Sepia

50

As of tonight, when we arrived in Honolulu and checked in to a hotel on Waikiki Beach, I have now been to all 50 U.S. states.  I don’t count “changed planes in an airport” visits; I’ve stayed overnight in almost all states and the ones I haven’t, I’ve driven around in, had a meal in, etcetera.


My 49th was Alaska, back in 2007.  Took ten years to cross off number 50, but I made it at last.

Sepia

Depression-Era Values

Mom was a child of the Depression. She was born two months before the market crashed and she grew up one of eight kids in a rural Florida family where the father was frequently unemployed and the mother was frequently in mental hospitals. A large percentage of what they ate, they grew or raised themselves. One simply didn’t waste food.



Even after she put herself through college at Florida State, went off to grad school at the University of Michigan and then at Duke, she hated to waste food. She would make jam and jelly from the raspberry and blackberry bushes which grew in profusion around our house in the mountains of Virginia, and seal the jars with canning wax. The seals didn’t always hold well and we’d find mold on top of the jam, but Mom wouldn’t hear of throwing it out; she’d scrape the mold off and insist that we eat it. More often than not, the jam went to sugar and was grainy and unpleasant, but again — waste not, want not.



When I was in middle school, she was diagnosed with high blood pressure, and told to avoid salt as much as possible. So, the next time she canned tomatoes and made tomato sauce, she used “No-Salt” instead of regular table salt. “No-Salt”, in case you’ve never had the misfortune of tasting it, is a vile salt alternative that, I swear to God, tastes more or less exactly like plutonium. It’s a nasty, bitter, metallic-tasting abomination from the pits of Hell, and Mom had a bumper crop of tomatoes that year. A decade later we were still unearthing jars of that stuff and staring at each other across the dinner table, afraid of pointing out that we’d rather go chew broken glass than eat any of the awful stuff. Mom would not have been amused.


In the end, though, the memory of Mom and food gone wrong (but eaten anyway) that I treasure the most is the time she had couples from Dad’s department at Virginia Tech over for dinner. She had purchased a couple of large tubs of sour cream and some Lipton dried onion soup mix to make what the people of that era called “California Dip” or “French onion dip”.



Only… she’d grabbed the wrong box of dried soup mix off the shelf at Radford Brothers’. When she went to open it, she found she’d wound up with Lipton … chicken noodle soup mix.


She used it anyway. Little tiny noodles and all. It wasn’t the worst thing any of us had even eaten, and I had to admit that the little tiny noodles gave the dip an interesting crunch, but still, the look on her guests’ faces when they dipped a potato chip and took a taste was something to behold. Expecting onion, they got … poultry.


In her defense, Mom never let her refrigerator get packed with spoiled or ancient food — she made sure things got eaten well before they’d evolve sentience. And she was a very good cook. It’s just that, like anyone, she made mistakes… and we all got to experience them right along with her.


Miss ya, Mom.1)RIP Dora Ann Mondon Furr, 1929-2011


Footnotes   [ + ]

1. RIP Dora Ann Mondon Furr, 1929-2011
Sepia

Regarding Trump: Words fail me

As far as I can tell, I’m the only person (or close to it) in my Facebook circle of friends who isn’t venting spleen about Trump and his deranged, totalitarian antics.


It’s not that I’m not disgusted and/or worried sick. I am.


It’s just that my brain literally can’t make sense of how so many people still support Trump. He’s going to do to the USA exactly what Chavez did to Venezuela, and even then, there are going to be tons of jingoistic fools, racists, and reactionaries who will support him. I can no more think of rational things to say about that than I can explain quantum chromodynamics. From where I stand, both are literally incomprehensible.


Words fail me.


Sepia

Violate All Principles of Decency and Sanity This Halloween

For those of you with depraved senses of humor, here’s your Halloween 2017 costume.1)If you really want one, search for “Inflatable Mr Superawesomeness Adult Patrick Costume”. And may God have mercy on your soul.


It's apparently supposed to be Patrick Star from "Spongebob Squarepants", only I think they got the one from the universe where Cthulhu took over around 1945.


Just imagine wearing this, lumbering down the streets of your town, shouting “THERE IS NO GOD”.


Footnotes   [ + ]

1. If you really want one, search for “Inflatable Mr Superawesomeness Adult Patrick Costume”. And may God have mercy on your soul.
Sepia

Hey, Honey!

It’s pathetic, really, but I still get warm fuzziest thinking about the time I called Carole from a crowded downtown Seattle coffee shop (one with a green and white mermaid logo) and loudly exclaimed “Hey, honey, they have Starbucks here in Seattle too!


You could have heard a pin drop anytime in the next ten seconds.  It was just perfect.


Good times.

Sepia

Performance Review

I’ve worked for my current employer for almost 19 years. In that time, I’ve been through a vast swamp of performance review systems. You name it, we’ve probably tried it, from picking three co-workers to review you, to reviewing yourself and having your manager go over the review with you, to reaching into a bag of randomly selected biting crustaceans and … well, no, we haven’t tried that one.


Yet.


This year’s system is a bit less onerous than most. Rather than pointlessly setting goals for 2017 that are dead on arrival due to the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of my specific job, mostly I was asked to look back on 2016 and say that I worked hard, made a difference, reflected corporate values, and so forth.


Since I work really, really hard all year and take my job very seriously, there’s never really been much difficulty coming up with a list of all the stuff I did all year to make customers count, embrace change, promote innovation, and so forth… and generally each year my manager ends whatever subsequent discussion takes place with some form of “there’s not much for me to say, really, except ‘attaboy’.”


I just submitted the final version of this year’s review and got asked to complete a quick little survey from Corporate asking how much I liked the current process, did it make a difference, etcetera, etcetera. It ended with “Describe your opinion of the process in three words.”


Naturally, I put down:



  • “Zesty”

  • “Empowering”

  • “Pellucid”


I’m sure they’ll take my opinion under advisement as they begin to put together what system we’ll use next year.


I’m hoping for something that involves cheese.


Sepia

The Banality of Hawaii

Image result for crappy hawaiian souvenirs


Carole (aka Squeaky) and I are leaving for vacation in a couple of weeks. We’re heading to Hawaii, for a cruise that starts in Honolulu but spends a couple of days at Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai. The cruise is six nights and seven days, and we’ll be staying on Waikiki Beach for three days both before and after.


This is only our third cruise ever — we’re not really cruisy people. But the idea of carrying our hotel with us and visiting more than one island in this, our first trip to Hawaii, kind of appeals.


The thing that my thoughts keep coming back to, though, is the oddness of visiting a location that to me, will be rather exotic (I’ve been to 49 states, some Caribbean islands, and the UK and France, but never to Hawaii) but to others is a place they’ve often visited or, in some cases, they used to live in.


To me, it’s exotic. To them, it’s like reading about someone’s vacation to Parsippany, NJ. In other words, not that exciting, and what we’ll think of as “super cool and neat” they’ll think of as “they did THAT? When ___ was ten minutes away and much neater?”


I get the impression that I’m among the last of my friends to go to Hawaii, which I’m sure isn’t the case, but given how many people I’ve seen checking in from there, I know I’m not the first.


Does it sound like I think it’s not going to be as much fun to go someplace that everyone else has been?


I guess I might be conveying that impression. But in actuality, I’m not jealous that I’m only now going there when everyone else considers a Hawaii trip old hat; I’m just acutely sheepish about how pedestrian my “Once In A Lifetime” Big Hawaii Vacation is going to seem to some people.


(That’s me, always attempting to look at myself from another person’s point of view and automatically assuming that they’ll deem me hyper-lame.)


Ah, well. If my vacation photos result in massive ho-hums from all and sundry, I can always try to go someplace more interesting next time.


Maybe Tulsa.


Sepia

Whoa...

The moment you realize you’ve been walking by a giant uterus all week…



(At the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center)