Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Join Today!


          Does your mind ever play tricks on you?  It must.  This is why we all enjoy optical illusions and close-up magic.  We marvel that we can stare at one thing and see something else.
          But does it ever happen with your name?  A friend of mine recently wrote, “I have to tell you, when I was in Chicago last week we were staying at the Chicago Hilton, and everywhere I looked there were signs inviting me to apply to be a member of the Hilton rewards program. The signs had just two words: Join Hilton, and I kept thinking I was seeing your name.”
          I’ve actually had the same thing happen—when typing my own name I’ve often transposed it to read “Join”  instead of “Joni.” Even worse, I sometimes write “XoXo” to loved ones, and occasionally I’ll check it before sending and realize that it actually says “SoSo.”
          But does your name spell something else if you mess with the letters? Think about St. Bob. His name spells Bob forward and backward, the lucky duck. But what if your name is Bart? Do you sometimes write Brat?  Did Burl Ives sometimes write Blur Eyes? 
          And sometimes we see what we want to see.  Anytime I see a sign that starts with “C” my mind wants to read, “chocolate.” 
           But usually it just says “Capital” something, since I live in California’s capital, Sacramento.  Naturally you find Capital bank, Capital cleaners’, Capital cafĂ©—all of which could double their business if they simply changed the first word to Chocolate.
          Sadly, the word “Chocolate” is not in any of my book titles.  But you can write it in if you prefer, for a more delicious read. Heck, you can even cross out “Joni” and write “Join”  if you wish.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Doggerel Days


          Doggerel is a word which means an irregular, silly, or badly written rhyme. I’m going to assume that its origins trace to my own dogs’ ancestors who were undoubtedly all three—irregular, silly, and bad.
          However, this does not mean I don’t love dogs; I do. They just need to attend I.Q. camp. You recall, of course, that one of my dogs literally did this damage to this book:
          He was also the one who kept barking at an old hot water heater before it was picked up for recycling.
          Today we are down to Mickey, so named because she sort of has a silhouette of Mickey Mouse on her back. The other day I saw her at the glass back door, barking at the porch.  I figured there must be an animal of some kind out there, and a scary one at that.  Nope. This is what had the nerve to be crouching on our cement:
          St. Bob had left a small Home Depot bag on the patio table, and it had blown onto—horrors!—the ground.  She also had a fit some time ago when a stray balloon found its way to the kitchen island: 
          And now, to share with you her latest hobby, it’s twirling in our curtains.

         



Occasionally she gets so wound up in them she can hardly find her way out.










Last week I was grocery shopping and saw a magazine called Inside Your Dog's Mind. How can there be even one paragraph of information on this topic, much less an entire magazine? I didn’t browse through it. I just assumed it would be photos of cobwebs. Maybe some doggerel poetry about dogs’ thoughts.
          But I adore Mickey nonetheless. After all, she thinks I’m hilarious.
The best way to endure the dog days of summer is to stay inside where it's cool and read one of my books. Find them all right here.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Elephants, Zombies, and Bears—Oh My!


          “Elephants don’t get cancer.” This was my oncologist speaking, last year.
          “WHAT!” I gasped. “Why aren’t we injecting elephant something- or- other into people?” I am nothing if not a stickler for the intricacies of science.
          “We’re studying it,” he said.
          “Well, study faster,” I said. “I’ve got Stage 3 and this sounds like the cure.”
          Here’s the skinny, not to disparage any elephants who might be reading this blog: When our cells divide, as they constantly do, some get damaged and these damaged ones are more likely to cause cancer.
Most mammals try to repair the damaged ones. Not so with elephants: They have a “zombie” gene that just kills off the wonky ones.
 So while humans have just one copy of this tumor-suppressing gene called P53, elephants have 20 to 40.  And, while they can get cancer, only 1 in 20 of these majestic beasts will ever get the disease, whereas 1 in 5 people will. Hit first and hit hard seems to be their strategy, and it works.
          So where do bears come in? Well, really just to complete the Wizard of Oz reference. BUT… I did find one link to a claim that, while bears in captivity have been found to contract cancer,  it has never been found in a bear in the wild. Let me guess why: Because to test it you have to get very, very close.
          Hey—I just finished my final round of radiation! You can celebrate by enjoying one of my books, right here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Flat Out Amazing

          Most of you know that I spent a good hunk of my childhood in Utah. And one of the things Utah is known for is its famous Bonneville Salt Flats, where race cars of all descriptions have set land-speed records as they have zoomed across brilliant white fields of sparkling salt.
          And, of course, it lures the rest of us in, too. In one of the many trips we’ve made to Utah from California, we decided to take our family sedan on a spin or two across the famous terrain we’d seen on television.
          But wait. It’s not exactly what you think. First of all, while it is indeed 90% table salt, it’s not as if this is the soft stuff you keep in the kitchen, sprinkled across a glassy surface. 
          It’s crusty. It’s hard. It’s in globs. And your tires fling this stuff up into the undercarriage of your car where it will defy science for months.
          How does it do this? By never coming off. Even if you spray wash it, thinking salt will surely dissolve in water, it does not. It clings to your fenders and axle and everything else under there, until you chisel it off. Salt can accelerate the rusting process of the metal it clings to, so there’s also that.
          Oh, and should you decide to step out onto the flats, the salt will cling to your shoes like glue. Lumpy, crystalized glue.
          Another little-known factoid about these sneaky flats is that the surface can conceal huge mud quagmires that can engulf a truck. That’s right, a truck. The same thing happens in the Sahara Desert.
          Did I mention you should bring sunglasses? I know a thing or two about bright glare, having grown up skiing on Utah’s powdery ski slopes, and white salt is equally blinding.
          So there you have it. A tourism guide that can protect you from head to toe, and all your cars in between.
Here’s some cool info about the salt we actually eat—check out my Youtube Mom video here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Fit to be Tied


          You’ll like this because it makes perfect sense. The necktie originated during a war. And, if you’re like many men today, you would kill not to have to wear a throat-pinching, strangling necktie.
          But they weren’t fighting over having to wear ties; the French and the Croatians in the Thirty Years War simply wore a piece of cloth at their necks, as part of their uniform. Soon it became a symbol of wealth and status in England, then evolved into the mere decoration it is today.
          And you thought most men weren’t big accessory/decoration guys—ha!
          Ridiculous as they are, neckties are an extremely big deal at my house.  At St. Bob’s last birthday we played Bobardy! with our kids, and the final “question” was, “Bob owns 118 of these.” The answer, of course, was neckties.
          He has all kinds, all colors, and even stories to go with some of them. One was a tie he got by agreeing to a game show deal if the producer would throw in the very tie he was wearing. Here he is with Monty Hall and Dick Clark, when Bob hosted Let's Make a Deal.
          Not only that, but Bob is quite the fastidious dresser and is meticulous about how he ties his knot. It has to be exactly right. He will not even consider owning a tie that cannot be fashioned into the ideal knot. He also makes sure the bottom point of the tie falls exactly at the middle of his belt—not too long, not too short. Here is his with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans years ago, his tie perfectly tied:
          Come to think of it, Bob should make a Youtube Mom video about how to tie a tie correctly. Except he would be the Youtube Dad. But, expert as he is, I think he’d be thrilled if neckties were permanently banished. After all, they’re only worn because it’s a long-held tradition. Who knows—maybe your great grandkids will someday study The Necktie Rebellion and marvel that the fashion lasted as long as it did.
          You can actually watch one of my Youtube Mom videos about another fashion--which way your belt should go, right here

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Driving Miss Crazy

          I once received a delicious compliment. I had zipped into a parallel parking spot downtown where some young men were standing nearby. “Wow,” one of them said, “you drive like a parking valet.”
          (Much better than our daughter Nicole’s analysis once, which was to say that I drive like Cruella De Vil.)
          However, now that I frequent the hospital for cancer treatments, I’m all about getting a close parking spot. And, naturally I was pleased to see this sign:
          But guess what? I have yet to receive one compliment! I think the parking people should be trained to say, “My, don’t you look lovely today?” or “Nobody wears a beanie as well as you do!” or “What a rosy glow you have!” Nope. They just take your keys and peel out of there.
          That’s not the only problem with valet parking. If you’re at a particularly busy place you have to stand and wait for your car, usually longer than if you had just found a parking spot yourself and walked.
          And, for women in skirts, there’s the awkward problem of getting in and out of the car modestly, with someone watching you. Luckily, you know the Youtube Mom—you’re reading her blog. And she has a video about how to conquer this very predicament, right here.
          So now you can fearlessly use valet parking. Just don’t expect any lavish compliments.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Painting the Town Red?

          Don’t even get me started on graffiti. Okay, too late. I’m on a roll. There are about 12 billion reasons why I hate graffiti. Think I’m exaggerating? It costs 12 billion dollars annually just in the United States to remove graffiti.
          The main reason I despise graffiti is because it’s vandalizing other people’s property.  Buildings, walls, fences—these belong to actual people. Like snatching someone’s purse, this is taking what doesn’t belong to you. I want to ask these “artists” – and believe me, there are no quotation marks big enough to cast doubt upon that title—how they’d feel if I came over and drew a bunch of Hello Kitty designs on their bedroom walls. Or their cars. Or their front doors.  I’m guessing they’d suddenly see this another way.
          It then causes the owners of these walls to invest in paint and workers to cover up what are often offensive racial slurs, words pedestrians shouldn’t have to explain to their children, and evidence that the neighborhood property values are in decline.
          Not only that, but you usually can’t read it!  Most graffiti is written in loopy or angular codes of some kind. Why invest in paint and time if nobody knows what your final result was supposed to say? 
          Here’s a bunch of graffiti in Norway that is exactly as easy to read as that in the U.S. And it’s in Norwegian! At least the hearts are kind of cute. And the yellow flower.
But it’s still not their property to cover with their own ideas of art and design.
          Yes, I know gangs like to tag their areas. Then apply yourself, study hard, get gainful employment, and BUY the property. Then you can doodle on it to your heart’s content. But the whole world doesn’t have to support your gang territory any more than we have to honor territory marked by local canines.
          I do like what some cities have started, which are graffiti parks and walls designated especially for budding artists. And these are actually a bit intriguing. They showcase amazing graphics, cartoons, air brushing—like a free museum. This is a great way to support local talent, and confine it to a legal space.
          Just don’t do it without permission.
You do, however, have permission to buy my books right here. And then, once they’re yours, you can sketch illustrations in the margins!