PICTURING 2014

Creating this gallery mirrored my year. There are no pictures at all taken between December 2013 and May 2014. I was either waiting for surgery, in the hospital, or recovering — too sick to go out and shoot.

And then spring came and Garry started encouraging me to go out, even if only for short periods. And then, there were photographs. This is my year from May through December. In pictures.

Although things seem to have worked out well, especially considering the challenges life threw at us, I would wish for all of us a less eventful 2015. Fewer cliffhangers. Less drama. Good health. A few more parties, concerts, sunny days, and rain in its season.

LACRIMOSE ME

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy – We cry for lots of reasons: sadness, pain, fear . . . and happiness. When was the last time you shed tears of joy?


Tears of joy? Yes, there are such things.

Because when all was lost, we had no water and I thought, finally, our bad luck demons had taken the field and we were beaten, I heard the distant bugles of the cavalry. They came — friends from far and wide — from cyberspace and land, they sent us funds so we could repair our well. And keep our home.

HumbleBeaver

In its own way, our well crisis was more terrifying than having my heart remodeled or losing both breasts to cancer. In those cases, I only had to fend off the Big Guy with the Scythe. I could put myself in the hands of doctors and hope I’d chosen them well and they would take me through the dark tunnel.

But with the well — there was no doctor. No facility to depend on. I had to find a way through when I could see no path, no road, no light. And then, not to put too fine a point on it, there was light. Like the line of Pilgrims in Disney’s Fantasia, they appeared, down from a dark mountain bearing torches. And checks. We survived and I cried. Garry cried. I still cry when I think about it because I never imagined anyone really cared what happened to us.

12-Foliage-9-30-14_005

I have to admit I’ve cried more sad tears than happy ones. The past 15 years have been one thing after another. I’ve been in and out of hospitals, had more surgery than I can remember, which may be a good thing.

Not remembering, that is. Not the actual surgeries except that they kept me alive so maybe they were good, in their own way. Just not a whole lot of fun.

A period riddled with crises. Financial, medical, personal. I don’t remember the sequence of a particular day, not even yesterday. Or this morning. It’s after two in the afternoon. I’m still answering email and trying to get this post written.

See? I’m tearing up right now?

Don’t worry about me. I cry over reruns of Lassie and keep a box of tissues handy. I seem to have a bottomless well of tears waiting to be shed.

Memories of My Life In Textile Mills

After the mills closed along the Blackstone River, the owners moved their business down south. It made sense, since cotton mills were the bulk of their business and the cotton fields were in the south.

These transported mills became a backbone industry for the American south until a series of U.S. Presidents, starting with Reagan, continuing with Bush, Clinton, then Bush again … traded away our business to countries which pay workers pennies on our dollar — and don’t have significant health and safety regulations — or child labor laws. Or unions.

In fairness, it was supposed to be a two-way street, bringing Americans less expensive products and ramping up our home economy with an infusion of new trading partners. As most of us feared, it did exactly the opposite.

It cost America millions of jobs that have never been replaced. It did not lower costs of goods now being made in India and China and Malaysia. Anyone who has tried to buy cotton fabric can attest to the dramatic increase in costs and decrease in quality that has been the real result.

What have we have to show for it? Empty hulks of the mills and factories that once buzzed with business. Reminders why it’s always unwise to sell your birthright for a pot of lentils.

INDUSTRY OUTSIDE METROPOLIS

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Industrial

Forge House 11

It’s a matter of definition. For most of my life, I lived in or around major cities. New York, where I grew up. I don’t know if Jerusalem counts as a major city, but I was there a pretty long time.

hyannis harbor docks cape cod

Then Boston. Industrial in large cities is synonymous with “big.” Great brick factories belching smoke. Tall chimneys. Pollution. Cement. Traffic.

Old Mill No. 4

Yet, ironically, out here in the Blackstone Valley is where the American industrial revolution began. We are the home of the first factories.

Crown and Eagle mill transformed into elderly housing

Crown and Eagle mill transformed into elderly housing

The mills, built along the Blackstone River were where it all began. We are still cleaning up the pollution and the mills are either gone or converted to some other use.

75-AbandonedNK-32

First they moved down south, where they could find cheaper land, labor, favorable tax laws … and they would be near the cotton fields.

path machines dirt hartford st

But industry remains. It’s not the way it was, yet it is industry. Small factories, cottage industry by comparison. And just as interesting as photographic subject.

96-Gloucestermen-NK-1

And finally, not forgetting our New England coastline, the docks and ships of our historic fishing fleets. Our first American industry!

2014 IN REVIEW

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Note that Serendipity has not missed a day of blogging this entire year. WordPress ran the statistics on the 29th of December, so it appears two days short — but it’s not, really.

It’s been an insanely busy year. I want to give a big thank you to Garry and Rich who carried this blog without me for several months when I was too sick to do it myself.

Rich organized months of posts working from my archives. Garry posted daily updates while I was in the hospital and for several weeks after I came home — even though he was worried, exhausted, and driving back and forth to the hospital — 70 miles each way — every day.

The success of this blog is not mine alone.

Rich Paschall’s ANGEL COMES OUT and DON’T DRINK THE KOOL AID – THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE were the two big posts in 2014. Congratulations, Rich!

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

BEING HERE AND NOW

Oedipus defeats the Sphinx by correctly guessing the answer to the following riddle:

Sphinx-riddle

As babies, we crawl on hands and feet, using four legs. When we grow up, we stand. Thus, as adults, we stride through life upright, on two legs.  In old age, we are bent over, so in the evening of our lives, we walk with the help of a cane, on three legs.

This was how human life was summed up a couple of thousand years ago and even today, there’s truth in it. But not Truth. Because the riddle’s narrow perspective focuses on the physical changes we experience though life. It leaves out the emotional and intellectual changes … the most important stuff.

As kids, we want to grow up. Children are in a terrible hurry. We race full-tilt towards a future in which anything is possible. We want it all. We want it now. When we get there, we run even faster towards the next goal.

We slow down a bit as we get to the middle of life. We accept responsibility. We load ourselves down with possessions and obligations. We simultaneously discover life doesn’t work as we expected. We see our best plans and fondest hopes dashed on the shoals of random chance, a bad marriage, a boss who doesn’t like us. Or sheer accident derails us. A bad economy makes the profession for which we prepared irrelevant. We discover, in a personal way, that people die. For no good reason. In war, in traffic. Of disease, suicide, stupidity. Unlike Hollywood, real death is usually inglorious and sad.

By the time we reach our forties, we’ve lost a few rounds and are the worse for wear. We’re slower to judge, less sure of the future. The answers of youth are replaced by more questions and the wariness of people who’ve seen a few things. We begin to pay attention to security, realize we are “peaking” professionally and should make the most of whatever opportunities are available.

And then, flash! You are not young. Seventy is not the new forty. Holy shit! Who is that old person in the mirror?

You look around the office. You’re the guy kids come to for advice. Maybe you find no one interested in your experience because “the company is going in a different direction.” People in their forties seem awfully young. Ouch. How did this happen?

We all know, on some level, we will get old. After all, if you don’t get old, you get dead. Alive is the preferred state of being at every age and stage. But no one expects to be really old. We plan to be like we’ve always been. Maybe a few gray hairs. A wiser, more mature version of the person we think we know so well.

Times changes us more than we thought possible. We quit running towards the future and start looking around to see what’s going. Here. Now. This is the future. We made it. The rainy day for which we were saving? We look up to see clouds. Rain is falling.

No more “we’ll do that someday.” Buy the camera you always wanted. Get the car of your dreams. See Paris. It’s your turn. Finally.

None of us plans to die, but we know we could. Time to shift our focus to enjoying what we are, what we have, who we have. While we can. Life is fragile and we are transitory, just passing through. It’s a very different perspective from younger years.

Will the good old days come again? Doubt it. How good were those old days? Do we want them back?

The only time we own is today. Use it well.


Ice, Water, Steam: Weekly Writing Challenge

2014: IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I don’t do resolutions and I don’t make promises about the future. If nothing else has been learned, I know I can’t predict how life will go, cannot make pledges based on uncertain destiny.

That being said, this is the time of year for summing up before moving on. When I read the columns about all celebrities who’ve died in the past 12 months, there are always a few surprises. Some I thought were already dead. I do a mental countdown. How many remain from the golden age of movies? Not many.

I pat myself on the back. I’m here!

Boston road signs

I take encouragement from surviving legends. Exhibit A: Vin Scully, the Hall of Fame broadcaster who will begin his 66th year calling Dodger baseball games in 2015. I’m old enough to remember Scully calling games his first year, when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. One of the highlights of the past year was catching my favorite sportscaster doing Dodger games on the Baseball Network. He is a rarity now, a wordsmith amidst a contemporary gaggle of illiterate sports yakkers and screamers. Thanks, Vin, for making me smile during the long, depressing baseball season in Red Sox nation.

Does Sinatra’s “It Was A Very Good Year” apply to 2014? On first glance, I would think not. On second look maybe it does.

72-OnTheRoad-9-25_044

The early part of the year should be titled “High Anxiety”.  Marilyn, who always had a heart murmur, discovered she had a much larger heart problem. Her ticker wasn’t ticking correctly. After several exams and consults, Marilyn was told she needed heart valve surgery. It was supposed to be simple, maybe a repair rather than a replacement.

It was very far from simple.

Five procedures later,  Marilyn had a new heart valve and a pacemaker — among other things. All of this was supposed to improve Marilyn’s quality of life. The jury is still out and probably depends on ones definition of “improved.”

I remind her — and she reminds me — and then herself — that at least she has a life, which is arguably an improvement over the likely alternative. The doctors keep changing the timetable on Marilyn’s recovery. Mostly they tell her she looks fine. I’m not sure Marilyn agrees.

My current home.

Fast forward a few months. As the Red Sox were slowly sinking into last place, we discovered we had a very big and far more real problem.

Water. The stuff of life. Agua. H20. Long story short, our well died! What to do? Marilyn checked how much it would cost to fix the well. She did some quick math. Then, she did some slower math. Then did the whole thing again.

We were dead in the water. Oops!

Lacking rich relatives to bail us out and being the people others usually came to for help, we looked in the mirror. Our reflections didn’t pony up any cash. Marilyn came up with an obvious, but painful, answer.

We would have to ask for help. It stuck in my craw. Humiliating. But there was no other option. We reached out, expecting nothing, hoping for a something. Dark days indeed.

Marilyn, as usual, took control , if you could call it control. She stayed on top of the contractors while fending off her own anxiety about the desperation of our situation. You can do without a lot of things, but not without water.

72-REFRACTION-Peacham-Monday_010

And then … people responded. Friends we hadn’t heard from in years, people who we knew only as commentors on Serendipity. It was a shock … and for once, a pleasant and welcome shock.

Friends and strangers alike displayed an overwhelming generosity. We were able to have the contractors come and rebuild the well, a real life version of the finale of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” At the end of one of the longest crises in our history, we have water. Clean, cold, water. The siege is over and with a little luck, over forever.

I’m still stunned at the kindness and generosity of everyone who responded to our plight, a powerful reminder to be grateful during this holiday season … and every other season.

So, maybe Sinatra’s “It Was A Very Good Year” does, after all, apply to 2014.

Excellent things can arrive in very peculiar packages.

SHARING MY WORLD … END OF 2014 EDITION

Share Your World – 2014 Week 51

Would you prefer snowy winters, or not, and why? 

I never prefer snowy winters. Not any more. When I was a kid, snow meant not having to go to school and instead, playing in the snow. These days, it means being trapped in the driveway by sheets of ice. Treacherous, slippery roads and walkways. Dogs coming in and out dragging half a snowdrift with them. Puddles on the floor, followed by mud everywhere.

75-Bishop-in-Snow_17

Snow is for the young. That’s why no one retires to Minnesota.

On the other hand, snow is beautiful. As a photographer, I admire it. The shine on new-fallen snow is stunning. Waking to a world covered in a thick layer of white, unbroken by plows, cars, even feet.

75-DecSnowHP-17

Out comes the camera … but also out come the boots, the scarves, the hats, gloves, sweaters. I would like one nice snow every year … followed immediately by spring.

So, you’re on your way out and it’s raining. Do you know where your umbrella is or do you frantically search for it all over your apartment/house?

I know I saw my umbrella just the other day, but I’ve already forgotten where it was. We don’t really use umbrellas around here.

72-On-The-Road_026

Too much wind to use umbrellas, so we wear hats and other rain gear.

Do you prefer your food separated or mixed together?

Separated.

What is set as the background on your computer?

Which computer? This one has the Alienware backdrop. I have wolves in the bedroom and Northern Lights in the office. At least that’s what I have today. Tomorrow may be different.

ALL GROWN UP? A FIXED INCOME AND WHITE HAIR OFFERS A CLUE

I knew I wasn’t a kid anymore when my hair turned white. I am officially as grown up as grown up can be. When you are getting pensions and social security checks and living on them, that’s probably a pretty sure sign maturity has arrived. You think, probie?

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

Personal mistakes, unfortunate turns in the road, bumps that are painful, even frightening? Normal stuff. Regrettable, but since no one can go back and fix what already happened, let it be. It is what it is, was, and will be.

Planning is a fool’s game. We planned to be young and healthy forever. Look how well that worked out. Well, maybe it did work out … finally. Not the way we planned it, but not so terrible, either.

Now we are in our retirement years and there are rewards. Freedom is the big one. No one can order you around. No one holds you to a deadline. You go to bed and get up on your own schedule. You do everything on your own schedule. If you don’t have a job, one day is like another. Weekends take me by surprise.

If you are in a good marriage, you finally have time to enjoy each other. You get to know your grandchildren. You read, watch movies, pursue hobbies, pet your dogs.

We worked hard, played hard, so our memories are a treasure trove. We did just about everything we seriously wanted to do. Hopefully, we have a few surprises yet to come. Good surprises, please.

I wish we’d been smarter about money. We thought we were being smart. We did what we thought we were supposed to do. It just didn’t work out as planned. What made perfect sense 20 years ago doesn’t make sense today. We didn’t fully grasp that pension amounts stay the same, though the cost of living continues to rise. The meaning of “fixed income” hadn’t really grabbed hold. It surely has now.

Looking backward … we had a great deal of fun. Individually and together. We still have fun. We just need to fit the fun into a tight budget, taking into account arthritic bodies and limited energy.

Few regrets and great memories. We didn’t do everything, but we did a lot. More than most. We made our share of unfortunate — even stupid — choices, but we didn’t chicken out. If life were a movie, we would be on schedule for a previously unknown but fabulously rich relative to pass away leaving us gazillions of dollars and a mansion on a cliff in Ireland. Pity a Hollywood scriptwriter isn’t writing our lives. A Hollywood ending would be a nice touch.

So, about that growing up thing? We grew up. And survived the experience.

In the deathless words and music of Edith Piaf, I would like to say this about that: Non, je ne regrette rien ... or at least, not much.

DAILY PROMPT: ALL GROWN UP

WHY TABLETS CAN’T REPLACE COMPUTERS. WHY THEY SHOULDN’T.

I originally wrote a version of this in November 2012. At that time, agreement among “experts” was nearly universal: tablets would replace desktop and laptop computers. Within a couple of years — in other words, now — everyone would be using a tablet for everything. I disagreed then. I was right. (Don’t you love when that happens?)

Tablet sales have slowed, not because tablets aren’t fun or don’t have a place in our lives, but because everyone has one, or two, or three of them. And because, as it turns out, tablets do what they do, which isn’t everything.

I remember reading all those articles announcing how tablets will replace laptops and desktops. This, based on the surge in tablet sales and the slowing of computer sales. Every time I read one of those articles, I wanted to reach through my monitor, grab the author by the throat and shake him or her.

kindle-fire1-border

I don’t have anything against portable devices. I have quite a few of them, but there are a couple of differences between me and those authors:

1) The reviewers apparently don’t do any work. Not only do they not do any work, they don’t even have hobbies.

2) They think their favorite device is perfect and can do everything.

Have any of the people extolling mini devices as the total computer solution designed a book? Made a movie? Used Photoshop? Converted a document to PDF? Tried playing games on a tablet? It’s nearly impossible. All other issues aside, the screens are too small.

Virtual keyboards are good for virtual fingers …

I just read an article explaining how you can type perfectly fine on the iPad’s virtual keypad. Having tried typing on a variety of tablets, that’s an outright lie. Not true. You can’t type on a virtual keyboard because (trumpets) there are no keys.

You need memory and a hard drive to run applications.

You can’t run photo or video editing software on a tablet. Or a Chromebook. Or a Smartphone. It’s not that it won’t run well. It won’t run at all. It has to be installed. It uses a lot of memory. Without a hard drive, you can’t install it. Even online versions of these applications won’t run on small devices. If you use a real camera — anything more than a basic point and shoot, or a telephone — you can’t even download your photos, much less edit them. If you shoot RAW, you might not be able to load a single photograph on your device.

75-OfficeHDR-CR-2

You can’t edit a 16 X 20 photograph on a 10 inch tablet. Much less a cell phone.

This is not a matter of opinion. It’s a fact. Can’t do it. Can’t see enough of the pictures to know what you are doing. It does not matter whether we are talking about a Kindle, an android tablet, or an iPad. Operating system is irrelevant. The device is physically too small to do the job. Even if it had a hard drive and enough memory (none of them do), you still couldn’t do it.

Who needs footnotes? Engineering drawings? Spreadsheets? I do, that’s who.

And good luck editing video on a tablet. Let me know how that works for you.

About that thesis: footnotes and bibliographies, and cross references? Explain to your adviser how you can’t include references and attributions because your tablet can’t do it. Surely they will understand. After all, computers are obsolete. And who needs attribution anyhow?

If you’re an architect or engineer? Return to your drawing table and start doing them by hand. I hope you still have those old-fashioned tools and remember how to use them, because you won’t be doing them on your tablet.

Need a spreadsheet? Not going to happen. Even if all you are trying to do is track your own household budget, you can’t do it on your tablet or telephone.

alienware computer front full

It’s a big world with room for many operating systems and devices … you don’t need to dump one to have the other.

There’s room in our lives for many different devices. And operating systems.

I prefer stuff that’s dedicated to specific tasks or sets of tasks. I love reading books on my Kindle. I edit on my desktop with the big HD monitor. I use my laptop when I don’t what to be stuck in my office, which these days seem to all the time.

You love your iPad? Enjoy it, but respect its limits — because they’re also its advantages. If you make it big and powerful enough to handle the tasks it currently can’t manage — larger screen, real hard drive, RAM, keyboard — it’s not a fun, portable device any more. If you need that much functionality, you need a laptop or desktop.

You can’t replace everything with one thing. There’s no reason you should.

One size does not fit all.

It’s okay to be different. Whether it’s your political opinion or which computer or device or system you prefer, diversity and differences make our world interesting. Live your life as you prefer. Let others do the same.

HOW TO WRITE VERY POPULAR ARTICLES FOR YOUR BLOG

From WordPress, today’s Daily Prompt:  Hindsight — Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your very first post.


Oh come now. Really? I don’t even have my first post. I deleted it years ago. Does WordPress believe all its followers are baby bloggers who have written 10 posts and started blogging the day before yesterday?

Not exactly me. But, in the name of playing into the irrationality of the moment, I’m going to post my most popular ever post. I’ve rewritten it several times. It has gotten more than 11,500 hits in two versions and a couple of thousand more in other rewrites. Most of the views accumulated during the first 24 hours after I published it … more than half during the first hour or two.

Despite it being no great shakes as posts go, it went sort of viral. Go figure, right? This is a perfect example of why it’s so hard to figure out what kind of post is going to “sell.” How much research, writing craft, thought, and soul you can put into it a piece … and no one is interested. Research is irrelevant. What matters is that it catches popular fancy.

The only way you can almost guarantee popularity is to figure out what is the “latest thing” buzzing around the Internet, then write about it. Preferably with pictures. It doesn’t have to be well-written. It doesn’t have to be factual, accurate, fair, or in any way important. It absolutely doesn’t have to be original and will probably sell better if it isn’t.

If that is what you want as a blogger, good luck to you. The Internet welcomes you. Bring on your rumors, gossip, slanderous out-of-context quotes. Be sure to use, as sources, those who don’t know the difference between opinion and fact and don’t care.

Find some salacious photographs. Publish them. Don’t worry about copyright infringement because no one else seems worried about it. I won’t read you, but lots of other people will.

And now…


 THE FBI CAN’T DO A SIMPLE GOOGLE SEARCH? – REDUX, REDUX, REDUX

On Criminal Minds in the première episode for the 2012-2013 season, the “perp” sews a victims mouth shut but in his mouth leaves the message “Gazing through to the other side.” The BAU FBI team cannot find any reference to this quote. So I typed it into Google and hit Enter. Guess what?

TV Camera - 23

It’s part of a song, the lyrics to which essentially are the plot of the episode in which the first four victims are women, thrown into ditches, with their mouths sewn shut.

If I can find this in one hit on Google, is the FBI less capable than I? Unable to do the most basic Google search? There isn’t anything more basic than typing in what you want to know about then hitting Enter, is there? My granddaughter could do this kind of search before she was in first grade.

If anyone thinks I believe the FBI is actually producing the show, anyone who can chew gum and walk at the same time knows this is a network television show that employs a staff of writers to write scripts supposed to make us believe these are hyper-competent profiler/agents. And they can’t run a Google search any grade school child can run. Wow! Bad writing and plagiarism? What a terrific combination for a show about the FBI!

There could be an innocent explanation, like the real authors of the material were paid, but never credited. I’d like to hear that. It could restore a bit of my rapidly diminishing faith in humankind. Because it couldn’t be plagiarism. CBS wouldn’t allow that, right? Because networks, TV execs, writers, etc. are all so honest such a thing could never happen. And the tooth fairy left you a buck under your pillow.

The song is by a group named Blitzen Trapper, lead singer/lyricist, Eric Earley.

Thank you to Pat at CHRONICLES OF AN ANGLO SWISS for the link to the YouTube video.

The lyrics follow.

“Black River Killer”

It was just a little while past the sunset strip
They found the girl’s body in an open pit
Her mouth was sewn shut, but her eyes were still wide
Gazing through the fog to the other side
They booked me on a whim and threw me deep in jail
With no bail, sitting silent on a rusty pail
Just gazing at the marks on the opposite wall
Remembering the music of my lover’s call

So you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

It was dark as the grave, it was just about three
When the warden with his key came to set me free
They gave me five dollars and a secondhand suit
A pistol and a hat and a worn out flute

So I took a bus down to the Rio Grande
And I shot a man down on the edge of town
Then I stole me a horse and I rode it around
Til the sheriff pulled me in and sat me down

He said, you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

Well the sheriff let me go with a knife and a song
So I took the first train up to Oregon
And I killed the first man that I came upon
Because the devil works quick, you know it don’t take long

Then I went to the river ford to take a swim
You know that black river water is as black as sin
And I washed myself clean as a newborn babe
And then I picked up a rock for to sharpen my blade

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?
Oh when, oh when
Will that black river water wash me clean again
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again

It took me fewer than 10 seconds to find this. What’s going on guys? Television has become boringly derivative, but this is not merely derivative, it’s theft. I wouldn’t mind hearing from someone about this. I would like to hear an explanation.


NOTES:

1) According to one of the show’s producers, the show is based on the Blitzen Trapper song. The group was compensated for its use. It isn’t plagiarism, merely bad writing.

2) If the writers don’t want us to assume the same rules apply in the TV show as apply in the real world, they should not pretend the show is about FBI agents who are part of the élite unit of an actual law enforcement agency. If you don’t want to play by the rules of the real world, create a fake world where you can have stuff fall up because gravity does not exist. You cannot have it both ways, at least not if you want anyone to believe you.

3) I wrote this post September 2012 as a quick comment on what I thought was poor script writing — and un-credited use of someone else’s material. If you wish to continue arguing anyway, please feel free to argue amongst yourselves. I’d appreciate being left out of it.

4) I’ve written a follow-up post to this about morals and Hollywood. You can find it here, if you’re curious. It’s called “Gazing Through to the Other Side: Hollywood and Moral Character.” It alone has gotten more than 1200 views and it’s a better piece that the original … but that’s just my opinion and as the author, clearly I don’t know anything.

LIGHT OF MORNING

After almost two weeks of grey weather … and during the shortest days of the years, so it never quite felt like daylight had arrived at all … the sun finally came back.

72-Sunny Morning_06

The best part of these darkest, shortest days of winter is knowing that they are indeed the darkest and shortest. From this point forward, the days become longer and each day, we will inch closer to spring.

72-FebSunrise_06

But first … we have to navigate the shoals of January and February. May they be easy months.

radio on window ledge

WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEAR’S EVE?

The Jackpot Question, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

By now you are expected to have a good response. So what is it? What are you doing? Certainly your friends have been asking and you must have something interesting to say. Unless you are under 18 or over 80, you do not get a pass on this one. So, what’s it going to be? Party? Dinner and dancing? Will you be outside watching fireworks or in where it is warm? If you are in Florida or Arizona, I guess you could be outside watching fireworks where it is warm.

Happy New Year!

Since there seems to be so many different things to do, the question might actually be somewhat logical. Restaurants, bars, hotel ballrooms all seem to have some sort of package deal. There are shows and concerts of every type. Whether you are in a big city or a small town, plans for the celebration abound. For some strange reason, everyone is expected to have a plan.

One year, when downtown Chicago still had a glut of movie theaters, I was on a double date at a late showing of a movie that finished up just before midnight. I do remember which movie, but not the date. We had just enough time to empty out into the intersection of State Street (that great street) and Randolph where Chicago used to conduct a poor man’s version of the final countdown. Since it was quite cold and we were not loaded with anti-freeze, we stayed for the countdown and ran off for warmer places. It was an experience I do not need again. If I watch the ball drop in Times Square, it will be on television from another locale.

Since then I have ventured to house parties, bar parties, restaurants and shows, but I am not sure any of these supposed grand events were particularly memorable. They certainly did not ring out like many of the grand events we see in the movies. If you missed all of them, then I will suggest that you put “movies with new year’s eve scenes” in your internet search so you can find a lot of them. Maybe you will get some cool ideas.

Since the death of one year and the dawn of another seem to evoke feelings of nostalgia, then you may know that “When Harry Met Sally” contains one of the most memorable and nostalgic New Year’s scenes of all. Indeed it is the climax of the “will he or won’t he?” scenario. It has all led up to one fateful New Year’s Eve moment.  The typical New Year’s Eve hoopla only adds to the drama of the moment.  (SPOILER ALERT). I love making dramatic “spoiler” pronouncements, and here is that great scene from one of our favorite movies.

The director of the movie needed no special music as “Auld Lang Syne” made the perfect background song. And what does this sentimental tune actually mean? We don’t know, something about  good-bye and hello. It doesn’t matter, our sentimental feeling just associates with it and that is all that counts. So will you have a sentimental moment?

For some gentlemen, the coming of New Year’s is met with all the anxiety of asking someone to the high school prom. You know you are supposed to do something. You know it is supposed to be really good. You know it is going to cost you money, which you are not supposed to care about. You also know, just like the high school prom, you might get shot down when you ask the “jackpot question.” Unless you want to get teased by family and friends, you may just have to ask the question anyway.

Ooh, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance:
What are you doing New Year’s
New Year’s Eve?

Did you ask yet? What was the answer? If you haven’t asked, what are you waiting for?

Seth MacFarlane is the creator of Family Guy, American Dad!, and The Cleveland Show.

 

Explainer: How Democrats and Republicans ‘switched sides’ on civil rights

Or, how the “Party of Lincoln” became the preferred party of racists everywhere.

I just about lost my damn mind this morning after coming across this piece from the National Review about how Barry Goldwater totally wasn’t all that racist or anything.

As a history nerd, this weird thing the Republicans are doing now where they are trying to pretend that they are the true heirs of the civil rights movement is starting to drive me up the wall. Like, f’reals, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King would not freaking be conservative Republicans today. For that matter, neither would Susan B. Anthony. It’s absolutely absurd. It doesn’t even sort of make sense because at all times throughout all history, all civil rights issues are progressive issues regardless of party alignment.

READ THE ORIGINAL: www.deathandtaxesmag.com

FROM SERENDIPITY, A LITTLE BACKGROUND MUSIC:

This is flippant and funny, but it is a not half bad summary of American politics for the past hundred years. Give or take a lie or two. And it adds some much-needed perspective to the lies we hear on the radio, see on television, and read on the Internet.

It’s always a good thing to add a little truth to an ongoing debate, though considering the incivility, name-calling, mud-slinging, and general bad manners and ill intent of participants on both side, but in particular the “right” side … one can only wonder if Truth and Facts actually have any role to play in this ongoing melodrama we call politics.

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News