Monday, July 30, 2012

Repent, the end is near. Here is the Gospel, may it save your souls

My dear friends, internet brethren, and family,

One of these days soon I am going to be whisked to heaven alive, transformed from corruptible flesh into glorified, eternally pure flesh, to live with Jesus forever in heaven. My pleasure and treasure will be that I dwell with Him who sacrificed Himself for me in the universe's ultimate and most majestic act of love ever. His name is Jesus. Everyone who ever lived for Jesus through repentance and claiming His Lordly blood as the covering for their sins will be there too.

I'm looking forward to talking with Deborah, Rahab, Jael, Huldah, David, Abraham, the Ethiopian Eunuch who won't be a eunuch any more so we can't call him that (Sir, what is your name? Nice to meet you!). Philip, Stephen, Paul, Jeremiah...all the ones known and unknown to me will be there. (1 Corinthians 13:12).

I shall see His truths plainly and with no distortion of flesh or depraved mind. I will get to meet you my readers and friends, who I only know through a keyboard. I'll speak to pastors who have gone on already Charles Spurgeon, John Owen, John Huss, Martin Luther, Tyndale, Whitefield... I can say thank you to the pastors I listen to today, Pastor John MacArthur, Steve Hadley, Paul Washer, Steve Lawson, Phil Johnson, JD Farag, Don Green.

I will be able to rest.

I will have eternal relief from sinning against Jesus.

This event which all born again believers are looking forward to is the rapture. It could happen at any moment. It has always been imminent, so how much more imminent is it today than 2000 years ago? I truly believe with all my heart that we are on the cusp of it happening any day. Any day. I really believe that.

So dear friend, one day, this blog will become stale. You will hear no more from me. My facebook page will have that last update..and that will be it. I could be taken from the shower, with the water permanently running. It could happen when I am cooking, and the burned food starts a fire in my apartment. It could be at midnight, and the bed clothes will be in the last position I had slept in. It could happen at school, with the unsaved and deluded who thought they were saved running up and down the hallways looking for all the children and many of the staff.

When it happens, and you come to this blog and it has not been updated, you will know I was part of that group of people across the world who disappeared. You can learn more hereabout what happened and read some letters written with you, the left behind, in mind.

Do not be fooled by the government's excuses for where we all went. We were not the troublemakers taken away so the rest of humanity could improve. We were not removed by aliens into their spaceships. A radon electro wave did not overpower us. Do not believe the lie! It will be God who will take us thereby proving once again that everything in the bible is true. Any explanation besides that will be a lie.

You will know that I am in heaven with a multitude of other believers rejoicing along with the holy angels of Jesus and praising His perfect love for humanity. We will be singing accolades of worship for our Holy God who created us. We will be praising the Holy Spirit who enabled the power of salvation. Do not worry for me nor wonder. I will be more than all right for all eternity.

But you won't be. And that is my worry and fear. I claimed the blood of Jesus through repentance to obtain the prize. You will be shedding your own blood when a horrific series of judgments rains down upon your sinful self.

You can be in heaven with Jesus! I hope you are! You must recognize that your sins are a rejection of a Holy God who created you. Your sins prevent you from being with Him and has earned you His eternal wrath. Hell is not just a place separate from God, it is the place where He rains down His eternal anger on you because of your sins. But if you are sorry, and ask Jesus to forgive you, recognizing He laid down His life to take God's eternal wrath and that His resurrection satisfied God as the sacrifice for your sins, you can be in the group that is bodily lifted into heaven.

Paul wrote in the bible: "Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve..." (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

I have just shared the Gospel with you. It is of first importance. It is Good News! You do not have to stay on earth during the wrathful judgments to come and you do not have to spend eternity in hell in agony of the fiery flames! Isn't that good news?! You can be with Jesus and with us, His Bride.

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (1 Mark 15)

Learn how to be saved:

Jesus Saves

What is the plan of salvation?

How to become a Christian

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My cat grooms me to death

My summer vacation has only about a week and a half left. I know someone out there reading this who gets one or two weeks per year for vacation doesn't know what I'm bellyaching about. But remember, my salary reflects a 9-month schedule. If you want to live for a year on a 9-month salary you are welcome to try.

If we get the time off we don't get the high powered salary. If we get the high-powered salary, it means we have no time. No time for family, hobbies, study, church, recreation, volunteering, or whatever because the demands of a high-paying job sacrifices personal time.

At this stage of my life, I'll take the time. So I mourn the coming close of summer vacation, but within a week of starting school I'll be back in the swing of the routine and joyfully helping the kids I serve. Of course, that won't stop me from looking up on the school calendar when is the first three-day weekend...

My cat Bert has taken to grooming me at night. I discovered on the internet that cats often knead their owners as a sign of affection and an indicator of their level of relaxation in your presence. Cats who lick their owners are rare ones who are very affectionate toward them. Their grooming me means he has a high level of trust and I'm seen as a solid part of the pack. Strangely, most cats who groom their owners usually do this only at night. My cat holds to the pattern. But it hurts, kinda, because their tongues are like sandpaper. Plus, it's just icky! Have you SEEN where they groom themselves?? But the cat websites say that we should remember that it is a high sign of affection, so I don't boot him off the bed when he does it. I let him give me a kiss or two, I pet him back for a stroke or two, and then I put a pillow on my face until he goes away. He leaves, thankfully before I suffocate, but then he's back in an hour. It used to be once per night but now it is almost every hour or two. This isn't a problem during summer when I can sleep late, but as of August 6 I have to get up at 6 sharp. I'll have to figure out what to do about the grooming cat.

I've often commented that I enjoy the wildlife around here. Although I'm only a mile from town, my town has a population of 300 I think. It's rural here. I can hear the cows and roosters and dogs and cats and howls of coyotes and owl hoots and horses...I've even seen possums and armadillos and buffalo and emus. But last night something was on my doorstoop late. I had a throw rug in my hand to shake out, and as I opened the front door I saw something gray on the gravel next to the step. I had the rug in front of me which obscured my vision, but something was there for a good couple of seconds. It didn't leave. Startled, I kicked the wrought iron post rail and said SCAT! It turned and scuttled away. I still didn't see it clearly but what I did see had a long, skinny, hairless tail. I think that it was a hairless Sphynx. Yeah, that's it. Anyway it was weird lookin'.

I have to say, I've REALLY enjoyed not being around people this summer. Cats are much better. Even the weird ones stalking my stoop.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

FIgeater beetles and wasps and bees, oh my!

Figs are coming in. The tree grows quickly and its fruit production is prodigious. If I don't get out there each day and strip the tree, there will wind up being more fruit than I know what do do with. It is a nice problem to have, after the last couple of years' dearth of edible fruit.

But I don't get out there every day and as a result, the over-ripened fruit gets mushy and then drops to the ground. When it's high noon and hot I don't dare go out there and pick, having to run a gauntlet of wasps, bees and flies feasting on the dropped fruits on the ground.

Today it rained hard for a short while. As the clouds dissipated and the last drips were dropping from the awnings I decided to go out there before the sun came on full hot. I brought my bag and happily sauntered across a freshly rained-upon yard. I got to the fig tree and stopped short. Covering almost every ripe fruit was a cluster of neon green beetles, and buzzing around the ripe fruits on the tree were huge wasps and bees. I had to look carefully at every angle of the fig before I picked it to make sure I wouldn't get stung from some insect that beat me to it first. As I looked around at the scene I also noticed fig-mush. The hard rain must have punctured the softer fruits and dropped what I crassly term "fig poop" over the lower leaves.

As I looked even closer I just got grossed out. The beetles were having an orgy of eating, sometimes clustered up on one another. Ewwww. What is going onnn?

Of course I took a bunch of photos. and I picked my fill of non-bug infested figs, and scurried back into the house. Once again it is proved to me that IN is better than OUT. LOL. I am a techno-geek and not a nature girl that is for sure.

I looked it up. I googled 'fig,' 'beetle' and 'eating'. The Google result was "figeater beetle." I love Google!!

Here is what I learned. It is not a figeater. The American West has the Figeater and the American East has the Green June Beetle, and apparently they are a dickens to tell apart. I believe that since the range of the Green June Beetle is Maine to Georgia that that is what I have on my hands.

Here is info on the (West) figeater from The Firefly Forest blog:

"With their beautiful metallic green coloration, large size (more than 1 inch or 2.5 cm long), and loud, buzzing, bumblebee-like flight, Figeater Beetles (Cotinis mutabilis, formerly C. texana) are some of the most conspicuous beetles found here in the Sonoran Desert. Adult Figeater Beetles emerge in the summertime, and they are especially common during the wetter, more humid summer monsoon season in July and August."

Oklahoma State Etymology Department says of the Green June Beetle:
"Adult beetles damage fruit by feeding on ripening fruits. Beetles gain entry into undamaged fruits by gouging with the horn on the front of the head, then feed on the flesh of the fruit. Several beetles may bury themselves entirely in a ripe peach. Their odor and excrement ruins most pieces of fruit they visit even if feeding damage is not severe. "

Makes me want to run out and collect a bunch more! Not.

Now the fun part, the photos!! Click on them for larger view. I named the .jpg Figeater before I learned that it is a Green June Beetle. I'm too lazy to re-save them all under a new name. You were warned.

Mr Busy Bee:

 Green June Beetle having a feast. His mouth is full!
 It's a party!

As I watched this guy he used his front leg to move the entire pile of fig mush closer to his mouth. Glutton!

There were flies, Green June Beetles, flies, and I think larva on their underbelly. Ew.

Hey, guys, leave some for me!

Phew, flowers. Now that's pretty.

A rose from the bush. There are always one or two blooming. Ahhh, so nice.

Lesson #1: Always look before you pluck the fruit
Lesson #2: Always take your camera out with you. I had to go back in and get mine. Fortunately the bugs were too soporific with gluttony to have flown off. If it was a bird, I would have missed it.

Who will win Food Network Star?

It's raining today and there are distant rumbles of thunder. We are in a drought (still) so I'm glad for the rain. And also the cooler temps. I wish it would rain in the Midwest. I can't imagine the agony those corn and soybean farmers are going through.

This Sunday Food Network will reveal the winner of the reality contest "The Next Food Network Star." This is a multi-month series where a pool of contestants vie for the position of having their own television show on Food Network. I like the search for the star. I never watch the star's show. I don't care about cooking shows, frankly. It's just easier to read a recipe and get on with it.

This year was a bit different. I've enjoyed the new set up where three established stars (Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, Giada Di Laurentiis) each pick 5 contestants from among the applicants, mentor them and if one of their people are chosen, will produce their show.

I enjoy seeing how different people mentor a newbie. I like to see how the teams bond. And interestingly, this year there were actually a couple of people I have enjoyed watching. They stand out, unlike in previous seasons where all 15 just blend into each other until the end and then I go "OK, then, that guy whose name I don't remember won" and turn the channel. Like, there was Jeff or Joe with the sandwiches (who was a loud guy) and Aarti who I don't even think has a show anymore and beyond that who can remember?

A side note, Food Network, we all don't need LOUD (Jeff, Guy, Rachael). Sometimes we like to be talked to like normal people. Calmly (Ippy).

One contestant who made it to the finals is Michelle. I would not watch her because of the nose ring, sloppy dressing, and the plethora of color tattoos up and down her arm. Sorry, those things offend me. But more to the food point I would not watch her because her show is all about New England. I am a native New Englander and I'd love to learn how to make better clam fritters or a good chowder. But I live in north Georgia now, 400 miles from the sea. Fresh seafood is not available to me and so her show would be a bust because I'd only wind up longing for what I can't have.

The pilot episodes each of the finalists shows were good, but two stood out for me. Yvan hasn't been a favorite of mine until that moment when he said "can of cream corn from church." His premise is that he will cook inexpensive family style recipes. He explained that they grew up poor. His mom often received a box of food from the church, and then had to make something out of it. I have been in that exact boat. I never know what to do with cream corn to make it taste good. His Mac N Cheese with milk and cream corn sounded absolutely delicious. His show would be very practical for me.

On the opposite end of the scale, Justin's show would be completely impractical. He makes fried fish bones and foi gras donuts and weird things I will never in my lifetime cook. So why watch? He is a witty genius, and it is really interesting to see what he does with food. Remember that checkerboard stroganoff damier tartare? I definitely do. I enjoyed the presentation in his pilot of the cold aspic on grilled romaine as an updated version of Caesar Salad. I never knew it was so easy to make aspic. And the reason I'd watch him is because he is unexpected and he is funny. I never know what he is going to do! To me, that is entertaining, notwithstanding the food. I'm a geek at heart and I fall for a quirky genius every time. Every. Time. Hello, Mr Alton Brown.

This Sunday is the big reveal on who gets the show Sunday. I'm curious to see "who you voted for, America," another change to the show's format. People got to vote for the show they wanted. Like our vote counts and it isn't even rigged, or something. Given my attention span to tv and celebrities, I anticipate being entranced by The Closer by Monday and that will be that for Food Network Star.

When Food Network Star is over I still have a few weeks of Mastherchef and Hell's Kitchen and The Closer. After that there is a frightening gap until Person of Interest and Big Bang Theory come back. I'll have to do some crafting and gasp, read a book.

Who do you think will win? Who do you think should have won but was eliminated? O the injustices of fake reality on fake television! But oh, so fun to watch.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Reminiscing about Lubec Maine and Ridge Baptist Church

By this time of summer my routine has calmed me and the cats. I do the exact same thing at the exact same time every day and every week. I like it that way. But because my social sphere is small-to-zero, and because I never add any new experiences to the pantheon of experiences that make me me, I have little to report.

The bible always brings something new, and I comment at The End Time every day. Or twice. Or quadruple times. But here at The Quiet Life, all is, well, quiet.

I bought a John MacArthur study bible and I'm looking forward to start using that. At the same time I bought a neat little book about Lubec Maine. Lubec is the most eastern town in the US and it is my favorite little secret place where I used to vacation in the summer.

It was about 3 and a half hours' drive from where I lived in Gray Maine. The drive was beautiful as the further north and east you go in Maine the fewer vehicles you wrangle with. There is the occasional exception of the old logging truck here and there, but overall, the population density is so low that beyond Bangor, I hardly saw a car at all for an hour on end.

Lubec is at the end of a long peninsula and finishes at the Bay of Fundy. Next stop, Canada. The little town sits atop a high bluff where the 22-foot tides swoosh in and out, where the seals bask and the eagles perch. Where the fog bank rolls in and out in time with the fog horns that toot after it. The town has a little but well-stocked and clean library, a coffee shop, not much else and so much beauty it hurts your eyes.

The place I rented for a ridiculously low price, which also allowed cats, was Globe View Cottage. It was on a small dead end road overlooking Johnson Bay. The views were so dynamic because they changed every hour. The high tides swelling in and out changed the landscape, the fog rolling in and out did the same, and the animals that chased the tides were a joy to look at. There was a small fishing fleet and lobstering fleet that steamed in and out twice a day. It was glorious.

The view from that bay window looks out at this:
A one minute walk brings you to the harbor edge where polished sea glass from centuries of salmon fishermen having thrown old bottles overboard will wash up. They glitter like sapphires and emeralds and diamonds in the soft wet sand.

I traveled down a long and winding road for two miles to get to the cottage. At the end of the road intersecting the main drag there is a gas station and eat-in convenience store, and a small New England white clapboard Baptist church.

One year, in 2004 I think, I decided to attend Sunday Services at the church. In Lubec there is a large Congregational church, a Catholic church, Methodist church and something called Christian Temple. The town was settled, after all, 250 years ago by sea captains and mariners who were Godly and knew well the suddenness of life's end.

I had been saved a few months before but was not yet attending church. I thought that the Baptist church would be good to attend, for some reason, I say now, as the Spirit laughs. Anyway, that was the one He drew me to. It also happened to be across from the street where I come out of Globe View so I couldn't miss it or ignore it.

It is called Ridge Baptist Church and I was plenty nervous when I went in. It is a very small country church, at that time having maybe 30 congregants who were attending that particular day. There were also a lot of kids running up and down the handicapped ramp and being educated in other parts of the building.

I don't know if they get a lot of visitors there, but I was welcomed warmly and the service was absolutely sweet. I had very good feelings about the place and I've never forgotten it.

Now that the economic downturn has occurred and seems to be deepening, and now that I have been a church goer regularly for 6 years, I know well the vagaries of the dropping offering plate and the difficulties of keeping a church family together. I searched recently on Google for "Ridge Baptist Church" and I found two things. One was a lovely photo:

Photo by Tom Genovese, a free Commons photo
The other was a comment by one of the church members on a prayer board in 2011. She said that they were without a pastor at that time, and were in need of revival.

I have often wondered about little town like Lubec, out of the way places that have no industry and no opportunity for industry. The fish smoking and sardine canning industries had collapsed long ago, and now they rely on service industries such as tourism and hotels/B&B. And we all know how those are doing with the majority of Americans opting for staycations these days. Times are hard, no doubt about it.

As for that little church, you never know when a weary and lost traveler like myself may stumble in, and are greeted with the warmth of Jesus and the friendliness of the Holy Spirit. I carry that seed the people there offered me to this very day. We are all persevering in the faith, and we are united by our common love of the Savior. Though this church or that church may seem to have needs that exceed earthly solutions, we're all bound in the body of Christ, and I want to thank the people of Ridge Baptist and the small town of Lubec Maine for their hospitality and rest that has been offered to me so generously through the years.

I can't go back to visit, times being what they are, but I'm glad I found the little book by Ronald Pesha,
"Remembering Lubec (ME): Stories from the Easternmost Point (Amercian Chronicles)." I will re-visit by reading.

And I can look at the photo of a small country church in the snow, and remember the warmth of the people there by faith, and pray for the day when we are all in each other's presence by sight.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Where is she?

During the summer I stay home every day. The most I go out is an hour to buy groceries. Today for the first time since May 22 I went out for a period of time. I attended a pool party all afternoon. My cats were so shocked when I got back! They crowded around me and huddled and kissed and wound around my legs and wouldn't let me go. Awww, they do love me. Hey, wait a minute..where did they go? Here kitty kitty...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Today is cooler

Whenever I slip on my scrubby sandals to go outside and bring the trash or hang the laundry, I walk across the grass. I don't know what is out there the cat likes so much, but when I come in, he goes bonkers. As I slip the sandals off and go to fold the laundry, I always look back to see him writing over the sandals like they had just been dipped in catnip.

The neat thing is that Luke will do his ecstatic rolling around, and Bert will wait nearby. Then Bert will take a turn on the sandal, smelling it and rolling all over it. Maybe there is some catnip out there, or catnip-like plants they like so much.

It has been cloudy all day and last night we got some rain. Right now it is only 80 degrees, the coolest it has been in some time. What a relief. I haven't even turned on the air conditioner today, another relief. That thing is loud.

I have a poll training coming up. I am working the polls at the end of July so I go through the training every time. I work at a station that the roosters and cows are more familiar with than the voters, lol. It is surely a little, out of the way station, but it is just my speed, this being only the second time I've worked. If there was a crush and a bunch of questions I am sure I would be clueless. I'm also glad that there will be several veteran workers with me. All in all it is a pretty quiet day and a way to make some money in the summer. I'm not a huge fan of training sessions but I know I need it and I want to do the best job I can on behalf of the people who come to vote. This is a photo of the place at dawn, just before we opened the polls:

See? I told you it was pretty. And rural.

I was looking for the wallpaper design I'd had in my childhood bedroom online the other night. It was of daisies and sunflowers, yellow and orange. It probably would seem garish now but I had loved it then. In my search I'd found this lady on Pinterest who had a gorgeous array of vintage 1960s wallpapers and the design was really beautiful. Sure, some of the psychedelic design back then was garish, but I found this array to be refined and interesting.

Here are just a few of her pins:

Here is a shot of me on Christmas when I was 1-year old. I like the design of the wrapping papers.

Everything old is new again, and these look retro modern.

Have a good day everyone, and take a moment to enjoy the view or admire some design. Or, just take a nap. ZZZ...zzz...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Corner View: tables

Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. If you'd like to join in, please leave a link to your Corner View post in the comments at the Corner View link, and be sure to visit other participants you'll find there too. Today's theme is "table". What memories do you have of tables? Do they figure in your life?

They do in mine. I remember that my parents hashed out their divorce around a card table they set up in the living room.

I remember a great oak dining table my mother gave me, along with 8 ladderback Hitchcock chairs very much like this one. The problem is she always asked for the furniture back. "I might want that back someday" she would say. Whatever she gave, she said at some point, "Do you still have that oak dining table with the 8 ladderback Hitchcock chairs? Give it back to me". I put my foot down at giving back the coffee table. I still have it.

My Italian grandmother used to have a large table in her dining room we'd all sit around on Sundays for dinner. Actually she used to have two: a table in the dining room in their city house and another one in their summer house. The city house's table was heavy and dark, with a huge pedestal and a white linen table cloth that draped down. I used to sit under it and hide. It was my fort. The summer house had a light wood table that was also huge. Relatives used to pile in for Sunday Dinner in an endless stream, and the table was big enough to hold them all. After the kids had eaten and took off for playtime outside, and the men had all repaired to the deck for cigars, the women stayed around the table. The coffee pot was brought out from its warmed stove top burner and put on the table on a mat. The women would smoke and talk and drink coffee all afternoon around one end of the table.

Tables for me are families living, families broken and families dying. So I decided to make my own sentiments and memories about my table.

My favorite table is the formica topped 1950s tables. I think they are cool. Everything old is new again, they say. I used to enjoy the one on the American television sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, in Raymond's parents' kitchen

I favor utilitarian things, that are streamlined and functional but also pretty. So I guess that means mid-century modern, if I am to learn anything from the design shows I watch. The kind of table in the show scene above is called Diner Table, because they were used ubiquitously in the American 1950s diners. In the space age we had a fascination with chrome and sleekness that bespoke modern advancement. Even it if was only to hold up a milk shake.

They are very expensive! I could not hope to have one. They cost between $200 and $500 depending on whether the chairs come with them or the leaves are intact. But one day at a yard sale, thank goodness for yard sales! I found one! It had its leaf intact! (though no chairs). It was only, get this, $20!! I bought it immediately even though I didn't have a kitchen in the apartment I was living in at the time, lol. I stored it in my landlord's garage.

After a while I moved and I took the chrome diner-style table with me. It is now the world headquarters for Elizabeth Prata Enterprises, that is, everything I want to do! I eat here, I write here, I relax here.

I have my books and reference materials nearby. On those shelves are my pen holders, stapler, notepad, notebooks,  scanner, printer, lamp, and tissues. The ever present tissues for the person with allergies and constant bronchitis, lol! And in the summer, the fan keeps me and the laptop cool. Next to the laptop on the gray Formica, is a cool glass of chilled green tea. In the morning, it's coffee.

Tables are where families live, and sometimes, where they die. Where people do homework, where memorable meals are taken. We laugh around our tables, cry, pray, eat, and teach our children. Is your table comfortable? Can everyone sit around it? Do you even have a dining table? I lived in two apartments that either had no kitchen or had a kitchen so small there was no room for a table. I find that an apartment without a place with a large, flat surface to spread out is not as comfortable as one that has a nice, big table. I'm glad I have one and I'm glad it's functional and pretty. How about you?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Food Network Star: Do this, don't do that, can't you read the signs?

Summer is kick-back time. Because I'm home during the summer, on the one hand, I have lots of time to study the things that interest me, but on the other, I can watch silly reality tv and not worry that I'm wasting too much time.

My current guilty pleasures are Design Star on HGTV, Food Network Star on Food Network, and Hell's Kitchen and Masterchef on Fox. I noticed something interesting on Food Network Star program. In that show, contestants jump through a series of cuisine-related tests which they either pass or fail. One contestant left at the end will be given their own show and become absorbed into Food Network as one of The Network's a celebrity chefs.

I capitalized The Network because that is what Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson are called. Mr Tuschman is General Manager/Senior Vice President for Food Network. Ms Fogelson is Food Network and Cooking Channel Senior Vice President Marketing & Brand Strategy. They are the two top executives who sample the food, give feedback to the contestants, and eventually make the ultimate decision: which contestant stays and which one goes.

They make these decisions based not only on the quality of the food they cook, but the contestant's ability to be a star on camera, an entirely different set of skills that apparently few people possess. They are looking for people who have the special something to capture and hold an audience, carving out a niche in the crowded world of cooking and reality tv in general. The ultimate goal of course, is for The Network to invest in someone who will make them money. Paula Deen and Guy Fieri come to mind. The Network also wants someone with a 'culinary point of view", that when you say their name you immediately identify with the style of things they cook. Southern? Oh that's Paula Deen. Grilling? Bobby Flay. Giada? Italian. Jeff? He's the sandwich king.

However at the end of each testing session when the contestants receive feedback, The Network bosses' feedback is often conflicting, unclear, and contradictory.

If you haven't been following this season's show then this won't be as compelling to you, but here I go:

Justin Warner is a contestant whose Culinary POV is "Rebel with a Culinary Cause." He looks the part, a young James Dean crossed with early Elvis and the attitude to match. He is brilliant with his food and with his tongue, witty but with an overlay of barely restrained snark. He's a rebel after all. The Network has been praising his unique POV for many weeks of the show now.

Well, on the latest episode, he was doing a live demonstration, and they planted a heckler to see how he would respond. He did good for the first three heckles from the same guy but by the fourth he made a slightly snarky remark out if frustration. (It was the 4th heckle after all from the same guy after all...) Afterward, they told him to watch the snark. But after all, he is a rebel with a culinary cause. I guess you can say you're a rebel but don't you dare act like it...

Ippy is a laid back young guy from Hawaii. Hawaiians have a POV of whatever man, manana, everything is OK, hang ten. Every week they tell him to not be so laid back. Show us some energy! That in itself is a contradiction, he repeatedly states that he is laid back and that IS his personality as well as his POV. So this week, he showed a flash of emotion, fiery suppressed irritation, and they told him not to be so fiery. Don't be laid back, but that was TOO much energy. Oy.

Nikki is a contestant I don't enjoy. Her POV is grilling, which I don't do because I don't eat meat and I rarely grill, and she herself seems mechanical when she doesn't come across as downright evil. Children cry and run away from her. I am not making that up. Even The Network remarked on how fierce she comes across on camera. Pull it back, don't be so fierce, be nicer, they say. So she is nicer the next week and they say, what's with this flower on the plate, and why are you being so nice? That's not you, Nikki, more than most contestants got more contradictory messages than anyone and finally she said 'I quit listening". She was just going to do her thing, because she just couldn't please The Network. Ironically, that week, they liked her best of all.

When your boss gives you conflicting directions on what is expected it is disorienting. You want to please your boss and when you go forward based on the directions you're given but the rug is pulled out from under you it gets old fast. One of the things I've least enjoyed about this season's Food Network Star is that one aspect alone. I have enjoyed the team approach with the contestants divided into groups with one mentor. I can keep track of the contestants easier and I am also getting to know the mentors. They are Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay, each a long-time star on the network themselves). I like the wholesome quality of the show in that there is no bitterness (aired) between contestants (unlike Hell's Kitchen which is so bad I had to turn it off). I like the food tests and I learn more about different dishes. But The Network, Bob and Susie, give conflicting advice every week. It is becoming insufferable.

If you have a boss who communicates clear expectations and is consistent with his or her follow through (as I do) then you know that it is a blessing. It is good in two ways, it reduces the general stress, and it makes it easier to do a good job.

Ultimately that is why I watch reality tv. I'll never cook any of the things I see on the show and I will never watch any of the show winner's programs. But I like to see how people act. Watching real folks on tv react to a situation where I'm am not personally invested, it's not happening to me or around me, and so I can watch more objectively. I can see clearly how humility shows through (Christine Ha on Masterchef). How unattractive abrasiveness is (Monti Carlo on MasterChef). How ugly profanity is (everyone on Hell's Kitchen). How beautiful self-sacrifice can be (Felix giving blind Christine the salmon, "Because I love her".) And how ultimately self-defeating and inefficient bosses are who give constantly conflicting expectations. I with Bob and Susie would go on a show ... I'd vote them off.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Photoshop and summer school

How boring, another cat photo.

Look I jazzed it up some. Isn't this blog exciting now.

And I know how to use Photoshop! I made it spooky now.

Actually I wish I knew more about photoshop and photography in general. (My own fault, I fail to study). I was reading through the tutorials on how to make your digital pics look like Lomo pics. I tried several times but I wasn't familiar enough with the photoshop software and language to complete the tutorial. Again, I have a mild desire to know how to do photography better, but not enough drive to close the deal.

I have always been that way. Unless a thing interests me completely, I just won't go there. Algebra? Fuhgeddaboutit. Even summer school combined with parental threats could not motivate me to raise my grade above a D.

Rabbit trail: when I was in in middle school I remember when I showed up the first day to summer class in Algebra. There were some of the tough kids there, sitting on desks, rolling cigs, sharpening their knives or whatever they do. All conversation stopped and they looked at me, shocked. One girl burst out, "But I thought you were a Brain!! (She used to beat me up a lot). It was the first time I realized that there were classifications and cliques in school. I was OK with being a Brain. I already knew I wasn't popular. And definitely knew I wasn't a jock. (Ever get picked last? Nothing cements the knowledge like that does).

Chemistry? Happy with a C-. Happy. Now... King Arthur? Absorbed me for years, with side trips to armor and weaponry and also heraldry. Mollusks were interesting for a long time and I'll never forget the wonder of learning every intricate detail of form versus function of the shell. Languages like Latin or Italian, loved them. The bible, it is an infinite study subject. But photography...I just won't put myself out. I have hit the ceiling, not the anger ceiling, the glass ceiling.

Fortunately I don't get frustrated. That is the good side of having a lack of motivation for a particular subject even though I'm mildly interested in it. After all, I can crop, and I can click a button to inverse the photo colors and make it look spooky. It is enough. I'm happy with the grade of C. And a spooky cat picture.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Fruit basket turnover

I'm sitting here in front of the fan over here, with the AC on over there, iTunes playing 4 Non Blondes Revolution. I'm lip synching "I'm feeling...a little peculiar...I scream at top of my lungs, what's going ONNNN!"

Who hasn't felt like that in their life? Shout it, sister! What's going onnn, indeed.

It is still hot out but not as hot as other places in the US and not as stormy, so that is a blessing.

I was sitting here writing the blog entry for today, and Luke came up and laid down. He doesn't usually stay up on the table long, wanting some petting and then running off to explore the lint in the trash can or a dead bug in the window screen or something. But he sat down and laid there a while. I don't think he feels all that great. Maybe the heat, maybe a small eye infection he seems to get now and then. Anyway, he is laying there and Bert whomps up onto the tabletop and starts to groom him. They do that to each other and it is not a problem.

I missed the shot by half a second...Bert looked away at the last moment.

I got a basket of blackberries. I am not exaggerating when I say that they are as big as my thumb. Or bigger. Also some tomatoes, which I chopped and put atop a small pizza crust with some Parmesan-Romano shaker cheese and baked it for lunch. Then I had the blackberries.

I was visiting a person and doing a bit of business. I noticed she had moved into a new office. Several people were in different offices. I complimented her on that move and she said, "Thank you, fruit basket turnover, you know..." And then got on with our conversation. LOL, I came home and looked it up. Fruit Basket Turnover is a children's game similar to the one I grew up with called Musical Chairs. LOL. I love dialect.

So I do enjoy every moment of summer. I do the same thing at the same time in the same way every day. Ahhh, that is so comforting. Just call me Sheldon Cooper.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Corner View: hot

Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. If you'd like to join in, please leave a link to your Corner View post in the comments at the Corner View link, and be sure to visit other participants you'll find there too. Today's theme is "hot". What is hot to you, in your corner of the world?

I've posted this week three times already about the monstrously hot temperatures we are having due to this terrible heat wave. (here, here, here). It was 108 actual degrees a few days ago and heat indexes (real feel) ranged between 111 and 114. So here is another take on "hot". This is "hot" throughout my day.

First thing in my day has to be a cup of hot coffee. This is a non-negotiable.

I am an educator and I have the summer months off (usually around May 22-Aug 1). I am a hobbyist writer, reader, and a researcher so naturally with all this time to myself I sit at the computer a lot and well, read, write, and research. My laptop model is known for getting too hot and known for its interior fan not being able to keep up. So I have this table fan blowing on the hot computer and also on me!

At some point in the morning it gets too hot inside the apartment and I have to turn on the air conditioner. It is tiny but mighty but sometimes the hot air just gets the best of it. I learned that if your AC is keeping your interior temps 20 degrees cooler than your exterior, you're doing well. With recent temps of 108, that means 88 degrees. So, by afternoon, it's HOT.

Lunch time! When it is hot out of course I don't want to cook. I usually have a sandwich or hummus and crackers for lunch, or tomato-cucumber salad. Something cool. But sometimes I would like a little something hot, so I make nachos. They only take 2 minutes under the broiler. I like to use canned chopped tomatoes with habanero peppers instead of salsa because it's lighter. But the tomatoes are hot! LOL, so if I don't get my heat in the temperature of the lunch I get it in the spice!

So by 3 in the afternoon it is just so HOT! Here is a weather science expert to explain the hottest point of the day: "In general, during a 24 hour day, the temperature is at its highest point about 3 hours past local "high noon", since there is always a lag effect. Of course, if it is daylight savings time, then high noon is closer to 1 pm and not noon. That means that in the spring, summer, and early fall, the high temperature is around 4 pm. In the late fall and winter, when the days are shorter, and we are in standard time, the high temperature is reached by 3 pm, and sometimes as early as 2 or 2:30 pm." So I do what the Europeans do and take a siesta. For me, that means a nap, by the open window if possible, or with it closed and the AC on if the temperatures are so hot.

Sometimes it is just so hot that I wake up HOTTER than when I laid down! I always wonder how this can is one of those mysteries I guess.

If the temperatures are normal, like when we are not in a heat wave, I look forward to the evening when I can shut off the fans and the AC and peace and quiet reigns once again. The coolish breeze wafts in and all is well. My two cats- who like to sit in front of the air conditioner during the day- enjoy the night breeze too. They know how to keep cool!

Here is another picture of the cats because they are just so cute!

So that is a tour through my hot day. Be sure to visit other Corner View entries, and see you next week in your corner of the world!