Writer's Block: A latte for every day of the year

If you unexpectedly won a $10,000, how would you spend it?

All I can say, is if that's a latte for every day of the year, that is one darned expensive latte you're drinking.

Seriously though. I dunno. I'd probably throw it into a mortgage payment or pay off a good chunk of the new car The Husband insisted we needed. But I'm boring that way.

If it were conditional to spend the money on "stuff" rather than debt, probably I'd spend it on buying new clothes for the kids since they always seem to need new clothes, then replace some of the rattier furniture around the house that The Husband and I bought at flea market type places 10 years ago with the idea that we'd get nicer stuff when we could afford it.

Writer's Block: Best song of the year

What is the best song of 2010?

I haven't heard a good song this year. I thought they stopped making those...?

Seriously though, I don't listen to the radio and I don't really follow much of anyone. Sometimes I go looking for music on youtube but usually end up listening to 90s music or music that is at least 5 years old.

I do wish Hannah Montana (and Miley Cyrus in general) would go away though. As the parent of a 7-year-old. Sigh. Of course, I suppose there's much worse garbage out there. Like the joke otherwise known as the Absolute Kidz CDs they sell here that have songs like Lady Gaga stuff and Rihanna on them. I mean seriously. How is that appropriate for a child to listen to much less sing along to?

Writer's Block: Ready, steady, read

What is the best book you've read this year, and why?

Duh, ya mean pleasure reading?

I guess Dean Koontz's Breathless. I only read two pleasure reading books this summer. Breathless and his other one Relentless. Breathless was a little better. Actually got me thinking a bit. I like books that do that.

Of course there was also a book on Quantum Physics for the Confused...called something like that at least...got my nerd juices flowing.

It's not that I don't read though. It's just lately I've been knee deep in stuff like Wheater's Histology and Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy and Purves' et all Neuroscience. Uck. I like this stuff but I wish I was going to have more than a weekend between fall and spring semesters....guess I'll have to catch up on pleasure reading next summer.

Writer's Block: Cool places

What's your favorite city or town that you've visited? Why do you love it?

Too many to pick a favorite. My top ones are in California.

Crescent City: What's better than redwood forests on the coast?

Santa Cruz: See above.

Fort Bragg: See above.

Mount Shasta: I lived near there for a few years. In some ways I consider it my heart's home. Continuing to live there would have been impractical for too many reasons to count, but it is just amazingly beautiful there...what a skyline. And the mountain itself is ethereal and it's easy to see why kooky new age types have created a zillion myths about it.

Mammoth Lakes: Beautiful mountains, clean air...sigh.

Writer's Block: Family matters

How many brothers and sisters would you choose to have, and why?

Well heck. I have three brothers, and while it was annoying when I was a kid, as an adult I wish I had even more siblings. I wouldn't put a number on it, but those huge Greek families you see in movies look kind of nice.

Family makes a nice social support network. It's nice to have people who care about you and who you can help and be helped by when needed. I feel like a dumbbutt for not having realized this when I was younger, and for thinking it was such an adventure to get involved with someone from halfway around the world. No, I probably don't regret marrying The Husband and us  moving back to Sweden, but dang...I do miss my "first" family.

It's partly for this reason that I wish we would have more kids. The Husband thinks two is enough though, but it makes me sad that when they're grown up my kids might only have each other. Here's hoping they will at least have some cousins someday but right now they don't...on either continent.

Writer's Block: Cause or symptom?

Do you believe that violence in media promotes violence in real life? Does media reflect cultural values or can it actively reshape them?

Both, probably. I do think that violence in the media promotes violence in real life by causing it to seem more normal. Studies have even shown this to be the case, such as if kids watch a movie about other kids being mean to each other they are more likely to do it themselves.

I think it probably works subconsciously that way for adults too, although adults are more likely to have a complicated psyche wherein these effects are likely strongest on people who were already violence-prone to begin with, which likely happens for a load more reasons than watching violence in the media. For example, I don't worry that The Husband likes to play what are in my opinion abominably violent games like grand theft auto...he's not going to go out and become a murderous car thief anytime soon. But I'll be darned if I'll let my 5-year-old even watch his dad playing it...

I do also think that there's violence in the media because it's what people want, however. Our culture is becoming more and more harsh that way. It's kind of sad that these things aren't shocking anymore. I count myself among this too, and I like series like Sons of Anarchy and 24 as much as the next person that have a lot of violence and stuff that probably would have shocked people 50 years ago. Dunno if there's any solution to this though. I wonder if industrialized civilization is in decay sometimes. I suppose the human race has always liked violence, given that the Romans liked to watch people mauling each other as well, but maybe the cycle is preparing to turn again when people get fed up with it.

Writer's Block: Time for a reboot

Which phrase would you choose to replace the ubiquitous "Have a nice day" phrase?

I don't have a problem with "have a nice day." I think it's a nice sentiment, actually, even when just said as rote routine by bored people.

Although there are some situations where common sense should dictate that it not be said. The veterinary clerk said it to my mother on the day she picked up our cat's ashes when I was 18...a cat we'd had for over a decade whose death we were really broken up about. "My condolences" would have been more appropriate.

On a similar note, I was watching a medical documentary a few weeks back and there was a segment in which a doctor was breaking the news to some poor shell-shocked parents that their bright and vivacious 7-year-old daughter had an almost certainly fatal, inoperable malignant brain tumor. I was, of course, as the parent of a bubbly 7-year-old girl, sobbing my eyes out when watching it. The parents quietly said "Thank you doctor" when he had finished explaining the news. He replied, "you're welcome." Not the best thing to say, although I'm sure it was just a learned in reflex to someone saying "thank you," but certainly a reminder that it helps to think before you speak in all situations.

Writer's Block: Cover me

Which songs have been covered better by artists who didn't originally sing them?

I like Nine Inch Nails, but Johnny Cash stole this song. His cover was way better.

"Mad, Mad World."
I like the Gary Jules cover, not a fan of the original.

The Jeff Buckley version. As with Hurt, I like Leonard Cohen too, but Jeff Buckley's cover rules.

Writer's Block: You must remember this

How do memories influence the decisions you make? Is it better to embrace memories, even the painful ones, or cast them off?

Embrace them. Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Painful memories are hard to embrace but they contain lessons. To deny those lessons is to deny a good chunk of what makes you who you are, and thus to deny your self (and I mean that as two words) and to e lost.

Disclaimer: I've had a bit of alcohol. So maybe I'm just blabbling.