ON THE SCENT: COME BACK, SUPERMAN!

I was reading Andy Borowitz’ column this morning. He’s the guy who writes those parody “news bulletins” for “The New Yorker.

I’m pretty sure he’s on DJT’s hit list. It’s an honorable place to be.  I would be terrified, yet honored to join him. Anyway, in this particular post, he posits that Yates (acting Attorney General, hangover from Obama administration) was really fired for having a copy of the Constitution on her computer. He believes owning or reading (or maybe, merely knowing it exists) the Constitution in this administration are grounds for immediate termination. Read it here: TRUMP FIRES ATTORNEY GENERAL AFTER COPY OF CONSTITUTION IS FOUND ON HER COMPUTER

I tweeted the link and commented that this smelled true to me. I mean, seriously, DC is a comic book world, right? DC is the seat of the U.S. Government, yet DC is also from whence Superman, Batman, and Green Arrow originated. Coincidence?

I think not!

This gave me pause for thought. Suddenly, it all came clear! DJT — Number 45 — is actually a bewigged DC super villain!

Yes, he is … (trumpets, drumroll … long pause) …

LEX LUTHOR!


They smell the same, they think the same ... it's Lex Luthor and he's in charge! OMG!

They smell the same, they think the same … it’s Lex Luthor and he’s in charge! OMG!


He’s here and he’s got his finger on the button! Lex Luthor, the most insane, sadistic, crazoid ultra-super-villain in the DC universe. Superman’s bane. The baddest of the bad guys, the man whose goal has always been the total destruction of our world has made it to the top of the heap. He’s in the White House and he is set to destroy the world!

Reality? No? You can tell the difference? You sure? Because it makes a lot more sense (scents?) that we are now part of the DC world. The world as I understood it vanished a couple of months ago.

Remember the old “If it looks like a duck, smells like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck?” Well … THIS smells like Lex Luthor. He acts like Lex Luthor. I’m pretty sure if you pop a bad rug on Lex’s bald head, you’ll discover he also looks like Lex Luthor.

Ergo ipso, he IS Lex Luthor. Or Humpty Dumpty. Take your pick. I’m with Lex.

Superman, we need you! Come back, Superman! Come home and save us! You’re our last hope!

SCENT | THE DAILY POST

WHY STUDY HISTORY? REFLECTING ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PAST

Posted on January 29, 2017 by Sean Munger in Authors, Books, History /

Al Mackey, the Civil War historian who runs the excellent Student of the American Civil War blog, has today put up a very thoughtful and incisive piece on a book written by another one of our blogging colleagues, Dr. John Fea. Dr. Fea’s book Why Study History? is a clarion call for our times, when understanding of the past–or even appreciation of why understanding the past is even useful–is under serious attack. The themes Dr. Fea talks about in his book, and which Mr. Mackey echoes, are similar to those I recently dealt with in my own article about the dangers of “Fake History.” Please read the whole article at Al’s blog, or, better yet, buy Dr. Fea’s book!

This is an excellent book by John Fea, Associate Professor of American History and Chair of the History Department at Messiah College. Professor Fea is also a blogging colleague, blogging at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, which is also the title of an earlier book of his, subtitled, Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America. There he posts the normal history blog posts as well as personal reflections on current events, religion, politics, and the academic life, as well as videos. He also hosts a podcast that has already been featured on this blog.

In my opinion, everyone who would like to be a serious student of history needs to read this book. Professor Fea gives us an accessible primer on how to do history, from the obligatory “What Do Historians Do?” to “What Can You Do With a History Degree?”

So what is a historian? ” ‘In my opinion,’ writes Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon Wood, ‘not everyone who writes about the past is a historian. Sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and economists frequently work in the past without thinking historically.’ ” [pp. 1-2]

Is history simply the past, or is there a difference?… [CONT’D]

Read the entire original article here: Why Study History? Reflecting on the Importance of the Past.

DIRECT CREMATION – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I was driving along I-95 in Connecticut when I spotted the billboard for “Direct Cremation.”

cremation with confidenceTraffic was just slow enough for me to read a few lines of the pitch. It promised no fuss, no delays, no middle men, red tape … and a money back guarantee if unhappy with service. I wasn’t sure who’d get the money back.

I started laughing over Marty Robbins and “El Paso” playing on the oldies CD. I was still laughing when Marty’s gunfighter died in the arms of his young sweetheart. Instead of a tearful funeral and the strains of “Streets of Laredo,” maybe the gunfighter should have had direct cremation. No muss, no fuss, no mournful Boot Hill farewell.

Direct cremation may be the latest answer to a world of violence. Mob hits, drive by killings, gang bang slayings with collateral damage. Stressed out serial killers and contract button men doing “jobs.” The bodies just keep piling up. Medical Examiners are overworked and cemeteries are running out of room. The U.S. government, in its infinite wisdom, only give each citizen a whopping $242 per body. What to do?

Direct cremation!

Speaking of overworked medical examiners, I’m reminded of a story I covered in Boston.

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Goes back 40 plus years. The county medical examiner was, if you’ll excuse me, “under the gun” with some of his findings. He didn’t look like Quincy, Ducky, or even the sexy Lacey from the “Castle” series. He was a sad, tired, bleary-eyed man in the autumn of his years.

Your favorite intrepid reporter (me) was on the scene. The M.E. was momentarily diverted so I could check the autopsy lab and the morgue. I found the controversial corpse and made a cursory examination. I confronted the M.E. about his findings on the case. He insisted the victim was stabbed to death. I asked him about the several large bullet holes I’d just found. He was speechless.

Direct cremation would have avoided a lot of controversy and embarrassing questions. It’s an idea whose time has come.

DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU

We used to live in a constitutional Republic. It’s a kind of representative democracy in which the Electoral College stands between the citizens and the final result of elections — like a water filter in a well. It’s supposed to keep the big lumps of dirt out of the system.

It isn’t working. Not the filtration on our well — that’s working fine. Our water is clear, cold and tastes as good as water can. It’s the government that is broken and getting more broken by the minute. Somehow, a huge lump of dirt strolled right past the filters and took the reins of power. We’ve got ourselves our very own despot! Holy shit! How did this happen?

I was not even a little surprised that Trump’s minions refused to obey the order of a Federal judge. Why would he? Why would they? He has declared himself outside and above the law and his followers have said YES! We want MORE!

He has declared the constitution obsolete and invalid. His followers have cried Lock them up! Shoot them down! Ban them! And all we said was “Can he do that?” while he did that. Then, we shook our heads sadly.

By “them,” the minions really mean us. You, me, and anyone else they don’t like. Reporters and writers. People with not white skin and anyone who doesn’t go to the right kind of church. We are the declared enemy. If we write stuff about him and he doesn’t like it, we are in his sights. Uh-oh!

We are in trouble. Proof positive this morning that the forces of the law are not going to protect us. They’ve declared that they’re with him, the one who is above and outside the law. Forget all that constitutional gobbledygook. Number 45 is calling the plays and he wrote his own book in sentences of 140 characters or less.

For all of you who skipped history because it’s irrelevant to “real life,” this is a full chapter out of the Adolf Hitler playbook. This is how it’s done, how a minority bullies the majority into kneeling down to a dictator. He does not need the consent of the majority, only that they be too spineless to stand up to him. A powerful bunch of thugs at the helm and a shipload of weak, indecisive “oppositions” who are bound up in not wanting to “make waves.” All the thugs need do is for their opposites to do nothing long enough to let them get a firm grip on the military and enforcement arms of government. Later should opposition develop a spine, it’s too late. The powers of darkness have taken over the army.

They’ve got the weapons and the power while we have gallant words. Which historically, have yet to bring down an armed dictator.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

LIVING WITH BI-POLAR PEOPLE by ELLIN CURLEY

Carrie Fisher was bi-polar. To her credit, she talked about her condition openly and honestly. She brought attention to the disorder and tried to reduce the stigma associated with this, as well as other, mental illnesses. It’s sad that we need celebrities with diseases to increase public awareness about their given malady. But mental illnesses are inherently hard to diagnose, treat and talk about. So as long as people get educated about them, I guess it doesn’t matter how or why.

I have an unwanted and involuntary expertise in Bi-Polar Disorder. Both my ex husband and my son had/have the disease (my ex is deceased). Each of them manifested the condition differently – my ex was mostly manic and my son was mostly depressed. One of the most difficult aspects of this disorder is the fact that it can look so different in different people. It makes it much harder to diagnose because there is no “one-size fits all” set of symptoms by which to identify the condition.

bi-polar-masks

It also makes it harder on the families, who don’t always get the support they need from the medical community. It also makes it easier for the bi-polar person to deny that they have an identifiable syndrome that requires treatment. This denial is very common in Bi-Polar Disease. Also common is the refusal to stay on medication. These factors just add to the difficulties and pain of the family members.

The families of bi-polar sufferers feel different from other families. We know that other families’ lives are not fraught with the unpredictability, volatility and often violence (emotional if not physical) that ours are. We seem to be the only ones living on a roller coaster. We feel inferior, ashamed and isolated. Family members, me included, try to ‘cover up’ the problem and cover for the often inappropriate behavior of the bi-polar loved one. I made countless excuses for the actions and absences of my ex. My daughter tried to avoid the issue altogether by going to friends’ houses and never having friends come to ours when Daddy was ‘off’ or ‘acting up’.

When you live with a bi-polar person, you wonder what’s wrong with you that you live like this. You wonder why you aren’t like other people. Your ego and self-esteem suffer. This is particularly devastating for kids. My kids are in their 30’s and are still dealing with these issues. They are moving on from some questionable relationship choices they made in the past because of their lingering psychological demons.

On the other hand, denial and defending are also big parts of life with a bi-polar person. While married to my ex, after one of his particularly bad manic episodes, I was advised by psychiatrists to go to a program for abused spouses. I thought that was ridiculous. I was in therapy already and I was clearly not in that pathetic category! That label did not apply to me! Of course I didn’t go. I often wonder what would have been different in my life if I had received the support and empowerment I needed at that point in time. I now realize that the whole family needs support and treatment specifically designed to deal with the mentally ill family member. My individual therapy was not enough.

The faces of comedy, tragedy and more in an ancient relief

The faces of comedy, tragedy and more in an ancient relief

Today, there are claims that too many people are being labeled ADHD or Bi-Polar, that it’s become a psychiatric fad to assign mental illness labels to people and ply them with drugs. To me, it’s better to spread a wide net to catch all the people with serious issues and get them the treatment they need. You’re not going to be misdiagnosed if your behavior is perfectly within the range of normal. Something is going on if a doctor thinks you might be bi-polar! If it’s not manic depression, then it certainly is something else that needs attention and possibly medication. Sometimes the only way to come up with an effective treatment is by experimenting.

I became very pro-active psychiatrically. My daughter started to have panic attacks at the age of eleven and I got her on medication immediately. She is grateful to me that she never had to go through the torture of years of horrible anxiety symptoms. She would not have been able to function effectively through school and in jobs without her anxiety meds. I couldn’t get my ex to stay on meds and get a stable life. But at least I got my daughter on medication early so she had fewer issues getting through life than she would have without my early intervention. At least I have one psychiatric success story to brag about!

ONCOLOGY AND AN INTERESTING BOOK

REPLACEMENT BREASTS – NOT QUITE ORIGINAL ISSUE


Anyone who has had cancer, no matter how many years have passed, knows you are never “cured.” The best anyone can say is “so far, so good.” Cancer isn’t a single disease. There is no test to tell you your body is free of cancer cells.

This is, of course, true of everyone from birth till death, but when you have had a run in with cancer, it stops being theoretical and morphs into something more sinister and personal. In 2010, I had a double mastectomy, losing both breasts to cancer. It wasn’t a prophylactic double mastectomy. I actually had cancer in both breasts. Two unrelated tumors at the same time. The odds against getting breast cancer in both breasts simultaneously are incredibly small. I seem to be one of the those people who manages to beat normal odds — not in a good way.

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After the mastectomies, I got instant reconstruction. Two silicon implants replaced my breasts. They do not, as people imagine, look like real breasts. When you are in the tunnel through breast cancer to (hopefully) recovery, you find yourself answering weird questions. Like “how large do you want them to be?” Do you want nipples? Saline or silicon?

I went with smallish and no nipples (they require two extra surgeries and they are entirely for appearance), and silicon, which feels more real. I suppose it’s all for appearance, really — the appearance of womanhood matters when the parts have been replaced with something that isn’t real flesh.

Everything went well — or as well as these things ever go. I hoped I was done with cancer. Imagine my surprise when I realized there was something hard underneath the scar across my right implant. Flat, hard. My first reaction was “What the hell?” Can I get breast cancer without breasts?

180-exam-room-dana-farber-270117_23

I hit the Internet to discover it is probably scar tissue. Or (unlikely but not impossible) a very rare form of skin cancer that grows directly under the mastectomy scar. Rare isn’t impossible. Not in my world, so reluctantly, I made an appointment at the Dana-Farber. It is the only dedicated cancer facility in Worcester County and has been where I’ve done all my follow-up since the surgery.

I had my surgery and reconstruction at the Faulkner Hospital in Boston. My surgeon and plastic reconstruction surgeon are the best. Anywhere. Literally described by my local oncologist calls “the dream team,” If you have breast cancer, this is as good as it gets and if life throws this at you, I strongly advise you to find the best surgeons, even if they aren’t convenient. You want to get this right the first time.

My oncologist thinks, as I do, that it’s nothing to get excited about, but we’ll watch it. If it seems to be growing, or starts hurting, we’ll move on to testing. In the meantime, I take a deep breath and can return to worrying about the lunatic pretending to be President who seems intent on making my personal angst irrelevant by blowing up the world.


As this was going on, I have been reading. A lot. Most of the books have been lackluster, to put it kindly. Life and Other Near-Death Experiences: A Novel by Camille Pagan grabbed me from the first page and kept me engaged to the end, wishing that it wouldn’t end. Which is a pretty unusual thing to say considering the book is about a young woman who discovers she has a very rare, aggressive form of cancer and her marriage comes unglued — at the same time. Literally, both things hitting her on the same day.

life-and-other-near-death-experiences-coverWhat takes the book out of the ordinary from other books that deal with life and death, is it never takes the easy way out. No cheap or easy solutions. It confronts real-life decisions that people in major life crises are forced to make. It does so with humor, wit, and realism.

The main character of the story freaks out when her life falls apart and needs time plus substantial support from family and friends to face her new reality. It’s the most realistic story about dealing with cancer I’ve read and it wasn’t depressing. Not a guffaw filled romp or a vale of tears. It reminded me that how we react to appalling news varies, but we all react. You cannot fail to be changed by facing death while realizing there’s no guarantee you’ll beat it, no matter what you do.

Once you’ve had any medical crisis that will kill you left untreated and might kill you anyway, even with treatment, you never look at life the same way. You don’t take life as a given. None of us should ever take life for granted, but most of us do. Until we come face to face with the dark angel and he’s holding our number.

This is a good book. A surprisingly good book. I hope it will get some attention. It is lumped into the category of “humor” where it doesn’t exactly fit … but I’m not sure where it would fit. Maybe humor is as good as any other placement.

Regardless, any book that can make you laugh in the face of death is worth a read.

NINIANE – THE LADY OF THE LAKE

See on Scoop.itTraveling Through Time

TALLHWCH – The pursuit of history

The first mention of either the Lady of the Lake or Ninian (Niniane, Vivian, etc.) is to be found in the late work Prose Merlin.  Her character remains much the same through to Sir Thomas Malory, who simply makes the story more complex.  In all the stories that name her Ninian is a fully developed character.  She is the original owner of Arthur’s second sword and later becomes Merlin’s pupil.

However, as with many aspects of the Arthurian literary world, there are serious gaps in reasoning with her story, and these gaps suggest a very different origin for her.  For instance, Merlin somehow knows she will betray him, but teaches her anyway.  The romances explain that he does so because he loves her, but that sounds like more of a rationalization of something not understood than an historical fact that is.

The end of her story is that Niniane does trap Merlin in a cave the moment her studies are over.  He is left there, alive (again, no serious explanation).  It certainly is not out of malice for Arthur.  Ninian takes over as his counselor for the remainder of his reign and does her best to help him.  She is also one of the four women who takes him to Avalon.  That is the extent of Ninian’s literary career.  Clearly her original character and the transformation have been hidden by chance and misunderstandings.

Uinniau was a prominent ecclesiastic of sixth century Britain who may have been Columba’s teacher.  He was known as Ninian in Welsh saints’ lives or Nynia by Bede.  However, much of Scotland has place-names derived from his proper name of Uinniau.  This Uinniau was known for three things mainly.  First, he was one of the most knowledgeable persons of his age.  Second, he was a great teacher who made his monastery of Whithorn was a primary center of learning in Britain.  Finally, it is known that he would occasionally go on a retreat to a nearby cave, known as St. Ninian’s Cave, which was several miles away from his monastery.

Ninian would eventually became the form by which Uinniau was exclusively known.  In fact, the process must have been an early one.  Bede, writing in 725, knew him only by that name.  It was an unfortunate circumstance that Ninian was a Celtic name, and the romance writers who would treat Arthur on the continent spoke Germanic and Latin languages.  The unfamiliarity with Celtic would lead to confusion over his gender, and he became a she there.

Arthur was an attractive figure in the literature of the Middle Ages, gravitating all manner of figures, motifs, and stories to him.  In previous blogs I have mentioned the attraction of the Myrddin (Merlin) legend and the figure of Urien.  The same sort of fate awaited Uinniau.  Long before Arthur had become a figure of romance, Uinniau’s dominant name-form had become to Ninian.  For the Celtic speaker that was still a male name, but for continentals it was female.

That change from male to female, from independent ecclesiastic to intelligent layperson was where Uinniau became a different literary figure.  Once Uinniau was a part of the Arthurian universe, his reputation for intelligence would have drawn him to the already established Merlin; in an irony of history a lunatic (Myrddin) became the teacher of one of the best-read people of the age (Uinniau).  Once that  transformation was accomplished, the latent aspects of Uinniau’s memory easily made their way into Arthurian the tales, and Merlin was trapped in the cave Uinnau had used as a refuge.

I won’t pretend to know how Ninian became the Lady of the Lake.  However, she would not have begun her Arthurian career that way.  She would have started off as Merlin’s pupil and successor with the qualities of her historical precursor intact.  She was associated with a lake only by Robert de Boron, an author that I have discovered in my research was not one to stick with his traditional sources.  It is possible he knew of some Celtic tale which he used to enhance Uinniau’s mythology.  It is equally possible he used something more contemporary.  That part of the history of the Lady of the Lake we may never know.

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

One of my favorite mysteries, leaving enough unanswered questions to hold my interest. If you have never visited TALLWCH, check it out: http://tallhwch.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/niniane-the-lady-of-the-lake/

See on tallhwch.wordpress.com

MELLOW (YELLOW)

As days go, this has been a very mellow one. I finally got a decent night’s sleep. And it’s pretty warm, a bright clear day with a lovely winter pale yellow sun almost adding color to the otherwise rather gray landscape. The last days of January without snow is almost a world with the pause button pressed.

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The dogs know how to deal with such a day. They are good that way.

Yellow late afternoon light on two lazy little dogs

Yellow late afternoon light on two lazy little dogs

Now, I’m going off to wash my hair, then cook a little supper.

YELLOW | THE DAILY POST

ICE DAMS

A Photo a Week Challenge: Ice, Ice, Baby


No ice this year, but we have had some astounding, huge, ice dams in past winters. This was shot from inside through the ice. It was the winter when we didn’t have any snow until the very end of January, but managed to accumulate more than 12 feet by mid-March. After it began snowing, it forgot to stop.

The odd "grid" in the background is the screen which I should have removed before winter because that ice destroyed it.

The “grid” in the background is the window screen. I should have removed it before winter. The ice destroyed it.

Icicles look pretty, but they do a lot of damage to houses, especially roofs and eaves.  Ice weighs down tree branches, causing them to snap. Sometimes, ice will cause entire trees to fall. Ice dams can prove dangerous.

You can clearly see the screen on this one. By this time in the winter, the ice had adhered to the screen, forming a curtain of ice.

You can more clearly see the screen in this picture. By now, the ice had formed a curtain.

A big one can weigh several hundred pounds. I know people who have been seriously injured by falling ice.

 

WHY THIS WORLD SHOULD END

The Path to a New Beginning, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


Ask anyone what is wrong with the world, and you will certainly get an opinion, or many of them.  We can all point to things that are wrong with politics, education, religion or whatever it is that crosses our minds, but we don’t all agree on what those things are.  We are severely polarized, and we can not reach a consensus.  Worse yet, there are influential people who will try to make sure the majority do not rule, as our recent national election shows.

With an eye toward the concept this divisive world should end, the one that is full of prejudices and deceit, is a video that presents our problems in detail.  That YouTube presentation has gone viral.  A rap artist and rights activist who calls himself Prince EA has put out a video that now has over seven million views and has been reposted and shared everywhere.  It needs reposting again.

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Richard Williams, a 26-year-old advocate for change, has taken a stage name, Prince EA.  It is not unusual for a rap artist to take a stage name, but this one has significant meaning.  For Williams it means Prince of the Earth, for it is with the earth that he is most concerned.  The world, and all of its problems, needs a mighty voice and that is what Williams aims to provide in a well produced video.  He wastes no time in coming to the point.  The video opens strongly:

The world is coming to an end
The air is polluted, the oceans contaminated
The animals are going extinct, the economy’s collapsed
Education is shot, police are corrupt
Intelligence is shunned and ignorance rewarded

The people are depressed and angry
We can’t live with each other and…

He will tell you we can’t live with ourselves. We can’t really communicate with others.  Do we not live in a world of “robotic communication?”  I see it all the time.  There are people too busy with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat or whatever to have real communication.  So perhaps it is somewhat ironic that Williams’ message has gone viral on YouTube.

Presidents lie, politicians trick us
Race is still an issue and so is religion
Your God doesn’t exist, my God does and he is All-Loving
If you disagree with me, I’ll kill you
Or even worse argue, you to death

When we argue people to death, how often do we do it anonymously via Facebook or Twitter.  How willing are we to really face these problems and seek solutions?  The world we see is one Williams thinks should end.  Do you agree?

Our role models today
60 years ago would have been examples of what not to be
There are states where people can legally be discriminated against
Because they were born a certain way

There are indeed role models today who in past generations would not have been allowed to be seen by youth as a standard to achieve, if they were allowed to be seen at all.  And while we permit this type of role model, we see certain parts of society who some would like to suppress, because of skin color, sexual orientation or religion.  How can we popularize sex and violence while discriminating against love and religion?

So what can we do in the face of all of this madness and chaos?
What is the solution?

Prince EA asks the question and he is not afraid to follow with the answer.  It is a simple answer, of course.  It is the answer we have known all throughout time, but rarely seem to apply.

“We can love
Not the love you hear in your favorite song on the radio
I mean real love, true love, boundless love
You can love, love each other”

This is why the world should end.  It needs a fresh start with love.  It is the love we must all provide.  Where do we start to write a new history? Where is that new beginning?  Where is that message that we need to go viral?

“Why I think the World Should End,” by Prince EA, Cinematography and Editing by Brandon Sloan

JUST SAY NO

Remember how, many years ago in a galaxy far, far away — you know,  during the Reagan administration — our government decided the best anti-drug program was “JUST SAY NO!” Make every person 100% responsible for whatever happens to him or her. As history tells us, this anti-drug campaign was so successful, we no longer have drug problems in this country.

So I thought we might use this same highly successful approach to other major social issues.

NO!

Like health care. As we move from an era of medical insurance to “Good luck, buddy,”  we need new coping strategies. How about “Say no to sickness!” If you feel like crap, just say NO. Cancer or heart disease got you down? Smile! A bright smile and a positive attitude coupled with a firm approach, take-no-prisoners attitude to germs and chronic ailments will wipe away your tears. Let a smile be your umbrella when your arthritis is throbbing. If you can’t breathe because you don’t have an inhaler? Say NO to wheezing. Everything will be right as rain.

Gun violence is another good example of a problem that wouldn’t exist if we each had a better attitude. Alternatively, if you are a devotee of second amendment rights, try getting a bigger weapon. When bullets start to fly, just say NO! Like magic, bullets will bounce right off you. Would I lie to you? There is no problem too complicated that magical thinking will not make it disappear. We can fix everything with firm resolve, a positive attitude, and denial.

Speaking of climate change (we weren’t but now we are), there’s no such thing. Nothing is going on. No need to seek higher ground. Well, what about water pollution? Nonsense! Funny-colored smelly water is merely chock full of extra nutrients. Yummy!

JUST SAY NO is the ultimate, cost-effective way to deal with everything. A few television ads and some billboards along the highway and Bob’s your uncle, the problem vanishes. Maybe you can add some pamphlets. If these don’t quite do the job, you’ll probably die. In which case, it becomes someone else’s problem. We all know — at least those of us who have read Douglas Adams — that someone else’s problem, is invisible. If we can’t see it, it’s not there. (Phew. I was worried for a minute.)

It’s entirely up to you. Just say no. And keep saying it .

AUTOMATICALLY

AUTOMATIC | THE DAILY POST


I lived my life on automatic for a long time. I got up, got dressed, scraped the ice off the car, went to work (stopping for coffee along the route) and proceeded through my day. Stopping to think only as required. Usually that was when someone asked me a questions, like “Hey, we’re sending out for pizza, you want in?” and that wasn’t a very big think.

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Between having done the same kind of work for a long time and perpetually racing against a deadline, thinking was a luxury. I wasn’t against it. I employed it when needed, but anything that I could do without engaging the frontal lobes made the day go more smoothly.

And then, everything changed.

An office

The industry decided that the work I did wasn’t necessary. Who needs a manual to tell them how to use equipment that costs a gazillion dollars and controls the operation of a steel mill? Or a missile tracking system? Or a space satellite grabber for use out in space? They can always call the help desk (especially in space where you can always find a good solid signal for your phone). Of course, those were the days when you actually could get help from people at the desk because everyone in the company was available to answer questions. From the CEO to the developers who designed each product module, we were all there to help. I was the one who organized all the chaotic information into a book with a table of contents, and index, chapters, and diagrams so you would not alway have to call someone.

empty equipment boxes

But the bottom line did me in. You can’t cut developers and you need a boss because someone has to say why you are all gathered here this morning. Also, the boss makes sure there’s coffee to fuel workers. That’s critical.

But a writer? They would only hire me when they were nearing the end of the cycle and realized the contract required they deliver documentation with the product. Sometimes, I got as little as three weeks to learn the product and produce a book that looked professional. At that point, no one much cared what was in the book or whether the information would be of any use to anyone. It just had to be big, thick, nicely designed, and weigh enough to use as a doorstop.

My days were numbered. Eventually, I was OUT.

They created “automatic documentation” generated by a program using “comments” left by developers. Many of whom speak English as a second or third language and in any case, do not understand how people work and what information they need to successfully navigate a complex product.

300-gibbs-sofa-dog-13122016_002It turns out, people were still willing to spend oodles of money and for an undocumented product. So I guess they were right.

Now, I live in the world of retirees where automatic is a word applied to machinery only. The boiler that heats the house. Electricity that powers everything. The pump which delivers water from the well. Supposedly the cable, telephone, and WiFi is also automatic, but not nearly as automatic as it should be.

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Nothing I personally do is automatic anymore. I walk purposefully because I prefer to not fall and break something. I think before I get out of the chair or bed, making sure my feet are solidly planted on the floor and I’ve found my balance. I navigate stairs slowly and rough ground even slower. From living in the fast lane, we have moved over to the far right and follow the slow traffic.

We go to bed when we want to and get up (only) when we must. We do what we should, but not everything we ought. Good-bye automation!

TRANSFORMED TRACTOR

WEEKLY WORDPRESS PHOTO CHALLENGE – REPURPOSE


We hadn’t been living here a week when I spotted the line of old farm tractors. Some of them had “For Sale” signs on them. Everyone has a weakness and mine is for old machinery. I love it. In another community, they’d probably already have been consigned to the junkyard, crushed for the metal content.

“Wow,” I said to Garry. “Wouldn’t that be cool? Kids could climb on it. We could build a garden around it.” And then, we went home.

A month later, on our tenth anniversary in September, a flatbed trailer backed down our driveway. It delivered my 1924 Fordson Tractor.  We gave it a Model-A Ford steering wheel, an old license plate — though with its seized engine, it wasn’t going anywhere under its own power — and a new seat. After Owen built the garden with the rocks repurposed from the wall in the woods which repurposed from them just being big rocks in a field that was not full of trees, the tractor moved next to the garden wall. It has a new life as garden decor. A Japanese maple tree is growing directly in front of it and there’s no way to extract the tractor, so as long as we are here to protect it, the tractor will have a home on our land.

Some people have asked us why we have that piece of junk in the garden. What can I tell them? How many women are lucky enough to have a husband who’d buy his wife an antique tractor for their 10th anniversary? What a guy!

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

I’M GLAD MOM DIDN’T LIVE TO SEE THIS

Martha Kennedy suggested I watch this video. Generally, I don’t watch videos and this isn’t my musical taste. You don’t need to like the music and I don’t think the group “Dead Kennedys” expected you to like it. This isn’t entertainment. It is eerily prescient … except that current reality exceeds my wildest, weirdest, worst fears.

When you finish watching that, you should read this piece from The New Yorker. The two go together like a horse and carriage, although I’m ready to believe that the cart is pulling the horse. I never believed I could be this personally upset by national politics. But I’ve never lived through anything like this before. I’m glad my mother didn’t live to see this.

Donald Trump’s lies, and his urge to tell them, are pure Big Brother crude, however oafish their articulation. PHOTOGRAPH BY NINA BERMAN / NOOR / REDUX

Donald Trump’s lies, and his urge to tell them, are pure Big Brother crude, however oafish their articulation.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NINA BERMAN / NOOR / REDUX

http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/orwells-1984-and-trumps-america?mbid=nl_TNY

I am now living my nightmare in a world rendered dystopian by one man and a lot of foolish voters and liberals too faint of heart to recognize a genuine threat when it was shouting in their faces. They still seem paralyzed. Maybe when the shock wears off? The Women’s March was, to date, the brightest spot in what has been only one week of Number 45’s reign of terror.

It feels longer, doesn’t it?

CARING IS SHARING. PASS THE KLEENEX.

Does it show how much I love my husband that I gave him my cold? Maybe he gave me his cold and he didn’t know it because he was incubating. Maybe we both picked it up in the grocery store … or our doctor’s office. Did the Russians hack my sinuses?

These are the kinds of questions with which I struggle.

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: January 23, 2017

Do you prefer juice or fruit?

72-Bowl of cherries _12

I used to be so passionate about juice I actually couldn’t imagine life without it. But, I live without it. Funny what you can get used to when you have no choice. I do eat fruit.

300-fruit-tangerine-orange-230117_02

Mostly, in season, One day, I will probably overdose on fresh cherries in season. Right now, I’m working on a tangerine overdose … but I tell myself that vitamin C can’t be bad for me, right?

Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?

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I grew up in a small town in a big city. Holliswood was sort of rural. We had farms. Chickens. Goats. Horses. And were walking distance (okay, a very long walking distance) from the subway. I thought it was the perfect place to grow up and I haven’t changed my mind.

If you were to paint a picture of your childhood, what colors would you use?

The_12-Foot_Teepee_Cover_for_Kindle

I wrote a book. If you really want to know, you are welcome to read it. The answer to this question is way too complicated for this post. The 12-Foot Teepee is available for Kindle and in paperback. From Amazon.

Ways to Relax List: Make a list of what relaxes you and helps you feel calm.

  • Reading.
  • Listening to an audiobook.
  • Taking pictures.
  • Processing pictures.
  • Watching movies.
  • Watching sports, sometimes.
  • Watching murder mysteries and guessing who done it before the credits have finished rolling.
  • Laughing. At anything for any reason.
  • The dogs. Because they are everything, all wrapped in furry little packages.

Have a great weekend everyone!