Fandango’s Provocative Question #59

What does it mean to you in the 21st century
to be well-educated?

When I was growing up, you had to get good grades in school. You needed them so you’d be better positioned to get good grades and maybe a scholarship in high school so you could go to college. Because if you didn’t go to college, you would never get into heaven. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I knew that college was my destiny. As sure as the rising of the sun in the east, I would go to college.

I went to college. I even graduated and got a degree and everything. My B.A. in Speech and Drama had absolutely nothing to do with any work I did in my life, though some of it came in useful at odd times along the way. I have all but 1 credit to a degree in Music and 1 degree in Philosophy. I didn’t intend to graduate. I was trying to stay in school and get a philosophy degree and go into full-time academics. I wanted to stay forever in school and spend my life thinking.

Instead, I erred and completed a major. They made me graduate. It was stupid because I’d have been a good thinker, but I was also a good writer and that wasn’t a bad second choice.

Nonetheless, all things considered, I’d have made a lot more money if I’d been a plumber. People can easily do without thinkers, but when you need a plumber, you really need a plumber and usually, immediately.

Installation! The bathtub is already gone.

To put this another way, we should be seriously rethinking education. Unless you actually need a college degree, there are a lot of good-paying positions that urgently need people. Electricians, IT guys, developers, people who run those cool machines in hospitals.

We need masons and stonecutters, painters, roofers, and carpenters. We need teachers and teaching assistants. We need nurses and nurse’s aides. Veterinarians and vet techs. Hairdressers and barbers. We need auto mechanics. And we are going to need an awful lot of people to make the world green again after the current desecration.

We need to consider training a lot more people to do a lot more things. And we should do it soon because a lot of the jobs people do now will be done by AI robots in the future and if we don’t start training people now, there will be a lot of unemployed and desperately poor people. Which, by the way, is why I supported Yang. Pity no one took him seriously.

He was right and five years from now, everyone will know it.

Meanwhile, it would help if more people would read books. The more we read, the better educated we get. Not reading is making us stupid.

ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT – Marilyn Armstrong

In the end, Owen bought an inexpensive trail camera for the back deck. It arrived yesterday and we set it up on a tripod. This morning, I put the chip in the computer and we had 137 pictures of our woodland creatures.

They arrived in three waves. The flying squirrels showed up first, at around 8:30 pm. The pictures are not exactly brilliant, but you can tell what they are by their small size … and the wings. Only one showed up last night, or at least only one we could see. Three pictures of gliding in, landing on the post, and sucking up to the big feeder.

Gliding in for a landing on the post


Feeding time for a flying squirrel

At least three mammals came to feed last night: regular squirrels, and flying squirrels, chipmunks. At about 2:30 in the morning, the masked bandits arrived.

At 3:20 AM, the masked banditos of the night arrive for some crunchies. By  now the flying squirrels have left

Pass the black sunflower seeds!

Hey, move over!

Maybe they’ll put up another feeder. I’ve got a couple of hungry cousins …

And finally, at just before five in the morning, the first squirrel arrives. Dawn is about to break and before long, several of his brethren will join him. This guy was an early starter. The camera was set to turn off at five, so tonight maybe we’ll set it to turn off closer to six.

And here is the first squirrel of the day.

First squirrel of the day

So how many animals are we feeding? It’s just as well the feeders are on the deck or we might be feeding the deer, too! So went the first night. They do seem to be taking turns. Good thing we keep filling those feeders.

NOTE: These cameras are used for security and surveillance. You know how on TV, they sharpen these pictures so that they look like they came out of your best camera? Well, it’s not true. These were as good as I could make them and I have pretty good tools!


The only column you need to read about COVID-19

by Garrison Keillor

The beauty of COVID-19 is how shiny clean everybody looks since the panic set in. I’m in New York City this week and the stores are completely sold out of hand sanitizer, Hi-Lex, alcohol, antibacterial wipes, every kind of cleaner, and when you get on the subway at rush hour and stand within six inches of four different people, they smell nice, like a doctor’s office. They try not to talk or even exhale. They avoid eye contact lest the virus be spread visually.

Some people wear face masks, which are useful for preventing them from picking their noses, which, once you’ve touched a deadly railing, could implant the virus in your body and in a week or two you’d be in a TB sanitarium on a desert island, tended by nurses in hazmat suits. If someone on the train coughs, everyone disembarks at the next stop and wipes their face and, as an extra precaution, swigs a little mouthwash or maybe vodka. Eighty-proof vodka is a proven sanitizer. The incidence of COVID-19 among bums at the Union Gospel Mission is extremely low. Gin does not work as well, so ad agency execs are surely at risk. As for Corona beer, sales are way down because, as your mother probably said, You Never Know.

I am old enough to remember the polio scares of the early Fifties when we stayed away from beaches and public pools and didn’t go to movie theaters. I was brought up fundamentalist so we didn’t go to movies anyway and thus felt that God was protecting us and had sent the polio as a warning to Catholics and Episcopalians. So we avoided them, which we would’ve done anyway. To us righteous, polio was not that scary. Nobody in my family got it. A girl named Shirley did and she came from a family that drank and took the Lord’s name in vain. Case closed.

What spooked the stock market last week was not only the virus but also the spectacle of the Leader of the Free World announcing that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. He looked like a sixth-grader giving a science report who had not bothered to read the textbook. This was slightly terrifying. A reality TV star in charge of national intelligence. The gentleman is an ace at twittering but when he says more than the 280-character limit he becomes vacuous and blathery. His strong suit is insult and ridicule — reassurance is alien to him. He’s a New Yorker and when a New Yorker hears tones of reassurance, it means “Put the pen back in your pocket, don’t sign the paper” — so the assignment has been passed to his mannequin friend Mr. Pence who is good at silence, which is better than blather at this point.

Please read the rest of the post at:


Given one thing and another, we could all use a good laugh and this is as good a laugh as I’ve had this week. It may be the best laugh this entire year. I totally think we need to start laughing now because, in a few months, nothing is going to be funny.


Try not to let your shock show, but in the morning we had a flock of red House Finches, but by afternoon, an awful lot of Goldfinch had found their way home again. Between one thing and another, I managed to take a few pictures.

They came back

Flapping finch and curious watcher

More yellow day by day

Fluffy bottom feathers because this bird is molting!

Apparently the molting twice a year is unusual. I love the fluffy feathers

A lonely Goldfinch

Waiting for a space on the feeder

Coming in for a landing!

It turns out that Goldfinch are the ultimate feeder birds. Unlike other birds who will eat insects, Goldfinch only eat seeds. When it comes time to feed their babies, they are most grateful because those little ones are hungry!


Going to a 50th High School Reunion can be an exciting prospect – if it’s yours. I recently went to my husband, Tom’s 50th Reunion in Schenectady, New York, and, to be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I’m shy in big groups and pictured myself following Tom around and having nothing to say to a room full of strangers.

Tom’s ID badge with his senior photo

I was pleasantly surprised. We met three of Tom’s high school friends and their spouses at a local tavern before the official opening cocktail party. Everyone was delightful and friendly and we had a great time. Tom’s high school best friend, Stewie was there with his wife, Mar-C.

In preparing for the reunion, Tom and Stewie discovered that they had been living an hour away from each other in Connecticut for over thirty years! We got together a few weeks before the reunion so I already knew two other people. And Mar-C and I had compared notes on what to wear to each of the reunion events so my comfort level was pretty good by the time we arrived in Schenectady.

Tom and me with Stewie and Mar-c

After our private dinner, we headed over to the party and mingled with the 130 members of the Linton High Class of 1969 who showed up. Everyone was easy going and so nice. I realized from attending 20th and 40th reunions of my own, that as we all get older, the whole high school dynamic changes.

You don’t have the cliques anymore or the high school rivalries. People are no longer trying to impress everyone with their job or professional accomplishments, or, as time went on, the jobs and professional accomplishments of their children.

The main topic of conversation was – are you retired yet? If so, good for you and what are you doing to have fun? Most of us had reached the stage of life when we can wake up whenever we feel like it and spend the day doing whatever we feel like doing.

Everyone I talked to seemed genuinely happy and fulfilled. No competition anymore. Just stories of hobbies and grandchildren. Some people still did projects for work but on their own terms and schedules. Some people were traveling and having a ball exploring the world.

Class of 1969 yearbook and 50th reunion yearbook update

At the dinner the second night, there were fun games with prizes for the winners. Who’s been married the longest? 50 years! Who has the most kids? Six. Whose kids are the oldest? 50! And the youngest? 23. I was thrilled that Tom tied for the coolest job – he was a CBS network news director and audio engineer and the other guy was a documentary filmmaker.

Tom was well known at his high school. He ran for student council every year against the guy who always won. So Tom’s campaign speeches were more of a stand-up comedy act, the comic relief. They were apparently greatly enjoyed and appreciated by the other students, so lots of people came up to Tom with big hugs and cheerful greetings. I was very proud of Tom, especially when he got up to introduce the three videos he created for the reunion. These were the centerpieces of the dinner presentations.

By the time we left, I knew lots of people by name and we had promised to get together again with the ones who live a reasonable car ride away. I really felt like I made new friends and Tom got to renew friendships from long ago.

Tom and Stewie

We left the reunion happy and wired – until our car died before we even got out of Schenectady. Luckily we broke down right at a service station on the NY State Thruway so it only took AAA a half hour to get a tow truck to us. We rode the 2-½ hours home in the back of a truck with zero suspension. It felt like we were driving over cobblestones for the entire ride.

We got home at 3 AM but even this unpleasant finale didn’t dampen our positive feelings about the weekend we spent in a time capsule. We captured time in a bottle and loved every minute of it!