Friday, April 30, 2010

The Economics of Beanie Babies

I was listening to the radio this morning and the topic of discussion was the Broadway play “Enron” based, of course, on the fall of Enron the energy company. There were discussing economic boom and bust cycles referred to as “bubbles” which took my mind back to my own family boom and bust experience.

Years ago, one of my family members (“Lana”) started investing her money into beanie babies, which were shit hot at the time. She bought a magazine dedicated to Beanie Babies and used that to guide her in her investment purchases. She estimated she probably spent a couple of thousand dollars went it was all said and done.

Then, something happened…I seem to recall it being medical in nature…Lana and her boyfriend needed cash fast. They finally decided to liquidate to their Beanie Baby collection. They were shocked when their collection didn’t yield the return they were expected. After all the time, money and energy they sold all of their collection for a couple of hundred dollars.

Lana and I ended up having a conversation about it. I explained to her that the magazine she was using had a vested interest in hyping the Beanie Baby craze so that people would continue to purchase both the stuffed animals and the magazine. All the hype fed on itself, right up until the bubble burst and a lot of people like Lana are left holding a bunch of mostly worthless junk.

Whether you are talking about the stock market, the .com industry or the house-flipping crazy, I have seen many bubbles blow up and burst and I always go back to Lana’s Beanie Babies. Lana kept of a few of her favorites and she can take comfort in knowing those stuffed animals are still worth more than Enron stock.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Inner Artist

I was watching a youth football game yesterday with the mother of my step-children when a little boy ran by in a homemade mask, to which she commented “don’t you wish we were still that creative?” I responded with “what are talking about…I am still creative.”

I went on to explain that because I am doing web design and graphic arts stuff, both at work and for my personal websites, I get to be creative all the time. So this got me thinking…how many adults are like her, feeling they have no creative outlet in their life.

We force our children to take art in school, usually through high school, because we know that exposure to art in its many forms is critical to developing a well-rounded person, yet how many adults completely abandon any sort of creative activities when they get older.

While I still draw like a drunken second grader, I can use digital tools to create my masterpieces. Instead of displaying my macaroni collages on the front of the refrigerator, I display mine on the internet, for the whole world to see.

Does this make me a happier person…yes, most definitely. I think everyone needs to have a way to express themselves, either by creating art or even just appreciating it. Last year I took a friend to an art museum who had never been to one. She loved it. She had a fabulous experience and she left feeling great.

The medical experts have recommendations for how much exercise we should get a week and how many fruits and vegetables we should consume per day so how about a recommendation on how much finger-painting time we should get in per month?

Can't you just see it?...“The art institute for good mental health recommends every adult gets at least three hours of coloring a month.”

I like it!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Moron in the Garden

So, picture a beautiful day last week and I was lucky enough to have taken the day off. I headed out to our local botanical gardens, camera in hand to snap some pics and soak in some plant vibes.

Throughout the gardens, there were these gorgeous red ornamental poppies. I got several great pics of them and I wanted to know what they were. I asked several people but no one seemed to know. On my way out, I asked the guy at the front desk and he said he didn't know but there was an older gentleman standing there who asked me to show him. We walked outside and I pointed at them and the gentleman explained that they were an ornamental hybrid. He also explained that there was a native poppy that was closely related which confused me cause while I'm not an expert, I couldn't think of a native poppy that looked anything like that one.

We continued to talk and then the guy tried to explain to me that our local Prickly Poppy (Agremone spp.)wasn't a poppy at all, but a member of Euphorb family. I had to stop him at that point and tell him that he was mistaken. He just kept insisting that he was right.

Mr Moron went to use the facilities and the guy at the counter explained to me that Mr. Moron has worked at the garden for 28 years and his expertise was in cacti. I left the gardens scratching my head. I headed home and immediately looked up the Prickly Poppy. Good news, I'm not crazy and it is in fact a member of the poppy family.

I think the guy was a moron not because he was wrong, but because he kept insisting he was right and wouldn't even consider the idea that he might have been mistaken.

I don't ever want to be that way. I'm human and I make mistakes. I am open to the idea that no matter what the subject matter, there is someone out there that knows more than I do.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Fog

Yesterday morning was quite foggy in South Central Texas. I love the fog and I would like to tell you why.

A long time ago in a place far, far away, I was dumb enough to get myself involved in a nasty little witch war. For those of you lucky enough to not know what that is…consider yourself lucky. Witch wars are when two or more groups started throwing some very nasty energy at each other. Everybody gets real paranoid and suddenly you can’t tell if that hangnail is just a hangnail or the result of some bad spell hitting you in the tuckus. It’s the kind of thing that makes solitaires go running for their broom closets.

Anyway, the one and only witch war I got myself into got quite ugly and in the midst of it, my marriage ended, much to my surprise. In the course of a single evening, I packed up all my crap and had to find a place to live, quick. I called an acquiantance, whom I had only known for a short time, and arrange to rent one of her bedrooms in her large house out in the country.

The next morning, I moved in what belongings I had and within a couple of hours, a wonderful dense fog had descended and stuck around for about three days. It was the first real peace I had experienced in almost a year. I asked who was responsible and was told and old, African deity named Nyambe (sp?). For three days I was able to walk around the country in complete and utter silence. It was a wonderful, almost womby feeling. I was able to spend those days dealing with what had happened to me and come to peace with the knowledge that I had to take responsibilty for my part in the craziness.

When the fog lifted, I was ready to face the world again. I spent the next six weeks figuring out who were my friends (short list) and who were not (long list). Those foggy days gave me the confidence to know I was being protected and I felt after that I knew I could face anything.

I love foggy days now. They bring a smile to face and I enjoy embracing the quiet. They also serve as a reminder not to allow myself to get into silly situations.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A good passing

When the time has come for a loved one to pass on to the next stage, my recommendation is always the same...ask Oya for a safe, quick and easy passing.

The father-in-law of a friend just passed this morning from a terminal illness. He took a turn for the worst a few days ago, and we sent our prayers to Oya. My friend reported that he passed this morning with a peaceful smile on his face.

Praise be to Oya for helping our extended family once again. May his spirit move on quickly and he be taken into the fold of the creator of his choosing and may his family find the love and comfort they need at this time.

Ache and blessed be.

Friday, April 9, 2010

An Unusual Initiation

A priestess, like a parent, should never show favoritism. A priestess is going to have students that he or she likes more than others. I want to talk about the one student I had that I really didn’t like. This student, that I will call Zoe, is why I now stand firm with my year and a day rule.

Zoe was a friend of a friend that came into my life almost a decade ago. She was a bit older but I actually prefer older students (less drama) and she seemed very eager to learn. After a couple of months, she asked to become my student and I said yes. At first, everything seemed to be fine but after awhile Zoe became this whiney, bitchy lump that constantly complained about everything. She also had very strange habits (dietary, lifestyle, etc) with no sense to them. Some stranger would tell her some wild ass thing and it would be gospel but when I or our group elder would try to tell her something she would become very hostile…almost combative.

We just couldn’t wait for her year and a day to be over so we could initiate her and get her on her path and out of our lives. I know that sounds terrible, but I was very honest with her. I told her that she just didn’t seem to be thriving with us so once her initiation was done, she would be free to see other witches.

So, the day of her initiation came and I was determined to give her a good one. I didn’t want my personal feelings to interfere with her experience. I felt strongly that Chango was going to be involved, although I wasn’t sure why. He hadn’t shown much interest in her until now. I collected leaves of the China Berry tree, which is strongly connected to Chango.

During her ceremony, I took the bunch of leaves, wet them, and briskly wiped her down as a cleansing. I can’t tell why Chango led me to do this at the time, although I later found out this is common in multiple cultures as a cleansing ritual. When it was all over with, she was very upset. She claimed that by touching her with the leaves, I had caused her a great deal of pain. This was interesting because in the year and half we had known her she never mentioned that tidbit. She went on to explain that spirituality should never be painful. We were dumb founded. Not painful? Are you kidding me? I wanted to give her this long diatribe on cultures and systems throughout the world that would torture their initiates and your complaining because I wiped you down with a few leaves?

I then had to remind myself that you can’t fix stupid and sent her on her way. Chango was probably laughing the whole time.

I now require that I get to know people for a year and a day before accepting them as a student. More than once, this has paid off because the candidates have either left, lost interest or showed their true colors.

Sometimes you learn truth from the people you don’t like more than the people you like.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Chicken Man

I’ve been following the case of the spiritual guru that killed a couple of his students in the sweat lodge incident in Sedona, Az. For those of you who haven’t been there, Sedona is a beautiful area, nestled in the the red rock formations between Phoenix and Flagstaff. There is a large community of new ager’s that live and work there. Unfortunately, there are some very unscrupulous people selling snake oil there too.

The sweat lodge story reminded me of my first trip to Sedona. I had actually never been there until I was 28, when I went on a trip with my family.

Now, let me preface this story with, I can get pretty new agey myself and I am not against spiritual seeking myself. By the time I got to Sedona, I had been a priestess for several years and I am very good at feeling energy, especially earth energies. So, I was very excited to be going to this new age mecca and feel the vortex energies I had heard so much about.

We arrived in Sedona and went to the vortex closest to our hotel. There was a bunch of spiritual tourists there and everybody was talking about this vortex energy. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling jack shit. I tried really hard but I got nothing. As I’m standing there trying my best to feel even a whisper of energy, a man in a chicken hat walks by with three little old ladies trailing behind him. Chicken man was wearing a ridiculous cowboy hat covered in multicolored feathers. I almost pissed myself laughing! And there were 3 little biddies (“the flock”) who were following him around hanging on to every freakin’ word.

Chicken man was “lecturing” his flock about the power of the vortexes and how they will cure everything from a hangnail to hemorrhoids. According to chickenman, the vortexes had the power to fuel your car, unclog your drain and clean your cat’s litter box. With every word he uttered, I was having a harder and harder time not just losing it. Keep in mind this whole time I’m not feeling anything. After a couple of minutes of this, I had to leave and go back to the car. As I was leaving, my mom asked my why I was leaving and all I could do was point and laugh.

So here this guy is, selling the flock a complete line of crap, and I all I can think is how much those ladies probably paid him for the service.

How much do dyed feathers cost anyway? I think I’ve got an old cowboy hat in the closet somewhere.=)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Karmic Balance in a World of Facebook

Like many people, I’ve been able to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances on Facebook. This weekend, I reconnected with an old friend to whom I owed an apology.

A few years ago, I had an epiphany that there were four people I needed to track down and apologize to and with the help of the internet, I was able to do just that. It was a very liberating experience and one of those people was my sister and now we have a close relationship. Over the years, I’ve come up with a few more names of people that I should say I’m sorry to if I ever get the chance.

“Kandi” was one of those people. We were very good friends once and then had a falling out. In the end, I was a complete bitch to her (more than I had a right to be) and I’ve felt bad about the situation. I don’t know what made me look for her, but I did and much to my surprise she accepted my friend request. I was able to apologize and she accepted graciously.

I used to live my life with the idea that when I left a place, I would probably never see those people again. The internet and social media has changed all of that. Unless someone drops dead, the odds are much higher that you may run into someone or they may look you up. Either way, does this have the possibility of having a positive affect on our karma?

The Jews have this concept of atonement that involves of making amends to the people you have wronged. The digital age had made that easier then ever. As the digital world shrinks the geographic size of our communities, will that force us to resolve past hurts? Or better yet, be less likely to hurt people at all?

Yeah, I don’t think so, but it has helped in my case. Kandi and I may never be as close as we once were, but at least I’ve had a chance to tell her I was wrong and know that she is okay.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The rest of the coffee story

So several days last week, my regular coffee gas station had been closed so I had to go to my alternate coffee gas station. On Friday, I stopped by Starbucks and paid over $4.00 for coffee, essentially clearing my free coffee karma (whew!). Since the gas station was closed, I thought maybe they had fired the free coffee girl which might have explained the free coffee.

I stopped by at a normal hour on Saturday (after my workout) for coffee and there was a note on the door when I went in that said they would now be closing overnight. I got my coffee, paid for it (yeah!) and I asked the day girl if it was a temporary closing or permanent. She said it was probably permanent because they weren't making enough money.

So I have to wonder at this point, did the girl give me free coffee cause she knew that she wasn't going to be working that shift long or did the profits suddenly drop so drastically (because of my free refills) that they decided to change their whole business model? Could go either way.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Another good plant day.

So I went to the farmer's market this morning and it was crazy busy. This made me happy even though I was having trouble finding parking. The vegetables looked fantastic. I picked up some broccoli, swiss chard, spinach, green onions, carrots, lettuce.

At some point, I lost my mind and picked up brussel sprouts. I hated these things as a kid but then I again my mom served the frozen, out of the bag kind. I've been told by several people that cooking fresh ones yourself are delicious

I told my sister about them, she was stunned.

I also picked up a sweet basil and a chive plant.

Later on in the day, I went back to the nursery and rounded out the plant gardem with thyme, golden sage, celery, spicy wild greens and fernleaf lavender. I love fernleaf lavender because you get terrific lavender sent through the leaves. I also replaced my lone casualty, a rosemary plant.

I called my friend Rosemary and yelled at her for the sins of "her people."

The nursery was also super busy. They have an extensive garden of their own that they allow you to take pictures of so I think I will take my camera next time.

I still have some potting soil left, I think I'm gonna have to pick up a few more plants.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ladybugs are invading my life!

I don’t know if it’s coincidence or providence ( "I do not see coincidence, I see providence."-Morpheus) but it seems that my lady bugs have invaded my life.

A couple weeks ago, I went a local favorite nursery of mine to buy some starter plants. They are right next door to a local compost producing company…let’s call them company X. I had several other errands to run so I was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t want to make a second stop so I went ahead and purchased their potting soil. Much to my surprise, they didn’t carry company x potting soil anymore, they carried Lady Bug brand potting soil instead. She swore up and down that it was great stuff and I went ahead and purchased a bag. Mainly ‘cause I like lady bugs. I like them a lot.

I didn’t get out of the driveway before I called my good buddy Nathan, who used to work for company X. I told him my experience at the nursery and he was not surprised. He told me that company X’s quality had detoriated since going corporate and a lot of people were unhappy with it. He agreed with the sales lady at the nursery that the lady bug brand was great stuff and I should be happy with it.

On Wednesday, a co-worker and I were walking on our lunch break and we found a some Thistles covered in lady bugs. Yeah! Lady bugs! Did I mention I like lady bugs?

This morning, at about 6:45 am, I discovered a lady bug in my car after I parked it for work. I have no idea how she got there but I got her on my hand and was trying to free her but she refused to leave my hand. This is quite odd because lady bugs normally don’t tend to stay on my hand for very long.

We only worked a half day today (due to it being Good Friday) and when I was walking out of the building at noon, a lady bug bopped me on the head. I finally got the hint…I think the lady bugs are trying to tell me something.

When I got home, I grabbed a Ted Andrews book off the shelf (“Animal-wise”) and looked up the lady bug. According to Mr. Andrews, lady bugs herald a time of good luck, protection and wishes being fulfilled. Woohoo! There was also a warning about doing too much so I’m going be careful about overextending myself.

Did I mention I like lady bugs?