SOLVING TWO FAMILY MYSTERIES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

We’ve had two family ‘mysteries’ that involved genetics and inheritance of traits. The first involved my first husband, Larry, and his blood type. He always said that his dog tag from the army (Texas and Vietnam postings in the early 1970s) listed his blood type as O – the universal donor.

Normally blood type is at most a not very interesting fact about a person, but it became an issue when my second child, Sarah, was born. I don’t know why it didn’t come up when my first child was born, but it just didn’t.

The OB-GYN who delivered Sarah came in after her birth to talk to us about our new daughter’s health. As part of her report, she mentioned that Sarah’s blood type was AB positive. I am type A and Larry suddenly realized as type O, you can’t get an AB child. Not from an A parent and an O parent. He started to get upset.

Sarah’s birth announcement

The doctor pulled me aside and furtively asked me if I wanted her to pursue the issue. She was politely asking if the child could have a father other than Larry. I told her emphatically that the child was Larry’s and asked her to please do everything she could to find the obvious error as quickly as possible.

Larry, Sarah and I all had our blood drawn for testing. It was very tense between Larry and me while we were waiting for the results. I knew that Larry was the father but he believed that he couldn’t be, so what should have been a glorious day for us turned out to be strained, at best.

Larry and Sarah when she first came home from the hospital

Thank goodness the test results came back quickly. I was confirmed as type A, Sarah was confirmed as type AB positive and Larry turned out to be AB positive too, just like his daughter. The army had made a serious error. Larry’s blood type was listed as the universal donor type instead of the universal recipient type. So if they had ever asked him to donate blood, he could have killed someone with an incompatible transfusion!

Larry was shocked that the military had made such a serious error but he was greatly relieved. In fact, both of our kids have their father’s blood type. So, marital crisis averted!

Another picture of Larry and a newborn Sarah

The other genetic mystery we had in our family was my son, David’s, left-handedness. David was an eight-week Preemie and was part of a study of Preemie development at New York Hospital. A researcher came to our house once a month during David’s first year of life and gave him a battery of behavioral and motor development tests.

He was about a month behind in most things but he was way ahead on one – favoring one hand over the other. That usually doesn’t happen till the end of the first year, but from the time David could reach for things, he strongly favored his left hand.

My mother, me and David when he was an infant

The developmental testers were surprised and so was the family since being left-handed is genetic and no one in either family was left-handed. We quizzed every family member on both sides but David still remained a mystery. Then one day, when David was about one and a half or two years old, my mother was playing with him and the topic of his left-handedness came up again.

Suddenly a light went off in my mother’s brain. “Oh my God!” she said. “I forgot that I was born left-handed!”

My favorite photo of my mom and David

In 1916, when my mother was born, being left-handed was not considered to be a good thing. It was a ‘problem’ that had to be ‘fixed’ to make the child ‘normal’ and like the majority of the population. When Mom was of school age, she was forced to use her right hand instead of her left.

This was so traumatic for her, as well as being neurologically challenging, that she developed a stutter. A ‘psychologist’ of the day told my grandmother to cure Mom’s stutter by smacking her in the face every time she stuttered. This barbaric tactic eventually worked and Mom grew up to be a right-handed adult with no stutter.

My mom as a two-year-old in 1918

But the experience so scarred her that she buried the memory. Even a year of talking about David’s inexplicable left-handedness didn’t trigger her memory. I don’t know what finally did, but now we know that David inherited something directly from his grandmother.

Another family mystery solved!

ISOLATED OBJECTS – CEE’S B&W PHOTOGRAPHY CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s B & W Photo Challenge: Isolated Objects

One bird in a flat feeder.
One wacko dog
One tepee
One lone Black-crowned-night-heron
Singular cactus
Flying!

SO GROWS THE CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong

So grows the cactus – FOTD – 02/25/2019

I picked up the camera today. My shoulder actually hurt more than yesterday and it was obvious that I needed to shoot. I realized as I spent all day shooting, then processing photographs, that the problem isn’t the camera and its weight. It’s these all day workouts on the computer.

I’m not sure what I can do about it because when you shoot, you are going to process … and if you take a lot of pictures — and Garry took quite a few today too — you are going to process a lot.

If anyone has an answer for how to do this without all the crippling side effects, let me know. My wrists, shoulder, neck, and back will thank you.

There are a lot of buds waiting to open soon, too. So there will be more!

Full bloom
Standing back
Closer
Macro
What a little sunlight can do!

AND, THE OSCAR GOES TO … BUT, DO YOU CARE? – Garry Armstrong

I’m part of the new “lost generation”.  I grew up loving movies when there were more stars in Hollywood than in heaven.

I plead guilty to reading fan mags about stars like Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper (Mom named me after “Coop”, her favorite star), Ingrid Bergman, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and many other Tinsel town legends.

I remember “Photoplay” pic layouts of Alan and Sue Carroll Ladd at home. Ladd, with his million-dollar smile, was mowing the lawn, playing with his dogs and hugging the kids, Alan “Laddie” Junior, Alana and David. It was so cool – “Shane” really had a home and family in swanky Beverly Hills.

There was the “Movietone” photo platter with William Holden — home at his ranch with horses and neighbors – smiling and eating hot dogs at their backyard barbecue. It looked so real. A day in the life of Hollywood superstars. I believed it all.

It was the naiveté of a pre-teen movie fan. Yes, I wanted to be a movie star when I grew up. I used to see  – every week –3 double features, cartoons and coming attractions at the local and first-run movie houses near my Jamaica, Queens home in the ’40s and early ’50s.

The Academy Awards were bigger than the World Series even though I was a  true Dodger Blue fan of  Brooklyn’s Boys of Summer.

I started watching the Oscars in black and white with Bob Hope hosting and still in his prime – complaining about being shut out from acting awards by Ronald Coleman, Cary Grant, and James Cagney. It was standard Hollywood humor we all knew, understood, and loved.

During those early 50’s telecasts of the Oscars, it was terrific when the cameras panned the audience to show Greer Garson, Gloria Swanson, Gene Kelly, Spencer Tracy and all the other luminous stars from the golden age of the silver screen.

Previous Oscar-winning movies

Fans used to mull, for weeks, who’d win the major awards. Would Cary Grant finally win after being overlooked for decades? Would newcomers like Paul Newman, Richard Burton, Richard Harris, and Steve McQueen get more attention than the “old guard.” Who was more exciting? Rock Hudson, Kirk Douglas or Clark Gable (Gable had passed away in ’61 but was still hugely popular).

There were the larger than life heroes like John Wayne who’d never received an Oscar despite half a century of stardom. How about Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Barbara Stanwyck?  Were they still TOP stars?  There was the fascination with Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Sophia Loren, Kim Novak, Mamie Van Doren, and Diana Dors. What would they be wearing on Oscar night?  How much would they “reveal?” How much jewelry would Liz Taylor wear?  Could Burton stay sober?

One of my favorite Oscar moments came in the ’60s when Sidney Poitier became the first Black actor to win the coveted “Best Actor” award. Poitier opened the door for Denzel, Wil Smith and so many other minority performers previously relegated to grossly stereotypical roles.

2019 lead Oscar actresses

The Oscar show was must-see viewing for the stars as much as the films and performers vying for the industry’s top awards.  Hollywood pioneers like Cecil B. Demille, Adolph Zukor, Jack Warner, and Darryl Zanuck could still be seen and heard. I especially loved seeing legends from the silent film days like Mary Pickford, Buster Keaton and others who were there when the curtains first raised on “moving pictures”.

There were wonderful impromptu moments like David Niven almost being upstaged by a streaker. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas delighting us with a nifty song and dance number.

Shirley Temple, Margaret O’Brien, Mickey Rooney, and Judy Garland — staples from their youth — were still vital and enjoyable to watch and hear.

Where have all the stars gone today (insert “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” melody here). I don’t know most of the folks who are stars unless I’ve seen them on “Facebook” ‘news’ items.

I don’t much about most of the movies up for awards. I know some are about superheroes, trendsetters in new diversity movies and a rash of “coming of age” flicks that draw blanks at this address.

I know about the industry controversies including Harvey Weinstein and the “Me Too” movement. Diversity for all those excluded since the first Oscars — nine decades ago during the prelude to the great depression. I know this year’s Oscar show will be minus a host.

Maybe that’ll be a plus?

The magic is gone — along with the stars who made the magic. The show is far too long with winners taking too long to thank everyone including their dog walker.

All that said, we’ll still watch. Until we doze off.

Why? It’s the stuff dreams are made of …

A ROCK IS A ROCK IS A ROCK – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP-Sunday–ROCK

A rock is always a rock. No one argues whether it is a lady rock or a man rock unless the rocks argue between themselves. But yesterday, I was captioning a picture in Garry’s piece about the Oscars. It was the six actresses who are up for “Leading Actress” awards at tonight’s Oscars. I’ve noticed how everyone — male, female, and other — all refer to themselves as “actors” because we are not supposed to notice that there are actual physical differences between the sexes. Unless we are on a date, in which case we notice little else.

It brought to mind a sign I saw in a hospital — maybe 20 years ago? — which said, “Persons in need of gynecological care please go to the fourth-floor sign-in desk.”

Persons? How many male persons are in need of gynecological care?

As far as I am concerned, making all people the same effectively eliminates much of what makes us an interesting species. It certainly spells the end of much of the enjoyment we take in one another. I realize that women have been oppressed. I am a woman. I have been oppressed. I’ve been raped, nearly strangled by dates who had tentacles instead of arms. I’ve been paid less despite working harder — and better — than male colleagues. I’ve failed to be given a raise or a better job because I don’t have a dick.

I like being a woman. I don’t want to be a sexless “human” individual. I am not a rock. I like men because they are men and because they are funny and fun. Besides, I’m married to one and I like him. I think it’s mutual.

Left: female, Right: male

So for my caption, I wrote “Actresses.” Because they are women and the award is for best leading actress in a movie. If we are going to eliminate sex, why not just group all the leading actors — male, female, and other — in a giant group and just randomly give out awards because they are all actors, right?

Does anyone think that’s a good idea?

As long as we don’t use word discrimination because that’s BAD. Of course, we will still pay women less for the same or better work. Stranglers, rapists, and gropers won’t give a rat’s ass about wording. They know who is who and word games won’t change them.

Maybe it’s time to recognize that words have power, but proper phrasing is not going to change the interactions we find most hateful and cruel? Maybe it’s time to focus on the real problems and try to fix them — the cultural upbringing that tells boys it’s okay to maul a woman because they can. Maybe it’s time to pass that equal pay amendment. Maybe it’s time to make rape a serious felony and use the investigative information we have to nail the bastards.

Maybe the women competing for Best Actress should proudly remain women, too.

THE QUESTIONS WITH JUST ONE ANSWER – Rich Paschall

No Mystery Here, by Rich Paschall

Many questions may arise throughout each week in your household.  If it is a multi-person household, it may be difficult to ascertain the answers, but in a two-person household, there is just one option.

You probably know all these questions.  They are standard and customary in life.  People everywhere are asking them.  Some will need to be repeated often during the year.  Each response, if you get one in your multi-person home, may surprise you.  If you have multiple teenagers, for example, you may think you know who caused _________ (fill in the issue), only to find out later that a different teenager, or even your mate, is responsible.

Arriving at Chicago O’Hare

When my mate joined me here, all things were fine at first.  I tried to accommodate my friend as best I could, and he tried to fit into the routine of his new house.  Each of us, I do believe, was conscious of the fact that changes and concessions needed to be made.

Then something happened, as it does with all mates.  We got comfortable with one another.  This meant we reverted to old habits from when we lived alone or picked up new ones based on our new environment.

This inevitably led to the type of situations that most of us face. These situations give rise to the questions you certainly have heard, and/or asked throughout your lifetime.  Now, here in our humble lodgings, I have those same questions, and of course, so does my mate.  We both know the answers to these questions, as there can be just one answer, but we sometimes ask them anyway.

“Who left the empty milk carton on the kitchen table?” The answer to this is the same as the more frustrating variable, “Who put the empty milk carton back in the refrigerator?” Usually, the response is the “I don’t know” look.  You know, the same one the dog will give you when asked who knocked over the garbage can and spread its contents about.

We also have “Who used up the paper towels and did not replace the roll?”  We always have paper towels on hand  One of us did not grow up with the concerns about waste as the other.  Three rolls of paper towels would have lasted me a year.  Now we buy a six-roll pack every few weeks.

That question is not as frustrating as the similar “Who used up the toilet paper and did not replace the roll?” Yes, we keep toilet paper in the bathroom, but I never discover there is none on the roller until I need it.  Furthermore, someone often removes the old roll and puts it in a basket in the bathroom.  No, not a wastebasket, but one of four small metal baskets on a stand used for various toiletries.

I guess that would give rise to the “Who did not put this empty roll in the recycle bin?” but that really is not the more important question, is it?

Each of us prefers to do the dishes because quite honestly, we both think the other one sucks at it.  Seriously, rubbing a soapy sponge over a dish does not necessarily clean it, but I digress.  Unlike my mate, I have lived in the apartment for many years and know exactly how much of something we have.  So, when I am doing the dishes, I know what is missing.

“Do you have one of the wine glasses in the bedroom?”  This might actually go along with the protestation “No!” “Well we are missing one and it is not in the cabinet, not in the kitchen or living room, so it must be in the bedroom.”  Once again  I may get the same stare your dog has perfected for “Who, me?”  “Oh, yes it is here, sorry.”

Now I will confess that I too can be on the wrong end of our household questions.  I may hear “Rich?”  Actually, in our case, it is more likely to be “Reeeeech?” This may come in a somewhat ominous and accusing tone.

“Yes?”

“Did you eat the other pastry I brought home from the Colombian bakery yesterday?”  I can not accuse the dog since we do not have one.  And I can not blame the cat since he never comes in the house anymore since John is here.  He has taken up residence in the basement.  Besides, the cat does not like pastry, as far as I know.

Since we are both drivers on the same car, we can now ask “Who drove the car last and left the gas tank on ‘E,’ as in empty?”  Fortunately, roomie is willing to right this particular wrong, if I am willing to hand over the cash, or the credit card.

There are many other questions.  “Who left their socks on the living room floor?  Who left their gym shoes in the middle of the kitchen floor? Who broke my coffee cup?”

You can see each of these questions has but one answer.  Sometimes, I do not bother asking them as I do not need to drive the point home…again. But I will ask all of them again soon because that is the way of modern life in our household.  How about yours?

IT’S JUST A THEORY – REBLOG – Fandango

Words matter. Truth matters. Definitions count. I remember a brief conversation with someone I had counted as a friend who told me that all reporting was lies.

I pointed out that my husband — among many other friends — was a reporter and never did I know him to haul himself out of bed in the middle of the night to cover a breaking story and then lie to the public — or anyone.

She paused and then she said: “Does it matter?”

If truth does not matter, what DOES matter? In the end, if truth doesn’t matter, then everything we know, learn, might learn — means nothing.


IT’S JUST A THEORY – From December 2017


00BA5746-684A-481D-8D86-D29C09BB7601It really chaps my ass when people argue that evolution is “just a theory” in order to attack its credibility.

In everyday vernacular, the term “theory” is often used to describe a guess or a hunch. In science, though, a theory is not a “good guess.” It’s something that has been proven to have considerable merit based upon substantial amounts of evidence. It’s based upon facts and observations, not on beliefs.

Let’s clarify a few terms and how they’re defined from the scientific perspective.

Hypothesis: In science, a hypothesis is an educated guess based on observation. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A hypothesis can be disproven, but not proven to be true.

Fact: In science, a fact is an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and, for all practical purposes, is accepted as “true.” Truth in science, however, is never final and what is accepted as a fact today may be modified or even discarded tomorrow based upon further examination and new discoveries.

Theory: In science, a theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.

So, a scientific theory, such as evolution, is a highly substantiated, well-supported, well-documented explanation for our observations. It ties together all the facts about something and provides an explanation that fits all the observations. In science, a theory is an ultimate goal and the explanation. It’s as close to proven as anything in science can be.

In other words, a hypothesis is an educated guess. A fact is a “what.” A theory is a how and/or a why. A theory in science is an explanation, not just a hunch or a good guess.

What a theory is not is a belief or an opinion unsubstantiated by observable, tested evidence.

So to those of you who claim that evolution is “just a theory,” you’re right, it is a theory. A well-founded scientific theory.


Written for these daily prompts: Word of the Day Challenge (itching), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (theory), Ragtag Daily Prompt (air), and Your Daily Word Prompt (rapscallion).

THE COLD THAT IS GOING AROUND – Marilyn Armstrong

It hit both of us this morning, within an hour. Suffice to say, it’s nothing awful, but it’s something and I HATE colds. I know they are no big deal, but I HATE THEM.

We both have one.

Sniff. Cough.

Where’s someone to make me chicken soup? We NEED chicken soup or more to the point, I need chicken soup. I guess I’ll have to cook some.

THEORETICALLY SPEAKING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Theory

Theoretically speaking, “This too shall pass.” With all the hysteria, fervor, passion, anger, sheer madness … THIS TOO SHALL PASS.


Her son died. Her husband died. Their father died. His brother died, then his father. It was. Cancer. Heart attack. A minor infection turned virulent. A holdup gone wrong, a bullet gone astray. Senseless because death, disease, disaster are always senseless.

What to say? “This too shall pass.”

My mother said it all the time. It was her favorite expression. I never thought about it. She said it to comfort me when I was unhappy or when something had gone badly. It never occurred to me the expression was more than something a mother says when consoling a child.

It turns out the expression has a long, ancient history. It has been used to comfort a nation at war, a country consumed by unrest. Families, individuals, kingdoms. They are words you use when you run out of words.

king-solomon-cc

This too shall pass” (Persianاین نیز بگذرد‎, Arabicلا شيء يدوم‎, Hebrewגם זה יעבור‎) is an adage indicating that all conditions, positive or negative, are temporary.

The phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets. The phrase is often attached to a fable of a great king who is humbled by these simple words. Some versions of the fable, beginning with that of Attar of Nishapur, add the detail that the phrase is inscribed on a ring, which has the ability to make the happy man sad — and the sad man happy. 

The legend of the quote finds its roots in the court of a powerful eastern Persian ruler who called his sages (wise men) to him, including the Sufi poet Attar of Nishapur and asked them for one quote that would be accurate at all times and in all situations. The wise men consulted with one another and threw themselves into deep contemplation, and finally came up with the answer … “This too shall pass.”

The ruler was so impressed by the quote that he had it inscribed in a ring.

Jewish folklore often describes Solomon as giving or receiving the phrase. The adage and associated fable were popular in the first half of the 19th century, appearing in a collection of tales by the English poet Edward Fitzgerald and also used by Abraham Lincoln in a speech before he became President.

And when words fail me, I find my mother’s voice echoing in my head.

This too shall pass.

In theory.

What Science Has Taught Us About Stonehenge – SCIENCE REBLOG

I’ve been fascinated by all kinds of archaeology since I was in high school. As a senior, I took a course called “The History of Science.” It was science for the unscientific, those of us who couldn’t deal with physics — though oddly enough, the course was taught by a PhD in Physics. I guess he was really interested in the subject, so we all got a whole year studying Stonehenge. And yet I still don’t know nearly enough.

ScienceSwitch

The origin of Stonehenge is surrounded by quite a lot of narratives, including lost technologies, outright magic, and — of course — aliens. Here’s what we actually know about this prehistoric mystery.

Via – SciShow

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STUPID, INSECURE, OR DISINTERESTED? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #15

So:

This week’s provocative question is based on a quote by Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate. Whew, that’s a lot of credentials. Anyway, Russell, who died in 1970, suggested that…


“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that, in the modern world, the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubts.”


I’m so old I actually remember Bertrand Russell. I found him occasionally profound, sometimes funny … and other times, wrong.

I suppose my problem is that I don’t like generalizations. Generalizations sound true, but once you scrape off the icing, you discover there’s nothing there. It was all icing.

Twp different red finches

What I know is that there is an avalanche of stupidity and it isn’t one side or the other. There’s a lot of stupid going around. Stupid Trumpidians, stupid Democrats, stupid people who don’t care about any of the stuff that makes us crazy. I think maybe the most stupid people are neither full of doubts or cocksure, but apathetic. They really don’t care. They don’t know what’s going on and they aren’t interested in finding out.

So my answer is that there are far, far too many stupid people. Cocksure ones who are stupid. Doubtful people who are equally stupid. Apathetic people who are the dumbest of all.

Tang dynasty astrological figures

Being smart isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Many years ago, I realized having a high IQ only meant you got great results on IQ tests. It doesn’t mean anything outside the classroom where you are taking the test except to make everyone tell you that you are “under-achieving.”

I never really understood that.

I was achieving what I wanted to achieve and not bothering with stuff in which I had no interest. It wasn’t under-achieving. I was doing what I wanted to do.

But they never got it. No one but my fellow under-achieving genius friends got it. We used to laugh about our youthful under-achievements.

Woodpecker — but which one?

So I’m not stupid but honestly? I’m not exactly sure what being smart has actually gotten me or how I’ve improved the world. Maybe the stupid ones have it right. Ignore the whole thing and eventually, it will go away.

Maybe stupid is a better choice.

THE DOG DONE IT – Marilyn Armstrong

A few weeks ago, my very expensive kitchen scissors vanished. I was sure they would reappear, that they had maybe fallen under a cabinet or something. I decided it could not be the dogs because why would a dog be interested in scissors? They don’t have thumbs, so what could they do with them.

But today, the truth came to light.

Garry went to The Crate.

This where all three dogs “save” stuff. Toys, bits of wood, whatever things they’ve stolen (socks, slippers, hairbrushes, small blankets, odd items of clothing (underpants [mine are very popular]), plastic medicine bottles. Weirdly, they leave each others’ treasure alone and attack their own. Bonnie prefers soft things. Gibbs like anything which squeaks — except balls which he totally doesn’t get — and mess with their own stuff. Except for food.

If it’s edible, first jaws get the bite.

So it was obvious that the crate was overflowing and Garry decided to clean it out. He found lots of stuff including the usual empty plastic medicine bottles (gnawed), with or without lids. Old mail. Not so old mail. And half of the missing scissors with a chewed-up handle.

These were expensive scissors that were designed to come apart for cleaning, so I’m pretty sure the other half is somewhere. As are a few of my missing socks, underwear, and at least one nightgown.

1/2 of a pair of scissors

I’m not even sure how the Duke — it had to be the Duke because I doubt either Bonnie or Gibbs would want the scissors — I didn’t think it was any of the dogs. I was blaming gremlins, pixies, brownies, and other house elves.

Maybe The Duke IS a gremlin. Or at the very least, a house elf. That would explain a lot.