Patsy Porco

Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Last Clock You’ll Ever Need

In Humor, Mayan Calendar on December 27, 2011 at 12:01 pm

When my sister—let’s call her Victoria—was young, she used to complain that everyone died on her birthday. Not everyone actually did, but the percentage of our relatives and friends who left this world on the anniversary of the day she entered it was astoundingly high. I think she still holds her breath until her birthday is over. If I were in her shoes, I’d move my birthday to another day. Hell, I’d subtract some years while I was at it.

While nobody has died recently on her day, it is unlikely that anyone ever will again. That’s because, according to the Mayan calendar, the end of the world is going to occur on December 21, 2012, the day before her next birthday. I recently saw a cartoon of Mayans carving a calendar. They ran out of room for more days and one of them said, “This is going to freak people out in 2012.”

Now that our purported last year is rapidly approaching, I thought I’d poke around the Web to see if there were any last-day parties or car sales planned. I didn’t find any, but what I did find was the Mayan Last Day site,* On the site, you can buy a Countdown Clock, available on a keychain or refrigerator magnet. When the end of the world as you know it is coming up, you certainly don’t want to have to dig around in your junk drawer to find your Countdown Clock; you want to know exactly how much time you have left at any given moment.

The Mayan Countdown Clock people considerately manufactured portable and stationary clocks so you’ll never be without one. The best part is that the clocks come with a three-year limited warranty. So, two years after the world is gone, you can still get your money back under certain circumstances. The warranty might be limited by the decimation of our planet; the website didn’t list the exclusions. I guess their legal department is still working on the wording. They’d better hurry up.

*This website has been disabled. The owner probably didn’t want to keep paying for a site that wouldn’t exist as of December 22.



In Humor on December 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm

As I walked through the dining room, I glanced out the window at the house across the street. I groaned inwardly. It had been more than a week since I had visited that house and I was feeling guilty. Two elderly sisters lived there and they craved outside company. The elder sister, Betty, was 92. While she looked every day of her years, her mind was extremely sharp, she still drove herself all over town and beyond, but she was deaf as a hatrack. Her younger sister, Laura, was 87 and her mind was sharp, too, but her body was failing her and she wasn’t often able to walk without assistance. Betty insisted that Laura’s mobility problem was all in her head. She often commented that she, Betty, was in the same shape as Laura was, but that she wasn’t a quitter. She refused to give up her independence so she used a large, black walnut cane to help her get around. Laura just rolled her eyes whenever Betty started on one of her tirades. 

 I knew I should bite the bullet and go over for a visit but just thinking about it exhausted me. While Laura was sweet and soft-spoken, Betty was demanding, loud, abrasive and tyrannical. Laura responded to Betty’s ceaseless commands with passive aggression; when Betty ordered Laura to eat her dinner, Laura would agree that she needed to eat to keep her strength up, and then she would put her plate down on the table next to her recliner and pointedly ignore her food. This would send Betty into hysterics. The more she would order Laura to eat, the more Laura would ignore her. I had been witness to their scenes on many occasions and was always relieved when I managed to escape from their house.

 One time was particularly memorable. Betty was sitting in her chair with the ottoman in front of her. On top of the ottoman was a square of wood. Betty had a solitaire game set up on it when I arrived. The phone was to her right. Laura sat across the room in her dark blue recliner. I tried to include both of them in the conversation, but Betty kept interrupting and monopolizing the conversation. She was on a rant about how Laura was starving herself to death. The conversation in that house was as stagnant as the air; we had been discussing the same subject for the last month. The ringing phone interrupted Betty’s diatribe and she jumped on it. The caller asked for her sister, so Betty barked an order to her sister to pick up the extension by her recliner.

While Betty talked at me loudly, Laura talked to her friend. Betty and Laura were no more than 15 feet apart, but Betty couldn’t hear Laura. So she concentrated on me, complaining about neighbors, the weather and, of course, how uncooperative Laura was being. I nodded when it seemed appropriate since there was no opportunity to interject a comment into Betty’s monologue. Meanwhile, Laura spoke softly into the phone. She knew her sister couldn’t hear her, and it was a good thing. She began by telling her friend that Betty was the nastiest, bossiest, most infuriating person to ever live. She continued in this vein for a good five minutes. By the end of her conversation, she had vowed to do away with her.

The entire time she was speaking, she was calm and smiling. Betty looked over at her sister numerous times to see if she could hear what Laura was saying, but she couldn’t. You couldn’t tell by Laura’s face that she was planning her sister’s death; she looked like a sweet old woman discussing the price of tomatoes. It was really hard to pay attention to Betty when Laura’s conversation was so enthralling. I had to force myself to look away from Laura so that Betty wouldn’t suspect that Laura was talking about her. Eventually Laura hung up and smiled sweetly at us. “What did I miss?” she asked. “Nothing … yet,” I responded, fixing her with a pointed look. Laura smiled beatifically at me in response.

Recalling that episode, I decided I could survive another day of guilt over not visiting them.


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Brain Candy

In Books, Humor, Reading, Self-Published Books on December 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I’ve always been proud to call myself a reader. Smug, even. For some reason I still can’t fathom, when people refer to another as “a reader,” a hush falls over the room and everyone stares at the reader with admiration. I am a voracious reader of books, but considering that I read solely for entertainment and to escape from reality, I hardly deserve any approbation. Okay, reading has improved my vocabulary, but that’s the only benefit I can credit to the thousands of hours I’ve spent ignoring my family, and my ever-increasing laundry pile, to live vicariously through the characters in books.

Because being a reader is regarded as a noble thing, I can’t help but wonder why others proudly proclaim that they don’t read. Don’t do whatever you want in the privacy of your own home, but I would think it would be wiser to keep your non-activity private in a world where readers are revered.

Among readers, there’s a hierarchy. If you exclusively read nonfiction, then you’re considered an elite reader. Literary fiction is next, followed by other fiction, and the rest. There are many other categories, but I’m not going to try to think of them all for fear I’ll get side-tracked with categories, subcategories, genres, subgenres, etc.

Regarding my own reading habits, I  freely, yet sheepishly, admit that I ordinarily do not read nonfiction. I also don’t read to purposely learn anything. Whatever I inadvertently learn while reading seeps into my brain without any encouragement from me. That puts me, I shudder to acknowledge, on a par with someone who doesn’t read and only watches TV for entertainment. TV watchers who limit their viewing to political or learning channels fall higher on the Media Consumer Scale (which I just invented).

So, you ask, what am I trying to say, and why is it taking so many words to say it? What I’m saying is that books to me are brain candy: sweet and satisfying for the moment. I rarely recall what I read the day before and it’s even rarer for me to read a book that stays with me for days or weeks. Therefore, readers of my caliber do not deserve to be worshipped and adored by nonreaders, especially those who watch The History Channel or NOVA. (Worshipped and adored might be overstating the case, but permit me some hyperbole, since I know, from reading the word and then looking it up, what hyperbole means.)

To address the second part of your question, it is taking me so many words to make my case because I’m obfuscating the true purpose of this post: to promote my website,, to all of the readers out there, regardless of where you fall on the Media Consumer Scale. My website is home to the works of self-published, or indie, authors. The quality of the books varies greatly, but so does the variety of topics. There are many fresh voices out there that, heretofore, were not heard—some deservedly. But there are many authors who have created quality works which deserve a look. So, do yourself a favor, and take a look. You’ll feel like a kid in a candy store.


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