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.)