Wednesday, April 29, 2009


So there's a teensy scare about a new strain of flu, originating in Mexico and spreading, as diseases do, to other areas.

What is the primary recommendation? Wash your hands. Posters, flyers, interviews all stress how important it is. Public radio featured a story this morning about how long 20 seconds actually is (the length of time you're supposed to spend scrubbing).

Meanwhile, in the ladies' restroom of the state agency primarily responsible for promoting this method of prevention, it is currently Day Three of No Soap in the Dispenser.

The dark underbelly of the Prevention message is showing.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Weekend Reading

A wild ride, "Beat the Reaper" is the story of a mob hitman who, while in hiding in the witness protection program, goes to medical school. While doing his internship the doctor visits a patient (also a mobster) who threatens a hit should he not survive his surgery. Original, funny, and gruesomely detailed at times, book is an excellent read.

Further weekend reading included "Captivity, Surviving 1967 Days in the Jungle" by American workers captured by the FARC in Columbia. Parts of this book were riveting, parts uplifting and inspirational, parts were tedious. Good reading for anyone who is stuck in a situation and needs to draw strength from the lessons of others who made it through a living hell.

Also read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" a one-trick pony which takes the classic Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and changes the character to be a zombie-hunter. There was some charm but when a book which has supposedly been through an editing and proofing process makes mistakes that only the truly stupid or uneducated could make, the Topiary reader bails.

What is this mistake, the reader asks? A mistake so horrendous, of such all-encompassing magnitude that the reader put down the book in disgust?

"Coy pond."

Yes, dear reader, the book refers to a "coy pond." This is so far outside the pale, one can only attribute either the author being asleep at the wheel, the editor being maliciously negligent, or on spell-check being so pervasive it autocorrected Koi to coy. In which case, let Microsoft buy the book.


Friday, April 24, 2009


Topiary feels very sorry for those struck by the North Carolina fires. Listening to the people talking of how they were told to "Evacuate NOW!" without time to grab even the family pets or any belongings, is certainly heartbreaking.


Were Topiary in an area in which a 35-mile firestorm were raging, long, long before the official knock on the door, you can bet her car would be packed, the cats would be in their carriers, and the Topiary would be on the road.

Cow does feel sorry for them but wonders, how can you be either so oblivious to imminent danger, or so certain you won't be affected?


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday Evening Play

Agonizing. Frightening. Tension-filled. White-knuckler. War of nerves.

Possibly, not how play-goers usually describe performances of The Fiddler on the Roof, especially as performed by the local high-school students sporting generous amounts of gray spray-on hair, charming Russian accents, and cleverly-tattered beggar's rags.

It wasn't the performances. It was the 16 (yes, count 'em) set changes, between every act, as black-clad sprites attempted, without success, to move loads 'o things in the dark.

Crashes were heard. Tinkling sounds of breakage. Horrifying collisions by heavy objects. An occasional "ow!" Each time the lights dimmed, dread in the audience grew. Prayers were said. Fingers were crossed, to no apparent avail.

Well, a good time was had by all...except maybe the stagehand crew.


Friday, April 17, 2009


The author sets out, with much humor and little money, to sample the best of the self-help gurus. To get exercised into shape with Richard Simmons, to be shown how to be successful by FranklinCovey, to get organized with some organizer chick. Each do-over for the year gets a chapter in the book.

It is when the author describes her house, with the sheet tacked up instead of curtains on the windows, the bulging plastic bag filled with wine corks (to be recycled), the broken step on the front porch, that Cow really saw the humor in America's need to Get Organized.

(Cow quickly hiding any wine bottles from the author)


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Cow is mesmerized by Susan Boyle's performance on Britain's Got Talent, as apparently, are Simon Cowell, the other judges and around six million viewers in the last few days.

Cow ruminating on this resonance...the apparently dowdy oldster pulling a world-class voice from beneath her sweater. The mild-mannered man hiding his James Bond abilities; stereotype computer geeks hiding great computer power, bland-appearing Shadows, Batmen.

If tax audited, having master's level accounting knowledge; when advised of needed repairs, replying with encyclopedic mechanical knowledge. When challenged on the road, under-powered, gas-saving 4-cylinders: transformed by the push of a button into flying death machines. Superpowers lurking beneath average Topiary.

More Susan Boyles surprising the cynics with what they have under the hood. Cow thinking this is what everybody wants, and why Ms. Boyle is our wish fulfillment, at least for today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


So this guy, who writes books on decluttering your home, has now expanded his thesis to: If your house is cluttered, you're also probably having money problems, weight problems, and your marriage may be failing. Your car probably needs painting. Your clothes may be wrinkled, and your hair need a trim. The pets may need feeding and your refrigerator probably has mold.

Well, okay, maybe not quite all that. But the book is showing these problems as a symptom of...not having it together. And he wants to show you the way to get it ALL together.

Cow would like his books better were he to do one bit of research to back his assertions. One bit of looking things up before spouting off, instead of basing everything on his, admittedly, vast experience with people's messes. That being said, Cow felt he means well, but just seems to have been talked into writing far too many books, far too quickly, by his agent, or bank balance. Which is probably tidy and well-looked-after.

Peter Walsh, Enough Already, 2009.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekend Reading

"Bad Cop" by Paul Bacon details his 3 years on the NYPD.

You've read it all before: scummy perps, quota-driven supervisors, unrequited love, scamming out of duties. But the book is written with so much humor it's impossible to put down.

Few people would have the honesty to tell so many stories which reflect so badly on themselves. Good for a laugh and to understand why crime rates are so high.



One of the many tasks facing keepers of animals in captivity is how to enrich the animal's environment with new items, challenges, variety, so they don't go barking mad from being in a small space and peered at all day by humans.

This lady at the Berlin Zoo who jumped over a wall, a prickly hedge and a fence to climb into the polar bear cage, was just the ticket.

And of course the inevitable headlines: Are zoos doing enough to safeguard PEOPLE? Uh, yes. That would be the fence, the wall, and the hedge.


Thursday, April 09, 2009


Cow so happy that blogger Scones has found a new job and has been gifted with a present of laptop and internet for her birthday.

Happy Birthday, Scones!


Cow feels guilty about...not having made good decisions, doing stupid things, making ill-considered comments at times, not working as hard as possible on projects...

But compared to the offenses and idiocy detailed in "The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power" Cow's missteps pale in comparison.

From lost opportunities (becoming an ally of Iran after they supported us after 9/11) to continual backing of despotic dictators, America's missteps as detailed here are stunningly depressing. Cow left wondering how so many highly-paid, highly-trained "experts" could lead the way so poorly.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Inspired by the tale of the electric toothbrush charmingly shared by intrepid blogger Letters I Wished I'd Written Cow feels strangely compelled to share her own experience with a wayward suitcase full of electronic devices...which chose the Hotel Lobby as prime real estate for self-activation.

Cow's implement of tortured embarrassment was an electronic "white-noise" generator, which also had settings to sound like a tropical rain forest and crashing waves. To ensure sound sleep in the hotel room, you understand, one sets it on the bedside table and it drowns out, well, hopefully, everybody else.

Oh my. Cow remembers this as if it were yesterday, the sudden appearance of little gurgling tweeting noises as the rain forest activated deep within her suitcase, during check-in.

Cow now always takes the batteries out before packing, and places them where the devices can't reach them.


Tasty Lunch

Chomp, chomp. Cow is now eating her words about the Gates Foundation.
Reading this article about their life-saving study has forced a revision in her thinking.

Maybe Gates having total control over his charitable giving funds is not such a bad thing after all.

And what does this have to do with (left) Jason Dohring, of "Body Politic?" Visualization, it's all about visualization.


Sunday, April 05, 2009


Cow has been ruminating upon the list of the so-called largest charity donors.

Only problem is, when, for instance, Bill Gates gives to charity, he's merely transferring money from one of his pockets to the other. Because it's his own charity that he gives to.

So he still makes the rules, still has complete control over his money.

Cow just doesn't think this should really be credited as charity. In fact, were Bill Gates to really be charitable, he would have reduced the rip-off prices of his software and forgone the opportunity to make himself the richest man in the world by ripping off all computer users.

And, Cow doesn't see any of these billionaires stepping forward to help anyone in this crisis economy.



Fast and Furious 4

Cars: Fast
Dialogue: Minimal
Muscles: Large
Women: Gorgeous
Paint: Shiny
Fun: Yes

That about sums it up.