30 Days of Thanks – Day 18

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No Spam Ever
No Spam Ever

As I mentioned on June 12th and June 25th I am indebted to my Spam Blocker for diligently patrolling my blog to keep it free from undesirable content.  Today I send my thanks to those savvy programmers who write the code to keep up with the ever-growing mountain of cybercrap being flung at every website, in hope that some will stick.  Salute!

Royal Baby Watch 2013 – We Can Turn Anything Into “Must See TV” And I Will Watch

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What is it about the British monarchy that fascinates Americans like me?  Is it because our very existence as a country is tied to throwing off the shackles of royal “tyranny?” Professor Arianne Chernock has her theories in this video.   Frankly, I think it may be the tea and crumpets?  Fish and chips?  Delicious ales? Or scones?   Ah, scones.  I would hurt a bitch for scones of any flavor, man.  But, I digress…

The gown was made of ivory silk with a 25-foot train, adorned with antique lace and 10,000 mother-of-pearl sequins.
The gown was made of ivory silk with a 25-foot train, adorned with antique lace and 10,000 mother-of-pearl sequins.

Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.   Along with millions of my fellow Royal Watchers, or people simply looking for good news that day, I was captivated by the pomp, circumstance and opulence of the event.   However, I took an instant dislike to Diana’s voluminous gown.  Even though it reflected the style of the early 1980s, and was the height of couture designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, I thought it looked like bed sheets.  Dingy bed sheets.   So dingy that I remember thinking, “My Barbies would never wear that hideous, dirty dress.”  This may have been the moment where my inner fashion critic was born.

I grew up in Latin America where we would periodically receive news of the Spanish monarchy and other European royal families, but I was only interested in The Queen and her family.  I was, after all, one-eighth to one-sixth English, and damned proud it.  This compelled me to devour information about the births of William and Harry, the wedding of Sarah Ferguson to Prince Andrew and the births of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie (two names that guaranteed they were teased on the playgrounds) and watching Zara Phillips compete on the Olympic Equestrian Team. Ah, the glittery, glamorous life of the British monarchy.   Sigh.

William and Kate Engagement Photo

Then, the wheels started to come off the bus.  The monarchy lost popularity, marriages broke up, a castle was destroyed by fire and Princess Diana passed away.     The Royal Family opened their, previously private, homes (castles) to the public to pay its taxes and debts.  They started to resemble commoners and were seen as an unnecessary “burden” to many British people.  Suddenly, my dream of wearing a crown was tarnished, but I still held hope that someone would bring sparkle back to those beautiful tiaras.

As William and Harry grew into handsome young men, and went off to college, my hopes were resurrected.  William began dating a brunette beauty and Harry, my tasty ginger snap, found blonde strumpets…I mean young “ladies” to entertain.   Alas, neither made commitments to the women with whom they were linked.

Until one happy day, when the lovely Catherine Middleton was proposed to on an African camping trip, by none other than Wills!  I would have a chance at another Royal Wedding….er…a chance to watch another Royal Wedding!

Again, my dear Royal Watcher friends from around the globe, and I gathered together to see the official engagement, and the beautiful wedding that launched Pippa Middleton’s arse into tabloids around the world.  Fat-bottomed girls, like me, loved that moment!  Although, Pippa’s junk trunk is a Smarte Car, at best.  It is not even large enough to be a Mini Cooper trunk.  (Sorry luv.)

Baby Girl Tiara
Royal Baby Girl Tiara Cuteness

Today, we gather again, on Royal Baby Watch!  Some people will say hateful things and question the significance or continued need for the monarchy.  They may go elsewhere and spew.   This post is about sending warm wishes to a young couple about to have their first child, regardless of their heritage.   It surrounds a woman giving birth for the first time with love, light, healing energy and hopes for a speedy labor and uneventful delivery.   Above all, I send Kate and William my wishes for a healthy, happy baby.

I cross my fingers and hope for a Baby Girl.  Because, c’mon people….tiny tiara?!  That shit is royal cuteness.  Sign. Me. Up.

#Sharknado took over Twitter, but not the ratings race

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I woke up this morning to sunny skies and birds chirping in the trees.   I am suffering from post-Sharknado storm fatigue and thanking our lucky stars that Ian Ziering learned how to wield a chainsaw at West Beverly High.   This movie is a possible end-of-days scenarios that has not been considered.  I for one, am happy, to have been shown this cautionary tale.  We were saved from imminent planetary destruction, people!

The moral of this story: Be nice to sharks and stop chasing tornadoes.  You never know when they will reunite for a sequel.

Is “Kindle Wrist” an Ailment, and is it Covered by Insurance?

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Having devoted time to reading books is a Summer ritual that I started in childhood.  Mami would take me to the Library Museum, where I would choose as many books as I could carry, place them on the librarian’s desk and hand her my library card.  It was my first completely independent act, as Mami never “censored” my choices.   Her only requirement was,  “if you can carry them, you may check them out.” I quickly learned to carry a book bag with me for each library visit.  Thus, my love affair with Summer reading began.  In fact, I may have been the only kid in school, at any level, who wanted to receive the dreaded Summer Reading List.

Go ahead.  Gasp, in horror.  Wrist Support Brace Unless you’re an “I ❤ SRL” geek chick (or guy) like me.  In that case, welcome, kick your feet up, popcorn’s on the coffee table and adjustable reading lights are available in the basket.

This Summer, I have spent a considerable amount of time on my Kindle.   90% of the time is reading books and the other 10% is reading my email, cruising the Internet or chatting on Facebook.    I have also been on Lappy, my “small” Toshiba Ultrabook, because she is light to carry.  She and I have perfected the knee-to-belly chunk prop, to ensure the optimal reading and typing angle.   Toesh, my “big” Toshiba Satellite laptop, acts as my desktop.  Toesh weighs over six pounds  and forces me to sit upright at the table.  I tried carrying Toesh through the house, once, to disastrous results.  Fortunately, I had purchased the what-happens-when-Michelle-drops-Toesh-and-the-screen-shatters-rendering-her-FUBAR insurance.  While it took three, long, agonizing weeks, until she was repaired, it was worth the wait to see her returned with a brand new screen.  Lesson learned: do not parade Toesh around the house.  She prefers the contemplative quiet of the kitchen table.   Which is where I find myself writing this post.

I lost count after 25, at how many books I have read this Summer.  But, in the past few days I felt that familiar “twinge” of discomfort and stiffness in my wrist.  I do not suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, but as I have gotten older, I am finding more and more aches and pains that did not exist before.  I first noticed the wrist stiffness and soreness when I was laid off.  All of a sudden, my wrists felt “funny” and stiff.  It was likely from lack of use, rather than overuse, because while I spent time on computers for my jobs, it was not the only physical task I did.  I spent a few dollars at the drug store for a couple of wrist supports with removable metal plates, slipped those babies on, and I was back in business.  When I bought Kindy, my first Kindle, I started reading exclusively on her.   I noticed the “twinge” came back, but once I put my wrist support on my right “Kindle hand,” all was right with the world.   The same thing happened when I upgraded to Fire K, my Kindle Fire, and finally with Lappy – although Lappy necessitated the use of both wrist supports.

Today, however, I am wearing both wrist supports and sitting on Toesh, in my superior ergonomically designed, yet affordable, Ikea office chair.  And, dammit, I noticed the difference.  I am sitting taller, typing faster and and more accurately, and haven’t had to reach for my bifocals to read the darn screen as I type.    This leads me to my “discovery” of the day:  Kindle Wrist.  A condition for people who spend an exorbitant amount of time holding their electronic readers at odd angles for maximum reading comfort, leading to wrist and forearm discomfort and, sometimes, pain.   I shall explore “Kindle Neck,” a co-condition, at a later date.

I am self-diagnosing myself with “Kindle Wrist,” and fully embracing the bitter with the sweet.   Will it get worse, or improve with the use of wrist supports?  Frankly, I don’t care.  I refuse to give up my Kindle habit.   I am deep in relationship with my Kindles and it is a codependency built in heaven.  My next step will be to seek discomfort relief either by wearing my decidedly unsexy wrist supports, or by self-medicating with a lovely glass of Malbec, Merlot or the sweet delights of Moscato.

Book Review – “Mid-Life Love” by Whitney Gracia Williams

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Finding Love in Mid-Life

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the author for an honest review.

Too many stories these days feature young, hot 20-somethings, going through the trials and tribulations of life.    It is a well-known fact that I am not a fan of New Adult (NA) books.   While their stories may be well written, they do not ring true-to-life.  Much of what those “adults” are experiencing is not real, not unless they have faced early trauma, reached mid-life, or at least their 30s.

Those of us who are have reached middle age, however, may identify with Claire Gracen, of Mid Life Love. Whether we have been through a divorce or not, we want to star in our own version of Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. We seek catharsis as we age and Claire represents the everywoman at a crossroads in life. She has to pick up the pieces of her life after being betrayed, while knowing that her future is forever changed. She becomes suspicious of everyone, and wonders what his or her real intentions may be. Therefore, Claire remains guarded about her personal life and erects emotional walls to keep people at bay.

Claire’s boss, Jonathan Statham, eleven years younger, is a self-made computer billionaire. He is determined to have Claire, regardless of her reservations about their age difference. Jonathan flirts, flatters and relentlessly pursues Claire with the intensity of a man who has worked hard for everything he has.

From the moment we find out the reasons that led to Claire’s divorce, Ms. Williams hooks the reader in. The narration alternates from Claire to Jonathan to provide their backstories. In Claire, she nails the self-deprecating humor of an aging Generation-Xer, especially when confronted with younger, inexperienced, talentless, lazy, fellow employees. However, I was deeply disappointed with Claire’s seemingly irrational obsession with her age, and maintaining “privacy,” or being caught doing something “inappropriate.” I found myself wanting Claire to realize how she was sabotaging her own life, by being pathologically self-centered, self-absorbed and exhibiting little self-confidence. In fact, there was a point I did not want her to experience a happy conclusion.

However, Ms. Williams had other plans for Claire. In finding Jonathan, Claire begins to find herself. Through their affair, they both come to terms with their pasts and grow into stronger characters. Their scenes are funny, creatively sexy and deeply personal. It was a pleasure to experience their metamorphosis throughout the book, and I recommend Mid Life Love for your Summer Reading List.

Link to my “official” review:  Amazon Review of “Mid-Life Love,” by Whitney Gracia Williams

Viral Video: AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” Played On Flame-Throwing Bagpipes

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Here’s something to lighten the mood, after the serious discussion on plagiarists yesterday. ACDC sounds great on bagpipes, but they knew it when they wrote “It’s a Long Way to the Top.”
Enjoy, and remember Bon Scott.

Ode to my Blog’s Spam Blocker – Update

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Since I published Ode to my Blog’s Spam Blocker, about two weeks ago, the amount of Spam my site has generated has tripled!  SCORE!

S4 places all Spam into a recycling container for easy disposal.
S4 places all Spam into a recycling container for easy disposal.

I suspect the Ode reinvigorated Sexy Studly Spam Slayer to work harder.  His endurance is AMAZING.   Yes, S4 or “Sugar Britches,” as I affectionately call him, is a male Spam Blocker.  I picture him wearing green (jungle) or grey (urban) camouflaged pants, a black t-shirt, a custom-built computer complete with diamond plating and a tool belt to rival Batman’s utility belt. His hair color and facial features may change depending on my mood, but his attention to detail, to eliminating the refuse from my Blog, is unmatched. Oh, and he is buff…or does his best work in the buff.  I haven’t decided.

He is the perfect Spam Blocker – the standard of excellence by which all Spam Blockers should be judged.  He is no amateur teen, or twenty-something, socially awkward hacker.  No, Sugar Britches is battle-weary, internationally debonair and prepared for anything.  He does not sleep, but is never cranky.

In past two weeks he has expanded his repertoire to include such gems as information about swans,  mobility challenges in the big city, “funding” for my film making career, more detailed requests for technical support, and a myriad of posts agreeing with my political ideology, even though I cannot recall ever writing or thinking about writing a manifesto.  Of course the requisite “opinions” on the use of “toys” still pop up on a daily basis, but they have been joined by weather reports, descriptions of some unnamed, bucolic countryside (Chernobyl, perhaps?), and Cyrillic, or possibly Aramaic messages, encoded for my protection.   And, the question for the ages has been answered: there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Just send your bank account information to…

No, you may not “borrow” Sugar Britches. He is mine and I do not share.  Ever.  So, excuse me while I prepare him breakfast and supply him with endless cups of gourmet coffee.  He’s earned it, and a private massage later.

That swan thing is deeply puzzling.  Should I contact Animal Services?

PIWTPITT Review of 50 Shades of Grey

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BEST review of “50 Shades of Grey.”   Save your money and buy books any number of authors who have been writing in the Romantica genre, for years.   Enjoy.   PIWTPITT Review of 50 Shades of Grey