It’s Alarming

Last year I indulged in a new alarm clock. An atomic clock, which means I never have to set it again. The numbers are enormous, making it easy to read without my glasses. It not only shows me the time, but also the temperature and humidity of the room, the day, the date, and the moon phase. It also has a USB port for charging my phone. How could this be a bad thing?

The moon phases are always off a little. I should have realized this before I purchased the clock. The clock runs on a man-made calendar, while the moon phases itself on a (shocking!) lunar calendar. This is not a deal-breaker.

My phone started acting up whenever I plugged it into the clock to charge. Every day at 1:08am, 2:08am, 3:08am, 4:08am, 5:08am, 6:08am, 7:08am my phone vibrates twice. I am a light sleeper. This seriously impacted my sleep.  I checked every alarm, alert, etc. on my phone. I asked my co-workers, most of whom are much more tech savvy than I when it comes to smart phones. Nothing.

After months of frustration I finally figured out why my phone was vibrating at eight past the hour every hour. For some bizarre reason, the clock face goes completely black on the hour in the AM. It comes back on eight minutes later, which causes a power surge in my phone, making it vibrate. That mystery solved.

Now if only I could figure out what’s going on with the eight-minute blackout.

 

Digging in Upstate New York

Digging things up was a minor trend in upstate New York back in the 1800s.

Joseph Smith Jr started it in 1823, when he dug up a buried book written on golden plates near Palmyra, New York. This discovery led to the establishment of the Mormon religion. 

Throughout the summers of my youth, local TV stations ran a Public Service Announcement for the Hill Cumorah Pageant, a reenactment of Smith’s adventures on the hill. Once, at a writing conference, an editor said to me, “Oh, I’m from upstate New York, too, a small town outside of Rochester you’ve probably never heard of. Palmyra.” I responded “Hill Cumorah Pageant.” “That’s the one,” she replied.

Twenty or so years after Joseph Smith did his thing, George Hull and his cousin Stubbs Newell decided to play a hoax on the American public. Hull commissioned some folks in Iowa to create a “petrified giant”, which he then buried on his cousin’s farm in Cardiff, New York.  A year or so later, his cousin commissioned a couple of people to dig a well on the spot where he’d buried the petrified giant.  And thus one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American public came into being: The Cardiff Giant.  PT Barnum, when he couldn’t buy the original, commissioned his own and made a fortune off it.

The Cardiff Giant isn’t nearly as well known as Mormonism–but it does have a niche following, and people tend to co-op the name on a regular basis. There’s a baseball team in Cooperstown, NY (where the real giant currently resides, a folk-rock band out of Indiana, a wrestler, a winery, and a bar in Brooklyn.

Yet the place where he was disinterred barely rates a roadside marker, unlike Hill Cumorah.

I know, because I grew up next door to the farm where the giant was unearthed.

 

Self Help Review: Made for More? Nope.

I’m switching things up a bit this year, trying to keep the blog fresh. I will review a self-help book, or in the case of January, a self-help movie, the first Thursday of every month. I’ve certainly read my share.

One thing you’re going to learn about me is my skepticism. You may think I am a negative person, but I’m really not. Positivity is my number four strength, according to the Clifton Stengthsfinder assessment. But I’m skeptical. Or maybe I should say I’m wary of being conned.

My then-manager showed the Rachel Hollis documentary Made for More to us as a team building exercise. Rachel Hollis, in case you didn’t know (and I didn’t), is a guru of self-help for women. Her book Girl, Wash your Face was a best seller. A friend recently told me there have been accusations of plagiarism, but I don’t really know enough about it to comment. What I do know is the first half of the movie. (I declined to watch the second half, which was shown in another team meeting).

The first thing that struck me about this movie was while Rachel was discussing how her organization is all about empowering women, the video showed her husband driving the family van with the caption: CEO of her company (The Hollis Company).  I thought an empowered woman would be empower other women. Making your husband CEO of your company seems contradictory.

Further into the movie Rachel tells us about her boob job. How she hated her breasts because after nursing four children they were like yogurt, so she decided to get a boob job to increase her self-esteem/body image/whatever.

After she has justified why she wanted a boob job, she went to a scene from one of her RISE sessions (3-day personal growth conferences) where she asked the attendees how they felt about their bodies. Everyone was in tears, because everyone hated something about their bodies. It was very moving. She went on and on about how awful it was that these women hated their bodies.

I had a problem with this–not with her having a boob job–but the mixed message (and her tears) she sent to that conference of crying women with body image issues. If I had been in the audience that day, I would have felt used.

In about 40 minutes of documentary, the woman managed to turn me off. Not every “method” of self-help works for every person. Rachel Hollis is not my guru.

 

 

 

MJ’s Musings: My Log

For many years, my parents heated their house with wood.  One of the many chores my siblings and I had to do involved stacking firewood.

I’ve always been one to notice details. One day, while stacking logs, I noticed several that appeared to have been etched. I asked my father if I could have one of them. He said yes. He explained that insects between the bark and the wood had made the marks. I didn’t care. I was fascinated by patterns.

I carried the log with me through many moves while I was in my twenties. Most people thought I was weird. Then I met TV Stevie, who asked me about the log. Turns out he had one, too. Something about it appealed to him.

We still have both logs, careful not to burn them in our own wood stove. Our logs predated “The Log Lady” on the TV series Twin Peaks. We never received cryptic messages from ours, but who knows? Maybe the etchings on mine reveal the secret of life.

MJ’s MUSINGS: BOOK BINGO–UNDER REPRESENTED AUTHOR

For my “under-represented author” square on the BOOK BINGO card, I chose Tikka Chance on Me, by Suleikha Snyder. Several people had recommended it as a good read, not necessarily for book bingo.

I loved it! It’s the story of an Indian girl who works in her parents’ restaurant and a biker bad boy, neither of whom are all they seem.  They’d known each other in high school, but their lives took divergent paths. The story is actually a novella, but it reads longer because it’s packed and fast-paced. And it’s hot.

Five stars.