Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Prayer Request" or Quantum Physics 101

Hello everyone,

It's three years after Katrina, and Gustave is bearing down on New Orleans as I type. Currently, it's giving the Marines in Guantanamo bay a taste of waterboarding, or more simply put, drowning. Gustave has hit head on, and the current track shows it heading straight for the New Orleans coastal area. It's going to go straight across the widest part of the gulf, drawing energy and moisture up and intensifying.

So here's what I'd like folks to do even if for a couple minutes twice a day for the next three days. Pray.

Pray in whatever way works best for you for the entire state of Louisiana, because the track and projected size shows it basically eating the entire state. Pray for the city of New Orleans, goodness knows they need all the help they can get.

Now, for those of you even slightly interested in doing something more, here's a simple, easy proactive thing you can do. Take energy away from Gustave. Just say NO!

Picture in your mind's eye, this monster as it leaves Cuba. Feel the "anger" the energy, the winds, rain and power of this storm. Pure, powerful, energy like a giant ball of force heading towards the gulf coast. Now imagine you have a giant cable in your left hand, and another one in your right (or if you are a righty, the other way around) connected to a giant copper pole embedded in the ground. The piece of cable in your dominant hand you wan to plug into Gustave. Handle the cable carefully, and be sure it and you are safely grounded first, and just stick it into the giant ball of electricity. Let it run down the cable into the ground. You will feel a surge of energy in, through, and around you, just let it pass harmlessly into the ground. If you are able to multi-task, so much the better, keep it going full time for the next three days. Right now as I type this, I'm doing that, feeling the energy pouring through me and into the ground like a giant fire hose.

No "belief" in magic required, no skill, no training, no manual needed, just use this visualization to suck energy out of Gustave and dump it into the ground.

I'm fully serious here, deadly serious even, because aside from the property damage, a head on hit from a hurricane takes lives.

So let's all try and work together here to take away Gustave's energy. Stop him in his tracks, have it down graded.

For those of you with martial arts training, you may be temped to visualize blocking, or deflecting the storm. DO NOT DO THIS. There is NO safe place for it to go. It's already over Cuba and getting it to take a hard right turn, or bounce off Cuba and back into the sea will NOT work. No matter where it goes right now it's going to do some serious damage. So let's work together to try and stop him over the gulf.

Anyone with me?


Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Little Perfect Moment...

First, a heartfelt "Thank U" to Monica for inspiring the title of this post. Both the title, and the concept, came from a post of her's by the same name. Second, this is a post in stark, and somewhat deliberate contrast with last nights.

Tonight following a healthy and delicious dinner of Chicken, Pasta, Broccoli, Red Pepper's, Garlic, in a touch of Parmesan cheese I broke out the big guns.

Three little elliptical morsels of sheer bliss, each succulent shell slowly dissolving to reveal sweet, savory, dark and light in a symphony of tastes, smells and perfection that had me back at Ghridelli's in San Fransisco. The glorious combination of White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate perfection that slowly unfolds in my mouth. One little piece and I'm standing there in the sun overlooking the Bay, smells of water and sourdough wafting to my nose as the gulls soar above the beach. Sounds of the waves, and the ever present seals honking. Time stops as this chocolate slowly melts in my mouth, the flavors unfolding and complementing each other in perfect balance of Light, Dark and Milk harmonize to give me a little bit of Nirvana right here and now.

Am I having a Ghirdelli flash back? Nope. This mouthful of joy brought to me via the local grocery store and Mars Snackfoods. I'm not even kidding here. M&M has come out with something more evil than Dark Chocolate M&Ms. Triple Chocolate Premium M&Ms. THIS IS NOT A JOKE...

These things are amazing. Turely worth of the appelation "Premium" and they take melting in your mouth to a whole new level. I savor them, slowly, three at a time, despite the package saying a quarter of the package is a serving. Nope, three is perfect for me, spread across several minutes to fully appreciate each morsel. At that rate, this package should last a month or more. Then again, I've always been the odd child, I can open a new bag of potato chips, pull out a single chip, take two full minutes to get it into my mouth, and then put the bag away for weeks.

I don't tend to develop attachments to things easily, because deep down, in that timeless part of my soul that is thousands, even tens of thousands of years old, I really understand impermanence. So I just don't get attached in the first place. What I'm discovering however is by not being attached in that sense is every kiss is like the first one, fresh and new and magical, that special timeless moment that seems to render the universe unimportant and last for an eternity as time stops. It's my secret power for having just ONE potato chip. Every chip is the first, the last, the only chip. Timeless and eternal at the same time as being not there at all.

Mindfulness, being fully and completely present while enjoying food and company of frineds and family makes it eternal. Like being out on the river under a full moon, even if I never do it again, that one priceless timeless moment will stay with me forever. For even while I am not permanent, how I feel, what I've done, the lives I've touched, and whose have touched mine, will always be a part of me. No-one and nothing, short of the true and final death, can take anything from me. It's all here in my head and heart. Eternal and endless. Like me...

Where would we be without...

So I'm listening to the radio while puttering around the house and a PSA about breast cancer came on. The "theme" of it was where we be without the women in our lives? As he finished asking the question a thought sprang unbidden into my head "Still living in caves clubbing each other over the head?" Breast cancer is very serious, and having lost people I care about to it, I know all too well how deadly serious a subject this is. Still have a sense of humor I guess...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Some people are utterly disgusting...

...and should not be allowed out in public unsupervised!

I'm in Walgreens last night picking up a couple of refills, and this woman in front of me is having problems with her credit card... I get that, I know what it's like, you use the darn fool think so much that it doesn't work in the reader anymore.

Well, no, doesn't seem to be an acceptable answer, she says to the girl behind the counter "Try it again, maybe it's dirty..."

That doesn't work, so the tech hands it back at which point the woman rubs it on her pants, looks at it, rubs it again and than does the most disgusting thing I've ever seen in public. She clicks! Out comes the tongue, and she's slobbering all over the card, dries it on her pants and say's try it now...

Poor woman behind the counter doesn't want to touch it anymore, and you know, I SO DON'T blame her. To her credit she takes it by pinching the corner of it between her nails and tries to run it again, and it doesn't work.

So it happens again, and finally she walks off in a huff. The woman behind the counter looks at me as apologizes for the overly long delay and asks if I'd mind waiting a moment longer. I just laughed and said "Not only do I not mind, but I'd feel better for your health and mine if you washed your hands first too!" So she went off to do that while the rest of us chatted about what we'd thought we saw. When she came back, she thanked us for waiting and confirmed that yes, that's exactly what we thought had happened... Ewww.....

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Artist in me and the moon...

So last night as I'm plying the waters of the Ohio river I was struck by this flash of memory. Something about the moment I couldn't put my finger on until this morning when I woke up.

There's a scene at the end of "The Hunt For Red October" that is, admittedly, my favorite because it is so warm, so human. Sean Connery and Alex Baldwin standing on the bridge of the Red October as she's plying the waters of a river, far from the view of satellites, to men from different worlds, sharing their lives under the light of the moon and nothing else. The DOP did a great job of using that quality of light to tell a wonderful story. Ryan (Baldwin) is talking about his grandfather teaching him to fish off the banks of this very river and Captain Ramius (Connery) telling the story of how as a child he too learned how to fish off the banks of a river just like this back home.

Two worlds apart, lives as different from each other as it turns out they are the same, all under the loving embrace of moonlight older than both of them, and their nations, combined and multiplied by a thousand. It is, admittedly one of THE MOST intimate moments of the film and it makes a powerful statement that has obviously stayed with me.

So last night, my brother, sister-in-law, and one of their friends all up on deck, under exactly the same kind of moon. Nearly full, and lighting up the place like daylight (at least for me) and that same intimate quality to it. Pulled the boat in closer to the Aurora Landing side of the river to catch a live band playing on the shore, but the whole time I was entranced by the light. Mind you the band was covering Floyd, and doing a decent job, that of course just added to the mood. So this morning when I woke up, my mind had figured out the light, and tied it up to something else in my head and heart. So I now have an even better, closer moment that kind of light goes with all my own.

Makes me very, very happy.

You want me to do WHAT?!?!?

Out on the river with family and Mark wanted to show us Einstein's old boat that was up one of the tributaries of the Ohion, stuck there. I was at the helm because I'd gotten there late, so Mark came back in to get me and said he'd been driving all day. Why don't you take her out. So I took her out and we went up river because the river was closted below us for a race. Yup, the entire Ohio river was closed. As I'm taking her up river, there are barges stacked up waiting to go south. Further south, ones waiting to come north.

Anyway, we're coming up on the tributary Mark wanted and he said, just take her in here and run her up onto the side. I looked back over my shoulder and said "Sir? You want me to do WHAT?!?!?" I don't know about that, I mean how's that going to look on my record? He just laughed and said "Hey, you're just following Captain's orders right? So that's an order!"

Yup, he had me sick her in the mud. Me, only the second time I spent serious time at the helm and he wants me to run her a ground. Then he jumps over board. I stayed onboard with my namesake as he, Val and their friend Bill wandered up river on foot a bit. When they got back I wandered up. As Mark said, looks like a perfect place to shoot a movie. Nice big boat, stuck in the river, and the forest is growing in around it. The deck is covered with creeping ivy and it's just somehow utterly beautiful. Also kind of restores my faith in humanity. Here is the boat of easily one of the smartest minds in history, run a ground.

So when it was time to leave, put the boat in reverse and backed it out without a huge problem. Then again I had the speed way, way down when I beached her, figureing it would be enough to keep her there, and let us out when it was time. We went a bit further up river, and spent the rest of the afternoon, evening slowly floating back down river. Had a BBQ, just doing the whole chilling out having fun. It was a perfect day on the water. Watched the sunset, then went down to Aurora Landing to catch part of a concert on the shore and watch the moonrise. Bill kept lookin at the trees and saying I can see a hint of moonlight, it's coming soon. I just looked and said, ten minutes, she'll be peaking up over the trees there, no worries. Sure enough ten minutes later moonrise and Bill hollered, "You were right Sam! Here she comes!"

By the time we were ready to head in, we'd long since gone past the inlet for Mark's marina and it's not like it's all lit up with signs and stuff. I was still at the helm and looked at him and said you want to take her, or should I bring her in. He said "You can if you want, you know where it is in the dark?" I said yeah, same place as in the daylight so I just brought her about and started heading for it and I can hear Bill behind me asking Mark "Does she have any idea where she's going?" Mark was so cool, "Oh yeah, we can't see it yet, but I'm sure she's looking right at the marker and heading straight in. As it turns out, I was looking right at the marker up river on the other side from us. Took it right in. In fact for me, with the moon being up, it was just like daylight, I was reading the graffiti on the bridge abutments as I motored past them...

Took all the turns, and just brought her right in and kissed the dock again. Bill was impressed. "I couldn't see anything out there, and there's no way I would have been able to do that, I'd probably hit the dock and made a hell of a mess." Mark looked at him and said that's why I let her drive, but not you.

I'm still so jazzed, took her back in at night and brought it right to the dock and kissed it like a pro! I looked at Bill and said "Truth to tell, this was only my second time bringing her in, and my first time in the dark. I may not be a seasoned boat person like Mark, but what I lack in boating knowledge I make up for in advanced physics and math.

I had a wonderful time! We're going back out tomorrow, there is supposed to be an airshow over the river. So I need to head off to bed so I can get up in time.

Hope everyone else is having a great weekend too!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Some updates before I head over to the park.

Okay, a while back I was talking about nails, specifically the home grown kind. I promised a picture and finally got around to it today:

I do my own manicures on a regular basis because I can, and I wish to. Plus it saves me money on having someone else do it. For me it's a form of meditation, I slow down and focus on each step of working on my nails. Kinda like woodworking. I strip them, massage and work the cuticles, buff them, shape them, and lay on one or more coats of polish until they are done. Little bit of soft jazz, a cup of green tea, and time all to myself. It's very cool. Believe it or not I've never had my nails done by someone else (at least in this life) and really don't see the need to. Who knows, maybe I'll treat myself one day and have someone else do them, but for now, I'm quite happy with them.

Earlier today I mentioned clocks. Now admittedly most people don't give them much thought. For me, they are important, and I have one specific requirement for them. That they display time in so called "military" notation. Everything else is cake. Needless to say, finding a decent, inexpensive clock that displays in military notation (see picture left) isn't as easy to find as you might think. The one I did find however is perfect, and it makes me think of something right out of Stargate or Firefly. It's also an automatic self setting clock with day, date and temp that runs on 2AA batteries and will either sit on a desk, or hang on the wall. I can easily see and read it from any part of the room in most lighting situations.

Last but not least, while I have a complete set of everyday dinner ware in the storage locker, it's 800 miles away in New England at this moment, so I decided this place would feel more like home with some real plates. I wanted something fun, expressive, festive and uplifting to look at. While I can plate food as well as anyone on the food network, making it look good and so forth, I want the base on which I plate the food to look good too! One morning at 1:30 while browsing the isles of my local super market, I found a perfect set:

Past, Present, Future and Family...

So last night we're all sitting around watching "Vanishing Point" after a wonderful dinner of homemade Fried Rice. In the movie the car chase is going up and down and all around, cars hitting curbs and medians full speed and not having a problem. I laughed and absent mindlessly said "Last time I hit a curb I blew out a tire." Mark laughed and said, "Yeah, I was there for that! It was the night of your bachelor party, boy did we catch woo for that!" Val, who didn't know either of us then said "Oh, what were you two up to?"

Later October of 1997:

I had four groomsmen and my late brother John as my best man. Mark and Lloyd flew in from Colorado for my wedding and John and Tony both lived in jersey. Because of timing, and everything else going on, my "bachelor party" was about as laid back as it can get and still be called a party. No, truth be told, it wasn't even a party. Mark, Lloyd and I went to a good Chinese restaurant on the island, sat, ate and talked until we closed down the place and were driving back to the Hotel in the rain. Mark was driving and all three of us were completely sober (yeah, some wild party eh?) so it should have been uneventful.

Like I say, it was raining, and the roads were just wet enough that all the surface sludge has risen to sit onto of the thin layer of water. I mean it had only just started raining as we were driving back from dinner kind of rain. We were on the ramp between the highway and the hotel when the car started to hydroplane. Mark tried to correct and get control of the car, but all four wheels where hydroplaning, so we augured in, hit the curb hard and one of the tires blew as we hit the curb.

Took sometime to sort it all out, and honestly it was the highlight of my "bachelor party" because it was unexpected and got all our hearts racing for a moment. Then and now I think it was more fun than loud music and strippers. Honestly I think Mark and Lloyd would have preferred the strippers, in fact Mark had suggested the same, and came prepared with a list of good strip clubs in the area. But it was my "party" so we did what I wanted. Yes, lame as "bachelor parties" go, but I was hardly a "normal bachelor" at the time.

In the past I'd gone to strip clubs with Mark, wasn't a big thing, we both in our own way enjoyed it. He'd sit there dreaming about sleeping with the girls dancing, and I'd sit there dreaming of BEING one of the girls dancing. He always made out better in the deal that I did, because in he'd managed to date many of the really good looking women there. But that late October day, the last thing I wanted the night before my wedding, was to be reminded of what, who, I wasn't. The pain would have been a bit too much for me.


So last night we all had a great laugh, and it brought all of us a bit closer together, especially when I said "You know, I wasn't even going to mention that night Mark, since you were driving... I was thinking of the day I was being ditty and in broad daylight missed the driveway and hit the curb. I wasn't even going as fast as those cars are..." Which of course got us all laughing that much harder.

I look back now at the person I was trying so hard to be then with some wonder and thankfulness.

Back then I was an old, slightly dour, grizzeled ex-cop who still tended to "get involved" when I saw something going wrong. Back then, if someone had told me I'd be sitting here, sharing this, I'd have told them they were crazy. If someone had told me I'd be ME, I'd have really given them whatfor... The Future for me then was going to be growing old with Earl, watching our grandchildren playing in the yard while we sat on the porch in a swing. I'd have still been that guy I was pretending to be, and he'd (Earl) still have been "faking life" as he always put it.

Now, regrettably, he's dead, and I look half my age and nothing like the "Starfleet" officer I was pretending to be for so long.

I'm closer to everyone these days than I was back then, family especially and I like being able to enjoy and share those bits of history with people who were there for it. I really enjoy all the inside stuff that speaks to a history rich in sharing time together and not have it encumbered by the present. The track my family (and I know I'm blessed, yes) and I have taken it: Yeah, I was sort of a guy, now I'm a girl, and on the inside is the person we all know and have shared things with.

Little things like when I got there I looked at my brother and said, you know if anyone had been in the car with me on the way over, they'd have thought me insane when I looked at the speedometer and started laughing. I mean I was only 10% over the speed limit. Mark gave me this incredulous look and said "10% over the speed limit?" The implication being "only you would notice it was 10% over" and then the little light went on over his head and he too started laughing really hard. Then with his imitation chinese/english accent he said "Oh, 10% seem very high!"

Back in the mid 90's before I lost my friggin mind and married Earl, Mark and I were sharing a house in Evergreen (CO) our back yard was the Arapahoe National Forrest and there was NO food delivery service in the area. So, Mark being ever enterprising decided to create one. In negotiations with some of the local resturants, one of the owners balked at the surcharge that the service would add to delivery their food. Given the terrain, and the distances between places and where people lived, and what was normal for the market, 10% was generous on Marks part, certainly lower than he could have asked. But this one owner, in the same kind of chinese accented english said "Oh, 10% seem very high" and it's been a running joke since then.

So, yes, I'm lucky, and have people, family in my life I share history with going back over my whole life. In the future, I see these relationships only growing, and you know, that makes me happy. Them too... After all I had family members in five states fighting over where I moved closest too in my most recent move. So yeah, I'm a lucky girl and I know it. I don't take them for granted, and I work on keeping the relationships healthy. My brother Mark, he brought Val and my namesake into my life, and I'm very grateful. Val and I get along really well, and we have built our own friendship, our own relationship and are growing that. It's really cool.

Okay, enough gloating... I don't set out to sound so chipper and overly enthusiastic, it just kind of happens. I have my down days too, but I try not to dwell on them...

Acceptance my friends, finding it within ourselves, and each other is a form of compassion. It's all the key to any big changes in our lives. Well, now I have to run out to the store and get another clock or two... I found the perfect clock finally, so I want one in every room. More about that in a subsequnet post...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Hitchhiker's Guide to my life with Earl.

Okay, dear readers, it has been said time and again, as far back as Hamlet and before, that truth is far stranger than fiction. What follows is a real simple sketch of my life with the man I still to this day love. Even when I "hate" him for what he did, or allowed, to happen to me, him, and the people around us.

First a disclaimer, the noble eightfold path tells us, me, that "right speech" is important. The four noble truths say among other things, that all emotion is pain, and nothing lasts forever. I'm here to tell you I still have issues there, and this is from one who's been through all the cycles of life, and ascended to a higher plane of existence, free of suffering, and pretty much everything else. Once, long ago, the stereotypical little old monk sitting contemplating enlightenment and coming out with Zen Koans like most people breath? Well that was me. Been there, done that, and now I'm back. That's another story, not really important to what I'm here to cover right now.

So, here we go. Brief cast of characters:

"Earl" my late, not so great, husband.
"Earl's" folks, who one day I'm looking forward to them finally realizing what they did. I want to be there for that, I won't say I told you so, but I'm sorry for your pain, I grieve wit thee... And I'll mean it. Unspoken in that will be a lifetime, several infact, of I TOLD YOU SO and why the hell didn't you listen to me back then, and last but not least: YOU murdered my husband, your child with your narrow minded superior view of the universe. May you live a long happy life as a dung bettle!

That's good for the nonce. So here goes, this is fairly simple.

Girl meets Boy, Girl LIKES Boy, they get to know each other, she falls deeply, passionately, stupid in love with Boy. She's all about love, communications, compassion, sharing, caring and standing together come what may through life as a team. Girl's ex military, believes that no-one gets left behind and would have, nearly did, sell her soul to protect those she loves. Triple for BOY... Boy get's as far as "Three words, always" and goes back to football. Seriously, he couldn't say I love you, wouldn't, for the longest time, and then when he did start saying it, it meant next to nothing.

Girl grew up being abused by her Dad. Girl still had serious issues with Dad even though he was long gone from her life by the time she met BOY! She embraced the cliche with passion: "Little girls grow up to marry their fathers."

Boy grew up being abused by his Mom. Was still being abused till the day he died. Badly, horribly, horrifically abused and it cost him his life. Boy was the text book Momma's boy. Boy loved Girl in his own twisted way, but was also hoping to replace Momma with a woman who would protect him from Momma.

Momma, well let's just say that if you take the worst evil female characters out of every story in history, add them together, and multiply by orders of magnitutde, they'd STILL be wannabe's compared to Earl's Mom. She was, is, and will be for a while, a sociopath/psychopath with delusions... I mean wow! Poster child for the dark side of the force here folks who would slap the Emporer around and send him to hell without supper...

Earl's Dad? He was a very badly whipped nut job with his own history and problems. Together they had enough mental health issues for a small country's worth of people. I wish I were kidding.

Back to Girl and her Boy. They met, fell deeply in love, started planning a wedding and a life together, and then one horrible night, confessed their darkest secrets to each other. Actually Boy was freaking out, and Girl being an Empath, got all the things Boy couldn't actually bring himself to say. So Girl looked him in the eye and said: "Look, it's okay. I know. You don't have to say it out loud if it's too scary, but I have a secret too..." At which point she confessed HER horrible dark secret.

Now, what could be so horrible it can (and did) kill Boy and seriously hurt Girl you ask?

Well, Girl looked like a Boy, and yes, Boy looked like a Girl.

That's right dear readers, this classic love triangle with the evil Mother and everything else was complicated by not one, but TWO "trans" people in the relationship. Girl was intersex and assigned to Boy at birth, Boy was a textbook DES baby, who looked the part of a girl more or less, but had been surgically "assigned" as Girl at birth.

Boy had a vagina and didn't want it, Girl had that other thing that Boy wanted and needed to feel whole but couldn't have.

So matching hers and his gender issues out and on the table, they decided to make a life together and keep living the lie. Staying in the closet in the outside world, but at home, we'd be ourselves. Truth to tell it was a screwed up life. They were a screwed up couple.

But the love they'd found in the begining was real, pure, and the kind of thing you read in romance novels. Wow, a FTM marrying a MTF, you wanna talk about your odd couple here?

So are they G? L? B? T? I? or what??? Boy "falls in love" whith Girl, or as close as he can come, Girl just loses her friggin mind deeply in love with Boy. Who care's what the alphbet soup is!

So, yeah, in a nutshell, your standard horrible nightmare of a fairy tale with two gender challenged people trying to survive against all odds. Boy's dead and burried these two years now. Girl, is healing, growing and moving on with her life at a level of peace and consistency long denied her...

So I hope this helps?


Monday, August 04, 2008

They don't hate me because...

...I'ma woman with a past, but because I'm pretty. I'm checking out of Kroger tonight, and had to sign my credit card receipt. So I put one hand down to hold the paper, the other to sign. The chasier takes one look at my hands and says "Oh I hate you!"

"Wait, WHAT?! Why do you hate me, you don't even know me other than shopping here at bizarre hours. Why would you hate me?"

"Well because I can only dream of having nails like that. If I had nails like that I'd be wearing I don't know, steel tip gloves to protect them and praying ever minute that I don't break them."

Being the idiot I am I said "Yeah, I hate when I break them, thankfully they grow back..."

She moaned and said "And if you tell me you have to take better care of them cause they're not perfect, I think I'll go right home and kill myself!"

"Uh, okay, so I don't think I'm going to say that then... Do you have trouble growing yours out? I can tell you the secret if you want..."

Now she's interested "Really? Oh that makes me feel so much better, let me guess they really are fake, you just had them done in a high end salon to look real?" Like somehow it's okay then that I have them and she doesn't.

So right there in the checkout we had this fifteen minute conversation about doing home manicures and getting your nails to grow out. I mean I had ice cream sandwiches melting, but I had to say something so she wouldn't feel totally left out. So I'm leaving and she says "I still hate you." but with a smile on her face that says it's just in fun.

Truth is the clear coat I had on them is chipped and grown out, so one of the things I got tonight was more polish remover so I could clean them up.

The secret my friends however is Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D. It's not just for strong bones you know. Bones, Hair, NAILS, skin, even teeth. You need to be taking at least 1 gram of Calcium, 250mgs Magnesium and at least 500mgs of D. Then, let em grow! Trim them regularly, buff them, get enough protein in your diet and you're good to go.

Yes, I'm noticed. Because I've got good hair (Shiny, long, healthy well loved hair) and nails that I drum on the desk. Not quite enough hair, but people don't notice that. Oh, yeah, one last thing. The old wives tale is if you drum your nails on hard surfaces you're going to damage them, weaken them, chip and break them. I'm here to say it's just NOT true. Drumming them in moderation causes the nail beds to grow them out stronger. Seriously. I'll have to post a picture of my nails for you know what I'm talking about. Tomorrow though, after I clean them up!