Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tom Steves

Thanks KD for keeping me in the loop. I was very sad to read about Tom Steve's tragic death. While I didn't work directly with him I did admire him as a professional during my 10-year stint in Arkansas.

Mentions of those rural highways in northern Pulaski County bring back fond memories of traipsing around with horses in tow, either schooling the horses cross-country at Jubilee or hauling them up to Rosebud for vet care, and serve as yet another reminder to recognize the present and value what really matters: relationships and doing what we can do to make our world and lives better.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


It has rained pretty much the entire month of May here in Dixie and, as a result, my tomato plants have gotten wicked healthy. The one on the far left, front corner is named Steroid because he has stood branches above the others since he was a little seedling. Yes, I am geeky. I name my plants, I talk to them, I listen to them, and right before I left last week I gave them some Miracle-Gro. That means they're not organic, but that doesn't matter to me.

What matters is I returned 5 days later to this dense jungle full of little yellow blooms and already-growing tomatoes! Check out the Romas that are hiding in the depths of Sabina (yes, I named my plant after our tour guide last summer in Italy). I cannot wait to make a caprese salad with my fresh Roma and sweet basil. Hooty hoo!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

InMotion In Motion

I have returned from the Gulf Coast a safe, happy, healthy man. Despite a few setbacks - mainly SERIOUS rain - we managed to have a great time, making many new memories sure to be recounted in Robby: The Malibu Years.

Because I was prepared for maximizing optimal conditions (i.e. Sun Sun Sun would've meant closed traffic and all day on the beach), that meant Murphy's Law was enacted, but I cannot fathom a contingency plan for being on the beach in a deluge. And thusly our strategy was to take my friend's EZ-Up tent, and minimize logistics so that if/when the downpour began we could evacuate quickly. That meant I didn't set up Cool Whiz (tm) at all but, not to worry, we've already envisioned our tent concept for next year and it will be incorporated. But because we're All 4 1, 1 4 All, we helped our co-tenters disassemble their pole based screen shelter and managed to get completely soaked. This would've happened regardless: raindrops the size of goose eggs that splatter like goose poo tend to immediately saturate.

Germs and I stopped at Wallace - Thomasville, Alabama, thankyouverymuch - en route to Pensacola so I could buy an iPod speaker. I found this one on clearance for $59.99 and while it works with my Nano, and claims to be Nano compatible, my battery eventually died and it wouldn't re-charge it, while Germs' regular iPod responded as claimed. Customer service enquiry? Most def. But still worth it if only for the phat beats we blared out all weekend while playing gin rummy and Uno.

Strategy Beer Only paid off, again, in spades. I have honestly reached that point in life where feeling bad as a result of consuming anything alcoholic is not worth the temporary fun usually accompanied from drinking. The good news is I can drink beer, enjoy temporary fun without being crazy, switch off at 8 p.m. and go with Diet Coke or water, and feel like a champ the next morning.

I will also not be doing any toe-touches without warming up properly as I've also reached a point in life where hamstrings get testy and let's face it, limping is never sexy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Outdoor Utility Room

I have hinged my entire forthcoming Memorial Day weekend in Pensacola around having an outdoor shower tent at our beach (not really). Mostly because, let's face it, a superhero NEEDS a place to transform. And, well, because sand dunes and the open water are not really public loos.

In February, I thought I had it all worked out with And so I let it lay for a few months thinking, "They got me." But when I began the process of finalizing the order, lo and behold, no inventory, no product, no nothing. EEK!

Not to worry, I found another option online and put the e-commerce on them so fast it made my head spin. Got their order confirmation email. Ahhh, sweet relief! But after a week or so with no shipping expectation, I started digging and discovered this site, which specializes in safety equipment and apparently is run by Ethelstine from her garage (I called the "customer service" number and it's totally her answering machine), is overwhelmed with swine flu protective mask requests and will get to you when they get to you.

That meant only one thing. Bass Pro Shops. First off, they had two options, one of which was $119 (eek again, I think maybe I CAN pee in a sand dune) and one was on sale for $49.99. It was the sort that is similar to a folding dog crate, you know the sort, it's a small packaged disc and you flick your wrist and TA-DA! a tent! No express shipping was available, so I rang up the store in Spanish Fort, Alabama, as I was taking Maddie to my parents for the week as well as attending my niece's piano recital. I will tell you the customer service I received at Bass Pro Shops was STELLAR and I am a big customer service judge, mostly because I worked retail when I was a kid and it was "in the day" of excellent customer service training. As it turned out, the store - nor any in Alabama because they checked for me - didn't have the item, but I am endeared as a result of their actions.

I was a bit despondent, but met up with my heart, Laura Catherine, at Target on Saturday night for a "date." Since she's returned to The Port City I have been sad, but at least we're from the same town which means we have opportunities to hangout. She was, again, my rock solid Celebrity Assistant and helped me get my Pcola planning executed. Because nothing is more awesome than a retail date we ran across the street to Wallace (Wal-Mart) I half-heartedly looked in the tent section for a changing tent. Nothing. I gave up the idea then, and while we were perusing the camping equipment aisle making fun of some items and marveling at the coolness of others, I saw, on the shelf, not one but two Shower Utility Tents. Rejoice!

I was so excited I nearly bought them both because they were affordably $34.99! I restrained, since I stepped it up with a case of Heineken - no more redneck beer for me - but am so stoked that all fell into place. And of course, because I'm so prepared, it's looking like it's going to rain all weekend. But that's OK. The process of preparation has affirmed much for me and it's helping me achieve one of my 2009 goals to minimize stress.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Lady

I find this positively sick and sadistic. Aung San Suu Kyi has been under "house arrest" in Myanmar (formerly known as "Burma") for nearly 20 years and is now facing these trumped up charges as her arrest expiration date of May 27 looms near.

I can only imagine the worst possible fate for an advocate of democracy and freedom would be imprisonment, and I find it appalling that still, in our world, people are tortured and abused so openly and no one seems to be able to do anything about it.

The tendency to exert control over others is certainly human nature, just as it is in the rest of the mammalian kingdom. The difference is the complexity of the human psyche. Animals submit to ensure survival. People don't. Nor do they need to. From bullies on the playground to Mean Girls in high school to corporate lackeys still centered on The Deal, everyone is exposed to overt abuse of power each day.

But we must recognize there can be power in submission and pray for those whose character is misguided.

"Like the lotus, you experience three primary stages of evolution. The first is marked by ignorance and darkness, when you lie below the dense mud - a closed chrysalis - which, by nature of existence, will eventually be pulled upwards by the warmth of the Sun. The second is exemplified by the climb through the clouded waters of your emotional experience, yet still the flower reaches to the Sun, knowing no other destiny ... no other purpose. The third brings full illumination in the splendour of the light. The Lotus flower blossoms, baring its exquisite beauty to all those who are aware, enough to recognise God unfolding."

Source: The Cosmos of Soul: A Wakeup Call for Humanity

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hoarding or Bargain? You Decide.

Things that I love are:

  • Pole dancing girls.
  • Thunderstorms in the middle of the night.
  • Riding in boats.
  • Riding a horse (natch).
  • Port de bras on Cadillac.
  • Bargains.

I'm not so much a bargain person in the sense of driving out of my way to save $1, or clipping coupons, but I am highly susceptible to the "Buy 2 for 1" concept. Witnesseth: 3 cartons of hormonally-enhanced strawberries in my refrigerator because they were 3 for $5 when I went to the grocery store on Monday.

As I left the store I noticed a bin at the end of the stand that contained a bunch of toothpaste: 10 for $10. Even though I know you don't have to buy 10, I was irked I didn't see the deal prior to checking out. So yesterday at lunch I went back specifically and stocked up. Does this mean I now have 14 tubes of toothpaste stashed in my bathroom, along with a backlog of body wash and soap? Yes. That is indeed what it means. I find toothpaste to be one of those commodity toiletries that are here today, gone tomorrow. And running out is nothing but a big suckgasm. Body wash and soap? Same thing.

So while I think an inventory of 2-3 tubes is probably acceptable, I wonder if buying 10 at one time is excessive. All I know is my purchase would've been $30 but instead it was $10.90 with tax. And I should be well-positioned for clean teeth until 2011.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Huge In A Hurry

I get an email from Men's Health usually 2-3 times each day. I read about 1 every month, which tells me I could probably stop subscribing but then I would feel unhealthy and that's positively NOT an option.

Today's email went something like this:

Dear Robby, God's Gift To The World, Oh Ye Of Spectacular Abounding Awesomeness, Phoenix From The Ashes Risen, We So Wish We Were YouOnline Reader,

Of all the stupid ideas in the history of mankind, this one has got take the cake: "The way to make your muscles grow is to damage them, destroy them, demolish them." Does that make any sense to you?

Do you make your garden grown by stomping on it? Do you make your bank account grow by squandering it? Do you make anything grow by destroying it? Of course not!

Physiologists and neuroscientists – the guys who study muscle-making for a living – are beginning to realize that "no pain, no gain" is a myth … because it's your nervous system that actually controls your muscles and determines their size. Your muscles simply do what your nervous system tells them to do.

Which is why you don't want to torture your muscles into getting bigger … you simply want to trigger the neurological changes that make muscle growth possible.

[delete product intro]

Do you believe in lifting slowly for maximum muscle strain, for example? See page 9 to find out why lifting quickly recruits more muscle fibers and makes you bigger faster!

Do you think the key to success is lifting moderate weights with LOTS of repetitions? See page 5 to discover why fewer reps with heavier weights gets better results.

Do you believe that isolating muscle groups is the way to build up lagging body parts and achieve balance? See page 6 to find out why compound exercises, not isos, are the key to solving these problems.

[delete sales pitch]

So stop TORMENTING your muscles! And start TRIGGERING them to new levels of size and strength.

Just to repeat and clarify ... large muscles do not mean strong, functional muscles. You should not hurt as a result of exercise. Yes, your brain controls how your body develops. This is why pilates is such a beneficial way to exercise. It was founded on the principle that you use your head to control your movement (hence its initial moniker, "Contrology").

As a follow-up I will say that people are still cracking their bodies out at the gym left and right. The most appalling to me is the back extension bench thingy and what people concoct as exercise and movement on it. If by back extension you mean Fast Track To Herniated Disc, L4-L5 Please, then yes, you're extending your back.

But I am happy to at least see this communicative effort which does contain some wisdom that is both pragmatic and offers prolonged benefit.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Now I'm That Bitch ...

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

This is my new favorite song. It was one of those moments when you're driving along, your Sirius is piped in all super smooth because you finally got some what? AUX jacks installed in your whip, and you go, "Oh Hell Yeah." I rushed right home last week and Googled and found a sweet free download of the dance remixes, which I added to my new cardio playlist.

It must be really hard to be from Barbados as an aspiring singer. I mean, let's face it, Rihanna will always be The Barbadian, but I'm anxious to see where this goes. I like the song and the sound.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Groovy Creative Things

Last weekend I finally did something with the rosettes that were leftover from my ribbon quilt. I was all spread out in the floor of the living room with my handsaw, glue gun and watching the "Confessions" dvd in the midst of all sorts of rain. In fact, my friend Jon texted me from Dallas to ask if I was OK: I had no idea there were tornadoes dropping down in central Alabama. Note to file: at some point we must begin monitoring the weather.

$8 and 20 minutes later this is the result. Not bad for a white boy, eh?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Where's The Party?

It would be completely irresponsible of me not to provide a proper update on my plant murder herb gardening, which began on a cold(ish) February evening in the backdrop of the Academy Awards. Beyonce was shaking her money maker with Hugh while I was being all Kabbalah-y over my peat plugs and saying, "Grow. Grow."

If I knew then what I know now, I would've just gone to the nursery to buy some herbs already started but let's just say about $150 into the project there is hope. (And maybe that's really the lesson here, right?)

Applied Learning is always an interesting experience. It has, yet again, fostered a list of things I would do differently. I would like to go on record as publicly smiting peat pellets and casting them into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. Sure they will sprout your seeds all luscious like, but quickly they turn on you and you're left with little green sprouts begging you to save them and you don't know what to do to help. It's exactly like when Mr. _______ kicked Nettie out and she was screaming and crying, "Why? Why?" Eventually the drama passed and I pulled up a tomato seedling. Tomatoes that were turning into creeping ground cover, that is. And just for the record, tomatoes are supposed to stand upright because, oh right, they're plants, not ground cover. It's been awhile since I took any biology classes but immediately I could tell something wasn't right. There were no roots. Just a decomposing peat plug.

I dug further. The results were eerily similar. Basil was suffocating. Oregano - which I understand means "kudzu" in Italian - vanished overnight. As did rosemary. And let's not even talk about dill. And it wasn't just my stash that was affected. I'd given some, back in the heyday of green promise, to my friend Carli and hers, too, met a similar fate.

The good news is I still had seeds. And so I cast them again, this time into the hanging coconut fiber baskets I had intended for flowering annuals. They refused to rise. I watered a dirt basket routinely, but they remained barren. My mother, over Easter weekend, renewed my faith by sending me home with 5 tomato plants from my Mrs. Greenjeans aunt's hothouse. 2 Roma, and 3 Steroiditis which, I'm not even kidding, scoffed and kicked sand on my little Big Boy Hybrid ground covers as I planted them in their containers. That cool February night remained a genesis at the forefront of my thoughts and a little voice whispered something in my ear. I filled a small pail with water and placed them in a sort of purgatory, hoping they would revive.

Quickly they did. The stalks grew white whiskers overnight and by week's end their wilt had passed. I bought more 5 gallon buckets and suddenly found myself with 11 viable tomato plants. Progress! Cutting my losses I opted to buy petunias anyway for my hanging baskets and as I pushed back dirt in one basket I was stunned to see tiny seedlings erupting. It had been nearly 3 weeks since I'd planted them and I'd given up hope.

Obviously I couldn't kill them again deliberately, so we've agreed they can stay as long as they want. I may have the only petunia-infused cilantro in the world!

I also transferred the surviving herb seedlings into one large pot where, oddly enough, the fennel seemed to be flourishing. It's in a protected corner of the patio and already things are perking up. I seeded, yet again, two additional clay pots of basil and they rewarded me by sprouting just 2 days later. And my complex has plotted spaces for residents and the tomatoes have moved to a fully sun-exposed location where I'm pleased to report they are flourishing. Yes, the hothouse plants look amazing, but at least the others are standing upright.

Moral of story? Don't lose your faith. Pray for the harvest, but keep on hoeing.