Friday, June 29, 2012

Rolling in Money

I got a text from Walt after he went to the bank to pick up the foreign currency we were going to take on our trip.  We will be visiting 6 countries:   Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria.  All except Hungary and the Czech Republic use the Euro.  The other two have their own currency.

"We have 26,000 forint," he texted.

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"Whee! Shopping spree!" I texted back.

Unfortunately this 10,000 forint bill is worth about $50.  Not really shopping spree material!

I did find out, though, in trying to scan the bill to post here that there is, built into the software, a warning that you can scan the bill, but you will not be able to print it.  I thought I could get around that by using a screen capture, but gosh darn it, when I pulled the screen capture up, I got the same warning. I did alter the bill, in case printing it on a blog was a federal or international offense or something (still leery after my negative McDonald experiences in Paris and Helsinki!).   I've blurred out the I.D. numbers and the date of issue and am assuming that you don't intend to blow the graphic up, print it, and try to get to Prague and spend it.   

The reason Walt had to text me about picking up our money was because I had gone to San Rafael for the day to have lunch with my mother.  It is the last opportunity I'll have to see her before we leave because we are going to Santa Barbara for a few days first and then home for a couple of days, and then off to Prague.  I can't believe it is so close.

It was a nice afternoon with my mother.  I think that reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book (which my mother doesn't remember hearing anything about now) had an effect on me that I didn't realize until I sat down to have the usual conversation that we have when we get together.  I just enjoyed the time with her, laughed at the same jokes, listened to every story as if it was the first time I was hearing it, answered questions several times, and didn't get sad about it, like I usually do.  This is her "now" and I am enjoying the "now" that she is living in.  It could be so much worse!

She said she hadn't felt like going to the store, so she decided that we'd go to the restaurant at the golf club, which is near her house.  It's a nice place and I like it.  As we were getting ready to go, she asked me where I wanted to go for lunch. 
The golf club is very nice and we each ordered crab melt sandwiches.

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They were delicious, but huge.  I have half of mine to have for lunch tomorrow. We continued our visit back at home after lunch, but I could see she was getting very sleepy, so I decided to go home early. She seemed relieved when I said I was going to leave.

I am starting to think that I'm not meant to take this trip   Both knees, though better, are still problematic; the heel on one foot would have developed a bister if I had had to walk more than 3 blocks to the bus yesterday; and now what I thought was a rash on my nether regions turns out to be a cyst the size of a jumbo olive, which I am soaking and, thank goodness it is starting to shrink...I don't want to think about sitting on one cheek for 12 hours in a plane!

Also, my computer is going haywire.  I'm taking it in to the guru before we leave to have him figure out why it is so much worse than it was when I brought it to him a couple of months ago.  I have to reboot 2-3 times a day and Firefox crashes regularly.

I am feeling like I'm walking around with a big cloud over my head and wondering if this is the right time to be getting on a plane to fly across the Atlantic!

But at least I have 26,000 forint!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gifts from the Book Store

It was a quiet day at Logos.  

When I first got to the store, I picked a photo book to read.

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This was a book which had been hastily assembled following the big earthquake in San Francisco in 1989, as a fund-raiser for earthquake victims.  Kind of cheating as far as "reading" is concerned, but it was interesting to look through

There were little pockets of customers throughout the afternoon.   One poor woman who bought a copy of the book "Scarpetta" had to listen to me telling her how bad Patricia Cornwell has become, what a disappointment her books are now and how much I didn't like "Scarpetta" when I read it myself.  Bad PR person, me!
But most of the day was quiet and after I finished ":15 Seconds" I chose a good book for a quiet day, 

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I had chosen this particular book because it has long been one of my mother's favorites and I figured now was a good time to see why it was that she liked the book so much.
I don't know why I never think of my mother as reading introspective books like this.  She loves authors like Nora Roberts and Maeve Binchy and Belva Plain.  But I forget that she has been reading religious books for as long as I can remember.  She reads Thomas Merton and books of meditations, and some other books I can't remember now.  So it's not surprising that she has been so taken with this book.

And in reading it, I could see why it would appeal to her.   Morrow-Lindbergh first published this in in 1955.  It was written when she was going through a difficult time in her life and had gone off on a vacation by herself, on an island away from all distractions where she could sit and think and write, work through some of her problems and look to the future as she was trying to find the best way to go through her middle years.  While much of its message is timeless, I think the picture she paints of the modern woman is very much a portrait of that time, when women ran the house, made it a home, took care of the children and didn't go off and have a career.   It was my mother of the 1950s, in the years before she found a job and started her career with the Bank of America.

In the book, Morrow-Lindbergh discusses the importance of having time to be by yourself, free from all distractions, to learn who you are, to be at peace with yourself.  A lot of it didn't speak to me, but then she hit a spot where I really had to slow my reading and savor it.  It occurred to me that if I had read it 25 years ago, it might have given me some food for thought regarding my life, especially when it came to things that were important in raising children.

Around 5 p.m., I had a book store crisis of sorts.  Everyone who had come into the store to purchase something had given me a $20 bill and I had no smaller bills in the cash register, so I called Susan to let her know that she should bring some more change.  I found change for $20 in my wallet and made change and a woman who over heard my conversation gave me change.  Susan also arrived earlier than usual so she could add money to the till.

Walt was at the symphony, so I had to walk to the bus stop again.   I was hoping it wouldn't be too bad, without the cane, which I had decided not to bring to work with me.  I took it slowly and as I walked the knee began hurting more, but it wasn't terrible.
When I got on the bus, the seats set aside for the "old and disabled" were occupied by the young and able-bodied, so I had to walk a bit down the aisle to get to a seat, and naturally, the bus doesn't wait until you are seated before starting again, so I was kind of hurtled forward and twisted my knee as I got into a seat.   That didn't help things much!

When I got home, I took Advil and iced the knee and it was still painful at the end of the day, but when I woke up this morning, it feels almost normal, so I am encouraged that it will be OK for the trip.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

...and so...

...the 48th year begins.

As anniversary "celebrations" go, it was fairly low key, but we had a nice day.  We started with breakfast at Caffe Italia.  We had looked at our schedule for this week and realized that it would be difficult to go out to dinner, and breakfast is always kind of fun, especially when Caffe Italia has crab eggs benedict back on its menu!

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I swear that restaurant has the. best. hollandaise sauce. ever.   You can actually taste the lemon, which doesn't always happen when I order any kind of eggs benedict.
We had a nice text message from Jeri saying she was giving blood in honor of our anniversary (I suspect she would have done it anyway, but it was nice of her to put it that way).

Walt went off to work for the afternoon.  I tried to get a nap, since I had been up until 2 a.m. the night before, but I wasn't able to sleep.   Instead, I went shopping for groceries.  I expected to buy "just a few things" but came home with five bags, having spent nearly $200.  And all I went to buy was cottage cheese for the dogs!

I came home and made something I never make:  dessert.   There was a recipe for a blueberry bread pudding at the supermarket that sounded very good, so I put that together.  Again, tried to nap, unsuccessfully.  I always try to nap on show days because, being an old person, even the most lively of shows can put me to sleep.

I don't know what happened this weekend.  It may have been my "sprint" (most of you would call it a "stroll") up Twin Peaks to take that photo of the pink triangle being dismantled at the end of Gay Pride day.  But I got up yesterday with two very sore knees.  They felt like they were 120 years old.   The knee I hurt in my bike accident in 2003 always has some degree of pain in it, but most of the pain was in the other knee, so every step I took sent shooting pains into one or the other, or both, of my knees.  As I walk around it starts to feel better, but as soon as I sit and try to get up again, there is lots of pain.

Tonight I started using a cane as I walked around the house and, to my relief, it really does help.  I'm just hoping that whatever is wrong will be much better by the time we leave for Prague.  I'm sure it will, since it's already starting to feel better.

The plan was to go to review Grease tonight.  It is the opening show of this season's Music Circus, Sacramento's summer season of musicals.   For what may be the first time in 12 years, we got there late.  I may have been late one other show in the past 12 years, but this was the first BIG show that I have been late for.  Last season they changed the Music Circus start time to 7:30 and I'd just forgotten.  We got there a little after 7:30 for what we thought was the usual 8 p.m. curtain and had to stand outside, watching on TV for about 10 minutes, until there was a suitable break where they could let us in (we were not alone--there were lots of people who were late)

I became the patron that I detest.  Arriving late, and disrupting an ENTIRE ROW of people trying to watch the show.  Our seats were exactly in the middle of the row.  There are 30 seats in the row and we were #18 and #19, which meant that 14 people had to get up to let us pass, while there was action going on stage.  What's more, I couldn't really apologize to people I was stepping on and over because there was a show going on on stage at the same time.  

As for the show...well...I have a hard time with Grease.   Everybody knows it.  Everybody loves it.  It has great dancing, memorable songs that you've sung for years but one should not loook too closely  at the plot.   I hate that the message of the show is that a nice young girl, who is a virgin, who doesn't smoke, and doesn't drink and who wears subdued clothing can be an outcast and that the only way she is going to be part of the "in" crowd is to become a slut.   And when the transformation takes place, the audience cheers, the guy isn't afraid to show the world that he loves her, and everybody goes off singing a lively tune.

Many of our popular musicals shouldn't be examined too closely (the beloved Oklahoma, for example, celebrates the death of a guy nobody liked, who was just a lonely loner who looked scary), but Grease is the one that is the most difficult for me to watch and I always feel guilty for enjoying it.

And yes, even in the lively Grease, in the middle of all that singing and dancing and noise, Walt had to keep poking me because I kept nodding off, and was too sleepy when we got home to finish this journal entry.

We drove home listening to Says You and ending what was, as I said, a low key anniversary, but just right for us. 

 The amazing thing is that we have changed
so little in 47 years!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Let the Sunshine In

Apparently while we were stuck in traffic yesterday, trying to make it home from San Francisco, I was nominated for an award, by l'empress, who is a frequent commenter on this blog.  I am touched by her nomination. Thank you!

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I love it when bloggers award each other things like this because it shows that someone reads and appreciates what you try to do each day.  Of course, each award comes with its sets of rules...because the whole purpose of these is to inrease traffic to your blog.
These are the rules:

* Link the award to the person who gave it to me.

* Answer questions about myself.

* Nominate up to 10 bloggers for this award, and link my nominees to the post and comment on their blog, letting them know about the award.
I've accomplished the first requirement by linking to her blog in the first paragraph. 
Here are the questions I'm supposed to answer (kind of a mini meme!).
The Questions:

Favorite number:  7.  I don't know why and it has no significance whatsoever, but it's always been my favorite number.  (I should choose something more esoteric like 42 or 109 or something like that, but it's always been 7)

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Water.  The colder the better.

Favorite animal: Favorite domestic animal is a dog; favorite wild animal is the elephant, whose society fascinates me.  I want to hang out with an elephant. 

Facebook or Twitter:  I've tried and tried to make Twitter relevant to my life, but I suspect it's better for those still in the work force who are "networking."  For me, Facebook works just fine.

My passion: Oh lord.  Which to choose?  I guess the one consistent passion throughout my life has been reading.  Others may come and go, or be unavailable for a period of time, but reading has sustained me throughout my life.

Favorite day of the week:  Wednesday.  That's the day I work in the book store.

Favorite flower:  I love yellow roses, and I love tulips.  I have never gone in for the exotic flowers.  Don't much like orchids, and gardenias remind me of funerals.

OK.  Now comes the place where I nominate 10 other bloggers for this award.  I follow a lot of blogs and read them through Google Reader, so I will just go to that list and choose the ones I read most, in no particular order. There are a couple I read that I would add to this list, but they are password protected (You Know Who You Are) and so I will not include them)

1.  Life on a Small Island is written by my real-time friend Sian, who lives on a small island in Orkney.   I love her tales of life on her island, her cat Button, her chickens and I do believe there is something somewhere about a lighthouse...
2. What if this is as good as it gets is by Kwizgiver, from whom I get most of the memes that I answer. I have a feeling that if we were ever to meet, we would get along very well, since we seem to have a lot in common.
3. Blogging from the Boonies is written by Michelle, who is one of the Compassion families I discovered when I first started sponsoring children with Compassion.  She is all heart and it inspires me to read her entries.
4. Life Philosophy 101 for the Squirrelly Senior Citizens is written by a guy who calls himself Jonathan Hemlock which may or may not be his real name.  He's married to "the French lady" and has an off the wall sense of the absurd that appeals to me.
5. I guess I have to mention Living in the Bonus Round, 'cause Steve would get his feelings hurt if I didn't. But I have to anyway because getting to know Steve changed my life, but don't tell him, OK?
6. Keeping with old folks, I need to add Nonagenarian Surfer, my new friend Bill ("Willy"), whose 98th birthday I just helped celebrate. Bill's blog is a bit different than most but is fun to read, and he is helped to publish it by...
7. ...Wilma of Wilma's Word, whose latest entry with pictures of her grandson is just adorable.
8. Though she doesn't write much any more, I always feel compelled to award one of these to Marn of Marn's Big Adventures, just for the joy she has given me over the years.  If it weren't for Marn, I wouldn't have a clue what a "hostia" is.
9. Jenconsin is Jennifer's blog.  Jen is dealing with more than most of us have to deal with, but she has the cutest son in the world...I've been watching her gorgeous photos of him since he was 2 or 3.
10. I'll end with Mary, another one I always include in things like this.  Mary is another face to face friend who writes a blog called Red Nose, because she used to be a clown, though now she seems to spend all of her spare time watching hockey, her passion.

Finally, as a PS, but no less significant, June 26th marks our 47th anniversary.   FORTY-seven years.  It seems so long.  We usually go out to dinner to celebrate, but since I have to review Grease on our anniversary, we decided to go out for breakfast instead.  There was some talk about crab eggs benedict, and I hope they are available on Tuesday and not just on the weekend. 

What a Full Day

This was definitely a full day.

We left here around 9 or so to head off to the city.  We expected to encounter lots of traffic because there was so much stuff going on.  It was Gay Pride day, for one thing, and one of the largest Gay Pride parades in the country was taking place.  We were going to a concert at the bandshell in Golden Gate Park, Stern Grove was having its opening summer concert, there was a performance of Magic Flute at the opera house, and over in Marin County there was NASCAR racing that, at the time we left the house, had tied up one of our possible roads by an hour.  We decide to chance it with the Gay Pride crowd and go over the Bay Bridge.  As it turns out, our decision was very wise because I have never seen so FEW cars at the bridge toll plaza before.

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I love coming over the bridge on Gay Pride day because you can look up in the distance and see the gigantic pink triangle on Twin Peaks.

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At the corner of Castro and Market, I loved seeing both the Rainbow Flag that is always there and the triangle behind it.

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We parked at the park and found our little group, people from the old Lamplighters tech crew.  The nice thing about having a tech crew around is that they could be dispatched to go get benches and bring them up to the grassy area, under a tree.
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I was happy to see Bridey there.

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I'm always happy when there is a dog around, and Willa, whose dog died in November, was craving doggie interaction as well.  Bridey got a lot of attention.

Walt and I went and picked up some Indian food at the food trucks and I was tickled to see a bunch of people in line to rent Segos.

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The concert was fun for the chance to hear Lawrence Ewing and Jennifer Ashworth from the Lamplighters do a couple of numbers...but the tempos of the park band were painfully slow.  Somewhere Gilbert Russak, under whom the conductor of this band played for years would have been turning over in his grave...if he had one.

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Lawrence and Jennifer joined us after their first two numbers and we all had a nice visit
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When it was time to leave, Walt and I went to a party for our friend Susanna, who was celebrating both her 25th birthday and getting her Masters Degree.  It's a Lamplighter family, so a lot of friends were there and it was so nice sitting around and chatting.
When we started home, I asked Walt to drive up to Twin Peaks so I could look at the pink triangle from above, but when we got there, a group was packing it up in big trucks, so we didn't stop, but as we started down the hill, we could see they were still removing pieces of it--it's made of big swatches of pink material.  I asked Walt to stop the car and I walked up the steep hill to get a shot of it.

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After I'd taken the picture, I turned around and found Walt standing there with his mouth hanging open, amazed that I had walked from the car up the hill without stopping to take a breath.  I told him I figured I had to do it because we'll be walking all over Europe in just two weeks.

On the way home, we saw a sign saying there was a fire on the freeway and that traffic was backed up.  And was it ever.

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It was like this for so long that the hour and a half drive took three and a half hours!!!  It was nearly 10 when we got home and the dogs were starving.

It was really a fun, full day (well, except for the traffic at the end of it!)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Stealing

101. Name 4 things you always have with you.
- My glasses
- My camera
- My purse
- Something to read

102. How many SERIOUS exes do you have?

I left them all in the dust when Walt and I married, 47 years ago in 3 days.

103. What causes you to you admire people?

Anyone who works tirelessly to make the world better.  (Or even works part of the time to make the world better!)  People who are dedicated to causes I believe in (e.g., I have great admiration for Ellen and Shelly, who have worked so hard for marriage equality and have little admiration for people working for sanctity of marriage laws).

104. Do you like sports?

Some.  I prefer to watch if I'm watching with someone.  It is rare that I will sit down and watch a sport all by myself (unless it's a horse race or diving).

105. Would you have sex after marriage? Why or why not?

That's kind of the point of getting married, isn't it?

106. What is your favorite male name?

I'm kind of partial to Ned, Paul, Tom and David.

107. Do animals go to Heaven?

Whatever happens to us humans probably happens to animals too.  I believe we all have souls.  I have watched the soul leave the body of a dog.  It's nothing you can really describe, but if you've experienced it, you know what I mean.

108. Last time you had a great time with your dad?

Christmas 1986, the Christmas before he died, when he had a musical jam session with the kids.  It was incredibly memorable.

109. What is your favorite hair style?

I never think about hair styles, I've worn mine the same way for so long.

110. Do you like your name?

Never have.

111. When was the last time that you quit your job?

2003, after my bike accident when I couldn't really work and when I was getting ready to go to Australia anyway.

112. When you wake up, what is the first thing you think?

How many hours have I slept (it's usually 2 or 3...and then I change locations and try to sleep for another couple of hours)

113. Have you ever pulled an all-niter?

I don't think so.  I have missed lots of sleep, and have been awake all night a time or two (the last time was the night Paul died), but to "pull an all-nighter," I don't think so.

114. What is the perfect day for you?

Waking up after at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, weather on the cool side, dogs don't bark at the neighbor's yard, the mail person delivers a big stack of personal snail mail, getting taken out to dinner, good TV to watch at night, and no shows to review. (To be really perfect there would be communication from Peggy, know...)

115. Last time you cleaned the bathroom?

You're supposed to clean them?

116. Have you ever failed a grade? Why?

I failed most of the classes my last semester in college (it was also my third semester) because I stopped attending classes.

117. Have you met anyone online?

Oh heavens, yes.  Lots and lots and lots.  Just this month I met another person I first met on line through Facebook and had never met face to face before.

118. Have you ever smoked?

I have smoked 1/2 cigarette in my life.

119. Do you like celebrities?

Oh sure.  My friends are playwright and actor Jim Brochu and singer/songwriter Steve Schalchlin.  I like them both.  Sorta.  :)  As for celebrities I don't know personally, I don't have enough information to know if I "like" them or not.

120. Do you like traveling?

Yes, and I will travel again in a couple of weeks!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Geeky Day

Yesterday I talked about the digital age and how adept young people were at using all the new technologies as they came along.

Today I proved that I am an old fogie.

I do embrace the new technologies, but it's hard to learn stuff when you are older.  Today after only 2-3 hours of frustration, turning the air blue with expletives not deleted, tearing my hair out, and on the verge of tears, I finally have moved my Firefox bookmarks to my cell phone. 

I had not intended to spend the entire morning trying to move bookmarks, and I didn't even have Firefox on my phone but it was one of those things that just kind of snowballed.

It started with my trying to look at a photo on a web page on my cell phone.  The phone has a default browser and at some point I also downloaded the Opera browser.  I don't remember why now but probably because it had a more attractive interface and I thought I could figure it out.  The problem with a lot of these apps is that the developers assume that using them is intuitive and so there are no manuals, help screens, or contact numbers to ask your stupid questions.

Anyway, I was once again struggling with the Opera browser, as I always do, and the thought crossed my mind to check and see if there was a Firefox app for the android.  Yippee...there was!  I'm a real whiz at downloading apps, so in no time at all, I had Firefox on my cell phone.

cell.jpg (23302 bytes)Only when I opened it, all I got was a bar across the top with the tiny Firefox logo in the left corner. The screen itself was totally blank.
I don't know when, in my digging around trying to figure out how to make SOMETHING appear on the screen, I came across something about syncing your bookmarks with your cell phone.  There were two separate things--instructionsfor how to sync in Firefox itself and a program called "My Bookmarks" where you put in codes or something and somehow magically the bookmarks transferred over to the cell phone.

I don't even want to tell you how long it took me to figure out what to do.  Nothing made any sense.  I must have worked on the desktop instructions and the cell phone My Bookmark app for half an hour.  The problem seemed to be that in order to know what to do on the phone itself, I had to be looking at the instructions, and if I was looking at the instructions, I couldn't do what it said to do because I needed to do that in a different screen. Finally, on the verge of tears, I stomped out of here in disgust and complained to Walt, who hasn't yet figured out how to download any apps, so I knew he couldn't help me, but I just needed to let some steam seep out of my ears.

cell2.jpg (24543 bytes)In disgust I said "come into my office and I'll show you."  I patiently started showing him what it said to do, and going through it step by step to show him how impossible it was to do what I was supposed to do.  The instuctions started out by saying "swipe left."  What did that even mean.  To start the phone you swipe across the glass to unlock the screen and it opens the phone, but you couldn't get to Firefox just by starting the phone.

But then as I was reading all that to him, to show him how utterly impossible it was to understand, a light dawned.  To open the phone you swipe your finger across the screen from left to right.  What would happen if you swiped your figure from right to left?  I tried it, and voila!  Magic things happened. Who knew there were things hidden off the edge of the visible screen?  See them there on the right?

Well, after that it was fairly easy, or at least it seemed so at the time, and I can now affirm that yes, my bookmarks ARE on my cell phone, if I can remember how to find them.  And it only took two hours.  

Along the way, I found out that you could do other things, like bookmarking a specific web site to put on your home screen, but though I thought I was doing it all right, I apparently was unable to figure out how to do that, so I've left it for another day.
I also downloaded this video from Henry V, which has such glorious music on it:

I have downloaded videos like this before to transfer to my iTouch and know that they have to be converted into a format that will play on the iTouch.  But you see all these machines have proprietary formats.  What will play on the iTouch won't play on my Android.  That needs a different kind of conversion.  But I was sure that wouldn't be a problem.  Except that my phone is a Motorola Droid 2X and they only had a conversion program for the Motorola Droid X, but I figured how different could it be? 

It takes time for the conversion so I watched Jeopardy and then tried to figure out how to get the converted video onto the phone.  If I had an iPhone, it would be a simple matter of using iTunes to transfer it.  But, of course, I don't.  I tried several things and finally put it in DropBox, which is a file sharing program. You put files from your home computer in the internet dropbox file and then you can pick them up later on any computer or your cell phone.  I had already transferred several Lamplighters interviews to the Lamplighters using DropBox, since the file were too big to e-mail, and figured it would work all right for the video, which is MUCH too big to email!

I cooked and ate dinner while waiting for the transfer to be complete...and then discovered that while yes, the file is there, it can't be played on the cell phone after all.  Sigh. I guess Motorola Droid X isn't compatible with Motorola Droid 2X after all.

At that point I gave up completely and went to the theater to review Hairspray.  

Now it is nearly 2 a.m., I have written this entry and discovered that the video I embedded above won't show the way I wanted it to.  I have to decide what I'm going to do about THAT.  [ it to work]

So I spent literally all day today working on the computer and cell phone and ultimately accomplished only ONE thing.  (I didn't tell you about the hour and a half I spent reading my "Droid for Dummies" book, trying to find out if you could create automatic texts on the droid so that I could type the letters "bas" and have it fill out my email address, which is so damn long to type:  basykes at dcn dot davis dot ca dot us.  I ultimately decided that though you can apparently do this on an iPhone, this is another thing that can't be done on an android.  That Verizon guy sold us a bill of goods when he convinced us an android was better than an iPhone.

I give up.  I'm going to sleep, if I can find the couch....

Friday, June 22, 2012

Digital Nation

We watched a program about Queen Victoria last night and when it was over, there was a Frontline report, originally run in 2010, called Digital Nation.  I wasn't really paying close attention, but midway through the show, I became fascinated by it and ended up recording it so I could see it thoroughly today.   It's available to view on line here.

The focus of the show is the effect that technology has had on the youth of today. The first half of the hour program examined the effect that multi-tasking is having on people (which one guy called "The dumbing down of the world."

A teacher says that they have to develop new ways of teaching because students today need more stimulation and that multi-tasking produces people who are unable to think and work clearly.  She explained that technology has now become not a thing that one does, but what one is when they are connected all the time.

A scientist at UCLA has done brain scans of people reading vs. brain scans of people searching on Google and found that the scans show the brain is 2x more active when people are doing Googles searches, though they don't know if that's a good thing or not, because there has been little actually written about it because by the time you do research and publish the results, they are already out of date.   (That was instantly clear when the show talked about "instant messaging" and never mentioned "texting.")

One study shows that for students using computers, reading scores increase 30% and math scores 40%, but those results fade over time.  One Senior in a school in New Jersey admits he can't remember the last time he read a book.  He uses Spark notes to get the plot and said he had read "Romeo and Juliet" in 5 minutes and that if there were a 27 hour day, he could also read "Hamlet."

My reaction to this was what a terrible shame that was.  It's one thing to get the plot of a book, but you miss the language -- and I've said here many times how enriched I feel by wallowing around in a well-written book.

An college English professor said that he can't assign a novel of more than 200 pages to his students because they can't handle a book that long (heck, that's the length of books I read each week at Logos!).

He talked about how students don't think in "essay format" any more, but in "paragraph format," so that the end result of what they are writing seems very choppy and does not flow the way it should because of so many interruptions.

I must admit that I both identified with the concept of interrupted writing, but disagree that it necessarily limits flow in writing.  One of the things I have found very nice about virtually "meeting" authors on line is learning how many of them write the way I do...write a sentence, play a game of solitaire, write another sentence, get a snack, check e-mail or Facebook, etc.  I don't think it necessarily produces a disjointed product (unless, of course, these journal entries are more disjointed than I think they are!)

The program says that only 6% of college students actually come to school prepared in writing, but I don't think that has much to do with modern technology.   I remember when I enrolled at UC Berkeley and it was expected that I would take remedial writing because "everybody does," but I passed the test to go into regular English classes with flying colors.

The question was asked:  Are old ways evolving into something else?  It was the answer to that question which I found most thought-provoking.  

40,000 years ago, when our ancestors lived in caves, the way they told their stories were with cave drawings. The graffiti of the day, from which modern man can get a clue as to how those people lived, what society was like.  Cave paintings are found all over the world, if Wikipedia is to be believed.

At some point, however, perhaps after "language" developed more fully, storytellers emerged and the history of a people, its culture, a way to share and interpret experiences could be passed along to others verbally.  Think of Sheherazade, of the Irish Seanachies, African, Aboriginal or Appalachian storytellers. As cave paintings died out, storytellers took over the same task.

But then along came paper and quills and ink...and ultimately Gutenberg and his printing press which now allowed human history and the tales of culture and society to be printed and distributed and carried when someone moved from one place to another.  One of the professors interviewed for this program called printing a "fairly new invention" and pointed out that it was the method of communication for a few centuries, but was it going to be the primary method of communication for the 21st century?  Obviously not.

They also talked about what you lose when one form of communication begins to replace another.  When printing replaced oral history, we lost the kind of memory that those storytellers had.  Homeric singers could produce thousands of lines of poetry from memory.  Human beings are not good at that any more (unless they are characters in Fahrenheit 451" !). 

It seems clear that we humans have a burning need to communicate, to share our world with others of our tribe, our families, our neighbors or our unseen and probably un-met friends half a globe away.  The introduction of new technology is always hard on old timers, whether it be someone who is going to tell your stories, or a piece of paper on which your story is printed, or email and texting.  The program went on to describe virtual reality environments like World of Warcraft, Second Life and other sites that I can't quite wrap my head around.

With each new advancement in technology, we let go of something from our past.  Slowly we find a balance, but it always takes time....and the old timers are going to grumble, but the younger generations will embrace whatever that thing is and perfect it.

I wish I were going to be around when Brianna's grandchildren are immersed in their technology and Brianna is looking longingly back to the quaint technology of e-mail and text messages.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Prostitutes for Dummies

I've said it before and I'll say it again...working in the bookstore is an incredible goldmine of things I knew absolutely nothing about.

PWoP.jpg (76798 bytes)Last week I was reading "Balzac's Omelette," which talked about the invention of the institution of the restaurant and how you can learn about Parisian society by reading Balzac's novels and the tales of meals eaten in restaurants.  I didn't quite finish it, so I went to see if I could find it again.  I did, but my eye was drawn to another book on the shelf next to it.  It was a little tome called "The Pretty Women of Paris," originally by "anonymous," (but in this English edition by Robin de Beaumont) which is marked "unexpurgated."

Naturally, I was curious.  I took both the Balzac book and the other book to the desk, intending to just glance through the other book.  Naturally, I read the whole thing and never made it to Balzac.

Not being in the market for information about prostitutes I have no idea if guides like this still exist in the 21st century, but I have a mental image of some tattered street newspaper being hawked near downtown hotels in San Francisco.   This is the translation of a book written in the mid 1800s and sold to, presumably, wealthy men looking for female ...uh... diversion  Companionship, shall we say.   It's kind of the Montgomery-Ward catalog of upscale prostitutes.  It also includes a listing of many of the houses of ill repute in Paris.
I really hadn't intended to read it, but I found it absolutely fascinating.  Each entry always includes a physical description of the woman.

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But the descriptions are sometimes absolutely poetic.

...her backside is remarkable for size and shape and we may declare without hesitation that she possesses one of the handsomest bums in Paris.

...she is thin as a hurdle, with rough skin and insignificant countenance.  She is pale, with light hair and blue eyes. Looks well when dressed as a man but undressed is like a wooden doll -- very long, very hard, with a bust like a plank and an arse like a rabbit.
...Lea is a strong, fair, blue-eyed woman, full of health, with magnificent teeth and pale complexion; elastic, heaving, globular bubbies of the largest kind; chest and arms all firm, and of milky whiteness, and a waist which is surprisingly small.

...She is a young brunette, extremely stout, with a large pair of palpitating hemispheres that are always ready to burst out of their stays...

...Her teeth are regular and white and she takes great care of them.  In order to accumulate wealth, she has never spared her sturdy frame, tremendous bosom and monumental backside. Consequently these charms are rather loose and flabby and all her dresses are lined inside with stout canvas so as to keep her big, unruly bubbies in their proper place...Her state of health is very good, although the dear creature suffers from constipation that sometimes degenerates into piles.

...A pleasant, little ball of fat, with a snub nose and lascivious eyes.

...Lavigne is very ugly.  Her mouth is all on one side, her teeth are yellow, her face is pitted with the smallpox and her figure resembles a pair of tongs that have been twisted out of shape. She has no bosom and no belly, no thighs and no calves and she is knock kneed besides.  (The entry went on to describe her personality and her popularity despite her physical features, in great detail)

...her belly is enormous, jutting out in front of her like Southport Pier.

But in addition to the descriptions there are glimpses, sometimes slight, sometimes quite extensive, of the life this woman has lead.  For one thing it would seem that at least 80% of the women in this nearly 200 page book either are currently or were on the stage.  They are singers, actresses, dancers, aspiring actresses, etc.  The theater is often where they meet the men.  I loved what was written about one actress:

She prefers baritones to tenors, as they are stronger, and bigger across the chest. Tenors, she says, are only fit for finicking jobs, and light fingering business.

At least half of the women in this book are lesbians or bisexual.   

Her only fault is her lust for lesbianism, which she satisfies by close intimacy with her bewitching neighbour.

Many of them were first raped and then turned out by their families, or pushed into early marriages where they were beaten. In Paris they find a degree of respectability and often affairs of varying length with men such as Emil Zola, French and British politicians, and even the heir to the British throne (I can't remember which one).

The writer has little good to say about Jewish women or American women.  One American woman identified only as "Mrs. Jackson" is the mistress of an "old financier" who bought for her the estate where the Dubarry whore, formerly mistress of Louis XV, and has spent millions in restoring it to the state it was in when inhabited by the royal pet a hundred years ago.  He adds that men should beg for an invitation to the place and that They will find there everything antiquated and out of date, including the loose charms and withered skin of the ugly, pampered hostess.

While most of the women are in their teens to thirties, there are some old broads in the book too.

...Of all the glories of Napoleon the Third's corrupt court, she is the best preserved relic, and our concluding advice to all real judges of real female loveliness is -- hasten to enjoy her at once, ere it be too late.

...An old woman now, but she was  one of the queens of prostitution some fifteen years ago, and when she passes in her carriage, a fearful wreck, we are forced to ask how it is that she could have accumulated the riches she possesses for she is very ugly and has always been so

It is also appalling how many mothers are grooming their daughters for the life.  I thought often of the movie Gigi, which we all thought was such a delightful movie, which won an academy award, but which was really about a courtesan teaching her teenage daughter how to become a prostitute.

In addition to the comments regarding the women, I also increased my vocabulary.  "Pelf" is a term for ill-gotten riches.  And I learned the Banting System was developed in 1863 by W. Banting as a diet for reducing superfluous fat...and it sounds VERY MUCH like the Atkins diet. The dietary recommended was the use of butcher-meat principally, and abstinence from beer, farinaceous food, and vegetables.

And while you may have thought the Indians cornered the market on sexual pleasure with the Kama Sutra, you may not have heard of Aretino's Postures, which is Italy's own version, I Modi or The Sixteen Pleasures.   These were engravings and--surprise, surprise--were destroyed the Catholic church.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Vagina Vagina Vagina

I never thought I would be sorry not to be in Michigan, but I was sorry not to have been there yesterday.

Eve Ensler, the author of the amazing Vagina Monologues came to the Michigan State Capitol and put on a performance of her play, performed by Michigan's women legislators.  This was, of course, in response to the Speaker of the house declaring Rep. Lisa Brown out of order for uttering the word "vagina" in the House chambers in expressing her opposition to a proposed abortion bill.  Funny that the guys who have NO problem saying "trans-vaginal ultrasound" find uttering the medically appropriate term "vagina" so offensive it's a word they say they would not use in mixed company.
From the report, the Vagina Monologue event was a rousing success.

At its conclusion, Ensler gave a powerful, empowering speech, which I just had to incorporate as part of this journal, since this is a record of my life and the things that move me.  So here it is:
Thanks for coming out and standing up for vaginas!
I am over you being afraid of vaginas! I am over trans-vaginal wands and dudes who want to control my vagina but are afraid to know my vagina, respect my vagina. Who can’t even SAY vagina!
I am over the over-regulation of women’s health clinics and women’s bodies and vaginas when those same over-regulators do nothing to protect those same women when they get pregnant, when they get raped, unemployed and sick and need more financial support.
I am over dudes who pretend to care about personhood and cut Planned Parenthood which makes the health of my personhood possible.
I am over forces who wanna call victims of rape “accusers” and not “victims”.
I am over you having the chutzpah to redefine rape so that a drugged woman or a date-raped woman wouldn’t even be considered a raped woman.
And, by the way, I’m over RAPE!
I’m over rape culture, rape mentality, and rape jokes.
I’m over people not understanding that rape is not a joke and I’m REALLY over being told I don’t have a sense of humor and women don’t have a sense of humor when most women I know (and I know a LOT of women) are really fucking funny.
We just don’t think an uninvited penis up our anus or up our vagina is a laugh riot.
I am over one in three women getting raped in the US military by their comrades.
I am over women still being silent about rape because they’re made to believe it’s their fault and they did something to make it happen.
I am over dudes voting against the Violence Against Women Act when one in every three women on this planet will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes.
The destruction and the muting of women is the destruction of life itself. No women: no future. Duh!
I am really over some powerful men pretending this deep love of fetuses and babies and life when we know it’s all about your terror of our sexuality and power. If you, if you really cared about life, you would never, ever consider letting a woman die rather than performing an abortion.
You would ask the life-givers, the women, what they need and want and you would listen to them. You would honor their vaginas, maybe even worship their vaginas. You would cherish the word “vagina” and know there is nothing dirty or disgusting about the place where all life comes from.
I am over the Michigan state legislature, and any legislature, censoring, rebuking and removing Lisa Brown because they find the word “vagina” contemptible or out of bounds or lacking decorum. My vagina’s got decorum!
And I am over all those other legislators that went along with it and didn’t stand up.
I want to say something to all the good men here: I’m a little over you. You are brave and wonderful. But where are you? You live with us. You make love with us. You father us. You befriend us. You brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us. So why aren’t you standing with us? Why aren’t you driven to the point of madness and action when you see us being raped and humiliated and censored? Why don’t you care about this as much as you do about sports?
I am over brilliant remarks being called “tantrums” and outspoken women being called “crazy” and lacking decorum when they are just smart.
I’m over it! We are over it! This the moment. This is the moment. This is where it all turns around. This is the moment when we talk back and speak back. This is where we rise up.This is where we say “yes” to Lisa Brown. “Yes” to Barbara Byrum. “Yes” to every brave woman who is standing with us today. Gretchen Whitmer. Barbara Byrum. Stacy Erwin-Oakes. Dian Slavens. Rashida Tlaib. Vicki Barnett. Joan Bauer. Ellen Cogen Lipton. Maureen Stapleton. And all the amazing actors and activists up on this stage.
This is where we say: “VAGINA!” Say it!
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Say it!
Not ’cause we’re provocative. Not ’cause we’re dirty. Not ’cause we’re trying to make you uncomfortable. Not ’cause we’re immoral or inappropriate.
‘Cause they’re beautiful and real and mystical and alive and powerful and SO ARE WE!
And I wanna say to all these Republicans: when we are free, YOU are free!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Family Planning

19 June 2012
Justice.jpg (28391 bytes)We had an encounter with Lady Justice today, and she treated us very well.

After discussing it for some 10-15 years or so, talking about actually making an appointment for 5 years or so, talking with the kids, who asked all the right questions and went over all the financial files with Walt, after Marta offering to find an attorney who could help us with estate planning, we finally met with said attorney and have put the ball in motion.

In fact, Ms. Atty assures me that our estate will be planned and papers signed before we fly off to Prague, so if the plane goes down, the kids won't have to deal with probate.  And they will have our official permission to blow up the house instead of cleaning it out (I don't think that is actually going to be in the estate plan, however--but it's understood!)

The attorney was very nice, very efficient, very knowledgeable -- but then she'd have to be.  I liked her.  She gave us an end of life directive form to go over and sign, and asked a couple of questions we hadn't thought of before which we have to think about, but basically, finally it's done.

I suspect it's very easy to make an estate plan when you don't have scads of money and when your children all like each other and get along well together.   Somehow I can't imagine them fighting over the infamous punchbowl or my collection of Tupperware or my box of junk jewelry.  There might be some discussion over Delicate Pooh ("you take him." "No YOU take him!" ) but in my heart of hearts I think I love the memories of that pile of rags more than my adult children do.

It's also very easy to choose an Executor when you have a relative (Walt's sister) who does that sort of thing for a living and who is married to an attorney.

So that's why this can all be done so quickly and I can cross that little thing off of my bucket list.

After our meeting we went to Great Wall Mongolina BBQ for lunch.   I love that place and my lunch 

I think Walt had a nice Father's Day.  Ned's sister-in-law Lindsay and her husband Brad invited their family to come for a BBQ and included us.  

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Ned actually did the BBQ-ing, since he isn't a father so he got to take care of those who were.  We had a chance to compare trip stories with Brad's parents on trips we have taken.  We met them on our trip to Russia.  They were on the ship that was a couple of days ahead of us, but we were all in St. Petersburg together and after many attempts we did manage to have lunch with them.  They have made several trips not on Viking since we last met.  They aso visited China, but not with Viking.

The center of attention yesterday was young Charlie, who I think is in his 2's.  He was asleep when we arrived and was kind of groggy when he woke up, so I was able to get some photos of him sitting in his grandpa's lap...

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Of course Walt and Marta's father had their usual after-dinner bonding.

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And when it was time to go home, Ned and Marta, who recently purchased a little motor scooter, got dude-ed up and headed off toward home.

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And Walt got two cards about sleeping on Father's Day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sunday Stealing

81. What’s your favorite action movie?
I'm not really into action movies much, so nothing comes to mind except that I watched the opening scene of Daniel Craig's first James Bond movie and it kept me on the treadmill longer and faster than I intended because it was so incredible.  My favorite caper action movie was Foul Play with Golde Hawn and Chevy Chase.

82. Have (or are) you ever been involved someone much older than you?


83. Do you believe in lust at first sight?

Oh sure.  I'm sure everyone has looked at a stranger at one time or another and had their heart go pitter pat (think of the song "Some Enchanted Evening"), but that's a lousy basis for a relationship.

84. Favorite type of venomous snake?

I don't like snakes at all.  I held one once.  It peed on me.

85. Do you drink alcohol?

Sometimes.  I used to drink regularly, but now it's really mostly at Cousins Day.

86. If you wanted to talk to someone who'd lift your spirits, who'd you call?

Sad to say, I can't think of anyone. Char would comiserate, but I'm not sure we'd lift each other's spirits.

87. What do you wear to feel sexy?

I guess sweat pants and Birkinstocks don't count, huh?

88. Do you like to learn?

I do.  I'm always tickled to learn something new.  I've discovered over the years that I am not the classroom learning type, but I love finding oddball things to read that teach me something I didn't know before.  And it's much easier now that I forget so much because even if I learned it before, chances are I forgot.

89. Have you ever been hit on by someone who really overestimated their attractiveness?

There was a football player when I went to college who, I think, may have fit the bill, but I ruined his date night and never saw or spoke to him again, by mutual agreement.

90. Where did you last go on vacation?

China, Baby!

91. Dallas (as in J.R. & Bobby) returns this week. What film or TV series would you loved to be resurrected?

The West Wing, but sometimes wonderful shows like that should be allowed to fade into our memories.  The resurrections are rarely as good as we remember the original as being, Star Trek perhaps being the only exception.
I once helped write a show for The Lamplighters that was kind of ground-breaking and took everyone by surprise.  For years afterwards, people talked about brining it back because it had been so good.  But, you know...?  It had really good moments, but it wasn't really that good.  It was good because nobody had seen anything like it before and in the intervening years, new shows had been written that were far better.  I always discouraged bringing back Major General Hospital because I didn't want people to examine it critically and wonder why they loved it so much in the first place.

92. Explain your karma beliefs.

I'm not really into karma, but sometimes in my black heart, I hope that people who have done ill to us get their comuppance eventually.  I have seen it done, I think.

93. When do you think that you have a hard life?

Every time one of my children dies, I think life is pretty hard.

94. Favorite comic strip?

Peanuts.  Consistently funny, even in re-runs, now that Schulz has left us.

95. Have you ever broken a heart?

Yes.  Sucks.

96. Should pot be legalized?

Oh my word yes!!!  I have never smoked pot, but when I look at what police could be doing if they weren't out finding pot growers, I think it's a terrific waste of manpower.  Pot is not as destructive as alcohol, which we have no trouble with.   And if we legalized it, we could tax it and that might solve our economic problems right there, as well as eliminate some of the drug dealers who are getting rich selling pot.  People who use it medicinally would not have to try to get it illegally.   I see no bad and only good by legalizing pot.

97. Have you ever gone skinny dipping with someone that you shouldn't have?


98. What do you do when you're down?

I eat and watch TV

99. Last time you were really angry?

Two days ago when that idiot in Wisconsin said that "vagina" was such an offensive word he wouldn't even use it in mixed company.

100. What is your favorite flavor in general?
A toss-up between chocolate and strawberry.  Chocolate is good, but you can't cut up chocolate and put it on your cereal.  Well, you can, I guess, but that would be pretty weird.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I came out of the bathroom this morning and found Polly limping around, holding one foot in the air.  An examination showed that she had caught one of her toenails in one of the disks that attach her licenses to her collar.   Ironically, I had noticed just that morning that her nails were getting long and decided that they could probably wait until we leave for Prague, when Ashley moves in here.  Ashley is so good about taking care of the dogs, bathing them, clipping their nails. etc.

This particular nail was curled around the loop of metal in which it was caught.  I first tried removing it from the metal loop, but what with Polly's panic and pain and how deeply it was caught, that wasn't working.

I remembered that Ashley had left her doggie nail clippers here the last time she dog-sat, so I thought I could cut off the tip of the nail and that might help.  But a combination of my bad eyesight, the poor lighting, and the wiggily dog made it impossible, so I called out the heavy guns.  I called Ashley.

I figured I could hold Polly in my lap to drive over to her house, but as it turned out she was in her car on her way to garage sales, so she dropped around and not only got Polly free from her entanglement but cut her two nails to reduce the chance of that happening again.

Polly fought her, but after it was over, she seemed content to cuddle in Ashley's lap so I guess all was forgiven.

joey2.jpg (84916 bytes)While Ashley was here, we taked about the TV show she was on last week.  Remember Joey the 2-legged Chihuahua?  This is the link to her page, if you are on Facebook. This is the link to the journal entry I wrote about her in December.

Joey was a puppy born without front legs, taken to the vet to be put to sleep.  But nobody could do it, so the SPCA was contacted.  Ashley took her in, determined to help her be all that she could be.  Ashley got her on local TV to see if she could get donations from the public to help find someone who could build Joey some sort of an orthotic to allow her to get around. 

Because of the news segment Ashley was contacted by Ortho Pets, in Denver, the only place in the country that makes orthotics for animals. They were willing to take Joey in and take care of her, build an orthotic device for her, and find her an adoptive home.

The TV show brought enough money to pay Ashley's fare to Denver and Southwest Airlines agreed to waive the fee for shipping dogs, if Ashley would allow them to film the whole thing, which they did.

Joey2Denver.jpg (59210 bytes)

Southwest has a TV show called "On the Fly," which taped Joey's story, including her arrival at OrthoPets, Ashlely's tearful goodbye, and her return to Denver a few weeks later to check on her progress and meet her new adoptive Mom (Joey is now called Giada).

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During all of this, Ashley set up the Facebook web site, which began to get followers.  Then the "On the Fly" episode with Joey's story was broadcast.  There are now over 9,000 followers...the show has been rebroadcast a couple of times and each time the site gets more followers.

There is a 6 year old girl who has no arms who loves Joey, and a vet who lost a leg in Iraq who has been inspired by Joey's story.

I suggested to Ashley that someone needs to write a children's book about this puppy and apparently that project is in the works.  It is apparent that this tiny "throw-away" dog has already made a big difference in the world and there is more in store for her.

In looking for pictures for this entry on Ashley's Facebook page, I looked at all the broken limb puppies and dogs with big problems, and sick dogs and blind dogs, and other throw-away dogs and realized that when Ashley gets to heaven, she is going to have a whole herd of dogs waiting for her, tails wagging furiously, because she has a huge heart and because of the animals she has saved and given a chance at a good life.
I'm glad she is our friend (and so is Polly!).

Saturday, June 16, 2012


(Whatever would we have done in this country if the activities that set off the Nixon scandal had taken place at a Hilton or Holiday Inn?)

So.  Sigh.  Have y'all heard about the little dust-up in the House of Representatives in Michigan?  If you have, feel free to talk among yourselves while I bring the rest up to speed.

10wk.jpg (4913 bytes)The House was discussing yet another abortion bill (I'm starting to think that the only issue worthy of discussion in any state in this country, or in Washington, D.C. is abortion).  This bill would require, among other things, putting even stricter regulations on insurance.  It makes it illegal to force a woman to have an abortion, and requires that a funeral home be contacted and funeral arrangements be made for the fetus, it does not say at whose expense, but I'm sure that this cost, too, would be passed along to the woman.  

The photo may be difficult to look at, but this is the size fetus that would require contacting a funeral home and arrangements to be made for a funeral.

The legislation, which passed 70-39 has been described as the most hardline of the recent attempts at passing anti-abortion legislation in the United States.

Two women who spoke out against the bill have been punished for "violating the decorum of the House." 

Representative Lisa Brown said that she is Jewish and that abortion is not against her religion.  She said that she didn't understand why the House was forcing its religious beliefs on her.  But it was the manner in which she concluded her speech on Wednesday that infuriated Republicans.

"Mr Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no,'" she said.

Her use of the word "vagina" led the House Republican Speaker to prohibit her from later speaking on school employee retirement bill.

According to the Detroit News, the majority floor leader, Jim Stamas, ruled that Brown's comments had violated the decorum of the house.

Another Republican, Nashville, MI, representative Mike Callton, added: "What she said was offensive. It was so offensive I don't even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company."

Really?  Vagina??  The anatomically correct name for the part of the female anatomy that the entire country wants to regulate and stick things into against the woman's will is offensive?

Does this guy know there is a whole play dedicated to the discussion of the vagina?  Part of The Vagina Monologues includes a very long list of euphemisms for this body part.  Maybe Representative Brown should have used my personal favorite (which I had not heard until I saw The Vagina Monologues for the first time) -- "cootchie-snorcher."

As for the other representative, Barb Byum, she attempted to introduce legislation which would ban a man from having a vasectomy unless the procedure was necessary to save his life.  "If we want to insure that babies are born, we should regulate vasectomies," she said.  She was ruled out of order.

Both women were banned from speaking in the House during its closing session because of their "offensive behavior" the day before.   "Their comments and actions," he said, had "failed to maintain the decorum of the house of representatives," said a spokesperson for the Speaker of the House, who said that Byum had run around the hall shrieking like a mad woman.  Byum has an injury to her leg and is not able to run and the video of her appearance in the hall shows that she was nothing but respectful.

When is this ridiculous war on women going to stop???  At the very least there needs to be shared responsibility for the conception of a child.  I have not heard of one. single. bill. anywhere in the United States which speaks even remotely to the responsibility of the man who created all of these babies everyone is so eager to save. The rapists, the family members who molest the girls in the family, the boyfriend who refuses to use a condom.  None of them is to be held accountable for the conception of a child, none of them is called a whore or slut for wanting to behave responsibly.  None shares the physical violation or the cost for unnecessary invasive and unwanted medical procedures...and if bills are introduced which attempt to hold men responsible, those who introduce the bills are gaveled down and refused the right to speak.

Look, I don't like the idea of abortion.  Nobody does, not even the doctors who perform them.  But do we want to force 11 year old girls to carry babies to term?  Are we to force a woman whose child has severe physical or mental problems (or who has no brain)? Should a woman whose life is in danger from a pregnancy be forced to face death in order to bring a pregnancy to its conclusion? Should a mother of 10 children, living in poverty, be forced to carry an 11th after her husband refuses to wear a condom?
Yeah, yeah, most of the abortions are not performed for such extreme reasons, but you just know that if Republican congresses are successful in banning abortions, the abortions won't stop.  Women will go back to those coathanger abortions that killed and injured so many of them before Roe v. Wade was enacted.

At the very least there should be legislation which puts penalties on the man as well, which makes him financially responsible, which makes Viagra more difficult (and waaay more expensive) to get.  Rohypnol should be an illegal drug.

This idea that women are totally responsible for every pregnancy is insane.  There hasn't been a child without a responsible man involved since Jesus was conceived.  

And, my God, to call the use of the medically appropriate word "vagina" offensive is just....stupid!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Book storage

Whenever I work at the book store, invariably someone will come in to donate books.  Sometimes they will drive up in a car and unload several cartons of books, other times they will bring in a small box or bag.  I'm always intrigued by the ones who tell me that their "bookcase" is getting too full.

I can't relate to the singular form of the word "bookcase."   I remember the first time I babysat for someone who had no books in the house.  I can't relate to a home without books.  My mother still has on her book shelf books that I remember seeing on the bookshelf in our flat when I was growing up.   Some religious books, some on San Francisco, one on humor by What's My Line panelist Bennett Cerf.  Naturally, as is my wont, I took the comfort of the family book case to the extreme.

I decided to take a picture of our books, or as many of them as I could get a photo of, which weren't hidden behind boxes of other stuff on the floor.

Let's start with here in my office.  This is what I see when I look to my left.

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These would be the most recent purchases, the ones I am most likely to read if I were to just pick up a book.  Having run out of space on the shelves, and space on top of the books on the lower shelf to stack other books, I have started stacking them on the television (also, be aware that the lower two shelves here mostly have books double shelved, with taller, older books behind the newer and/or shorter ones.   There is also a bookcase to the right, which has books on two shelves beneath those old movie cannisters.

Behind my desk is this:

P1230953.jpg (148272 bytes)While this shelf is a mix of a lot of things, including several years' worth of subscriptions to a couple of photography magazines, and boxes of 3-1/2" floppy disks, mostly holding photos, this is also where I have most of my "Dummies" and "Idiots" guides to various computer programs.   There is also a shelf for books on animation that belonged to Gilbert and which I will probably never read (but then ost of the books shown on these pages are probably books that I will never read.

Moving into the kitchen wecome to Walt's mothers beautiful old wall unit:

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She used it for storing lovely pieces of art that she brought back from her travels. I use it for all my cookbooks, hiding behind those photos.  The lower shelf, which is cut off, is books I have printed from Flickr photos or from Blogger entries (as well as more cookbooks).
The cookbooks which won't fit on this shelf are stored here:

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...along with Bisquick, cereal, and the remote control to an electronic photo frame I am not currently using.

Moving upstairs to Walt's office, here are a few of the books stored there.  

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The teddy bear is lying on another bookcase which is also filled with books, but I couldn't get back far enough from that book case to photograph it.

In the big bedroom we have the big bookshelf

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Here, too, the books are shelved two-deep (at least).  Jeri once catalogued all of these books, a Herculean task! To the right of this bookcase is this one:

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(you can tell from the dust how long it's been since it was touched!).  There are a lot of college textbooks that Walt had and when I took this picture I saw "Cent et un Contes," a book of short stories in French I bought in high school, which I liberated from this bookcase to take down to Logos next week, since there is a section for books in foreign languages, and Lord knows I'm not going to be reading this again!

P1230959.jpg (112019 bytes)This bookcase is in the master bedroom.  Walt keeps a collection of Dick Frances books here, we have a Time-Life nature series and a bunch of other things.

I forgot to take a picture of the book case in the Pepto Room, where I have all the Show Biz books, stars' bios, and the Judy Garland collection, but I've posted a photo of that before.

I also left off the top of the staircase where there is an Encyclopedia Britannica, which Walt's mother bought when he and his siblings were young...and all of the updates from the original purchase until sometime in the 1980s, when we finally stopped paying for them.  Anybody use encyclopedias any more?

This is by no means a complete look at our books.   There are books in boxes, including at least one lost box which contains all of our kids' favorite books which I had saved for our grandkids, and a box of my favorite books as a kid which I had saved for our own kids.

And then that doesn't take into account the stacks of books placed randomly around the house, on table tops, kitchen counter, kitchen table, dining room table, on the floor, or whever is convenient to put a book when you need to put it down. There are usually even a couple of books in the bathroom, "just in case."

I was delighted yesterday to see that a new book on the Logos shelves was "An Exultation of Larks," that delightful old chestnut, first published in 1968 by James Lipton (now host of "Inside the Actors' Studio") which gives names to groups of things.  How else would we know about a murder of crows, an ostentation of peacocks or a nye of pheasants?  (I bought the book, of course--I know we have a copy around here somehwere that we acquired back in the 1960s or 70s, but this is the "ultimate edition," published in 1993, with more categories. like a foreclosure of bankers and a pigout of investment brokers.) There was no appropriate listing for a group of book cases, but perhaps "a library of book cases" works just fine.

Now that I have a Kindle, which holds so many books, I am starting a new "book case" stuffed with more books I have no time to read.  Sadly, I just heard about Pixel of Ink, which sends out an e-mail a day alerting subscribers to books which can be downloaded forfree.   You can check them out on Amazon and I find that I usually download 1-3 of those books daily.  They aren't by name authors and I haven't actually read one yet, but if a book sounds interesting, I'll download it because I can...and certainly at "free," the price is right!

And I am making good use of the free e-books on Amazon.  After I read "Balzac's Omelette" at Logos yesterday, I checked and discovered that all of Balzac's works are free on Amazon, so I downloaded a series of 3 books and will try those.

So, as you can see, I can't relate to "a" bookcase overflowing.  All of my bookcases are overflowing.  One of these days I'm going to start loading up books and hauling them to Logos, but we might have to get a bigger car first.