Archive for February, 2010

The Power of Brownies

Friday, February 26th, 2010

It’s been snowy this week here in Ann Arbor … it’s beginning to look (and feel) a lot like Fargo. Monday’s snow was heavy and deep – 10 inches worth. I shoveled a little, took a break, shoveled some more, took a break. Howard, my next door neighbor has a snow blower. He did about 15 feet of my sidewalk for me and quit. Maybe the snow was too heavy for the snow blower … or maybe he ran out of time … even so, I appreciate his kindness and the fact that there’s just that much less for me to have to shovel.

Monday night I made a pan of brownies and put four of them on a plate for Howard and his wife, Jane, and six of them on a plate for Kim, Phil and Jon, the across the street neighbors. I’ve wanted to do this kind of thing since I visited my mom and dad in September. They are always cooking up something (usually baking) and distributing it to the neighbors. Howard answered the door and his face just lit up when I said “I baked some brownies and just wanted to say thanks for being a good neighbor”. After more snow on Wednesday night I tromped out to shovel Thursday morning and found that my ENTIRE sidewalk was clear. Howard got his snowblower out and did the whole thing for me. Now that is the Power or Brownies! I’m going to make Apple Cake (new recipe) this weekend and take him some.

More Aphorisms

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

I have been telling my “aphorism story” over and over since my experience at the Penny Stamps Lecture last Thursday. Have also been searching out different aphorisms. Here are a few that I ran across today while looking for something completely different/unrelated! Enjoy!

~Besides the noble art of getting things done, master the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials. –Lin Yutang

~For fast-acting relief, try slowing down. — Lily Tomlin

~Don’t confuse your net worth with your self-worth. –Unknown

~The truth is, time flies whether you’re having fun or not. — Unknown

Random Observations

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

One of my new year’s resolutions was to walk/bike three times a week. I’ve been doing that at the Ann Arbor YMCA and on my way around the track I’ve observed my fellow walkers/runners … and then some. Here are some random thoughts/observations.

~Interesting to watch the different ways people run. Some on their toes, one barefoot, one in stocking feet, many just chugging along. There are a few who are really expert runners – those who make it look effortless. They appear to be gliding.
~Twice I’ve been at the YMCA when a young soccer player has been running around the track with the soccer ball. I love watching him take the ball around the track. He is quite an expert and it is with pleasure I watch him. He is lightening fast, never trips on the ball, and is quite “in the moment”. Occasionally he runs the opposite way the traffic is moving. One night he whooshed by me in the opposite direction and a moment later I felt the breeze in his wake. It was exhilarating.
~The kids are a trip. On Friday nights there are three basketball games going on in the gym below the track. To me it appears to be barely controlled chaos and the kids have a great time … especially on the rare occasions when the ball actually goes through the hoop.
~On Saturdays one third of the gym is set up for gymnastics class. The three or four year old kids are learning to somersault. The older kids are doing back flips on the balance beam. It’s all fun to watch.
~Most of us on the track are alone. Some come in pairs. Most are wired with iPods. It appears to me that I am the only one who occasionally sings along. If you listened closely, you’d hear me occasionally sing snippets of Spanish lyrics, their meaning completely unknown to me, since my walking music is World Music. If you watch closely, you might be able to pick up on the fact that I would rather be dancing than walking. 🙂


Friday, February 12th, 2010

James Geary is a writer/journalist, American born, living in London. Actually, he calls himself an aphorist. He spoke on aphorisms and was quite entertaining. He seemed quite comfortable on stage and is a good presenter. He’s obviously done this before. He talked about aphorisms, what they are, what they aren’t, and quoted some examples along the way. While on stage, he carried a globe of the earth with the top cut open (like a lid) and inside he had juggling balls and some aphorisms written on small slips of paper.

While telling us he five laws of aphorisms, he juggled! The five laws (which he expanded on while juggling) are, in short, these:

Geary’s Five Laws of the Aphorism
1. It Must Be Brief.
2. It Must Be Personal.
3. It Must Be Definitive.
4. It Must Be Philosophical.
5. It Must Have A Twist.

The audience participation part of the talk consisted of a game he played with the audience. He offered audience members the globe filled with tiny slips of paper. On each was an aphorism (or not). The audience member would read the aphorism (aloud to the entire Michigan Theater audience!) and James would tell who came up with the aphorism, something about that person, and read some other aphorisms written about that person. If the piece of paper the audience member picked out of the globe was blank, that person could name any topic and James would come up with an aphorism. And, if he couldn’t, he would give away one of his books to that person. The person in the audience who got the blank piece of paper suggested “lust”. James claimed to know one but couldn’t come up with it so, he gave away a book.

He offered me the globe and the aphorism I pulled out was “The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of the martyr.” This was said by Muhammad and James told several stories about Muhammad, and other religious figures, as well as reading other aphorisms of Muhammad’s.

Although I might not get the exact wording, I remember the jist of a couple of the other aphorisms James shared during the hour … here goes.

“A single snowflake feels no more or less responsible for the avalanche”
“A weekend wasted is not a wasted weekend.”
“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.”

Aphorisms are everywhere – bumper stickers (the one I’ve seen a lot lately is “Wag More. Bark Less.”), t-shirts and commercials. Watch for them because they can change the way you think and when you start to change the way you think, you change your life.

To read the aphorisms James has written, go here:

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Last night I went to the library to hear Ben Huh speak. Ben is founder of and He did a nice job at explaining this (apparent) phenomenon of and I didn’t really get it before his talk (I’m not a fan) and at least intellectually got it after his talk. Pictures of cats with misspelled captions still just don’t tickle my funny bone. He gave a short presentation with a slide show and then took questions from the audience. His mission is to make the Internet laugh for five minutes a day. His mission for the evening was to explain his success, humor, history of lolcats, and what a meme is. It was a great hour.

The library does a nice job at these things and even videotapes them for viewing on their website ( at a later time. I feel really lucky to live in a town where the library plans and executes really cool, interesting events like these.

The Girl Who Played with Fire

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was hard to get into and then, when I finally finished, I didn’t like any of the characters. It’s one of those books (and apparently series) that has caught the attention of readers … and I can’t quite understand it. My book discussion group read Dragon and, in March, will be discussing Fire. I just could get into it. Tired of vigilante justice and badly written text (maybe it’s just the translation from Swedish to English) I put in my requisite 100 pages and then gladly returned it to the library. There has to be something better in that huge pile of books next to my bed!