Horrible. All the deaths, all the murders. What terrible things we do to one another. Unspeakable.

To all of you who rather than offering condolences or words of comfort chose instead to use this moment to point out how media hasn’t given enough “air time” to other, equally despicable acts of violence in other parts of the world … well.

french flag flying

What can I say about that?

Do you feel the amount of attention press gives to an act of terror in some way makes it better or worse? There’s no rating system for tragedy. The fundamental problem remains. Human beings can’t seem to stop slaughtering one another. And now, apparently we’ve lost the ability to experience empathy.

For those of you who felt obliged to point out the inequity of news coverage, as if this has something to do with anything or that increased press attention actually fixes anything — rather than offering sympathy or at the very least, shutting up — shame on you.

There’s something wrong with you. Something in you is broken.


I’m walking around laughing at the gigantic fuss, furor, and scandal over the latest invasion of our privacy. I think this months villain is Microsoft. Last month it was someone else. Government? Corporations? Amazon? Google? They are all spying on us. You knew that, right?

So last night, when we were nicely tucked into the most comfortable bed in the world, I said to Garry:

newspaper1“Can you think of any government anywhere, or any time in the history of humankind, during which governments have not spied on their citizens or subjects?”

He honored me with a thoughtful few seconds before answering … or maybe he was just twiddling with the remote control.


“I think the way it works is this. First, we invent heads of state. Kings, presidents, emperors, whatever. Next, they invent a secret police so they can keep on being the head of state. The only thing that seems to change is the technology. And the quality of the dungeons.”


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“I think it’s a mistake to try and monitor all those emails and phone calls. I mean, they are just going to be buried under data. Lots of jabbering kids yakking with friends, people arguing with customer support, and boring conversations by people like us. We never say anything interesting on the phone. We hardly talk on the phone at all. Our email is pretty dull too.


black and white wires power lines

Americans have an ongoing need to be outraged about something. We require a constant level of civic hysteria, maybe to keep from being boring. Scandal keeps ratings up and gives talk show hosts something to joke about. It gives liberals and conservatives something to accuse each other of doing, even though every administration has done pretty much the same stuff and always will.

I’m wondering how long this is going to stay on top of the news. It has been years … at least five so far and I see no end to it. Apparently it never gets old.


Nothing will change. Governments spy on citizens. Citizens are outraged. The outrage is ignored. Eventually, everyone moves on — until it pops up again.

I’m having trouble getting myself worked up over this.

I remember Richard Nixon. I even remember J. Edgar Hoover. I’ve read history. I know traffic cameras track us. If anyone is looking for me — or you — I’m sure they’ll have no trouble finding us.


My government spies on me. Corporations spy on me. Everyone collects my personal information and uses without my permission. That’s the price I pay for being connected and computerized.

They were spying on us during the 1960s, albeit less efficiently. They were spying on my parents and their friends in the 50s and 40s.

Obama didn’t start this. Bush didn’t start it. FDR didn’t start it. Abraham Lincoln didn’t start it. It’s been going on as long as there have been governments and it will never end.


Trick Questions

A Pulitzer-winning reporter is writing an in-depth piece – about you. What are the three questions you really hope she doesn’t ask you?

Here’s the original answer. Same question. Same answer. Different picture.

This must be the interview which celebrates my having won the Blogging Pulitzer, right? No? Has there been a mass shooting in town — and I’m the shooter? The Blackstone has angrily overflowed and washed my house away?


72-WNEX Radio_023The aliens have landed and are shacking up in the guest room? The aliens tried to land, but couldn’t find a suitable spot to set down, the driveway being full of cars?

The President is visiting us because he’s run out of foreign countries with which the U.S. is, was or will be at war?

Really — I’m past the age where I have anything left to hide. What could anyone ask about which I haven’t already written and published in a post?

So bring it on. We are media savvy in this household. Ain’t nothin’ you can ask that we can’t answer!


Now, we are definitely ready for our closeup!

We’ve been agonizing about this for months especially since the “new” car has been having problems. We bought our PT Cruiser in 2007. Finished paying for it a year and a half ago. Been luxuriating since then in not having a car payment.



But each winter, when our driveway becomes the bunny slope of our personal ski resort — which would be more fun if either of us were ski bunnies — the car won’t get us up the driveway. Not even when there’s just a little bit of snow, much less a big one or a blizzard.


With tonight predicted to be the first hard freeze of the year and winter lurking in the background, we bought a car. Not a brand new one.

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The price of new cars has gone way above our pay grade, but we got a newer car. With four-wheel drive.

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We spent most of the day at the dealer … which is why I was missing pretty much all day. We were talking. Negotiating. Then signing papers, talking to the insurance agent, signing more papers. Then, more papers … and then … it was ours.

It’s a 2012 Jeep Patriot. Red. Cute. Bob Mielke, who now lives here, had the wit to bring a camera when they delivered the car. Yes, they delivered the car and drove away the old one. Here are Bob’s pictures.

Blow ye north wind. We have a car that will make it up and out of the driveway, even after the snow flies. We will need to pay for it, of course, but life carries a price tag … and we needed a car.


I find myself making this announcement every year at this time. Yes, it’s come around again — Marilyn’s Secret Project. Every year, late September or early October, I get very busy and I can’t explain why. It’s nothing bad, I assure you.

I’m not sick nor is anyone in dire straits. I have a big Secret Assignment I can’t talk about or I would have to kill you.

Seriously — it’s not that secret, but I really can’t talk about it.

Suffice to say, there are only so many things I can do at one time, and this takes precedence. It’s a lot of stuff to do and a hard deadline to make.


If I’m scarce, not to worry. I’m just doing my Secret Agent thing. I’ll check in as much as time allows, but if I spend too many hours being Serendipity, I won’t be able to fulfill my other obligations.

Bet you’re curious. Write me privately and I’ll tell you. If you ask really nicely.


A Photo a Week Challenge: Crowd Control

An ordinary day in a small town. An ordinary day … about to become … different. Exciting. Memorable. Because on this day, the power went out in Hannaford. It was only dark for a few seconds, after which the emergency generators kicked in. It could have been worse.

It was dark throughout the plaza. We will never know why. The wailing siren of a passing police cruiser and the ambulance that followed it might be a hint.


Despite all the computers being down, the lights dim while running on generators, no panic ensued. We waited, patiently, at the pharmacy. We had been waiting to get our flu shots. Although you can give a vaccination without a computer, record-keeping is computer-based.

No computers? No medication. No vaccines. No nothing until the power is back and the computers reboot. You can buy groceries in the dark if you have cash or a paper check, but everything medical is regulated. Sorry, no sale.

Garry took it personally. Another version of slow drivers.

Just as we were about to give up and go home … the lights came back. And all was well. Life was good again.


An entirely uninteresting new story? Right now, that pretty much sums up the news, not counting the stories that are merely depressing, aggravating, demoralizing, and/or infuriating.

The "Dodge City Peace Commission", June 1888. (L to R) standing: W.H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, W.F. Petillon. Seated: Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLain and Neal Brown.

The “Dodge City Peace Commission”, June 1888. (L to R) standing: W.H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, W.F. Petillon. Seated: Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLain and Neal Brown.

We don’t have a newspaper delivered. Garry usually goes out to buy one. Sometimes he misses a day and makes do with the Internet, but he likes having a paper to hold and peruse.

As a former TV news reporter for a network affiliate in Boston, he used to read three newspapers every morning, looking for items that might make a good story for him. Now, he studiously avoids the daily reports of violence and human misery … and politics … and goes directly to sports. It’s baseball’s playoff season and the Cubs are in it for the first time in many long decades. That’s about as good as the news gets these days.

Doesn't this seem strangely familiar?

Doesn’t this seem strangely familiar?

We watch The Daily Show in the evening. Though technically it’s comedy, there’s more real news on it than we find on the so-called “Real News.” Mostly it is all politics. Republican politics, since it is they who are hosting the circus. I suppose we can look forward to the second act when the Democrats get into stride. How depressing.


I’m not a Republican and I would probably vote Democratic anyway …. but I’d like to have a meaningful choice. We are supposed to have two parties. I do not have to agree with a party in order to respect its representatives. The bunch of clowns and opportunists supposedly in the running for the GOP nomination are an embarrassment. To me, to the nation, to the world.

Gee. It looks like nothing much has changed, eh?

Gee. It looks like nothing much has changed, eh?

The party of Lincoln has turned into a joke and it makes me sad. Are these men and women truly the best and brightest the Grand Old Party has to offer? Of course, we aren’t the only country where this has or is occurring, but it’s here that it really hits me where it hurts.

Uncle sam political cartoon 1899

I had thought things couldn’t get any worse, politically speaking … but I was wrong. Garry says it’s my fault for thinking things couldn’t get worse, for allowing that random thought to pass through my brain. I apologize. I never thought it could get this bad and although I would like to believe that party politics has bottomed out, I fear that there may be even worse to come.

We fought. We died. Please get out there and vote!

We fought. We died for the right to vote. Please vote!

How does that effect me? How could it not affect me? And you and you and you and you and you and you …