30 November 2009

Quote Junkie: On Communication

Do not speak unless you can improve on the silence.
~ Spanish Proverb

Noise proves nothing -
often a hen who has merely laid an egg,
cackles as if she had laid an asteroid.
~ Mark Twain

Two monologues do not make a dialogue.
~ Jeff Daly

The trouble with talking too fast
is you may say something you haven't thought of yet.
~ Ann Landers

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place
but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
~ Dorothy Nevill

It is better to keep one's mouth shut
and be thought a fool
than to open it and resolve all doubt.
~ Abraham Lincoln

Isn't it surprising how many things, if not said immediately,
seem not worth saying ten minutes from now?
~ Arnot L. Sheppard, Jr.

One of the lessons of history
is that nothing is often a good thing to do
and always a clever thing to say.
~ Will Durant

Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say,
abstains from giving evidence of the fact.
~ George Eliot

Calvin: Sometimes when I'm talking,
my words can't keep up with my thoughts.
I wonder why we think faster than we speak.
Hobbes: Probably so we can think twice.
~ Bill Watterson

Discussion is an exchange of knowledge;
argument an exchange of ignorance.
~ Robert Quillen

If everybody thought before they spoke,
the silence would be deafening.
~ George Barzan

The only valid censorship of ideas
is the right of people not to listen.
~ Tommy Smothers

The right to be heard does not automatically include
the right to be taken seriously.
~ Hubert H. Humphrey

Whenever two good people argue over principles,
they are both right.
~ Marie Ebner von Eschenbach

Ideal conversation must be an exchange of thought, and not,
as many of those who worry most about their shortcomings believe,
an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory.
~ Emily Post

The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choices words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech. ~ Edwin H. Friedman

23 November 2009


The kids and I were playing with "action fingers" Sunday morning.

When Boba meets Buddha.

Using four hands is cheating, General!

I shall hug him a squeeze him and call him Boba.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have already seen the first picture,
but I just couldn't resist posting it here, too.

20 November 2009


Eight years gone.

We would have celebrated her birthday this week.
The day almost slipped by me.

Is it good that my chest
is less tight
when I think of her?

Is it bad that her face
is fuzzy
at the edges of my memory?

Is it wrong that I still think of her like a big sister
and today
I'm older than she ever lived to be?

16 November 2009

I'm not an extrovert, but I play one on the interwebs

The ZenHusband and I take turns picking up the 5-year-old Minion from kindergarten. The other day, we were comparing notes and an interesting fact came up:

He has had several complete conversations with many of the other kindergarten parents waiting to pick up their kids.

I've never said so much as a word to any one of them.

That pretty much sums up one of the biggest differences between me and my husband:

He is an extrovert - a bonhomie for whom it is easy and natural to strike up a conversation with darn-near anyone.

And I am the introvert - I'm borderline anti-social when it comes to meeting new people. "Socializing" does not come naturally to me; and most social gatherings are just varying degrees of uncomfortable for me.

So much so that strangers and casual acquaintances have described me as unfriendly and even snobby. I don't think that's accurate. I like to think I'm actually quite a nice person, when you get to know me. :)

But I understand why I come off that way - I don't make it at all easy for people to know me.

Let me clarify here: I'm not shy. I'm introverted - two different things. "Shy" describes someone who avoids social interaction because of nervousness. Shy people want to interact, but they are anxious about it. Introverts are not nervous about social interaction - they just don't enjoy it.

In other words: A shy person is lonely. An introvert is just alone.

For me, there are some exceptions: With friends and close family, I can be very friendly and talkative - it can sometimes be hard to shut me up! At work, I'm never slow to speak up - in fact, formal and informal communication with all kinds of people is a key element of my job. A job that I happen to be pretty good at.

And yet, I'm the last person in the world who would strike up a casual conversation with a stranger. In fact, I'm more likely to be the person striding purposefully, headphones in my ears, avoiding eye contact with passersby.

Random chit-chat with strangers? Casual communication without purpose?

Meh. I'll pass.

I just don't have the inclination for "small talk" - it doesn't interest me. It feels forced and uncomfortable. It drains me. I'd really rather not do it.

That's where the (mis?)perception that I'm a snob comes from, I know. But it's true: If I'm not really motivated to get to know you for some reason, I'm not going to waste my time and energy - or yours - with idle conversation.

And then there's the internet ...

Where I bare my thoughts and ideas and opinions on a regular basis; where I engage perfect strangers in blog comments; where I strike up up random conversations on Twitter; where I trade jokes with Facebook friends.

For an anti-social person, I'm curiously entrenched in social media.

If you only "know" me online, I'd be curious to hear what your perception of my "socialness" is. Because I find it a lot more enjoyable to "talk" to people online than I do in person.

And I'm not sure why that is.

Why is it relatively easily for me to communicate with people online and yet I find personal engagement so uncomfortable? How can I have developed such strong bonds though a computer (and, yes, a few of my online friends have become very good IRL friends, too) ... and yet feel so completely removed from people I see every week - like the parents at my son's school?

Yeah, yeah, I know: It's not an unusual phenomenon. I gather there are many people like me - more comfortable conversing through a computer than face-to-face. There's probably even a name (and maybe even a pill, considering the state of things today) for it.

But, hey, this is my blog, I can naval-gaze if I want to. ;)

Whatever it is, I don't see it changing anytime soon. It seems like the older I get the less inclined I am to stretch outside my comfort zone and make the effort - and yes, for me it takes a great deal of effort - to "socialize" with new people.

And, you know, I'm really okay with that. As much as I love my darling, extroverted husband, I'm just not interested in sliding over to meet him on the extroversion-introversion scale - I'm not broken. I don't need fixing. 

Yes, I'm probably missing out on some interesting people in real life because of my (anti-)social quirks. But I'm pretty happy where I am - even if it is mostly in my own head.

So, I'll leave the socializing to The ZenHusband and he can leave the blogging to me. Maybe eventually he can introduce me to the other kindergarten moms.

What about you? Are you more introverted or extroverted? Is it easier for you to talk to people online then in person? Or am I just a weirdo? :)

12 November 2009

Talkin' Turkey

I'm sharing this post from the vault - aka last year - because this turkey really is that freakin' good. Make it. No, really. make the damn bird. You'll thank me later.


You must make this turkey!

I am not a cook. I admit this freely and without shame. The Husband does 90 percent of the cooking in our house. If you want omelettes, pancakes, waffles, enchiladas, Spanish rice, lasagna, chicken breasts or something out of a box - I'm your gal. Anything else - talk to The Husband.

So, considering that disclaimer, why the heck am I blogging about a recipe?! And why on earth should you listen to *me*?!?

Because it is The. Best. Turkey. Ever. And it's EASY!

Why should you take advice from someone as culinarily challenged as me? Because it's not MY recipe - it's Alton Brown's! And HE is a kitchen god (which is a little bit like being a rock god, but yummier.)

Seriously, do yourself, your guests, and your bird a favor: TRY THIS RECIPE. I did. And I made a flavorful, moist, golden-brown-and-delicious turkey. Me. The girl who can't boil toast.

Trust me: If I can do it, anybody can. :)

So do it!

Good Eats Roast Turkey

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining. 

A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.

Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.

Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

05 November 2009

Quote Junkie: On Writing

Welcome to the latest edition of Quote Junkie, wherein I further reveal my geeky obsession with the power and beauty of the written word. Fellow bloggers may be able to relate to today's theme ...

"Writing a novel is like making love, but it's also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it's like making love while having a tooth pulled." ~ Dean Koontz

"If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster." ~ Isaac Asimov

"A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing." ~ Eugene Ionesco

"Writing makes no noise, except groans, and it can be done everywhere, and it is done alone." ~ Ursula K. LeGuin

"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." ~ Cyril Connolly

"We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to." ~ Somerset Maugham

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." ~ Red Smith

"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." ~ Robert Frost

"Writing is the flip side of sex – it's good only when it's over." ~ Hunter S. Thompson

"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards." ~ Robert A. Heinlein 

"If you are pointing out one of the things a story is about, then you are very probably right; if you are pointing out the only thing a story is about you are very probably wrong - even if you're the author." ~ Neil Gaiman

"Detail makes the difference between boring and terrific writing. It’s the difference between a pencil sketch and a lush oil painting. As a writer, words are your paint. Use all the colors." ~ Rhys Alexander

"Resist the temptation to try to use dazzling style to conceal weakness of substance." ~ Stanley Schmidt

"Suit the action to the word, the word to the action." ~ William Shakespeare

"When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand." ~ Raymond Chandler

"The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in shock-proof shit-detector." ~ Ernest Hemingway

"Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any." ~ Orson Scott Card

"The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story." ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

"There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you." ~ Zora Neale Hurston