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Carol H Tucker

Passionate about knowledge management and organizational development, expert in loan servicing, virtual world denizen and community facilitator, and a DISNEY fan

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Be warned:in this very rich environment where you can immerse yourself so completely, your emotions will become engaged -- and not everyone is cognizant of that. Among the many excellent features of SL, there is no auto-return on hearts, so be wary of where your's wanders...


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(. (.`"If you will practice being fictional for awhile, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats." -- Richard Bach

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ho ho ho

Today is the 2nd day of the 49th week, the 5th day of the 12th month, the 340th day of 2016, and: 
  • AFL-CIO Day
  • Bathtub Party Day
  • Columbian International Day of The Reef
  • International Ninja Day
  • International Volunteer Day [for Economic & Social Development]
  • Krampus
  • National Blue Jeans Day
  • National Communicate With Your Kids Day
  • National Commute With Your Baby Day
  • National Sacher Torte Day
  • Repeal Day
  • World Soil Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 63 BC Cicero declaimed the fourth and final of the Catiline Orations.  In 1700 a severe influenza epidemic hits the people of Montréal.  In 1766, in London, James Christie held his first sale.  In 1848, in a message to the United States Congress, US President James K Polk confirmed that large amounts of gold had been discovered in California.  In 1890 Québec strongman Louis Cyr lifts 490 lbs with one finger; working with the P.T. Barnum circus.  In 1901 Walt Disney was born in Chicago.  In 1933, national Prohibition came to an end in the US as Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing the 18th Amendment.  In 1958 subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) was inaugurated in the UK by Queen Elizabeth II when she spoke to the Lord Provost in a call from Bristol to Edinburgh.  In 1964 Lloyd J. Old discovered the first linkage between the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and disease—mouse leukemia—opening the way for the recognition of the importance of the MHC in the immune response.

The holiday season is pretty ubiquitous and I really don’t know how you can possibly avoid having it shoved in your face at every turn:  songs on the radio and via Muzak, decorations abounding, friends posting pictures across social media, holiday lights shining in the dark.   I spent a great deal of time in Second Life decorating my home there.  In real life things are more subdued in the apartment – at the moment I only have a wreath on the door.  I tend not to be able to get into the holiday spirit sometimes and I deal with it one of two ways – either try and decorate figuring that will generate the feeling or settle for enjoying other people’s displays.    Oddly?  I never questioned the need to put up a tree, not once, until the year Frank died on that Thursday morning.  We had planned to put up all the decorations that weekend and needless to say, I didn’t do anything that year.  In fact, I was intensely grateful that I didn’t have to go through the sad work of putting everything away while I was dealing with my grief.  Nowadays?  Sometimes I really just don’t feel like decorating the apartment, especially since I know that I am not getting any company, because it feels a bit like a refuge from all the holiday blitz and bustle. 

Every now and then I wonder what it is like this time of year if you do not celebrate Christmas [whether we are talking about religious or secular celebrations].   How does one cope with the relentless onslaught when it doesn’t mean anything to you?  What do you tell your children as the different ads air on TV, not the mention the spate of holiday-themed specials?  While I most emphatically do not agree with washing the holiday season out and rendering it bland – I would much prefer to celebrate everyone’s observances.  And  I have to admit that for some -- whether it is a matter of belief, grief,  being away from home/family, or having to work -- Christmas is just another day.   
Guess I have let the Krampus get to me.  I’ll work on it
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, December 5, 2016

'tis the season

Today is the 6th day of the 48th week, the 2nd day of the 12th month, the 337th day of 2016, and: 
  • Business of Popping Corn Day – apparently this is a thing to do these days
  • Faux Fur Friday
  • International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
  • International Sweater Vestival – wear a sweater vest to work
  • National Fritters Day
  • National Mutt Day
  • National Salesperson Day
  • Play Basketball Day
  • Safety Razor Day
  • Special Education Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 1409 the University of Leipzig opened.  In 1697 St Paul's Cathedral was consecrated in London.  In 1763 the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island was dedicated, the first synagogue in what will become the US.  In 1982, at the University of Utah, Barney Clark becomes the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart. 

When do you decorate for Christmas? 

Back in the day, when we were using a fresh tree, the tree went up the weekend before the day and came down the weekend after New Year.  Nowadays it appears that most of us use artificial trees for one reason or another [convenience, allergies, fire codes] and we can put it up anytime and leave it up as long as we want to.  I have heard from those who have their trees and decorations up already, celebrating the first Sunday of Advent by putting up lights.  The lighting of the  Rockefeller Center and  the National Christmas trees, and the Baltimore Washington Monument, have already taken place and after all, we only have three weeks to enjoy the colors and sparkles.

There are degrees of decorating as well.  Grandmom Hughes used to have things in every room and the overall impression was always very festive – but then again, she got a lot of company during the season.   Perhaps the fact that I am only decorating for myself alone has impacted me  – it has only been in the past couple of years that I have had the heart to put up anything – and many times that is after the anniversary of Frank’s demise.  I do have a tiny tree that my daughter got me at a craft show, and a door decoration that doesn’t light anymore.  When I do decorate?   I don’t festoon this apartment with garlands, I haven’t unboxed the ceramic village that Frank painted since he died, and the main focus is the pile of wrapped presents under the tree that gets delivered on Christmas morning.  Do you make yourself decorate on the theory that having the things around you will promote getting into the spirit? 

This year I am dragging myself into December, focused on the EOM reconciliations and reporting, still trying to break the habit of reading the news about politics.  Of course I am always a bit moody as the 16th approaches – maybe I should ask bossman if I can decorate my cubicle at work….


Now that would be interesting, wouldn’t it?
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, December 2, 2016

officially apologizing

Today is the 5th day of the 48th week, the 1st day of the 12th month, the 336th day of 2016, and: 
  • Antarctica Day
  • Basketball Day
  • Bifocals at the Monitor Liberation Day
  • Christmas Lights Day
  • Civil Air Patrol Day
  • Day Without Art
  • Eat a Red Apple Day
  • National Christmas Tree Lighting (DC)
  • National Pie Day
  • Rosa Parks Day
  • Wear a Dress Day
  • World AIDS Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 800 Charlemagne judged the accusations against Pope Leo III in the Vatican.  In 1824, since no candidate received a majority of the total electoral college votes in the election, the US House of Representatives is given the task of deciding the winner in accordance with the Twelfth Amendment to the US Constitution (John Quincy Adams was eventually chosen the winner over Andrew Jackson and William Crawford.).  In 1913 the Buenos Aires Metro, the first underground railway system in the Southern Hemisphere and in Latin America, began operation, and the Ford Motor Company introduced the first moving assembly line.  In 1952 the New York Daily News reported the news of Christine Jorgensen, the first notable case of sex reassignment surgery.  In 1959, representatives of 12 countries, including the US, signed a treaty in Washington setting aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, free from military activity.  In 1960 Paul McCartney and Pete Best were arrested (and later deported) from Hamburg, Germany, after accusations of attempted arson.  In 1963 the Beatles' first single, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," was released in the United States. 


I owe Republicans an apology. 

I have lived and voted in Maryland all my life – and most of it in Baltimore County -- but I have never really paid much attention to the legislative, congressional and election districts.  In fact, I probably hadn’t looked at them since high school, back when I had a great-uncle in the MD State Legislature [Dave Williams from Frostburg].   My voting district changed when I moved from east Baltimore county to the west, then again when I moved to Montgomery County, which made sense to me, so I guess I had the mistaken impression that the districts were tied to population and county lines.



Tell me, in what world does this map make any sense at all? 

I get it.  MD voters in Cumberland and Frostburg [where I have family], as well as the Eastern Shore, have totally different concerns than those voters in Baltimore City, Annapolis and DC suburbs.   Just because more people live in the latter three areas I mentioned, why should the entire state policy be determined by them?   How do the folks in Western MD and the rural areas know that they are being heard and adequately represented?  I would like to think that these ridiculous maps were drawn to try and be inclusive, but I admit that is politically very naïve.   So here, in one of the smaller states which is sometimes knows as “America in miniature” due to the differing landscapes it contains, is the issue of the Electoral College – which is more important to represent, acreage or population?    If you go with acreage, then an individual’s vote in Wyoming has 3X the weight/impact of mine here in MD – and you have outcomes where a candidate can lose the popular vote and still win the election [John Quincy Adams anyone?].  If you go with population, then the population centers sweep everything and all of the folks in the remote and more rural areas feel like their government can’t understand their issues and doesn’t truly represent them.   

IMNSHO:  The answer would seem to me that we need fewer candidates who take advantage of our differences, fewer campaigns based on polarizing folks by using emotional hot buttons, and somehow elevate politics into statesmanship – speeches that put the welfare of all, the needs of the many, the infrastructure that we all rely on, first.   Personally I think that the income inequity that is the result of the policies followed since the Reagan era is part and parcel of the problem, so we need candidates that can convince the Rich Uncle Moneybags they will get richer when all prosper.   And we need it done without creating a “them” to blame.


But I’m not smart enough to figure out how to do that.  I wish I was….

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, December 1, 2016

long before My LIttle Pony

Today is the 4th day of the 48th week, the 30th day of the 11th month, the 335th day of 2016, and: 
  • Cities for Life Day
  • Computer Security Day
  • Independence Day:  Barbados from the United Kingdom in 1966; South Yemen from the United Kingdom in 1967
  • National Meth Awareness Day
  • National Methamphetamine Awareness Day
  • National Mousse Day
  • National Stay at Home Because You're Well Day
  • Perpetual Youth Day
  • Rabi'I -- the start of the third month of the Muslim calendar
  • Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting
  • Sigd -- symbolizes the acceptance of the Torah, one of the unique holidays of the Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jewish) community, and is celebrated on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan
  • Women Wednesday [AKA Women Crush Wednesday] – a meme where you supposed to post info about a woman you admire
ON THIS DAY: In 1707 the second Siege of Pensacola came to end with the failure of the British to capture Pensacola, Florida. In 1872 the first-ever international football [AKA soccer] match took place at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow,between Scotland and England. In 1886 the Folies Bergère staged its first revue. In 1934 the LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman became the first steam locomotive to be authenticated as reaching 100 mph. In 1954, in Sylacauga, Alabama, United States, the Hodges meteorite crashed through a roof and hits a woman taking an afternoon nap; this is the only documented case in the Western Hemisphere of a human being hit by a rock from space. In 1982 Michael Jackson's second solo album, Thriller was released worldwide; it will become the best-selling record album in history.

Participation in fandom seems to start pretty young.   My son was a Star Wars collector and my daughter concentrated on Smurfs and Strawberry Shortcake.  Back in the day, Davy Crockett was the thing.   For me it was horses – and it was almost an obsession, which considering I was a pudgy unathletic little girl who lived in the suburbs and only saw a horse from afar now and then, seems to defy reason.  There was absolutely no chance that I would ever own a horse.  When I was little, the Baltimore Raceway was just across Martin’s BLVD and my father once took me to watch the trotters warming up, but I was never allowed to go back – crossing that very busy highway really wasn’t something you wanted a kid doing and my father did have a problem with betting, in all fairness to my mother.  But if a book had a picture of a horse on it, I read it.  I had little rubber models of horses [my parents wouldn’t invest in the beautiful Breyer models to make a herd] and I used to take my throw rugs and create mountains and valleys and tell all kinds of stories about them, finding them far more fun than dolls.   Walter Farley’s stallion Flame was the alpha male of course – I loved those stories of the island – but there was an older little black horse with a missing fetlock who limped through my tales.  Blackie was the wise one of the herd, the one who thought a bit differently.  Flame often stopped and listened to him, and had been known to fiercely protect him from the predators.   There were females and males in the herd and everyone didn’t like everyone else, which is how the conflicts would arise.   One of the worst punishments my mother inflicted was when she was so angry that she grabbed the little toy suitcase full of the models and threw them all away – and one of the worst spankings I got was when I rescued them from the garbage and tried hiding them under my bed and they were confiscated again, permanently this time because my mother decided I was too old to have them.  I fantasized about working at a stable and earning enough for lessons, but never did anything about it because there wasn’t anywhere I could get to on my bike [the race course had closed up long ago] and my mother certainly wasn’t going to drive me.   

The obsession slowly waned -- in 5th grade, I discovered the world’s greatest consulting detective and then in 8th grade, I got 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for Christmas.  Both of these were totally different fandoms and set me careening off on a different track.   Later, as an adult, I had an opportunity a couple of times to ride and took each one eagerly, although I was intimidated a bit by the sheer size of the animal.   Learning to ride, really ride, being able to bond with a horse even if it means dealing with my allergies and mucking out the stable, is still on my bucket list. 

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, November 30, 2016

hey, what happened to the humor?

Today is the 3rd day of the 48th week, the 29th day of the 11th month, the 334th day of 2016, and: 
  • Customer is Wrong Day
  • Electronic Greeting Card Day
  • Giving Tuesday
  • International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People --  because in 2012 the United Nations General Assembly voted to accord non-member observer state to Palestine.
  • National Chocolates Day
  • National Lemon Creme Pie Day
  • National Square Dance Day
  • Square Dancing Day
  • Throw Out Your Leftovers Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 561 King Chlothar I died at Compiègne; the Merovingian dynasty is continued by his four sons, Charibert I, Guntram, Sigebert I and Chilperic I, who divided the Frankish Kingdom.  In 1777 San Jose, California, is founded as Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe by José Joaquín Moraga.  In 1877 Thomas Edison demonstrated his phonograph for the first time.  In 1944 the first surgery (on a human) to correct blue baby syndrome was performed by Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas.   In 1961 Enos the chimp was launched from Cape Canaveral aboard the Mercury-Atlas 5 spacecraft, which orbited Earth twice before returning.


When you think about blogging, you envision yourself making a series of witty remarks on some small aspect of life that will immediately resonate with your extensive, eclectic gathering of interested readers.  After all, you have learned that every person sees the world from their own perspective and it is all but impossible to see the world from another point of view [since telepathy seems not to be a thing].  You have decided that it is perspective that trumps truth every time, and that by sharing your point of view and perspective, you will open a window that others will be happy to gaze through..  And some days, you do have something to say, which may or may not be pertinent, may or may not be profound, may or may not be physagogue  [yeah not the word that I was thinking of, but too good to pass up – beats piddle, neh?].   But then there are other days when there just doesn’t seem to be a lot to say.  I think those days happen to every writer – professional, casual, intermittent – on a regular basis, just the really talented ones know stories that soar on past and just keep going, even when the narrative is their own.

Today I was going to write about my eye doctor visit yesterday –  but somehow, I couldn’t make the story funny.  I found out I needed new glasses and that although I am developing cataracts [and have been for about four years], they are still tiny.  I learned all about how my eyes were aging.   This looks pretty much like the image of my eye the doc showed me – it is a floater that gets in the way now and the and has to be shifted by blinking or rolling my eyes. 


 Come on, there has to be some humor in being told that you are medically average and boring, right?  
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, November 29, 2016

gotta play to win....

Today is the 333rd day of 2016 [a fun number made even better since there are 33 days remaining], the 2nd day of the 48th week, the 28th day of the 11 month, and:
  •  Cyber Monday
  • Independence Day:  Panama from Spain in 1821; Mauritania from France in 1960
  • It's Letter Writing Day
  • Make Your Own Head Day
  • National French Toast Day
  • Red Planet Day
  • Turkey Leftover Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 587 with the signing of the Treaty of Andelot, King Guntram of Burgundy recognized Childebert II as his heir.  In 1520 Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan reached the Pacific Ocean after passing through the South American strait that now bears his name.  In 1811 Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, premiered at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig.  In 1814 the Times of London became the first newspaper to be produced on a steam-powered printing press, built by the German team of Koenig & Bauer.  In 1895 the first American automobile race took place over the 54 miles from Chicago's Jackson Park to Evanston, Illinois -- Frank Duryea won in approximately 10 hours.  In 1909 Sergei Rachmaninoff made the debut performance of his Piano Concerto No. 3, considered to be one of the most technically challenging piano concertos in the standard classical repertoire.  In 1919 Lady Astor was elected as a Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom -- she was the first woman to sit in the House of Commons (Countess Markievicz, the first to be elected, refused to sit).  In 1964 NASA launched the Mariner 4 probe toward Mars.  In 1967 the first pulsar known as PSR B1919+21 in the constellation of Vulpecula was discovered by two astronomers Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish. 

The problem with a four-day holiday weekend is that you have to go back to work.  Whether it is Monday, like today, or Tuesday, the real world comes aknocking and you just cannot say “go away”.  Not if you want to be able to earn a living that is – sometimes I have to remind myself just how grateful I am to have a job that keeps me going in what is relative luxury compared to many.   Not easy to do when you are worried about bills, especially around the holidays!  

I guess that it is obvious I did NOT win the huge powerball this weekend, neh?  
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, November 28, 2016


Today is the 4th day of the 47th week, the 23rd day of the 11th month, the 328th day of 2016 [with only 31shopping days until Christmas], and: 
  • Blackout Wednesday
  • Dr. Who Day – in 1963 the BBC broadcast the first episode of "An Unearthly Child" (starring William Hartnell), the first story from the first series of Doctor Who, which is now the world's longest running science fiction drama.
  • Eat a Cranberry Day
  • Fibonacci Day
  • International Image Consultant Day
  • National Cashew Day
  • National Espresso Day
  • National Family Caregivers Day
  • Repudiation Day (Frederick County, Maryland, United States)
  • Tie One On Day  (Day Before Thanksgiving)
  • What Do You Love About America Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 534 BC Thespis of Icaria becomes the first recorded actor to portray a character onstage.  In 1644 John Milton published Areopagitica, a pamphlet decrying censorship.  In 1765 the judges in Frederick County, Maryland became the first to repudiate the British Stamp Act, which was designed to maintain the costs of keeping British troops in America.  In 1889 the first jukebox went into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco.  1954 the Dow Jones industrial average finally surpassed it's pre-crash high - 25 years after Black Tuesday - when it closed at 382.74.  In 1976 Apneist Jacques Mayol was the first man to reach a depth of 100 m undersea without breathing equipment.  In 1978 The Geneva Frequency Plan of 1975 went into effect, realigning many of Europe's longwave and mediumwave broadcasting frequencies.  In 1992 the first smartphone, the IBM Simon, was introduced at COMDEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.  In 1993 Rachel Whiteread won both the £20,000 Turner Prize award for best British modern artist and the £40,000 K Foundation art award for the worst artist of the year.  In 2016 NASA Voyager is 19 hrs 04 mins 10 secs of light-travel time, NASA Voyager II is 15 hrs 42 mins 46 secs of light-travel time, and OSIRISREx is 52 million kilometers from Earth. 

Did you know that when there are five Thursdays in November, Thanksgiving may not be on the last Thursday of the month?  The earliest date for Thanksgiving is November 22 and the latest is November 28.    Retailers do prefer an earlier date, of course, since it makes the holiday shopping season longer.

Thanksgiving was one holiday that I never cooked – tried it three times and it was an unmitigated disaster each time.  No, Thanksgiving belonged to Grandmom Hughes -- as many as possibly could gathered at her table each year.   There were three children with spouses, six grandchildren and three or more great-grandchildren, so there could be a LOT of folks there although we all didn’t usually make it the same year.  You could smell the cooking as soon as you pulled into the driveway and got out of the car!  She always had a huge fresh turkey, and it is a miracle I guess that we all survived because she always had stuffed full with stuffing.   There was also a fresh pork roast that I remember as falling off the bone, but somehow never dry.   There was fresh sauerkraut and baked beans and green beans and mountains of mashed potatoes, homemade applesauce, slaw with Grandmom’s dressing, and freshly baked rolls.  I made bread for years, but I never did quite get the hang of those rolls!   I have the table that was in her dining room and all the leaves – when fully extended it could seat 16 people.  The kitchen table was the kid’s table if there was overflow.  Dinner was early enough that the men could be done before the football game came on, and they would eat and get up, headed for the television room and the smell of tobacco wafted out.  The kids would get up and either head outside to play, or to the basement to play pool, or sprawl on the floor in the living room.  The women would linger over the table for a bit just talking, then slowly the task of cleaning up would be started.   By around 4PM everything was put away, the first game was over, and it was time for what my kids called “fun supper” – sandwiches and desserts.  There was cake, pumpkin pie with cool whip, apple pie with ice cream and cookies.  Then, after cleaning up, we would sit in the living room and talk and sing.

It has been 35 years now since Grandmom cooked Thanksgiving dinner.  I still miss it.

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, November 23, 2016

another Monday

Today is the 2nd day of the 47th week, the 21st day of the 11th month, the 326th day of 2016 [with 33 shopping days until Christmas], and: 
  • Alascattalo Day  (about Alaska & humor)
  • False Confession Day
  • National Gingerbread Day
  • National Stuffing Day
  • No Music Day – celebrating a lack of noise pollution the day before St Cecilia's [the patron saint of music] feast day
  • Pumpkin Pie Day
  • World Hello Day
  • World Television Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 164 BC Judas Maccabeus restored the Temple in Jerusalem -- as commemorated each year by the festival of Hanukkah [this year the Festival of Light is 12.24- 01.01].  In 1009 Lý Công Uẩn was enthroned as emperor of Đại CồViệt, founding the Lý dynasty.  In 1877 Thomas Edison announced his invention of the phonograph, a machine that can record and play sound.  1905 Albert Einstein's paper, "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?", was published in the journal Annalen der Physik [reveals the relationship between energy and mass, leading to the mass–energy equivalence formula, E = mc²].  In 1942 the completion of the Alaska Highway (also known as the Alcan Highway) was celebrated (however, the highway is not usable by general vehicles until 1943).  In 1953 the Natural History Museum, London announced the "Piltdown Man" skull, initially believed to be one of the most important fossilized hominid skulls ever found, is a hoax.  In 1995 the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 5,000 for the first time.  In 1998  the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, one of the most successful and influential video games of all time, was released in Japan.


Monday – what can I say that hasn’t been said before? 

We are lucky enough to get the day after Thanksgiving off, a perk that I didn’t have in my career until relatively recently.   When I was working retail, of course, no one could take Black Friday off.  In banking, that Friday was always a day when everyone with seniority or position would take leave/vacation and many times I was the designated officer on duty at different banks.  Never bothered me too much to be on site back then as Frank was often working – so why not go to work?  The only holiday Frank insisted on having off was Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and since he was senior man, he got it every year.  There was some grumbling about that, but he would point out that was the only holiday he would reserve.  The other holidays?  We had them when the schedule fell that way otherwise he worked.  See the police in Baltimore County had a rotation –  five days on, two off, five days on, three off – and your days off were always fluctuating.  Not only that, but your shifts fluctuated as well – 7– 3, 3-11, 11-7.  The best arrangement was to have the three days off after the 11-7 shift so that you could catch up on your sleep easily, but it didn’t always work out that way.  We would work out the year in advance on the calendar carefully so we could make plans – vacations especially had to be timed just right between weekends off.    Shift work was really hard on him – he never could get into a regular sleep pattern and I often wonder if that contributed to his health issues – and yet it seemed to work out better for the family than being on permanent 3-11 would’ve been.  That was the worst shift – he was sleeping when I went to work, and by the time he would get home, I would be ready to go to bed.  11-7 worked out better – he could sleep while I was working and be ready to get up around the time we got home,  and eating breakfast for dinner was a thing.  No, we didn’t miss that shift work one little bit when he retired!  But it wasn’t until after he was long gone that I started getting the day after Thanksgiving off. 

I like it!  Definitely makes Monday a bit easier....

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, November 21, 2016

work work work

Today is the 5th day of the 46th week, the 17th day of the 11th month, the 322nd day of 2016, and: 
  • Beaujolais Nouveau Day
  • Electronic Greeting Card Day
  • Great American Smokeout
  • Homemade Bread Day
  • International Happy Gose Day -- celebrating one of the most popular sour beers; originated in Leipzig; disseminated worldwide
  • International Guinness World Records Day
  • International Students' Day
  • National Baklava Day
  • National Farm Joke Day
  • National Take a Hike Day
  • National Unfriend Day
  • Nouveau Beaujolais Day
  • Petroleum Day
  • The Little Mermaid Day
  • Use Less Stuff Day
  • World Pancreatic Cancer Day
  • World Peace Day
  • World Philosophy Day
  • World Prematurity Awareness Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 474 Emperor Leo II died after a reign of ten months and is succeeded by his father Zeno, who becomes sole ruler of the Byzantine Empire.  In 794 Japanese Emperor Kanmu changed his residence from Nara to Kyoto.  In 1800 the US Congress held its first session in Washington DC, in the partially completed Capitol building.  In 1858 – Modified Julian Day zero.  1869 the Suez Canal opened in Egypt, linking the Mediterranean and the Red seas.  In 1970 the Soviet Union lands Lunokhod 1 on Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) on the Moon the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another world.  In 1978 the Star Wars Holiday Special aired on CBS, receiving negative reception from critics, fans, and even Star Wars creator George Lucas.

I went to work today.

Now wait a minute, that announcement isn’t as trivial as it sounds!  I got up this morning and started thinking.  I have a cold, can barely talk, my eye is seeping, I am coughing and sniffling and no one at the office would’ve been surprised if I didn’t show up – in fact, they might be grateful!  [cue conversation about going to work sick].  Today is a simply gorgeous fall day, the kind you don’t get very often in November – the sun is shining, there is a light breeze, the leaves still are colorful and it is going to be in the mid-60s.  There is nothing that is time-sensitive on my desk today.   And I have already scheduled to take tomorrow off.  So, since I still have a couple of days of use-or-lose PTO,  why not make it a four-day weekend?  I stood at the balcony door and watched the sun come up.  I fiddle-faddled online a bit .  I looked in my closet for something to wear and started making a mental list of things I would rather do than go to work, which included straightening out my closet and figuring out what Christmas presents I had yet to buy [which isn’t exactly going out and about in the beautiful weather, neh?].  I flipped a coin – heads I go, tails I stay – and it came up tails. 

But I was not running a temperature [yes I took it] and in fact, I felt pretty energetic.  So I had a long hard look in the mirror, gave myself permission to play hooky …..  and got ready for work.  Somehow it just felt like cheating to stay home.  I can rationalize it by saying in a small office like ours, one person just deciding not to be here unexpectedly impacts everyone else, which is perfectly true.  But the fact of the matter is that I was taught once you agree to take a job, you do it – not when it is convenient for you, not when you feel like it, but when you are supposed to be at work.  Day in and day out, disregarding aches/pains and angst, it’s simply what working class people do.  All.  Their.  Lives.

very inconveinent at times it is.....
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, November 17, 2016

still have a choice

Today is the 4th day of the 46th week, the 16th day of the 11th month, the 321st day of 2016, and: 
  • Geographic Information Systems Day
  • Have a Party With Your Bear Day
  • International Day for Tolerance
  • National Button Day
  • National Educational Support Professionals Day
  • National Fast Food Day
ON THIS DAY:  in 1272, while travelling during the Ninth Crusade, Prince Edward became King of England upon Henry III's death, but he doesn't return to England for nearly two years to assume the throne.  In 1686 representatives of Louis XIV of France and James II of England signed the Treaty of Whitehall (Treaty of American Neutrality) agreeing that Continental conflict would not disrupt peace and neutrality in New France and New England; prohibited each nation from fishing or trading in the other's territory, and also forbid each power from aiding Indian tribes who may be at war with the other.  In 1822 Missouri trader William Becknell arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, over a route that became known as the Santa Fe Trail.  In 1852 the English astronomer John Russell Hind discovered the asteroid 22 Kalliope.  In 1855 David Livingstone became the first European to see the Victoria Falls in what is now present-day Zambia-Zimbabwe.  In 1938 LSD was first synthesized by Albert Hofmann from ergotamine at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel.  In 1965 the Soviet Union launched the Venera 3 space probe toward Venus, which will be the first spacecraft to reach the surface of another planet.  In 1959 the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "The Sound of Music" opened on Broadway.  In 1973 NASA launched Skylab 4 with a crew of three astronauts from Cape Canaveral for an 84-day mission.  In 1974 the Arecibo message was broadcast from the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico -- it was aimed at the current location of the globular star cluster Messier 13 some 25,000 light years away, but the message will reach empty space by the time it finally arrives since the cluster will have changed position.

They didn’t have the trenta cups at the Starbucks I go to this morning.  So why did I drop my keys on the counter and look disgusted?   Big deal – venti costs less, right?    After all, after two days of no lemonade for my drink, they had gone to the store and gotten some.  It wasn’t me that they told they couldn’t make her drink because they didn’t have the powder.  And I hadn’t learned that there was no brown sugar for the oatmeal yet.    I could make excuses – I didn’t feel good, the line was moving very slow, etc – but the fact of the matter is my reaction made it clear that I was unhappy because my expectations have not been met..  I felt rather bad about not leaving the cashier in his usual upbeat, cheerful mood, and I will probably choose to be back there tomorrow spending money because it takes more than one incident to turn me off, but I have options if I don’t want to return.

Last week, the day after the election, a lady I work near came up very perkily and asked how I was.  “Been better” was my reply and when asked what was wrong, I told her Trump.   She immediately walked away because my reaction made it clear I was unhappy.  We spoke later – she is angry that more folks aren’t as happy as she is over the results.  “Give him a chance” she told me, and reminded me that “they” had put up with eight years of Obama.   It sounded reasonable, and yet  after a week of angry denials that he said/did something despite actual videos to the contrary, too little transparency [no tax returns, and a VP who will actually run things for him], too much negative rhetoric about walls and “them” and hate, topped off with a transition team I don’t want anywhere near the bastions of power and I have to say that this president-elect has not met my expectations.  But unlike Starbucks, I cannot simply stop interacting with the President of the United States – even if I lived in another country, the actions of this man will have an impact.  I still have a choice; they aren’t any easy ones and I doubt how much impact they will have, but such as they are, I will make them.  I will not deny that he won the Electoral College while losing the popular vote and I will support the peaceful transfer of power.  I will not pretend that the violation of norms is okay, even though political correctness makes my teeth ache at times, and I will continue to assert we are better together than marginalized.  I will not condemn every single person who voted for Trump as a racist or deplorable, I will not unfriend anyone for simply disagreeing with me, and I will not be quiet..  I will wear a safety pin.  I will register as a Muslim if something like that is somehow implemented even if I have to wear a badge,  and encourage every single person I know to do the same.  And I will vote every chance that I get.

And I will go on with life one day at a time, because that is what most of us do, neh? 


Now excuse me, I need to go get a venti salted caramel mocha frappuccino double-blended.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, November 16, 2016

calling Miss Manners....

Today is the 3rd day of the 46th week, the 15th day of the 11th month, the 320th day of 2016, and: 
  • America Recycles Day
  • American Enterprise Day
  • Day of the Imprisoned Writer
  • George Spelvin or More Than One Role Day – a very important person in theater!   
  • I Love to Write Day
  • Little Red Wagon Day
  • National Bundt (Pan) Day
  • National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day
  • National Entrepreneurship Day
  • National Philanthropy Day
  • National Raisin Bran Cereal Day
  • National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day
  • Pack Your Mom's Lunch Day
  • Rock Your Mocs Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 565 Justin II succeeded his uncle, Justinian I, as emperor of the Byzantine Empire.  In 1533 Francisco Pizarro arrived in Cuzco, the capital of the Inca Empire.  In 1777 the Second Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation, a precursor to the Constitution of the United States.  In 1920 the first assembly of the League of Nations was held in Geneva, Switzerland.  In 1971 Intel released the world's first commercial single-chip microprocessor, the 4004.  In 1990 the space shuttle Atlantis launched on mission STS-38. 

Category:  you can’t make this shit up

First incident:
  I have a cold, a bad one, and my voice is just about gone.  Last night, I was in the elevator with two black women, dressed nicely, who were on either side of me.  I looked up and moved further into my corner.  They smirked at each other and then one said to me  “we don’t stink, you know.  I did take a shower”.  I was stunned, and managed to croak out  “no it isn’t that.  I have a bad cold and am trying not to breathe on anyone”.   They both looked very surprised, but it was obvious I was sincere [and sick].  As they got off, the other woman turned and told me that she hoped I felt better.

Second incident:  the receptionist for the real estate management company where I work is Hispanic;  she has lived here for decades, and is originally from El Salvador.  This morning, a male lawyer walked in, leaned over her desk and asked her if she was packing up to go back to Mexico where she belongs.  She looked up, and asked him if he was prepared to head back to his point of origin since it was plain he was not Native American.  He muttered, realized that there were other people about, and walked away.  . 

I have been reading that many of the incidents reported after the election results are thought to have been made up.  Those two black women assumed that as a white, I was somehow distancing myself from them because they were black.   A LAWYER felt comfortable making a comment about deportation to a Hispanic woman.    Now no one was hurt, no one was “threatened” or harmed in either of these incidents, but there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that both directly attributable to folks feeling the change in civility throughout this political campaign and especially since 11.09.  

Where is Miss Manners when you need her?  

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, November 15, 2016

better together

Today is the 2nd day of the 46th week, the 14th day of the 11th month, the 319th day of 2016 [ there are only 40 shopping days left until Christmas], and: 
  • International Girls Day
  • International Selfie Day (Diabetes Foundation)
  • Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day
  • National American Teddy Bear Day
  • National Pickle Day
  • National Spicy Guacamole Day
  • Operating Room Nurse Day
  • Spirit of National Speakers Association Day
  • World Diabetes Day – the birthday of Frederick Banting, who was the first to use insulin on humans
  • World Orphans Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 1770 James Bruce discovered what he believed to be the source of the Nile.  In 1851 Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville, was published in the USA.  In 1889 Nellie Bly (aka Elizabeth Cochrane) began a successful attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days; she completed the trip in 72 days.  In 1910 Eugene Burton Ely did the first takeoff from a ship in Hampton Roads, Virginia, using a makeshift deck on the USS Birmingham.  In 1967 Theodore Maiman got a patent for his ruby laser systems, the world's first laser.  In 1969 NASA launched Apollo 12, the second crewed mission to the surface of the Moon.  In 1971 Mariner 9 entered orbit around Mars.  In 1972 the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 1,000 for the first time.  

Well a week after the election, and we are all still struggling with the aftermath of the intense polarization:  accusations are flying, friends are still having heated conversations, people are still crying, protestors have taken to the streets, petitions aimed at the Electoral College are being signed.   Some of what is being said about the disappearing middle class resonates powerfully with me, which is why I  am a #feeltheBern kind of person.  Those stark red and blue electoral maps seem to speak to a divide that is totally profound and irreconcilable, but I take some comfort in the more nuanced mapping that shows much more blending. 
 But then again?  I’m one of those who believes that we are better together, and trembles with fear at the very mention of  “ethnostates” and “normalizing” the language and actions of exclusivity .   I am still seesawing between panic and going on with life as we know it, between shouting to anyone who will listen that we have given the legendary strong man the keys to destroy democracy and diving into my 2nd Life and books to ignore the ugliness.    Healing is needed, neh?   
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, November 14, 2016

May you live in interesting times

Today is the 5th day of the 45th week, the 10th day of the 11th month, the 315th day of 2016, and: 
  • Area Code Day
  • International Accounting Day
  • International Tempranillo Day
  • National Forget-Me-Not Day
  • National Vanilla Cupcake Day
  • NET Cancer Awareness Day
  • Sesame Street Day  -- the 1st broadcast was on this day in 1969
  • USMC Day -- marking creation of the Corps as part of the US Navy in 1775
  • Windows Day  -- Microsoft released its Windows computer operating system on this date in 1983; Windows 3.1, the version that would become popular in offices across the nation, was released almost nine years later
  • World Science Day for Peace and Development
  • World Usability Day
AND it is the 2nd day after the US Presidential election.  For the first time in my life, I actually cried when the results came in.  For the first time in my life I am literally frightened, and unable to take a “we’ll see” stance.  I watched Nixon, Reagan, and two Bushes take office and didn’t have this level of concern – but then again, they didn’t SAY the kind of horrible things that this candidate has either.  I actually sought out a woman I know who voted for Trump and begged her to tell me something positive about him, tell me why she was so happy with the outcome.  Her reply was simply that once he got into the Oval Office, he would understand that those kind of shenanigans wouldn’t fly anymore.  Mind you, I didn’t like Hillary, didn’t like her back in when she was 1st Lady, didn’t trust her, didn’t believe in her –  so I am not particularly upset that she lost, but I am just so frightened about this “whitelash” that I feel almost paralyzed.   I am dismayed at the way the US looks to the world and worried that when his time to get voted out comes, he will refuse to leave.  I am scared not just of his volatility, but about the unknown agendas of his “handlers” who control him [the story about his twitter account being taken away was NOT amusing, who ARE these people?]

Trump was right about one thing – the system IS rigged in favor of the rich and powerful and always has been.  We forget that we live in a republic, not a democracy, neh?  The Electoral College, with 583 electors [based on Congressional representation] needs to be revamped.  Currently all states, except for Maine and Nebraska, have chosen electors on a "winner-take-all" basis since the 1880s – and that results in someone who only took 47.88% of the votes cast getting 56.88% of the electoral votes and becoming president-elect even when the popular vote is actually showing his opponent ahead by 202,340 votes.   

But the real story of this election? 


 Why didn’t 46.23% of the population vote?  According to the US Elections Project the total estimated eligible voting population is 231,556,622 people.  The total estimated registered voters is 200,000,000 or  86.37% of those eligible.  According to GOOGLE, updated Nov 10, 2016 9:29 AM EST, the total estimated number of ballots cast this election was 124,497,418 or 53.77% of those eligible to vote.

The main reasons I have heard for not voting: 
  • ·        Not convenient–  this is the first election since the Supreme Court ruled against the Voting Rights Act in 2013, which led to the closing of over 800 polling places across the country in the name of budgetary constraints.  Lines were long.  Polls opened late and in some cases closed early.
  • ·        Cannot vote or register -- stricter ID requirements for voters in multiple states have been enacted since 2013 as well
  • ·        Couldn’t get off from work– not every state had early voting and not every state that did had weekend hours available.  Especially if you are holding down two jobs, I can see where the scheduling could get dicey.  My solution would be to make Election Day a paid federal holiday.
  • ·        Didn’t feel like there was much of a choice   
  • ·        My vote doesn’t make a difference-- In multiple states, victories came down to fewer than 10,000 votes, which truly sheds light on just how valuable those missing votes might have been for either of the major party candidates. It's also a reminder of just how valuable your vote is in picking who runs this country — and how important it is everyone remembers to vote in 2018 and 2020.
So, in the end,  about 26% of the population just chose the resident of the most powerful office in the country.  

And now we all have to live with it.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, November 10, 2016

time to fall back....

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Saturday, November 5, 2016

when you wish

Today is the 6th day of the 44th week, the 4th day of the 11th month, the 309th day of 2016 [with only 50 shopping days until Christmas], and: 
  • King Tut Day
  • Love Your Lawyer Day
  • National Candy Day
  • National Chicken Lady Day
  • National Medical Science Liaison Awareness and Appreciation Day
  • National Skeptics Day
  • National Waiting for the Barbarians Day
  • Punkin Chunkin -- thru the 6th
  • Use Your Common Sense Day
ON THIS DAY:  in 1429, during the Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War, Joan of Arc liberated Saint-Pierre-le-Moûtier.  In 1783 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Symphony No. 36 was performed for the first time in Linz, Austria.  In 1847 Sir James Young Simpson discovered the anesthetic properties of chloroform.  In 1880 the first cash register was patented by James and John Ritty of Dayton, Ohio.  In 1879 Thomas Edison filed a patent for his incandescent electric lamp (Note: Joseph Swan had already patented an incandescent light in Britain the previous year).  In 1890 London's first deep-level tube railway opened between King William Street and Stockwell.  In 1922 British archaeologist Howard Carter and his men found the entrance to Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.  In 1939 air-conditioning was first offered as an option for automobiles by Packard Motor Car Company for $274 (in today's currency that would be $4,759.08).   In 1960, at the Kasakela Chimpanzee Community in Tanzania, Dr Jane Goodall observed chimpanzees creating tools, the first-ever observation in non-human animals. In 1973 the Netherlands experienced the first Car-Free Sunday caused by the 1973 oil crisis -- highways are used only by cyclists and roller skaters.  In 2001 the first movie based on the best-selling "Harry Potter" books by JK Rowling premiered in London.

And it is FRIDAY – best night of the week when the entire glorious weekend stretches out before you!  ((yes I know not everyone’s weekends are Saturday and Sunday)).   Most of us are living from one break to another,  working and waiting for that time when we can pretend that our time is our own as we blithely ignore chores and running errands and activities with the kids and family stuff

In short?  We wish our lives away all during the week. 

Now I know that some are fully invested in their work and are doing things that they love and are absolutely happy with the workaday world – and I have listened for years as the pundits tell us that you should follow your passions and make your play your work.  Fact of the matter is that there is a lot of stuff that has to be done, and while I would never advocate staying in a place doing something you actively hate if you have an option to make a living elsewhere, I have learned to accept the reason it is work is because there is stuff that has to be done whether or not that stuff is fun or loveable.  I suspect that I am in the majority with that – working for a living not living to work.   Unlike those who have a vocation,  my identity does not depend on my job but resides elsewhere.  I sell time to my employer and try to give the organization fair value.  The old social contract where organizations saw their employees as their most valuable asset and took care of them is long gone – it is a simple economic exchange now:  I work you pay me.  I don’t work, you don’t pay me.  You don’t pay me, I don’t work.  Don’t you be trying to horn in on hours I didn’t sell to you!

*stops and takes a deep breath*  sorry, got a little side tracked there!

My point is that we are wishing our lives away.  Every time we sigh and think “I wish it was lunch time” or “I wish this work day was over” or “I wish tomorrow would get here” or “I wish it was Friday” or“I wish I was grown up” or“I wish winter was over” or “I wish I was retired”, we are  actually wishing our lives away instead of actually living.  We only have a finite number of minutes alloted to us and we have no way of knowing just how many we have been given, so why wish them away?  It is something that I definitely need to work on….

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, November 4, 2016

who are you, really?

Today is the 5th day of the 44th week, the 3rd day of the 11th month, the 308th day of 2016, and: 
  • Cliché Day
  • Give Someone a Dollar Today Day
  • Independence day:  Panama from Colombia in 1903; Dominica from the United Kingdom in 1978; the Federated States of Micronesia from the United States in 1986
  • National Housewife Day -- I don’t remember this being a holiday back when I was a stay-at-home Mom.  And for the record?  I think “domestic engineer” is a really silly term!
  • National Men Make Dinner Day -- Must Cook. No BBQ Allowed! --  I must say this stereotype is somewhat dated; I know three men who are excellent cooks and they prepare meals on a regular basis
  • National Sandwich Day
  • Public Television Day
  • Sandwich Day -- the birthday of John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich.
  • SOS Day
  • Stout Day ((the drink not the body type))
ON THIS DAY:  In 361 Emperor Constantius II died of a fever at Mopsuestia in Cilicia, on his deathbed he is baptised and declared his cousin Julian the rightful successor.  In 1534 the English Parliament passed the first Act of Supremacy, making King Henry VIII head of the Anglican Church, supplanting the pope and the Roman Catholic Church.  In 1592 the city of San Luis Potosí [AKA SLP or simply San Luisis] was founded in Mexico.  In 1838 the Times of India, the world's largest circulated English language daily broadsheet newspaper was founded as The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce.  In 1954 the first Godzilla film is released, marking the first appearance of the iconic monster.  In 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 2 carrying the first animal to enter orbit, a dog named Laika [who died within hours from overheating].  In 1964 Washington DC residents were able to vote in a presidential election for the first time.  In 1973 NASA launched the Mariner 10 toward Mercury; on March 29, 1974, it becomes the first space probe to reach that planet. 

Every single social media site starts with asking you to fill out a profile to introduce yourself,  telling the site’s community and the world who you are.  It is a simple enough task at first glance, but surprisingly difficult to do accurately. Some of it depends on who you are describing yourself to – a professional profile on LinkedIn or your company website is going to be a bit different from what you might have to say on a dating or gaming site or Facebook or Twitter.  But the basic question is the same:  how do you describe yourself?  What words do you use? 

Do you talk about your being and how you see yourself?  All positive words or add some negatives so you sound realistic and don’t seem like bragging?  Do you mention depression or OCD or introvert  or multiple personalities?

Do you give a physical picture?  Gender?  Do you have to mention whether or not it is what you were born as?  Height? Do you give the actual height or just say short?  Body type?  So how many positive ways can you say overweight and unrepentant?  Hair color? The current shade and whether or not it is “natural”?  Skin tone? What kind of shape you are in? How about medical issues or disabilities?   

Do you discuss your roles?  Mother, daughter, grandmother, Roman Catholic, worker bee, cousin, author, gamer, baby boomer, techie, manager, speaker, pack rat, Democrat or Republican or don’t give a hoot?

Do you list your interests?  Hobbies, fandoms, activities, theories, passions?  Is this where you talk about how many books you still have in your library, or just how long you have been “into” science fiction and fantasy?  Do you mention that it is a life goal to be able to live close enough Orlando to be able to justify [and afford] annual passes to WDW and/or Hogwarts? 

Words matter and since every activity has a consequence, what you put out there matters too…..

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, November 3, 2016

a song in the heart and on the lips

Today is the 4th day of the 44th week, the 2nd day of the 11th month, the 307th day of 2016: 
  • All Souls' Day
  • Cookie Monster Day
  • International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists
  • Look for Circles Day
  • National Deviled Egg Day
  • National Eating Healthy Day
  • National Traffic Professionals Day
  • Plan Your Epitaph Day
  • Practice Being Psychic Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 619 a qaghan of the Western Turkic Khaganate was assassinated in a Chinese palace by Eastern Turkic rivals after the approval of Tang emperor Gaozu.  In 1671 Intendant Jean Talon opened the King's Brewery, Québec City's first brewery.  In 1868 New Zealand officially adopted a standard time to be observed nationally.  In 1898 cheerleading was started at the University of Minnesota with Johnny Campbell leading the crowd in cheering on the football team.  In 1947 Howard Hughes piloted his huge wooden airplane, the Spruce Goose, on its only flight, which lasted about a minute over Long Beach Harbor in California.  In 1959 Charles Van Doren admitted to a House subcommittee that he had the questions and answers in advance of his appearances on the TV game show "Twenty-One."  In 1960 Penguin Books was found not guilty of obscenity in the trial R v Penguin Books Ltd, the Lady Chatterley's Lover case.  In 1988 the first Internet Worm was released by Robert Morris, Jr., a Cornell graduate student -- Morris also received the first felony conviction in the US under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act although he claimed he wasn't trying to do any harm, it was just an experiment gone wrong.

I never really learned to recite poetry, instead I learned a multitude of song lyrics.  Singing ran deep in our family – Grandmom Hughes was the daughter of a Welsh coalminer and that family would sing as quickly as talk.  I remember Sunday afternoons, after the dinner dishes were done and before desert [or fun supper as my kids knew it], while the menfolk were in the other room watching sports, smoking, and/or napping, and the kids were playing elsewhere, we would be sitting around talking, and if the conversation died away, Grandmom would just start singing and we would join in [ “You are my sunshine” was Aunt Blanche’s favorite song].  I sang while walking to school, while taking a bath, while doing chores – sometimes at a considerable volume.  I sang with the school chorus and in the church choirs.  I didn’t have a great voice and never got picked to do a solo, but my voice was strong and clear with a three-octave range and I had almost perfect pitch.

Never learned to read music though, I sang by ear.  I went for a tryout one year at Towson and the choir director was very dismissive – when he handed me a sheet of music and told me to sing, I admitted that I had never heard that piece and couldn’t read music.  He made the mistake of asking why I thought I could sing with them if I couldn’t even read my part -- I pointed at the piano and told him if he played the melody, I would sing the song and he immediately started, and I did.  Even when he added embellishments, once I had the melody I could hear it and half way through he stopped and told me I was in, but that I was never to tell anyone else that I couldn’t read the music.

When my kids were growing up singing was part of their lives as well -- we sang when playing, while driving in the car, while taking a bath.  Every night each kid had their own lullaby --  my son’s was Wynken, Blynken and Nod and my daughter’s was Puff the Magic Dragon.    When my son went off to the Navy, he took with him a cassette tape we recorded of us singing together, one side had the fun songs like Star Trekkin’ and I love Trash and Found a Peanut. and the other side was our favorite Christmas carols.

In the mid-80’s Grandmom died, and it was a while before I felt like singing again, only the lullabies remained constant.  Then when Frank died, the cone of silence descended as I learned to live alone.  It has only been recently that I have tried to sing again and I hardly recognize my voice anymore.  No longer clear, it quavers, the pitch is often off, there is no range, and I cannot sustain a note.   In short, I find it difficult to listen to myself.   Despite that, I sing now and then when around my granddaughters – the toddler’s song is the Unicorn Song and I have been singing Don’t let the rain come down to the baby – but I find it difficult.

Maybe my voice will come back – I hope so because singing is an essential part of what makes me “me”.   

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, November 2, 2016

head for the hills

Today is the 3rd day of the 44th week, the 1st day of the 11th month, the 306th day of 2016 [with only 53 shopping days left until Christmas], and: 
  • All Saints Day or Dia de Los Muertos
  • Autistic Speaking Day
  • Extra Mile Day
  • Give Up Your Shoulds Day
  • Hockey Mask Day
  • National Author's Day
  • National Brush Day
  • National Deep Fried Clams Day
  • National Family Caregiver Day
  • National Family Literacy Day
  • National Go Cook For Your Pets Day
  • National Vinegar Day
  • Prime Meridian Day
  • World Vegan Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 365 the Alemanni crossed the Rhine and invaded Gaul. In 996 Emperor Otto III issued a deed to Gottschalk, Bishop of Freising, which is the oldest known document using the name Ostarrîchi (Austria in Old High German).  In 1512 the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, was exhibited to the public for the first time.  In 1520 the Strait of Magellan, the passage immediately south of mainland South America connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, was first discovered and navigated by European explorer Ferdinand Magellan during the first recorded circumnavigation voyage.  In 1555 French Huguenots established the France Antarctique colony in present-day Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  In 1604 Shakespeare's tragedy Othello was performed for the first time, at Whitehall Palace in London.  In 1611 Shakespeare's play The Tempest was performed for the first time, at Whitehall Palace in London.  In 1870, in the United States, the Weather Bureau (later renamed the National Weather Service) made its first official meteorological forecast.  In 1896 a picture showing the bare breasts of a woman appeared in National Geographic magazine for the first time.  In 1941 American photographer Ansel Adams took a picture of a moonrise over the town of Hernandez, New Mexico that would become one of the most famous images in the history of photography.  In 1950 Pope Pius XII claims papal infallibility when he formally defined the dogma of the Assumption of Mary.  In 1944 Harvey by Mary Coyle Chase opened in New York.  In 1952, the US exploded the first hydrogen bomb in a test at Eniwetok atoll in the Marshall Islands.  In 1963 the Soviets announced the successful launching and operation of their Polyot I, the first maneuverable unmanned satellite.  In 1982 Honda became the first Asian automobile company to produce cars in the United States with the opening of its factory in Marysville, Ohio; a Honda Accord was the first car produced there.

As this “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad election campaign continues, I find reading the commentary from other countries an interesting and humbling exercise.  Without realizing it, I assumed the US had some sort of high ground internationally.  Of course, we are the only country to drop not one but two atom bombs, and we exploded the first hydrogen bomb, but like the old song says “first we got the bomb and that was good ‘cause we love peace and motherhood.”  From the stalwart pilgrims to the noble frontiersmen, to the rollicking cowboys, to the energetic tycoons – I felt without articulating it that the US was somehow different than everyone else.   Sure learning about how the indigenous peoples were treated, the horrors of slavery and the Vietnam war told me that my country was not perfect, but no one is perfect.  I always felt  “WE” all really understood what democracy and freedom should be and were working towards that goal and I looked askance at the turmoil of other countries’ transfers of power with just a tinge of smugness, because after all, it couldn’t happen here.

Well I guess everyone feels the same way – it cannot happen here, it won’t happen to them.  Until it does. After all, “no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, neh? Me?  I’m going back to living a 2nd Life and burying myself in books.  

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Today is the 2nd day of the 44th week, the 31st day of the 10th month, the 305th day of 2016, and: 
  • Beggars' Night
  • Books for Treats Day
  • Carve a Pumpkin Day
  • Day of the Seven Billion
  • Girl Scout Founder's Day
  • Halloween or All Hallows Eve
  • National Caramel Apple Day
  • National Increase Your Psychic Powers Day
  • National Knock Knock Jokes Day
  • National Magic Day
  • Reformation Day
  • Samhain
  • Scare a Friend Day
  • Sneak Some of the Candy Yourself Before the Kids Start Knocking Day
  • Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF Day
  • World Cities Day
  • World Savings Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 475 Romulus Augustulus was proclaimed Western Roman Emperor.  In 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.  In 1913 the Lincoln Highway, the first automobile highway across United States, was dedicated.  In 1923 it was the first of 160 consecutive days of 100° Fahrenheit at Marble Bar, Western Australia.  In 1926 magician Harry Houdini died of gangrene and peritonitis that develops after his appendix ruptures.  In 1938, the day after his "War of the Worlds" broadcast had panicked radio listeners, Orson Welles expressed "deep regret" but also bewilderment that anyone had thought the show was real.  In 1941, after 14 years of work, Mount Rushmore was completed.  In 2000 Soyuz TM-31 launched, carrying the first resident crew to the International Space Station, which has been crewed continuously since then.  In 2011 the global population of humans officially reached seven billion.

My memories of Halloween as a kid are of roving groups of kids running through the neighborhood, knocking on doors and jostling each other to grab treats as soon as dusk fell.   The little kids would come out first and the groups would get progressively older as the night wore on.   I don’t remember there being a lot of parents out there with us.  I do remember that we used to get home fairly early and I would dump out my “take” to be recycled and given out.  The unwrapped candy was usually thrown out, not because we were worried about it but because it was unsanitary -- back then we were just starting to hear things about razor blades in apples and the like, but we still got invited into some house and ate cupcakes and drank cider or hot chocolate if it was a cold night.     In later years it was more fun to dress up and give the candy out, and no matter how much we bought, it seemed to run out before the trick-or-treaters did, and we would turn off the light and stop answering the door.

By the time I was a parent, things had already changed and my kids never went running through the night, squealing as they ran into other kids, comparing costumes and giving tips on where the best treats were to be found.    We went to the mall to trick-or-treat [not sure stores do that anymore], and to parties. 

And nowadays, I don’t even answer the door or give out candy.  But I usually do kinda dress up, wearing Halloween themed outfits, or western garb, or even mouse ears to work...

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, October 31, 2016

a new life

Today is the 5th day of the 43rd week, the 27th day of the 10th month, the 301st day of 2016 [I don’t want to know how many days I have left to get ready for Christmas], and:  
  • American Beer Day
  • Boxer Shorts Day
  • Cranky Co-Workers Day
  • Independence Day:  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines from United Kingdom in 1979, and Turkmenistan from USSR in 1991
  • National Potato Day
  • Navy Day
  • Occupational Therapy Day
  • Sylvia Plath Day
  • World Day for Audiovisual Heritage -- chosen by UNESCO in 2005 to raise of awareness of the significance of and preservation risks of recorded sound and audiovisual documents (films, sound and video recordings, radio and television programs)
ON THIS DAY:  In 312 Constantine the Great is said to have received his famous Vision of the Cross.  In 1275 tradition has it the city of Amsterdam was founded.  In 1682 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was founded.  In 1904 the first underground New York City Subway line opened; the system became the biggest in United States, and one of the biggest in world.  In 1936 Mrs Wallis Simpson obtained her divorce decree nisi, which would eventually allow her to marry King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, thus forcing his abdication from the throne.  In 1947 "You Bet Your Life," starring Groucho Marx, premiered on ABC Radio.  In 1961 NASA tested the first Saturn I rocket.  In 1973 a 1.4 kg chondrite-type meteorite struck Cañon City, Colorado.  In 1986 the British government suddenly deregulated financial markets, leading to a total restructuring of the way in which they operate in the country, in an event now referred to as the Big Bang.  In 1994 Gliese 229B was the first Substellar Mass Object [an object orbiting another star] to be unquestionably identified.  In 1997 the Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 554.26 points, forcing the stock market to shut down.  In 2005 surgeons in France performed the world's first partial face transplant on a woman who was mauled by a dog.

And, 39 years ago today, I became a mother for the second time. 

Back then, we didn’t get ultrasounds before the baby was born unless there was some sort of problem, so I had no idea whether I was carrying a boy or a girl.  The question after “when are you due” was always “do you want a girl or a boy” and the answer was the same “I don’t care as long as the baby is healthy.”  Folklore said that if you carried the baby low, then it was a girl – I was amused to learn that observation has a basis in fact.  You see, as males age, their semen tends to have more X than Y chromosomes, so a later child tends to be female.  And if a woman has had a baby already, her muscles are pre-stretched and she tends to carry lower –  so the usual combo of older father and second child gave rise to that tidbit of folklore wisdom.   I will admit that I felt I was carrying a girl in the last trimester ((and was quietly worried – my relationship with my mother and her’s with her mother were both dysfunctional and I didn’t want to continue that for another generation)).  But we decorated the nursery in a nice neutral bright yellow, although when we went to paint the heavy room door, despite all the coats of sealer, it kept turning a light delicate pink, which we chose in retrospect to accept as foreshadowing the birth of a daughter.  I can still remember Uncle Erf shaking his head when he heard it was a girl and sighing  “rich man’s family”.  Took a bit before I realized what he meant;  many of the things that I had saved from my son’s infancy just wasn’t going to work for this baby.

Another piece of folklore is that any baby who is due, past due or going to come early is going to arrive either at the full moon or the new moon.  Many scientists and doctors have very emphatically debunked this as a myth, but my grandmother as a pediatric nurse used to say they always ramped up staffing at those times.    All I can go by is my own observation My son was two weeks past due and arrived at the full moon; my daughter was a couple days early and arrived at the new moon.  Both times when I was in the labor room, I was the only person there.  A few hours later when I moved into the recovery room [I had very short labors], all the labor rooms were full, and by the time I got to my hospital room,  the staff was scurrying to find beds for those coming to the maternity ward after me..    

These are the kinds of things a mother thinks about when wishing a child happy birthday!

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, October 27, 2016

fall is definitely here

Today is the 4th day of the 43rd week, the 26th day of the 10th month, the 300th day of 2016, and: 
  • Horseless Carriage Day -- in 1869, the inventor and mechanic and the first automobile driver on the American road Frank Duryea is born on a farm in Washburn, Illinois
  • Intersex Awareness Day  ((guess I needed an awareness day because I had to google the difference between intersex and androgynous but I still am not sure I get it))
  • Lung Health Day
  • National Day of The Deployed
  • National Mincemeat Day
  • National Mule Day ((did you know a mule is the offspring of a male donkey [AKA a jack] and a female horse [AKA a mare}, and are more common than hinnies, the offspring of  a female donkey [AKA a jenny] and a male horse [AKA a stallion]?))
  • National Pumpkin Day
  • Worldwide Howl at the Moon Night

ON THIS DAY:  In 306 Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki was run through with spears in Thessaloniki during the Christian persecutions of Diocletian and Galerian. In 1670 Louis Gaboury was jailed for eating meat during Lent in Québec, Canada.  In 1785 the first Spanish Jacks were delivered to Boston US as a gift from King Charles III of Spain delivered -- George Washington then began breeding them in the US.  In 1825 the Erie Canal opened with passage from Albany, New York to Lake Erie.  In 1861 the Pony Express officially ceased operations.  In 1863 the Football Association, the oldest football [AKA soccer] association in the world, was formed in London.  In 1881 Wyatt Earp, his two brothers and "Doc" Holliday confronted Ike Clanton's gang in a gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Ariz.  In 1968 Soviet cosmonaut Georgy Beregovoy piloted Soyuz 3 into space for a four-day mission. In1975 the first World Conference of Indigenous Peoples took place in Port Alberni, Canada, with several hundred delegates from 19 countries to discuss social, economic and political justice; the preservation of aboriginal cultural identity; and natural resources and the environment.  In 1977 Ali Maow Maalin developed a rash in Merca district, Somalia -- the last documented natural case of smallpox (The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider this date the anniversary of the eradication of smallpox, the most spectacular success of vaccination).  

I exceeded the character limit for the blog post by telling my story, so I am posting this separately  

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, October 26, 2016

honey, I'm home

“On This Day” is an application in Facebook that shows your posts of the past.  For those who have a lot of a family pictures on their timeline, I imagine it is a very poignant feature, for me it is usually a composite of things I have shared, status updates, and comments I have made.  This popped up today from a year ago:




The story behind that “share”:


When Frank and I moved into together, one of the things he was worried about was the fact that I didn’t know much about guns, and guns were very much part and parcel of his life as a cop.  I had to learn how to shoot different revolvers and rifles, and yes, I could hit what I aimed at.  I had to learn how to clean the weapons and how keep the ammunition and guns that weren’t being used secured.  Most folks didn’t realize as he went about the day that he was always armed.  He didn’t make a big deal about it, usually he had a shoulder  or ankle holster and unless you patted him down, you wouldn’t realize he was packing.  And no, I don’t remember any more what kind of gun he carried, but it was a snub-nosed 38.   That particular gun was always on the night table beside him.


Another adjustment was getting used to shift work.  The 11-7 shift wasn’t too bad because I usually got to see him in the morning and after I got home from work, but night work was always tough because you have to sleep during the day and that is never easy, especially in an apartment.  We put a chain lock on the front door so that maintenance couldn’t just waltz in, always closed the bedroom door, and had the blinds pulled and two sets of  heavy curtains over the windows to keep it as dark as possible. 


On bright and sunny afternoon, I unexpectedly got off of work early – I forget why.  Tom was still in school and Frank was asleep, so I didn’t call home first, and when I got in the apartment, I was very quiet.  As I crept around, there was something that I wanted in the bedroom [I forget just what it was] and I decided I could sneak in and out of the bedroom without waking Frank up.  I started to quietly open the door, and it suddenly was flung open and there was Frank, standing there in the doorway with his gun leveled right at me.


Now I am sure that it only took him an instant to realize it was me, drop the stance and ask me why I was home so early, but in my memory it seems as tho we were both frozen in place as the minutes ticked by as I stared down that muzzle.  I remember the drop of my stomach, my eyes going wide and staring, my hand clutching the doorknob convulsively, my voice squeaking as I tried to say something.  The thought flashed through my mind that I was about to be another gun death statistic, and then time snapped back to normal as Frank lowered the gun and asked me what in the hell I was doing home so early and why I was sneaking in.  It wasn’t until then that I realized he was in the buff.    It rattled both of us.  Frank had awoken, befuddled and tired, heard the stealthy movements in the living room then the hall, knew that no one was supposed to be home yet and had prepared to repel an intruder – it took a while for his adrenalin to drain.  He got dressed, and we had the first of many conversations about that incident.  It took a very long time for me to calm down and stop shaking for I had no doubt whatsoever that I had looked death in the eye.  It gave me an insight on what a cop goes through when he pulls his weapon, and what it feels like to have one pulled on you.  Frank was worried that I would never trust him again, or freak out about having guns about; I had to accept that I had literally put my life and that of my kids in his hands.


But  I never again tried to be quiet when I came in the apartment.  Anyone entering always announced in a loud voice “I’m home!”   
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, October 26, 2016

time is NOT on my side....

Today is the 3rd day of the 43rd week, the 25th day of the 10th month, the 299th day of 2016 [with only 60 shopping days left until Christmas], and: 
  • Chucky, The Notorious Killer Doll Day
  • International Artist Day
  • National Cartoonists Against Crime Day
  • National Greasy Foods Day
  • Punk for a Day Day
  • Simchat Torah
  • Sourest Day
  • World Pasta Day
  • World Pizza Makers Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 285 (or maybe 286) Saints Crispin and Crispinian were executed during the reign of Diocletian; they are now the patron saints of leather workers, curriers, and shoemakers.  In 1616 Dutch sea-captain Dirk Hartog made the second recorded landfall by a European on Australian soil, at the later-named Dirk Hartog Island off the West Australian coast.  In1861 the Toronto Stock Exchange was created.  In 1938 the Archbishop of Dubuque denounced swing music as "a degenerated musical system ... turned loose to gnaw away at the moral fiber of young people", warning that it leads down a "primrose path to hell".  In 2001 Microsoft released the Windows XP operating system. In 2016 NASA Voyager I is 19 hrs 00 mins 03 secs of light-travel time from Earth (2016:298:120000:1L) and Voyager II is 15 hrs 37 mins 31 secs of light-travel time from Earth (2016:298:000000:2L).

Time has been on my mind a lot these past couple of days, and I have been reflecting both on the days of yore and times to come.  Like Bilbo,

“… I sit beside the fire and think

Of how the world will be

When winter comes without a spring

That I shall ever see


…I sit beside the fire and think

Of people long ago

And people that will see a world

That I shall never know….”

What triggered all this?  The ending of the year?  Perhaps.  It could be that the falling leaves and the winding down of 2016 [which has been marked by the passing of many entertainers from back in the day] is having an impact.   Fall was always my favorite time of year – school starting, the humidity of the summer giving way to crisp air, the colors, the foods and holidays, the anticipation of Christmas [although I will admit the holidays were more fun when I was a kid and just enjoying them]. 

I think it is linked to my birthday, which I have often arbitrarily blamed for the spring doldrums since it is in April.  You see, I was writing a post for this blog claiming that I have worked longer than anyone in my family or amongst my friends when I stopped to figure out two things.  First, I did a five-year stint as a homemaker while the kids were little [altho I could shave off two years by claiming teaching for Diet Workshop counts as working] and I wanted to make sure that was factored in.  Second, Frank worked steadily all his life with only a brief hiatus after his second stroke and I wanted to figure out how long he had worked – 51 ½ years.   To calculate that, I had to figure out how old he was exactly when he died – 66 years, 6 months and 10 days.  And because my mind works in odd ways I guess, I immediately figured out when I would be that exact age, a landmark that I passed this past Wednesday, October 12th [at 9:35 AM just for the record].  It gave me a very odd feeling – I am now older than Frank was when he died 12 years ago.  I keep thinking about that every time I have trouble getting myself out in the morning, just as he did that last morning…  Just like  “Uncle Joe, … [I’m] a movin' kind of slow….”.

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, October 25, 2016

the future is coming

Today is the 2nd day of the 43rd week, the 24th day of the 10th month, the 298th day of 2016, and: 
  • 40-Hour Work Week Day --  the Fair Labor Standards Act, limiting the workweek to 40 hours, went into effect on 76 years ago ((one of the great accomplishments of organized labor))
  • Black Thursday 1929
  • Bloody Friday  2008
  • Food Day
  • Independence Day:  Zambia from United Kingdom in 1964
  • Lung Health Day (Monday of Respiratory Care Week)
  • National Bologna Day
  • National Crazy Day ((so if you think you want to cut loose, today is the day))
  • National Good and Plenty Day
  • Shemini Atzeret
  • Take Back Your Time Day – time to stop celebrating the workaholic
  • United Nations Day – on this day, the UN charter took effect in 1945 and the cornerstone of its headquarters was laid in 1949
  • World Development Information Day
  • World Polio Day
ON THIS DAY:  In 69 forces under Marcus Antonius Primus, the commander of the Danube armies, loyal to Vespasian, defeated the forces of Emperor Vitellius in the Second Battle of Bedriacum.  In 1260 Chartres Cathedral was dedicated in the presence of King Louis IX of France; the cathedral is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  In 1851 William Lassell discovered the moons Umbriel, and Ariel, orbiting Uranus.  In 1861 the first transcontinental telegraph line across the United States was completed, spelling the end for the 18-month-old Pony Express.  In 1901 Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.  In 1926 Harry Houdini's last performance took place at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit.  In 1946 a camera on board the V-2 No. 13 rocket took the first photograph of earth from outer space.  In 1992 the Toronto Blue Jays became the first Major League Baseball team based outside the United States to win the World Series.  In 1998 the Deep Space 1 comet/asteroid mission launched.  In 2003 the era of supersonic jet travel came to an end as three British Airways Concordes landed at London's Heathrow Airport.  In 2014 the China National Space Administration launched Chang'e 5-T1 which looped behind the Moon and returned to Earth. 

The first picture of the Earth from space was grainy and in black and white  -- it didn’t get anywhere near the attention that the “big blue marble” picture that was taken 26 years later by the Apollo 17 astronauts.  For one thing, it was part of a series of test firings conducted by the Army of captured German rockets as the US started puzzling out rocket science.   For another, it was a composite of images stitched together, not a single snapshot.  And last the description of the picture has having been taken in “"the little-known reaches of the upper air" wasn’t quite as catchy as being identified as having been taken in space – it wasn’t until later that “space” was somewhat arbitrarily defined as anything above 100 kilometers or 62.5 miles.   So even though it was part of a spread in an issue of National Geographic almost a year later, it just didn’t grab the public’s attention no matter how enthralled the scientists were and the future snuck in while no one was looking.

Somewhere out there, maybe in that ubiquitous garage, maybe in a lab, maybe in a backwater room, someone is tinkering on a device,  writing a paper,  or making a decision that will literally change everything.   And we know nothing about it.  Even if we look at a YouTube, hear about it on social media, or read about it in the news, we won’t understand what just happened any more than people who glanced at that picture and moved on did.  The historians of the future will point back to that moment, that person, that place, that happening --  and identify it  “this is where it started”.  Our kids or grandchildren will be incredulous that we didn’t realize what was happening.   And we will be left asking ourselves how we missed it without realizing that most things happen while we are distracted with something else, without the vast sea of humanity surging around at the time having a clue.  

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, October 24, 2016

a lovely fall weekend draws to an end...

  Today is the 1st day of the 43rd week, the 23rd day of the 10th month, the 297th day of 2016 [with only 62 shopping days left until Christmas], and:

  • Ashura -- (Day of Remembrance) is the tenth day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar
  • Mother-In-Law Day
  • National Boston Cream Pie Day
  • National Canning Day
  • National iPod Day -- introduced by APPLE in 2001
  • National Mole Day
  • National Slap Your Irritating Co-Worker Day
  • Swallows Depart from San Juan Capistrano Day
  • TV Talk Show Host Day ((on Johnny Carson's birthday))
  • Xterra World Championships

ON THIS DAY:  In 42 BC Mark Antony and Octavian decisively defeated Brutus's army at the second battle of Philippi,  and Brutus committed suicide.  In 425 Valentinian III became Roman emperor at the age of six.  In 1707 The Parliament of Great Britain, created by the Acts of Union between England and Scotland, held its first meeting.  In 1946 the United Nations General Assembly convened for the first time, at an auditorium in Flushing, Queens, New York City.  In 1958 the Smurfs, a fictional race of blue dwarves, later popularized in a Hanna-Barbera animated cartoon series, appeared for the first time in the story La flute à six schtroumpfs, a Johan and Peewit adventure by Peyo, which is serialized in the weekly Spirou magazine.  In 2012, after 38 years, the world's first teletext service (BBC's Ceefax) ceased broadcast due to Northern Ireland completing the digital switchover.  


IMNSHO, FWIIW:  weekends are too short.  Political campiagns are too long.  It doesn't make any difference how carefully I track the time, I am still not ready for winter or for the holidays.  It doesn't matter how old you are, the next generation always baffles you [gotta luv someone who is in their mid-20's grousing about kids today!].  Living alone reinforces the inner slob in you, especially when you don't get company.  Cats sleep a lot.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Sunday, October 23, 2016

back in the day....

Today is the 6th day of the 42nd week, the 21st day of the 10th month, the 295th day of 2016, and: 
  • Apple Day
  • Babbling Day  [if you babble, you may be a blatherskite]
  • Celebration of the Mind Day
  • Count Your Buttons Day
  • Garbanzo Bean Day
  • Global Iodine Deficiency Disorders Prevention Day
  • International Day of the Nacho
  • National Mammography Day
  • National Pharmacy Buyer Day
  • National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day
  • Reptile Awareness Day
  • World Student Day
On this day:  In 1096 a Seljuk Turkish army fought off the People's Army of the West [part of the People's Crusade -- AKA the Peasants' Crusade, Paupers' Crusade or the Popular Crusade -- led by Peter the Hermit].  In 1879 Thomas Edison invented the first commercially practical incandescent light bulb.  In 1940 the first edition of the Ernest Hemingway novel For Whom the Bell Tolls was published.  In 1959, in New York City, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, opened to the public.  In 1983 the metre was defined at the seventeenth General Conference on Weights and Measures as the distance light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second.  In 2005 images of the dwarf planet Eris were taken and subsequently used in documenting its discovery.

Now and then, I will reminisce about things “back in the day”. sometimes with wistful nostalgia, sometimes with wonder at what we didn’t know we didn’t know.  It usually is a little twitch that happens when I read something that makes me think….. 

Like reading about the dinosaur tracks and now fossil remains found in Denali Park – I remember when dinosaurs were all thought to be cold-blooded, and slow lumbering creatures that couldn’t possibly live in colder climes.  Like reading about the fault lines and fractures that run beneath the earth, even hereabouts.  Earthquakes in Maryland!  Who’d a thought?  We were taught the Piedmont Plateau was rock solid and terra firma.  Speaking of terra firma, the whole idea of plate tectonics is pretty new – it is so different than visualizing the continents as islands floating around on a sea of magma.  And the ancestry of mankind doesn’t proceed in a straight line anymore  like we were taught because we never learned about the other species of humans

And then there is the vocabulary shifts.  Remember when gay meant happy and queer meant odd? And Dick was a perfectly acceptable and often used nickname for anyone named Richard?  And calling a spade a spade meant you were playing cards?  And if you told someone they looked comfortable, you weren’t making a snarky comment?

Let’s talk about women’s clothing for a moment.  If you were in a business and at a level where you were competing with men, you used to have to wear “the uniform”  -- dark suit, white blouse, little scarf tie at your neck, 2” pumps and stockings.  No pants, no flat shoes or open toes, no bare legs, no bright colors.  Can’t say I am at all sorry to see that change!

And our expectations of work was equally different – find a job and stay there, give your employer loyalty, rise in the ranks and then retire with a gold watch and a pension. Doctors still made house calls if you were sick enough, teachers were someone you were slightly afraid of, and old people [which meant anyone doddering about after the age of 50] were to be placated.   And someone who worked as a machinist or a steel-worker could make more than an office worker – pencil pushers were not terribly respected and no one wanted to grow up to be one.

I used to love listening to the stories Grandmom Hughes and Grandmom Riley would tell of when they were young, some of what happened to them sounded so alien to me, like having to leave school after the 8th grade and go to work in a factory.  Right now the oldest person in the world is currently 117 years old, the last person left alive who was born in the 19th century.  I would love to sit down with her, hear about the changes she has seen!   Not the big things, but the little ones, like not having to wear corsets anymore.  Someday perhaps my granddaughters will listen to my stories, just shaking their heads as I start  “back in the day…..”

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, October 21, 2016

power play

Today is the 5th day of the 42nd week, the 20th day of the 10th month, the 294th day of 2016, and: 
  • Birth of the Bab
  • Conflict Resolution Day
  • Get to Know Your Customer Day (3rd Thursday of Each Quarter)
  • Information Overload Day
  • International Credit Union Day
  • Miss American Rose Day
  • National Brandied Fruit Day
  • National Call-in Day For Health Reform
  • National Get Smart About Credit Day
  • National Suspenders Day
  • Spirit Day
  • The International Day of the Air Traffic Controller
  • Wear Purple for Domestic Violence Awareness Day
  • World Osteoporosis Day
  • World Statistics Day
*note:  since I gather this information long after being dressed for the day I am wearing neither purple nor suspenders.

On this day
:  In 1548 the city of Nuestra Señora de La Paz (Our Lady of Peace) was founded by Alonso de Mendoza by appointment of the king of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.  In 1781 the Patent of Toleration, providing limited freedom of worship, was approved in Habsburg Monarchy.  In 1803 the US Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase.  In 1947 the US House Un-American Activities Committee began its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood, resulting in a blacklist that prevents some from working in the industry for years.  In 1973 the Sydney Opera House was opened by Elizabeth II after 14 years of construction work.  In 2016 NASA Voyager is 18 hrs 59 mins 24 secs of light-travel time from Earth (2016:294:120000:1L) and Voyager 2 ‏is 15 hrs 36 mins 46 secs of light-travel time from Earth (2016:294:000000:2L).  And there are eight people in space in three different crafts [ISS, Tiangong 2 and the Soyuz MS-02], which is pretty cool but nowhere near the record form March 14th, 1995 where there was a total of 13 people in space between STS 67 Endeavour, the Mir space station, and Soyuz TM21.  And we are all waiting to hear what happened to ESA’s ExoMars

No I didn’t watch the debate last night.  Instead I watched the Facebook posts and twitter storms, playing back the video when I thought something was incorrect or taken out of context.   

While this political campaign has been both unrelenting and brutal, thanks to the ever-present social media,  it isn’t really unique.  Back in 1824 Andrew Jackson was a dark horse -- nobody thought he was a serious candidate because he lacked the pedigree and education and were pretty vocal about saying so.  In fact, he was thought to be in the race to help John Quincy Adams by stealing votes from other candidates and the negative attacks included calling him an adulterer and questioning the legality of his wife’s divorce from her first husband.  He was a controversial president who didn’t hesitate to call out the militia, run roughshod over the Indian treaties, butt heads with Congress and exercised his veto powers 29 times only to have 15 of them overturned.   He doesn’t hold the record for vetoes though – that belongs to Franklin Roosevelt who exercised his veto a whopping .635 times [but he had three terms remember] and only got overruled nine times.  Speaking of FDR, everyone thought he was definitely going to lose to Dewey and that Congress was going Republican, andwe know how that turned out


I have to admit I was appalled at being told a major party candidate would “tell you at it at the time” and would “keep you in suspense” as to whether or not they would accept the election results.  So what will happen if Donald Trump is a sore loser?  That isn’t a stretch of imagination given his predilection to proclaim any contest he doesn’t win as rigged.   Well legally, he will have to challenge the outcome in every state, requesting a recount.  Remember when Al Gore asked for just that in Florida and the entire world learned about hanging chads?  But that is not the real danger, neh? 

In the US we have always been a bit on the smug side as we watch elections in other countries deteriorate or even election results being negated by individuals who don’t like the outcome.   I admit that I too have wondered why they just cannot get it right and understand what to do, after all, the office of the President has changed hands 44 times without a problem , so how hard can it be?  Now I find myself worrying not only about Trump winning, but what happens if he loses and I imagine that folks in other countries can sympathize with that concern.  What if Hillary [who I don’t even like] does not win by a landslide?  What if she wins and Congress stays Republican, can they really refuse to let her do anything [like they tried with Obama for the past eight years], even replace a Supreme Court Judge?  The real danger is a flash mob – folks getting all riled up because they feel disenfranchised  – and I am genuinely upset that a record 240 years of peaceful transitions of power is suddenly now at risk.  

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, October 20, 2016

are you content with what you have?

Today is the 4th day of the 42nd week, the 19th day of the 10th month, the 293rd day of 2016, and: 
  • Dress Like a Dork Day
  • Evaluate Your Life Day
  • Hagfish Day
  • Information Overload Day
  • International Print Day
  • LGBT Center Awareness Day
  • Medical Assistants Recognition Day
  • National Seafood Bisque Day
  • National Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day
  • New Friends Day
  • Rainforest Day
  • Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce
  • Unity Day
  • World Pediatric Bone and Joint Day
On this day:  in 202 BC, at the Battle of Zama, Roman legions under Scipio Africanus defeated Hannibal Barca, leader of the army defending Carthage.  In 1386 the Universität Heidelberg held its first lecture, making it the oldest German university.  In 1900 Max Planck discovered the law of black-body radiation (Planck's law).  In 1943 Streptomycin, the first antibiotic remedy for tuberculosis, was isolated by researchers at Rutgers University. 

Today we had the annual mandatory HR meeting and this year it was diversity training.  The moderator started out by having a short amount of time for you to talk with the person next to you, then we went around and introduced each other to the group – a necessary component because this past year there had been a lot of new hires.  It was interesting to hear what some people chose to say in the way of introduction, what stood out to them.  Point of origin was a consistent fact given and we had folks in the room who had been born in many different countries – China, Philippines, Haiti, Zimbabwe, India, Nepal -- as well as from different states.   Length of service with the company, marital state, children and hobbies were also shared.  

When I was introduced by the underwriter, what was shared was that I was born and raised in Baltimore, had worked here for almost 8 years, had a son living in Nashville and a daughter living in Ellicott City with two granddaughters, loved all things Disney and “probably knew more about social media than the entire room combined”. 

Paychex HR Services
was running the meeting and the rest of the training was really an exercise in looking at the social filters that we have, acknowledging that all of us stereotype to some degree   There was an exercise] that asked if we shrunk the world’s population to just 100 people, then  only 5 would live in North America, only 33 would be Christian, and:

Ø  80 live in substandard housing

Ø  34 adults are unable to read

Ø  50 suffer from malnutrition

Ø  33 do not have clean, safe water

Ø  22 do not have electricity

Ø    7 own a car

Ø  And  32% of the entire world’s wealth would be in the hands of  5 [five] people 

Now this breakdown was published two years ago, and you know how I feel about statistics, but breaking things down like this makes you think, neh?    With food in the refrigerator, a car outside, a comfortable place to live and being literate, my life is immediately better than ¾ of the world’s people!

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, October 19, 2016

it's the little things

Today is the 3rd day of the 42nd week, the 18th day of the 10th month, the 292nd day of 2016, and: 
  • Hard Boiled Guy/Girl Day
  • National Chocolate Cupcake Day
  • National Face Your Fears Day
  • National No Beard Day
  • National Pharmacy Technician Day
  • Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity
  • World Menopause Day
ON THIS DAY: In 320 Pappus of Alexandria, Greek philosopher, observed an eclipse of the Sun and writes a commentary on The Great Astronomer (Almagest).  In 1386 the Heidelberg University opened.  In 1648 Boston Shoemakers form first American labor organization. In 1818 the University of Bonn was founded. In 1922 the British Broadcasting Co Ltd (later the British Broadcasting Corp or BBC) was founded.  In 1954 Texas Instruments announced the first transistor radio.  In 1967 the Soviet Union successfully sent a space probe into the atmosphere of the planet Venus for the first time. 


It really is the little things that can get to you, ya know?

< rant >

Dear Dell:
  I know the Alienware X51is almost four years old.  I get that you think it is becoming obsolete.  But given the hours of tech support and the amount of hardware that you have replaced – the latest being an Ethernet card – don’t you think that offering me more than $50 as a trade-in to buy a new machine would make sense?  The extended warranty is up this December and I am waiting very curiously to see if you send me another offer to extend because I sure have used it.  You do get two points for [1] having a tech willing to show up after regular work hours and [2] having a woman tech.

Dear “safe” driver
:  Yes I know that I can have a heavy foot on the accelerator at times, but when I can drift faster than you are driving, I think you need to learn where that pedal is!  And while we are chatting, what’s with leaving a car length or more between you and the car in front of you when we are stopped at a light?  Do you realize that you are completely blocking the left-hand turn lane until after the arrow goes red?

Dear voters worried about the election being fixed
:  Yes, I have always felt that “the system”  is rigged in favor of the establishment and no, I have never liked it.  And yes, I agree that there is probably a cadre of powerful persons that controls the media and news – the days of journalistic objectivity and reporting are long long past us – and no, I don’t think every negative thing that is reported about the candidates is manufactured  BS.   But seriously, do you really think just because you don’t agree with the outcome of an election, there has to be fraud involved?  And if you really feel that way, what are you going to do about it?  Riot?  Revolt? Stonewall?  Strike? Just how far are you all willing to go to impose your will on the country as a whole?  News flash:  the right to vote is guaranteed to every citizen, not just those who happen to agree with you or look like you or act like you or live like you.  

Dear job sites
:  Don’t know what is going on, but there are four of you spamming me every single day now  -- you know who you are!  Do you really think that all you have to do is send me an email because you read my LinkedIn profile and I will be willing to contact you about a job you have posted?  And send you all kinds of personal information when I never heard of you before?   

Dear Facebook
:  I cannot believe that I had to change my preferences for my news feed from your “top stories” to “recent stories” AGAIN!  Will you just stop with the changing it already?!

< / rant > 

You are now returned to your regularly scheduled programming.

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, October 18, 2016

the life changing event

Today is the 2nd day of the 42nd week, the 17th day of the 10th month, the 291st day of 2016, and: 
  • Black Poetry Day
  • Four Prunes Day
  • International Adjust your Chair Day
  • International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
  • Mulligan Day
  • Multicultural Diversity Day
  • National Boss Day
  • National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day
  • National Edge Day
  • National Pasta Day
  • Spreadsheet Day
  • Sukkot
  • Wear Something Gaudy Day
  • World Trauma Day
On this day:  In 456 Ricimer, supported by Majorian, defeated the Roman usurper Avitus near Piacenza in northern Italy.  In 1456 the University of Greifswald was established, making it the second oldest university in northern Europe.  In 1558 Poczta Polska, the Polish postal service, was founded.  In 1604 German astronomer Johannes Kepler documented observing a supernova in the constellation Ophiuchus.  In 1771 the premiere in Milan of the opera Ascanio in Alba, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the age of 15.  In 1931 Mobster Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison. In 1933 Albert Einstein fled Nazi Germany and moved to the US.  In 1943 the Burma Railway (Burma–Thailand Railway) was completed.  In 1956 the first commercial nuclear power station was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in Sellafield, Cumbria, England.  In 1965 the New York World's Fair closed. In 1979 Mother Teresa of India was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on behalf of the destitute in Calcutta.  In 2003 the pinnacle was fitted on the roof of Taipei 101, a 101-floor skyscraper in Taipei, making it the world's tallest high-rise. 

Yesterday I was reading an entrance exam, and one of the essay questions you could choose to answer was to describe an event or events that had an impact on life going forward and it got me to thinking about how I would answer that questions.  There is the standard stuff – deaths, falling in love, moving, weddings, breakups, graduations, births, surgeries, losing a job, etc – all very personal and meaningful, but that isn’t what came to mind. 

Instead my thoughts flew back on an incident that happened when I was in college – I’m not quite sure which year anymore.  I was distraught from dealing with family issues, struggling to even speak politely to my mother, having doubts about being able to finish college because I was worn out from taking a full schedule while working 40 hours a week to pay for it, and I felt very much alone and helpless.  I remember going into the health clinic and there was a counselor in that day.  I don’t recall if they were male or female or anything about the office.  What I do remember is that as I blurted out the miasma of despair I was carrying, I was sobbing.  The person from behind the desk asked many questions to keep me talking, and then asked me “what would you choose?”    And the tears immediately dried up, the posture went from slumped to sitting up, and I told them exactly what I wanted.   I don’t remember what was said or done after that; I walked out and never returned.

You see, in that moment of blinding revelation, what I heard was “ YOU HAVE A CHOICE ”. 

I had never felt that I was able to choose before – I couldn’t meet my family’s [especially my mother’s] expectations, I couldn’t convince the profs to give me As and I couldn’t make friends and all of these things were out of my control and beyond the realm of my influence.  But I immediately grasped that I had to change my reactions and it has become part and parcel of who I am.  I may not particularly like the choices that I have, but I have them.  I may not particularly like the consequences of my choices, but I own them.  I may not always be as good at this as I would like to be, but I am proud that for better or worse, I am the sum of the choices I have made while dealing with the circumstances around me.  My kids learned to hate that phrase, and it is still one that I use often.

Dear nameless counselor, wherever you are, I will always be grateful for that one question which made me understand that you always have a choice.  

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, October 17, 2016

for one brief shining moment....

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Saturday, October 15, 2016

experience VS opinion

Today is the 6th day of the 41st week, the 14th day of the 10th month, the 288th day of 2016 [with only 71 shopping days until Christmas], and: 
  • Bald and Free Day
  • National Chocolate-Covered Insect Day
  • National Costume Swap Day
  • National Dessert Day
  • National Family Bowling Day (or Kids Bowl Free Day)
  • National FRUMP Day
  • national lowercase day
  • Spider-Man Day
  • World Day Against the Death Penalty
  • World Egg Day
  • World Standards Day
On this day:  In 1066 in England on Senlac Hill, seven miles from Hastings, the Norman forces of William the Conqueror defeated the English army and killed King Harold II of England.  In 1582, because of the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.  In 1773 the first recorded Ministry of Education, the Commission of National Education, was formed in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.  In 1882 the University of the Punjab was founded in a part of India that later became West Pakistan.  In  1884 George Eastman received a US patent on his new paper-strip photographic film.  In 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh, by AA Milne was published.  IN 1947 Air Force test pilot Charles E. Yeager became the first person to break the sound barrier when he flew the experimental Bell X-1 rocket plane over Edwards Air Force Base in California.  In 1968 the first live telecast from a manned US spacecraft was transmitted from Apollo 7, and Jim Hines became the first man ever to break the so-called "ten-second barrier" in the 100-meter sprint in the Summer Olympic Games held in Mexico City with a time of 9.95 seconds.  In 1969 the UK introduced the British fifty-pence coin, which replaces, over the following years, the British ten-shilling note, in anticipation of the decimalization of the British currency in 1971, and the abolition of the shilling as a unit of currency anywhere in the world.  IN 1984 "Baby Fae" received a heart transplant from a baboon. 


Quote of the day:

When a situation develops gradually, no matter how weird that situation is, you get used to it.” 

~ Andy Warhol,POPism

I work in the office with four males, of varying ages and ethnicity.   And every single one of them are shrugging their shoulders and dismissing the brouhaha over touching, grabbing, kissing women.  “Why bring it up now, why didn’t they just say something when it happened?” asks one.  “Making a big todo over nothing, it’s all political” comments another.  “MY daughter will put any man who tries that in his place pronto,” scoffs another.   “Lots more important things to consider than locker room banter,” concludes the fourth.   I don’t answer, just shake my head. 

You see, they don’t worry about having strangers lean out of car windows to yell at you on the sidewalk  “HEY!  How’s your pussy?”  -- they don’t remember how old they were when they learned that word had nothing to do with felines.  They don’t have people telling them to “smile”.  They don’t have to listen to a passersby loudly assess whether or not you would be worthy to suck on their genitals because you are a tub of lard, and speculate whether or not you swallow or are a spitter.   They haven’t felt the dread when passing a group of men, knowing that you are going endure catcalls and degrading names.  They haven’t been dismissed as over-reacting because you “must be on the rag”, or laughed at for “raging hormonal imbalances”.  They haven’t had a co-worker tell you that you should dress differently, wear a wig, work out more because then you would look better to them.  They have never worked next to another employee, doing the exact same job, and been paid less, or have it assumed that you will take minutes and get coffee.  They have never had someone feel free to cop a feel just because you happen to be in the same constricted space with them.   None of these things are an unusual experience if you are female and yes, all of those things have happened to me, more than once. 

My co-workers are good men; I respect them and they treat me with both consideration and respect – but they do not get it because male privilege is that insidious and culturally embedded.   IMSNHO,  that is why the recent revelations about sexual misconduct don’t seem to have had much impact on a voter base that has already made up its mind.

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, October 14, 2016

just asking....

Today is the 5th day of the 41st week, the 13th day of the 10th month, the 287th day of 2016, and: 
  • English Language Day
  • International African Penguin Awareness Day
  • International Day for Disaster Reduction
  • International Day for Failure
  • International Plain Language Day
  • International Suit Up Day
  • Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day
  • National Chess Day
  • National No Bra Day
  • National Train Your Brain Day
  • National Yorkshire Pudding Day
  • Silly Sayings Day
  • US Navy's Birthday
  • World Sight Day
On this dayin 54 Emperor Claudius was poisoned under mysterious circumstances and succeeded by his 17-year-old stepson Nero.  In 409 Vandals and Alans crossed the Pyrenees and appeared in Hispania.  In 1582, due to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.  In 1773 the Whirlpool Galaxy was discovered by Charles Messier.  In 1775 the US Continental Congress ordered the establishment of the Continental Navy (later renamed the United States Navy).  In 1792, in Washington DC, the cornerstone of the United States Executive Mansion (known as the White House since 1818) was laid.  In 1881 the first known conversation in modern Hebrew by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and friends took place.  In 1884 the International Meridian Conference voted on a resolution to establish the meridian passing through the Observatory of Greenwich, in London, England, as the initial meridian for longitude. In 1892 Edward Emerson Barnard discovered D/1892 T1, the first comet discovered by photographic means.  In 1917 the "Miracle of the Sun" is witnessed by an estimated 70,000 people in the Cova da Iria in Fátima, Portugal.  In 1958 Paddington Bear, a character from English children's literature, made his debut.  In 2016 Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

Quote of the day

People often ask themselves the right questions. Where they fail is in answering the questions they ask themselves, and even there they do not fail by much…But it takes time, it takes humility and a serious reason for searching.” 

~ William Maxwell, Time Will Darken It 

When I was 8 years old, I learned to my astonishment the world I saw and perceived was unique, it was not and would never be the same world that anyone else saw and perceived, and I embarked on a passionate life-long quest to figure out what “they” saw that I did not.  Maybe that was why I became such an avid reader – books always lets you into someone’s head to see the world the way they do.  In the normal course of things, when I am interested, involved and immersed, I tend to ask questions – a lot of questions.  Comes across as a bit nosey and intrusive at times, but at other times, folks open up and share.  I learned a long time ago [the hard way of course] the need not to discuss what I find out through that process .   Oddly for one who chatters and interrupts at time, I listen to deep narratives very intently and thoughtfully and those who have imparted their stories to me have found me to be a good listener.  I hear them, really hear them.   I have also learned [again the hard way] that just because I form an emotional attachment based on the empathy their stories generates does not mean those feelings are reciprocated.

And if no one is about, I have been known to ask questions of myself, although I am not as good at hearing myself.  After weeding out the negative talk tapes that inevitably start running in my head, usually those questions have to do with “why”.   Sometimes it is asking myself about an intent that just didn’t translate to the way an action was perceived.  Sometimes it is trying to find out the reason for a sudden impulse.  Sometimes it is a reflection on what the purpose of my life is , or where those beliefs came from, or what assumptions am I making.  Over the years of over-thinking, I have learned that if I can cage a nebulous feeling into words, if I can articulate it at least to myself,  then I am able to do something about it. 

But I have to admit that I am far far better at questions than I am answers when all is said and done….

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, October 13, 2016


Today is the 4th day of the 41st week, the 12th day of the 10th month, the 286th day in 2016, and: 
  • Columbus Day (Traditional) – in 1492 Christopher Columbus's expedition made landfall in the Caribbean, specifically in The Bahamas; he believes he has reached the Indies.
  • Cookbook Launch Day
  • Day of the Six Billion
  • Drink Local Wine Day
  • Emergency Nurses Day
  • Feast for Life of Aleister Crowley, celebrated as "Crowleymas"
  • Freethought Day -- annual observance by freethinkers and secularists of the anniversary of the effective end of the Salem Witch Trials
  • Independence Day:  Equatorial Guinea from Spain in 1968
  • International Moment of Frustration Scream Day
  • International Top Spinning Day
  • National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work and School Day
  • National Fossil Day
  • National Gumbo Day
  • National Pet Obesity Awareness Day
  • National Stop Bullying Day
  • National Take your Parents to Lunch Day
  • Old Farmers Day
  • S.A.V.E. (Stop America's Violence Everywhere) Day
  • Spanish Language Day
  • Stop Bullying Day
  • World Arthritis Day
On this day:  In 539 BC the army of Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon.  In 1113 the city of Oradea was first mentioned under the Latin name Varadinum.  In 1279 Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist monk founder of Nichiren Buddhism, is said to have inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon.  In 1582, due to the implementation of the Gregorian calendar, this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.  In 1692 the Salem witch trials are ended by a letter from Massachusetts Governor William Phips.  In 1773 America's first insane asylum opened, Eastern State Hospital, in colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.  In 1810 the first Oktoberfest was celebrated -- the Bavarian royalty invited the citizens of Munich to join the celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.  In 1823 Charles Macintosh of Scotland sold the first raincoat.  In 1928 an iron lung respirator was used for the first time at Children's Hospital, Boston.  In 1960 Nikita Khrushchev pounded his shoe on a desk at United Nations General Assembly meeting to protest a Philippine assertion of Soviet Union colonial policy being conducted in Eastern Europe.  In 1971 the 2500 year celebration of the Iranian Monarchy [AKA Persia] was held and "Jesus Christ Superstar," a rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, opened on Broadway.  In 2005 the second Chinese human spaceflight Shenzhou 6 launched carrying Fèi Jùnlóng and Niè Hǎishèng for five days in orbit. 

Today an article came my way about voting, and being as I am one of those who simply say “VOTE” no matter who you are voting for, I read it.  In the article, Mike Rowe – who is not an expert about anything in particular – commented that “…the truth is, the country doesn’t need voters who have to be cajoled, enticed, or persuaded to cast a ballot. We need voters who wish to participate in the process.”    He goes on to make the case that if you don’t care about the outcome, that if you don’t know enough to make an informed opinion, that if you really believe it doesn’t make any difference who you vote for, then sitting out the election and letting someone else make the decision is a perfectly valid, and perhaps even sensible, choice. 

I do not like that message.

But I think he is right.  If you haven’t sat down and at least read about rudimentary economic, education, foreign, religious, technology and science happenings in the world about us, how do you know WHAT you want in a leader, in a Senator, in a representative [State or national] or even on the local school board?  Can you articulate your vision of the future you want to see?  Do you have at least a vague idea of how to get there?  Then VOTE FOR IT..  No?  THEN WHAT ARE YOU VOTING FOR OR AGAINST? 




Don’t take your right to vote for granted. 

Think about it, then decide.


(( And yes, Mike, if you are voting for the opponent of the person I am voting for, I will not only drive you to and from the polls, I’ll invite you for a drink and bite to eat afterwards so we can share our points of view.))  
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, October 12, 2016

the wire

Today is the 3rd day of the 41st week, the 11th day of the 10th month, the 285th day of 2016, and: 
  • "You Go, Girl" Day
  • Ada Lovelace Day
  • Ashura -- is on the tenth day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram.
  • General Pulaski Memorial Day
  • International Day of the Girl Child
  • International Newspaper Carrier Day
  • Myths and Legends For (All Fantasy Movie, Books and Legends Cephalopods) Day
  • National Coming Out Day
  • National Face Your Fears Day
  • National Food Truck Day
  • National It's My Party Day
  • National Sausage Pizza Day
  • Old Michaelmas Day (Celtic)
  • Southern Food Heritage Day
  • Yom Kippur
On this day:  In 1138 a massive earthquake struck Aleppo, Syria.  In 1582, because of the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.  In 1767 the surveying for the Mason–Dixon line separating Maryland from Pennsylvania was completed.  In 1811 inventor John Stevens' boat, the Juliana, began operation as the first steam-powered ferry (service between New York City, New York, and Hoboken, New Jersey).  In 1852 the University of Sydney, Australia's oldest university, was inaugurated.  In 1910 former President Theodore Roosevelt became the first US president to fly in an airplane -- he flew for four minutes with Arch Hoxsey in a plane built by the Wright brothers at Kinloch Field (Lambert–St. Louis International Airport), St. Louis, Missouri.  In 1958 NASA launched the lunar probe Pioneer 1 (the probe falls back to Earth and burns up).  In 1962 Pope John XXIII convened the Roman Catholic Church's 21st Ecumenical Council, better known as Vatican II, the first in 92 years.  In 1968 NASA launched Apollo 7, the first successful manned Apollo mission, with astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn F. Eisele and Walter Cunningham aboard.  In 1987 a huge sonar exploration of Loch Ness failed to find the world famous monster known affectionately as Nessie.  In 2000 NASA launched STS-92, the 100th Space Shuttle mission, using Space Shuttle Discovery.

Pretty much every woman I know really doesn’t like to wear a bra, but feels like they have to for support.  They are bands of elastic, sometimes with underwires, that get strapped on every day, and while I agree that they beat corsets, they are still pretty uncomfortable at times – all of us have had the experience of getting welts from wearing them 18 hours a day, or broken out with a rash from heat or allergies.  Putting a bra on can be a struggle because 99% of them hook in the back and not many of us have someone to help us get dressed.  How do you get those two or three hooks fastened?  You can put them on, and try to twist your arms around and reach back and hook them by feel – good luck with that ploy.  Only two ways work that I have found – hook them ahead of time and try to wriggle into them, pulling them down over your head.  Yeah, that works about as well as you would expect.  Usually the method I use is to hook them in the front, then drag the closure around to the back and get myself stuffed into the cups.  Now about those underwires:  added to brassieres back in the 1940’s [supposedly Howard Hughes developed an underwire bra for Jane Russell to wear in The Outlaws] they do lift and provide additional support.  The wire, after the bra has been washed several times, will often start working its way out and once it starts coming out, no amount of sewing/mending will keep it in and you are left with a perfectly good bra that has one side with a wire and one without. 


Why am I going on and on about bras?  Well today, when I put it on for this morning, and twisted it around my body, there was a sudden pain – it really hurt!  I was rather perplexed, getting dressed usually didn’t cause bodily harm, but come to find out, the wire was peeking out and there was a sharp point, so I ended up with a 6” gash on my back that promptly started bleeding.


*sighs*  starting the day with your own underwear savaging you has to be a sign of some sort….
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, October 11, 2016

it is an ill wind....

Today is the 6th day of the 40th week, the 7th day of the 10th month, the 281st day of 2016, and:
  • Bathtub Day – commemorates the introduction of the bathtub in England in 1828.
  • Lee National Denim Day -- One day, One cause, One cure®
  • Nagasaki Kunchi [day one]
  • National Diversity Day
  • National Flower Day
  • National Frappe Day
  • National Personal Safety Day
  • Plaidurday  -- celebrated since 2011, forevermore the first Friday of October will be dedicated to plaid.
  • World Smile Day
  • You Matter to Me Day
On this day in 3761 BC – the epoch reference date epoch (origin) of the modern Hebrew calendar (Proleptic Julian calendar).  In 1477 Uppsala University, the oldest university in Sweden and all of the Nordic countries, was established.    In 1542 explorer Cabrillo discovered Santa Catalina Island off of the California coast.  In 1582, because of the implementation of the Gregorian calendar, this day was skipped in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.  In 1691 the English royal charter for the Province of Massachusetts Bay is issued.  In 1763 King George III of the United Kingdom issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763, closing aboriginal lands in North America north and west of the Alleghenies to white settlements.  In 1800 French corsair Robert Surcouf, commander of the 18-gun ship La Confiance, captures the British 38-gun Kent inspiring the traditional French song Le Trente-et-un du mois d'août.  In 1826 the Granite Railway begins operations as the first chartered railway in the US.  In 1862 Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH) opened as the first hospital in the Canadian province of British Columbia.  In 1912 the Helsinki Stock Exchange saw its first transaction.  In1916 Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland University 222–0 in the most lopsided college football game in American history.  In 1919 KLM, the flag carrier of the Netherlands, was founded -- it is the oldest airline still operating under its original name.  In 1950 Mother Teresa established the Missionaries of Charity.  In 1958 the US manned space-flight project was renamed Project Mercury.  In 1959 USSR probe Luna 3 transmitted the first ever photographs of the far side of the Moon.  In 1982 the musical "Cats" opened on Broadway, beginning its record run of 7,485 performances. 

The weather is in the news as the lower US East Coast braces itself.  It was Matthew that actually precipitated my post yesterday about worrying – I have friends and family in Florida and when the governor commented that it wasn’t a question of “if” you were going to lose power but for how long, I started wondering how they would fare.  When Walt Disney World announced it was closing early last night and today, I knew it was really serious [just in case I thought it was a government conspiracy, you know].  The Florida House of the Mouse has only closed its gates three times in the past 45 years and always for hurricanes: 09.15.1999, for Hurricane Floyd; 09.04  and 09.05.1999, for Hurricane Frances and 09. 26.2004, for Hurricane Jeanne.  It was also evacuated and closed in a brisk 30 minutes on 9.11 – I was there and it was a pretty awesome coordination of transportation over the four parks; we were staying at the Caribbean Beach resort and it only took us 45 minutes from the announcement of the closure mid-performance in the Lion King Festival to walking into our room.

And it makes me think of the devastation the winds of change can cause when they sweep into your life and upset all of your careful planning.  Yes they bring new opportunities.  Yes you can find your direction.  Yes you can build windmills.  But it hurts, no doubt about it 

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, October 7, 2016

chill pill required

Today is the 5th day of the 40th week, the 6th day of the 10th month, the 280th day of 2016, and: 
  • American Libraries Day
  • Come and Take It Day -- commemorates the firing of the first shot of the Texas revolution in 1835, which took place near Gonzales.
  • Ecological Debt Day
  • Garlic Lovers Day
  • Jackie Mayer Rehab Day --  Jacquelyn Jeanne Mayer, Miss America 1963, had a stroke in 1970 at the age of 28 years old, and worked hard for seven years to regain her speech and mobility becoming a motivational speaker
  • Mad Hatter Day -- despite being a silly day, the selection of the date was actually quite logical. The Mad Hatter wears a top hat and on the front of the hat is a slip of paper with "10/6" written on it. The paper is believed to be an order to make the hat, and that it costs ten shillings sixpence.
  • National Depression Screening Day
  • National German American Day
  • National Noodle Day
  • National Physician's Assistant Day
  • National Poetry Day
  • Simchat Torah --  a Jewish holiday that celebrates and marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle.
On this day in 105 BC the Cimbri inflict the heaviest defeat on the Roman army of Gnaeus Mallius Maximus at the Battle of Arausio.  In 1582, due to the implementation of the Gregorian calendar, this day was skipped in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.  In 1600 Jacopo Peri's Euridice, the earliest surviving opera, premiered in Florence, signifying the beginning of the Baroque period.  In 1683 German immigrant families founded Germantown in the colony of Pennsylvania, marking the first major immigration of German people to America.  In 1889 American inventor Thomas Edison showed his first motion picture and the Moulin Rouge cabaret opened in Paris.  In 1927 The Jazz Singer, the first prominent "talkie" movie, opened.  In 1999 the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women international treaty was adopted, to be implemented in December 2000.  In 2007 Jason Lewis completed the first human-powered circumnavigation of the globe.  In 2016 NASA Voyager is 18 hrs 56 mins 12 secs of light-travel time from Earth (2016:276:120000:1L) in "Interstellar space" and Voyager2 is 15 hrs 33 mins 23 secs of light-travel time from Earth (2016:276:000000:2L) in the "Heliosheath".

Me?  just tired and worried.  Worried about the hurricane.  Worried that the bombastic rhetoric of this presidential campaign here, and some of the crazy statements abroad [eg England and the Philippines] actually reflect the way real people are thinking.  Worried about giving into my cravings for carbs.  Worried about getting these blasted reports out.  Worried about worrying too much….

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, October 6, 2016

getting old

Today is the 4th day of the 40th week, the 5th day of the 10th month, the 279th day of 2016 [with only 80 shopping days until Christmas], and: 
  • Balloons Around the World Day
  • Do Something Nice Day
  • International Day of No Prostitution
  • International Walk to School Day
  • National Apple Betty Day
  • National Kale Day
  • National Storytelling Day
  • Pet Obesity Awareness Day
  • Random Acts of Poetry Day
  • World Teachers' Day
On this day in 456 the Visigoths under king Theodoric II, acting on orders of the Roman emperor Avitus, invaded Iberia with an army of Burgundians, Franks and Goths, led by the kings Chilperic I and Gondioc -- they defeated the Suebi under king Rechiar on the river Urbicus near Astorga (Gallaecia).  In 1582, because of the implementation of the Gregorian calendar this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.  In 1905 Wilbur Wright piloted the Wright Flyer III in a flight of 24 miles in 39 minutes, a world record that stood until 1908.  In 1947 the first televised White House address was given by Harry S. Truman.  In 1955 the Disneyland Hotel opened to the public in Anaheim, California.  In 1962 Dr. No, the first in the James Bond film series starring Sean Connery as Agent 007, premiered in London, and the Beatles' first single, "Love Me Do" backed with "P.S. I Love You", was released in the United Kingdom.  In 1969 the first episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus aired on BBC One.  In 1970 the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) was founded.  In 1984 Marc Garneau became the first Canadian in space, aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.  In 2001 Barry Bonds surpassed Mark McGwire's single-season home run total with his milestone 71st and 72nd home runs.

I was asked today how long I planned to live and I gave the answer that I have given since I was a kid – I plan to live to be 100 years old.  Yup, I am still holding onto that goal, although I do realize that tomorrow is promised to no one and I may not get there.   I have always found it slightly disorienting to think of the future history, written about things that will be common place then that I cannot even imagine today. 

Bilbo [courtesy of JRR Tolkien in the Fellowship of the Ring] put it better than I can:


“…I sit beside the fire and think

Of how the world will be

When winter comes without a spring

That I shall ever see


For still there are so many things

That I have never seen

In every wood in every spring

There is a different green


I sit beside the fire and think

Of people long ago

And people that will see a world

That I shall never know….”


Of course I also intend to be hale and hearty and active until the end….  Yup my life’s aspiration is to be a centenarian.  I’ll let you know if I make it!

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, October 5, 2016

the final frontier

Today is the 3rd day of the 40th week, the 4th day in the 10th month, the 278th day of 2016, and: 
  • Cinnamon Roll OR Kanelbullens Day
  • eDay – set up a decade ago in New Zealand,  aimed to raise awareness of the potential dangers associated with electronic waste and to offer the opportunity for such waste to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly fashion.
  • Improve Your Office Day
  • Independence Day -- Lesotho from the United Kingdom in 1966 ((go on, try to tell me you know where this is without googling))
  • International Toot Your Flute Day
  • National Golf Day
  • National Ships-in-Bottles Day
  • National Taco Day
  • National Vodka Day
  • Ten-Four Day
  • World Animal Day AKA  Blessing of The Animals Day, Blessing of the Pets Day, World Pet Day
On this day in 23 rebels sacked the Chinese capital Chang'an during a peasant rebellion, capturing Emperor Wang Mang [and decapitating him two days later].  In 1535 the first complete English-language Bible (the Coverdale Bible) was printed, with translations by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale.  In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII implemented the Gregorian calendar in Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain -- October 4 was followed directly by October 15.  In 1795 – Napoleon Bonaparte first rose to national prominence by suppressing armed counter-revolutionary rioters threatening the National Convention.  In 1824 Mexico adopted a new constitution and becomes a federal republic.  In 1883 was the first run of the Orient Express and the first meeting of the Boys' Brigade in Glasgow, Scotland.  In 1931 the comic strip "Dick Tracy" by Chester Gould made its debut. In 1957 Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, was launched and "Leave It to Beaver" premiered on CBS. In 1958 the current constitution of France was adopted.  In 1965 Pope Paul VI arrived in New York City, becoming the first Pope to visit the Americas.    In 2004 SpaceShipOne won the Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight, by being the first private craft to fly into space.  In 2006 Wikileaks was launched by Julian Assange.

Today begins what is the start of World Space Week, which was declared by the United Nations in 1999 to “celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition”  [UN General Assembly resolution, 6 December 1999].  Each year there is a different theme, and in 2016 it is ““Remote Sensing: Enabling Our Future,” an inward looking theme which celebrates Earth Observation from Space for the betterment of the human race.”   In a time when space and science are being bludgeoned by politicians and bean counters, and ignored by the general public,  it is a timely reminder that exploration and discovery are part and parcel of who we are as human beings.  The benefits of reaching for the starts far exceed the costs and are literally priceless   May we always “…boldly go where no one has gone before”!

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, October 4, 2016

EOM. EOQ. AND Monday....

Today is the 2nd day of the 40th week, the 3rd day of the 10th month, the 277th day of 2016, and: 
  • Blue Shirt Day [AKA World Day of Bullying Prevention]
  • Child Health Day
  • Day of Unity or German Unity Day --  in 1990 The German Democratic Republic ceases to exist and its territory became part of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • Independence Day -- Iraq from the United Kingdom in 1932
  • Look at the Leaves Day
  • Mean Girls Appreciation Day
  • National Boyfriend Day
  • National Butterfly and Hummingbird Day
  • National Caramel Custard Day
  • National Family TV Show Day
  • National Techies Day
  • National Virus Appreciation Day
  • World Architecture Day
  • World Habitat Day
On this day in 52 BC Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls, surrenders to the Romans under Julius Caesar, ending the siege and Battle of Alesia.  In 1778 Captain James Cook anchored in Alaska.  In 1849 Edgar Allan Poe is found delirious in a gutter in Baltimore under mysterious circumstances; it is the last time he is seen in public before his death.  In 1863 the last Thursday in November was declared Thanksgiving Day in the US by Abraham Lincoln.  In 1872 the Bloomingdale brothers opened their first store at 938 Third Avenue, New York City.  In 1942 the first successful launch of a V-2 /A4-rocket from Test Stand VII at Peenemünde, Germany -- the first man-made object to reach space.  In 1955 "Captain Kangaroo" premiered on CBS and "The Mickey Mouse Club" premiered on ABC.  In 1962 Sigma 7 was launched from Cape Canaveral, with astronaut Wally Schirra aboard, for a six-orbit, nine-hour flight.  In 1985 the Space Shuttle Atlantis made its maiden flight. (Mission STS-51-J).

While it is a lovely day hereabouts – first day of sunshine in a week with temps in the low 70’s – those of us who trudged off for our M-F daily routine are groaning under the end of the quarter reconciliations and reports that need to be generated and it definitely feels like Monday is being a bit of a bully….

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, October 3, 2016

pay your share

Today is the 1st day of the 40th week ((only 12 weeks left until the end of the year?  How’d that happen?)), the 2nd day of the 10th month, the 276th day of 2016 [with only 83 shopping days until Christmas], and:
  • Change a Light Day
  • Country Inn Bed and Breakfast Day
  • Guardian Angel Day
  • Intergeneration Day
  • International African Diaspora Day
  • International Blessings of The Fishing Fleet Day
  • International Day of Non-Violence
  • Islamic New Year
  • National Custodial Worker Day
  • National Fried Scallops Day
  • National Name Your Car Day
  • National Research Maniacs Food Day
  • Phileas Fogg's Wager Day
  • Rosh Hashanah
  • World Communion Sunday
  • World Day for Farmed Animals
  • World No Alcohol Day
 On this day in 829 Theophilos succeeded his father Michael II as Byzantine Emperor.  In 1528 William Tyndale, English Reformer and Bible translator, published The Obedience of a Christian Man.  In 1535 Jacques Cartier discovered the area where Montreal is now located.  In 1789 George Washington sends proposed Constitutional amendments (The US Bill of Rights) to the States for ratification.  In 1925 John Logie Baird performed the first test of a working television system.  In 2016 NASA Voyager is 18 hrs 56 mins 12 secs of light-travel time from Earth (2016:276:120000:1L) and NSF Voyager II is 15 hrs 33 mins 23 secs of light-travel time from Earth (2016:276:000000:2L) – no word on any machine planets yet….

My second political post has to do with taxes and tax returns.   No I am not surprised by the NY Times revelations and yes I figured that is exactly the reason why Donald Trump did not want his tax returns released.  And no, Trump did not do anything untoward, immoral, or unethical.  You see, working in lending and collecting the personal financial information of borrowers and guarantors means that I have seen a LOT of tax returns over the past thirty years or so.   And I can tell you that anyone who makes enough money to afford super-duper tax accountants and lawyers do not pay anywhere near the amount of taxes that “average” people pay.  No matter how you figure it out, by dollar amount or by percentage, those who can afford to take advantage of the myriad of loopholes pay less annually in federal, state and local income taxes than most of us.  I have gone through various stages of disbelief and rage as I look at these returns and compare then to the financial statements, realizing that someone who makes as much in a day as I might see in a year and has a lifestyle I can only dream of pays less in personal income taxes than I do. 

And this is why I have been advocating implementing a flat tax across the board – no loopholes, no deductions.  Anyone making over $25K individually or $50K as a family pays 15% of their income [any money coming in whether from wages, investments, inheritance, whatever] to the Federal government and another 10% to the state [and no more “local” add-ons].  I think devoting a quarter of our income to keep the infrastructure humming is worth it, neh?  And while we are meddling with the tax codes and eliminating deductions?  Remove the cap on FICA taxes that enable the wealthy to stop paying into Social Security and Medicare. 

Everyone pays their share and carries their weight and the controversies like this one are eliminated.  There is a downside, of course -- the plethora of accountants and lawyers this puts out of business….    

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Sunday, October 2, 2016

fire hose

Today is 6th day of the 39th week, the 30th day of the 9th month, the last day of the 3rd quarter,  the 274th day of 2016 [with only 85 shopping days until Christmas], and: 
  • Ask A Stupid Question Day ((always the last school day of the month))
  • Blasphemy Day
  • Chewing Gum Day
  • Hug a Vegetarian Day
  • International Translation Day
  • National Mud Pack Day
  • National Mulled Cider Day
  • Save the Koala Day
  • Support Purple for Platelets Day
  • The Time for Yoga
  • Vegan Baking Day
The black moon [a rare second new moon in a month] rises at 8:11PM EDT – given the stresses and worries the world faces at the moment, it is tempting to see it as a sign, neh

On this day in 489 the Ostrogoths under king Theoderic the Great defeat the forces of Odoacer for the second time at Verona (Northern Italy).  In 1791 the first performance of The Magic Flute, the last opera by Mozart to make its debut, took place at Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna, Austria.  In 1882 Thomas Edison's first commercial hydroelectric power plant (later known as Appleton Edison Light Company) began operation on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin, United States.  In 1927 Babe Ruth became the first baseball player to hit 60 home runs in a season.  In 1979 the Hong Kong MTR commenced service with the opening of its Modified Initial System (AKA Kwun Tong Line).  In 1980 ethernet specifications were published by Xerox working with Intel and Digital Equipment Corporation. In 2016, Rosetta joins Philae on the surface of their comet.

Yesterday someone who’s opinion I respect shared an article about what you should consider before you post in social media, adding a fourth precept of things to consider before you post:  “Does it improve upon the silence?”

Well now, that brought me up short.  You see, I share a LOT of things that I am interested in – today my feed is full of the end of the Rosetta mission – and that has been my role in my online life from the get go.  In the asynchronous communities I participated in actively [eg. The Knowledge Ecology Network and Brainstorms] I had a thread that was nothing more than “stuff” with the caveat that these were things I found interesting and thought others would too.  Because folks didn’t go and read it unless they wanted too, even if I was in fire hose mode, I didn’t worry about it.  But Twitter and Facebook are a little along the lines of “push” tech and when I post about stuff, it populates all my friends’ feeds.  For a time, I stopped posting in social media and only shared via this blog, but slowly switched back to the “like and share” activity.  I tried to go through my tweets to see if there is a pattern – but it really is an eclectic mix.  Personal information:  lots of #theviewfromthebalcony, sharing of my blog posts, snapshots and status updates.  General info:  lots of space, comments about income inequity, stories about banking [especially community banking], Bitcoin, virtual reality, technology, Star Trek and Star wars along with any other science fiction, fantasy and role play, games, Project Runway, gripes about customer service issues, and…   and….  well, STUFF. 

Is having so much to share an improvement on silence?  I’ll have to think about that …..

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, September 30, 2016

so long, farewell.... and thank you!

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, September 30, 2016

rain, rain, rain

Today is the 5th day of the 39th week, the 29th day of the 9th month, the 273rd day of 2016, and: 
  • Broadway Musicals Day – burst into song and sing your favorite show tunes today in celebration of the great white way
  • Coffee Day [national and international]
  • Confucius Day – [AKA Master Kong or Kong Qu] believed to have been born on this day in  551 BC
  • Happy Goose Day –  goose is to to Michaelmas as turkey is to Thanksgiving
  • Ladislao José Biro’s birthday -- Biro (whose first name is sometimes written as László) invented the ballpoint in 1938
  • MAGS Day – celebrating the foundation of  the Memphis Archaeological and Geological Society in 1958
  • Michaelmas  -- AKA the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael, the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels
  • Mutation Day (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
  • National Attend Your Grandchild's Birthday Day
  • National Biscotti Day
  • National Mocha Day
  • National Poisoned Blackberries Day – tied to Michaelmas, it is the day the devil spit on the fruit. and is apparently widely celebrated still in England
  • VFW Day -- in 1899 a small group of Spanish-America war veterans joined together to form what would become the nation’s largest and most dedicated group of combat veterans. 
  • World Heart Day – started in 2000 to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading causes of death, claiming 17.3 million lives each year
  • World Maritime Day – an United Nations designated day
On this day in 522 BC Darius I of Persia killed the Magian usurper Gaumata, securing his hold as king of the Persian Empire.  In 1885 the first practical public electric tramway in the world is opened in Blackpool, England.  In 1988 NASA launched STS-26, the return to flight mission, after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.  In 2004 the asteroid 4179 Toutatis passed within four lunar distances of Earth and the Burt Rutan Ansari X Prize entry SpaceShipOne performed a successful spaceflight, the first of two required to win the prize.

The last time it rained this steadily hereabouts was back at the end of July, and  Ellicott City was flooded in what was called an once in a 1,000 years event.  I imagine the property owners and small businesses are rather nervous as flash flood alerts are posted….

Rains in the spring are the harbinger of blooming.  Rains in the summertime bring relief from the heat and refresh the thirsty earth.  Rains in the fall are more depressing, heralding the onslaught of winter.  

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, September 29, 2016


Today is the 4th day of the 39th week, the 28th day of the 9th month, the 272nd day of 2016, and: 
  • Banned Websites Awareness Day
  • Fish Tank Floorshow Night
  • International Right to Know Day
  • National Ask a Stupid Question Day
  • National Drink Beer Day
  • National Good Neighbor Day
  • National Strawberry Cream Pie Day
  • National Women's Health and Fitness Day
  • Read a Child a Book You Like Day
  • See You at the Pole --  an annual gathering of thousands of Christian students at a flagpole in front of their local school for prayer, scripture-reading and worship, during the early morning before school starts.
  • World Rabies Day
  • World School Milk Day
On this day in 48 BC Pompey the Great was assassinated on the orders of King Ptolemy of Egypt after landing in Egypt.  In 235 Pope Pontian resigned and  was exiled to the mines of Sardinia  with Hippolytus, church leader of Rome.  In 1542 Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo of Portugal arrived at what is now San Diego, United States.  In 1787 the newly completed United States Constitution was voted on by Congress to be sent to the state legislatures for approval.  In1791 France became the first country to emancipate its Jewish population.  In 1871 the Brazilian Parliament passed the Law of the Free Womb, granting freedom to all new children born to slaves, the first major step in the eradication of slavery in Brazil.  In 1889 the first General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) defined the length of a meter as the distance between two lines on a standard bar of an alloy of platinum with ten percent iridium, measured at the melting point of ice.  In 1928 Sir Alexander Fleming noticed a bacteria-killing mold growing in his laboratory, discovering what later became known as penicillin.  In 1971 the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 banning the medicinal use of cannabis.  In 2008 SpaceX launched the first private spacecraft, the Falcon 1 into orbit.


Okay, I’m going to talk about the US presidential debate.  I’m not going to discuss what was said or not said, I’m not going to claim who did or didn’t win – but please feel free to stop reading at this point.

Still here?  IMNSHO, FWIIW , I have two comments about the first debate.

First:  I have noted before that while the Democratic candidate is called by her first name in media, the Republican candidate is called by his last name.  While some think this is showing gender bias, I have come to the conclusion that when the reference is to “Clinton” there is a certain amount of confusion whether we are talking about the ex-president or the ex-secretary of state, so it is just easier to refer to “Hillary”.  But I really liked that throughout the debate, she called him “Donald”

Second:  I think confirmation bias is alive and well and that the debates didn’t change anyone’s mind about who they are going to root for..  I have always been a liberal, don’t think socialism is a dirty word, believe that business need to make profits for stakeholders not just shareholders, and embrace diversity [or at least try to].  I blame income inequity for many of the current economic woes we suffer and resent that I am sliding out of the middle class.  As I listen to the ranting, hear the angst of people who feel that the American dream has been lost, believe that trickle-down economics actually work, and feel that someone else [the ubiquitous “them”] is to blame, I have come to realize that perhaps I really am not average or part of the majority.  Obviously I am not the target market for these messages and just as obviously there is a huge market of folks it is reaching.  Just because I do not agree, does that negate the views and opinions of those that do?

The most important question was asked at the end – will you support the person who is elected President?  Well I’m not about to launch a revolution and deny the majority their right to have a say on the way things go because I don’t agree with them – does that constitute “support”?  For the first time I feel a great deal of sympathy for the German general population of the 1930’s for  I am starting to wonder if I live in the same country that I think I live in, if that makes sense….

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, September 28, 2016

on this day

Today is the 3rd day of the 39th week, the 27th day of the 9th month, the 271st day of 2016, and: 
  • Ancestor Appreciation Day
  • Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
  • Google's Birthday  -- they retrospectively claimed this as its birthday in 1998
  • National Chocolate Milk Day
  • National Corned Beef Hash Day
  • National Crush a Can Day
  • National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
  • National Voter Registration Day
  • National Woman Road Warrior Day
  • Sukkot  -- Feast of the Booths
  • World Tourism Day
On this day in 1066 William the Conqueror and his army set sail from the mouth of the River Somme, beginning the Norman conquest of England.  In 1540 the Society of Jesus (AKA the Jesuits) received its charter from Pope Paul III.  In 1777 Lancaster, Pennsylvania was the capital of the United States, for one day.  In 1822 Jean-François Champollion announced that he had deciphered the Rosetta Stone.  In 1825 the world's first public railway to use steam locomotives, the Stockton and Darlington Railway, was ceremonially opened.  In 1905 the physics journal Annalen der Physik received Albert Einstein's paper, "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?", introducing the equation E=mc².  In 1962 Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring was published, inspiring an environmental movement and the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency.  In 1964, the Warren Commission issued a report concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President John F. Kennedy.  In 1968 the stage musical Hair opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London, where it played 1,998 performances until its closure was forced by the roof collapsing in July 1973.  In 2003 the SMART-1 satellite was launched.  In 2007 NASA launched the Dawn probe.  IN2008 CNSA astronaut Zhai Zhigang became the first Chinese person to perform a spacewalk while flying on Shenzhou 7.  In 2016 NASA Voyager is 18 hrs 55 mins 15 secs of light-travel time from Earth (2016:271:120000:1L)

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, September 27, 2016

left holding the bag...

I have been following the story about the fraudulent accounts since it first broke and my first reaction was to pinpoint the insane pressure for cross-selling that must’ve existed because I have worked at several banks and I know just how much they push the line staff [the tellers and the customer service reps, whatever titles they are given] to sell.  It is a fact that the more products a customer uses in your bank, the less likely they are to up and move to another bank [or credit union], and of course, the fee income looks really good on the balance sheet.   As a result, the number of products is obsessively examined and the goal is to have every borrower to have at least three of more.  Now I guarantee you that the line personnel didn’t start out just opening fraudulent accounts, but kinda stumbled into the problems.  A couple products are relatively easy to cross-sell –  for example, checking is what brings them in the door, and you can usually try to sell overdraft protection and then bill-pay with the online banking but not everyone wants these products!   So you start giving them to customers as a “feature” – at first they are free, but after about six months, the fees start to be assessed and usually they are just low enough that most customers won’t complain. 

But then your “action plan” gets reviewed at the end of the quarter, and you are put on probation because you haven’t met your goals, and you get worried because you have watched others lose their jobs for this reason and you know the market for employment is tough.  So you come up with a way to “help” the customers [and yourself] who have a lot of funds just sitting in a CD or Money Market account, and you move those funds to another account so they can get a higher rate of interest – that works and if anyone asks you a question about it?  It is for the benefit of the customer, you proclaim, no harm no foul.  And you’d be surprised how few people actually LOOK at their monthly bank statements, how few will even notice the changes…..  No penalty, no realization that what you just did was fraudulent or wrong, just a feeling of shaky relief that you managed to keep your job.  

Then the auditors/examiners/regulators suddenly ask for documentation and write up that accounts have been opened without customers’ knowledge or permission.  Senior management is shocked [SHOCKED I tell you] to learn such things have been happening.  And those stuffed shirts who have been raking in huge bonuses based on fee income and new accounts, the same ones who put in place unrealistic expectations of sales goals, fire you because it is all your fault.  THEY get to keep their jobs and pay, you are labeled a criminal and good luck trying to find another job in any financial services organization.

To my surprise, my tweet aboutthe class action suit filed by employees fired by Wells Fargo for not meeting the aggressive sales goals has been liked and re-tweeted more than any other post that I have ever made in social media on any platform.  Maybe others see the stuffed shirts getting away with the booty while leaving the line staff holding the bag, and hope that somehow senior management will be held accountable.  

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, September 27, 2016

you have a choice....

Today is the 2nd day of the 39th week, the 26th day of the 9th month, the 270th day of 2016 [with only 89 shopping days until Christmas], and: 
  • European Day of Languages
  • Family Day - Be Involved. Stay Involved
  • Johnny Appleseed Day
  • Lumberjack Day
  • National Better Breakfast Day
  • National Dumpling Day
  • National Pancake Day
  • Shamu the Whale Day
  • Situational Awareness Day
  • World Contraception Day
On this day in 46 BC Julius Caesar dedicated a temple to his mythical ancestor Venus Genetrix in accordance with a vow he made at the Battle of Pharsalus.  In 1580 Sir Francis Drake finished his circumnavigation of the Earth.  In 1960, in Chicago, the first televised debate took place between presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy.  In 1969 Abbey Road, the last recorded album by The Beatles, was released.  In 1984 Britain and China finalized proposals to end 150 years of British rule in Hong Kong.

Today I am reflecting about irrevocable choices and their consequences.  Sometimes it is something as simple as saying [or writing] something; sometimes it is something that is done or not done.  But once it happens, the path has changed.  I watch while people make these choices without forethought or mindfulness and wonder if they would do anything differently if they realized this one thing was going to have a disparate impact on their future.  I look back on my past and can see those choices – perhaps it is a blessing that I realize most of the time that I am indeed taking a step from which there is no return when I am doing it.    I put this in the category of good news/bad news:  OTOH?  At least I am spared wondering “what happened”.  OTOH?  I have to keep from regretting now decisions made then

Today I watched a choice being made that I think is irrevocable.  It doesn’t change my path, but I sent a quiet prayer and beams of well-being from the sidelines to that young person because I don’t think they understand what they have chosen.  

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, September 26, 2016

and it is Fall....

Today is the 5th day of the 38th week, the 22nd day of the 9th month, the first day of Fall, the 266th day of 2016 [and there are only 93 shopping days left until Christmas], and: 
  • American Business Women's Day
  • Autumn (Autumnnal Equinox)
  • Business Women's Day
  • Chainmail Day
  • Dear Diary Day
  • Independence Day:  Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire in 1908; Mali from France in 1960.
  • International Day of Radiant Peace
  • Mabon --  in the Northern Hemisphere, Ostara in the Southern Hemisphere. (Neopagan Wheel of the Year)
  • National Centenarian's Day
  • National Elephant Appreciation Day
  • National Hobbit Day – happy birthday Bilbo and Frodo!
  • National Ice Cream Cone Day
  • National Rock n' Roll Dog Day
  • National Teach Ag Day
  • National White Chocolate Day
  • One Web Day -- an annual day of Internet celebration and awareness, started in 2006.
  • Proposal Day
  • World Car free Day ((with all the problems with Metro hereabouts, more people are using cars for their commute than ever))
  • World Rhino Day
On this day in 480 BC the Greek fleet under Themistocles defeats the Persian fleet under Xerxes I in the Battle of Salamis.  In 1692 the last of those convicted of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials were hanged; the remainder of those convicted are all eventually released.  In 1823 Joseph Smith stated he found the Golden plates on this date after being directed by God through the Angel Moroni to the place where they were buried.  In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves in rebel states should be free as of Jan. 1, 1863.  In 1888 the first issue of National Geographic Magazine was published.  In 1910 the Duke of York's Picture House [now the oldest continually operating cinema in Britain] opened in Brighton.  In 1979 a bright flash, resembling the detonation of a nuclear weapon, was observed near the Prince Edward Islands -- its cause was never determined.  In 1991 the Dead Sea Scrolls were made available to the public for the first time by the Huntington Library.

Actually, “fall” has a very respectable lineage and is not just a North American slang word.   But whatever you want to call it, the year has 100 days left and the seasons are changing.

0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, September 22, 2016


One of the sounds that I associate with autumn is the honking of geese – I never fail to stop and scan the skies, watching them fly away, and this is when I think of my father.
Jerry Hughes won’t come up on any google searches, even though he led a colorful life and actually brought home a gold medal from the Olympics once for ping-pong [AKA table tennis if you want to be precise] that I still have tucked away in my memorabilia along with his naval uniform, a couple of china pieces from Occupied Japan and a wooden dragon ship [all souvenirs from the time he was in the US Navy during WWII in the Pacific].  I don’t know a lot about the man when you come right down to it – wry and athletic, personable and popular, he didn’t have much in common with his bookish daughter – just bits and pieces that I remember before he blew out of my life back in the 8th grade.  ((doesn’t everyone tell time by what year of school they were in?  Let’s see, I must’ve been around 14 or so)). 

Dad was a colorful character.   Highly competitive, he whipsawed between golf and tennis every other year.  It was a cycle, he would play golf until he was extremely good, then someone would challenge him to a tennis match and beat him and bam!  The golf clubs were thrown in the close and he played tennis until he was extremely good, then someone would challenge him to a golf game…..   He was also what I have come to realize is a sociopathic liar – he convinced himself that his stories were true and thus convinced others.  My favorite is still that he went overseas and worked as a mercenary for a couple of years, amassed a fortune which he stashed in a secret Swiss account and that someday I will be on Easy Street.  Ah, easy street!  That is where he always wanted to be, not working for a living.  He would scrub his hands until they were almost raw to get rid of the grime acquired working as a machinist at the Point, determined to be a gentleman.  He was insanely jealous of his older brother’s engineering degree and subsequent career, but hated schooling with a passion.  Married at a relatively young age, he never quite settled down and I often thought of him as having been born under a wandering star.  Grandpop Hughes, who bummed around a lot for a long time before marrying Grandmom,  always thought of him as being much like himself.  He wasn’t around the house much – he was either working or out playing.   When he left us he headed to Alaska and worked on the pipeline – it was almost three years before we found out where he had gone, before he got back in touch with his parents.

I was often compared to my father  when I was younger.  I was told that I looked just like him.  I don’t – I resemble my mother and her mother strongly – but what we shared was mobility of expression,  how emotions play across our faces.  My kids both inherited this, and even though they both strongly resemble their fathers, folks often tell us that we three look alike when we are together.   I do have his restlessness, the impulsiveness, and like him, I am definitely a thunderstorm when angry.   

Jerry Hughes died of lung cancer 32 years ago in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.  I was not there, but Uncle Harry was.  My role  was to stay by the phone for three days at the end and turn away care – the hospital wouldn’t accept the POA my uncle had or my father’s living will.  Every four hours, my uncle would call me and I would tell them “no”.   This was before the advent of cell phones, so I had to stay home and by the phone to do this.  Dad had wanted to be cremated, and when the ashes were sent to my Aunt by the mail, we dug a hole around the tombstone for Grandmom and Grandpop and put him to rest – all but a handful that I took to the lake and scattered around the flock of geese.

You see, my father’s favorite song through the years was The Cry of the Wild Goose.   That song would well him up every time, and it was the only thing I ever heard him sing.   And every fall, I think of him as the geese start to migrate and hope his heart is at rest at last.

“… Tonight I heard the wild goose cry
Hanging north in the lonely sky….”
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, September 22, 2016

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