Saturday, January 17, 2009

How Did I Become a Poet?

I had a wonderful opportunity to talk to an Upper School assembly at Mary Institute and Country Day School (MICDS) yesterday. They have an Alumni Writing Project each year and this is the second year it's poetry. I was asked to talk about how I started, how I write and revise, what I get out of writing, etc. The link below is to where you can download a Word file with my comments. I hope to be able to post a video of the presentation soon.

Click Here

I really enjoyed my day at MICDS.

Schmap of Seattle

Looks like one of my pictures is part of the schmap site for Seattle. It's of the public library. There are lots of pix of the library included, but one of them is mine.

click here

It's the one by hirschwrites.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Colder Than a Witch's Teat (No Disrespect Meant)

With the temperature outside this AM around zero and wind chill less than that, what came to mind is that it’s colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra. Wondering about the derivation of this phrase, I went to the Googles, as our departing W would say, and found an essay that purports to show an empirical study regarding the heat/cold of witches’ tits:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- A new study, conducted by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has found the heat capacity of witches' tits to be significantly higher than previously believed.

"For years, the public has assumed that the breasts of witches maintain temperatures at or around the freezing point of water," said team leader Phillip McCracken in a telephone interview. "Through a series of revolutionary experiments, we have been able to determine that they actually achieve an average temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit."

The researchers do not currently understand why witches' tits -- while certainly warmer than expected -- are nearly 27 degrees cooler than the tits of normal humans.

"Unfortunately, theory behind the thermodynamics of thaumaturgic mammaries is sadly under-investigated," added McCracken.

Magdalena Chancerly, the president of the National Organization of Wiccans in Salem, received the news of the scientists' findings with enthusiasm. "You can only hear 'cold as a witch's tit' so many times before becoming offended. I, for one, am glad to have my breasts associated with the comfortable climate of spring instead of the chill of winter."

Also, the phrase “in a brass bra” does not seem to be found in erudite references. There is a good vulgar cliché site, though. And it includes things like:

Colder than a three-legged cat trying to bury $#@% on a frozen pond.
Colder than a bucket of penguin %$#@.
Colder than the hairs of a polar bear's ass.

Given how freaking cold it is today and tomorrow, just thought you’d like to know.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Book is Here!

Well, it's here and looks great. It's only $12 and you can get it retail in St. Louis or order over the Internet.

Retail: Left Bank Books (both locations), Chesterfield Arts, Art Trends Gallery

Internet: Books from the Heart

And you can get all three of my books for $30. Enjoy.

Too Busy

The other day, I went to a California Pizza Kitchen for lunch. I was surprised to see that the restaurant was jammed and the only place I could sit was at the counter. So I went there, ordered, ate, read the New York Times, and listened to conversations around me (when I could make them out). As I was getting to the Op Ed page of the paper and halfway through my salad, I overheard something like the following.

The man to my right commented on how full the place was. “Yeh,” the waiter behind the counter replied, “but it does me no good. I just have to work harder and don’t get paid any more.”

I was a bit stunned and wanted to say/shout: “Hey, you have a job, dummy. And what should I think about your attitude when it comes to my tip?”

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

SlowBooks, DifficultBooks, QuagmireBooks

Yes, I am talking about the 2009 version of QuickBooks Pro. For many reasons, I need this software to take care of the books of a non-profit organization. However, it never ceases to amaze me how vendors like Intuit take perfectly good features and screw them up. In the old days, Lotus 1-2-3 used to put out versions that were demonstrably inferior to their earlier versions. I took this only as long as I could until something better came along and then switched never to return.

Ah, if I had that option with QuickBooks. Unfortunately, there are some integrated features they have that other accounting packages are missing. However, it’s not about their virtues that I rant. It’s about their faults.

In this day and age, it’s easy to download credit card charges for VISA or MasterCard accounts. It’s the interface between those downloads and entering them into QuickBooks that falls way short. After you download credit card information from the bank and want to match it to entries in your books, QB shuts down all parts of its program, not allowing you to see what you’ve already entered. So, here’s what happens (assuming you have manually entered credit card charges as you get slips):

(1) QB says a charge is “unmatched” even though it’s in the register already with a proper name (e.g., Sam’s Club).
(2) QB shows charges you’ve already downloaded and matched as “unmatched” causing you to have to have a list (handwritten or printed) of all transactions already matched so you can “delete” the duplicate ones QB wants to enter.
(3) Intuit has a quick fill for names, accounts, etc. in Quicken and QuickBooks. However, it does not work for the interface for credit card charges. So, even with new charges you have not entered, you have to scroll through all your vendors to pick the correct one and then scroll through your entire chart of accounts to pick the account you want to charge.

The result of all this is duplication of effort, poor interface, and getting angry. Oh, in QB 2008 (where there was a different interface that worked just fine) there were no problems.

A couple of months ago when I was having these problems and thought, perhaps, there was a cure, I called customer service. The nice man there told me lots of people were complaining about this and I should write a feedback note to Intuit, which I did.

In December, Intuit announced they were releasing an update to QB Pro 2009 that would fix all this. Ah, I thought, a solution. However, the patch doesn’t solve any of the problems. I called customer service again today and again was told I should write to Intuit with my complaint. I have done this. We’ll wait and see what happens. I don’t hold out any hope.

You Have What I Have

I am increasingly aware of the tendency of friends, relations, and strangers to tell me what ails me is the same thing that ails them or is what’s popular at the time. An example of this relates to my ankle/foot. When it was first hurting, everyone told me it was plantar fasciitis. People who had plantar fasciitis told me that was what it was. People who knew people with plantar fasciitis told me that was what it was.

I went to the doctor who diagnosed my pain as tarsal tunnel syndrome. When I reported this to friends and family (who were concerned about my health), I was greeted with: “Sure it isn’t plantar fasciitis?”

I went to have a nerve test to confirm the doctor’s diagnosis, which it did. When I reported this to friends and family, I was asked: “Are you really sure it’s not plantar fasciitis?”

I then had an MRI which said I had para-tendonitis around the area of the Achilles tendon which was causing the pain I felt in the tarsal tunnel. So, for the third time, it was not plantar fasciitis.

Did that stop the questions asking me if I was really sure? Nope. Hey, it’s not plantar fasciitis no matter how trendy that is these days or if you suffer from it. I am allowed my own individual ailments.