaneously. With this perspective, creation would require no beginning or ending. Thus, the straight line can travel in any direction, don’t you see?

Me: I have a question.

Dr. Bennett: (looking perturbed) Yes?

Me: When you say reptilian center, what species are you talking about? I mean, there are snakes, lizards, Gila monsters, turtles and crocodiles. And aren’t certain species endangered? Maybe you mean the already extinct reptiles like the, Tonga Ground Stick, or the, Yunnan Box Turtle. Do you? I’m not so sure that I like the idea that a part of my brain is cold-blooded or scaly. I mean, I was just wondering.

Dr. Bennett: Just because there is mental activity going on in your head doesn’t mean that you are thinking. Thinking is hard work. Having a thought doesn’t mean you are thinking either. We all have thoughts. In your case, I would say you are merely rearranging your opinions. Everyone has an opinion, as well as a navel, but it takes a special talent to think properly.

Me: I heard that Alfred Hitchcock didn’t have a navel.

Dr. Bennett: Have you ever had a brain scan?

Me: Yes, but it was inconclusive.

Dr. Bennett: Your brain is a physical organ. It is crucially affected by your physical condition and surroundings. The concept of the line and the relation between two points is still in question. Have you formulated an intelligent answer?

Me: So, do you think I should enroll in a line-dancing class?

Dr Bennett: (Staring at me as if I had two reptilian centers) let’s just hope your feet have a mind of their own.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wish I Was Here

With the cost of living constantly going up and the price of gas going even higher, people are finding unique ways of saving money. I read about one woman who invented a bionic bra. It seems, with the simple motion of her breasts, she can create enough power to operate her ipod. I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg though. With research and time, breasts will one day have the ability to produce enough power to run a George Foreman grill. That’s when the real savings will kick in.

Of course, it’s true that humans are more resourceful when it is absolutely necessary. We all know that some women fake orgasms, some men fake finances, but now… families are faking vacations for the purpose of saving money.

Since I had some vacation time saved up, I decided to give the fake vacation a whirl. I chose to savor the sights south of the border, and pretend to go to Mexico. After draping long branches of bougainvillea around the living room, I dragged the picnic table into the center of the room and covered it with my crisp, acrylic, chili peppers tablecloth. A bag of tortilla chips, fresh salsa and a few Jose Ole frozen dinners, and my menu was complete.

I invited by boyfriend along and he helped me cut sponges into sea creature shapes to fill the bathtub for snorkeling. Crazy glue was perfect for sticking on the googly eyes to make the squid look even more life-like. Since my bathtub isn’t very big, we had to take turns snorkeling but fun was had by all.

It took a bit more effort, but we were able to hang a zip-line from the bedroom, through the hallway and into the kitchen. With all the houseplants placed directly beneath the line, it felt as if we were really flying through the jungle’s foliage and we only knocked over one lamp with our tandem experiment.

After we mailed post cards to our friends, we laid out our towels and pretended to relax on the white sands. Everything was going great until he started to complain that there wasn’t a sealing strip of paper across the lid of the toilet seat, ensuring recent sanitation. The mini fridge wasn’t stocked, room service was terrible and there was no Gideon Bible in the nightstand drawer. I listened to his grievances as long as I could and then reminded him that, mi casa es mi casa, cut our vacation short and sent him home.

Next year, I think we’ll pretend to go to Chicago. All I’ll need is to place a few fans around the house and paste a silhouette of the skyline on the walls. Besides, it’s going to take weeks to get all of the sand from our fake trip to Mexico out of my carpet.