Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Emotional day

Emotions can be high or low or "blah" and I think I experienced all three today.

It's never a good day when you wake up crying.  Well, I was't crying when I woke up, but watching the coverage from Pittsburgh made me so sad.  

I went from sad to mad watching Trump's reaction to it all, excusing his going to a rally that night because "we have so much fun at these things," and explaining that the Stock Market had not closed after 9/11 (wrong--it closed for 7 days), and the World Series didn't stop (wrong--it postponed its next game for a week).  He joked that he almost called it off because he had abad hair day, but the slaughter of 11 elderly Jews was not enough to make him think twice about "having fun" at a rally.
He read a speech about toning down rhetoric and then went on to make fun of Maxine Waters again ("but I'll be nice...") and grinned at the now traditional "lock her up" chants.

Over and over again, I was brought to tears by some news report or especially by interviews with survivors.

Ned stopped by after his doctor's appointment, which is in the complex where I used to work.  We had a catch-up visit and he did some tree pruning and helped with a minor computer problem for me.  We made arrangements to visit my mother on Wednesday.

After Ned left, the emotion became angry when I heard that, despite being asked NOT to come, the President is going to Pittsburgh today, the day people are burying their dead and the mayor has said he does not have enough manpower to protect the families and the president.  I'm wondering how he's going to make a campaign issue out of this visit because you know darn good and well that he's not going to comfort anybody.

Then there are the immigrants.  Oh  Pardon me.  The "invaders" marching from Central America.  Now he's sending 5,000 troops to a border where there are already more than 2000 guards. what are they going to do--shoot people? He's sending them this week, but the marchers aren't expected to arrive for at least a week. But that would be after the mid-terms and he couldn't make political hay out of sending troops if he waited until the "invaders" actually arrived in Mexico. Oh but I hear that if they actually GET here, the democrats are going to give them all cars. Pulleeze.

Now not only does the crowd consist of members of ISIS and MI3 but gangs, "bad people," mostly big strong men, and even people who want to spread small pox, TB and leprosy. Leprosy ??? What other thing can be made up about poor people fleeing violence in their countries and seeking safety somewhere else. 

The afternoon emotion was mostly blah because I turned off the news and didn't even watch NCIS, but made preparations for dinner.  (I'd forgotten how much I like carrot and raisin salad)
Then there was the joyous emotion of evening TV.  There was a 15th anniversary special of Wicked hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, which was in a small theater packed with Wicked fans dressed in Oz costumes.

The show was an hour and had excerpts from the show, including Galinda's "Popular" and Elphaba's "Defying Gravity."  The finale brought all the Galindas and Elphabas from Broadway on stage to sing "For Good," my favorite song from the show.

They also had trivia....like did you know (or care?) that they used 400 pounds of dry ice at every performance.  There was also discussion about Elphaba's costume, which was apparently made of lots of different fabrics (and is now in the Smithsonian) but I forget the exact specifics about it.
The evening ended on a sad emotional note when Brian Williams reported on the support of the Pittsburgh Jewish community by the Muslim community, who set up a Go Fund Me account and also offered any support they might need, including standing guard outside the synagogue, if they needed it.

That's what we need more of -- disparate communities coming together, not tearing each other apart verbally or physically.

And I'm hoping the President has a bad hair day before getting on Air Force 1.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Darkness into Light

Pamela Trokanski is one of those Davis institutions that we have known for more than 30 years.  I believe she was teaching dance when we moved here.  Since Jeri was taking ballet lessons from a different teacher, she never did take modern dance from Pamela, but we just "knew" Pamela all those years.

Now she has her own studio

But she's really an amazing person.  She has been performing and teaching in Davis for 34 years, has given lectures and demonstrations and, since 1994, has funded almost 10,000 free movement classes for adults 65 and older. She has provided free dance classes for people with Parkinson's Disease and their caregivers since 2010.  She has also written a dance column for the local paper.

After I started being a critic, she invited me to come and review one of her recitals.  I explained that I knew absolutely NOTHING about dance and she said that made me perfect to review her shows because she meant them to be accessible to everyone.

I never go to one of her shows without fear and trepidation that I won't know what to write, and I'm almost always right.  I don't take notes, generally, because I can't write in the dark and if I do write, I can't read my notes afterwards.  But I always take notes in Pamela's shows because at least I think it gives me a fighting chance to know what I'm seeing (I usually still can't read my notes)

I had written to Pamela and asked her to save 2 seats on the house right in the front row for us.  She had not.  We had to go to the house LEFT, as far away from the door as you can get, and if Walt had to make a special trip to the bathroom, he'd have to walk through the dancers.  I was already in a bad mood

To get to our seats, I had to walk over people in the front row.  I had the walker and the tried to move their knees to the side, leaving me NOwhere to put the walker since the dance floor was roped off so we would not make the mistake of stepping on it.  I was quite grumpy by the time we got to our seats.

Her printed programs are rarely of much help.  This one had promise since it said that it listed "company members in order of performance" and listed the 8 dancers.  Well, that went by the wayside right away when there were actually NINE dancers, the 9th being Pamela herself.

Each dancer had a recorded message that set up a dance number and theoretically they were listed in the order of their presentation.   I only knew one other dancer, Allegra Silberstein, the oldest in the cast (she's older than I am and has danced with Pamela for decades).  She was listed as #2 but actually Pamela was #1 (I recognized her voice) and two more people spoke before Allegra did.  My intent had been to cross off people as their bit came up, and I did, but am not convinced I crossed off the right people.

The program also listed the musical numbers, in order.  Something by Pink was the 4th on the list and I figured that would be a nice place marker.  But there were about 7 pieces of instrumental numbers before a vocal came up (I finally gave up).

I actually enjoyed the performance.  It was called "Darkness into Light" and was described as:
If you follow world events or the unfolding of multiple national dramas, if you fret about the health of the planet or the ever increasingly rapid changes in technology, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Join us for an experience that may answer some of your questions on how to find balance in a world that feels increasingly chaotic and disorganized.
And this was put together before the synagogue shootings and the bomb threats.

I would have enjoyed it much m ore if I could just have enjoyed it without having to sit there and try to figure out what I was going to write because I just didn't have the proper words.

Fortunately Walt didn't need the bathroom during the performance and the rude people sitting in the front row left before I walked out with my walker.  So it was all good, but now I have to write the review.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

One of THOSE Days

It was nice to wake up snuggled under the quilt, having had a decent night of sleep.  I had gone to sleep giggling about the night comedians who were showing many video clips of many politicians all promising to protect pre-existing conditions at all costs.  Every single one of them has fought to deny pre-existing conditions and Florida's governor Rick Scott even  joined a federal lawsuit in spring seeking to strike down that provision of the health care law.

But now they are all about protecting pre-existing conditions.  What hypocrites.  Let's see how they feel the day after the midterm elections.

As I was waking up, The Today Show was just starting and then I learned that someone is trying to blow up prominent democrats.  What a way to start the morning.  Trump has attacked all of those people verbally and whipped the crowds into a frenzy time and time again.  He applauded a guy who attacked a reporter, to the applause of the base.  Is this attack anybody's surprise?  Not only that, but his response to these threats (read off a telelprompter with no emotion whatsoever) was much more mild than it has been to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee....and he never even mentioned (that I have heard) that the CNN building had to be evacuated because of the threat.  I suppose he thinks its was justified since he considers CNN to be the enemy of the people.

He is reaping what he has sewn this past year and a half and I am sad to think that this is only the beginning.

From there, I finally got up and came in to my office to write Funny the World.
I was met with a blue screen of, if not death, at least terminal illness (pun intended).  I had left the machine to reboot overnight and apparently this screen had been showing all night.  I turned the computer off and on again and got a message saying it could not be rebooted and did I want to do a system restore, putting it back to a time when it worked.  I said yes.

It took 45 min to an hour before I finally got a log in screen.  I was assuming that I was going to have to take the machine in to be fixed, but it did boot up, finally.  But it booted up to a HUGE red warning from McAfee that I had a problem that needed to be fixed NOW.

McAfee drives me nuts because I do not have it installed on my system and it remionds me many times a day that I have problems.  Maybe I misinterpreted what my guru had told me about McAfee being terrible, so before I gave in to its badgering, I called the guru to check and he pointed out that he installed Avira on my machine and that no, i did not need McAfee. He also gave me complicated instructions for how to rid the system of Avira, which I did not understand.

But I closed McAfee another half dozen times and felt content that Avira was taking care of me and I could live with the irritation of McAfee.

So, back in business, I sat down to write Funny the World, include photos, and all the stuff I always do. 

Then I went to post it--even before noon!  And it would not post.  I did exactly what I have done for the past many years -- at least 15 -- and it told me the files had uploaded, but when I went to look at them, they were not there.

Next step would have to be contact Yahoo, which hosts my domain and ask what gives.  First, knowing that it's nigh on to impossible to contact customer service any more, I wanted to do a complete reboot of the computer ("kicking it") and see if that would work.  First, though, I had received a long email from a friend I had not heard from in years and wanted to answer that message first, just to make sure that I didn't lose it.

Before that, Ned took me to Kaiser for my regular blood test -- so hoping I'll be in the 700s when the results come in.

We got home and sat and chatted for an hour or so and after Ned left, I came in here to answer the email but decided to try uploading the FTW entry first .... and it uploaded!!  Be still my heart!
So I seem to be back in business again.

I checked for incoming email and got a bunch of theater related stuff.  My mail goes through a program called mail washer, where I can weed out junk mail and only bring the mail I WANT to my computer.  I washed out all the bad mail and then gave it the command to send the good mail to my computer, and it tells me that it can't connect to my server. 


Now I have to try to figure out how to fix THAT.  It was working a few hours ago.  It's always something.

But in the meantime I'll try to see if I can get this entry to post before trying anything else.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Bits and Pieces

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT 1:  Despite what you may have heard from the president, if there is any rioting in California over sanctuary cities, none of the major newspapers or television stations in the state are aware of it.  And according to all the reporters marching north with the infamous caravan from Central America, there are no middle easterners in it (can you imagine someone in the middle east wanting to come to the US, flying to Guatemala and then marching >1500 miles to get here?  Surely there is an easier way!)

[BTW, did you know that this "terrorist caravan" is an annual thing--people marching en mass from Central America seeking asylum (which is legal by the way) in this country from intolerable situations in their home country.  Check the facts.  Trump says they are coming from South America and other parts south.  Huh?  I didn't realize there was unrest in Antarctica.  Idiot.]

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT 2:  My computer locked up this morning and it took me an hour to get things squared away again, so be aware that if I disappear because the computer has gone to the computer hospital, you should check Airy  Persiflage (since it is so much easier to write to on my iPad than this site).
OK.  Now where were we before the president put his foot in his mouth again?

The first World Series game has been played, and won by the Red Sox.  Jeri took this picture near Berklee, while watching all the people walkng to the stadium and the helicopters flying overhead (while talking to me on the phone).

I talked with her about what was going to happen between her and Brianna (a Dodgers fan) and she said that they had discussed that.  Jeri thought that the loser should wear a t-shirt of the winning  team, but Bri had a better suggestion.  The loser has to write something about the winning team.  

I love this idea and now I hope more than ever that the Red Sox win so I can see what Brianna will write about them!

Last night was the finale of the Great American Read.  When the "contest" was announced months ago, I predicted that "To Kill a Mockingbird" would win, so was not surprised that it did.

I wonder what Harper Lee would think of being the favorite among 100 other novels.

Naturally, I voted for Outlander and was thrilled when it was named one of the top 5, with Meredith Vierra interviewing Diana Gabaldon as the first book named.

The others in the top 5 were -- Harry Potter, Pride and Prejudice, and Lord of the Rings (in that order).
They managed to stretch the announcement for a whole hour, reading the 100 from bottom to top, 20 books at a time, with interviews about the next top 5 book in between each of the groups.

But it has been a lot of fun seeing the emphasis on books, watching the enthusiasm of readers--celebrities and normal people.  I think of the 100 on the list, I have read about half of  them, which is kind of neat to realize.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

This and That

When Obama was first running for president, I sent a donation to his campaign and in return received this t-shirt.

Of all the t-shirts I own it's probably the shirt I have worn the most in the past 10 years.

It's not that I love the shirt so much (though I do like it), but it's nice, soft, and light weight  (lighter weight the older it gets!) and it makes a perfect top for pajama bottoms and so I wear it most nights a week.

Once in a great while I will wear it out in public, especially if I have worn it to sleep and am going to Atria in the morning and just don't bother to change (because I'll be having a shower at my mother's and will be changing clothes there)

But mostly I think of it as part of my pajamas and thank the president each time I put it on.

Ned came in the morning to get some work done around the house.  He mopped the floors and then pruned the pomegranate tree, and we had a chance to chat.  We are both now waching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel so can compare notes on that, as we used to compare notes on Better Call Saul.  I'm enjoying the series and trying to decide what it reminds me of...not an old fashioned sitcom, not a light drama, not a Broadway musical, but something in the middle.  Anyway, it appeals to me.

At 2, he took me over to Cindy's to get my teeth cleaned....easiest cleaning I've had in maybe forever.  I really like Christina, my hygienist and usually I have 5 minutes or so to chat with Cindy while she checks the teeth too, but I guess this time they were OK because other than a couple of minutes to catch up, I didn't see her at all.

Ned will be back tomorrow to take me to Kaiser for  the regular blood test and on Friday to take Walt for his next surgical pre-op (surgery on the 9th)

For dinner I decided to try a recipe for corn bread stuffing, which I saw in this month's Food Network magazine.  I would cook chicken to go along with it.

Now, I like stuffing and I like cornbread, but I'd never had cornbread stuffing.  I know there are bread stuffing people and cornbread stuffing people.  People get so eloquent about how delicious cornbread stuffing can be, that this gave me the opportunity to try it for myself.  With the dried fruit, pecans, and all that butter, it had to be good.


Not really.

I mean it wasn't bad or anything, but I'm glad I made it to accompany a normal evening meal instead of a holiday meal.  It tasted OK, but it wasn't my definition of "stuffing."  Now I feel the need to make regular stuffing to get the taste of the cornbread out of my mouth!

The Dodgers have won the pennant and Brianna, a Dodger fan, will be very happy.  They will play the Red Sox in the World Series, and, of course Jeri is a Red Sox fan.  I wonder how this rivalry will go!

Today I received the latest picture of Fred, from the Philippines.  He is the child who, now, I've been sponsoring the longest and I was amazed at how mature he looks!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Back in the Saddle

I got back in the saddle this weekend, reviewing not one, but two productions, both inense, both wonderful.  Sadly, Walt was unable to attend either, but I rode with my colleague, Jeff.

The first was a play called Sweat which takes place in Reading, I assume Pennsylvania which was, in 2000 the poorest town in America, though it does not appear on any chart for poor towns in America that I can find in 2018.

It is a textile town and many in the cast have worked for the local factory for decades.  The action takes place in a bar, which is run by my favorite Sacramento actor, Matt K. Miller.  Five factory workers drink here every night, much like a Cheers bar, but less cheery.   There is also a janitor from Columbia.

One of the characters get the opportunity for promotion and the promotion sets in place an incredible amount of anger, as the plant begin to fire people and move the work to Mexico. 

The story is told in flashback by two characters who have just been released from jail and it takes the whole play to find out why they were arrested.  

The various scenes are interspersed with TV clips which describe the times in which the next scene is to be set.  I was surprised to learn that under Clinton the unemployment rate was only 4%, not what Trump has been touting.

There is a lot of "adult language" and a lot of physical action, but I had worried that since I had NO sleep the night before and was unable to nap  that I would have difficulty staying awake, without Walt to keep poking me.  However, there was absolutely no way I would sleep through this play.  It was disturbing, but riveting.

The second play was quite different, but no less riveting.  It is based on the true story of Germany's leading stage actress, Meta Wolff who is banned when it is discovered that she is Jewish.  She lives with her husband, also an actor, but an Aryan.  

This is a two-person play and we watch Meta, the actress, slide into depression and recover a bit by directing her husband (in secret) to play Hamlet as a satire, dressed in Nazi uniform.  

The situation eventually destroys them both, as the Nazi brutality increases and Meta's depression worsens.  She was raised Protestant and never even thought about being a Jew.  ("I never knew I could hate until now.")

Both plays were written in the early 2000s, long before #45 considered a run for the presidency, and it's amazing how applicable they are to situations today, one the economics of the lower class when all the money is going to the very rich, the other in the rise to power of "a little man who gets into power and then decides never to leave."

Friday, October 19, 2018

Now Yer Cooking

I put our membership in Home Chef on hold when this "whatever it is" started making dinners frustrating.  Mis en place exhausted me.  Tom says he loves it, getting all the ingredients chopped, measured and in their own bowls ready to put together with the final product. Ned also likes the precision of getting his ingredients in order before he starts to cook. Thank goodness I didn't work in a professional kitchen.

By the time I had completed the few admittedly simple steps of our Blue Apron or Home Chef meal, I was dripping with sweat and near tears.  Not a good way to sit down at dinner each night.

Surprisingly, I also missed planning meals, the thing that I hated so much that it drove me to trying Blue Apron and Home Chef in the first place.  So I'm back to preparing my specialty, "something with chicken in it" alternating with "Joe Special," "something Mexican," and the occasional pork chop.

I like being in control again, though I am hampered by not going to the store myself.  I suppose I could probably go, but my legs feel so weak when I walk any distance that I'm not sure I could easily make it through the entire store, so I send Walt with a list, which eliminates those impulse buys I used to make based on what looks good and sparks my brain to think of something new to prepare.

But the problem I'm having in my dotage is that I can't make anything any more without screwing it up.  It was always the case with the Blue Apron and Home Chef meals.  I'd get everything on the plate and then realize that I'd left out a key ingredient, or we'd finish dinner and I'd discover the package of whatever was supposed to be sprinkled over the top to enhance the flavor.

The other night I decided to try InstantPot lasagna (I won't do that again).  It had the advantage of Walt being at his friend Malcolm's house, so I had 2 hours to prepare it and could definitely do it at my leisure.  Only the pot malfunctioned somehow.  It would not build up pressure and ultimately it cooked the lasagna, but left a black mess on the bottom of the pot, where the water had all burned away.  And, truth  to tell, I wasn't all that enamored with the result.  I thought it would be good to have a smaller lasagna rather  than a huge one that would take 3 meals to finish but, really, how difficult is it to prepare lasagna anyway? And it has the advantage of not having to cook for the next two nights.

Last night I made a quiche.  I haven't made quiche in forever.  I baked the bacon in the morning (I've decided baked bacon is the way to go!) and had it all cut up by the time I was ready to assemble the pie.  I made the crust during Rachel Maddow, so it had time to chill before I rolled it out.

Pie crust is one of my favoritest things in the world.   The very best pie crust I ever had was when Walt and I were engaged and had dinner at the home of a friend of his mother's.  The crust was so flaky and tender I had to ask her how she made it.  I don't think I ever duplicated it, but throughout my cooking life I have made lots and lots of pies and then a few years back all of a sudden I could not roll pie dough to save my soul.  Absolutely NOTHING had changed in how I made it, but the dough just would not roll out wide enough and I ended up having to patch it together.  I tried all sorts of things including the most successful, rolling it in a special bag (thanks, Mary Williams).  But it still wasn't perfect.

My recipe came from Julia Child, so it was impeccable.  In fact, Jeri asked for it and makes it all the time, but it just never works for me any more.

But last night for some reason it all went perfectly.  I did minimum handling of the dough, I chilled it for 30 minutes, and even without the pie bag, it rolled well....not as well as I would have liked but it came close to what I used to make.

I filled the crust with my pre-baked bacon and all the cheese, eggs, and 1/2 & 1/2 and stuck it in the oven.  When I took it out, it looked perfect.  I was BACK, baby!

I eagerly broke off a piece of the crust to taste and it had the consistency of a cracker.  Hard and crunchy without a flake to be had.  I went over and over in my head how I had made it and what could I possibly have done wrong and then, when going to sleep, still stewing over why my crust had not turned out the way it should have, I realized that the recipe calls for adding 3 Tbsp of oil...and I had forgotten that.  Sigh.  I mean it was an OK quiche, but just not what I was hoping for and once again I had made a simple recipe and screwed it up.  

I've been a good cook all my life, but my talents are definitely fading.  Is this why old people go into facilities like Atria so they don't have to cook any more?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Ito Sisters

Walt was out visiting his friend Malcolm last night during Jeopardy so while the show was on, I browsed and found a fascinating documentary called The Ito Sisters, which apparently was released a couple of years ago.  Watching it, I had to admit that Trump is not unique in his policies toward Muslims.  It's an ugly story, most surprising for the calm, unemotional way in which it was told by two sisters, in their 80s, about their family's life in California.

The director, Antonia Grace Glenn began interviewing the women and their story, produced after their deaths, became a feature-length documentary film that captures the stories of three Japanese American sisters, as they recount how their immigrant parents struggled to make a life in America at the beginning of the 20th century. The family's chronicle is set against the backdrop of the anti-Japanese movement in California, a 60-year campaign by politicians, journalists, landowners, labor leaders and others that culminated in the evacuation and incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast during World War II.

The hatred of all things Japanese went on primarily in California, I am dismayed to read.

The film begins with the sisters remembering their father Yetsusaburo, who came to San Francisco as a houseboy in 1897, worked his way up to owning a jewelry store and proceeded to lose almost everything, except what he could carry in his pockets, in the 1906 earthquake and fire. He moved to the country, became a migrant farmer, saved money and returned to Japan to get married, returning with his young wife Toku in 1914.

The sisters describe about growing up on the farm in Courtland, where their father worked his way up to being foreman on a white-owned farm. They attended a segregated school: There were two elementary schools in Courtland but only one school bus. “Everyone got on same school bus, Asian kids on one side, whites on the other. The bus driver stopped at the white school and everyone got off, then the Asian kids walked rest of way to their school, even in pouring rain or boiling hot sun.”

In the meantime, Japanese hatred was fueling in California and Asians were forbidden to own property.  One politician promised that this would be a "white country, not a brown country" and worked to see that all Asians were returned to their own country.

In the 1920s, all Japanese were banned from entering the U.S.

This ban was not lifted until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which repealed eligibility qualifications discriminating against racial and ethnic groups.

Things obviously got more heated after Pearl Harbor, when politicians said that just because there was a nice Japanese family living next to you who never did anything wrong, didn't mean that they weren't plotting something down the road.  All Japanese were terrorists.

Things reached a peak when FDR signed Executive Order 9066 in February 1942, which ultimately forced 110,000-120,000 Japanese into internment camps. The internment is considered to have resulted more from racism than from any security risk posed by Japanese Americans. Those who were as little as 1/16 Japanese and orphaned infants with "one drop of Japanese blood" were placed in internment camps. 

The worst story the Ito Sisters told was when their family was transferred from one camp to another while the mother was nearing the end of her pregnancy.  She began having contractions and a doctor said she would not deliver until the next day and left her with volunteers.  When the baby began to arrive, the volunteers pushed it back into her body.  The baby's head had been born and it had taken its first breath and when pushed back into the body, it suffocated.

Some of this story I knew peripherally, but hearing it from the people who lived it, discussed so dispassionately, was a real revelation (and made me wish I had spoken with my school friend, Marie, about it, since she was born in an internment camp at Tanforan race track).

But watching  the story made me very sad realizing that Trump is doing what was done earlier in this country (by a president who has become revered as one of our best), just excluding different classes of people.  Politicians are still trying to rid the country of brown people (they can't say black people came here unbidden, since they were brought here unwillingly!)

Will we ever become the "Christian nation" we profess to be....and are so far from being.

What, indeed, would Jesus do?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Apathetic Author

My life has been calmer this week since I gave up (most) news programs.  I have been watching an awful lot of news and getting more and more upset, almost to the point of making myself sick by the time Kavanaugh was voted into the Supreme Court.

I decided I had to go warm turkey.  I still watch Rachel Maddow most nights, Chris Hayes sometimes and once in awhile Katy Tur, just because I like Katy Tur but the news isn't on most of the time any more.  I still record Morning Joe every morning but rarely watch more than the first 10 minutes.  And since I've been sleeping so well now I often sleep all the way through The Today Show.  So I know some of the headlines, but none of the in-depth endless dissecting of every little second of everything.

Trump has won.  He has made me apathetic because I feel there is nothing I can do to make the country better, so I'll just give up.

That means, of course, filling those angry hours with something more constructive.
So this week I wrote letters.  Lots and lots of letters.

I was way behind on writing to the Compassion Kids and had not written to the grandkids this week yet.

There are 30 Compassion kids and answering their letters and writing letters to those who had not written took two days (I haven't gotten to Lacie and Brianna yet).

The kids are writing more frequently now and their letters, for the most part, are more full of bits of information, which makes personalized letters so much easier, responding to what they have told me about.

One real disappointment was from one of my best writers, who lives in Rwanda.  I took her on as a sponsor after watching Hotel Rwanda and learning about the war in Rwanda and how horrible it was for everyone.  My one small way of giving back, even after all these years.

Anyway, she is one of the most interesting writers and her letter today looks like this:

This is the translation I received:

Obviously this was a canned letter  that did not translate what she wrote.  Encouraged by other Compassion sponsors, I sent the letter to Compassion and asked if they could translate the whole thing.  This is the response I received:
Was there anything specific surrounding this translation that you don't believe to be accurate? After looking at your attached photos the only major disparity I could spot would be based on the length of the message before and after translation. This a common occurrence as other languages can have more syllables than English, as well as not having developed words for niche phrases. 
HUH?  Does anyone think that her message was as short as the translation included?  I decided it's hopeless, so I'll just answer the generic translation and let it go.  (I have, after all been practicing apathy.)  But I did write all the other letters.  I was shocked to discover that I had not written to some of the kids since April!  I used to write twice a month and I'd just been putting it off, I guess.  Also, some of the kids I've had forever have left the program and I have half a dozen kids whose names I don't recognize because they are so new.

But I got them all finished late yesterday afternoon, in time for Rachel Maddow.  When I heard the "horseface" slur from his nibs, I decided this was not a good day to watch the news, so I turned it off.
Fortunately, Ned and Marta have started watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon and recommended it so now instead of POTUS, I can watch a new streaming show and avoid politics again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


I grew up proud to live in a democratic country, and watched us attempt to bring democracy to other countries, whether by force or by example.

As I've looked around me the past many years, I realize that we don't live in a democracy at all.  In a democracy, our leaders are elected by the popular vote yet we have this abomination called the "electoral college," which was created initially because people lived so far from each other and there was no easy way to communicate.  It is now outdated, but we must go by the vote of these few people, not the vote of the majority of the country.  Thus, we never had a President Gore or a President Hillary Clinton and yet we have a buffoon who crows at every possible moment about how he won the election.  He didn't.  We aren't a democracy.

And then there are the extreme lengths people are going through to prevent certain classes of people from voting.  In Georgia, for example, they are using an "exact match" for identification.  If my ID says Beverly A. Sykes and they have me as "Beverly A Sykes" (no period), I am not qualified to vote.  The exact match can be as simple as an extra space... Beverly  A  Sykes, not Beverly A Sykes.  An analysis by The Associated Press found that 70 percent of 53,000 new registrations currently suspended were for black Georgians. Georgia's Secretary of State has purged more than 1.4 million names from the voter rolls since 2012.

And then there is what is happening in North Dakota.  The IDs of many Native Americans won't be accepted at North Dakota polling places.

This week, the Supreme Court declined to overturn North Dakota's controversial voter ID law, which requires residents to show identification with a current street address. A P.O. box does not qualify, as it has always qualified in the past.

Many Native American reservations do not use physical street addresses. Native Americans are also overrepresented in the homeless population, according to the Urban Institute. As a result, Native residents often use P.O. boxes for their mailing addresses and may rely on tribal identification that doesn't list an address.

Tens of thousands of North Dakotans, including Native and non-Native residents, do not have residential addresses on their IDs and will now find it harder to vote.

How can we call ourselves a democracy when we are working so hard at keeping certain demographics from voting?

My non-soporific movie that I turned on to put me to sleep (because it has in the past) last night was Lust for Life, the 1956 movie about Vincent Van Gogh, starring Kirk Douglas.  It won a supporting actor Oscar for Anthony Quinn as Paul Gaugin and a nomination for Douglas.
It has received rave reviews but I found it very frustrating.  Douglas seems angry most of the time and while the credits list about a dozen museums which allowed photographing their paintings, most of the ones they showed were lesser known works -- and the marvelous Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam was not listed.  They have the biggies.

This, and the sunflowers, was about the most "famous" of the works they showed.

The movie on TMC stopped abruptly before reaching the end, so perhaps they did finally get to wheatfield with crows and it just got cut off, which is unusual for TMC (or maybe I fell asleep and didn't notice!).

I never did see Starry Night.  Perhaps because it's so big--it takes up an entire wall at the museum in Amsterdam.

 They also celebrated the sale of his first painting, though I have read a lot about Van Gogh and I think (though am not sure) that he never sold a painting in his lifetime.

But another annoying thing was the cutting off of his ear.  Van Gogh's paintings show that it was his right ear, though it is his left which is bandaged in the movie and many scenes after the amputation show him with two perfectly normal ears.

Nonetheless, it kept me awake until 5 a.m., so it must not have been that bad a movie!

Monday, October 15, 2018


Cici of Cici's Corner recently wrote an entry asking about many imponderables of life, like
Why do many restaurants serve such HUGE portions? I mean, there's just no need in anyone eating that much and no need in anyone serving that much. No wonder there is such an obesity issue here in the US.
Good question.  I look at ads for restaurants these days (like Outback Steak House) and though the food looks good, there is so MUCH of it that I'm full without even entering the restaurant!  Black Bear Diner here in town is a good restaurant where I have eaten a couple of times and like the food--but the thought of how much I will be served is enough to make me choose another restaurant.  We ordered Cobb salad at Denny's recently and the individual portion was enough for 2 meals.
However, I digress.

I thought I'd ask my own "why" questions.

Why, for example, do we have to suffer those damn crawls across the bottom of the TV screen, advertising an upcoming program.  Sometimes the ads cover the already irritating news crawls on a news program so you're mad at whatever show is being advertised AND the news program for running crawls that have nothing to do with the particular story being reported.  I remember one time everyone oohing and ahhing about a newborn baby, whose face was totally covered by the crawls.

Why do drivers zig zag through lanes during heavy traffic?  Is getting there a minute before everyone else important enough to risk the lives of yourself and all the cars around you?

Why do people continue to donate to Red Cross when there are so many other organizations that help in an emergency and Red Cross is rated lower than all of them?

Why is the volume on Netflix so low I have to crank it up to highest volume and then suffer ear shattering sound when returning to the television broadcast?
For that matter Why are commercials broadcast at a higher level than regular programming?

Why are there still >1,000 children held behind barbed wire and kept from their parents and where has the outrage gone?

Why, why, why are people so enamored with Donald Trump?  I can't think of a single redeeming quality.

Why does Mitch McConnell have so much power?

Why in God's name can't Stanton Optical produce a single commercial that makes sense...and why do they have to run them nearly back to back every morning.  Though maybe it's me that's out of touch.  I read this article and it finally explained the current commercial that is driving me crazy.

Why can't broccoli and kale be high calorie and bad for you and pastries be low calorie and good for you?

Why does coffee taste so good in the morning?

Why doesn't someone stop this terrible voter suppression?

Why are so many price stickers not easy peel off?  Fort that matter, why is it necessary for every banana to have a separate sticker?

Why is bipartisanship a dead concept?  When I was growing up there didn't seem to be such hatred between the two parties and occasionally they actually worked together.  Now if one person votes against his or her party, it's political suicide.

Why this:  “The governor of Maine has said that people of colour were enemies of his state, and appeared to suggest they should be shot
Speaking about Maine's effort to combat drug crime, Paul LePage said that "the enemy right now... are people of colour or people of Hispanic origin". “When you go to war... and the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, then you shoot at red," he said.

Why are bags of potato chips and cereal so difficult to open?

Why on all cop shows do various law enforcement entities (FBI, CIA, local police, etc) seem to hate each other and refuse to work together.