Fandango’s Provocative Question #92 -Anonymous or not?

I’ve been scammed, had my identity stolen not once, but twice and that was when I was anonymous. These days, it simply makes no difference. I’m not going to publish my address and phone number (though a hacker can easily get them if they want to) – or my driver’s licence – (thought it’s even more easily obtained).

Today’s question is …

I’m pretty sure if we use the Internet for anything other than posting the occasional photograph, anyone who wants us can get us. The last time I got “got” was through Facebook who sold my private information to Cambridge Analytica. No matter what anyone on Facebook says, I’m sure it was no accident. They simply sold a lot of information and in exchange, got a lot of money.

Garry at home in brilliant fall colors

I often think it’s my fault. I worked for companies who designed data mining software. It was pretty sophisticated stuff more than twenty-five years ago, so I can only imagine how amazing it is now.

Any privacy we had, the advent of online shopping, credit agencies (I mean seriously, Equifax got hacked and they are the ones supposedly protecting us!), data mining, and any place we have entered our “private information” doesn’t need to be hacked because they sell our information to anyone with the money to buy it. Unless you want to live  alone in the woods without electricity and the technology we depend on, you will get hacked.

On a more positive note, credit cards do not make you pay the hacking bills anymore. They have, after many years of denying the problem was their fault, given in. It IS their fault. It always was.

As a tech writer, I was an anonymous author (with one exception where I got credit) for more than thirty years. I thought THIS time, I wanted to be me. I’m old enough to feel it’s time to get some of the credit. I’m not going to live forever and this is my last time in the spotlight, such as it is.

Whether or not your name is on your website, you are in the public eye.

Personally, I can’t hack your data, but I’m not a hacker. Anyone who has the skills, even minimal skills, can get to you. If you were even a little bit famous, you’re out there. You will always be out there because nothing disappears from the virtual world. Garry was on television every night for more than thirty years. He doesn’t worry about getting spotted on Serendipity. People recognize him anyway even though he has been off the air for almost 20 years.

By the way, a suggestion you might consider is to NOT  fill in those cute little “mini contests” on Facebook. That information goes straight from your fingers to hackers in Russia, China, India, or Pakistan — and who knows where else. For all we know, Equifax is a hacking service. Probably so is Google and we already know about Microsoft. We merely have suspicions about Apple. Basically, every single big business that asks us to fill in forms that have nothing to do with what we are doing at the time (filing out our warranty, usually), know they are going to sell that data. Even if you don’t fill out all the information, your name, address, email and phone number are more than enough.

Barney Google – The History

Data mining rules the world. That’s the purpose of that “discount card” at your local grocery. They could just as easily give you the same discounts without a card, but the card registers your choices with corporate folks who want to know what you buy and where you buy it.

I won’t buy things at stores that require I give them a discount card. I know all my information is out there, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Because Garry and I are planted here and have been for a long time, anyone can find us. If you want to be harder to find, move frequently, and change your email and phone numbers regularly. We intentionally try to not change emails or phone numbers because it’s such a hassle. When you start changing it your online life can get messy.

Facebook assured me it wasn’t going to be a problem. They wrote me and TOLD me that. Liars.

As far as your house goes? You can find our house on Google. I found the house I lived in on Derech Hevron in Jerusalem on Google. I couldn’t find the house I grew up in because it’s not there anymore, but I found every other house I’ve ever lived in. From above. From the street. Any old way. I even found the place I lived in as an infant because remarkably, it’s still around.

I know that most of our information is already available. The best I can do is avoid known scamming sites like Facebook. Which is okay because they’ve banned me for running articles by people whose politics they don’t like. Not my stuff. Reblogged stuff. That’s why you won’t find Facebook on my connections. I really hate their nasty, arrogant butts.

By the way, this whole “thing” Trump is pulling with Google? It made me laugh. When Theodore Roosevelt was president (September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909) in his enthusiasm to end monopolies (1901), he won. It didn’t matter. Standard Oil which became Esso, then Exxon, and now is Exxon-Mobil, ignored the court and kept doing their thing. Which was making money and they’re still doing it today. For those who ask what happens when someone doesn’t feel inclined to obey a court order?

If it’s me or you, you wind up in jail. If you own Standard Oil or Microsoft? You laugh and call one of your thousands of lawyers.

And now the dope is mostly legal most of the time …

So about taking on Google? The government (Obama? Trump? Bush?) wanted to take on Microsoft, then gave up and dropped the suit. I figure they will wind up doing the same thing with Google. Google might be even bigger in its own way than Microsoft. Not as rich (yet), but they are huge with Googly fingers in every pie, in every country. We have their television streaming network — and who doesn’t use them to find stuff on the Internet?

Google isn’t going anywhere. In a hundred years, they will probably own Congress and the President if they don’t already.


Fandango’s Provocative Question #90

I’m glad you did the math on this one. I got lost somewhere in the squaring of numbers but numbers aren’t really my world. Actually, I’m not sure this IS my world. I watched the debate tonight and I’m not sure anything happened. We were hoping Kamala would tear out Pence’s throat, but sadly, that didn’t happen.

I don’t do blog awards. I remember when I got the first one and I was so excited! An award! Garry wanted to know if it came with hardware (that’s how he refers to statues, things that hang on walls or stand on shelves and have your name engraved on it) and I said “no.” He said if it didn’t come with hardware, it didn’t count. The only ones I do are challenges — mostly using photographs. They can be interesting especially if you have a big archive.

I think the awards are a nice touch to NEW bloggers who don’t have much of an audience. Until you realize it’s completely meaningless and most people think they’re sorta dumb, it’s nice to get any kind of recognition. I got lucky and got a surprisingly large amount of recognition pretty quickly as did you, but most people don’t have that experience. I think we both also rode the wave of political craziness when we began. I started right before Obama’s second run for office and you with the hysteria of Trumpty Dumpty.

Of course, we never imagined an EIGHT MONTH QUARANTINE — EIGHT FREAKING MONTHS SO FAR — or having a blithering idiot running the country. Is that blithering or blathering? I keep forgetting. Maybe it’s both? Our blithering, blathering idiot. Yeah. That says it.

So as for me, give me liberty or death, but not long lists of questions. Also, if people keep sending me these awards, I’m going to drive all of you crazy by actually sending you a nomination and demanding repeatedly that you send these out to 14 or 18 or 22 people … and make sure you send me a list so I know who got the nominations so I can badger them, too.

How do I feel about blog awards? The same way I feel about chain letters and Ponzi schemes. At my best, annoyed. At my worst, really annoyed.

Meanwhile, they keep telling us to get flu shots, but they don’t have the super flu shots Garry and I need because there’s a national shortage of the super senior flu shots … so please shut up about it already. They don’t HAVE THE SHOT. I’ll get one when they have one to give me. Sheesh.



Fandango’s Provocative Question #86: DREAMS BY NIGHT

This week, Fandango would like to know what was the weirdest dream we can remember and what do we think might have triggered it?

This was a real dream. I remember it because it was very clear and because its meaning was pretty obvious. It had to be at least fifty years ago since I was in my twenties. I dreamed I was in a tall tower with a long, spiraling staircase. I was supposed to climb all the way to the top. It being a dream, no further explanation was necessary, so I began to climb. The steps seemed to go on forever. Time is very warped in dreams, so for all I know, it might have taken a few minutes or even seconds.

I climbed and climbed. Finally, at last, I reached the top. There, at the very top of the tower was a steel door with a heavy iron lock and a sign which said:

“Room of Records. Sealed. No entry.”

To this day, I have a lot of missing memories. This could be just as well considering what I do remember isn’t heartening. Nonetheless, it was a long climb to a locked room. I don’t recall any follow-up dreams, so I’m guessing I never went into that room. I never got to see those records.

Maybe those were our Permanent Records? You know, the ones they threatened us with in school, as in: “This is going on your permanent record, young lady!” All those permanent records have to be somewhere, right?


Fandango’s Provocative Question #85: LIFE DECISIONS & TIME TRAVEL

Time travel is my favorite science fiction subject along with witchery and wizardry. There are rules about time travel and always have been. I actually had to look up the rules, to make sure I remembered them. I found two sets, one from 2009 and another from 2015.

Both of these sets of rules are typically found in tales of time travel. The whole concept of time travel is mentally paradoxical and if you really think about it, it’s quite unhinging. That’s why I like it. I love the wild and crazy way you have to think about traveling in time. It’s impossible, but don’t we wish we could do it anyway? There’s a great series of books by Jodi Taylor called “The Chronicles of St. Mary’s” where nutty historians travel in time to view actual historical events and record them so that people finally get to know what really happened. The books are exciting and frequently hilarious. I think the series is beginning to wind down, but if you’ve never read the books, you have a whole series you can read or listen to on Audiobooks. I listen to them. Actually, I listen to them often. I’ve listened to the entire series several times, and a new book just came out which I have only read once … and I know there’s another one due in December.

So, about Fandango’s question:

The answer is yes, but no. Of course I’ve made bad decisions. Some were really terrible and I will regret them forever. But (there’s always a “but”), for every bad decision, in some way my life was changed, ultimately for the better. Change was not immediate or even quickly. Decisions made as a teenager didn’t come home to roost until I was well into adulthood. Karma doesn’t work fast, but but grinds very fine. Moreover, context matters. It can be decades before you realize that the bad decision you made in 1979 has somehow morphed over the course of decades to a great life.

I know there is no such thing as time travel. Even if there were “real” time travel, it would be dangerous beyond imagining because if you change one thing or one little part of a past event, other things will change. You cannot know what the potential fallout could be. Read Stephen King’s “11/22/63” about time travel and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It’s a brilliant piece of writing and it’s not one of King’s creepy horror stories. It’s genuine science fiction. Beautifully written and sometimes, almost poetry.

I know this sounds more like a book report than an opinion, but I’m seriously into time travel stories. If there’s not time travel, then I’m opting for magic. One of the other, but both would be lovely.

So, speaking of time …


Fandango’s Provocative Question #83: Who’s controlling what?

One of the big issues with WordPress’s decision to create a kind of block format that is very unappealing to most of us who aren’t here to make money but joined to show off our art, write about issues that matter, display pictures … the artists rather than the money-makers. I’m sure that a lot of us would happily at this stage hop to another platform … but what platform? Medium? They don’t sound like like they would welcome my freewheeling style. Blogger? Has anyone ever gotten a dialogue going on Blogger? I couldn’t. Eventually, I simply gave up. So Fandango’s question is simple and basic:

I think the answer is really that technology controls us. I wish it weren’t true. I don’t want it to be true, but it is. Without WiFi, there’s little I can accomplish. My bank is never open. Everything happens electronically by cell phone and computer. We live in a small town where shopping is limited. There is, for example, no camera store. If I need a lens, I have to buy it online. It’s hard to even find a contractor to do work we need to do. There isn’t much work, but we are a little too far from Boston to commute … and who in their right mind would want to commute to Boston?

These days, WiFi is not a luxury. It’s a utility controlled as a monopoly by whatever town you live in. We don’t have any choice but Charter and they can charge whatever they want since they have no competition. And, because we are a low-density population, other companies aren’t exactly fighting each other to come here and open businesses.

What we have is a lot of natural beauty, the winding Blackstone River and its tributaries, a long history dating back to the early 1600s … and WiFi for everything else. So yes, we are controlled by our technology. Sometimes it’s a marvel. Other times, you just need one long downtime of your cable and suddenly, you feel helpless. Your computer breaks and panic ensues. Your cell phone bites the big one and you literally don’t know how you’ll get through another day.

Yes, we are controlled by our technology, especially right now when we are living in a plague-ridden environment.

What can we do to change it? I don’t know. Nothing right now, but maybe in the future we’ll discover other ways of living. I know I didn’t grow up owned by technology, yet over the decades, I’ve rolled right into it. Haven’t we all?


Fandango’s Provocative Question #82

It’s Provocative Question time here on Serendipity.

He wants to know if we live up to our own standards. Do we?

I have thought about this often in the course of my life. I tend to excuse most people at least once or twice before I even get angry. But I do get angry, especially when someone has already apparently judged me. When this happens, the relationship usually ends and rarely gets put back together. I’m patient and patient and patient, but when the patience breaks, I don’t seem able to go back.

Is that a judgement? Yes, I suppose it is. It is certainly a judgement on the relationship, an admission that it is no longer viable for me. But over all? I think I’m harder on me than on anyone else. I’m a lot stricter with myself than I ever was with my son or with any other relationship. I tend to be both efficient and a bit rigid about obligations and frequently surprised when others are not. I try not hold others to my standards, but I admit to being disappointed when they don’t. I try to hide the disappointment.

I’m not sure what that means, but it has made me believe that life isn’t fair and expecting fairness is delusional. Life is what it is. It’s bumpy and twisty and unexpected. Whatever happens, you deal with it. Judge yourself, but try to not level it at others.


Fandango’s Provocative Question #81

From Fandango:

“Racism, especially in America, is a thorny and divisive topic. Someone I know told me about a song, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” from the Broadway musical “Avenue Q.” It goes:

Everyone’s a little bit
Racist, sometimes.
Doesn’t mean we go around committing
Hate crimes.
Look around and
You will find,
No one’s really
Maybe it’s a fact
We all should face.
Everyone makes
Based on race.”

I’d like to point out that racism by color has NOT always existed. Until the introduction of slavery — Black slavery — into Europe and America, bonds were largely religious and/or tribal. They were not based on skin color. The addition of skin color was a Christian weapon to justify slavery. It worked so well, they discovered if you turn any non-white people — North American Natives, abducted dark-skinned African natives, and Indians (from India) — into “barbarians” or “brutes,” then they weren’t human and you didn’t have to treat them as human. Race is, as human history goes, a relatively recent introduction to the haters scoreboard. Children who are brought up in a non-racist household in diverse neighborhoods often don’t notice skin color. When my son was growing up, I had to explain skin color to him because he had no idea what I was talking about. So I had to explain “more like my color or more like Garry’s color.” He still didn’t get why it mattered.

I don’t know what as a society we can do to stop parents who hate others based on skin color from pushing the same intolerance into their children’s little heads. Short of lobotomy — which occasionally seems like not a half-bad idea — how do you get ignorant, arrogant haters to consider the possibility that skin color has nothing to do with any other human abilities? People with other skin colors are as smart — or smarter — than lighter skinned people. They have the same sets of gifts for music, art, writing, mathematics or nuclear physics than whiter people do.

As racial groups, we may have differences in physiology. For example, Ashkenazi Jewish woman are more likely to get breast cancer than women without that gene. Young Black women are also more likely to get breast cancer. I’m sure one day we’ll work out the DNA links that make this true and maybe fix the problem. We know some of it, but not nearly enough. There are other ailments that are linked by DNA to specific groupings, probably many more than we know about.

Anything else is sheer prejudice.

Do people smell different? Sure they do. My son doesn’t smell like me and neither does my husband. A scent that smells good on me may smell awful on my best friend. Do they have different kinds of hair? Does baldness count? My grandmother was a redhead and I’m not. On the other hand, I inherited my father’s heart condition. I would have preferred the red hair. Oh, and Garry has dark skin and I’m about as white as anyone can be. We used to argue about beach vacations. His idea of a great vacation would put me in a burn unit. Somehow, we manage mostly because putting me in a burn unit would probably ruin both our vacations.

I don’t know why people hate each other for anything other than entirely personal reasons. It’s not that I don’t understand hate. I just don’t understand group hate, racial hate, religious hatred. But personally? I get the one-on-one thing. I often think the weirdest difference between any two humans is male versus female. It’s amazing that people so completely different manage to live together in some semblance of harmony for decades. It proves that tolerance can work.

Maybe if everyone  of every color marry until we are all one, nice tan, there will be no group left to hate.


Fandango’s Provocative Question #80

From Fandango, a deep, philosophical question. We need some of those because everything else is about disease or the news.

“I saw this question on a site that offers up a bunch of “deep, philosophical” questions and this one intrigued me. It’s about evolution, but not in the context of Darwin’s evolution of the species. It’s more about evolution of the individual and about who you are and how you change over time.

Here’s this week’s question, which is essentially about you. I hope you’ll have fun with it.”

That’s a pretty good question, actually. I am not at the “forgetting” stage of life. It doesn’t mean I don’t remember events, especially those which were significant, but I’m losing a lot of the details. Many formative life events go back more than 60 years. A lot of life has been lived since then.

If you think of your brain like a computer’s RAM, there comes that moment when you either have to offload material onto an external drive, or get a bigger, badder computer. The opportunity to get a bigger brain has not presented itself. Yet. You never know. Massive brain extensions might just come along any day now. If so, sign me up.

Otherwise, the me that I am is an amalgam of everything I was, wherever I’ve been plus all the people I’ve known, loved, hated, lost, or somehow just faded out of my life.

I often think my life is like a long flight of stairs. I remember a few things from when i was very young … before I could even speak. The next time I have a clear memory is moving to our house in Queens and meeting the girls who would be my friends for the next 16 years. The woods. Building “forts” and drinking lemonade while playing killer Monopoly on Mary’s front porch. The accumulated sunburns of childhood and wondering how I managed to avoid skin cancer, all things considered.

Piano lessons. Starting to play when I was just four years old and my legs weren’t long enough to reach the pedals. They had to put blocks on the pedals for me. I was really tiny. I complained a lot about having to practice, so one day my mother stopped giving me lessons until I begged her to bring them back. I never complained again. Music got “stuck” in my soul and never left. I would have been a musician except, it turns out, that loving music doesn’t necessarily give you the talent to perform it. I still love it and I play a little bit. I’ll be playing more as soon as I get my new strings.

Piano lessons?

I remember seeing Dumbo maybe half a dozen times one year because that was when my sister was born and the aunts who were taking care of me kept taking me to the movies. The same movie, as it turned out. My one and only trip to Rockefeller Center was to see Dumbo. Again. I was a permanent animation addict and still am. In between wanting to be a ballerina — my mother took me to see the NY City Ballet and I fell in love with the dancers — I also decided I could be a cartoonist. I actually had a little talent for cartooning, but by then, a love of words had intruded into my brain and wormed it’s way right into my soul.

No matter what I studied in college, I knew I was going to be a writer. I remember the first stories I wrote, my brief foray into poetry, getting my first professional writing job, then getting the next one … and many of the ones that followed. I never stopped writing. I also never stopped taking pictures or playing piano … until the arthritis in my hand made it impossible.

Here I am. Seventy-three. I can’t play piano anymore, but I can strum on a ukulele and am working on two different pennywhistles and a three-string cigar box guitar. It’s part of my life and there are people who still think of me as a musician because I got to know them while I was studying music in college. I don’t worry about the “long-term” future. I don’t know how long I’ll live, but I’ve survived so much, I figure I deserve some moderately healthy, if old, time to be me — whatever that is.

I remember Israel very well. Not so much the people as the place. The Old City. The open spice markets. Climbing to the top of the Old City wall, imagining the Romans attacking the city and “holding the fort.”. Lachish where the Egyption had an outpost down near Rehovot. A lot of work-related activity because it was in Israel where I learned to deal with software and write about it. The little English-language newspaper I ran — the most fun I have had on any job.

Leaving Israel and coming home — and realizing I felt like a foreigner. I feel like a foreigner now, too. Times have changed so much and so fast.

My home in Baka, Jerusalem. I lived on the second floor.

I still write. Probably more than ever, but this time, I write what I want, not what I’m paid to say. I still take pictures, even though the technology has changed enormously. I don’t know if I’m a better photographer than I was. I think a lot of the work I did very early on may have been more artistic and because I worked in a dark room, more “mine” that the work I do now. So f I’m maybe better or maybe worse than I was more than 40 years ago, but I’m less into portraits and much more into birds and critters and wild spaces  I became a climate believer in Israel, spending almost 6 years working for the Environmental Health Laboratory at the University of Jerusalem. That has carried me through the years. I’ve been beating people up over clean water for decades — for all the good it has done. In the 1980s it seemed urgent. In 2020, it’s a dire necessity that we change our ways of doing just about everything if we want to continue to live on this planet.

I can’t remember all the cats and dogs I’ve had in my life. I remember the first ones and those from the past 35 years. In between, I mostly remember work. It used to amuse me that all my girlfriends got pretty clothing and make-up and perfume for their birthdays and Christmas. I got briefcases and computer accessories … and when I was lucky, cameras and lenses.

I still read history and science fiction and fantasy with occasional forays into criminals and cops and courtrooms. I actually love courtroom dramas and sometimes I’m sure I could do a better job than the fictional ones. There were a couple of years when I couldn’t go a single day without watching “Law and Order,” but I’m in recovery. I’ve given up collecting dolls and ancient Chinese pottery, but there’s still an awful lot of collectibles in this house.

So. After all the sturm und drang of my early years, I’m comfortably married to Garry. Thirty-years this September. This one is until death do us part.


Fandango’s Provocative Question #75 – CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS

Have you ever committed a crime? If yes, tell us about it to the extent you feel comfortable doing so. If not, is there a crime you might like to commit (i.e., fantasized about committing) if you knew in advance that you’d never be caught or prosecuted for it?

Some of the police are trying to remain under cover.

Can I be arrested for thinking? All through this pandemic, watching our world crumble, the economy collapse, and so many good people dying … and you wonder why the really evil ones are still doing fine.What happened to Karma? Are those people really demons and thus immune to the diseases of humanity.

I have committed no crime, but some days, I really, really, REALLY want to. I’m sure I’d feel fine about it and probably, so would you.


TIME OUT? IS IT PERMANENT? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #74

From Fandango:

Most states in the U.S. are loosening restrictions put in place three months ago in order to “flatten the curve” and to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Many countries around the world are doing the same thing. Yet new cases of the virus are continuing to climb.

So, my provocative question to you this week is this:

I haven’t been anywhere off our property — except the hospital in 3 months and as far as I can tell, it’s going to stay more or less the same. We weren’t very sociable before COVID, so the restrictions haven’t been terribly restrictive for us. I would like to see some friends alive and in person and I keep hoping that we may yet see them.

Regardless, life won’t change a lot. We’ll continue to be careful until there’s some kind of substantial protection available.

I would like to go somewhere other than a doctor’s office, but I don’t see our lives changing much.


Fandango’s Provocative Question #73

It’s time for a little creative thinking. Here’s the setup from Fandango:

You’ve heard of extra sensory perception, right? You know, ESP. There are three forms of ESP.

  1. Telepathy — the transfer of information from one person to another without the use of sensory communication.
  2. Clairvoyance — the acquisition of information about places, people, or events without the use of normal sensory contact.
  3. Precognition — the acquisition of information about a future event that could not be anticipated through any known processes of inference.

So my question to you this week is:

Having had several significant run-ins with things that aren’t supposed to happen, none of which are described in Fandango’s lead up. Because there’s also voices you hear that are from “somewhere else” — not someone else living in your head but messages from … where? 

Twice I was dying. The first time, I was offered the option of dying or continuing to live, even though living would be hard and painful. The second time, I was told that I was going to live, even though no one thought I could since I’d been dying for days with all the appropriate symptoms: massive sepsis, fever, and multiple surgeries all of which were supposed to repair me, but didn’t. But having been told I would live, the next morning, I was fine. Fever and infection gone and I went home that  same day.

That doesn’t happen. It really doesn’t. I have never been sure what to make of both of these incidents and a number of others which probably fall into the “precognition” grouping. I knew, for example, when my first husband died, even though I was 300 miles away. I just knew. And check around. Many people who are not religious in any way have had such experiences.

I woke up one morning knowing that a helicopter had exploded and there had been a crash in New Hampshire. About an hour later, the phone rang and Garry was on the case. How did I hear that news and more to the point, why? I didn’t know the pilot, the helicopter, or anything about it at all. For some obscure reason, the story came to me. The knowledge that someone I had loved had died made some kind of sense. There was a connection there and it happens to a lot of people.

But both of those visions gave me a life I was sure was ending. These were not dreams. Dreams float away when morning breaks. These are as alive and as sharp today as they were when they happened.

What — if anything — does this have to do with religion? I do not know. I’m not sure it has anything to do with an “official” dogma.

As to the picking up of subtle signals? Absolutely. It’s why, when I “read” for someone, I preferred to do the original assessment and reading without having met the individual. I didn’t want to be influenced by what I saw or felt. I also quit reading for people. I kept finding out stuff I didn’t want (or need) to know.

I think we are all intuitive. Some of us are more open to knowledge that isn’t written or broadcast? Dogs and cats are intuitive with their owners and each other. Why would we not be? Before there were words, I’m sure we knew about each other. I suspect that creating words was how we lost a lot of the intuition with which we were born.

Non-verbal creatures communicate surprisingly well. Watch them with each other. Put out birdseed and watch one bird make a single tweet that will tell every other feathered pal in the woods to come and get it. Ditto squirrels, flying and otherwise. They just know. .

Sometimes, I know, too.  I don’t know why or how, but I happens.

Finally, the morning of 9/11, one of my bosses had booked a flight out of Kennedy to LA. About an hour before he was due to go to the airport, he got a funny mental itch. He said: “I think I’m not getting on that plane. I’ll travel tomorrow maybe,” He canceled the flight and went on living because that was one of the two planes that hit the towers.

You are welcome to be as dismissive as you like, but stuff happens and you don’t always know why. You can’t box things up according to a predetermined set of rules. There are times when you gotta go with the flow, wherever it takes you.


Fandango’s Provocative Question #72

From Fandango:

Things are pretty screwed up right now. The world is still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The United States now has had almost 1.9 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 108,000 have died due to the virus, far and away more cases and deaths than any other country.

There is significant civil unrest and there are massive protests in the streets all across our country over our inability to come to grips with America’s original sin of slavery and the social and political inequalities that continue to persist 150 years after slavery in America ended.

And the U.S. has a madman for its president who is threatening to deploy the American military against American citizens on American soil.

So for this week’s provocative question, I’m going to try to shift your focus from the depressing to the exciting by asking you this simple question:

Life is insane. I’m emotionally and mentally exhausted and I’m pretty sure so is everyone else. I think if I were 30 years younger, I might be excited and more involved, but I’ve gotten on in years and I don’t have that amount of energy. Not even after a good night’s sleep and I don’t think the energy is coming back in this lifetime.

I want to help more, but I have limits. So, I write. That’s probably what I do best anyway. I write about right and wrong. I try to explain at least some of the history that has brought us to this time and place. I’m glad to help explain how this exploding country didn’t “just happen” because of one or several recent incidents. It has been growing and intermittently exploding since the colonies became the United States.

The last time the rioting started, Garry and I were living in Roxbury, aka “The Bury” which is a Black neighborhood. It is becoming (gradually) more mixed. I was an early mixer. Since Garry had always been the one dark guy in white neighborhoods, I thought it was time for me to be the white one in a Black neighborhood. Our ten years in Roxbury were wonderful. It was a great place to live and if it weren’t for The Big Dig, we might still be there.

Where Main Street ends – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Right now, I’d rather be in this little town. We do not lack our share of nutters and wackos, but I doubt you could get enough people together in one location to have a riot. It’s just not that kind of town although if the water mains go down again, that might see some yelling and carrying-on. As to national events? Everything is too far away to feel relevant to most people here.

We are secluded, surrounded by trees, garden birds, squirrels, raccoons, and flying squirrels. Hawks, owls, and eagles. Bobcats, foxes, and coyotes as well as baby squirrels and chipmunks who look like snacks to the hawks, bobcats, foxes, and coyotes. That’s the way of nature. You can’t blame the predators for getting hungry any more than you can blame the squirrels for eating all the birdseed. It’s just the way it is.

So in the midst of turmoil and trying to survive COVID, I’m home. A lot. In the name of retaining sanity, I’m looking forward to the arrival of my canisters to hold the flour, and a pound of active dry yeast. After which I’m going to bake my way to mental peace.

It’s not exciting. Not world-shaking. No airports or major travel involved. Just warm, yeasty dough and a lot of flour. I’m looking forward to baking — and consuming — the world’s most expensive bread.