How to Care for This Extrovert

I'm an ENFP.  That's my Myers-Briggs personality type.  It stands for "Extroversion, I[n]tuition, Feeling, and Perception."  If you want, you can read a little more about that type here, here, and here.  (HEY!  Does listing three sites where you can learn about my extremely extroverted type confirm that I'm extroverted or simply narcissistic?  Hmmmm.  Moving on, then.)

So anytime I've taken this test, I score somewhere in the close range of 85% to the "E" for extroversion.  The means I'm almost as far away from being an introvert as possible -- an ultra-extrovert, perhaps.  But does being an extrovert mean I just like being around other people?  No, not just that.  It also means I gain energy from being around other people...and mental stimulation from the activities going on around me.  As an extrovert, I can become bored (and sort of "fade") by myself and I actually think better when talking.  So it's a big deal...not just a personal preference.

Now...lately I've been seeing this image all over Pinterest.  It makes some very good points about successfully "caring for" introverts.  I wondered if there was an equally helpful and succinct set of hints for caring for the extroverts around us.  That's when I came across this really cool blog entry on the subject at  (Their points are bulleted below.  My thoughts are in italics.)

And this is what it said:
  • Respect their need to share, to ‘talk it out.’ They get their energy from other people.
Yeah, I don't know what it is, exactly, about talking it out -- but it can make all the difference with processing something and moving on, making a decision, or finding a solution.  Trying to do these things silently feels unnatural, clunky like trying to drive on a square tire.
  • Just as with introverts, never embarrass them in public. If you do embarrass them in public, go along as much as is reasonable if they play it off like a joke.
I feel like it's a pretty good rule to try and never embarrass anyone in public.  But, sure, someone often more gregarious like an extrovert may be more likely to try and play off such an event.
  • Don’t be surprised if they dive into a new situation headfirst. Don’t freak out either if they flounder a little. They’ll find their way.
I LOVE this point.  I sometimes feel like people see me as an idiot jumping into projects or situations and, just like it says, floundering a little.  It's good to know that somewhere, someone recognizes that I eventually find my way...'cause those introverts around sure as hell ain't sayin' it!!  And those extrov... Hey.  Where'd they go?
  • Extroverts blurt. It’s the nature of the beast. Most try to leaven it with charm, but try to be patient when they don't.
Sighhhh.  Yeah.  I can sometimes blurt.  Sometimes I wish I'd just shut the hell up.  But most times I'm glad I say what's on my mind (because, aside from charm, I also leaven it with kindness and goodwill).  If I can say what's on my mind consistently, then not only am I fostering honest communication, but also forging stronger, more trusting relationships. But this also brings to mind a hilarious quote from Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal (by Christopher Moore).  It goes like this: "You can't just go around blurting out the truth like a prophet with Tourette's Syndome."  Heh.
  • Expect interruptions that may seem rude, to some. Most of the time, they mean well.
Ehhhh, "expect"?  I don't totally agree.  You might find this with some extroverts.  And it's not rudeness as much as excitability and the desire to communicate.  I've trained myself to not interrupt, though, and, if I accidentally do, I stop, apologize, and ask the other person to continue.
  • Build surprise into your lives together. Most extroverts love the thrill of not knowing what’s up - as long as it’s positive. 
Ohhhh, I loooove spontaneity!  I could pack a bag and be ready to go on a weekend trip on 15 minutes' notice...and the spontaneity of it would make me giddy.
  • Be prepared for what looks like ADD. The organically outgoing among us feed off the environment around them. They are often the best multi-taskers around, so understand that they are often paying much more attention to you than you think they are. 
EXACTLY!  You should SEE my desk.  And, yeah, I'm often paying more attention than you th SQUIRREL!!!
  • A flashover temper goes with the extroverted personality. The bad thing is it can look like a much more severe storm than it is. The good thing is it’s over quickly.
I suppose I can see myself a little in this.  If I get really mad, I'm more likely than not to let it out, get it over with, get over it, and move on (all in quick order).  There's something about expressing anger or frustration that causes it to lose its power over me...its negative influence.  And I don't think if we get mad at each other, there's something inherently wrong.  It just...happens.  All that being said, if a flashover temper means the extrovert is likely to say things they don't mean or they'll regret, I hope at least I've grown enough to not do so.  I hope so and I think so.  Regardless of our personality, eventually we have to take responsibility for our actions, you know?  Besides, I don't get mad that often.
  • Many extroverts live for the intuitive leap. They reach for it. If teaching an extrovert something new, have patience with them jumping ahead of you.
YES!!!  And as a "doing learner" instead of a "listening" or visual learner, it's common for me to jump in there and get ahead of what the person was going to say (even if maybe I'm wrong...see above re: floundering).  It doesn't really matter.  I won't get it really, until I jump in there and try it out.  And, yeah, there's something really exciting about "getting it" and seeing where something is going.  It's like that "AHA!!!" moment.  Maybe it makes you feel like you've connected with the universe...or makes me feel that way.
  • They will always have lots of friends. But most extroverts have a core of best friends, and their loyalty can be fierce and aggressive if they feel the need to defend those friends. As with so many aspects of the extroverted personality, you may have to be patient with this.
When I first read this, I couldn't see what there was to have to be patient with.  I had to read it again to see the words "fierce" and "aggressive" for how they were meant to "too much" maybe.  So I suppose this one would be true of me, for sure.  If you came at my friend -- my good friend -- I suppose I would defend that person with more ferocity than I would defend even myself.  Where does that come from?  Well...I'm not sure.  But I don't think it's going away.  It feels as natural as defending one of my children.
  • They love compliments, but can usually see right through insincere flattery. Well-timed encouragement, though, can help an extrovert soar.
YES...and absolutely.  It feels so good to receive a sincere compliment...and so flatly annoying to be "complimented" insincerely.  Actually, when someone pays me an insincere compliment, I feel almost embarrassed for them.  I suppose my perception is that it's as obvious to anyone and/or everyone present that the person is being so transparently patronizing (including the patronizer).  Depending on the situation, though, I either play it off gracefully (like if I feel the person is just uncomfortable or is trained to be overly polite) or make little attempt to hide my ambivalence (like if I feel the person is just an asshole).  But those sincere compliments...ahh, yes.  I accept those without trying to hide my absolute delight.  Operant conditioning for everyone!!
  • Sometimes, it’s okay to just go along with the “show.” Consider it free entertainment.
SURE I can give 'em a show sometimes, I suppose!!  If I gain energy and mental stimulation from being around other people, then I'm one of those who will sometimes be high on life.  I've got no problem sharing that joy with those around me, even if it's just making them laugh.
  • Respect their extroversion. Don’t try to pin them to your board or cage them. And do them a favor, if you are not yourself outgoing, extroverted - gently but persistently remind them to read something like this [the "How to Care for Introverts" image] as often as possible. They probably will need the reminders.
True dat...on all counts. 

So I'm getting bored with this now.  See how that works?  There's no one around, no new stimulation to write about, no one's energy to help get mine going.  Sighhhh.  Okay, one last thing.  If you don't know your MB type, but you'd like to, you can take the test here.  I highly recommend it.  Peace out.

This Girl's Perspective on Valentine's Day

I'm not going to lie, friends. It was a little bit sad (is a little bit sad) getting through Valentine's Day without a romantic love in my life. And I don't think I'm special or extra-deserving or anything. I know lots of people don't have romantic love in their lives on this day and I saw a lot of thoughts about the day -- good, bad, and indifferent -- scroll across Facebook. These are my thoughts and reflections, in general, on this particular Valentine's Day.

I, myself, went to bed last night feeling rather unhappy with the scene. But maybe I was just over-tired. When I woke, though, I felt differently. Maybe it's the clarity those early waking minutes bring. In that first hour I was up, before office telephones started ringing and legal documents had to be reviewed and created, a distinct feeling washed over me. And that feeling was one of gratitude for having always felt love from my friends even when romantic love was not in my life. I recognize that many people spend their lives steeped in greater loneliness than I.

So I decided to honor the day and the idea of love and companionship. I put on a pink plaid shirt. I bought a heart-shaped breakfast biscuit. I turned on my "Love" playlists on iTunes. The point: to keep my heart open to the idea of someone with whom I can share that part of my soul, maybe to even manifest such a blessing. To be clear, I am one of those who believe that if you look for love, you're much less likely to find it than if you let fate kind of take the wheel. So I don't look...but, yeah, I dream.

And it made me happy for my friends when I saw their thrilled posts scroll across Facebook, posting pictures of flowers and cards or checking in at restaurants for lunch or dinner with their significant others. I wondered about the slight anxiety or discomfort -- or excitement! -- of those friends in relationships too new to post something with confidence. I wondered if anyone out there still got anonymous love notes or gifts (the last of which I received, I think, in maybe my sophomore year in high school) or if the relative anonymity of the Internet eliminated the need for such pre-planned, tangible offerings.

In the end, I think what gets people is not the fact that they're "alone" (in that certain context) on Valentine's Day. I think it's that being "alone" sort of feels...well...underlined on that day. But tomorrow that underline will be erased and those of us without partners can all get back to the business of being happy, single adults...with our hearts open to the modification of the "single" part.

Kanawha Valley Scrabble Club Tournament, Sept. 2011

Guess what. I played in another Scrabble tournament. Yep. You didn't think I would, did you? But I did.

Truth be told, I've wanted to get back into tournament play for a long time now. But life has been a little crazy the last couple of years. There've been a lot of changes and Tina doesn't take well to change. It makes her hide out, socially speaking, and speak of herself in the third person. BUT...I've been studying. And I've been playing lots of expert players online which, in addition to constant trouncings, has given me lots and lots of exposure to good strategy and great words. Plus, I actively seek out advice from these top-rated players and they've all given me helpful pointers that I've integrated into my play (as much as possible with my level of experience).

SO... back to the tournament. Last weekend I played in the Kanawha Valley Scrabble Club's 6th annual tournament in Charleston. As always (except for that one time), I played in the bottom division but I was seeded third, behind Martha Keaton Mills and Joe Larson. I felt good about this because when I find myself seeded low in a tournament, that means there's a good chance I would get beaten so often and badly that it ends up being an emotionally-trying experience. And being seeded third meant I might be able to win some cash!

As I walked into the tournament Saturday, I was in my usual state of late. I was happy, living in the moment, thinking about today and not worrying about the past or the future too much, keeping my spoon in my own bowl, so to speak. I was sleep-deprived because, as I've always said, I'm a night owl living in a daytime world. But I had Claratin-D on board to combat my allergies which makes an interesting partner for sleep deprivation. I saw many of my old friends, gave them hugs and hellos, I met some new friends, and enjoyed all this immensely. And here's what happened next:

Game 1 against Stephanie Howard: What a start. Things just really lined up for me in this game. I drew J, K, X, and three of the S's and managed to play MIDSIZE (72) and some word I can't read in my own handwriting that ends in "ATED" for 80... and I was able to consistently put down 30- and 40-point plays. That game ended 447 (me) to 235 (Stephanie). Starting with a spread of +242 felt nice.

Game 2 against Joe Roberdeau: Now this one was a first for me. I got stuck with the Q but almost won. I fought and fought and fought for this game. Although our draws were fairly balanced, I was unable to get a bingo down but Joe was able to play RIOTER(S) (63) and LANTERN (63). I drew the Q late in the game and wasn't able to play it but I kept an eye on what I knew his remaining tiles to be and tried my darnedest to play out with enough points to absorb the 20-point deduction for the Q. In the end, our score before deductions was 381 (me) to 374 (Joe) so I lost by 13 points. Oh, well. I was proud to have not given up. I felt like a trooper. Score card: 1-1, + 229

Game 3 against Betty King: Not a lot happened in this game. I challenged WINTERER (65) and lost a turn... and that alone is probably why I lost by 18 points. STILL, I was happy. I still felt good. I was still playing Scrabble and that makes for a good Saturday. Score card: 1-2, + 211.

Game 4 against Rob Stanton: I wasn't able to bingo in this game but I was able to draw well and optimize the value of those letters. I drew J, Q, Z, and one of the S's and my plays of DARKER (45), AZINE (52), QUIVER (38), and JATO (52) shot me ahead for a 67-point win. How was I able to get 52 points from JATO? I hooked it onto QUIVER (for AQUIVER) with JATO running across the TWS. Score card: 2-2, +278.

Game 5 against Janice Hatton: My play of FIERIER (70) drew a challenge here and I was also able to play PALTRIER (74). Despite a balanced draw, Janice wasn't able to get a bingo down. Score card: 3-2, + 362.

Game 6 against Victoria Bledsoe: I tried to sneak by with MORRADER* which was goofy, I know, but it was very early in the game and I was feeling reckless. Other than that, an average game in which I played ARMORED (85) and Victoria played DESTINES (74). In the end, 393 TTK vs. 345 VB. Score card: 4-2, + 410.

Game 7 against Rafael Barker: I get to play Raf more often than other players. Not only is he a local club member, but we've been known to get together outside of club to play a few games. I tend to feel like he usually beats me but I think, in actuality, we're pretty even. During this particular encounter, I played INLANDER (58) and SPARING (89) and successfully challenged off Raf's play of ZOD late in the game (an effort to get rid of the Z he'd drawn late), leaving him stuck with it. Final tally: 408 me, 334 Raf. Score card: 5-2, +484.

Game 8 against Chris Ross: Ah, Chris. Another local club member and someone I really like. And although Chris and I drew pretty equally this game, I had a couple of helpful moments. I played STANDUPS (68) which drew a challenge and played SNIGGER (68). I kept the board locked down pretty well otherwise and Chris was unable to get a bingo down. In the end, it was 366 (me) and 307 (Chris). Score card: 6-2, +543.

Game 9 against Zosima ("Leah") Gingerich: Leah, Leah, Leah. I can never beat Leah! And nothing changed here. Although I got away with DINNERED* (62) and stayed consistently on Leah's tail, I was never able to catch up. Turned out to be 347 Tina to 366 Leah. Score card: 6-3, +524. (Cute picture of us in pink: to the right.)

So at the end of Day 1, I had a very respectable W/L and a great spread because my wins had been significant and my losses generally close. I walked away feeling really, really... accomplished ...and, after a delicious dinner at Bluegrass Kitchen with, among others, Andy Murphy, Alex Greenman, Stephanie Howard, Lynne Crowley, and Joe Larson, I felt full, satisfied, smiley, and ever-so-slightly buzzed. I went home, didn't study, and fell into a happy sleep by 11:00. I felt fully ready to face Day 2:

Game 10 against Stephen Henney: Lucky game for me here! I was first to play and was able to put down IDIOTIC for 72 points. Later I played REAVOWS (70) which drew a challenge. I also drew the K, Q, X, and Z and was able to play them for a decent number of points. All that put me out of reach for my opponent and our final score was 394-350. Score card: 7-3, + 568.

Game 11 against Shirley Perman: I had heard that Shirley wasn't having a great tournament so I tried to approach this game with special sensitivity. (Hey, I've been there. I know what it's like to keep getting beat for two or three days in a row. It's hard on the spirit.) Still, I had to play my best game of Scrabble while trying to be a sensitive opponent. I played TEENIER (63) and RELAPSES (72) and drew the J, K, Q and Z and, interestingly, was able to play out my last six tiles with a disconnected 8 of REUnITeD (for 9 points but it's rare that I'm able to play disconnected words). Shirley did get by with PROTHERS* (65) but it was late in the game and, although that play put her within 36 points of me, I had the Q and the Z on my rack still, with an opportunity to play the Q for a lot of points, and didn't want to risk losing a turn. We ended up at 445 Tina and 345 Shirley. Score card: 8-3, + 668.

In between games 11 and 12, I learned that Joe R., the player who had been in first place, had lost a game which moved me from third place to second and moved Raf Barker to first. And therein lay my opportunity to take first place in my division. To do this, I needed two things to happen. I needed to win against Joe R. in our upcoming game...and I needed Raf Barker to lose a game. Raf was 9-2 but my spread was pretty much out of reach for any other player. Suddenly my joy over second place was...strangely...a little dulled. If I could take first place, it would be my first first place in a tournament. And that was something I reallly wanted. Although I felt suddenly different, I didn't feel unhappy or nervous or like my play would be affected. The entire tournament, I had felt focused and I felt such clarity and fluidity in my thoughts. I know the sensation well and recognize the buzz of it instantly. And it feels so splendid. In fact, I'm so mentally "on" when that feeling hits, I knew I would not choke in my last two games. If the tiles were right, I would do right by them. So I kept moving forward.

Game 12 against Joe Roberdeau (again): I have to admit, I went into this game feeling ayy-okay. Joe was really burning it up this tournament but we'd seen that he could be beaten. I did have a small thought that, since I had won two already this morning, I might be up for a loss which would have put first place (and maybe even second place) out of my reach. But I was able to play MEANIES (78), STRINGS (73), and URINOSE (69) over which I racked my brain for minutes. I just didn't see URINOSE for the longest time. His play was taking minutes, too, so I kept hoping he would throw down an S so I could play NEUROSIS. He didn't. And right before I was about to burn off three or four letters, I saw URINOSE. I had played that word before but sometimes you just don't see words on your rack. (I find it helps to either move the tiles around on my rack or the just relax for a second and let the letters float freely in my mind's eye.) But, anyway...phew! Final score: 412 (me) to 281 (Joe). Score card: 9-3, +799.

And Raf won his game. And that meant it literally came down to the very last game for Raf and me. Whomever won our game would take first place in our division. Whomever lost our game would take second. Raf and I get along very well and we respect each we shook hands, wished each other luck, and got the party started.

Game 13 against Raf Barker: The decision maker. All right, I'm just going to come right out and say it. I just could NOT get any good play down on this board. Both Raf and I played bingos for our final plays (he with SIGNEES (68) and me with RIOTOUS (74) to bingo out) but, other than that, nothing special really happened. He was just able to consistently play small, higher-scoring words than mine and those points added up. I was never in the lead and, in the end, he had 448 points to my 304. I had taken second place and Rafael first. Sigh.

Raf was he should have been. He was excited...all smiles and chatty about the game and the scores and our records and all those very normal things to talk about after a round of Scrabble. And I was deflated. Me being me, I knew exactly how I felt and why I felt it and I was most definitely able to put it into words. I looked at Raf and I said, "I'm a really good loser but I'm so disappointed. I just need a few minutes to let that feeling dissipate." Raf immediately recognized that, as happy as he was with his victory, I was just as sad about first place slipping away from me. He smiled and was gracious and understanding and went to another part of the room to chat while I put my board and supplies away.

Sure enough, 20 minutes later I was able to smile genuinely as I accepted my second place prize. And 20 minutes after that I was able to smile and enjoy myself as I sat having a late lunch at Pies and Pints with Raf and with some of the Pittsburgh players before they got on the road.

So it was a good tournament. A GREAT tournament. And I cannot wait to do another one.

As for this blog post, I'm not so sure it's that great. I'm sorry it's long and ends sort of abruptly. I'm out of practice with writing, you know? Give me time. Time for blogging and time for tournaments.

Scrabble in the Snow: February Fury in Warren, MI

An "open" Scrabble tournament doesn't divide players into divisions by their rating. This means that the thousandth-something-highest player can end up playing one of the top players in the country. It means that Tina Totten King can end up playing a three-game match against "G.I. Joel" Sherman. This is no Cinderella story, though. I got whupped by Joel Sherman, and rightfully so.

That was last weekend. And despite having zero chance of winning even one of my first three games, that part wasn't so bad. The rest of the tournament, though, was downright dandy.

In what's become a common event, traveling to Michigan for a Scrabble tournament includes a short stopover in the Cleveland area to pick up friends. My usual traveling companions include Dallas Johnson, Pete Ziegler, and George Viebranz. This time we were joined by another Ohio Scrabble player, Kevin McCarthy. There're many advantages to doing things this way. First, it makes the last three-or-so hours of my ride much less lonely. Second, it almost guarantees the rest of the ride will be hee-larious. Them smart people are funny.

During the Warren tournament, I was invited to stay at the home of Steve and Joni Grob who live about 45 minutes from the tournament site. Steve is a good of many I've made in the Scrabble world. Steve's wife Joni is the type of woman other women want to be hang out with...friendly, kind, and smart. The Grob house is a warm, comfortable place and I felt right at home the whole time.

So, after my favorite pre-tournament breakfast on Saturday morning (egg and cheese on croissant from Burger King and a Mocha Joe), we got those three impossible games out of the way and started onward and upward toward the real potential for me that weekend. (By the way, those three games against Joel Sherman: 249-479, 216-550, and 365-461.) For the other 12 of my games, I went 7-and-5, winning three of the four three-game matches. My highest-scoring word: GROUSER (88) against Rob Long. My best game: 509-317 against Dianne Watson.

Having started as 31st seed, I finished in 21st place. For that, my rating went up 72 points!! Another, higher-rated player also finished 10 places above his seed, so the two of us split the $150 prize for that achievment.

And Steve Grob hit quite a stride that weekend. Faced with incredibly tough and talented opponents, Steve won the tournament and a very nice cash prize to go with the bragging rights. Jason Idalski, the tournament's spectacular director, gave a heartfelt, impromptu speech before handing over the envelope. Steve had kind words to say himself and even Joni Grob was able to make it for the prize ceremony.

As always, win-or-lose, traveling to Scrabble tournaments gives me the chance to see my friends, the chance to compete, and the chance to eat all the Pretzel Flipz I can find while laughing my way down the Interstate. The February Fury, though, definitely had some bonus material. It was a good tournament. It was a good weekend.

Oh, man. I've got to go study.

Top - My game against Joel Sherman. I'm the one with the glasses.
Middle - Jeff Clark and me at Saturday's typical group dinner.
Bottom - Jason Idalski reflects on a successful tournament as Steve Grob soaks up a little glory.

P.S. An extra special shout-out to Linda Hoggatt.
Without her, things just wouldn't be as much fun.

Animal Reflections

The last couple of days I've been reflecting upon humankind's protectiveness of animals. I'm speaking generally, of course. Obviously there are many people out there who aren't kind to animals at all and that kind of ties into what I'm saying. But the trouble we'll go to, even for a wild animal, is remarkable.

Last year, for instance, a black bear found its way into the river in Charleston. (It's not a stretch to imagine this situation because, although it's "downtown" Charleston, it's a relatively small, valley area and it's bordered by woodsy areas on all sides.) So while Black Bear is making his or her way to the river bank, the police come along and stop traffic so the bear can safely cross the road. I'm sure all involved were excited at the sight of a bear crossing the road in broad daylight and were happy to watch the bear climb the hill to safety. By the way, if you're city folk and can't imagine why people would be happy to see a bear headed into a woodsy neighborhood, black bears aren't like the bears of northwest United States. Unless in a highly-exceptional situation (like protecting a cub, being approached when wounded, etc.), a black bear tends to act kind of like a giant raccoon. They like to get into the trash, tear some stuff up, and usually run at the sight of a human. (The instances of black bear attacks are increasing with housing expansion but that's another story. The point is, don't try to make them your pet and it'll probably all work out fine.)

Here's the sad example I'll throw in the middle to kind of buffer it:

Yesterday I was turning onto Route 119 from Lucado Rd. and I saw, to my right, a deer which appeared bedded down right there in the gravel. I'll call it a "she" because of the relative sizes of the head and body...making it likely a female. I pulled over and called 9-1-1 and told them the deer was either injured or trapped (and freaked out) and that either way, help was needed. You might think a 9-1-1 operator would scoff at such a thing being classified as an emergency but he said he'd send someone (and by "someone" I knew he'd be calling the DNR's field unit). So as I sat and waited, the deer tried to get up and run away. Without going into graphic detail, it became clear that both of her front legs were broken. She made it to the other side of Lucado and collapsed at the hillside.

I realized that the deer could probably not be saved (because their front legs are very spindly and personality-wise they're not going to cooperate during healing) but I also realized that she didn't appear to be injured other than the front legs. I called 9-1-1 again and told them, for sure, what was wrong with the deer and that she probably needed euthanized because her injuries wouldn't provide a timely end to her suffering. (I didn't say it like that but instead spoke mostly in short phrases forced through tears.) And then I sat and waited, not wanting the deer to make it out of sight and not being able to simply drive off. (I was afraid she might make it far enough away to bed down and, therefore, suffer much longer.)

Many, many people stopped. Many had seen the deer on the side of the road and had come back around the neighborhood to check on her. Several stopped and asked if I had called, or to tell me they had called, 9-1-1 and to ask how the deer would be helped. People were very concerned about this animal even though the relationship between deer and humans is sometimes sketchy. (Deer will eat up your garden and your flowers and jump right out in front of your car...which can cause human injury, too, or thousands of dollars in damage to the vehicle.)

More time passed and the after-school traffic died down. I waited in my van across the road, about 20 feet from the deer. We both seemed resigned to the situation, and she stared at me and I stared at her and there we just sat and sat. About 45 minutes after I first saw the deer in the gravel, I saw the DNR officer's truck pulling around the turn. He told me he would either "put her down" or help her if he could. That was my signal to drive away and I did.

So the deer couldn't be helped, but it wasn't for people not caring...and it wasn't for people not being willing to help. Had it been possible, I'm positive someone would have had her in their Volvo SUV headed off to the emergency veterinary hospital just down the road.

And then there was the time the combination of roads and animals and people turned out to actually improve some lives. Just a few days ago, a small, confused Beagle wandered onto I-64 and became trapped...and terrified. Motorists stopped along this 60-to-70 MPH stretch of road to try and help the dog. They called 9-1-1 as the scared dog ran back and forth across the road. Somehow the Beagle escaped injury until police arrived. And what did the police do? I know you can guess. They stopped traffic on I-64. The dog took shelter under a truck where the police were able to grab it. Yesterday the Beagle's picture was on the front page of the newspaper and, of course, people were lined up to adopt it.

If you've watched Animal Police, or even just your local news show, you've probably seen the lengths we'll go to to save an injured or neglected animal. You've probably noticed some decently-harsh sentencing for people convicted of animal cruelty (even though some may consider it humans' place to reign over animals and treat them how they wish). So what does it say about society when so many of our members would spend so much time, so much effort, and so much money to help creatures they don't even "own"? And what is it about animals that cause us to get our protective backs up maybe even more than we would for the guy next door? I think it says our instinct is to protect those we feel are weaker. Or maybe its because animals live lives of relative innocence and they lack human sins. Food for thought, no matter what.

StuffI'mMovingFromMyMySpaceBlogBeforeIShutItDown: June 19, 2006 entry

We observe our heroine browsing through her old MySpace blog, checking it over for important tidbits she might not want to be lost when MySpace goes the way of glass eating, Wacky Wallwalkers, and the hi-top fade. Miraculously, she spots a blog entry of such high quality that she simply can't make that double-layer click-through then CATCHPA entry to finally see the entry deleted from 2007's favorite website.

Peering over our heroine's shoulder, we read...

June 19, 2006


One balmy summer night, I found myself on a train headed nowhere in particular. On that train, I met a man who made his living playing cards. It happened that we were both so exhausted we could not rest. Instead, we both stared out the window into the dark night. Eventually, we both tired of the monotony...of the silence...and the man started to talk.

He told me that he had built his career, even his existence, on studying other people's expressions. He could tell what cards they had by how they fixed their gaze. He said he hoped me didn't mind him saying as much, but he knew that I held no aces in my hand. In exchange for a drink of my Crown, he offered some guidance.

I passed the man my Crown, and he drank the last bit of it. He asked me for a cigarette (which struck me as odd since I don't smoke) and then he asked me for a lighter (which was even more odd considering I didn't give him a cigarette). Complete silence fell over the night and the man's face became expressionless. Then he told me, "If you're going to play cards, it's essential that you learn to do it right."

He said, "You've got to learn when to keep your cards and learn when to get rid of them." He said I'd have to know when to saunter away from the table, and when to race away. Then he told me to not ever add up my chips when I was seated at the table, because there would be plenty of time for that when the game was over. He said, "every card player learns the skill of staying alive in the game: recognizing which cards to throw out and which to hang on to." He went on to tell me that any hand could end up winning, and that any hand could end up losing. Mysteriously, he added that the most a card player could strive for was to depart this life while sleeping.

When he was done talking, he looked again to the window. He put out his cigarette (which I still have no idea where he got), and quietly nodded off. True to those cryptic words, sometime during that dark night, the card player met his goal. From his last words, I gained advice worth remembering. His words echoed in my head three more times.

Oh, sheesh.

The four-year-old just said (about me)..."Her shaked her head no." Her dad corrected her..."SHE shaked her head no."

I guess we should be glad his job is math-based.