What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage

July 15th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

I love my husband. He’s well read, adventurous and does a hysterical rendition of a northern Vermont accent that still cracks me up after 12 years of marriage.

But he also tends to be forgetful, and is often tardy and mercurial. He hovers around me in the kitchen asking if I read this or that piece in The New Yorker when I’m trying to concentrate on the simmering pans. He leaves wadded tissues in his wake. He suffers from serious bouts of spousal deafness but never fails to hear me when I mutter to myself on the other side of the house. “What did you say?” he’ll shout.

These minor annoyances are not the stuff of separation and divorce, but in sum they began to dull my love for Scott. I wanted — needed — to nudge him a little closer to perfect, to make him into a mate who might annoy me a little less, who wouldn’t keep me waiting at restaurants, a mate who would be easier to love.

[...] For a book I was writing about a school for exotic animal trainers, I started commuting from Maine to California, where I spent my days watching students do the seemingly impossible: teaching hyenas to pirouette on command, cougars to offer their paws for a nail clipping, and baboons to skateboard.

I listened, rapt, as professional trainers explained how they taught dolphins to flip and elephants to paint. Eventually it hit me that the same techniques might work on that stubborn but lovable species, the American husband.

What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage

Neil Gaiman remembers Maurice Sendak

May 9th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

In Sendak’s world, childhood was beautiful, but it could also be scary, confusing and sometimes horrible. He had little time for sanitized cuteness and lighthearted naiveté.

“As a parent, I read Where the Wild Things Are to my children,” said The Graveyard Book author Neil Gaiman in an e-mail exchange with Wired. “But [my daughter] Holly’s favorite was Outside, Over There, and I must have read it to her hundreds of times, perhaps thousands of times, marveling at Sendak’s economy of words, his cruelty, his art.”

Remembering Maurice Sendak

Ernest Hemingway, The Art of Fiction No. 21

May 9th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

1954 interview with Ernest Hemingway by George Plimpton:

Nowhere is the dedication he gives his art more evident than in the yellow-tiled bedroom—where early in the morning Hemingway gets up to stand in absolute concentration in front of his reading board, moving only to shift weight from one foot to another, perspiring heavily when the work is going well, excited as a boy, fretful, miserable when the artistic touch momentarily vanishes—slave of a self-imposed discipline which lasts until about noon when he takes a knotted walking stick and leaves the house for the swimming pool where he takes his daily half-mile swim.

Another excerpt:

What would you consider the best intellectual training for the would-be writer?
Let’s say that he should go out and hang himself because he finds that writing well is impossibly difficult. Then he should be cut down without mercy and forced by his own self to write as well as he can for the rest of his life. At least he will have the story of the hanging to commence with.

Ernest Hemingway, The Art of Fiction No. 21

Transcendental Money – How much money do you need?

May 8th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

How much money do you need to feel secure?

Ask this question in different parts of the world, and you’ll get different answers. In a poor country like India, it might be $1 million. In poorer parts of the US, $3 million. In California where you can hardly throw a pot sticker into a crowd without hitting a billionaire, the answer might be $25 million. When I ask myself this question, that’s roughly what my inner-being comes up with.

Of course it’s a complete lie. ;->

How much can you spend?

Now what if we add a rule that says you can only buy things that you can actually use?

Transcendental Money

Florida “pill mill” operation fuels oxy epidemic

May 8th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

The prescription painkiller business was booming in 2009, making millionaires of Chris and Jeff George, twin brothers who operated several pain clinics in South Florida. Unfortunately for them, their customers had a tendency to die, and not always in a subtle fashion.

In November of that year, three customers were on their way to a George brothers’ clinic when the driver tried to weave her Toyota Camry through the lowered arms of a train crossing. The car was struck by commuter train going 79 mph. The driver and a passenger were ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. The third occupant died six months later.

An associate of the Georges who read about the accident in the paper called Chris George to break the news. “Did it say they were pain clinic people?” George asked. 

It didn’t, but the Roxicodone scattered through the backseat of the crumpled car, and on both sides of the train tracks, made it obvious to investigators that this threesome from Tennessee didn’t come to Fort Lauderdale to get tans.

How Florida brothers’ ‘pill mill’ operation fueled painkiller abuse epidemic

Life in a fracking boomtown

May 1st, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

Written by award winning investigative journalist Mark Ebner, FRACKED UP!: Hollywood, Interrupted Visits America’s New Boomtown investigates the modern day gold rush of fracking in Williston, North Dakota near the Montana border.

In a country with an unofficial underemployment rate of 20%, the tiny railroad whistle-stop of Williston, North Dakota near the Montana border (population 17,000 and spiking) is currently at capacity: There’s not a motel room to be had in the city, housing prices are double what they were a year ago ($300,000 for a two-bedroom home), and the daily onslaught of new arrivals is reduced to living in their cars, RVs, sporadic tent cities or the rapidly proliferating “man camps” – clusters of trailers in an open field that pack in oil patch workers dormitory style, sometimes six to a room. Access to running water and simple sanitation is so rare that public businesses have had to lock their bathrooms to discourage makeshift sponge baths or the dumping of wastewater. Meanwhile, throughout the region, fast food professionals can make $15 an hour and waitresses start at $25 an hour, with a bonus if they’ll stay in the job for at least six weeks. (Pizza Hut brought in campers-vans just so its counter help could afford to live there.)

FRACKED UP!: Hollywood, Interrupted Visits America’s New Boomtown