Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Page 56, Sentence 5

I haven't a clue (what's new?) who started it, but there's a quirky little thing going around Facebook wherein a person is instructed to grab the book closest to them, turn to page 56, and use the fifth sentence as their status statement. It's easy and random and the results are sometimes eerily appropriate. Like this morning, when I grabbed the New International Version Bible sitting next to me and found "He too will become a people, and he too will become great." (Yeah...really fits me...whatever.)

It got me to thinking (a noteworthy experience in itself) that it might be interesting to collect the fifth sentence on page 56 from a series of books. It might just turn out to be easy and random and eerily appropriate. And so, here they are, from Harry Potter and the...

Sorcerer's Stone
Brought yeh ter this lot.

Chamber of Secrets
Mr. Weasley took Harry's glasses, gave them a tap of his wand, and returned them, good as new.

Prisoner of Azkaban
I just--lost control.

Goblet of Fire
Front page of the Daily Prophet, I expect, cauldron leaks.

Order of the Phoenix
Give it another quarter of a mile!

Half-Blood Prince
"Well, Harry...time for us to be off," said Dumbledore at last, standing up and straightening his long black cloak.

Deathly Hallows
But the owl lay motionless and pathetic as a toy on the floor of her cage.

Easy? Yep. Random? Except for the fact that it was the same page and sentence in each book, sure. Eerily appropriate? Uhhhhh...not so much.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Becoming Fine in 2009, Part Five

This is the fifth and final installment of Almost the Truth's skewering of U.S.News & World Report's "50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2009." [Insert sounds of celebratory crowd here]

41. Visit the last American frontier...which, in the editors' way of thinking, is the great state of Alaska. It's kind of interesting that Vice Presidential nominee, Sarahcuda, has brought so much attention to Alaska at the same time that it celebrates it's 50th anniversary. At the same time, it's kind of messing with my mind to think that I am 1 year, 5 months, and 1 day older than a state. I really am, officially and beyond question, older than dirt.

42. Geotag your trip pics. It's bad enough that I have to remember where in the computer I filed my picture of the kids recreating Mount I'm suppose to put the latitude and longitude in the photo's file, too? I really am, officially and beyond question, ready to find the goons that come up with these things and lay hands on them...hard, fast, and repeatedly.

43. Give pottery a spin. This is exactly what my life needs...something else for me to spend money on that will result in proving I am inept.

44. Teach your kids to cook. Sure...rub my face into the sad-but-true Truth that all four of our children are so far out of the nest that they very rarely even see the tree anymore. However, Beloved is living out this "suggestion" on bettering our lives. Whenever AngelFace calls, it's usually to ask how to cook something. So in a way, having not taught our kids to cook when they were growing up is increasing our opportunities for interaction and relationship-nurturing now that they are adult-like creatures.

45. Listen to Kind of Blue. "In 2009, 50 years will have passed since a young trumpet player named Miles Davis and his band walked into Columbia Records' East 30th Street recording studio..." ZZZzzzzzzzzz...

46. Learn to play bridge. ZZZzzzzzzzzz...

47. Take a "staycation." Here's an idea whose economic time has come! Instead of spending the truckload of cash it takes to fly to some exotic location, get to know the places in your hometown area that folks who "aren't from around here" would pay money to come visit. Needing to save even more money than what airline tickets would cost, I'm stretching this idea even farther. This June, Beloved and I are spending a week walking to our mailbox and back. I'll post the pictures!

48. Play that funky music. This piece sings the praises of the video games Rock Band and Guitar Hero. I admit that these diversions are probably healthier than the blood-splattered shoot-'em-ups that usually fly off the shelves. My only issue with them is that I've never heard of any of the songs they dare me to duplicate. The most-recent pop music album I own (and, yes, I'm talking vinyl record here) is Billy Joel's 1981 classic, The Stranger. From that point on, I mostly gave up on pop radio. That decision saved me from a decade of synthesized drum-like sounds, but it left me totally ill-equipped to rise to the challenge of singing along with the Flaming Hot Chili Bowlers.

49. Watch Let It Be. I would really, really love to obey this command, but this Beatles movie is out of print. Do we have to wait for a 50th anniversay DVD in 2019? C'mon, Paul and Ringo, you've done everything else to keep pulling income from your long-gone heydays...make this happen!

50. Read the book first. This annual list ends with a whimper as U.S.News & World Report breaks the amazing news that there are movies being released this coming year that are based on books. Their next investigative report will focus on the recent discovery that the sky tends to get brighter when the sun is above the horizon.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Becoming Fine in 2009, Part Four

Almosting the list of "50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2009," from U.S.News & World Report:

31. Study the life of a great leader. The specific "suggestion" from the bossy-pants editors is to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth (February 12, 2009) by reading some of the over 40 books either recently published or about to be printed. As much as I support the memory of Honest Abe, I'm still waiting for the commemoration of other great leaders like the guy who first came up with the revolutionary thought to squeeze that bag hanging between a cow's rear legs and drinking whatever came out. There's brave leadership for you.

32. Eat your own spinach. Eat my shorts.

33. Line dry your laundry. Mind your own business.

34. Switch to a push mower. Switch this!

35. Don't drive distracted. I'm sorry...what? Did you say something?

36. Help others and yourself. I'm at the point now with this list that I really can't bring myself to read the whole article, but contrary to how the headline reads, I doubt that they're actually recommending shoplifting as a means of self-improvement.

37. Swap paper for screens. "Reading online helps the planet because it reduces your carbon footprint." In addition to my general feeling of wanting to put a size 12 carbon footprint squarely across the seat of the pants of anyone who uses the phrase carbon footprint, I am positively in shock that a magazine...printed on paper and distributed by trucks...would actually publish this self-defeating piece of advice.

38. Spread tolerance. I can't stand intolerant people.

39. Buy laptops for kids. Don't you have to be at least 18 to go the the places where they do those personal dances?

40. Try to hypermile drive. Hypermiling is a blanket term for certain techniques used to get really, really good gas mileage: coasting whenever possible, turning off the engine instead of idling for over 30 seconds, attaching your winch to the rear bumper of a semi going your way...

The fifth and final fraction follows...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Becoming Fine in 2009, Part Three

And the hits just keep on coming . . .

21. Break down those walls at work. The editors of U.S.News & World Report are recommending that we pretend to be friends with our managers because "it's much more difficult to fire someone that you know personally." Kind of like How to Win Friends and Enhance Your Job Security. This flies directly in the face of the time-proven song lyric: "You only hurt the ones you love." So...what would happen if you took your manager out to a karaoke bar and sang that song? Which fully-endorsed idea would win?

22. Start a nonprofit. I've already got this one accomplished, too. It's called "The Roth Family Budget."

23. Watch TV free online. Absolutely free...if you don't take into account the cost of your Internet service provider and your computer and your marriage counseling because you're spending all your time glued to your computer monitor instead of cultivating your spousal relationship.

24. Unscrew that Riesling. Contrary to the snooty-patootie wine muckity-mucks that like to describe the way things taste with terms like impertinent and frisky, a wine doesn't have to be corked to be potable. Screw-caps are becoming increasingly acceptable. Of course, I was raised with a healthy fear of all things alcoholic and would die choking on a truckload of guilt if I so much as sniffed the bouquet of a fine merlot...but you go ahead...don't mind me...I'll be fine.

25. Build your own brand. Ahem...welcome to Almost the Truth, home of the digressions of Dewey Roth.

26. Slow down on spending. File this tip under "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging."

27. Choose Obama stocks. The experts are saying that the stocks of certain industries dealing with infrastructure, alternative energy, and healthcare are likely to perform pleasingly in the Obama presidency. What they fail to say is that X is the algabraic symbol for the unknown and that a spurt is a a pressurized drip of water, so an expert is just an unknown drip under pressure. Take what they say advisedly...and wear a raincoat.

28. Bank on safe accounts. In a short piece that directly contradicts Number 27 (which she also wrote), Katy Marquardt says we should put our money in low-risk investments like bank CDs and money market accounts. Let's see...if I earn 3.2 percent on the extra $3.27 that I've got this month...

29. Try out your new home. The Latest Thing in trying to cinch the sale in real estate is for potential buyers to actually stay in the house overnight. The best part of this trend is that I have arranged to consider making an offer on six different beach-front properties in Florida over spring break.

30. Recycle tired gadgets. There are websites Out There that will actually pay you legal tender for your unused cell phones and iPods. I'm just glad that this starts and ends with electronic devices, because when Beloved first heard this headline, she started looking at me with a peculiar glint in her eye.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Becoming Fine in 2009, Part Two

Continuing the Almost the Truth review of U.S.News & World Report's "50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2009"...

11. Investigate tales of Edgar Allan Poe. Mr. Poe was born 200 years ago, as of January 19, 2009, and this apparently calls for a celebration of the literary works of this macabre, morose man. So go dress yourself in black, stop washing your hair, and try as hard as you can to not hear the beating of a tell-tale heart. Bwa-ha-haaaa...

12. Silence noise pollution. I would say more about this, but I've already made more noise than I should.

13. Get some new job skills. You know, like, try actually showing up on time. This will put your boss in the cardiac care unit, and you can earn brownie points by making a hospital visit. Or try spending a day without surfing the Web and see what that does to the company's productivity ratings.

14. Be a microblogger. The two paragraphs in the magazine associated with this heading are a shameless promotional blurb for Twitter, which is just like Facebook without any photos, games, or nifty-galifty applications. In fact, it's basically Facebook's status statement. ("What are you doing right now?") I've created a Twitter account for myself, but honestly, if I think the majority of astute beings on the planet would have no interest in reading the posts I produce here, what possible following could be created for knowing that "I'm working," or "I'm wasting time at the computer"?

15. Save that November 5 paper. Amazing! The normally tree-hugging, go-green-or-go-home editors of U.S.News, etc., are now saying that, instead of recycling, I should spend 50 dollars to deacidify and preserve my newspaper that announced Obama's victory in the Presidential election. 50 DOLLARS! Yeah...I'll get right on that...right after I finish my do-it-yourself root canal.

16. Brush up your Socrates. Is that legal in all 50 states?

17. Make yourself an author. This piece sings the praises of self-publishing, specifically print-on-demand services like, which -- ahem -- just happens to be where you can find my book, Almost the Truth About Youth Ministry: Salesmen, Secretaries, and Smart Alecks. Check it out at And now...back to our program.

18. Do a crossword puzzle. Crossword puzzles are a fine way to spend a little spare time. I like crossword puzzles. If crossword puzzles were human, I would request them as my friends on Facebook. But is this really going to improve my life? Improve? My life? Really?

19. Learn to speak Russian. The word is out! Russia is on the rise, set to once again become a world power. Learn the language now and save all that embarassment of trying to explain to the KGB why you didn't know about the law against laughing in public.

20. Keep a simple diary. The editors are advocating that you "distill your day's experiences into a single sentence each day." Call me a moron, but doesn't this sound like a repackaging of the whole "microblogger" suggestion they made back at number 14? Maybe one of the ways to improve their lives should be a memory course. My parents took one of those recently, and my dad just couldn't say enough good things about they were taught to associate people's names with objects, creating a picture in their minds to help them recall the person's name. I asked him what the instructor's name was and he said, "Wait a minute, let me think. It's a flower...lots of petals...thorns on the stem..." "Rose?" I suggested. A spark of recognition shown in his eyes as he called out to the kitchen to my mom: "Hey, Rose? What was that instructor's name?"

2 B contin-yewed...