You may notice…I have some new righthand links on my blog!

Much reasearch and yelling at my laptop brings you:

A way to buy my book, a link always there for you.


proof that Chris has a marshmallow center

Chris and the cat Skellig have long ago become friends. They both rattle around in our house all day, mostly just the two of them. Chris spends most of his time sitting in his office chair doing work.

Skellig, however, has many many uphostered and/or soft places he enjoys lying on. He is a great connoisseur of places to nap.

There is one spot that is a rare napping delicacy: Chris’s office chair. It is almost always unavailable, since Chris sits in it.

But if the cat has his mind set, he waits and hops on as soon as Chris gets up for something.

In this photo, Skellig is curled up, sleeping as cutely as possible, mere minutes after Chris got up and vacated his seat.

Me, I would have kicked him off and gone back to work.

Not Chris. He went an got a bare wooden chair to use, and quietly-as-possible, moved the kitty over until he could get back at his work.

I have long suspected that he is made out of marshmallow.


I’m going to write about something I’ve never written about before. I’ve always considered it too boring and uninteresting.

I want to write about refinancing.

Is there anything more mundane than refinancing a mortgage? It is perhaps the very definition of bourgeois. It means you have a large, immovable possession that roots you to a place. BUT EVEN MORE, it means that you have had that large immovable possession for a long time.

Many, many people have the same situation. It is not a terribly adventurous or creative thing to accomplish.

People who refinance are the same sort of people who stop and go next to me in the pod-o-mobiles on the way through the 20-mile-an-hour-stop-and-go traffic. These people are the same people who wear the business casual clothes from Target and Mervyn’s that I wear.

These people are the demographic. These people are the satisfied—the well-fed who worry mostly about which people they didn’t manage to sleep with. I worry mostly that I am becoming one of these people.

I don’t want to be like everyone else. I want to be free-thinking and artistic and unique. I think about this as I chose my business casual clothes each day. And as I surge slowly through the cattle drive of rush hour traffic.

But I am doing a refinance. This is something none of the bourgeois enjoy doing.

We—dare I say it? —We don’t enjoy all the small print and the thinking of what it means. And are we getting screwed? How many itemizations have we forgotten to compare?

I’ve discovered that there are “packages.” There are tables and specials and the things that the mortgage brokers are selling.

I looked into it. I compared. I figured out exactly what I want. I found a lender who will give it to me.

Of course, I had to compare against other lenders. But no one has a “package” for what I want. In fact, while shopping for my refinance, I discovered that most of the lenders couldn’t even do what I want. They were so surprised that I asked for that particular type of loan, that I started to doubt my research.

I asked Chris about it. “Why is it so surprising to these people? Did I do the math wrong?”

“You are asking the lenders. Who do you think is benefiting from the packages they are trying to sell you? You did the research.” He gave me a squeeze and said, “You’re smarter than the average bear.”


That makes me feel a little less of a sheep in the bourgeois herd. I guess if I can do an avant-gard refinance, I can’t be too off my mark

physical limitations

Is it just my stupid job? Or is it the whole of life?

This is what I learn from the eggheads. It’s true, I’m not kidding.

If I start out at Point A. A dot, a spot, a point of beginning. I determine that I want to get from Point A to Point B.

No problem, right? I can see how simple it is. I set my course for a straight line between A and B.

But the eggheads chime in again. There are an INFINITE number of points between point A and point B.

NO END, EVER EVER EVER to all the stopping places on the way between my start and my goal.

and me…I want to stretch my strong motion muscles and go fast and full speed to B

I want to B!

Wait, no, wait. There is a reason I must stop. And as I resolve that stop, then another appears.

and they never end.

This is a law of physics. An infinite number.

A pinch of fat

I finally decided to join a gym.

It’s been a while, and I hate to spend the money on something I could theoretically do at home.

But I was getting tired of the same exercise video at home, and I thought about it. If I go to the gym near work, I will shave about 30-45 minutes of drive time in the morning…What if I took that time and used it to exercise instead of drive? That would be worthwhile!

So, I found a club right near my job. I joined, and was taken in my the sales pitch. They had a SALE on personal training sessions. How serious was I about my fitness goals, really? A personal trainer would take me to the next level.

Wow! The next level! Give me a scoop of that.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I hate people telling me what to do. I can’t stand exercise classes, because who are these idiots telling me to “Breathe!” and “Kick higher!”?

Leave me alone. I’ll be just fine on my elliptical trainer and the weight machines.

I snuck into the gym alone a few times before making an appointment for the personal training sessions. Sneaky, aren’t I? I fooled myself good.

But the inevitable could not be delayed. I could not let these sessions go unredeemed. This was money, after all!

The appointment was made, and the next morning was the day of judgement. Immediately, I regretted tying myself down like that. Who was this personal trainer anyway? “Greg”—his name tells me nothing.

He’s probably an idiot. I’m going to ask him important questions about health and workout strategies and he will look at me with no comprehension and no answer.

He is probably a nineteen year old community college dropout who will try to sell me Myoplex powder. He will probably be short and have no sense of humor.

He will be stupid. He will come up to me, and will do the ‘orientation’, which involves a caliper to test my body fat.

This is what the internet tells me about calipers, also known as the ‘pinch test’: they are only a good way to measure body fat when handled by someone who knows what they are doing.

So, some gel-spiked short bicep-heavy teenager is going to shoddily pinch my fat at 6:30 am, and he won’t even get my incisive quips. He will try to sell me something so lame it doesnt’ even have an informercial.


How did I sign up to have a homo half-a-sapien pinch my fat before dawn? What does that say about me, really?

Maybe I can get out of it. Perhaps I can put a sharp little comment out there, and if he is as idiotic as I fear I will simply bow out of the fat pinching. I’ll just go straight to the weights and ask for a new trainer. A girl. Aren’t chicks smarter in general?

No, all gym rats are stupid. There is no way around it. This is a lost cause and I am fool for being suckered in.

This situation I have gotten myself into is simply a bad deal all around. I must only endure it.

The alarm rang early. I drove to the gym and was there early, too. I admit I was nervous.

I said as much to Greg. He nodded seriously, and talked about what would be happening that day.

Greg was not a teenager. Greg was tall. Greg actually had a lot of experience, and was good with the questions. The fat pinching was handled with professionalism, and I feel reassured.

We’ll see how it goes, but things were not as bad as I feared.


Last night I was driving back home and I got to hear one of my favorite radio shows:

This American Life

It is a dream of mine to be on that show in some fashion. I’m gonna send in a piece of writing and get on it someday.

But last night! Ira Glass got on and announced that the show will now be available as a free podcast.


I am hooked on podcasts. Love them. And I haven’t even had a pod for very long.

These are the Podcasts I subscribe to:

The Glen and Helen Show (Instapundit’s podcasts)
FatFree FIlm
Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippet
The DIner
KCRW’s BookWorm
KCRW’s The Politics of Culture
Irrational Public Radio

And now, This American Life.

Okay, all of these are great, and I listen to lots of archives. I’ll have to give the blow by blow about them later.

The old flower bed has been made new

The old flower bed, originally uploaded by murphy_h2001.

This is a photo of the flowerbed along the front of my house.

The far left climbing plant is a pink jasmine. The far right climbing plant is a yellow rose plant.

The middle plant is a camellia.

The other two plants are an eyesore, and I have been wishing them gone. I gave them a year to impress me; they’ve had their chance.

They flowered once, but the short lived glory of the bloom ended and left only an ugly denuded stalk. They had to go.

So, I found a plant sale. They sold me two hisbiscuses and two english lavenders.

As you see below, I pulled out the ugly plants and put in the pretty ones.

I left the camellia, even though it has not impressed me much. it is a slow grower, and doesn’t bloom very much. But the leaves are green, and it’s not dying. Camellias can be pretty.

All the plants in the front bed now are herbs. That pleases me. And I hope they grow and become verdant and blooming.

We’ll see how things turn out.

the new sage plants

the new sage plants, originally uploaded by murphy_h2001.

This is the star jasmine climbing plant near the door. It has had a bald patch of nothing in front of it for a while.

I planted these new little flowering members of the sage family. My hope is that they grow and make lots of flowers.

Delusions under the apple tree


This morning at work I had a run in with another strain of humanity.

I call them Mac people.

Don’t get me wrong. There are people who choose to use Mac computers because they are the best tool for the job they are trying to do. I don’t have any problem with that.

What I do have a problem with is that some people, the Mac people, think that Mac computers are a standard computer and interface with the PC world.

Presentations–with projectors and PowerPoint–these are the bread and butter of my job. And every time a Mac person steps into the conference room saying “This will be compatible” I want to throw them out and barricade the door.

But I am a professional. I usually laugh and say, “We’ll see.” I have never ever seen a Mac-based presentation work easily with conference equipment.

And the Mac people say, “Of course it’s compatible.” And we plug it in or try to open the file.

And the trouble begins. Immediately after the first sign of incompatibility problems, the Mac person will say, “No, it’s compatible.”

WHAT makes these people refuse to pay attention to reality? Do they think that repeating the statement will make it true?

And the next step is to persuade them to do a work-around. Are there printouts of the presentation? Can we make a PDF that will work on a Windows machine?

But, the Mac people will insist that the system is compatible. They will insist that it works, as if the proof of not-working right in front of them will somehow vanish if they just BELIEVE.

It’s not just denial. It’s a delusion. And in this case, the delusion keeps them from facing the facts. When they take their apple-flavored technology into a cold room with the Windows open, they need to be prepared. They need to think ahead.

Yes, the truth is, many things are compatible between the two worlds. Some things are not. If you are bridging the two, learn where the traps are and have a work-around. Macs love adaptors and special file extensions. Know this and have them at the ready.

Remember, it’s your technology, and YOU are responsible to make it work. You are the one from a different planet, and you landed here on mine. It’s not my responsibility to learn your customs. You’re on my turf now. I don’t have every cable and adaptor known to man in my closet. If you need one, bring it.

So, leave the delusion behind. Believing that it’s compatible is not enough. You must also have the tool kit and the knowledge.

Delusions are for de losers.

Don’t be a loser.