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Ode to Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Here’s a recipe for Spiced Honey Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. I’m not sure why you would even look at this, but in case you haven’t had roasted pumpkin seeds in a while and want to confirm that you too hate them, you should go ahead and make some.

I know, I know, it’s such a shame to see those pumpkin seeds go to waste during the pumpkin carving process. In addition to being beckoned into the waste-not-want-not world of consuming the seeds, there are numerous benefits of the little guys. Not unlike an assortment of other seeds the benefits touted are so numerous I’m surprised they’re not put into a liquid based drink and sold by hawkers of magical elixirs.

Spiced Honey Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

The pumpkin seed has nutrients ranging from magnesium to copper, protein and zinc. They contain plant compounds that contain antioxidants. Step right up!  These little seeds can help you lose weight by burning calories for you! Step right up! Get your roasted pumpkin seeds!  Add fiber to your diet by putting a handful of this goodness called pumpkin seeds right straight down your throat.

So every year my wife, let me refer to her as Cynthia for the time being, washes and spices and roasts the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkins our children have carved. Let me be more precise – the pumpkins that my children start carving and I begrudgingly complete – every year becoming totally consumed by the artistry of the carving by the time I get to the last one.

Cynthia is of the healthy sort and is fully engaged with the seeds – not just pumpkin  – but any seeds that can be sprinkled here or there to add fiber and all of the above magicality. The problem – I could call it challenge, but I won’t – is that nobody in our family eats the roasted seeds. Every year I taste the roasted seeds in what becomes a reminder to me that I don’t like seeds. Don’t get me wrong, I love the seasonings – salt, cinnamon, honey, garlic, paprika and whatever else can be placed on the slippery surface of a seed (by the seashore). I just don’t like the seed. And it looks like nobody else in our family likes the seed. Cynthia will have a few, but is more into the process and the girls have not touched a seed in a few years.

My son, we can discuss him using the name Hoyt, seems to be the last one in our family that is willing to eat the roasted pumpkin seeds. He even took a container full to school for a snack. But this is the same boy that loves tormenting his classmates with his love of raw seaweed as a snack item. If I didn’t know that we paid good money for the boy via the in vitro fertilization process, I would have questioned the seed that created him.

I guess I’m saying that no matter the flavoring added to the exterior of a pumpkin seed I’m a big no go on the eating of said seeds. It may have to do with the texture of the seeds or the fear that a shard will break off and cut my throat wide open on the way down to the stomach.

My dislike of the seed started with trying to understand the consumption of sunflower seeds. It seemed to be the perfect carrier for salt into the human body. Beyond that, the process of taking in a mouth full of tiny seeds and turning one’s mouth into an old fashioned threshing machine seemed like a lot of work.  From my research, bird seed eaters tend to be people trying to give up smoking or nervously planning a bank heist. Sorry. There are no other categories here.

Next year, I’m going to push to save our time and not roast the pumpkin seeds. We can stock up on extra seaweed for the boy and we all can have a spoonful of spices and honey and call it a day. And for the love of humanity, don’t get me started on roasted chestnuts. I’m surprisingly ok with open fires.

 

Sadly Yours,

Jason Spafford

American Priestess – Final Draft

 

Anna Spafford

 

This is a script based on a true story of a distant relative, Anna Spafford, whose story bridges two centuries and two countries, spanning war and personal tragedy and haunted by a man from her past. She becomes a leader of a cult-like religious group, starting a movement that will outlive her. This may have been uploaded a couple years ago, but last round of changes were finally implemented.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meat

The new President of Agriculture was set to speak within the next three hours. The election was close. There were talks of voter suppression and misinformation to keep some Forms out of the election process. We needed to be put this behind and move forward as a united Unit. For many it would be difficult. This was the most controversial and divisive President of Agriculture election in over 100 years – possibly more so than when the traditional office of President of United States position was moved to a leading position in tourism and marketing.

President of Agriculture, Ms. Bess Bell, had a most unusual path to the Kansas City Whitehouse. Ms. Bell spent the previous 10 micro years learning everything she could about the issues that held our Unit together, as well as those that divided our land. She would be the first from her family to fully complete the guided learning process.  Consistent monitoring put her in the top of her learning outcomes and placed her in position to run for the President of Agriculture, based on matching criteria.

As much as we tried to put a face on the differences and added label after label, it came down to old versus new. No change versus change. At that time in our society, we waited until the old ideas were phased out. We continued talking to and interacting with the old idea purveyors, getting their opinion up until their last breath. Every fear had to be listened to and managed, whether rational or not.

In less than two hours, Ms. Bell, the first Bos Taurus Form elected to the President of Agriculture position, would be speaking. Even though she had gone through all the regimented brain development procedures, those opposing her felt she brought an incredible bias to the current controversy.

Almost one hundred years prior to the time of President of Agriculture Bell, after the dissipating shorelines and the great migration inland, we were forced to move our technology in a new direction. Robots were to remain helpful in automatization.  But there was a focus on land and agriculture. New ideas were needed to solve the simple problem of feeding Forms.

After the advancements in “All Form Culture”- the ability to grow certain non-Human Form brains into cognitive and productive organisms added a multitude of moral and ethical issues.  The discussion surrounding how we were to care for newly blossoming sentient beings, combined with the new battle over food consumption – meat versus vegetable versus syn – created unrest for many years leading up to the election of Ms. Bell.

The Hominoidea stayed primarily in the southern hemisphere regions and thrived. As we freed land from meat production we moved the Bos Taurus into protection programs. The Canis and Felis were also given assistance and an opportunity to mainstream. There were staunch opponents to this new way and, once again, Human Form fear drove the narrative surrounding the issues.

Once vegetable and synthetic foods took over, there was very little reason for killing to create meat.  Very few “Gesters” (referring to meat consumers and the extra digestion needed for meat) could tell the syn meat from real meat. However, Gesters had been backed for over one hundred years by the National Protection Association (NPA) Party (formerly a weapon lobbying organization). Long after our Unit moved to solar power, eliminating a carbon based fuel, the NPA party’s sole platform had remained the consumption of non-syn meat. This election marked the end of that reign.

In less than an hour, the new President of Agriculture would speak via virtual dialogue dispatches.  Although Ms. Bell had attained the mental equivalency of top Human Forms, it would take another 35 years of breeding to adjust the vocal palette to allow verbal Human Form-like speech patterns.

The Bos Taurus were originally thought to be a non-Human Form that would have difficulty learning, Truth be told, aside from Gesters, many knew for years that they could remember – and even hold a grudge. Because their brain was able to grow with the help of genetics, they became one of the quickest to advance. Some were instantly afraid of this prospect and worried that the Bos Taurus would realize how they’d been treated historically and retaliate. However, they turned their learning skills into a benefit and in a short time contributed immensely to the success of the All Form Culture.

Unfortunately, this led some of the Gesters to call the Bos Taurus ”elitists.” They relied solely on their brains to sustain their lifestyle – one that, through only nature’s doing, required them to be cared for on a regular basis by Human Forms.

It was only minutes before the speech and the massive crowd was scanned for weapons – ranging from old fashioned metal guns to 3D hyper printed plastic guns to Cylon compression phone rays. Slowly, the President of Agriculture was led onto the stage. She wore a professional blue gown that covered her body, only exposing her four legs below the knees. Her hoofs were painted a pristine black. She wore a traditional decorative gold bell around her neck that caught the stage light and sparkled briefly. At the podium one of her team placed the virtual dialogue apparatus near her temple.

The massive crowd was made up of three quarters Human Forms and the rest other Forms. They went silent. Multiple screens appear behind her as her mouth moved slowly with no perceivable sound. Then the text appeared.

“Thank you to the NPA for bringing important discussions to the public during the four year campaign and election process. I want to thank all Forms for taking part in the election process….”

There was a commotion in the crowd and a clean cut Human Form with a traditional older style suite and wearing a silk neck ribbon jumped to an aisle and shouted.

“Die cow!”

He pulled a Cylon CP from a skin pouch on his arm and shot multiple times at the President of Agriculture. She quickly swung her head up, bringing the decorative bell in front of her. The rays ricocheted off the bell and directly back at the man, piercing his neck, eye and stomach. He was killed instantly.

The crowd of Humans and other Forms moved in around him quickly to prevent medical workers from getting him into a healing booth, where he had a chance to be brought back. The group nearest the man could smell the stench of meat coming from his stomach wound. The crowd quieted again and faced the President of Agriculture waiting for her to continue.

The Human Form’s partially digested stomach meat scent wafted up towards Ms. Bell in small pin prick waves. She was torn, but knew what the Forms wanted. She continued.

“We will work together to improve our Unit for our offspring and their offspring. We must unite and find common ground. On that common ground we will build a better, brighter future for all Forms.”

The screens went blank and balloons and confetti dropped from the sky as all Forms in the audience cheered loudly.

#

The day turns to night and the stage morphs into a different kind of stage with a different Bos Taurus on the stage. This one looks bigger and appears to have Human Form hair in patches on his head. There are no monitors. This Bos Taurus speaks directly into a voice magnification system. His voice is low and strained.

“That was the story of my great, great grandmother and in many ways the story of all of our kind. I can promise you that the continuing leadership of the Bos Taurus will only lead to more prosperous times. Now that we truly have a voice there is no turning back. We will continue to lead this great Unit into the future – for all Forms.”

The crowd becomes visible as a circus of lights crisscross the large group. This new crowd is mainly made up of Bos Taurus and other Forms, with a handful of Human Forms sprinkled throughout. Once again, the balloons and confetti drop as the Forms continue to cheer.

 

Sadly yours,

Jason Spafford

The Social Media Legacy

Alex Crenev has a social media legacy problem. He has no one to look after his social media in the instance should he become incapacitated or experience the unfortunate path of death. He has no one to whom he can turn over his many creative and strong passwords. He has no one to properly label and weed through his numerous selfies. Alex is on the high side of 28 and has only known forms of social media for communication. He did write several letters when younger, prompted by his parents, to respond to a birthday card laced with money from an aunt.

Alex has a twitter account for work and one for personal use. He’s concerned about his work Twitter and LinkedIn accounts after his demise. He feels pretty good about all the important work related articles he’s shared with others. For not being a celebrity he also has a fairly high followers to following ratio (Fers/Fing Ratio). In the twitter sphere many people trade. You follow me and I’ll follow you. Those not dubbed celebrity need to produce the kind of meaningful content that others deem valuable enough to follow. Alex worked hard on providing this kind of content and he acquired far more followers than he is following. It’s a shame to give up this achievement just because of a silly thing like death. But what is the alternative?

A handful of years ago, a company called SM Legacy was formed by technologist Edward Tress. The “SM” in the title stands for “Social Media”. Edward set up an organization that was well-funded, allowing it to plot a plan forward several generations. This was necessary if Mr. Tress was to create the kind of company to provide the most forward thinking social media services.

Mr. Crenev was one of SM Legacy’s earliest customers. Fortunately, Alex was a trust fund kid, because the expense to manage one’s social media for several generations forward can be cost prohibitive. Trust fund kids are quite simply the best people. In many cases, that last statement can be modified to read best consumers. With many advantages, the weight of the little things can be hoisted off the shoulders of the young dilettantes. Sometimes this can translate into much free time to prattle on about the finer things in life, like how to cure meats, the best cigar humidor and complaining about improper levels of service. Other trust funders will focus on community and public service because they realize they’ve been afforded a great opportunity. Alex Crane fell somewhere in between. He felt that the preservation of his legacy was itself a form of public service.

After leaving college, supply chain management and logistics became a passion of Alex’s, quickly followed by expertise. He wanted to know as much as possible.  Supply chain is big business in these days of “Just in Time” delivery in order to keep one’s inventory as low as possible. Supply chain has become one of the last places for companies to shave costs and become more efficient.

He paid a small amount of money and received his Six Sigma Black Belt certification, skipping right over his brown belt certification, so he could speak in the language of the practitioners of Six Sigma. He learned agile development methodology so he could understand the processes that were created to force flexibility and creativity onto traditionally uncreative and inflexible people – allowing for the rigid to have a set of rigid principles to follow, forcing them to be flexible. And, just to be well-rounded, he also learned several selling techniques, including the popular Action Selling – breaking down the “act of the sale” into a painfully intuitive 9 step process. He found that the people loved the steps.

On a regular basis, Alex pulled information together to write somewhat thoughtful musings on how enumerated steps and top 5 or top 8 this or that impacted his industry.  He learned quickly that people generally liked or shared top 5 more than top 8 just because there were 3 less to read and everybody is very busy. He regularly posted these as well as re-posting via Twitter, LinkedIn and other business social networks. His followers (Fers) numbers slowly crept up to the point of corporate respectability. As he gained Fers numbers he shed his following (Fing) numbers and began to look quite important and knowledgeable with all those Fers.

On the personal side Alex, had rolled up quite a number of connections on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Snapchat, for a man of some 28 years. “Likes” flowed over his selfies, posts and re-posts like a chocolate fountain over strawberries – thick, delicious and indulgent. What would happen, he thought, if something happened – to him?

Alex Crenev’s first thought was that he needed to find and marry a person and procreate, so as to create a professional adult who could manage his social media when he could no longer do so. He quickly found a woman through a fellow trust funder named Kevin. Her name was Lizzie.  Alex was drawn to her gymnasium looks and she to his Range Rover and watch. Their selfies together looked fantastic from every angle. This was truly a match made by Kevin.

While Alex and Lizzie worked on creating a baby, Alex continued to post and repost. This added a new dimension to his personal posting. He found that images containing Lizzie increased his likes, by what appeared upon first calculation, some 63%. Alex made a joke to Lizzie that seemed like it wasn’t a joke at all.

“My likes increased by 63% when you were added to my images. I hope you don’t take over my Facebook page.”

The statement seemed odd, but Lizzie only smiled as those in love sometimes do.

One day while scanning for content to repost professionally, he came across an article by Edward Tress talking about his company and the algorithm behind the long-term success of what he was building. The article was much longer than he was used to reading. It seemed to go on for paragraph after paragraph and he was trying not to think about all the tidbits of information he could pick up elsewhere in the time spent reading what seemed like an unnecessarily long article of some 3700 contiguous words.

Mr. Tress didn’t get too much into the details of the pricing for SM Legacy’s services in the article, but Alex’s attention was peaked. Oddly, he decided not to repost or tweet this article. He felt this article was something that would give him an eventual edge and it shouldn’t be shared.

Several months pass, and find Lizzie with a baby blooming in her belly like an onion – not cut open, battered and deep-fried, but instead, a human form with layers and layers of complexities – that will be subject to smelling at times. Alex is overjoyed to have an heir, but first things first. He needs to jet to California to meet with Edward Tress and discuss his legacy. He thinks maybe he should wait until after the baby is born, but he’s torn.

The room is sterile and institutional. The fluorescent lights manage a cool bluish grip on all eyes entering the hall. A mail cart scoots unevenly down the hallway with one of its four wheels barely touching the reflectively clean tile, being pushed by a man in a lab coat displaying a short manicured beard that is most likely curated by the love of his life. Alex enters the hallway and walks towards the man who is now standing by a reception desk.

“I’m here, I’m here,” Alex sounds frustrated and a bit anxious. “I’m here to see….”

“Yes, I know. They’re in the OR room. I’ll take you there,” says the mouth in the man’s curated beard.

Alex follows the man down the hall, all the while thinking how much work it must be to continually control one’s facial hair. Then he wonders how he can turn a beard analogy into a post that would address something in a company’s supply chain. The face in this scenario could be likened to a warehouse and the hair could be akin to inventory. It seems to write itself.

The man stops his cart and points to the door that has only the letters O and R on it.

“I can just go in?” Alex quizzes.

“Yes. They’re waiting for you,” and he slowly wheels away.

Alex enters the room and first sees banks of mechanized flashing red and green lights. Upon closer inspection it looks like a large server room and he can hear the low, slow machine hum, thick like a milkshake blanketing the cool room. A second later he sees a man and woman in the corner of the room at a desk. They stand to greet him.

“Mr. Crenev?” says the man.  Alex nods in the affirmative. “This is Eleanor, and I’m Edward Tress.”

They shake hands and Edward ushers him to a small conference room just off the main OR room. The conference room is a warmer setting and contains a white board and many elements one would find in a conference room. Table, chairs and cups for coffee. They take a seat at the table.

“Eleanor is one of our engineers and I wanted to have her here to explain some of the basics of the technology and answer any questions,” said Edward.

Alex, sitting up straight, asks, “Ok, first off why is the room out there called ‘OR?’”

“I can explain that,” says Eleanor. “OR refers to the core of what supports Mr. Tress’ algorithm. There is something in logic called an OR Gate. You see, it’s a connective in logic which yields true if any one of a sequence conditions is true, and false if all conditions are false. A product of ORs is called a disjunction. This room creates disjunctions and they are denoted in something called truth tables. We feed all our clients’ social media data through this system creating truth tables from social media data to drive what we call resiliency.

There is a pause as Alex is taking this information in and not understanding a word of it, then Edward continues.

“Resiliency refers to improvements. Over time we bolster and improve the client’s social media based on the incoming data of past social media occurrences.”

“So after I die you can continue to “bolster” my social media?” asks Alex.

“Yes. Using machine AI we are able to read through your content, and those that you interact with, and begin building new content and reposting new content based on machine learning with the OR Gate logic at its base.  In effect, we push you further than you can go by yourself. We also create a hologram of you that can be used in speaking engagements in the future. You can now understand why we needed financial information before we continued this discussion,” Edward said.

Eleanor adds, “After the client’s death and over time – looking forward a couple of generations or more – all the content created can also be monetized. Your heirs can be awarded the rights to ad dollars and you can put a percentage back into the process, so our team can keep your social media profile optimized. Spending more money in the future will short your ad revenue to loved ones, but push your profile higher, eventually causing more ad dollars a couple of generations out. You can compare that scenario to investing.”

“If you move forward you’ll be here for a month while we gather all the data we need from you to create a realistic hologram that allows for voice dubbing coordination. We could start as early as three months from now.”

“My wife is pregnant with our son and due then.  Does the following month work?”

“That month was a cancellation. Our next open slot is in 18 months. ”

“Let me talk to my wife first.”

“Alex, I will only add that the harder you work to create valuable content before your death, the easier it will be for the algorithm to be more successful. You’ll have to decide, regarding your legacy, if there will be a professional or personal focus. Both can rise, but it’s up to you if there is a preference for how you want to be remembered and perpetuated.”

“I understand,” said Alex.

Alex is in his home office and surrounded by the things that interest him. Items like books and games that he’s collected over the years and has continued to learn about. He’s become a 28-year-old sage with regards to obscure games from India and has created a small following with his posts discussing the differences between Shooting Ball and Volley Ball.

Lizzie enters the office and moves stacks of papers off the small couch in the room. She appears relatively small for being over six months pregnant. She sits her small frame plus one onto the cleared space of the couch. She watches Alex for a short time. He doesn’t seem to notice that she is there. This weighs on the corners of her mouth and eyes.

“What did you want to talk with me about?” Lizzie starts.

“Remember how we talked about making a great future for our son? Well, I have that chance but I have to go away for a month. It would have to be during the month that you’re due.

“That won’t work.”

“I’m sorry, but it’s the only way. I don’t like it either.”

“Who will help me name the baby?”

“We can do that ahead of time.”

“I’d like to name him Alex, Jr., that way at least I can have one Alex around.”

“Well, we can’t name him after me. That would add a level of confusion to the SM Legacy algorithms trying to discern what Alex, Jr. said versus what I said – once he’s old enough to use social media.”

“I see.” Lizzie says before getting up and exiting the office.

Alex looks troubled for a moment but immediately goes back to finishing his current post.

Three months later Alex is in California at SM Legacy’s office. He’s sitting in a library and reading lists of words out loud into a microphone in order to create a vocabulary library for the future hologram of himself. Eleanor is sitting across the table from him and taking notes. He finishes and leaves the room to take a break.

In the hall, he sees a text from his wife saying she has had the baby along with a picture of the baby. He gives her a call immediately and Lizzie answers from her hospital bed.

“I got the text and saw the picture. How are you and Everett doing?”

“There was a change of plan. He is now Alex, Jr.”

“What? That can’t happen. Why did you do that? I thought we agreed on Everett for the name?

“Nope.  Alex, Jr. I’ve got his Facebook and Instagram accounts already set up and there are already pictures of him up there. You would not believe the number of likes he’s getting. Like father, like son I suppose.”

“That’s great. Ok. I was on a break here and its ending. I’ll talk to you soon.“  Alex hangs up abruptly.

Alex enters the room with Eleanor to continue reading the words. Before he begins again, he tells her that he needs to have them up the percentage of ad revenue that goes back to the company so as to make his profiles stronger in the future.

He realizes that he hadn’t noticed earlier how attractive Eleanor is. He thinks about showing her his watch. Talking about it as a piece of art has worked for him with women in the past. But he decides that bringing another person into his world is not worth the risk of damaging his social media profile.

That evening in California, Alex tries to write something that he hopes will eventually soften Lizzie so as to persuade her to change the name of their son. But as he writes, their struggle turns into another analogy about the supply chain industry. He does mention her real name and his son’s name – as Alex, Jr. Throughout the next couple days he notices that via his professional networks this article is getting the most reads of anything he’s ever written – once again, with Lizzie’s and Alex, Jr.’s pictures, over 60% more than his previous best.

Before he leaves California he replaces Lizzie with his son to be his sole heir. For a moment he thinks about his son’s future and he hopes the best for him in the way one might dream about how helpful a new inventory analytics tool will be to the future of an organization.  Once you input all the correct data, it will take on a life of its own and correct all the mistakes of previous generations.

Lizzie is sitting at a kitchen table typing on a lap top. Next to the computer on the table is a key chain that looks like the state of Florida. She’s posting on Facebook as Alex, Jr. Her post is from Alex, Jr.’s point of view.

It reads, “Went to the store today just in time. I needed a supply of diapers. I got a fancy key chain for my mom.”

Lizzie gets up and walks out of the kitchen and into a bedroom where a 2-year-old Alex, Jr. is lying asleep in his bed. She takes a picture and adds it to the post. The phone rings and Lizzie smiles towards Alex, Jr. and slowly moves to pick up her phone, seeing that its Alex calling.

“Hello, Alex. I don’t think you’re supposed to be calling me.”

“Listen, I spent half my trust fund with SM Legacy and you’re not going to get the other half of it,” Alex says while walking down a very busy sidewalk with the sounds of the city almost drowning him out.

“The lawyers think otherwise and say we should have everything wrapped up within a month, so you can get back to your posting.”

“Not going to happen! And I saw Alex, Jr.’s Facebook and Instagram pages. I see what you’re doing. You’ve copied articles of mine and you’re using key words from my posts. I see what you’re trying to do,” Alex yells as he approaches a crosswalk.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You make me so angry. I’m calling my lawyer as soon as I get off the phone, “ and he hangs up.

Alex immediately looks at his phone and starts checking his social media, as he briskly pushes through the people waiting at the crosswalk and quickly walks into a street now crowded with moving traffic. As luck would not have it, Alex stepped immediately in the front of a city bus while staring at his phone and died instantaneously. He would not be calling his lawyer and their divorce proceedings would be over in a much sooner fashion than the aforementioned month.

The next morning in Lizzie’s kitchen the sun enters through the window in an organized single file procession and lands on the table, illuminating her closed lap top. Lizzie enters the kitchen on the phone. She’s just woken and in her pajamas. Her words come in intervals that allow time for someone on the other end of the phone to give information.

“What? When? I see. I’ll talk to him. I’m so sorry. Ok. Goodbye.”

Lizzie picks up her cup of coffee, walks to her table and opens the lap top, pulling it out of the sunlight and ending its light landing pad status. She logs into Alex, Jr.’s Facebook account. She calmly goes into the settings and changes his name to eliminate the “Jr.” so his name now reads only as “Alex.” She saves the change and slowly closes the lap top and sips her coffee.

In California, upon hearing of Mr. Crenev’s untimely death, the SM Legacy team turns the Crenev account to “automation mode”. This is where searching of previous content and creating new content begins. The OR Gate algorithm is set to do its work.

As Lizzie and Alex, Jr. sleep, robots and spiders and web crawlers made their way across the internet collecting data about Alex Crenev. During this collection, they come across Alex Jr.’s Facebook page that is now listed as “Alex” and latch onto the words “just in time,” “supply,” and “chain” from the post Lizzie wrote a few days earlier. They also come across copies of the father’s posts on Alex’s Facebook page.

Within a few weeks of gathering data from both sources something occurs, which was not caught by the SM Legacy team. At 3:22 am on a Tuesday there is a glitch that allows the OR Gate to make Alex’s son Alex the client. Alex’s son Alex has an average of 60% higher ratings on the truth table. It will now only be a matter of time before this change is propagated across the network. Going forward the original Alex Crenev will not be credited for any of his posts, but it will still be an Alex Crenev.

Generations from now will only know the current Alex for what are sure to be some captivating machine learned postings on the subject of Supply Chain Management. His Fers/Fing ratio will be celebrity like. He will be a public speaker backed by a hologram, for generations to come, that will adapt itself to his look – a look that will not be that dissimilar from his father’s.  A father that he will never know. A father that the world will never know anything about.

 

Sincerely yours,

Jason Spafford

Butler, Minnesota – Feature Film Turns 20

20 years ago I directed a small feature film that I wrote and produced with my brother, Justin Spafford. I owned a DVD production company for ten years and never got it on to DVD. Go figure. Friends at Cine-o-Matic finally put it on DVD for me in 2015. This version is ripped from the DVD. At some point, hopefully before another 20 years we’ll go back to the print for a higher quality version. I thought with all forms analog coming back, it would be appropriate to screen this version in RetroVHS™ quality. For your screening enjoyment, don’t go full screen with this baby.

A recent thought has been to rework the story for stage (no musical numbers at this time). We’ll see where that goes.

You can click on the link below to view:

https://youtu.be/4N37jLhFbb0

ATVs and Rock Picking in Eagle River, WI

I love to vacation in Eagle River, WI. I never considered myself a guy who would get into ATVing, but that all changed this summer. However, I came to ATVing in a less conventional way.

As a child I spent a lot of time in Eagle River not even knowing anything about the full on vacationing going on there. We lived thirty miles away, on a potato farm outside of Rhinelander, and came up many Sundays to visit my grandparents, Bob, Sr. and Caroline Croker on their farm – Maple Ridge Farm on Croker Road.

In the 1970s, I didn’t even realize that there were lakes only a few miles from the farm that could be used for swimming, and reportedly also boating or fishing. I have great memories of coming to Eagle River, but most are of visiting with my grandparents and relatives. My grandfather was a great storyteller. I heard stories about old timers with names like “Happy” and “Barefoot Charlie”. It seemed like he was always only one name away from a list of Snow White’s BFFs.

There was no swimming or boating – only haying and stories. My dad always put on his Sunday best to get out of any haying work. He picked up this gentleman farmer routine after throwing his back out years earlier while haying, only to have to work on his own farm the following Monday. His pristine white 1970s slacks assured that there would be no weekend slinging of hay bales.

As kids, my brother and I would help with haying occasionally, but it was the rock picking that we loathed. Yes, rock picking. Every farm kid knows it. While “vacationing” at my grandparents, a couple of days were spent following my grandfather and a Bobcat bucket around the field picking rocks. The following year the rocks seemed to reappear. I suspected my grandfather of spreading them around the field the week before we arrived. He seemed to know where they all were.

Until this summer, I could safely say that I enjoy every form of recreation over rock picking – save for one. I have never had an interest in ATVs and the like and would rather be on a hot dry field picking rocks eternally, rather than fill my lungs with the thrill of trail dust.

Almost 20 years ago my parents moved to Eagle River and now live right next to Maple Ridge Farm. My wife and I and three kids make the 5 hour journey from Minneapolis as much as possible. And now, with no rock picking field work, I have more time to explore the Eagle River area in a way that I didn’t know as a kid.

Only a few years ago we began taking advantage of the public beaches in the area. One such beach is on a little lake only a few miles from my parents. We normally take Croker Rd, past my parents’ house, to the end where it becomes a dirt road. To the left is Deer Lake Road.  The difference from the 1970s and even a few years ago is that Deer Lake Road is now a road / ATV trail.

Deer Lake Road was our path to an afternoon of swimming at the lake. We were packed into our minivan – the kids, my wife and I and my sister and her daughter – all seats occupied. As we headed down the road I was grumbling to my sister about the condition of the road. It seemed like it was becoming more trail than road and the minivan suspension was not built for this. At about a mile in, the road turned into something from yesteryear. I felt like Pa Ingalls moving his family wagon to a new place where I would have to build a new cabin – by myself – again.

We were travelling at about 10 mph and the road had become a motocross track (from yesteryear). I hadn’t been on the road since last summer, and was amazed at its current condition. I was cursing ATVs and UTVs and any other kind of “TVs”. Our VW minivan, which was really only a Dodge Caravan with a German accent, ambled up and down the hills of the road, tip toeing around the sand potholes, trying not to complain.

As we crept up a hill, an ATV came over the hill and the woman on the back stood up and gave us an excited thumbs up. She appeared to slur some kind of “Yee Haw” that appeared to me, for some strange reason, in slow motion.  Good God, contain yourself, woman. I could only think. They seemed to be going too fast for the condition of the road and I wasn’t sure what the thumbs up and exaltation was all about.

Next, we approached a UTV and the driver pulled over and just stared at us as we drove by. Finally, some respect for my vehicle on this road that had been torn up by the likes of their “TV” kind. The pulled over driver’s expression was mixed with confusion and fear and that seemed odd to me.

My sister broke through my intense road concentration and asked,

“Don’t you think we should have been back out to the black top by now?”

Then it hit me. She was right. Even though we were going slower than usual, we should have crossed the other road by now. I realized that the road went left a few miles back and I had thought it was the trail. I veered right to stay on the road, which was actually — the trail. For the past few miles, we had been four wheeling in the Northwoods with our minivan. I had invaded their trail with my big minivan. I was actually the crazy one, not the Yee Hawing woman. She must have thought she was speaking my crazy language, her brief attempt to try to communicate to me.

The thumbs up ATV woman was simply being inclusive and encouraging our choice of our 7 seater VWTV option. That must have been what “Yee Haw” meant. I guess she was just very excited for our experience. On the other hand, the pulled over driver showed concern about the size of my terrain vehicle. I believe I scared him with my recklessness and he may never look at that trail in the same fun loving way again.

The VWTV in the Northwoods

My sister and wife were laughing so hard that tears were streaming from their off-roading faces and the kids were laughing and cheering as my suspension system finally bounced us back onto a black top road a few miles away from where we wanted to be. As we pulled onto the black top, we looked back at the sign that marked the ATV trail. Sure enough. We had just done that.

I have always felt that Pa Ingalls was sort of crazy the way he picked up his family continually chasing the need to be on some kind of frontier. Now I was like crazy Pa Ingalls of the ATV trails.

I  have a new love for the world of ATVs, trail riding and maybe even Pa Ingalls. I’m thinking about opening a shop that rents minivan terrain vehicles (MVTVs) for those looking to ride the trails in minivan luxury. In fact, the next time I go MVTVing I’m going to take a page from my dad’s book and wear a nice white pair of slacks. I’ll be a gentleman MVTVer.

 

 

Sadly,

Jason Spafford

Spafford 2016 Christmas Letter

As we find ourselves at the brink of 2017 I would like to look back on 2016 and give an update. Sometimes my Christmas letters have been funny – maybe even verging on ridiculous. In the past, Cynthia has been very tolerant of my ramblings.  Even when I strayed from the important facts pertaining to our children, she saw that the people really enjoyed my letters. A good number of you were amused and gave me the attention I so needed. I think you really loved my letters.

Well, I’m older now and even though I know the things to say that touch the funny bone, Cynthia and others want me to be respectful of the tradition of the Christmas letter. I’m in a unique position in my family. I’m the one who has been elected to write our Christmas letter. Albeit, most in our household didn’t really participate in my selection – with some of the non-participants even complaining about my selection – but the person who chose me believes that I will now rise to the occasion and cast off my old jokey ways. The jokes are what got me where I am today, but I can easily make the adjustment and deliver our 2016 news in a respectful and serious manner.

I’ve been really wanting to write this Christmas letter all year because we had no Christmas letter in 2015. I wanted to write one, but I was so busy and no one else could do it. I’m really the best Christmas letter writer. We really needed a change after 2015. 2015 was just a really, bad year. The worst. Absolutely the worst.

Let me start by thanking all of you for reading this letter. I want to say you’re going to really like this letter. I think you really are. I don’t think anyone has ever written a Christmas letter quite like this one. My wife is amazed by my Christmas letter writing skills and my children tell me I’m a great writer.

My kids and my wife have been with me all of 2016. Cynthia, my incredibly beautiful wife, has continued to teach art at high school. She writes all her own lessons. The best lessons. These are really, fantastic lessons that she writes. She does this all herself. Sometimes she collaborates and maybe another teacher will contribute to a lesson. This is what these teachers do and it’s great.

Lila just turned 14 and should be getting her braces off soon. She’s going to have tremendously straight teeth. Hoyt is 9 and has joined the Cub Scouts. The cost to join the Cub Scouts is $50, and with that he gets a monthly magazine. I told him that amount is nothing. I’ll probably donate much, much more. I do that a lot. I really do. Our youngest, Iris, is now 6 and she’s doing phenomenally in gymnastics. The coach said she’s really, really, strong. Probably the strongest in the class. And there are some pretty, strong kids in that class. If she stays on track, who knows, one day she may compete against China –  and win.

We travelled in 2016 and went to our cabin in Wisconsin. It’s really, beautiful at the cabin. Some people are saying – I don’t know who, but I just hear that some are saying the cabin is the most beautiful cabin they’ve ever seen – and they think we’re really, very lucky to go there.

For 2017 I have the most incredible plans. We are going to do some unbelievable things in 2017. I’m going to be giving you all the details very soon. I have everything totally planned for this family. In 2017, we’re going to do things very different from how they’ve been done and this family is going to win bigly. We will make Spaffords great again.

 

Jason Spafford and Family

 

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Of Rats and Men and Caddyshack

Many years ago in a far, far away galaxy named Madison, Wisconsin I was single. In between pints of beer I thought it would be acceptable to meet and date somebody. One night through mutual friends I met a woman who I thought may have had the best sense of humor I had ever seen (actually heard – although she seemed to handle slapstick with equal competence). I laughed so much the first night we met that I asked if she would like to get together again.

She said she was available the next night and I should come over to her apartment for dinner. What? No shampooing of the hair? No other plans for the next six weeks? Wait. Maybe this is telling something about me. I said yes immediately. Then she suggested that we watch her favorite movie of all time. Oh, no. Here it comes. What could this be in 1988 – Dirty Dancing? Pretty in Pink? Beaches? So, I asked with teeth invisibly clenched what that movie might be.

She responded with “Caddyshack.”

It sounded like she said Caddyshack. Like a cross-examining attorney with the whole case on the line, I asked her to repeat her previous statement. Once again, she responded, “Caddyshack.” I thought it would be an extra measure of caution for me to clarify that this was the Caddyshack I was thinking of – you know, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase, just in case there was a black and white French movie of the same name.

“Caddie Chiac” could have been a movie about a trolley (Caddie) that is owned by some people who speak a mix of French and English (Chiac). The whole movie would have the prerequisite amount of “I love you, I hate you lines” and the screen filled with fog – no, wait. That’s just cigarette smoke. In the time I asked the question and before she had a chance to answer me, I had played the trailer of my make-believe movie in my head. I had also realized that even if this was the film, I would still show up.

“It’s a Cinderella Story,” she said.

I was stunned from my black and white dream.

“What did you say?”

“It’s my favorite line from Caddyshack.”

Now we were truly talking a “Cinderella Story”. I believe my eyes may have batted like a girl Rankin/Bass Reindeer. I exhaled a sigh of what I thought could have been love, which I would find out later was mostly composed of relief commingling with lust.

Before we completed our plans for the next evening she said she had an important question for me. The question was if I liked pets. Of course, I like pets. Who doesn’t like pets? If she had asked if I liked feral cats I probably would have said “sure”. The term “pet” assumes that said creature is paired off with an adorning human. I can most certainly get behind that. If she had asked if I would like to have a pet, that may not be a simple answer – but in this situation I could probably, once again muster up agreement with her particular leanings, based on the intonation of her asking voice. That’s sort of the beginning of any healthy relationship – right?

The next night I showed up with a bottle of wine that probably was bad, but neither of us had any knowledge to determine one way or another, so we drank it. We had dinner. Most likely spaghetti. Then it was time for the movie.

Before starting the movie she said she wanted to show me her pet. It was in her bedroom. OK. I followed her into the room and the late setting summer sun threw thick orange light in from the outside. I saw what looked like some kind of cage in a shadow in the back of the orange room. I sensed that the pet was going to be a guinea pig or maybe a hamster. I was starting to talk myself into maybe touching my finger to the top of its little rodent head.

“Hey, Ben!” She said with the kind of excitement that warrants an exclamation point.

We approached the cage and I could see that it was actually made of glass, like a large glass fish tank. I didn’t see anything in the tank.

“Do you see Ben hiding?” She asked.

I didn’t see anything. So technically, I guess I did see Ben hiding. If that’s what she meant. She approached and deftly reached in under some kind of plastic bridge. I was right behind her. As she grabbed at this unseen pet I could only see her back – until she wheeled around with said pet in hand – actually both hands.

I was face to face with the biggest, oddest looking guinea pig I’d ever seen. Then I realized that this guinea pig looked remarkably like a huge mouse. But the moment she kissed the top of Ben’s head I realized that Ben was in fact a rat.

I think she was thinking that I was thinking that I might want to pet the rat on the top of the head – maybe even in the region that had just been kissed – by the same lips that she might use to kiss a human person. I pulled myself together to gingerly pet its little bony rat head a couple of times.

Kind, pet friendly animal loving reader, this was in a time well before the lovable rat from the movie Ratatouille broke down the walls that kept rats from being highly successful French chefs. The time of my first pet rat encounter was in a time closer to movies like Willard and Ben, when rats were sort of bad.

Well, that was fun. It was now time to watch the movie. And she carried the rat with her to the living room. The rat – Ben, that is – perched on her shoulder as she got the movie and put it into the VCR. We took a seat on the couch together. And when I say “we” I mean me, her and Ben. Ben was on her lap as the movie began.

Eventually, she put Ben on the floor to wander around and get some exercise – I guess. Things were getting better. I had put Ben out of my mind. At some point during the movie we kissed. I even put the rat kissing lips out of my mind – because I’m a guy and that’s the kind of thing guys can do.

As we were making out I realized that her petite slender finger was running along my leg. I knew wearing shorts was a good idea. Her finger weaved back and forth along my leg like nothing I had ever felt. Out of nowhere she pinched me. I paused mid kiss and pulled back slightly.

“You like to pinch?” I said coyly.

“What?” she replied.

That second I knew to look down. My leg was bleeding and Ben was sitting on the couch next to us. Ben had bitten me. I saw his long tail weaving around and realized it was not her sexy little finger on my leg but Ben’s big ratty tail. I jumped up. I startled Ben and he scurried away – you know, like a rat.

“Be careful. You scared him,” she said.

“He bit me,” I countered.

She kissed my leg where the blood was. Now the blood was on her lips. I hate to dwell on this, but once again, those same lips that kissed the rat that bit me.

“You must have sat on his tail or something. I have some Band-Aids in the bathroom cabinet if you want. I’ll pause the movie.”

Some kind of bandage made sense. Cover the wound so the tetanus or whatever other rat disease could stay in there and do its work. I went into the bathroom and found the Band-Aids and applied one to my rat bite. An odd odor caught my attention. It is a bathroom so not totally unexpected.

The shower curtain was pulled shut and it seemed taut at the bottom, like weight was being applied all along the bottom of the curtain. Just great. I needed to look behind that curtain and there was really no way around it. I pulled it aside at the top and peaked behind. I spotted a couple of banana peels on top of what looked like seven inches of spaghetti filling the entire bottom of the tub. Then I looked closer. That spaghetti appeared to be moving. That spaghetti was not spaghetti, it was an entire bath tub of mealworms. Undulating, wriggling mealworms.

For a brief moment my dinner spaghetti almost made an appearance on top of the spaghetti of mealworms. I composed myself and went back out to the living room. Mentioning the mealworms seemed as natural to me as mealworms ridding one of their banana peels.

“You have a tub half full of mealworms,” I opined.

“Yeah. That’s where I compost.”

I stared for a moment.

“I shower at the gym,” she added.

That’s where things ended. No matter how funny you are, a bath tub of mealworms doesn’t add up. Throw in a biting rat and you’ve got a solid deal breaker. I would like to say that I had a heart to heart with her explaining how a rat bite and a bath tub of mealworms just didn’t work for me. I would like to say we exchanged a warm hug and bid our adieus, agreeing that it just wasn’t meant to be. But I didn’t.

She was really attractive and we had Caddy Shack on pause. I sat down next to her and watched the rest of the movie with one eye looking out for Ben the rat and keeping the information in the back of my mind that there was a tub of mealworms in the bathroom.

We went out two or three more times. One of those times involved bringing Ben along on a picnic at a park. The other couples were playing Frisbee or fetch with their dogs and we were freaking everyone out with a huge rat on our picnic blanket.

I don’t even think we officially broke up. We just stopped hanging out and doing things together. It’s possible she just thought I wasn’t that funny. You know, not pulling my fair share of the funny weight in the relationship. Or she could see that I was a rat hater and didn’t have a gym membership for showering.

I saw her a couple months later in a bar and we said hi. Later that night some guy was obviously hitting on her and I could tell she was ok with it. When she went to the bathroom I thought I should go and warn the guy about the rat and mealworms. But who was I kidding. He was a guy. She probably had him at “Caddyshack”.

Sadly yours,

Jason Spafford

Hurricane Trump Headed for Florida

Enormous amounts of heated moist air twisted high in the atmosphere. This is how my son explained the formation of hurricanes per his second grade classroom research. Just the discussion of twisted hot air made me think of the current state of Republican presidential politics.

A lot of people have been piling on Trump and I feel bad about that. I should clarify. I feel bad about that not happening earlier, because now we have a full-blown category 5 bashing the shores of this country, set to make Florida one of its next targets.

I wanted to write something earlier, but this political stuff is not my sweet spot. I was too fascinated by the brooding storm to turn away and look at my computer screen – coincidentally where my typed words appear. Besides, who wants to hear another opinion? But I thought, what the hell. Maybe I’ll just weigh in as the non-political pundit, non-celebrity AND the guy who came up with this little analogy comparing Donald Trump to a Hurricane. And watch how I do that without once comparing his wonderful hair to a swooping, spiraling hurricane pattern. That’s solid integrity, if I do say so myself.

So, are you sick of the analogy? Yeah, me too. Why don’t I just finish it off? But, first let me ask if any readers are voting for Trump. Just raise your hands. Not like you’re taking an oath or anything. If you are a Trump follower you’ve at least got to admit that when Trump made people pledge to him that they would vote, it looked a little German 1930ish. I apologize for that comment and I don’t blame you Trumpeters if you stop reading now. Just let me get through the next paragraph. I’m even using the more royal name of Trump and have not gone to the Drumpf side. Give me a shot.

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I grew up on a farm and went to farm auctions with my dad and uncle. That’s the fun of farming. Everyone is on the brink of going out of business and when your neighbor goes out of business, you feel bad, but go to his auction to see if you can get a deal on something – to help keep you from going out of business.

Can you imagine running into someone like Trump at a farm auction? Of course not. But if you did, that guy might be called a “Blowhard”. It’s sort of a funny word when it’s written. Most of the common sense oriented people I grew up knowing and know today would think a “Blowhard” is a guy who might say outlandish stuff and be all about themselves. Sometimes the “Blowhard” might even say what’s on your mind but you couldn’t bring yourself to say it. Possibly, because it was really something that shouldn’t be said (ah, and maybe deep down you knew that it shouldn’t be said because it was wrong, misinformed and not very nice –that’s really why you didn’t say it – except to your circle of friends who also said the same stuff and knew deep down it was wrong and not very nice).

Am I convincing any of you Trump friends to unfriend him? I thought probably not. But, bear with me. I think you’ll like how this hurricane analogy ends. I’ll give you a hint. There’s sunshine on the Trump fans.

We had a local blowhard. I remember my dad smiling at him and nodding and listening while looking for an escape route. Sometimes these blowhards can work themselves into a county clerk position or even make it up to higher levels of government. And that is a real shame, because these people will say anything to advance themselves. You could say this of your most hated Democrat or most hated Republican. Hell, I bet you’ve got a couple of names rolling off your tongue right now.

For good or bad, these politicians believe that what they are doing is for the good of the country and they generally stay a course. The blowhard – who makes you pick up your pace, so as to not bump into at the auction entrance – will say anything for the good of themselves. The blowhard has no time to listen. I guess that’s because he’s busy blowing hard. Hot air coming out of him to no possible end. Some will call the blowhard fancy words like “authoritarian” or “narcissist” or less fancy like “con man”. But we know he’s just a blowhard. Sometimes he may go by the moniker of “Loudmouth”.

Most of us wouldn’t be tricked into making the blowhard from the auction President of the United States. In my modest opinion, we also shouldn’t elect a blowhard from a TV show or a blowhard building contractor to be the president. If I were voting for Tump I would worry for my grandchildren that one day some Russian leader will make fun of his small hands. Then you’ve got President Trump offended and launching missiles with one of those tiny fingers (For the record, I never noticed how small his hands were until he held them up at a presidential debate and explained his whole situation to the American people). See what I’m saying, people? Pure blowhard move.

As usual, I digress. I promised to wrap up my analogy. You get it. Trump is the hurricane because he’s twisted hot air. Back in July of 2015 it looked like he was just regular blowhard hot air. But something happened. People at the auction started showing up and listening to him, more or less entertained and seriously irritated by the other people talking.

The other thing I learned from my son’s second grade class is that the hurricane can’t just happen on its own. You’re way ahead of me. You got it. There needs to be a “pre-existing disturbance” like, for example, a Tropical Depression. Maybe just really depressed and frustrated people for this analogy. And finally, there needs to be a large body of water feeding the hurricane. I guess we can say FOX news is that body, but that would not be fair and balanced. CNN and any other news outlets, where the name Trump could be heralded, were happy to feed the growing storm.

When Pat Paulsen ran for President five times (those under 40 may need to Google this one) between 1968 and 1996 no news outlets carried any of his speeches – and he was really funny. I think it was because he just didn’t seem like a serious candidate. He may have become a serious candidate had most news outlets covered all his speeches. Sorry, Pat. The news people of the time were not interested in that kind of fun news. However, things have changed.

Now everyone is running for their cars, grabbing bread and water off grocery store shelves and boarding up their windows. Meanwhile Trump supporters are standing in the eye of the storm with the sunshine of Trump smiling down on them like that big sunny, giggling orange faced baby in the Teletubbies (those over 40 may need to Google this one). I would say he’s preying on a group of people who are fearful and tired of the slow workings of a democracy, and in turn putting at risk many ideas held dear in this country – all in the name of having a blowhard get his way.

I would hope that Trump supporters will not go with the blowhard, but I find solace in the fact that I believe the hurricane will dissipate. I don’t think that he will ever quit – he shouldn’t, he’s winning. He’s in the process of being a winner. He’s a totally big winner with what looks like about 15% of the voters in the country picking him.

In true political fashion, the uncharacteristically large egos of those seeking the presidential title should diffuse each other. You know, like two negatives make a positive. The Republicans will do all in their power to wrestle Trump’s mantle away from him pre-convention or during convention. If unsuccessful, the other leading candidate will run as an independent. If Trump can’t get his tiny hands on his party’s thrown he will run as an independent.

In my optimistic view Trump will not become the next President and the hurricane will blow through having done its damage. I hope I’m right. But I’m still preparing for a long storm. I’m guessing my words may not have dissuaded any Trump fans. If Trump does become the Republican nominee, I’m planning on turning this essay into a reality TV show in an effort to get it in front of a larger audience.

My bigger concern is for the next hurricane season. It looks like it’s fairly easy to dupe the American people in a major way. And now all the news channels see how great the frenzied media pulls in the ratings and money. All that’s needed is a better looking man or woman with good, normal looking hair, regular sized hands and a willingness to say anything. Be on the lookout at the next auction you attend. You could find a blowhard who will be the next political hurricane and possibly our next President.

Sadly Yours,

Jason Spafford

The Lisp for Kegel Exercises

Dear readers, here is my new celebrity cause: The word “Lisp”. Let me be clear with you. I have a couple challenges right out of the gates. First, I’m not a celebrity. Eventually, we can only hope that the cause catches the altruistic eye of some celebrity with an abundance of celebrity style time on their hands. My second challenge (see how I’ve avoided the word “problem” for all you positive people) is that I don’t really care about the actual affliction of the lisp.

I could actually care less if someone makes a “th” sound when they are attempting to make an “s” sound via their mouth. I don’t have a judgmental bone in my body when it comes to how someone pronounces or doesn’t pronounce an “s” sound. I say “potatoes”, you say “potatoeth”. We are all equal – well, except for the extra teeth marks on the top of your tongue, which happens to lay too close to the front of your mouth.

Let’s back up for a second and explain that not only is this type of speech impediment known as a “Lisp”, but it can also be known as “Sigmatism”. I guess “Lisp”, for the afflicted, is the lessor of the two evils, with Sigmatism turning into Thigmatithm and lisp only being lithp. With this speech impediment, it is not only “s” sounds, but other sibilants (yeah, I just learned that word, too) like “z”, “ts”, and “dz” that are misarticulated.

The word “lisp” has several possible roots going back to Greek, German, Danish and old English. The origin of the word will need to be discussed by more knowledgeable sorts. I’m only here today to point out the problem and offer a solution we can all agree on.

What I’m concerned about, and find to be cruel and unnecessary to those speaking with a lisp, is actually the word. The word “Lisp” is like some vicious taunt. I should stop for one moment and say that on the flip side, for those that embrace and love their lisp, that simple descriptive term can be a point of pride.

“Damn right, I don’t say “etheths”. I have a lithp and I’m proud of it, thuccer!

But it seems pernicious to the group who sees the lisp as a speech impediment to be overcome. Those who only dream of being able to denote plurality by an “s” sound or others put off by all the extra work that goes into the “th” sound. These are the poor souls whom I shall dedicate my life – or at least a few minutes here. So, maybe I shouldn’t have said my life. My bad.

How sadistic is it that the very name of the affliction has to be “Lisp”. The sufferer of said affliction is not even able to talk about the problem without being forced to use a letter “s”. I am here today to say that we need to change the name of this impediment from the overtly insensitive name “Lisp” to something more appropriate and easier for the lisping community to say.

Cordial and learned readers, having the word “Lisp” portray the event taking place when the “s” sound is represented by the “th” sound is paramount to having the made up word of “Stttuttutter” represent the word “Stutter”. Image the unadulterated horror of a person struggling with a stuttering speech impediment having to use the word Stttuttutter to talk about their personal issue. Talk about rubbing one’s nose in said affliction.

I have, of course, given this some grave thought and after a whole bunch of minutes thinking about this problem. I’ve come up with a solution. I’ve come up with a better name. The beautiful thing is that this new name is not a made up word. Sure, I thought about just changing the name from “Lisp” to “Lithp”. That makes everyone say it the same. And, this may be a back-up if my plan A solution can’t be easily implemented.

Plan A takes an already popular word and merely has it swap places with “Lisp”. Here it is. We take Kegel, as in Kegel exercises, and swap it with Lisp. The affliction where the “s” sound turns into the “th” sound becomes “Kegel” and the exercises associated with strengthening pelvic floor muscles turns into “Lisp exercises”. As many of you know, these exercises are used to prepare for or recover from child birth and used to treat urinary incontinence. To be fair, the exercises can also be helpful for men with bladder control issues.

There will be some challenges with the swapping of the terms. For example, everyone is pretty used to “Lisp” referring to Lisp and “Kegel” referring to a certain exercise. However, I think a major word “search and replace” throughout the internet should be easy enough. Think about all the attention that these two topics will receive upon the decision to move forward with the word swap.

The Kegel exercises came to be by Dr. Arnold Kegel in the early 1940s and he has received much praise for his early work in the gynecological field. This can’t be taken away from him. After all, it’s not like there’s a Dr. Lisp out there. I bet if he were alive today he would think that it’s time for his name to be associated with something other than pee control exercises – not that this hasn’t been important to millions and millions of women. But, I’m just saying maybe his decedents would be ok if their name wasn’t only known for preventing urine leaks. Not to mention, I think we can all see how the term “Lisp” is more relatable to the description of a leaky bladder.

The important thing here is how much sense this actually makes. All people with this speech impediment should be able to easily say the word “Kegel”. I do realize that there will be a small number of leaking bladder women that may be faced with using the term “Lisp exercises” who are not able to easily make an “s” sound. AND we’ve added the word “exercises” with two additional “s” sounds. Bummer. The good thing is that they have options. They can refer to them with other terms, such as “pelvic workout” or “leaky bladder workout”.

I’m super bushed from pointing out this problem AND finding a solution. I might add, all in one day. I’ll leave it up to you to take the movement forward – at least until there can be a reliable celebrity spokesperson signed on to carry out the plan. My last input is that I think it would help advance the cause immensely if the celebrity is a woman with a lisp, suffering from urinary incontinence.

 

 

Sadly Yours,

Jason Spafford

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