Patsy Porco

Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

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In Humor on August 21, 2012 at 2:35 am

Over the course of my mid-length and mostly unvaried life, I’ve occasionally been asked, “What the hell is wrong with you?” Until now, I didn’t have a response.

Today, while I was in my garden, staking tomato plants that should have been staked a month ago, the answer came to me: I can’t identify plants to save my life. That’s what’s wrong with me, and it’s been going on for a long time.

Because I can’t tell one plant from another, I only have tomatoes in my garden. Back in June, I planted cucumbers, beans, peppers, onions, lettuce, spinach, and God only knows what else. I even wrote what I planted on little plastic sticks and planted them alongside the plants. My dog, Rudy, decided the identifiers were toys, or food, so they were gone immediately.  I didn’t worry too much, reasoning that once the plants bore fruit, I’d know what they were.

I didn’t count on the damage I would wreak with my weeding, however. Even though I covered my garden with black plastic before planting, weeds and morning glories managed to sneak in. Weeds I can handle, but morning glories are the bane of my gardening existence. While they’re pretty, they’re a major nuisance. They grow on long vines and twist themselves all around every plant they can reach. I tried to pull them up as soon as I saw them, but their leaves are identical to the leaves of young cucumber and bean plants. Therefore, I must have torn up all of the cucumber and bean plants along with the morning glories. I also ripped up the peppers, onions, lettuce, and spinach in my haste. Somehow, though, the morning glories survived and are on a mission to strangle the remaining tomato plants.

I should know a little about plants. After all, I took a botany class in my last quarter at The Ohio State University. I learned all about the identifying qualities of leaves and how they indicated what plant they belonged to. My crowning achievement in that class was being able to identify a plant by looking up its leaf serration and flower attributes in my botany book. That was my final, and my correct identification probably meant the difference between my graduating or having to repeat the class.

The class met twice a week, in the summer quarter, from 8 a.m. to noon. During one break, I came back with several of my classmates and we were laughing about something or other. The teaching assistant, who was probably only a year or two older than I was, was not amused. He pulled me out into the hall and asked, “What the hell is wrong with you?” Unfortunately, stressful situations always make me laugh. I just looked at him while attempting to suppress my laughter. He turned a frightening purple color and said, “If you and your friends ever smoke on break again and come back in this state, you will all be automatically flunked.”

I was confused. This was, after all, a time when smoking was a college prerequisite. I just looked at him. “Why can’t we smoke on our break? There are ashtrays in the hallway.”

“You know that I’m not talking about cigarettes,” he yelled at me.

“What are you talking about?” I said between laughs.

“Pot,” he spit out.

“We weren’t smoking pot,” I said. 

“Then why were you all giggling when you came back from break? And why do you stink of pot?” I didn’t answer him. I can’t recall, 28 years after the incident, why we were laughing, but chances were good that we were laughing at him.

“Get back in the class and tell your friends what I said,” he commanded. “This is your only warning. I would think that a graduating senior would not jeopardize her graduation by doing something so stupid.”  I didn’t say anything else, for fear of making the situation worse, and returned to my seat.

After the class, far from the classroom, I told my classmates what had happened and they laughed uproariously. “What kind of botany teacher thinks tobacco smells like marijuana?” they asked.

Anyway, that was the end of my botany career. I thought I’d never need it again in real life, like algebra, but it turns out I did. Too bad I was smoking weed at the time, instead of paying attention.

I Have a Theory

In Humor on August 18, 2012 at 1:05 am

I love a good conspiracy theory. No matter how far-fetched it sounds, I’ll usually believe it. Sometimes I keep my opinion to myself—there’s only so much craziness one’s friends can tolerate from one person. But, in private, I do believe that JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, and other more-recently-deceased famous people could have been murdered by committee. They were inconvenient people, to paraphrase Dominick Dunne. I even have theories about who did them in, but my insurance agent has advised against my theorizing in print; apparently, our homeowner’s insurance has a slander/libel limit.

I also believe that I’ve been a victim of a conspiracy. This is another closely guarded secret, because I wouldn’t want to be called paranoid, or worse, egocentric. One might ask, “Who would conspire against you?” while another might query, “Why do you think you’re so important that someone would want to kill you?” I never said that anyone wanted to kill me, at least not today. But, they might want to conspire against me. Don’t you think it’s odd that my website was recently hacked and eliminated from cyberspace, or from the more trendy “cloud”?

Yes, I’m aware that websites are hacked every day. But the difference is, there is no reason to hack my website, www.spbroundup.com (gratuitous mention), unless you are my competitor and want my site gone. My site was not a repository for credit card information or email addresses, so no identity thief would be interested in it. Only people with similar sites would want to eliminate mine.

I’m not actually aware of any competitors, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. My site is the only website I know of that is dedicated to the promotion of self-published books. Well, in truth, I don’t exactly engage in any actual promotion, per se, but I do offer a place for unknown authors to list their self-published books so that readers can find them. Okay, again, that was my original intent. Actually, it would be a place where unknown authors could list their indie books for others to find, if I dedicated the time necessary to upload their information onto my site. Regardless, I believe that my rivals, who probably exist, are jealous of the potential of my site and had to have it removed.

“Why would they be concerned about a half-baked site when they could offer a fully baked one?” you ask. I don’t know, especially about the baking part. But that’s the great thing about conspiracy theories: one never knows the truth. All one can do is guess, and one guess is as good as another.

(P.S. my site is back now, thanks to some fancy code work performed by a whiz named Larry.)

What the Hack?

In Humor on August 16, 2012 at 12:27 am

I’ve been hacked. Well, I haven’t personally been hacked. No hooded assailants wielding hacksaws and machetes have lopped off any of my limbs. To be more specific, my website has been hacked. It no longer exists, which means hundreds of hours of work were all for naught.

I started my site, www.spbroundup.com, last October. In truth, I worked diligently on it for months and then lost interest in it. It’s a site for self-published authors to display their books. I still think it’s a great idea. The authors who listed their books seemed to love the site. But it was a lot of work for one person, especially since that person has a lazy bone in place of a spine.

I kept meaning to get back to it. I told myself that I definitely would, once I found a full-time job, got a passport, lost 15 pounds, started jogging, and weeded my garden. Definitely then. “Then” turned out to be too late when my brother informed me that my site was gone and in its place was an announcement that someone at the David Geffen School of Medicine was using my URL, and that his information would be posted “eventually.”

What? My first reaction was to find the guy who stole my site. His name was provided in the announcement, along with his school. But then I figured that he would hardly give me his name if he were the site stealer. My husband told me that I should alert the Secret Service; they have a cyber crimes unit. What I ultimately did was tell my neighbor. He had helped me get my site up and running, so I figured he’d know what to do. He told me to contact my website’s host.

I did, via email because they don’t have a phone number (!), and they provided detailed instructions on what to do to fix the problem, as well as a heartfelt wish that all went well. Again, what?

Aren’t website hosts supposed to be more helpful than that? The detailed instructions they sent were Greek to me. I informed the host of that and was told that I might need to hire a web developer. They fervently hoped, however, that I wouldn’t write the site off as forever lost. I’ll tell you one thing, if I ever get my site back, I’m going to start speed-dating web hosting companies. Then I’m going to pack up my host’s belongings in boxes and throw them out the window onto the lawn. This relationship is over.

But, back to the present. You know how it’s said that you don’t miss something until it’s gone? That statement is pretty idiotic, in my opinion. Of course I didn’t miss my site when I had it. But I did neglect it and take it for granted. Now, it’s gone and all I want to do is have it back. I imagine hours of joy and fulfillment working on it and making it the best it can be. But it might be too late. Maybe the expression is that you don’t appreciate something until it’s gone. That would make more sense.

My helpful neighbor gave me the name of his coder, a guy who will probably be able to help me reunite with my site. I think I will also contact the Secret Service, though. Having a bunch of men in black, wearing ear pieces and sunglasses pull up to my house in black government cars would be interesting and exciting. I know I’ll miss them when they leave. Maybe I’ll offer to go with them to hunt down my cyber criminal. I know one thing for certain: if I catch him, I will be wielding a machete and a hacksaw.

Call Me Patsy Poppins

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2012 at 12:57 am

I’m a nanny. For three very young children. I only had one child, so I am in unknown territory. The three child seats in the back of my SUV blow me away every day. How did I become a nanny? The three children are as sweet as can be. But how did I become a childcare provider when I went to college for journalism? “It’s the economy, stupid,” as they said during President Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Call it what you will. We are in a depression, not a recession. Hundreds of thousands of people have become unemployed. Many of those have taken jobs which they never would have considered before.

While I’m a nanny a few days a week, the other days, if there is work, I copy-edit, or proofread, advertising copy. I cannot find a full-time job as a copy editor.

Despite the fact that ageism is illegal, let’s get real. Ageism still exists. I am over 50. My experience doesn’t matter. And I can’t complain. The experience of people my age never has mattered. My father’s company phased out his 50-something employees decades ago. I guess that I was banking on the power of the Baby Boomer Generation to oppose this discrimination.

Maybe the Baby Boomers are recipients of retirement benefits and don’t care anymore. I don’t know. I’m not close to retiring, and nobody, but nobody, is hiring full-timers. Sure, I can be employed every day of the week by the same company, but only if it’s through an agency. That way, no benefits need to be provided and no guarantee of future employment needs to be offered.

In the meantime, call me Patsy Poppins.

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