Saturday, November 22, 2008
The field of psychology has several touch points with the computer field. The primary one is "usability" which is essentially the study of making anything , in this case software, intuitive and easy to use. The main focus of software usability involves cognitive psychology- how we think; learning and memory.
When I first began my computer career, I worked for a company that grew from about 7 of us in our first year to over 100 by our fourth. In that fourth year, we added a woman who had a Master's in Cognitive Psychology and was to become our usability specialist. And she was one fucked up twat.
I'll call her Mavis. The reason its so easy to come up with a biography for this woman is because within a week of knowing her, she had shared her entire life with most of the staff. Not that anyone had asked. It goes a little something like this:
Before age 11: molested
somewhere around age 16: molested
somewhere around age 16.5: graduated high school
somewhere around age 18: raped
somewhere around age 19: graduated from college, because she was a "child prodigy"
somewhere around age 21: raped
somewhere around age 24: major head trauma in a car wreck (and no, I'm not interested in seeing the scar).
So we meet Mavis around age thirty five or so. Mavis can't be in a room with fluorescent lights because they interfere with her thinking. I'll give her that. I don't care for them myself- but she is so sensitive to them they cause headaches. Its the hertz that affect her.
Mavis constantly wears this loosely woven black poncho. Doesn't matter the outfit- the black poncho is a wardrobe staple. Okay- the office is chilly. Sometimes you don't plan your outfit well and need to wear something to keep the chill away.
Mavis is always right. A trait I personally can't stand (maybe because I might identify with it...sometimes?). But she gets argumentative over song titles. Honestly. Isn't the satisfaction of knowing you are right enough?
When anyone (such as your naive narrator) pointedly disagrees with a Mavis-proposed initiative, we are all reminded of the shame and pain Mavis felt when she was assaulted. And how not accepting her idea makes her feel shunned and victimized. Seriously. Its the first time I've ever heard a woman exploit her own abuse to get her way. Its one thing to guilt people into taking your side to get your way- but brining abuse or rape into it? Really?
I know I may not sound like the most compassionate person in world right now, but lets get one thing straight. Molestation is not an exclusive event. Its awful and life changing and happens to more people than will ever admit to it publicly. I don't want to hear about your issues until I know you personally for at least a month, maybe three. And if you are a coworker- I don't care if you were forced to suck off a Clydesdale when you were six- leave personal issues outside of the workplace.
Do I think her sexual history made her crazy? I have no doubt that it affected her in profound ways. Is it an excuse for her behavior? No.
How a person chooses to deal with the hand they are dealt is up to them.
Fortunately, Mavis and her defensive attitude and all her baggage lasted only a few months. I don't really know what her work contributions were, but her personal issues will live on in infamy.
Assignment Notes: Write a short bio about a crazy lady you know.
CG Notes: I realize this is more venting than a bio. I am so frustrated by people, particularly women, who choose the path of the victim for extended period of time.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Another part of me is apprehensive about showing you exactly how dark and disgusting I can go. I would hate to turn you off before I had a chance to turn you on.
So instead, I will let Bob Saget tell you a lovely little story about a family trying to break into show business.
Someday I'll share my disgusting side with you. I promise.
Assignment Notes: Words can be just as powerful at evoking strong physical reactions as images or smells. Use your words to truly gross out a reader. You can write about an experience from your past or just create something. It just needs to be really, really disgusting.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Wow. This topic could almost describe a series of vignettes I wrote a while back. I, like many people, have a tendency to come up with the perfect comeback long after the moment has passed. The comeback that would have given me the upper hand, or made me seem witty, or competent, or maybe even sexy. Or that would have gotten me fired, smacked or killed. Really. One of my better qualities is that, under MOST situations, I know when to shut up. Sadly, I usually err on the side of self preservation- which doesn't lead to good storytelling.
Frankly, as I am thinking back on moments that could make good "recycle" moments, I can feel my body temp rise- but not in that tingly way. I'll let you in on a little secret- when I'm upset, my body heats up. Its kinda like the Hulk, but with less green and no clothing is ruined. Why are all the recycled moments I'm coming up with are the missed chances, or the mean things I did or the cruel actions I accepted tacitly from others?
So I think I'll just stick with the way things are for now. As it stands, I can't even think of a Christmas gift I should have given. I can only move forward from this moment.
Assignment Notes: Today is America Recycles Day. Think of something in your past: an item, a person, an event, a feeling, that you wish you could recycle and write about it.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
6:15 pm: Arrive home from work. Set laptop bag on chair.
6:16 pm: Put dog on leash, walk to mailbox. Grab contents from mailbox and return to house.
6:19 pm: Brace yourself when dog spots a squirrel and takes running leap towards it.
6:20 pm: Pick up mail you dropped when dog attempted to consume squirrel.
6:21 pm: Recycle all contents from mailbox except the PHE catalog and Williams Sonoma catalog.
6:30 pm: Glance over at laptop back. Think to self, "I'll get to it at 7:00."
6:35 pm: Pour glass of wine, turn on oven, turn on TV.
6:36 pm: Note that the DVR has recent South Park, Rock of Love Charm School AND Daily Show.
7:15 pm: Remember to put chicken in the oven. Remind self to start work after dinner.
7:35 pm: Remove chicken and fix avocado/tomato salad and slice bread with olive oil. Refill wine glass.
8:45 pm: Tell self that you will start work at 9pm.
8:56 pm: Log on to Blogspot and see if you can write anything for 30 days of write.
9:15 pm: Decide you can't come up with anything good so you visit random websites that you really could view at anytime.
10:30 pm: Tell self that you will start work after the Colbert Report. Refill wine glass.
11:02 pm: Begin to wonder if there is anything that *really* needs to be done before 9am the next morning.
11:05 pm: convince yourself that you will get up early and do the work before heading into the office the next morning.
11:06 pm: Resume the "visit Blogspot, see if you can come up with anything good, visit random websites" cycle for the next two hours.
Assignment Notes: From cooking breakfast to creating a blog, most of the things we do in our day-to-day lives involve a process. In a process analysis essay, you write to explain how to do something or how something works. Pick anything that you do in your daily life and write an interesting process analysis of it.
Good Process Analysis:
• Either helps readers perform the steps themselves or helps them understand how something works
• Presents the essential steps in a process
• Explains steps in detail
• Presents steps in logical order (usually time order - chronological)
CG Notes: I'm cheating- its really 11/23, but I'm determined to make up for lost posts. I write processes all day at work, so this is kind of a process-protest, if you will.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Every journey begins with a single step.
Not all who wander are lost.
The strange clinking had started again. Or maybe it had been going all along and a soft love song had come on the radio. Lara had been driving for miles without the relief of a working air conditioner. Her 1987 Ford pickup was slowly beginning to betray her as it rattled down the highway.
She checked her rearview mirror and made sure her load was still secure. The clinking noise came from under the hood so she knew her freight was safe, for now. When she had stopped before at some lonesome service station outside of
“I’ll tell you what,” he said, eyeing the back of the truck. “I’ll tell you what. The part that’s causing you the trouble could be fixed. But I can tell that you ain’t in a position to pay. So this is what I’m gonna tell you. That part there ain’t essential to get you to where you are going. The road is not going to be as comfortable or as nice- or, as you’ll see, as quiet. But you’ll be okay with out it.”
The patch on his shirt said “Joseph.”
“I have money,” Laura replied, reaching toward her back pocket. She did. She had enough to fix the A/C, and a little extra tucked away in the back should a true emergency befall her.
“Miss, I have daughters. I have a son, too. But- and forgive me for bein’ fatherly with you and all, but you seem to be going someplace. And I just think your cash is better spent at your destination that on a part that won’t hurt you none to do without.”
Laura signed, looking back at her truck.
“Am I right? “
Laura turned back to him. “I’d like a Coke then.”
The truck had been her older brother’s. He was 8 years older than her. She was only ten years old when he went to fight in Desert Storm. Every picture she drew for him had an American flag in the background. She took careful and deliberate steps to make sure she got all the stars and all the stripes in the right places. She wouldn’t settle for only 11 stripes or an accidental star.
Her drawings and a giant batch of brownies were sent to Teddy in
Her drawings eventually developed into art work. The American flag making an occasional appearance, but not as prominent as people. Laura would sketch her mother- stirring the brownie mix with a huge wooden spoon, looking out the window, sitting silently on the edge of the bed holding a photo of Teddy.
Laura’s father would make an occasional appearance- sitting at the breakfast table lost in thought, sitting in front of the television for the nightly news, then the primetime shows, then the late news and eventually the late night comedy shows.
Everyone always commented on how lifelike her drawings were- these drawings of people who aren’t living. The expressions were so realistic, the fold of the blanket was exact, the listless turn of the spoon in the brownie batter. Not a star out of place.
It took everything Laura had not to scream at her parents, “I’M here! Do you see me? I’M alive!” She wanted them to break out of their mourning. To look up and see that although the family was not the same, they were still a family. She used her images as mirrors- hoping that her parents would recognize who they used to be before Teddy went off to war.
The day after she graduated high school, she drew her last picture. She sketched a family portrait. Her mom and dad were seated in two chairs turned inward so their knees almost touched. Their faces stoic and expressionless, complexions pale- both looking at something in the distance beyond the painter.
A translucent Teddy in fatigues was standing between the chairs with his hands resting on the back of each. A cocky smile on his face- just like his senior portrait three years earlier- except this time with a smudge of brownie crumbs around the corner of his mouth. His hands splayed in such a way that a person could mistake them for holding puppet strings. But that wasn’t Laura’s intent. She should have been more careful about that.
Laura placed herself into the portrait as a photograph that had fallen to the floor. A ten year old girl with a wide open smile holding a sunflower that was nearly the size of her head. The photo was slightly worn at the edges and was resting against her mother’s shoe. She wanted to send a message, but she doubted that her parents would be capable of hearing it.
She left the drawing on her mother’s side of the bed and got in the truck and left.
CG Notes: So its not 1000 words yet. And I'm not sure what is in the back of the truck. What do you think is back there?
CG Notes: So its not 1000 words yet. And I'm not sure what is in the back of the truck. What do you think is back there?
Assignment Notes: It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Upload a pic to your blog and write Exactly 1,000 words about it.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Ava held her one hand stiff and used her other hand to hunt for a long blade of grass. She would try to coax the roly-poly from its increasingly uninteresting pose with food- or what she figured was food. It wasn't a carnivore, or else she couldn't hold it, she reasoned. So it must be an herbivore. And herbivores eat grass.
As her attention was focused on foraging, the little pearl opened slowly revealing several pairs of golden-grey legs and a set of black antennae. Its carbon colored plates retracted smoothly, gliding over each other like a gunmetal flower blooming to welcome the sun.
The tickling of tiny legs pulled Ava's attention back to her cupped hand. The roly-poly had made its way to the base of her thumb and turned towards her wrist. She dared not breathe for fear of scaring it back into its defensive position. Ava watched it steadily find its way along the inside of her arm. As the roly-poly reached to crook of her elbow, she gently picked it off her arm and placed it on the bricks beside her and dug her toes into the summer grass.
Assignment Notes Color is a powerful tool that can brighten up a room as well as give life to a piece of writing. Pick an unusual color from your Crayola box and bring it to life.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Because I love horsies.
1. "Snaffle," "curb" and "pelham" are terms for several kinds of what?
2. Why do people lead and/or mount a horse from the left hand side?
3. When a male horse and a jenny (female donkey) mate, what is the name of their offspring?
4. According to legend, there is only one way a unicorn can be caught. What is this method?
5. In 1975 Michael Murphy sang a song about a girl and a horse. What was the name of the song?
6. How many hours did I spend looking at pony-play websites after writing question 1?
1. Answer: Riding bits (the part of the bridle that goes into the horse's mouth). Or the part of the bridle that goes into your "pony's" mouth for those of you into pony-play. Dirty monkies.
2. Answer: Knights wore their swords on the left to make it easily accessible with the right hand. You try swinging your leg and huge heavy sword up and over a horse at the same time. That searing pain? Yeah, that's you throwing out your back, genius.
3. Answer: A hinny. Not a mule, dumbass.
4. Answer: Send a virgin into the woods and the unicorn will lay his head in her lap. Seriously. If you knew any virgins, you'd know this.
5. Answer: Wildfire
6. Answer: I will only admit to the first hour.
So you just got a job writing for Trivial Pursuit. They are branching out from their general trivia games and creating more niche brands. Create a niche and create a six-question card for your game. Your niche should be a little odd-so no movies, music, etc.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
My mom grew up as the youngest of four: Joe, Emmy, Carol and Julia. Emmy and Joe bore the brunt of their father's rigid, cruel "parenting" style. Carol and my mom were able to avoid some of the abuse but not all. The two of them were more closely bonded to each other than any of the siblings. All four kids were profoundly affected by how they were raised each acted out in spectacularly different ways.
I won't use this as a forum to air my family's dirty laundry but suffice to say that some members are no longer on speaking terms, some turned to alcohol, some are unable to deal with their emotions to this day and some continue to try to "fix" the family.
Happily, my mom and my namesake are still close.
None of the women in that family were given middle names. It was expected that they would all take the names of their husbands and use their maiden names as their middle names. Of course they would.
When Carol's husband's family- a good Southern family from North Carolina, learned she had no middle name, they gave her one: Sue. When I finally came into the picture, my parents decided to name me after the person who may have been the key to my mom's relative sanity and positive adjustment to society. I am Carol Suzanne.
Assignment Notes: John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt is not my name. Robert Paulson is not my name.
My name is Laurie.
What's your name? Tell the story of how you got your first, middle, or last name.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Six, maybe seven ounces short, I'd call her a wallflower, but wallflowers are sweet and shy. She's simply spiteful.
Me? Standing back here on the side- I get passed around regularly. I feel her glassy stare on me each time I'm poured sloppily into shot glasses or shaken with some Gran Marnier to make a margarita. My taste is less important than my bite. I don't discriminate- college kids, dirty old men, thirty-something women out for a girl's night. I take care of them all.
In all my time here, I have no idea who takes Gran Patron. No one has bothered with her.
I make my way to every corner of the bar- to the dart boards, to Pool Table #1 and that bitch just watches me have all the fun.
Assignment notes: It's the weekend! Time to celebrate and spend time with the ones you love (like Jack Daniels). Write a description of your favorite bar or hangout from an unusual perspective. Maybe you're a fly on the wall or the bathroom attendant.
CG notes: I don't really know where this is going. I don't know what beverage the narrator is. I just think that $200 bottles of tequila are stuck up.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I think of our family vacation to Kauai when I was in 8th or 9th grade and the song "Let's Go All The Way" by Sly Fox was popular. I, of course was a good 4-5 years from going all the way, but that didn't stop me from playing "I Never" with some of the older kids at the resort. I was a boring "I Never" player at the time. I might have consumed about 1/2 wine cooler and that was only because someone was kind enough to throw in things like "I've never eaten dog food" (guilty- but technically they were biscuits, I mean "it". It was a biscuit).
But that song is NOT on my playlist. It just seems to be in constant rotation on the radio for some reaosn.
The song I'll share with you is Paul Oakenfold's "Faster Kill Pussycat" with Brittany Murphy on vocals.
This is the song I'd listen to right before my 7:30 am bike workouts on Southwest Parkway.
This is the song I'd listen to running hill after hill after hill during our run workouts.
This is the song I played at 5am as I drove to the Danskin Triathlon. It was dark and cool.
Its not a hard rockin' song but its got a great rhythm to keep a pace to and I think its kinda sexy. Sexy is motivating.
As I listened to the song, I would visualize my race or practice: my arms pulling me through the water; my legs pushing me forward on the bike at a powerful cadence; sweat coming down my cheeks. Fighting though the pain, the fatigue and not allowing myself to stop.
Where I really needed this song was about a mile into the run. Mind you, we can't wear headphones during the race so I had to have this song playing in my mind. My legs now wobbly and my body's frame just so tired! But triathlon is not about your body, exactly. Its about your head- and what you can make yourself do.
Yes, I had other songs in my "TriTri Tri" playlist: Cyprus Hill's "Rock Superstar," Hole's "Violet," Jet's "Cold Hard Bitch" and TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me," among others- but little Brittany's smoky vocals got me to the finish line.
Assignment Notes: As writers, we are trying to say what we have to say in words. However, music is a very important part of most of our lives. Pick a song from your myspace or ipod playlist and write about why that song is important to you. Feel free to add video to your post.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
1. One Franco Sarto patent leather kitten heel open toed strappy sandal
2. One Crocs sandal
3. One storage door
4. Three feet of air conditioner pipe insulation
5. One set of 2 inch faux wood blinds (technically just 2-3 slats but since I can't exactly extract just the broken ones...)
6. One dog brush
7. One pair of technical coolmax running socks
8. 2 Monkey rope/squeaky toys
9. All the cement chunks in my backyard.
Not bad for two months.
1. Johnny startling himself with his own flatulence.
2. Johnny barking at the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue at Auditorium Shores.
3. Johnny getting tangled in the aforementioned faux wood blinds while struggling to escape from them to when he saw my horrified expression from the other side of the window.
4. Johnny barking at a skateboarder wearing a construction hat with a huge dldio attached to the top.
5. Johnny jumping off my bed just as I reach the top of the stairs.
Assignment Notes: Today you get a break from my fascist regime to bask in the joy and glory. Write whatever you want.
The most obvious approaches would be to either take an animal that has been perpetually abused or hunted and have them turn on people (like King Kong, Moby Dick).
Or maybe take a beloved family pet and have it snap not unlike the character in the previous exercise.
So what is less obvious?
Birds in the park?- done and done well by Hitchcock.
Infestation of insects?- The Mummy, anyone?
Infestation of koalas? Oh Mitch Hedberg, how I miss you.
Tomatoes? Done and NOT an animal. Not even a vegetable.
I suppose any group of animals or insects can be worked into a frenzy where they go berserk and start ripping everything in sight to shreds. Although some may be less efficient than others. Shark feeding frenzy- def. Locusts swarming a wheat field- devastation.
However, a herd of garden slugs can't really do much damage to a person- right? Besides slime them? Your garden, they'll munch to bits, but I don't think they have what it takes to kill a human.
Ew- unless thousands crawled into your nose and mouth and blocked your breathing. Then crawled down your throat to your intestines so when the coroner did their autopsy, you'd be solid slugs from lips to anus. Then he'd call over his coworker, Phil and they'd take pictures and you'd be on Youtube.
You, with your sluggy guts all exposed. Your strong, healthy heart is there too but it doesn't get any mention. Not with a living slug impaction in your large intestine.
They'd sit there an count them one by one. Picking them up with those tweezer tong things and dropping them into a kidney bowl.
Then they'll dissect those slugs to see what is in their little stomachs but they'll be baffled becuase there won't be any human tissue. Just plant matter and maybe some beer. Slugs love beer.
Have you ever left a beer bottle out at night? And the next morning- filled with slugs.
That must have been how it happened. You got drunk on beer and passed out in the garden. The slugs sensed the beer and began the slow, mucus march down your gullet.
So there you go. Don't pass out in the garden.
Assignment: From Peter Benchley’s Jaws to Stephen King’s Cujo, one of the most frightening things to many people is our absolute inability to control nature, specifically animals. I hate that. Instead of making people afraid to go into the water, write a satirical piece (poem, paragraph, short story, whatever) about an unusual animal going crazy and killing people.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Back and forth. Back and forth. I forgot how high swings could take you. The woosh of falling forward only to swoop upward, pause in midair for half a heartbeat then rush backwards. Back toward the earth. Back to now.
I put my foot down to stop swinging and notice that I’m not wearing shoes. Odd. I know I had them on earlier. Some random pumps I scored at DSW for $32.99. Not too high, maybe an inch and half with sturdy heels that made the perfect “sexy echo” as my boyfriend used so say.
Used to say?
Still says, right? That’s something he SAYS.
I stand up and walk across the tanbark to a water fountain, the little pieces spongy beneath my feet. I pause then hop up and down a little feeling them give way underneath me. Spongy.
Spongy like how it felt under my hand when I drove the heel of my sexy echo shoe through his left eyeball. Well no. It wasn’t spongy at first, but when it finally punched through the sclera, that’s when it became spongy.
Holy shit! I actually learned something in Sensory Perception! You know, that was one of my favorite Psychology classes. I remember closing my eye lids and pressing gently on my eyeball- against the cornea and sclera, to produce kinetic light shows that only I could see. Better than staring at light too long and seeing spots. The impression of your fingers cause similar effects. Fucking A! Paul must have seen a laser light show with fireworks in the background when that shoe heel punctured his eyeball. I’ll bet it was amazing.
I’m going to meet him for dinner tonight. Talk about fireworks! He said he wanted to talk. I think he’s really going to do it this time. Its just that he’s been so busy, I haven’t had a chance to see much of him. For the last six months. But good things are worth the wait.
He’s read my letters. He’s heard my messages. He knows I’m ready.
I’m walking toward the restaurant now. I see the Maitre d’ through the window.
Today you snapped. It’s been building up, sure, but today you just couldn’t take it anymore. So far you’ve gone after your mother and your ex. Finish out your day as a serial killer. Your focus can either be on deep character development or on moving a plot forward.
CG Notes: Ran ot of steam. Will try to finish later
Monday, November 3, 2008
They ain't got nothing on him
Proud swagger, bright teeth.
Velvet coat invites
But soft touch belies his bite
His forced destiny.
Full moon approaches
Soon he will not know your voice
Will you run or stay?
I hear scuffling
I check the rear view mirror.
Something is not right.
He’s just standing there
Sharp teeth. Sharper silver knife.
A little man. Gnome? Dwarf?
The knife blade goes up.
Sinking into my shoulder.
Is this happening?
He’s stabbing stabbing stabbing.
Its all gone hazy.
Write a haiku or 10 about your favorite monsters.
CG note: Yeah, I know the Haiku is supposed to be its own little poem, but it was fun to string a few together. Get over it.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I only knew him in the dark. I would occasionally steal a glimpse of him when the fuzzy dawn reached through the blinds but the light was distracting and unwanted.
His arm thrown over my pale ribs, his rough, worn hand against my belly or drawing slow gentle circles from the top of my ribs to the curve of my ass. He whispered secrets to me while holding my ankle captive with the soles of his feet.
His secrets were not the kind that could be shared face to face. This was the only place for them: a closed door, a bed and an absence of moonlight. As he confessed, his body grew warmer and warmer, making his touch nearly unbearable, smothering. But I valued my role as the guardian of his vulnerability so I tucked in close and allowed little ribbons of sweat to slip down my back and into cotton sheets.
When it became too much, I’d slowly roll away- exposing my back to the shock of the cooler air. For that moment we would be face to face, but apart. Safe enough for him to brush away the hair that became stuck to my cheek. Safe enough to wipe away droplets of sweat from my upper lip. But never safe enough to look towards my eyes.
I think he was always afraid that I would see his tears. Or that he wouldn’t see mine.
Today is Dia de los Muertos, a day to celebrate and honor loved ones who are no longer with us. Think about someone who has passed and write about a memory of them that focuses on one of your five senses. Obviously, be very descriptive and use this as an opportunity to celebrate this person rather than mourning them.