Daily Laugh…

Meridian, Idaho

I just realized something this morning…

I miss reading the comic strip each morning in the newspaper.

Especially Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side–my perennial favorites.

What better way is there to start the morning than with a good giggle? calvin-hobbes-calvin-and-hobbes-23762778-1280-800
Perhaps an inspirational reading might be better, but for me a giggle first and then the inspirational reading works best. 🙂

So here are a couple of giggles for you, Gentle Blog Reader.

The Far Side by Gary Larson

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Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

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This was the first Far Side comic by Gary Larson I ever saw, and I was hooked from that moment on.

far-side-cowsI’m going to start each morning with a daily giggle from now on by looking at a Calvin and Hobbes comic via an app on my phone. What fun!

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Empathy Cards to the Rescue

Meridian, Idaho

Often, I want to start a dialog with someone who’s going through tough times, and it’s just hard to know what to say…

Whether it’s an illness, a job loss, divorce, death of a loved one, or any one of a myriad of things that happen throughout the course of all of our lives, it’s hard to come up with the right words.

While there are sympathy cards available that express sorrow, too often they just come up short in expressing depth of feeling. And they look like they are made for our great-great grandmothers.

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There’s a difference between sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy says, “I’m sorry for your situation.”

Empathy says, “I understand and feel your pain.”

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There’s a place for both sympathy and empathy in our lives, with different people and at different times in different situations.

The “Our Thoughts are With You” card above is definitely a sympathy card.

For those times when you empathize with a loved one’s situation, you might check out these empathy cards designed by Emily McDowell.

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The card above is an example of one of McDowell’s empathy cards. There’s an acknowledgement of the situation like in the sympathy card, but there’s also an awareness that the sick person doesn’t want to have their situation compared with your cousin’s friend’s illness. Sometimes all the sick person wants is for someone to say, “Well, that’s the sh*ts that you’re sick!”

Here’s the background behind both the cards and the artist…

From NPR:

Los Angeles graphic designer Emily McDowell‘s solution to this dilemma are what she calls Empathy Cards. When someone is seriously ill, she says, the usual “Get Well Soon” won’t do. Because you might not, she says. At least not soon.

McDowell knows this from experience. She’s a 15-year survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma. She was just 24 when she was diagnosed.

“The most difficult thing about my illness was the fact that it was so lonely,” she says. One of the reasons was “friends and family either disappearing because they didn’t know what to say or well-intentioned people saying the wrong thing. So one of the most difficult things about being sick was feeling really alienated from everyone that I knew.”

McDowell had been in advertising world until she quit at age 34 when her best friend died of cancer. That’s when she decided to freelance and see if she could market empathy cards.

Obviously she can. And her cards fill a void that needed filling.

Last year she won the Rising Star Award at the 26th Annual International Greeting Card Awards.

Here are a couple of my favorites from her store…

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Grand BBQ

Meridian, Idaho

Wow, did we have great barbecue the other night after Idaho’s Largest Garage Sale.

It was just down the street from the fairgrounds at a place called Cutter’s Grand BBQ.

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We had driven by the spot a lot while we were living near the fairgrounds in Homer at the RV park. It was always busy, but we never could really tell what was going on.

There’s no signage. There’s no building. There’s just people eating–lots of them.

It’s not really a restaurant and not really a food truck. It’s a combination of a food truck, a competitive barbecue trailer, and a picnic area.

Here’s their story:

Cutter’s Grand BBQ has been in operation since 1987, when Mike and his Dad built the barbeque grill. Initially they cooked tri-tip for special events in California. Since Mike has moved to Bosie, Idaho, in the late 1990’s, he has catered special events, private parties and has had a roadside BBQ stand for the last three years.

So I guess it’s called a “roadside BBQ stand”.

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Whatever the place is called, they have some of the best BBQ and ribs I’ve ever had…

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We had a pulled brisket sandwich, a pulled pork sandwich, and split a small order of ribs.

cutters-grand-bbq-boise-kilted-dragon-brewingSimply amazing.

They are only open from Thursday through Saturday. Lunch begins “about 11:30 a.m.” Dinner begins “about 4:30 p.m.”

If stormy and/or rainy weather is predicted, it’s best to call ahead because they may be closed.

I know. I know. It sounds like a bizarre place. And it is. But there’s a reason why every time Rich and I drove by there, dozens of people are eating and smiling while they lick their fingers to get every last drop of house BBQ sauce and special dry rub…

So if you’re ever in the area near Boise’s Ada County Fairgrounds Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, give Cutter’s Grand BBQ a try.

You won’t be sorry you did.

Pay it Forward

Meridian, Idaho

I was station surfing in my car a few days ago while driving home from pickleball and happened upon this story:

ELDERLY CANCER PATIENT CALLS 911 BECAUSE HE HAS NO FOOD

When 81-year-old Clarence Blackmon returned home Tuesday after spending months in the hospital for cancer treatments and rehab, his refrigerator was empty.

He had nothing to eat and no way to get to the store. Hungry and desperate, he called 911. He asked the operator if someone could go to the store for him and buy some groceries.

He told the operator whatever she could do would help.

“I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. I can’t get out of my damn chair,” Blackmon said in his 911 call.

Operator Marilyn Hinson took the call and told Blackmon they would take him some groceries.

“He was hungry,” Hinson said. “I’ve been hungry. A lot of people can’t say that, but I can, and I can’t stand for anyone to be hungry.”

Blackmon told Hinson that all he wanted was a head of cabbage, some cans of beans and beets, some popcorn, tomato juice, and soft drinks.

With her supervisor’s permission, Hinson went to the grocery store and bought groceries. Then, with the help of Fayetteville police officers, she delivered the food in person to Blackmon.

She made Blackmon a ham sandwich, which he called a feast. She also made him a couple more sandwiches for later on.

Blackmon called it a blessing.

“It was like a little miracle ringing in my ear,” Blackmon said. “I thought, ‘Jesus, you answered those prayers!'”

After Blackmon’s story aired, calls and donations came in by the hundreds…

ABC11 Together and people across the country are helping a starving veteran in Fayetteville who was in need of food.

Clarence BlackmonThe day after his story aired, Blackmon’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing with people offering food and help.

“‘What do you want me to bring,'” recalled Blackmon. “I even ordered roasted chicken. She said ‘fine, that’s fine.'”

That joy was a far cry from his desperate 911 call for help 24 hours earlier.

“We had numerous calls, emails, folks calling us directly, calling the call center, calling 911 saying, ‘How can we help Mr. Blackmon,'” said Fayetteville Officer Antoine Kincade.

Many asked how Blackmon could wind up in this situation. ABC11 asked DSS officials that same question. The director said they only became aware of Blackmon’s plight when we told them. The private rehab center that discharged Blackmon failed to notify DSS officials that he was going home.

A DSS social worker spent several hours with Blackmon Wednesday. They are now taking care of his needs. As for the donations, Blackmon asked that they go to the Salvation Army to help others.

“I want everyone that goes hungry, or lives under a bridge, at least they can go to the Salvation Army. They can get some good food,” said Blackmon.

Blackmon said he is truly blessed by all the help.

Now that’s a perfect example of paying it forward!

Anal, Analer, Analest

Meridian, Idaho

Rich and I are both perfectionists. We have specific ways we want things done, and we both have a hard time giving an inch if something’s not quite our way…

Neat freaks. Precisionists. Fussbudgets. Micromanagers. OCD. Whatever you want to call it, it all boils down to us both being anal retentive — aka anal.

Anal — A term used to refer to a person who feels a need to be in control of all aspects of his or her surroundings. Or, in other words, an anal retentive person “can’t let go of shit.” (Urban Dictionary)

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While both of us being anal isn’t necessarily a bad thing, occasionally we’ll look at each other with bewilderment and just think, “Are you CRAZY!” Am I’m sure others around us think the same thing. 🙂

For a long time, I didn’t think I was anal. But then my wise niece Theresa told me that I was after I complained about a particular incident while I was going to college about 15 years ago.

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Since then I embrace it. And being anal has helped me get at least five job offers when I tell the story about my niece explaining to me that I’m anal.

When I am asked, “Do you pay attention to detail?”, here’s the story I tell:

I was a non-traditional student in my mid forties when I went back to school.

We had a lot of group work in my classes which could be very difficult to organize given that most of my group were also non-traditional students–we had families, we had jobs, we couldn’t just run down the hall in the dorm to meet.

I was always tasked with putting everything together for the final paper or presentation. I was tired of doing that and said, “I want to do something else. Someone else can do that part.”

Several of my cohorts looked at me and said, at the same time, “Kathy, you have to do it. You’re so anal you make it all perfect!”

I was appalled. I had no idea that they thought I was anal let alone that I was anal.

I complained to Theresa, my niece who was studying psychology among other things, about it trying to convince her that I was in fact not anal.

I ended by saying, “If I was anal, I would have done something about the six dead flies that have been laying in my bedroom windowsill for the last three weeks because I’ve been too busy to clean.”

Theresa smiled at me knowingly and said softly, “Kathy, the fact that you have counted the flies and that you know how long they’ve been there shows that you ARE anal.”

Since then, I’ve embraced my analness because there’s a place in the world for anal retentives.

I am a bit worried, though, because I am becoming more anal, analer if you will, as I get older.

My goal is to stop myself before I become the most anal, analest if you will, and thoroughly drive myself and everyone else nuts.

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Stadium Pal

Meridian, Idaho

As you read this Gentle Blog Reader, Rich and/or I will be down at Idaho’s Largest Garage Sale. We hope to sell oodles of things we don’t need anymore.

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There’s some good news and a bit more bad news.

The bad news is that it’s supposed to rain. Hopefully not hard, but the event will go on “Rain or Shine”.

The good news is that the event is highly attended, and, according to my daughter who has had friends do it, vendors sell lots of their stuff and make “shitloads of money”!

garage-sale-crowd

The second piece of bad news is that, because the event runs from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., I’ll be there for hours because vendors can’t leave early!

I’m a bit concerned about how far I’ll have to walk to use the restroom facilities. I will have to leave the booth unattended while Rich isn’t there…

Thinking about that reminded me of David Sedaris’ essay on a product called Stadium Pal. Sedaris outlines an experiment he conducted with bodily fluids and a tube and a bag…

(Maybe I can find a Stadium Palette (Stadium Pal for gals) at the Garage Sale to use today.  🙂 )

I think it’s one of his funniest pieces ever!

Here it is. Enjoy…

PS Stadium Pal is a real product! 🙂

I’m Not as Blind as I Thought I Was

Meridian, Idaho

We got DirectTV yesterday. Included in our package is HD–high definition–for all of our TVs.

HDTV

We’ve never had HD before. We’d seen it at other people’s houses, but I guess we never paid that much attention to it then because we were too busy visiting…

WOW–are we shocked at how clear everything is on TV now. 🙂

For example, we watched a commercial for the new San Andreas movie.

On Dish, where we didn’t have HD because we would have had to pay more for it, the commercial looked somewhat like this:

NON-HDTV

With HDTV it looks more like this:

maxresdefaultI had no idea how much differently things would look in HD. Amazing.

All this time, I thought I needed better glasses.

I just needed to get a better satellite package or cough up more money for a better picture.  🙂

Netflix 101

Meridian, Idaho

I spent some time yesterday catching up on computer stuff. Now that I have DSL, that’s actually FUN! Yep, I’m a computer geek…

And what made that time even MORE FUN was the ability to watch something on Netflix while I’m working on the computer.

I love Netflix.

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It’s so great to have something on while working on something else. During those times, I only watch something I’ve watched before. The only time I watch something new is when I’m not working on something else.

(I just wanted to see how many times I could use ‘something’ in a paragraph and hopefully make some sense… 🙂 Apparently, it’s five times. )

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I watch TV series or miniseries the most. I was intrigued by House of Cards so much that I actually bought the trilogy of books it was based on from England. (Very good books.) Law and Order reruns, any of the three, are perennial favorites of mine. Top of the Lake was excellent. And I’ve lost count how many times I’ve watched (let alone read) Lonesome Dove.

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While I was deciding what to watch yesterday, I got to wondering a bit about Netflix. So here’s a little Netflix 101 with most information coming from Wikipedia…

First,  the most shocking statistic about Netflix:

Nearly 35% of ALL Internet downstream traffic is for Netflix!

Now some less shocking information.

  • Founded in 1997 by Marc Randolph, a former math teacher, and Reed Hastings, a co-founder of a computer mail-order firm.
  • Randolph and Hastings worked together at a software company that Hastings founded–Pure Software.
  • Hastings sold Pure Software for $700 million and invested $2.5 million of that into starting up Netflix.
  • Hastings came up with the idea for Netflix when he was forced to pay $40 in overdue fines after returning Apollo 13 well past its due date.
  • Netflix launched in August 1996 with 30 employyes and 925 titles available for rent.
  • In 2000, Netflix was offered for acquisition to Blockbuster for $50 million, but Blockbuster declined.
  • Netflix initiated an IPO in May 2002  and June of 2002 selling over 6 million shares of common stock for $15 per share. ($83+ million)
  •  Netflix did incur substantial losses during its first few years, and it posted its first profit in 2003–earning $6.5 million on revenues of $272 million.
  • In 2005, 35,000 different titles were available and Netflix shipped 1 million DVDs out every day.
  • In July 2014, Netflix surpassed 50 million global subscribers, 36 million of them from the United States.

Happy Streaming!

Kudos to Stephen Colbert

Meridian, Idaho

Today’s bit of Good News about Good People is about Stephen Colbert–a television host, actor, and author who hosted Comedy Central‘s The Colbert Report–a satirical news show from 2005 to 2014.

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He will soon succeed David Letterman as the host of CBS‘s Late Show. 

Colbert, a South Carolina native, recently donated $800,000 to fund more than 800 South Carolina’s teachers’ requests for over 1,000 special projects.

Now that’s what is called Good Work!

PS: Happy Birthday to Stephen Colbert today!

From the Washington Post

For nearly a decade, Stephen Colbert sat at a desk to dish out his own brand of “truthiness.” Now, he’s using the money raised from auctioning that desk to help fulfill every grant request made by South Carolina public school teachers on the crowd-funding site DonorsChoose.org.

The donation of $800,000 will fund nearly 1,000 projects in more than 375 schools. More than 800 teachers from the state have projects on the site.

“Enjoy the learnin’, South Carolina!” Colbert said Thursday to teachers and students assembled at Alexander Elementary School in Greenville, S.C. His remarks — made from New York via a live video feed — were captured by the Greenville News.

The contribution includes the proceeds from “The Colbert Report” set’s auction and matching funds from Share Fair Nation and ScanSource, according to a news release.

Colbert noted that he was a product of South Carolina public schools. “I’m sure there’s a monument,” he joked.

Maybe not, but state schools superintendent Molly Spearman said Thursday: “We are so proud that you’re from South Carolina. That’s something we’re trying to teach all our students: to always remember where you come from and to always give back to your community.”

Among the schools that will be helped by the donation is Alexander Elementary, a Title I school where the entire student body qualifies for free or reduced lunches. Funding requests for that school include $545 for basic school supplies and $504 for a trampoline and treadmill that the school’s special education teacher will use for sensory therapy.

I. Have. DSL. Internet!

Meridian, Idaho

Color me happy, happy, happy!

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I have REAL INTERNET!

For most of the last year, I have had to use an Internet connection that goes through a wireless tower. Well, I guess that’s how it came to me. I don’t really know. All I know is that it was really, really slow Internet. At times, like dial-up. Remember that?

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As of about an hour ago, we now have a DSL connection at our house.

If you were listening carefully, you probably heard a “WOOHOO” wafting through the air…

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As I was doing a happy dance…

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Today’s post is late because I kept hoping we’d get the DSL connection earlier rather than later.

Alas, we did not.

But it’s here now! And I’m happy, happy, happy.images (4)