Thursday, April 30, 2009

Still Alive

Wow. It feels like I haven't blogged in six months, but the last post is actually dated early March. Feels like much longer.

School is out for me until late June. Now I must catch up with the (physical) mess I've made of my personal life. (That is, my house is a mess. A mess.)

And to check in with my favorite bloggers...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bust in One Area, Boom in Another

The limping economy has slowed down some enterprises but caused demand for other services.

Like vasectomies:

But some things never change. Despite their acknowledgment that they can't afford more children, both men interviewed for the story actually said that a vasectomy wasn't for them.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

52% of those polled are crazy...

I realize that the "Obama's not really a citizen" meme is one that's just not going to die. There are those crazies -- and this article gives them the benign-sounding name "The Birthers" -- that will insist to their graves that the man was not really born in Hawaii or that he renounced his citizenship when he was five (or whatever the story is), etc.

There will always be those crazies.

What I didn't realize was how large their numbers are. Following the referenced story was this poll question: Do you have any doubt about Obama's eligibility to be president because of his birth status?

Despite the fact (as stated in the article) that

officials in Hawaii declared last October that there was no doubt Obama was born in the state. Officials verified that the health department holds the commander in chief's original birth certificate
52% of those who took the poll said...


Friday, February 27, 2009

Rhetorical Question

How does it smell when your vinegar goes bad? :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Of all the interesting words in the English language, I get a coordinating conjunction....yet I get unexpected results.

Here's the meme, lifted from Vikki:

Grab the nearest book - no matter what it is. Textbook, novel, pop-up book, building code study guide, whatever.

Turn to page 25.
Read the 10th word on that page, or the following if that one is blank.
Type that word into Google Image search.
Post the third image.

Link back to this post.
Feel free to self-tag.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Surprise! John McCain Says That Obama's Had a Bad Beginning

Interviewed by CNN's John King, John McCain says:

“It was a bad beginning,” McCain said Sunday of the legislative process that resulted in the $787 billion stimulus bill recently passed by Congress. “It was a bad beginning because it wasn’t what we promised the American people, what President Obama promised the American people – that we would sit down together.”

While McCain said he appreciated the fact that Obama came to Capitol Hill to speak with House Republicans about the stimulus bill. But, “that’s not how you negotiate a result.” Instead, “you sit down in a room with competing proposals” and “almost all of our proposals went down on a party-line vote”

“I hope the next time we will sit down together and conduct truly bipartisan negotiations. This was not a bipartisan bill.”
This is not a sarcastic post. The surprise is not that John McCain said this; that's no surprise at all. The surprise is that the comments that follow this article are overwhelmingly critical of McCain's comments.

At almost all "news" sources (and this includes CNN), on almost any topic, the comments are truly cringe-worthy. I sometimes read the first few, but any more than that are detrimental to my mental health. And they're frequently not even on topic. For instance, even the most innocuous article that mentions the name "Obama" tends to inspire a lot of non-sequitur comments, often along the lines of liberal media bias, stolen election--ACORN!, not a citizen, fat Michelle (fat Michelle?).

This time around, while there are a few of those kind of comments, the rest are overwhelmingly on point, and many are well-argued. And almost all boil down to "get-over-it-McCain."

Jamie from Philly's comment is my favorite:

In the past few decades, history has shown us that Republicans will do whatever they can to disrupt a Democratic president, often at the expense of the American people. This is not generally true of Democrats when a Republican is in charge. Other than the few moderates who actually care about their constituents, Republicans are all about forcing a win for their team, rather than safeguarding the rights of the American people.
It's nice to see a comments thread that doesn't devolve into ugliness and silliness but instead offers reasoned argument. More of this, please.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

But Is It Big Enough?

I will very soon buy an external hard drive on which to store my photos, videos, and music. My new computer is rather full, which is quite silly. My old computer has a lot in it too.

Time to transfer the fun stuff elsewhere.

I was looking on at the options. Western Digital sells a 1TB drive for $118.88. Since this is the first time I'd heard that term, and even though I assumed it was one step up from a GB, I wanted to know what it is.

It is, it turns out, a terabyte. And 10 of them will hold the print collection of the Library of Congress.

That's nice. But will it hold all my stuff?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Captivated Kitty

A few weeks ago, I joined the 21st century and bought an LCD TV -- a modest one, a 32" Samsung, because the woman and the penny pincher in me wanted to keep it hidden in the armoire I invested in last year. This plan required a TV on the smaller side, which worked out, because I have a small living room and because after rebate it cost only (only?) $500, 18 months no interest. Oh yeah.

That purchase, however, led to a $250 blu-ray player, whereupon my savings were promptly wiped out.

Anyway, now that I have the new Samsung, Baby, my cat, is suddenly interested in TV for the first time. The first time I noticed his fascination, two days ago, I was watching Planet Earth on blu-ray and I thought it was the moving animals that caught his interest. This may have been so.

However, this morning he spent a good five minutes intently watching Angelo Surmelis redecorate a living room on HGTV. (Still might have been the moving animals that caught his interest!)

Anyway, has anyone else noticed a cat (or other pet) who had no use for old-school TV taking an interest in high-definition?

Monday, February 09, 2009

In Which a Famous Actor Desires to Save a Buck, Just Like the Rest of Us

If you're a Lost fan and you don't follow Jorge Garcia's blog, why?

Even if you're not a Lost fan, it's a hoot.

Jorge goes to the grocery store.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Job Security

For what it's I ponder the horrific state of our economy, it occurs to me that among the few people with (for the most part) secure jobs (at least for a set period of time) are the President and Congress.

The people whose job it is to see that our own jobs stop going under.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Famous: For the Fourth Annual Bloggers Silent Poetry Reading

Prompted by Bee, I herewith offer the following poem in honor of the Fourth Annual Bloggers Silent Poetry Reading:

--Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

I've posted the poem before, but asked to single out a poem (and despite the fact that Carl Sandburg is the official poet of this blog), I realize that "Famous" is the one I come back to again and again. It's probably as close to a credo as I have.

Four X Four: A Warm Memory in the Cold of Winter

Brave Sir Robin issued a general tag order on this meme, and I am obliging.

Here are the rules:

Go to the file that holds your pictures, go to the fourth folder and pick the fourth picture and display and write about it.
I was a little concerned at first. I don't post identifiable photos of myself or the people in my life, and the odds were excellent that the prescribed photo would be of people. It wasn't, at least not of people we know:

(Photo not taken by me, although I am sometimes guilty of less-than-perfect shots.)

The occasion was a very happy day last summer. Daughter, her children, and I were in northeastern Maryland visiting the family, something I've not been able to do much of over the past, oh, 25 years. So, yes, happy time. I told everyone that I'd like to go to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, and who's with me? Frankly, I didn't expect much reaction, but in the end, in addition to Daughter and her two tikes, my mother, two sisters, and two nieces made the trip. (This, folks, is only about a fifth of the sibling and niece/nephew inventory.)

Longwood Gardens is the most beautiful place I've ever been that's crafted by man. If there's a lovelier place, I'd like to see it. The "4th folder, 4th photo" picture doesn't really offer that beauty, though. This was part of a special exhibit of treehouses. Here are examples of some of the beauty at Longwood:

Several groups of Amish folk were also enjoying the gardens that day. One of my neighbors here in Florida is, interestingly, from the same general area that I grew up in. He and his wife, when traveling to Maryland, have also gone to Pennsylvania and visited the Amish shops and restaurants. I need to put this on my to-do list.

As stunning as the grounds were, it was the conservatory that I couldn't leave. My family finally made me go. Some of the reasons why I wanted to just move in, permanently:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lost liveblogging, sort of

9:17 -- just had a wacky thought: what if Daniel is Charlotte's father???? Bet he is, bet he is, bet he is!!! (That would explain the strong, but non-sexual connection between them...)

9:28 -- the fact that he just said he was in love with her does NOT negate my theory!!! (I mean, could he say, I love this woman who is the same age as I am because she's my daughter? Could he? Could he?)

9:42 -- theory still holds. Did you see that woman in the bed, the Charlotte lookalike?

Show's over. Nothing happened to convince me that my theory is wrong. Daniel and Teresa are Charlotte's parents.

Also, because he doesn't know who Locke is in 195-whatever, I don't think Richard is a time-traveler, just some form of immortal or a man whose parents gave him really excellent longevity genes.

Wouldn't this just all sound goofy to someone who doesn't follow Lost? :)

Humor in the Age of Obama

There's been considerable talk -- I heard some more of it just last night -- about how tough comedians are going to have it over the next four years because serious Barack Obama is just not a funny guy.

I say the comedians aren't trying hard enough. There will always be Republicans. And their reactions to Obama's plans are pure comedy gold. Let Jon show you how it's done:

(Via Balloon Juice.)

Like a Bad Neighbor, State Farm Picks Up Its Toys and Leaves Town

State Farm will no longer insure homes in Florida.

The decision by State Farm Florida comes two weeks after state insurance regulators rejected the company's request to raise rates by more than 47%. The decision means State Farm Florida - a subsidiary of national insurance giant State Farm Mutual - will no longer renew policies for its roughly 1.2 million customers in the Sunshine State.
This is crummy news for people like my friend Alanna, who has been a State Farm customer for (I presume) years and years. State Farm considered Alanna and hubby good neighbors when it wanted their business. Not so much now.

(Never trust your neighbors. That's what I always say. You would, too, if you lived on my street.)

Homeowners insurance has been a contentious issue in Florida for some time. I've been waiting for the axe to fall on me, too. Instead, my carrier, Nationwide, is cancelling my existing policy come the next renewal date and replacing it with Something Else. Sure, they've told me what, in detail, but do I understand it? Of course not. But I feel confident that it's not a better deal for me.

Incidentally, after almost 33 years, I need to get busy on filing my first claim, ever, on my homeowner's insurance. I'm pretty sure this is a covered issue. Last summer one of my five-story-high pines was hit by lightning, and it is now dead. When it falls, as it eventually surely will, it will be bad news for either me or my neighbor, and definitely for my insurance company. So I need to swallow hard, brace for paying the deductible and whatever other costs the insurance company will wiggle out of covering, and file the claim and get the tree removed.

Because Nationwide might not be my good neighbor forever.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eight Days

That's how long Obama has been president. Just eight days.

Yet it seems like it's been months, and I mean that in a good way.

He accomplished more before breakfast today than I ... well, I really don't even want to admit to that.

Does it not seem that he's everywhere at once, fixing things and negotiating with people almost in his peripheral vision, kind of like a presidential version of that Kelly Ripa Electrolux ad?

With time to spare for family! Amazing!

Updike at Rest

John Updike has died.

I've been trying to imagine a world without Updike. I can't. On the other hand, I'll never have to. He left enough of himself behind to keep me busy for the rest of my life.

Some years ago Updike spoke at My School. It horrified me and my friends that only a few hundred showed up for the talk. Yet it's also somewhat unsurprising. What passes for bestselling fiction these days is largely (but no, not entirely) a watered-down libation, an offering that panders to the lowest common reading denominator. (One and two on the Amazon top 100 at this moment: John Grisham, the writer I love to hate; and Stephenie Meyer. Any more questions?) According to CNN, Updike addressed this himself:

Though [his] work routinely sold well, he was painfully aware of the decline of what's come to be called "literary fiction." In a 2000 interview with Salon, he lamented its difficulties.

"When I was a boy, the best-selling books were often the books that were on your piano teacher's shelf. I mean, Steinbeck, Hemingway, some Faulkner. Faulkner actually had, considering how hard he is to read and how drastic the experiments are, quite a middle-class readership," he said. "But certainly someone like Steinbeck was a best-seller as well as a Nobel Prize-winning author of high intent. You don't feel that now."
I read most of the Rabbit books, and to this day the scene in (I believe) the first, in which a drunken Janice unintentionally drowns the baby haunts me more than perhaps anything else I've ever read. Yet if some cruel literary gatekeeper tried to take all the Updike in the world away from me but one thing, I'd choose to keep his 1997 short story "My Father on the Verge of Disgrace," a barely-masked tribute to his own father.

Rest well, Mr. Updike.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Astonishingly Disrespectful

I was out and about, on the way to lunch with Marine Son, who is in town briefly, and First Grandson. As we drove by a particular business, I noticed something and wondered about it, out loud.

Almost the moment I asked the question I knew the answer.

The question? Did someone die? Why is the flag at half-mast?

Marine Son said, quietly, I'll tell you in a few minutes (meaning away from the ears of First Grandson).

But I already knew. Because of yesterday, I said.

In the days just prior to the election, this same business posted what was the singularly most hateful sign I saw during those times, part of which was a reference to the President as "Hussein O'Sama."

And this, the flag in the position of distress, is apparently the mature response of more than just this one business owner, although it's the only one I've seen so far.

However much well-earned contempt I may have felt for the 43rd President of the United States, I never, never, never would have done anything so disrespectful -- to the flag and to my country.

For this woman, however, it's apparently not yet time to set aside childish things.

Dropping in on My Own Blog to Say Hello ...

Hello, whoever might show up to read this, and Happy New Year!

Yes, I realize we're darn near 1/12 into the new year, but I've been busy. I wish I could say I've been having fun, but no, it's not that.

Just busy.

For now, I'll just post what's on my mind this morning, and maybe I'll be back again in a week or so:

For most of my life, one of those questions that people have liked to discuss is Where were you when Kennedy was assassinated? Added to that unhappy question a few years ago was Where were you when the Twin Towers were hit? I think that now, at least among liberals but maybe even non-believers, we'll be adding: Where were you when Obama was inaugurated? It's a much happier so many, many ways.

I was in my classroom; one class ends at 12:05 and another begins at 12:15 and fortunately for me I don't change rooms between these two. I tried to bring up the ceremony on the computer, but every site I tried to access was frozen (it might well have had to do with the outdated computer, too). Finally, I turned to NPR and listened to the swearing-in and the speech. Then it was back to business.

But not business as usual. May it never again be that kind of business as usual.

(A personal aside to John Roberts: I've had that oath memorized since grade school, but as any English teacher would tell you, even if you have your speech well-practiced, bring some index cards as prompts. You never know what the stresses of the moment might do to your well-rehearsed plan.)