GREAT TEACHERS: A VERY LONG DEFERRED THANK YOU – Marilyn Armstrong

In the course of my school days, I had a handful of great teachers to whom I will be eternally grateful. They taught me to learn, to love reading, to make up stories and write them down. To write non-fiction that was complete, accurate and unbiased. To find humor in physics. To love history, religion, archaeology, philosophy and the mysteries of our world.

They encouraged curiosity, imagination and creative thinking.

This is P.S, 35. It’s still there, but I’m not.

Mrs. Schiff, a 4th-grade teacher at P.S. 35. She suggested I write “diaries” of historical people and put myself into their worlds. Thank you. You encouraged me to write and find other worlds.

Dr. Silver, who taught English Literature and Linguistics at Jamaica High school. He forced me to parse sentences and respect punctuation and grammar while making me laugh. His doctorate in Linguistics helped him make our language intriguing, like a giant mystery to unravel. I’m still unraveling it.

Dr. Feiffer — my high school physics teacher — taught me, the least mathematically inclined student ever, could be fascinated by science. I never got together with numbers, but I learned to love science and I still do. The logic of it, the truth of it, the importance of it have stayed with me an entire lifetime.

Professor. Wekerle, head of Hofstra University’s Philosophy department. He believed in me. He taught phenomenology, History of Religion, Philosophy of Religion, but more importantly, saw through my bullshit. The first — and ONLY professor to give me a grade of D-/A+ … D- for content, A+ for style. He didn’t let me get away with anything. He made me fill in all those leaps of logic even though I whined vociferously that “everyone knows that stuff.”

Hofstra in 2014

Wekerle said “No, they don’t. You know it. Now tell them about it.” And I did and from that, I extracted a 40-year career.

I got what so much from these overworked and underpaid teachers who were dedicated to teaching dunderheads and wise-asses like me to think, write, research and love learning. Bless them all. The gifts they gave me were precious beyond words!

PEOPLE SAY THE NICEST THINGS! – Marilyn Armstrong

How often have you wondered whether you should say “thank you” or punch that person in the mouth? Insults I understand, but the compliments that really aren’t, baffle me. Is it personal ambivalence? Is it possible they don’t understand the difference between a compliment and meanness? Or, for that matter, an insult?

As a child, my mother comforted me with her classic lines. Somewhere in my head, I can still hear her. A lonely (probably odd) child, it took me a long time to find my social self. Mom would reassure me in her special way: “There’s someone for everyone,” she told me. “Even you.”

Then there was the clothing my mother made for me. It was gorgeous, fashionable. Far better quality than the other girls wore. The Mean Girls are nothing new and my schools were full of them. “Eww! Where did you get that ugly dress?” In later years, I realized their clothing was totally tacky, but at nine or ten, I didn’t get it.

As a young woman, I put on a lot of weight. Before I got rid of that hundred and fifty pounds, there were some great lines from friends who knew the perfect words to brighten my day: “You dress really nice for a fat girl” and “I don’t think of you as REALLY fat.” And let’s not forget “You are the first person of Jewish persuasion I’ve ever met.” Were they living in a fish tank or was it merely Uxbridge? Needless to say, Garry and I are THE integration for the town.

Later on, no longer fat, compliments have streamed in nonstop: “I thought you were a nun. Don’t you own anything that isn’t black?”

My all-time favorite came from the woman who was unsuccessful in marrying my first husband. Had he lived longer, she might have worn him down. She was baffled by my apparent popularity with men. “I’m very nice to them,” I said. “I make them feel special and loved.” There was more to it than that, but that was plenty. Snarkiest woman who ever trod the earth.

“I do that too,” she whined. (No, she didn’t.) “But,” she continued, getting ever more nasal, “How come they marry you?” I probably could have come up with a good line of my own.

Finally, the clincher. After I published my book, “It was much better than I expected.” What were you expecting?

Classic back-handed Compliments for every occasion:

“You look great, for your age.”

“I love your new hairstyle! It suits you so much better.”

“That’s such a difficult degree, I never thought you’d study that.”

“You look so good in photos, you always pose the same way.”

“That’s a wonderful photograph, you must have a really fancy camera.”

“I wish I could just let my kids watch TV all day like you do.”

“You have such a lovely smile, you don’t even notice the acne.”

In 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attempted to compliment Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (a woman) in a speech at Dhaka University on her terrorism policy.

“I am happy that Bangladesh Prime Minister, despite being a woman, has declared zero tolerance for terrorism,” Modi said.

It’s even better when it goes international.

WHEN BONES DON’T KNIT – Marilyn Armstrong

Yesterday morning, I dropped the mouse for the computer in the bedroom. I reached down to pick it up and a pain shot through my chest, down my arm and I yelped.

I had a lot of heart surgery more than five years ago. Most of it has healed well. The thing that hasn’t healed properly is my breastbone. Surgeons split it in half when they work on your heart. Normally, it will take between 2 and 6 months to knit into a single unit. Mine didn’t knit, so it’s still a two-piece breastbone. Healed, but not knitted and held together with steel wire. Apparently, no medical technology exists that can convince a bone to knit if it doesn’t want to.

Typically, this is a problem on joints that cannot be immobilized — ribs, breastbone, shoulders, spine. And, I should mention that when one of these is broken, you discover that every single other thing in your body is connected to it. So it has been for the past two days. Moving really hurts. But only at certain angles while using my right arm.

I’m a rightie. Of course.

It seems a little better today than yesterday, but it’s still crunching with each breath I take. I can hear it through my inner ear. Creepy.

Every doctor I talked to assured me — energetically — that it would heal in three months. When after three months, it hadn’t healed, they said “Definitely by six months.”

When more than a year had passed, they shrugged, pointed out that there’s nothing they know of that will make a bone knit if it doesn’t feel like knitting. Nope. No glue. The only thing they could do is open me up and rewire me. “Why, ” I asked, “Would that improve the quality of my life?”

My doctor — my personal physician — shrugged. “It wouldn’t. Personally, I wouldn’t do it.”

It’s more than five years later, heading rapidly into six years. My chest still crunches when I breathe and sometimes pops out of place when I lift something with my right arm. It sometimes makes breathing pretty unpleasant and my right shoulder doesn’t like me anymore.

Meanwhile, I’m held together by some pretty tough steel wire. Doctors always seem so sure what will happen after the surgery. Except in my experience and for a lot of other people, it doesn’t necessarily go that way. Nerves don’t “calm down.” Bones don’t knit. You are left with a lot of weird problems you were sure were going to be gone. If at least the major part of the surgery worked, then I suppose it’s better than where you were at the start. I always want to trust my doctors because they mean well, but they aren’t me. So these days, I understand just because they believed it when they said it doesn’t mean it will happen that way.

RUMORS TO THE CONTRARY NOTWITHSTANDING, I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING – Marilyn Armstrong

You’re probably shocked to know that there is another opinion other than mine which might be worth hearing. It turns out, I’m imperfect. I hate to admit it, but there it is. Life marches on but one must consider the alternative should life fail to march on.

CONVERSATION 1: THE THERMOSTAT

My thermostat no longer works. It started when I finally reached menopause but didn’t end there. Although my husband is a man and therefore not subject to the full Monte of mind and body altering experiences this special Time of Life engenders, he seems to have a broken thermostat too. It’s just another of the many fascinating things that happen as we age. Neither of us is sure if it’s hot, cold — or us.

“Is it hot or is it me?”

“It’s hot.”

“Oh, good. I’ll turn on the fan.”

The other version:

“Is it hot or is it me?”

“It’s not hot. It’s a bit chilly.”

“Maybe it’s hot and you are chilly.”

“Possibly, but you asked. All I can tell you is what I feel.”

“I’m turning on the fan.”

“I’m putting on a sweatshirt.”

You can see how important it is to get a second opinion.

CONVERSATION 2: WHAT?

“What did he say?”

“What did who say?”

“The guy, the one with the hat.”

“The guy on the left?”

“No, he’s not there anymore. The one who had the gun. Before.”

“They all have guns.”

“Oh, never mind.”

Aside from these minor details, I know everything. Okay, nearly everything. Ask my husband. He will say, “She knows everything.” And that is an official second opinion.

OUR MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE – BIZARRO REBLOG – Marilyn Armstrong

I don’t suppose anyone is surprised anymore by the behavior of the GOP under their Manchurian candidate. But just a few years ago it was unthinkable that a politician, particularly one representing the Republican party and who skipped out of serving by having a rich dad, could get away with trashing war heroes, pardoning convicted war criminals, ridiculing our intelligence services and our allies, and sucking up to our most long-standing and authoritarian enemies, but here we are. Thanks, Facebook. (And Fox News Propaganda Channel.)

Without the Electoral College, these cowards and their Führer would be out on their asses in the next election but since Zuckerberg doesn’t mind politicians openly lying on Facebook and using FB’s sophisticated algorithms to know exactly which “patriots” are most like to fall for their predictable, transparent lies, they have an excellent chance of sneaking into the back door again.

Oh well. Human history has always been a cycle of dumpster fires and accidental peace. It’s long been a planet dominated by mutant apes, it’s just that sometimes we manage to hide it a little bit better than we are now. Like a bad head cold, we humans will be on our way soon enough and the earth can relax again.


If you are not already a Bizarro fan, you’re missing one of the best cartoonists of our generation. I have loved his stuff since we lived in Boston, back in the 1980s. This post is located at:

https://www.bizarro.com/blog/2020/1/5/ai-and-ai/

The main site is:

https://www.bizarro.com/blog

He has a shop full of cool t-shirts and other stuff as well as his own paintings. And, he takes donations because, as he so well put it, there aren’t enough newspapers anymore to support a cartoonist.

THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT GOOGLE! – Marilyn Armstrong

I woke up this morning with an earworm. Not your normal earworm. Mine was a 1920s earworm. It was a song my mother sang often and for once, she actually got the words right. Ask any member of my family and they will assure you: my mother never ever remembered the words to any song — except this one. She would sing words from other songs to whatever melody was bouncing around in her head. But she knew all the words to this one. It’s SUCH an earworm, once you listen to it, it just sort of sits in your head and goes around and around and around.

So I get up this morning and this is what I’m hearing, but without the scratches:

And by golly, the words I had in my head were dead on. Next, the obvious question arises:

How did Google get its name? – Mobilis In Mobile

The mysterious mysteries of the Internet

How did Google get its name?You may have read this kind of “official answer”: Google derived its name from the word “googol”, a term coined by then nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner. The story goes, Kasner would have asked his nephew to invent a name for a very large number – ten to the power of one hundred, and Milton called it a googol. Blah-blah-blah!

Whatever say GSpecialists, Wikipedia or Google corporate itself, last Friday I discovered the secret when I was twittering with Orli. Google was named after Barney Google.*

Just listen to Barney Google’s song. No more to say!

One of you might write an essay on how, when and why granny Brin and/or Page was singing this song.


You may have read this kind of “official” answer: “Google derived its name from the word “googol”, a term coined by then nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner but I’d bet money (and I never bet money!) that Google was named after Barney Google.” The most popular comic strip in the U.S. for dozens of years … and still around even today.

Barney Google – The History

Now you know the truth about Google and somehow, it makes a lot more sense than
any other explanation I’ve heard!

IN THE SPIRIT OF DOING WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING … Marilyn Armstrong

These are the top 20 posts from this past year. Ironically most of them were written in other years, much earlier. As I said in comment to Fandango, popularity does not make it a “best” post. The problem is trying to remember the names of what I think were my best posts. Some of these posts weren’t written by me, either … and a few of them are photographs, not even posts.

My highest numbers were for a day of posts, rarely for one single post. I’ve gotten as many as 1400 hits on a single post in the past and it was a stupid post … AND it shows up here, again, even though I wrote it six or seven years ago.

Popularity is an odd thing and rarely seems to have much to do with what you view as your finest efforts. That’s not just true for blogging. It’s true for people who make movies, do the news, write books, take pictures. What others love is what they love.

THE TOP TWENTY FOR 2019

Title Views
Home page / Archives More stats 24,726
DESCENDING FROM THE GOLDEN HORDE – B+ AND ME More stats 1,763
GAZING THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE: HOLLYWOOD & MORAL CHARACTER More stats 1,107
THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING AND NOTHING More stats 701
MY BROTHER ESAU WAS A HAIRY MAN, BUT I AM A SMOOTH MAN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 605
REMEMBERING “FAST AL” McNAUGHTON: A NEW ENGLAND TV NEWS LEGEND – Garry Armstrong More stats 440
STRAINS? NO BIG DEAL, RIGHT? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 360
DON’T DRINK THE KOOL-AID – THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE More stats 358
Destructive Gypsy Moth caterpillars More stats 346
Uncle sam political cartoon 1899 More stats 345
Those Old Catskill Comedians … More stats 326
LIMNAL VS. LIMINAL: “I” MAKE A DIFFERENCE More stats 295
DON’T DRINK THE KOOLAID: THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE More stats 280
How did your doctor’s appointment go? More stats 264
WHERE DO THE SWANS GO? More stats 242
THERE’S GOTTA BE A PONY IN HERE SOMEWHERE – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 203
A PRAYER FOR NOTRE DAME – Guest Blogger: KARIN LAINE McMILLEN More stats 181
TOM ELLIS: A TRIBUTE by George K. Regan, Jr. More stats 177
IF WISHES WERE HORSES More stats 150

As usual, the Jonestown massacre is permanently popular and should be as a reminder of what hate and cults can become.

The Gypsy Moth caterpillars is a photograph taken four years ago and the Uncle Sam political cartoon’s origins were in 1899 when despite my age, I wasn’t born.

“Where do the Swans Go?” was originally published in 2013 and I haven’t republished it. It just keeps getting hits.

“Those Old Catskill Comedians” was written and published (and never reblogged, either) in 2014.

“Gazing through to the Other Side” was published in 2014, took me less than 10 minutes to write during a television commercial break, got 1400 hits in one day and every year gets another thousand or so. Why? I didn’t understand the first time it happened and I don’t understand it now.

I wrote “Descending from The Golden Horde – B+ and Me” in 2015 and still gets hits … a lot of them … every year. I think there isn’t much information about blood types available. Either that or Google has it near the top of lists.

“A Prayer for Notre Dame” written by guest blogger Karin Laine McMillen was a beautiful piece as was the piece about Tom Ellis by guest blogger George Regan Jr.

“The Meaning of Everything and Nothing” is one of the pieces I’ve always had fun with. I wrote it in 2013, have rewritten in a couple of times. It has been longer, shorter, with and without pictures. I guess you could call it a summary of my college education in one post.

And then, this bunch also made the list. Most of these were at least written this year! The ones in red are favorites of mine.

THE REST OF THE BEST?

HAPPY NATIONAL ASSHOLE AWARENESS DAY! More stats 146
CONTACT More stats 143
THE FORTUNE TELLER WHO RUINED MY GRANDFATHER’S LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 140
THE RAINBOW BRIDGE – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 132
NEWS ANCHORING: LOOKING INSIDE – Garry Armstrong More stats 131
HURRAH FOR NUMBER 26! More stats 128
Violets, Dandelions, and Little Purple Flowers More stats 126
MACAVITY – THE MYSTERY CAT BY T.S. ELIOT More stats 125
The Bible Cyst on My Wrist More stats 124
SITUATIONAL FRIENDS – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 122
ONLY OLD PEOPLE WATCH CABLE NEWS – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 121
AND, THE OSCAR GOES TO … BUT, DO YOU CARE? – Garry Armstrong More stats 118
MARILYN ARMSTRONG More stats 116
Leather, explicit sex, immortals with magic powers — The Dark Hunter Series More stats 114
TWAS BRILLIG! JABBERWOCKY, LEWIS CARROLL More stats 109
THE RACIST BONE’S CONNECTED TO THE … HIP BONE? – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 107
BLOGGING – IT’S A NEW YET SOMEHOW OLD WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 106
CLYTEMNESTRA’S LAMENT – GUEST POST By KARIN LAINE MCMILLEN More stats 105
DAD WAS *MORE* THAN A CONTENDER – Garry Armstrong More stats 104
OLD MOVIES, NEW EYES – Garry Armstrong More stats 104
ROMANTIC ME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 102
OUR CLIMATE CHANGE DIDN’T HAPPEN SINCE TRUMP TOOK OFFICE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 102
OLD ACQUAINTANCES – Garry Armstrong More stats 102
GAFFES OF AN ICONIC NAME DROPPER – Garry Armstrong More stats 102
THE LEISURE SUIT: THE LOST JOY OF POLYESTER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 101
BEING AGAINST FORCED BUSING DOESN’T MEAN YOU OPPOSE INTEGRATION – Garry Armstrong More stats 101
THE REST OF THE STORY – Garry Armstrong More stats 98
GARRY ARMSTRONG More stats 98
LOSING YOUR JOB WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 96
MEDICARE TO SENIORS: WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE? More stats 95
ABOUT THAT PAIN IN MY RIGHT ARM? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 94
HANGING OUT WITH ROBERT “MITCH” MITCHUM – Garry Armstrong More stats 93
FAMILY PHOTOS – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong More stats 93
REDACTED READING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 93
BOYS STILL PLAY, AT LEAST IN THE COUNTRY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 93
NATIONAL ASSHOLE AWARENESS DAY More stats 92
TOO EARLY TO BE DRINKING? – Garry Armstrong More stats 92
A SUMMER AFTERNOON WITH JIMMY CAGNEY – Garry Armstrong More stats 91
PANCHO AND LEFTY: EMMY LOU HARRIS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 90
GARBAGE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 90
DORIEN SHOULD REALLY BE DARWIN – By TOM CURLEY More stats 90
LET’S BAN PENNIES – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 90
LIVING WITH ANTI-SEMITISM – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 88
A BIPOLAR LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 87
REMEMBERING MY MENTOR – JEFF KRAUS – Garry Armstrong More stats 86
TIME OFF AND RETIREMENT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 86
BE HOME BEFORE THE LIGHTS COME ON – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 85
WHERE IS STEVE McQUEEN WHEN I REALLY NEED HIM? – Garry Armstrong More stats 84
WALLOWING IN THE PAST – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 84
PLEASE REGISTER TO VOTE TODAY! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 84
QUESTIONS WITHOUT ANSWERS More stats 82
bludgeon More stats 82
I BEG TO DIFFER … Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
NO ONE IS LISTENING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
THE DAY WE GAVE UP PIZZA DELIVERY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
FATE IS IRREFUTABLE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
IMPEACHMENT FOLLIES – Garry Armstrong More stats 81
ONLINE SHOPPING REVOLUTION OR CONSUMER REBELLION? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
I DON’T KNOW WHY HE HATES ME SO MUCH. I NEVER DID HIM A FAVOR! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 80
OUTLIVING THE BITCHES More stats 80
IT’S THE THEATER More stats 80
CHANGE IS ALWAYS ON THE WAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
A NOSE JOB FOR MOM – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
A SUDDEN JOLT OF OPTIMISM – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
I WILL WORK FOR FOOD BUT NOT PIZZA – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
HOW GO YOUR YEARS? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
I THINK I’M TIRED – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
HACKING, OPERATING SYSTEMS, AND THE END OF THE WORLD – TOM CURLEY More stats 78
FLAT EARTH VS. ROUND EARTH – Reblog More stats 77
movie-set-boston More stats 77
IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
BRAIN DEATH AND FIBROMYALGIA – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
DINNER TABLE CONVERSATION – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 77
THE RISING OF THE PHOENIX – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
FANATICISM AND IGNORANCE IS FOREVER BUSY AND NEEDS FEEDING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
NOSTALGIA IN PHOTOGRAPHY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
WELCOME TO MY HUMBLE HOME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
WHY DID YOU TAKE THAT PICTURE? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
THE CHANGING SEASONS NOVEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
Victorian-Gingerbread-House-Template-Models More stats 76
BATHROOM REDO AND THE BUSYNESS OF LIFE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
THEY TELL YOU WHAT TO DO, BUT WHO ARE THEY? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
DON’T YOU HATE WHEN THAT HAPPENS? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
TEETH WITH AN HILARIOUS SPECIAL COMMENT FOLLOWUP — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 75
REALLY, MY MOTHER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 75
WIFED OUT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 75
MAO, A CAT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 75
EVALUATING ART – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
WORDPRESS AND REGENERATION – OH NO! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
WHY SERENDIPITY? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
INSTALLING A PRINTER AND WHY I HATE THEM – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
INFURIATION, RAGE, ANGER, AND OTHER BLOOD PRESSURE-RAISING MOODS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
GOLDFINCH OR WARBLER? Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
NO REFEREE? A NEW CONCEPT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
AHOY AND AHEAD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
NOT QUITE THIRTY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
Human-Body-Muscles More stats 73
THE CHANGING SEASONS: MAY 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 73
THIS MAGIC MOMENT- Rich Paschall More stats 73
TO IMPEACH OR NOT? IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION? – By TOM CURLEY More stats 73
THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER More stats 73
Toilet Paper More stats 73
SHADES OF DIFFERENCE -MONOTONE AND MONOCHROME More stats 73
IT’S CALLED STRESS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
ONE THING I DID NOT WANT TO BE – Rich Paschall More stats 72
(unknown or deleted) More stats 72
GIFTS, DREAMS, AND MAKING IT HAPPEN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
THE SUMMER OF ’69 – Rich Paschall More stats 72
I AM THE APPLE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
GOOD MORNING FRIENDS, BIRDS, AND A SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
SELFIES AND AUTOGRAPHS – Garry Armstrong More stats 72
ENVY OF WORCESTER COUNTY – CAROLINE’S CANNABIS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
NO ESCAPE AND NOWHERE TO RUN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
MY DAY: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE RIDICULOUS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
THERE ISN’T MUCH SNOWFALL #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
JULY BLUES AND SUNRISE ON THE VERNAL EQUINOX – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
ESPECIALLY BAD WAYS TO DIE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
R&R WITH OLD FRIENDS – Garry Armstrong More stats 71
FINEST DAY OF THE WEEK, DEPENDING ON HOW YOU LOOK AT IT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
THE PELLET WITH THE POISON IS IN THE VESSEL WITH THE PESTLE, I THINK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
MY REMEMBERER IS BROKE More stats 71
CLOWNS ARE RUNNING THE WORLD – Garry Armstrong More stats 71
BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
SIZE MATTERS, ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE GODZILLA – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
EVEN SQUIRRELS GET HUNGRY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
(unknown or deleted) More stats 70
WHAT’S FOR DINNER? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
A VINTAGE FARM TRACTOR AS GARDEN ORNAMENT – Garry and Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
AMBITION AND THE LACK THEREOF – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
NATURE VS. NURTURE – DOES HARDSHIP MAKE YOU STRONGER? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
A Public Service Announcement – An important reblogged announcement for everyone afflicted by universal stupidity More stats 70
B+ AND ME: BLOOD TYPES AROUND THE WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
YOU CAN’T BUILD A FUTURE ON HATE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
CASH NOT ACCEPTED HERE! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
WHEN NOTHING MEANS ANYTHING More stats 69
MyHeritage DNA – THE LEAST EXCITING DISCOVERY OF 2017 More stats 69
THE MOST NIMBLE OF ALL SQUIRRELS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
IS IT REALLY THAT BAD? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
WINDOWS ON MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
THE BOBCAT’S BACK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
BLUE BIRDS OF HAPPINESS – Marilyn Armstong More stats 69
THERE’S NO GOOD TIME TO CALL AT&T – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
DIETING WITHOUT DIGNITY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
GOOD FRIENDS – BOSTON’S TV NEWS PERSONALITIES – GARRY ARMSTRONG WITH MARK SHANAHAN More stats 69
JACK WARNER, NAZIS, AND HOLLYWOOD – By Garry Armstrong, with a bit of inspiration from Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
KINDNESS OF STRANGERS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
AN EARLY VISIT – Garry Armstrong More stats 68
OFFICIAL MINUTES FROM THE FIRST “COUNCIL OF THE TOMS” – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 68
ONE OF THE DAYS DURING ONE OF THOSE WEEKS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
NO SPENDTHRIFTING THIS YEAR – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
A DANCE IN A GRAVEYARD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
EVERYTHING NEW IS OLD AGAIN – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 68
INGENUITY: PLANNING A TRIP WITH THREE DOGS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
AND AFTER ALL THE TESTS … Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
THE LAST OF THE SILVER SCREEN COWBOYS – Garry Armstrong More stats 68
SO HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT LINES? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
LONG, RAMBLING POLITICAL & ECOLOGICAL POST – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
GOOD, BAD, AND UGLY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
THE LONG DELAY ENDS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
NO SPELLCHECKER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
A GOOD NEWS-BAD NEWS KIND OF DAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
SO HERE’S MY DEAL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding: A Reminder from “Inherit the Wind” More stats 67
THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD: KUDOS TO MARTHA KENNEDY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO LIVE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
THE LAST TIMES SQUARE UNTIL NEXT TIME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
FLOWER OF THE DAY PLUS SQUARE AND SPIKY MARCH DAY 3 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
WHAT COMPUTER TO BUY IF YOU DON’T HAVE MONEY? Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
THE GARDENER’S RESPITE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
THE STUPID IS STRONG IN THIS COUNTRY – By TOM CURLEY More stats 67
WE ARE FINITE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
ALL I WANT TO DO IS ENTER MY HOUSE JUSTIFIED – Garry Armstrong More stats 66
THE SUPER BOWL OF GROCERY SHOPPING – Garry Armstrong More stats 66
WOODPECKERS: NAME THAT BIRD! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
(unknown or deleted) More stats 66
NOT THE BUCKET LIST – Rich Paschall More stats 66
OPTIONAL SUNDAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
A BLOGGING DIARY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
EVENTUALLY MAKES A LONG LIST – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
BUCOLIC CREATURES AND THE FEEDERS ON THE DECK … Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
A SOGGY AUTUMN THURSDAY – Garry Armstrong More stats 66
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM LIKE A MAGAT? – AGAIN! – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 66
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HAPPY THANKSGIVING! – Marilyn Armstrong, with Photos by Garry Armstrong More stats 66
KEEPING THE WATCH – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
UP UP AND AWAY: WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
SOME STUFF NEEDS INVENTING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
THE CANAL FLOWS PAST US – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM LIKE A MAGAT? – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 65
WHY I WAS BUYING A LAMP AT 3 AM – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
ARE WE THERE YET? SHORT FICTION FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
IF IT WASN’T ABOUT SLAVERY, WHAT WAS IT ABOUT? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
UNEXPECTED WINDOWS: A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
Deutsche Bank Executive Found Dead More stats 65
LEARNING TO GROW THINGS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
WITH GOD ON MY SIDE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
FLYPAPER (2011): A PLEASANT SURPRISE More stats 65
POPULARITY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
NOW, IT’S THE NEW YEAR’S CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
THE DAWN BREAK IN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
PERFUNCTORY AFFECTION – A NEW NOVEL By KIM HARRISON – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
TOO MANY BIRDS! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
SO TELL ME … WHY DO WE PAY FOR HOME INSURANCE? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
A PAIR OF LADY BIRDS IN THE AFTERNOON – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
DRAWING AND QUARTERING – MY FAVORITE NIGHTMARE More stats 64
EASTER AND PASSOVER: JOINED AT THE HIP – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
ALL LINED UP? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
THE CHANGING SEASONS – AUGUST 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
AHAB THE WANDERER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
BRING ON THE ANGRY MOBS! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
IF IMITATION IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY More stats 64
I ALMOST HAD IT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
A COLLAPSING WORLD IN “SAN ANDREAS FAULT” – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
IT’S BEEN ONE OF THOSE MONTHS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
EYEBROWS? Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
ARE WE READY FOR A GAY PRESIDENT? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
IS THIS THE END OF DAYS? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
A WILD RUSHING OF HUNGRY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
NOT FEELING WELL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
A TEMPORARY FINISH LINE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE DOG-HUMAN BOND – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 63
THE RESTORATION OF ANA McGUFFEY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
HOW DO THEY DO IT? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
THE OTHER SIDE OF IMMIGRATION – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
AUTHENTIC MASCULINITY AT ITS MOST VALOROUS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
RAW OR JPG? WHAT’S YOUR FORMAT? Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
FENCES: A WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Garry Armstrong More stats 63
UXBRIDGE ON THE RITZ! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
SQUIRREL DU JOUR – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY, JEFF – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
RETURNING WEDGEWOOD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
A NEW BIRD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
‘THE LATE, LATE SHOW’ – “GUILTY PLEASURES” (MA-XXX) – Garry Armstrong More stats 62
BLUE LIKE THE JAYS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
AFTER SEVEN YEARS OF BLOGGING … Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
THE MYSTERY OF THE SOCKS THAT DISAPPEAR IN THE DRYER – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 62
ASSISTED SUICIDE: YAY OR NAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
CAR-MA AND COPS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
AN OPEN LETTER TO HUMANITY FROM PLANET EARTH – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 62
BIRDS AND THE FIRST SNOW WITH ONE SQUIRREL — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
“LES MISERABLE” VERSUS “LESS MISERABLE” — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
WHY ARE WE SO STUPID? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
A VISITOR TO THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
A ROCK IS A ROCK IS A ROCK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
AN AMERICAN CARAVAN STOPPED BY THE WALL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
FLOWERS AND GETTING LOST – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
THE FOOL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
TWAS THE NIGHT ‘FORE IMPEACHMENT – NOT BY TOM CURLEY More stats 62
HOUDINI DOG – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 62
SPIKY PINK CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
FAME: TO BE THE GREATEST EVER – Garry Armstrong More stats 62
SKULKING IN THE SHADOWS — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
INDULGE AND INDULGENCES – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
MOVIE NIGHT STARRING GARRY “THE LEGEND” ARMSTRONG – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
PEDIATRIC RELIGION – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
HUMANS RIGHTS — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
IT TOLLS FOR THEE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
NOT A PENNY FROM ME OR MINE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
MASSED SQUIRRELS ATTACK RURAL HOME SLAUGHTERING RETIREE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
A PET GOAT? – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 61
MY HOME TOWN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
PROVOCATIVE QUESTION – CONTROLLING OUR LIVES – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
TERM LIMITS ARE A REALLY BAD IDEA – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
ORGANIZING THE PAST – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 61
WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
ANYWAY ANYWAY ANYWAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
HAPPY BIRTHDAY OLE BLUE EYES – GARRY ARMSTRONG More stats 61
VICTIMS OR PERPETRATORS? TAKE YOUR BEST GUESS! – Garry Armstrong More stats 61
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VARIETY IS MY SPICE FOR LIFE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
IT’S JUST A MATTER OF BALANCE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
A FEW PICTURES OF BIRD USING NEW VERSIONS OF TOPAZ STUDIO 2 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
GOBLINS AND PUMPKINS BY THE ROAD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE HAPPY TO GET A PHONE CALL? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
YEARS OF BRASS, YEARS OF GOLD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
IS ANYONE LISTENING? — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
IT’S THE LITTLE STUFF THAT GETS ME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
FUN WITH FAKE NEWS — TOM CURLEY More stats 61
THE CHANGING SEASONS – SEPTEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
NEVER AGAIN? – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 61
selling soul to the devil More stats 60
IMMORTALITY AND AGING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
RASPY FOR THAT FIRST ANNOYING CALL OF THE MORNING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
YOU KNOW HOW TO WHISTLE, DON’T YOU? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BLOGGING BETWEEN MADNESS AND SANITY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
STICKS AND STONES by Garry Armstrong More stats 60
INHERIT THE WIND (1960) – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
WHEN THEY CANCEL YOUR MEDICATIONS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
YESTERDAY WHEN MY WORLD WAS YOUNG – Garry Armstrong More stats 60
YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LISTEN TO THE FIFTH DENTIST! – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 60
PASS ME THE MEGAPHONE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
OF ALL THE GIN JOINTS IN TOWN … — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
MODERN CAPITALISM AND CORPORATE CORRUPTION IN ONE MEME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
GREEN GREEN, IT’S GREEN THEY SAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BLACK & WHITE GEOMETRIC PHOTOGRAPHY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BUSY, SNOWY DAY AROUND THE BIRD FEEDER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BENCHES BY THE RIVERS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
ASK A SILLY QUESTION – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
A MOST UNUSUAL HOBBY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
HE’S NOT A MAN, HE’S A CHICKEN, BOO – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 60
RURAL LIFE AND THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BLUE JULY AND UP IN THE AIR! – Garry Armstrong More stats 60
ESAU WAS A HAIRY MAN … Presented by Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
EARLY RISER – A NEW NOVEL BY JASPER FFORDE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
WHEN YOU GET TOO OLD TO BE COST-EFFECTIVE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
THAT GOOD OLD RULE OF THIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong 60
ROMANTIC BLUE IN JULY – Marilyn Armstrong

The one post that, with the help of Judy Dykstra-Brown (lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown) was actually published. But it didn’t make the popularity list. It was probably my best writing of the year and it was really nice to see an article in print again! Like print, as in “paper”!

The post was “BE HOME BEFORE THE LIGHTS COME ON” and if we are going by “well-written” rather than “most popular,” I think this one wins the cup. Thank you Judy, for ALL your help! I literally could not have done it without you!

Some of my personal favorites (and I didn’t write all of them) are bold and in red, but there are other pretty good pieces, especially in the not as popular section. I’m glad I did this. Now, if ONLY I could remember the titles of other really good ones. Pathetic, isn’t it?

READING UNDER THE COVERS – Marilyn Armstrong

If reading were illegal, I’d have spent my life in prison. The most frightening book I ever read was Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. I couldn’t imagine anything more terrifying than a life with no books.

As a kid, I literally read myself cross-eyed, but today, I have been redeemed by audiobooks. Early during the 1990s, I discovered audiobooks. I was a “wrong way” commuter, which meant my commute started in Boston and took me out to the suburbs. This was supposed to make the drive easier than going the other way.

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The reality was different. Traffic was heavy in all directions, from Boston or from the suburbs. The east-west commute was nominally less awful than the north-south commutes, though coming from the north shore down to Boston was and is still probably the worst commute anywhere.

When we lived in Boston on the 17th floor of Charles River Park, we had a perfect view of the Charles River … and an even better view of 93 northbound. We could look out the window any time of the day or night. It was bumper to bumper as far as the eye could see every day of the week, any time of day or night. Garry had a 5-minute walk to work. I always drove somewhere. You’d think at least once during the more than 29 years Garry and I have been together I’d have found one job near home. Funny how that never happened.

In New England, you do not measure a commute by distance. Distance is irrelevant. It’s how long it takes that matters. No one talks in terms of miles. The mall is half an hour away. Boston is about an hour in good traffic, who knows how long in rush hour traffic. It can take you 2 hours to go six miles, but maybe you can travel 15 miles in half an hour. In which case 15 miles is the shorter commute. Ask anyone.

My commute was never short. Wherever my work took me, it was never convenient, except for those wonderful periods when I worked at home and had to go to the “office” only occasionally. The 1990s were serious commuting years. Boston to Amesbury, Boston to Burlington, Boston to Waltham.

A Kindle and a Bluetooth speaker for listening to audiobooks

It got worse. By 2000, we had moved to Uxbridge. It’s never easier to get from Uxbridge to anywhere, except one of the other Valley towns … and I never worked in any of them. Probably because there is no work there …

As jobs got ever more scarce and I got older and less employable, I found myself commuting longer distances. First, Providence, Rhode Island, which wasn’t too bad. But after that, I had to drive to Groton, Connecticut a few times a week — 140 miles each way — a good deal of it on unlit, unmarked local roads. It was a killer commute and unsurprisingly, I was an early GPS adopter. Even though I didn’t have to do it every day, Groton did me in.

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Hudson was almost as bad, and Amesbury was no piece of cake either. The distance from Uxbridge to Newton was not far as the crow flies, but since I was not a crow, it was a nightmare. On any Friday afternoon, it took more than three hours to go twenty some odd miles. On Friday afternoons in the summer when everyone was taking off on for the weekend, I found myself battling not merely regular commuter traffic, but crazed vacationers, desperate to get out of Dodge.

The job market had become unstable, and it seemed every time I turned around, I was working in a different part of the Commonwealth or in another state entirely. If it weren’t for audiobooks, I’d probably have needed a rubber room.

First, I discovered Books On Tape. Originally intended as books for the blind, I and a million other commuters discovered them during the mid-1990s. They were a godsend. Instead of listening to the news, talk radio, or some jabbering DJ, I could drift off into whatever world of literature I could pop into my car’s cassette player.

I bought a lot of audiobooks and as cassettes began to disappear and everything was on CD, Books On Tape ceased renting books to the consumer market. Fortunately, audiobooks had become downright popular and were available at book stores like Barnes and Noble. Everybody was listening and most of us couldn’t imagine how we’d survived before audiobooks.

In 2002, along came Audible.com. At first, it was a bit of a problem, figuring out how to transport audible books into your car, but technology came up with MP3 players and widgets that let you plug your player, whatever it is, into your car’s sound system.

Audible started off modestly, but grew and grew and having been acquired by Amazon is getting bigger by the minute. For once, I don’t mind a bit. The company was well run before Amazon, and Amazon had the good sense to not mess with success. It is still easy to work with them, literally a pleasure doing business.

Taste of my Audible library …

Ten years ago, I became too sick to work anymore. Would that mean giving up audiobooks? Not on your life. When I was nearly dead, I listened to books and they distracted me from pain and fear, kept me company when I was alone and wondering if I’d live to see morning. Sometimes, they made me laugh in the midst of what can only be described as a time when humor is at a premium.

Today, I listen as I do everything except writing. I can listen to books as I play games, edit photographs, or pay bills. I admit I cannot listen and write at the same time. That seems to be the point where multi-tasking ends. Actually, I can’t do anything while I write except write. I get a lot of reading done while accomplishing the computerized tasks of life, not to mention turning hours of mindless messing around into valuable reading time. I am, in effect always reading.

Reading in Bed: My Guilty Pleasure

I read at night on my Kindle using a good little Bluetooth speaker. Reading in bed has always been my biggest guilty pleasure. I remember reading in my bedroom under the covers using a flashlight, or worse, trying to read from the sliver of light coming from the hallway nightlight, or, if everything else failed, by the light of a bright moon.

“You’ll ruin your eyes” cried my mother who probably had snuck books into her bed and read by candlelight.

To this day, I don’t know why she didn’t just let me turn a light on. She had to know I was going to read anyhow. She was always reading too. In fact, if books were my addiction, she was my dealer. Even in today’s politically correct world, giving your kid too many books to read is not yet considered child abuse. I think there was some kind of law in her generation that kids had to go to bed by a specific time, whether or not they were sleepy. It was the eleventh commandment.

My love affair with literature in all its forms continues. My tastes change, favorite authors move up or down the list. I go through phases: all history, nothing but fantasy, a run of thrillers, a series of biographies. Getting older has few advantages but there is one huge gift — time. I often get so involved in a book that I look up and realize that oops, the sun is coming up and I’ve lost another night’s sleep. But now, I can sleep in. Not all day, but enough to not be exhausted in the morning — depending on when the dogs decide it’s time to bark.

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I don’t have to commute anymore. I don’t have to leap out of bed and in 15 minutes, shower, dress, put on makeup, and chop the ice off my car windows. I can stay up late whether it’s for reading, \writing, or watching movies. No one can make me stop. There are no official bedtime hours for senior citizens.

I knew there has to be some benefit to the whole age thing.

MORE WINTER BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

I see a lot more birds than I am able to photograph. I see them, but when I lift the camera up, they either hide or fly up into the tree. They obviously can see me through the glass doors. They don’t seem to mind me standing there and watching them, but as soon as I pick up the camera, about half of them disappear in a matter of seconds.

Tufted Titmouse

Junco and a Rose-Breasted Nuthatch

Nuthatch and incoming — but not sure what! Going by color, I think it’s a bluebird.

Downy Woodpecker

A Downy Woodpeckerwithout a red patch is a lady. Why does she always look like she’s got a mad on?

She really looks like she’s spent too many hours trying to talk to customer service

Titmouse

Another Titmouse

A Titmouse and a Flying Chickadee

Cardinal in full regalia

Goldfinch and Chickadee

Two bluebirds

I always wonder why some birds show up in a bunch one day, but I don’t see them again for a week or two. They are probably all there while I’m here, on the computer.

I’m finding it weird that it’s nearly Christmas. I’m not ready for another year. I have not yet recovered from this one. Or the one before this one. Actually, I haven’t been right in the head since 2016.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas! Or whatever you celebrate or even if you don’t celebrate anything. Enjoy the days off or overtime or whatever. Hey, Garry and I got our raises from Social Security. They said it was to “keep up with inflation.”

Are you ready?

I’m getting an EXTRA $18 every month! And Garry is getting an ADDITIONAL $21 every month. Wowee zowee! I hope you’re impressed. It’s the first raise in a couple of years, so they had to make it huge!

TOTALLY UNHINGED – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Unhinged


I’m voting for Yang. Even if he isn’t the nominee, he’s my guy. Anyone who’ll give me magic mushrooms and enough money to live on? My man!

The laughing Flamingo?

Does everyone feel as if they fell into the rabbit hole and that last mushroom made them huge — or tiny. My plastic flamingo is running around the garden laughing at me. I need to drink something that will make me … real.

Because I too am unhinged!

WORDS AND WILDLIFE – Marilyn Armstrong

I have no doubt my dogs think. They don’t have as long a memory as people and I don’t think they get into nostalgia or reminiscing, but they plan. They will work together to accomplish a particular goal. Like opening a gate, dismembering a toy, or opening a door. No doubt they would hunt together too. Dogs are pack animals.

They communicate. One will get up, walk to another. They look at each other, then both of them go and wake a third dog. After which all three go out to bark at something only they can see — or ramble into the kitchen to remind us they need dinner. I suspect they believe we won’t remember to feed them unless they remind us.

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What forms do their thoughts take? It isn’t words. Even though they can understand some words when we use them, I doubt that’s how they form ideas. So they must think using other senses. How much is visual? Do they think in sound and scent? They know what they want. They can be remarkably clever and creative in getting what they want,  but how do they plan without using language?

Now and again, I try to “think” without words. I always fail. Inevitably, anything in my head comes with narration and subtexts.

Dolphins and whales talk to each other in their own language, or so we believe. Apes can be taught to communicate with humans using sign language, but it’s not their native form of communication. The words we use are species-specific. More to the point, human-specific. Although we can teach other creatures to understand and sometimes even use our words, it’s not normal for them. They are bright enough to “get it,” but if not taught, they would be perfectly content to think in the manner that comes naturally to them.

People need words. It’s not only how we communicate. It’s basic to our understanding of the world. It’s how we categorize objects and ideas — and remember.

In the human world, ideas and concepts don’t exist without words. Language has the hooks on which we hang everything, real and conceptual. We are the only species who need a spoken language and absolutely the only creature who writes. Along with our opposable thumb, it’s how we rule the earth.

If we were to lose our languages, we would probably lose it all. I don’t think our thumbs would save us.

HUMANS RIGHTS — Marilyn Armstrong

I read an article a while back which announced with solemnity and more than a few pie charts, that dogs — our dogs, your dogs, pet dogs — don’t like being hugged. Not merely do they not like being hugged and display measurable levels of stress when hugged, but they really hate being kissed and nuzzled.

The article suggests a pat on the head … and a treat … would be much more appreciated. Not by Garry or me. We figure fair-is-fair — we get to do our thing, too.

Garry, Bonnie, and Gibbs – A moment of zen

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I know they don’t like being hugged. It’s obvious. They stiffen and put their ears back when we hug them. They also don’t like it when I grab their tail and refuse to let it go.

That’s what all the growling and head butting is about. You can almost hear them sigh, wondering when you’ll be through with this nonsense and get on to the important stuff, namely distributing cookies.

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I told Garry about the study. He said: “Tough. They’ll just have to cope. Because I like it.” My thoughts exactly.

Our dogs are disrespectful. Messy. Flagrantly disobedient. They are masters and mistresses of selective hearing. Do I believe for a single moment when we tell them to go out and they stand there, in front of the doggy door, ignoring us, it’s because they don’t understand what we want from them? I’m supposed to think if I stand in the doorway calling them, that they can’t hear me? Or — at the least — know I want them to come in? Of course, they know. They’re just playing with us.

Bonnie and Gibbs have gotten kind of deaf, so now I never know for sure if they are messing with me or not. Now that Owen has moved in, they bark at least twice as much as before.

Typically, they sleep until about seven, then they begin barking. Bonnie is the starter because she has NO manners at all and because she urgently wants cookies and attention. Since being put on a diet, her urgency about cookies has doubled, too.

We stagger to our feet. Give them some attention accompanied by cookies. While we are at it, we clear out Bonnie’s goopy eye and Garry takes his early morning medications. I refill my glass of juice and we go back to bed. That settles them down for a while.

Now, though, when Owen gets up — he being the early bird — they all go into a crazed barking frenzy. As soon as he comes upstairs, they calm down. I believe they lack patience.

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Duke and Gibbs are passionate about him and have their version of a fight over him even though he isn’t in the room yet. They hear him (how deaf IS Gibbs)?  Bonnie barks because she likes to bark. In fact, she barks for long periods every day, which gets the other two barking. You can’t have a conversation, listen to a book, or watch TV when they are barking. It’s deafening.

I should add that they do all this insane barking indoors so as not to annoy the neighbors. Aren’t we lucky?

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Since they persist in disrespecting us, they will have to deal with our periodic compulsion to give them hugs, nuzzling, and the occasional (“Yuck! Stop that you stupid humans!”) kiss them on their big black noses. It’s a small price to pay for unlimited sofa lounging, high-quality treats, and silly humans getting down on the floor to play with them. Not to mention having to cope with their early morning concerto. Good grief, they are loud.

Garry sleeps through it, the single advantage to deafness. With his head-gear off, he could sleep through a full cannon barrage.

We put up with them, so they will have to put up with us. That’s our part of the deal. Just to add our insult to their injury, we intentionally wake them up when they are sleeping. This morning, the three of them broke open the door and Duke, the only one with long legs, jumped all over Garry. That got us up. But they seem to know Garry is the serious sleeper because they never jump on me.

This might be a good time to mention that we’ve finally got Bonnie’s eyes under control. You know how vets only give you official medications? They never try anything that isn’t (a) expensive, (b) made from chemicals whose names you can’t pronounce, or (c) might be natural and yet work anyhow.

Her eyes were getting worse and worse and she had this big red thing in her eye that the vet said needed surgery and so did everything I could find on the Internet. In a fit of desperation, I picked up a Veterinycyn (probably spelled wrong) spray bottle of natural microbial natural stuff that is supposed to clear up pink-eye and get the goop out of her eyes.

It eliminated the redness within three days — something no other medicine has done. Why didn’t any of the various vets at three different offices consider the possibility of common pink-eye as an issue? She has had this problem for most of her life and never once did any of the vets suggest it. Yet is it incredibly common to all mammals, including us. Not only that, but that ugly red mass began to shrink and is barely visible just one week later.

Surgery? Nope. One 16-ounce bottle of pink-eye spray from Amazon. Good for dogs, horses, cats and guinea pigs. I bet it would work for me. It says it’s for pets only, but I’ve learned that this is not necessarily true. I know, for example, that the Pfizer medication we use on her eyes is identical to the stuff we get for our eyes and ears. Identical ingredients, same manufacturer — but the human stuff is packaged better and is much cheaper.

Also, we bought special baking soda spray for her terrible teeth (and some we put in the water for all the dogs). All the dogs have stopped having bad breath and Bonnie’s teeth are getting whiter day by day. When they breathe, it sure does smell better. The vet assured us it could NEVER work. Only the $800 tooth job could help. It turns out that baking soda is the primary active ingredient (along with fluoride) in toothpaste and mouthwash. For animals and people. Look it up.

She will need work done on her mouth, but we don’t have the money now and won’t for a while. Not to mention that Bonnie’s teeth were done once a year last year and for two years before that, so they should not BE that bad.

If this were one single vet, I’d change vets. But this is four or five vets in three different offices and not a single one considered pink-eye as a problem. Yes, she also has dry-eyes, but the redness and the nasty red thing in her eye were all part of the neglected pink eye.

Bad diagnoses are just as likely to come from human doctors. I can vouch for that.

Getting Bonnie on a diet has given her a new lease on life. She no longer weighs like two cinder blocks. She’s definitely a single cinder-block dog now.

She charges up the stairs at full tilt and she is outside running around as if she were five years younger. She still, sadly, remains deaf, but maybe we’ll find a fix for that, too!

WHAT’S THAT SHMATAH YOU’RE WEARING? – Marilyn Armstrong

“How come Gibbs is wearing a coat in Arizona in the summer?”

I was talking to Garry. It was an NCIS rerun. We watch a lot of reruns, though this new fall season of TV is shaping up better than I expected, so maybe there will be new shows to watch.

 

The question about costumes comes up often and on various shows. One of the more common “duh” moments is when the male lead is wearing a coat and the female lead is skimpily dressed. No explanation needed for that one.

More weird is when each cast member is dressed randomly, apparently without regard for the plot. One is wearing a heavy winter coat, another a light denim jacket. A third is in shirtsleeves. Some are clothed in jeans or other casual stuff while others look ready for Wall Street … or a cocktail party. Women are supposedly hiking. Or running from or after serial killers while wearing 4-inch spike heels. My feet hurt looking at them.

A pair of red shiny leather stiletto heels with gold heel-pieces

Garry and I have done a tiny bit of movie “extra” work so I’m guessing it goes like this:  “Go find something that fits in wardrobe and be on set in ten.”

Everyone hustles off to wardrobe, which looks like a jumble sale or the clothing racks at the Salvation Army store. Most of the clothing in the wardrobe probably came from some second-hand source or other.

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Everyone dives in looking for something that fits. As soon as they find an outfit … any outfit … they head for a changing booth, then off to be on set before someone yells at them. Stars get slightly better wardrobe or wear their own clothing. Wearing ones own clothing, both on TV shows and movies is common. I understand why.

The real question is not why everyone on a show is poorly or inappropriately dressed. It’s whether or not the people who produce the show think we won’t notice.

My theory is they don’t care if we notice or not. They don’t want to spend money on a wardrobe. They figure if you and I notice, we won’t care. In any case, we’ll keep watching. And they’re right. It’s a bottom-line world. A wardrobe is one area where corners can be easily cut.

The thing is, we do notice. You don’t need to be a professional critic or especially astute to see the incongruities of television costuming.

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It’s not just costumes, either. Sloppy editing, crappy scripts, stupid plots that include blatant factual and continuity errors. Ultimately, we do stop watching. Because it’s obvious they don’t care so why should we?

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You notice it on long-running shows that originally had good scripts and editing, but not anymore. The quality of the show slides. Producers are baffled when loyal fans stop tuning in. Obvious to a normal person, but apparently incomprehensible to network executives. Disrespect for viewers is at the root of much of the illness besetting the TV industry.

They should be nicer to us. We’re, after all, the customers. Aren’t we?