frogg files

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." --Flannery O' Connor

Friday, June 30, 2006

Ouch

I got stung by a bee tonight. Boo.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sting Was Right After All

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In A Fluff Over Fluff

It seems that the state of Massachussetts is in a pandemonious uproar. The battle lines have been drawn, the gauntlet has been thrown, and the gloves have come off. Why?

One horribly misguided man dared to say that peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches might not, in fact, be the best thing to have on a school cafeteria menu.

Several questions leap immediately to my mind. Specifically:

1) What is marshmallow fluff?

2) No, really, what is it?

3) When's lunch?

In answer to the first two questions, the ABCNews.com article (link above) was a little vague. It merely stated,

Fluff has a long history in Massachusetts. The treat was popularized by H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower, who cooked up the concoction in their kitchen at night and sold it door to door during the day.

Intriguing indeed.

Well, I don't like to toot my own horn, but in what I would modestly call a heroic effort to get to the bottom of this whole sticky mess, I personally and of my own free will visited the official Marshmallow Fluff Web site, marshmallowfluff.com. It was there that I chanced upon the crucial discovery that Marshmallow Fluff is, if you can believe it, the "finest marshmallow creme anwhere," and that the site now offers "secure online ordering."

AND, you can even get flavored fluff! (Strawberry and Raspberry... mmmmmmmm.)

But unfortunately, all that helpful information still didn't tell me exactly what fluff IS, which is what I really want to know (I think). I mean, ok, marshmallow creme, I get that, but... what is marshmallow creme? Do they just melt marshmallows all together and scoop the resulting glop into a jar? The information on the homepage left something to be desired, if you are looking, as I was, for actual information. Here's what it says:

Marshmallow Fluff is still produced by the same batch process developed over 75 years ago - it's the only marshmallow creme made in this manner. It's what makes Durkee-Mower's product so fluffy, white, and smooth; it's what makes the difference. Because Marshmallow Fluff is made only with the finest ingredients under the most demanding sanitary conditions, it requires no artificial preservatives. Remember, your guarantee of success with the recipes in The Yummy Book is insured only when using Marshmallow Fluff.

Hmmm. "The Yummy Book"? Undeniably, the plot--like the Fluff--thickens.

But to the point. It would seem that Marshmallow Fluff, being made in a time-tested manner from sanitary marshmallows (whatever that means), has not quite established a viable claim to health and wholesomeness, which is where the whole aforementioned Massachusetts fiasco comes in. Because one Senator foolishly thinks that schools should serve nutritious meals to kids, while a Representative is apparently personally addicted to Fluff and can't bear the thought that a new generation might miss out on the joys that come with the unregulated eating of sticky goo, just because said goo isn't what you'd call beneficial per se to one's physical development and wellbeing.

As I said--battle lines have been drawn.

Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein, D, has set herself against Sen. Jarrett Barrios as he seeks to pass legislation that would prevent schools from serving the sandwich more than once a week. Reinstein is passionate about the right of the Fluffernutter Sandwich (as it is called) to remain in schools where it belongs, as often as it wants (probably so it can get a decent education and grow up to fulfill its dreams of being a healthier, more nutritious meal someday).

Rep. Reinstein not only wants to make the Fluffernutter the OFFICIAL SANDWICH of "the Commonwealth of Massachusetts" (do states even have official sandwiches?), but she emphatically declared herself committed to the war against the war on fluff when she said, "I'm going to fight to the death for Fluff."

That's something you probably don't hear every day. Probably because most people aren't as willing to openly sound like raving lunatics, if they can help it.

I mean, everyone has to have a cause, I guess, but it's kind of too bad that Reinstein's isn't something more politically important or globally pressing such as, oh, I don't know--pretty much anything else, really.

However, at least she's ready to die for it.

I must admit I'm pretty mystified over the emotional reaction to this whole debate. I mean, far be it from me to make fun of the issues people care about so deeply, but sometimes someone just has to stand up for the truth and let people know that what they care about so deeply is ridiculous.

In other words: It's a SANDWICH, people. Get over it. Please.

And then pass me some Fluff, because I mean, really, what IS it?!

(As an essay question of sorts: Is there a sandwich that you would fight to the death for? Why or why not? And if so, what is it?)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bad Dog

I've never been a big fan of hot dogs.

I'm even less of one now.

New Zealand's "All Blacks" Team Bleeds for Cause

What cause, you ask? And well you might. But only if you don't know New Zealanders.

Having lived in the Land of the Long White Cloud for a goodly length of time (i.e., most of 2002-2004), I definitely learned a few things about the kiwi culture and way of life. Probably one of the main ones being that New Zealanders are truly and completely and almost without any exception whatsoever PASSIONATE about sport (as they would say; not "sports").

A fact which goes triple for rugby in particular.

So I was not at all surprised (though I was very amused) to find out that the all-important life-or-death cause of SPORT PROMOTION was being helped by the formidable All Blacks, NZ's national rugby team, all of whom have actually donated their very own precious blood in order to provide much-needed DNA for the purpose of bonding into a printed limited-edition poster. Fans who buy adidas All Black jerseys will receive this novel item while supplies last, thereby taking home with them a little piece of every member of the team.

The poster is called, appropriately enough, "Bonded by Blood."

So for those of you who are always griping about how athletes just don't make enough sacrifices for their loyal fans, I'm happy to say that you are, in fact, wrong. Because if putting your DNA into a special limited-release poster isn't enough, I don't know what is.

Personally, though, I'd prefer it if each team member took non-DNA enhanced posters and simply stapled significant portions of their paychecks to them. That's a sacrifice I could truly, completely, and with absolutely no exception whatsoever, appreciate.

But I'm sure that's just me.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sunday Night Before Bed

Sometimes, you just have to contemplate life, the universe, and everything.

And then again, sometimes you don't. I, for instance, am contemplating nothing much at all at this very moment, and doing it with a fair amount of pleasure. It is, after all, a refreshing change from my usual.

I'd better go to bed before my brain wakes up and sees me sitting here idly, not thinking.

It hates when I do that.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

And so on...

Finally, some pics from Honduras. Enjoy!

As fun as Honduras was, I have to admit I got the worst sunburn of my entire life while I was down there. Now I am peeling like crazy.

Or, as a former boyfriend once said, a-pealing. Ha.

By the way, I had my third "have you found a man yet" conversation yesterday. I'm really on a roll. Three times in one week--that's a record I could do without.

In other news, I'm thinking of going to New York before the end of the year. Which is interesting only because I had very nearly made up my mind NEVER to go. I've always resisted the "writer in New York" cliche, with every ounce of stubborness I possess (and believe me, that's a lot).

But fate, it would seem, has something to say about the matter, and that something sounds like this: "Go to New York!" It's a long story, but thankfully, fate is not insisting that I live there--just that I visit. I can handle that, I think.

At least, I hope so.

Funny that I was less apprehensive of going to the Middle East than I am of going to New York City. Why is that, I wonder?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Single Conversation

So, two days in a row this week, I had the "why are you still single?" discussion.

In my book, that's two times too many, and way too close together.

What's annoying is that there are very few ways of answering the question without a) feeling like a loser, or b) feeling like a loser. Neither option being particularly appealing.

Here's how I wish those types of conversations would go:

Other Person: So, are you seeing anyone?

Me: No.

O.P.: Really? Why not?

Me: I'm legally blind.

O.P.: Haha. No really.

Me: Where are you?

O.P.: Argh. Forget it.

Me: Ok.

But they never go like that.

Too bad, because it would be pretty funny if they did. I'd laugh, anyway.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I'm Back... And As A Bonus, I'm Alive!

At least, I hope that can be qualified as a bonus.

Anyway, as you can imagine, I am more than pleased to report that not only have I made it back alive from Honduras (notwithstanding my boss' apparent doubts on the liklihood of that happening), I am also completely and totally in one piece--in spite of the rather alarming prevalence of public displays of machetes. Honduras really could be the Machete Capital of the world. They are an indispensable accessory in Honduras, the "new black," if you will, of criminal fashion.

Not that I'm saying every man who carries a machete is a criminal, because I'm sure they aren't. They just have a disturbing tendency to look like they might be criminals. Potentially. Someday, when they have nothing better to do.

Which, in Honduras, could be pretty much any day, by all appearances.

My brother helpfully educated me about the social and criminal climate in his currently adopted country during our travels, which included a trip to the Mayan ruins of Copan (where my brother was nearly attacked by a large scarlet macaw carrying a machete), and Jewel Cays, a tiny island off of Utila, which is in turn a small island off the mainland's east coast where pirates used to run around with machetes killing each other as they searched for buried treasure. Treasure they had buried themselves, I think, only they forgot where because of drinking so much rum.

But seriously, Jewel Cays was quite a paradise, and our hotel was right on the pier, so we would get up in the morning, walk outside, and jump right into the 80-degree (F) water.

"Hey, want to learn something?" my brother said one day, as we swam around in the Caribbean blue.

"Sure," I said. Last I checked, learning was supposed to be a good thing. But as it turns out, there are some things you really don't need to learn, and once you have, you'll wish you hadn't.

"This," said my brother, holding up a stick with what looked like a hollow rubber rocket on the end of it, "is what drug smugglers use to smuggle drugs. They put the drugs in and shove it up their butts. Unless they get cavity-searched, no one will ever know! Then they pull it out later, and sell it for $25,000."

How interesting. My life has been so enriched with this new knowledge. And if I had $25,000, you can bet I wouldn't spend it on anything that had been buried in somebody's rear end for who knows how long.

But maybe that's just me.

Aside from lessons in drug trafficking, my brother also introduced me to the incredibly diverse marine life beneath the surface of the ocean, which took a bit of effort on his part, because I am frightened of deep water. Well, it's not so much the water, as what's in it. Like Jaws, for instance. I mean, just as one, slightly terrifying, example.

So snorkeling was a really quite a big step for me.

We swam through glinting forests of needlefish, which sound sharp and pointy, but which are actually perfectly harmless--a fact for which I was very grateful. We also saw an octopus, which was nothing like I had imagined--for one thing, it was not the size of a ship, nor was it busily swallowing one while holding various screaming people in its vastly waving tentacles, which octopi always seem to be doing in fanciful pictures I've seen of them. Instead, this octopus just looked like a largish colorful rock on the ground, with some little arms. I was disappointed, but in a relieved sort of way.

We saw a giant sea turtle, which was pretty cool and rather calming. I began to relax and enjoy exploring this strange new aquatic world. Then, right after we watched the turtle swim away, my brother gestured me to the surface and said something quite funny.

"Let's dive down and look under that big crop of coral, and see if we can spot a serpent," he said. "You know, a sea snake."

"Haha," I said. "Could you say that again please? That was so humorous!"

"I'm serious," he said.

"Bhwrtwtehwetweht," I said, which was the sound of water coming out my nose as I tried not to drown from laughing.

Eventually, he did persuade me to take my fear in both hands and throttle it... or at least, gently put my hands over its big mouth. I dove down, and looked under the coral. No snake. No serpent.

Just a giant, single eye. Staring at me. In what appeared to be a tremendously huge head.

I was at the surface faster than you could say "Moby Dick." And if I were any good at teleportation, I'd have been right back on the pier--but I'm not very good at teleportation.

Yet.

Anyway, turns out the giant eye was attached to a gargantuan fish, not a sea snake, but I didn't care. Anything that big could probably eat me, and I wasn't going to hang around to find out whether or not it would. I mean hey, sharks supposedly don't like eating people, either, but tell that to Roy Sheider.

Oh, and speaking of sharks, we did see one. On the day we left the island. Thankfully, we didn't see it in the water. Some fishermen had caught it, and had hauled it onto a neighboring pier. As our ferry left the dock, we were treated to the sight of the men cutting off the shark's fins with their machetes.

You know, I never thought I would have occasion to use the word "survival" when talking about my vacation experiences. But I guess it's kind of cool that I can.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's My Birthday, And I'll Leave the Country if I Want To!

So my boss just stopped by my cubicle, to shake my hand, and wish me a frighteningly formal farewell for my vacation to Honduras. I honestly think that he thinks I am not making it back alive.

He asked if I could get a bulletproof vest (a "cute" one, he said), and offered to pay. I laughed, and said that was nice of him, but that maybe it should be machete-proof instead.

I don't think he thought that was nearly as funny as I did.

Ah well, the die is cast, and hopefully dying won't, in fact, be on the cards. That would put quite a damper on the spirit of the whole adventure, if you ask me.

So anyway, assuming I live long enough, I'll be turning the big 3-1 in Honduras, on Monday, June 12. While I'm away, amuse yourselves (and humor me) by leaving fun, creative birthday messages, such as (just for example) telling me what you'd get me for a birthday present if money was no object. Bonus points if your message takes poetic form!

Or, if you are so inclined, you could actually get me a present! I like that idea lots, too.

Until I return -- alive, well, tan, and one year older -- be good. And miss me, my darlings.

Kisses from the frogg princess...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

For the Benefit of Others

I thought I would do something rather wildly out of character for once, and talk about someone besides me-me-me on my blog!

Specifically, I wanted to let people know about a project my friend Beautiphil is working on. Partly because he is my friend, and partly because I promised, and then proceeded to prove myself a bad friend by forgetting to follow through.

(Another bad-friend tendency is a predilection for not calling people back, returning e-mails, or listening to my voice mails in a timely manner. Sorry, littlekappa! And becca! And, er, pretty much anyone else who calls or e-mails me. It'll happen to all of you at least once, if it hasn't already.)

Oh drat, here I am talking about myself again! Gah.

Back to the point, please. Well, recently, I've been thinking about how disheartening it is to hear so much about all the awful things going on in the world. Sometimes it seems like nothing is being done, but that's not true. Lots of people are hard at work to make a difference--they just don't get quite the attention that the actual tragedies do. Even in the horrific stories coming out of the Congo lately, there is a ray of hope, because there are people who have dedicated themselves to helping the women and children who so desperately need them in that broken nation.

So I'm happy today to direct some attention to Beautiphil, who is just one of many friends of mine who are involved in projects that will have an impact far beyond themselves personally. In his particular case, he and his brother have taken it upon themselves to do something about the lack of educational opportunities in Mongolia.

Now, if you don't know where Mongolia is, please don't ask me to tell you. That's what globes are for. Also the Internet. Anyway, I am woefully inadequate when it comes to geography, but I do know they have very cute ponies in Mongolia, because another friend of mine recently went there and took pictures of them. But of course, the country also has that aformentioned lack of educational opportunities for children, which is much more important than the cute ponies. And I'm proud of both Beautiphil and his brother for recognizing that fact, and wanting to do something about it.

"Something" took the form of creating, on their own initiative, an organization called edurelief, and you can read all about their project on the site. Basically, you can sponsor a child (tax-deductibly, if writing checks) for $20. Here's an excerpt from the site:

$20 can change a life. Whether you are an individual or a business every part counts. edurelief wants you to know that any donations made to the kids will go to the kids, we are not out to support ourselves with this project. If $20 is donated then $20 will go towards their education.

If you want to know more or have questions, ask them! (They are probably much better at returning calls (or e-mails!) than I am.)

The reason I talk about this here, now? Because I for one am glad to know that it's not all doom and gloom out there in the world! I'm glad to personally know people who see a problem and don't wait for someone else to fix it, but jump in with both feet and get involved. And I hope each one of us will start looking for ways (whether big or small) to change the world for the better. I know that I need a lot of improvement in this area. I'm ashamed to tell you all the ways that I don't help others. I'm appalled when I think of how I deliberately ignore inner promptings that would lead me to reach out a helping hand to someone in need, because it is not convenient, or because it might cost me some money.

But we can all strive to change. And maybe some of us (like me) need to start small! Still, if we would start by taking even baby steps, who knows what strides we might eventually make in this world, against the evils that beset it?

Oh dear, I still ended up talking about myself. Sigh... well, now you see the troublesome, self-centered raw material God gets to work with. I hope he enjoys a challenge.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Lights, Camera... Action Figures!

Apropos of nothing in particular, but as much as the first Jaws movie was actually kind of scary, the next three are... not so much scary as comedic.

And somehow they are all almost always on TV on Saturday afternoons. Why is that?

One of the many mysteries of the universe, no doubt.

But anyway, what I really wanted to talk about today was something else. See, I stumbled upon a real find while browsing the bookstore at the Huntington Library & Gardens in San Marino today. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that your life probably isn't complete until you own these two unique items:

1) The Jane Austen action figure; and

2) The Nancy Pearl Librarian action figure.

Now, I know you might be skeptical. I know you might be thinking, "Just how much action could a Jane Austen figure get herself into?" I don't really want to know the answer, but I will say that the Librarian figure features push-button (and doubtless patented) "shushing" action. And you'd better believe I'm all over that.

I'd personally love to take Nancy Pearl to work with me, and keep her in my cubicle. Then, whenever my neighbor (who is good-natured and funny and I like him, but who certainly would have gotten his mouth washed out with soap alot if he grew up in my family) begins to let loose with the F-bombs, I would just whip out my superhero Librarian, push a button, and SSHHHHHH him to death!

Er, well, not to death exactly. Sorry, got carried away for a second there.

Of course, I guess I could just shush him without the action figure. But you can't tell me it wouldn't be a LOT more fun having a stern, 5" tall Librarian come to my auditory rescue.

And then I could use the Jane Austen action figure to write the story of the brave Librarian action figure for me, here on the blog! Leaving me free to laze the day away on a hammock in the sun. Or, I don't know... maybe even go to Disneyland! The world would be my oyster, thanks to Jane Austen who would do all my writing for me! And yes, I'd steal all the credit.

Oh well, I can dream, can't I? Which beats watching Jaws: The Revenge, for sure.

Sigh.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Meditation on Prayer

Ever since reading the article about the sexual abuse of women in the Congo (see my post "Turning Away"), I have been thinking a lot about prayer.

God does not always call upon us to "fix" things. This is a hard concept for me to accept, or understand, because I very much want to fix things. But I can't, most of the time. Damaged relationships, hurt souls, physical illnesses, and the work of evil in the world--all these are (so frustratingly) beyond my ability to really, deeply, change.

And so I pray.

Sometimes I am dissatisfied with prayer when it comes to apparently impossible situations such as the Congolese nightmare, or the Middle Eastern conflict. After all, too often prayer looks uncommonly like doing nothing at all! Except perhaps talking to oneself--or the ceiling. And what on earth is the good of that?

But now I am starting to think of prayer a little bit like clearing the brush and debris off of a much-damaged, or perhaps entirely hidden, pathway. A pathway to where? I don't know--but I suspect, back to God. Unfortunately, along that path are many dangers, obstacles, and yes, battles. And so prayer is also a way of preparing our souls for the challenges and forces that oppose us, and others, on that road.

Prayer does not and cannot preclude action, or cancel it out, but paves the way to it. Prayer must precede action--whether that action comes through me or others, is for God to decide. But in praying, I make myself available should God call upon me to act. I make myself ready, and willing.

(Some will say, "So is it better to pray, or to act?" The answer, I think, is yes.)

I am learning (very slowly, but learning nonetheless!) that through consistent prayer, lasting change can be effected deep within me, so that God can better work through me for the benefit of others.

And to that I say, "Amen."