29 September 2006
Everybody has a flaw. It's not dangerous or self destructive, it just drives everyone else around you nuts. Usually it's a little thing where they give up and just let you do it.
You have to be the one to load the dishwasher because no one else does it "right".
You have to plan all the trips because no one else could get you there as fast or as well prepared.
You have to handle all decorating because no matter how well something was done, you wouldn't like the colors, the design the artwork ... something.
Now, I can't stand to leave a question unanswered. We are talking dead stop to all other activity here folks. Once my curiosity is aroused about anything from major political trends to the price of peas at the local supermarket, the answer must be found. People around me know that you don't get between me and an encyclopedia or computer when I hear something on TV or read something in a book that makes me go "Huh?". Me without google is not pretty. We're talking twitch and drool here. This totally irrational curiosity has been both the source of my income and the bain of my existence since learning to read almost 60 years ago.
So what is yours?
The Confessional will stay open all weekend.
27 September 2006
Daily we get incensed over politics, the Iraq war, and the sheer stupidity and incompetence of our leaders. Look around your comfortable life. However little or much you have, by comparison to many places in the world you are a person of vast wealth.
Right now, this instant, while the U.S. does nothing and the U.N. does nothing a government is selectively enslaving, starving, raping, maiming and murdering many of its citizens who have not managed to escape to camps where they can at least get food and minimal care.
There is something you can do. You might start here:
Save The Children - Sudan
The Shortest Story
by Harry Chapin
I am born today, the sun burns its promise in my eyes;
Mama strikes me and I draw a breath and cry.
Above me a cloud softly tumbles through the sky;
I am glad to be alive.
It is me seventh day, I taste the hunger and I cry;
my brother and sister cling to Mama's side.
She squeezes her breast, but it has nothing to provide;
someone weeps, I fall asleep.
It is twenty days today, Mama does not hold me anymore;
I open my mouth but I am too weak to cry.
Above me a bird slowly crawls across the sky;
why is there nothing now to do but die?
26 September 2006
We all go surfing around the net. There are all the regular stops of major interests whether it is the Washington Post or the Washington Times. Then you hit your favorite blogs and visit a bit just to chat with people of like interests or do a little shopping at Amazon and check the balance at your bank. Maybe you stop for a visit at your favorite webcam for a bit of zen.
But up in the favorites lists are a few oddballs that you have discovered that no one else you know has ever found. You just like them. In addition to all of my music and lyrics sites, book sources, horseracing info, and hundreds of genealogical sites, three of my favorites are shown below. What are your unusual sites?
Puzzleability Free collection of puzzles some one time, some weekly, and one truly great daily game.
The Pixie Pit Play scrabble with friends via email. Very well run site and well worth the $10 a year they ask to cover their costs. No popups. No Spam. Just a good place if you like the game.
Triton Gallery If you like Broadway, Opera and Ballet this is the place to get window cards, posters, and other unusual items from the world of live performances.
25 September 2006
As usual after a trip to the supermarket, I came home totally disgusted with the check out line reading material which amounts to pornography for the dimwitted. So I thought I would check and see what was the most popular magazine at the checkout stand 50 years ago.
Now there was probably a somewhat lurid "Confidential" hidden out of reach of the children, but the one magazine that was in virtually every home was Life. So what was on the covers of the nine issues of Life and the articles mentioned there for September and October of 1956?
A movie star (Liz Taylor - Giant), a broadway star (Siobhan McKenna in Saint Joan) and one TV actress (Janet Blair - Caesar's Hour)
A photo spread on the Epic of Man - Egypt
Another photo spread of an art exhibit of nude portraiture (yes there was a nude painting on the cover).
There was a three part Series on integration
Two historical articles by Winston Churchill
Candidate's View of the Campaign - The Ordeal & the Aura
War in the Middle East
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Should you care to do your own search of important years, simply click Life Magazine cover search . I sent my daughter an email with the cover that was published the week she was born since that was in September.
24 September 2006
22 September 2006
When you are doing genealogy, one of the techniques to use is an interview with older members of the family, not for facts but for atmosphere of the times they have lived. You need to do your home work ahead of time by getting as many "facts" about the period as possible. Coming up in October and November we have the anniversaries of two fairly major events. It will be the 44th for the Cuban Missle Crisis and the 43rd of the Kennedy assassination. Below is an example of what can be done with very little other than dry facts and a good interview.
In 1978 a teacher gave my son the assignment to write about the first year of his life. He fudged a bit by going from the October before to the November after. He had the idea to go to the library, find out what was going on, and then to interview me about it. Starting Out was the result.
Had she or hadn’t she? Sleeping pills, yes, but what? Thalidomide – the name haunted her and every other pregnant woman in 1962. Those babies! – Her baby? She was scared and would stay that way until next year.
El Camino Real – beautiful as only Northern California can be in the October sun. The radio blared away with the Four Seasons’ “Sherry”. They were young, a baby on the way, and happy – at least on this day. The President interrupted the music, “Today I have ordered a blockade of Cuba!” Suddenly their bright world was dark. They waited. The world waited. Six days later the Russian ships turned around and the sun came out again, but for how long?
“You won’t have Nixon to kick around any more” sounded like as good a promise as any following the November elections. Vaughn Meader had them all laughing with his satire of the Kennedy White House, “Goodnight Jackie. Goodnight Bobby. Goodnight Ethel. Do you have your bear, Teddy?”
“Puff the Magic Dragon” welcomed a baby boy into the world on February 21, 1963. His mother counted fingers and toes in time to the music. He was beautiful, perfect, loved. She was politically aware and terribly liberal, but at this moment, it didn’t matter that the South was in an uproar over integration or that the Supreme Court had reaffirmed the right of peaceful assembly. Christopher Alan was here and safe. Let the world take care of itself. She had bigger responsibilities.
The baby went to the movies right along with mommy and daddy. An infant-seat made seeing “The Birds” and “Lawrence of Arabia” easy. And to think it wasn’t that long ago that she thought Hula Hoops were the greatest invention ever!
Divorce was becoming the great American pastime. She was just one more casualty that May. There were lots of casualties – her kind and the “advisors” in Viet Nam. It was a time of commitment and she was supposed to care about the Green Berets, care about the Peace Corps, care about LSD and Timothy Leary, care about so much, but there just wasn’t time. Being a single working mother took all of her hours. Given her choice of trends to lead, this wouldn’t have been it. She and Tony Bennett had both left their hearts in San Francisco. Rod McKuen might think that love had been good to him. She disagreed. Oh well, McDonalds sold 15-cent hamburgers. At least she didn’t have to cook.
JFK was a Berliner at the wall, and Camelot was in full swing. Pope John XXIII died; the world mourned a good man. Fanny Hill fought its way through obscenity trials, while Bob Dylan led the war protesters with “Blowin’ in the Wind”. Martin Luther King had a dream near the Washington Monument – too late for Medgar Evers murdered the previous June and not in time for the four young girls bombed to death in church the following September. The US/USSR hotline was installed, and the “red phone” became a symbol of the unthinkable. Could anything else happen in this crazy year?
Los Angeles baseball fans were in heaven, and Kofax and Drysdale were patron saints! A four game sweep of the World Series had the city pretending it was New Year’s Eve, as confetti and champagne rained down on the heroes! Those beautiful no-hitter bums!
Her child was ten months old now, but for three days he slept almost constantly as if he understood that this was no time for a baby to cry. The tears fell uncontrollably from much older eyes. The drums of November marked a national tragedy. “Where were you when you heard?” would become the question a generation could answer. Kennedy dead and two days later his accused assassin died “live” on TV. On the television: the flag, the riderless horse, and the constant pictures of a nation stunned by grief. She hovered over the sleeping infant, her tears dropping on the blond curls. What have we done to you? What will become of you? Was there any hope left for the world or this new person? They would have to wait and see – together.
For those curious as to “then what happened”, Christopher has now turned 43. He is retired from the U.S. Army and now lives and works in the state of Washington. He is divorced with one son. His parents remarried only to divorce again seven years later (another story). He has a sister and two beautiful nieces.
His mother is a retired researcher, writer and editor and is still happily single. As with most of the country, she is no longer a sixties liberal and has settled somewhere around fanatically moderate Republicrat: Social issues left, fiscal issues right with more than enough exceptions in between to give anyone political schizophrenia.
Curiosity is a curse. Once something catches my attention, I can't stand not knowing. For decades this has meant prowling through the Encylopedia, digging in the dustier sections of libraries or finding another human being who just might know what was driving me crazy. The plus side has always been if I can't find something, it probably doesn't exist which turned out to be a good career move.
Something that in the past would have taken me hours or days to discover was resolved rapidly. It was just a matter of knowing the right questions to ask. Whatever its faults and you do need to be careful about exagerations and inaccuracies, the internet made it possible for me to find an answer to all the questions in about five minutes flat. Here is the result:
Tom Brokaw received the Thayer award for writing "The Greatest Generation" that reflected so well on the WWII military. This bit of info was delivered by Medal of Honor winner, Jack Jacobs. Just click on the links for the details.
21 September 2006
My parents first took me to the races when I was two years old. They asked me who to bet and I pointed to a horse. He came in at an incredible price and I fell in love with Horse racing. For sixty years, I have adored these magnificent animals, but it is rare when you have news of three of the very best all on one day.
At the top of today's article you have Lost In The Fog the way he should always be remembered. Sunday he finally lost a race: His battle with cancer. Do take the time to read about this champion. He will be buried at his home in Florida where he trained during his first year. Anyone who ever saw him run and all those who just love horses are a little sadder today.
Personal Ensign has been pensioned. She ran 13 races and won 13. Ten of those races were graded stakes. Her children have gone on to win graded stakes as well. Now her breeding days are over and she will spend the rest of her life being loved and cared for in praise of the champion she was. The Lady Is A Champ.
When everyone knows your name, you must be Barbaro. First the shattered leg with the world watching. Then the extensive surgery just to save your life only to have laminitis set in on the load bearing leg. It has been an uphill fight, but his owners wouldn't give up as long as their champion was able to go on fighting. It has been over 20 weeks with guarded improvement since the scares of the early weeks. For the first time this week we had the report that Barbaro had an excellent week. The cast has come off the laminitis leg, he grazes daily and while the battle isn't over, for now it seems to be taking a real turn for the better.
20 September 2006
The Tardis is bringing a new Dr. Who (David Tennant) back for the second season. The big event is Friday, September 29 at 8:00 p.m. on the Science Fiction Channel. Those of us addicted to the good doctor know what a seminal occasion this is as we have been deprived since the Christmas show.
The new Who production is the best one yet, and in my case i've been watching now for about 40 years, several incarnations, and a transition from black and white to color. They have kept all the fun and old characters while adding modern techniques and good story lines.
For all sorts of trivia, the doctors since 1963 to the present, and lots of goodies about the new season, check out The Science Fiction Channel.
New Hampshire has all the usual items that any state says about itself:
State Mammal - White Tail Deer
State Bird - Purple Finch
State Flower - Lilacs
State Mineral - Beryl
State Amphibian - Spotted Newt
State Insect - Lady Bug
State Butterfly - Karner Blue
More importantly, it has a flag with 13 stars since it was one of the thirteen colonies first covered by the Declaration of Independence and one brave motto that has been honored by its citizens throughout all the years of the state's existence: LIVE FREE OR DIE
Those citizens know what to do when officialdom gets too darn officious, because now in a small way they have state heros:
Rebellious Renee said:
I had a very strange thing happen to me last night. I am on the board of trustees for my local library. We do get some funding from the town..but are essentially a private not for profit institution with an endowment.
The endowment is with a local investment firm that has spread it around in various funds.At last night's monthly trustee meeting, our treasurer informed us that the investment firm (A.G. Edwards) has been contacted by the Dept. of Homeland Security and told to collect information on the board. He passed out an information sheet that each of us was supposed to fill out. We all took one look at it and started to laugh.
I gave mine back to the treasurer and said, "let the feds come find me".....everyone followed my lead and gave the paper back.F*ck em! We don't have the motto "Live Free or Die" on our license plates for nothing....
19 September 2006
Yesterday on Imus he rebroadcast his sidekick playing the Fantasy Impromptu by Chopin. Then Imus said, "That's a pretty melody in there". Now with him you never quite know if he is being disingenuous or doesn't know anything about his subject. That pretty little melody became the popular song, "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows". Chopin's compositions have always been a good source for great songs including "Till The End of Time" and "Could It Be Magic".
If you are going to steal, do it from the best whether it is Perry Como's "Moonlight Love" with the theme from Debussey's Claire de Lune or Procol Harem's "Whiter Shade of Pale" based on a Bach orchestral suite. Everyone gets into the act including the Beatles: "All You Need Is Love" and Blackbird originated with Bach and Beethoven.
Whole musicals have been snitched by the creative with my favorite being Kismet which originated in Borodin's Polovetsian Dances. Sometimes a writer even steals from themselves. Richard Rogers thought it was a shame to waste a lovely melody like "Beneath The Southern Cross" from the Victory at Sea Suite and put it into Me and Juliet as "No Other Love".
The habit continues with current composers such as The Korgis, Mary K. Blige and The Red Hot Chili Peppers who know a good song when they hear one written by Rachmaninov, Grieg or Pachelbel.
The next time you think you won't like classical music, take a closer listen, you might be surprised to hear Billy Joel running through your brain since he likes to shoplift from Brahms.
18 September 2006
One of my more delightful commentators came up with an expression: "The rolling loop of hell that is the United States." She is absolutely right. The President speaks and you come crashing down only to be thrust up again when a group of Republican Senators find the guts to defy him.
It is announced that he will be speaking at the U.N. ... Oh No! Mr. Bill. How many nations will walk out as they should and down we go one more time? Whoopsie daisy, Keith Olbermann goes a bit over the top, but who cares? We are all getting a little excitable here and Presidential temper tantrums can have that effect on you. So how about that apology George?
The latest list of casualties comes in; Anbar is in flames; suicide bombers take out another sixty Iraqis and your stomach rises to meet your head. Ahmandinijab sounds like the mad man he is and then Amanpour comes on the television to remind us of how wonderful the Irani people are and they don't deserve to be bombed.
Up down, around and around we go. Can you think of even one thing that is better because this man is in the White House? No it is a constant flood of bad news, slightly hopeful news, worse news, small silver lining, worst that you can hear, but maybe there is still hope.
Look folks!!! Just use the mid terms to provide some Constitutional checks and balances. Otherwise the next two years are going to be a really bumpy ride.
There are days when you just have to get away from it all. Right at the moment, I have had it with politics, our semi-criminal president, and incompetent government in general. My daughter who is recovering from an attack of shingles is running away from home to one of my favorite places on earth - Monterey. While there, she and her husband will lounge by the seaside and, of course, enjoy some biofeedback at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
For those who can't get away: Take a mental health break with a short visit via the webcams
17 September 2006
This is the Article of the Geneva Convention that George W. Bush wants to change so badly that he yelled at others with something less than Presidential behavior during a press conference. I have highlighted the areas that cause the Convention to apply to those persons in United States custody even if their respective countries were not signatories to the treaty.
Article 3 is easy enough for anyone to understand. All you have to do is ask if a particular act were applied to you would it be an outrage on your personal dignity, humiliating or degrading. Would it inflict pain or leave any permanent scar. Could action result in death even by accident.
Colin Powell is right. The world is watching and judging us. Our moral standing within the world community is being destroyed. I suppose this is what comes of electing a man who could laugh while ordering the death of another human being.
For George disobeying the Geneva Conventions is just another reason for a good giggle.
Art. 3. In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) taking of hostages;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for. An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.
The Constitution of the United States of America
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
16 September 2006
I love books. This isn't a fondness, it is a lifelong obsession. One of my favorite star trek episodes is the one where the captain receives a "real book" as a present.
Paperbacks are fine. In a pinch the backs of cereal boxes are fodder for a reader, but there is simply nothing like a "real book". The bargain shelf at B & N is a happy hunting ground, but nothing beats a well bound book, with beautiful print and wonderful engravings. They are treasures as well as reading material. They have a feel and smell that is an almost erotic pleasure.
In it's own way, this is a sale pitch because I have discovered a wonderful source for good books. If you have never heard of The Folio Society, pay them a visit. This is an expensive but not outrageously priced habit for someone who wants to build a library that will still be around for your great grandchildren to read.
15 September 2006
The President had a news conference today, though a more accurate description would be the President had the snit fit of a spoiled frat boy to whom no one has ever said NO.
With a two year old, you can put them in a chair and insist they remain there until they calm down. What do you do with a 60 year old man who thinks anyone who doesn't do exactly what he wants them to do when he wants them to do it is "confused". What do you do with a Presidential infant who thinks pointing his finger in someone's chest and repeating his demands are somehow convincing them of the rightness of his cause.
Somewhere in the West Wing there must be at least one responsible adult who will take him aside and say, "Sit here for the next two years, and we will fix everything, just stop breaking your toys."
14 September 2006
Back in 2003, Sen. Robert Byrd tried to tell the nation where we were and where the Bush admnistration was taking us. This part of his speech should be engraved on everyone's brain.
Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences
by US Senator Robert ByrdSenate Floor Speech - Wednesday, February 12, 2003
To contemplate war is to think about the most horrible of human experiences. On this February day, as this nation stands at the brink of battle, every American on some level must be contemplating the horrors of war.
Here at home, people are warned of imminent terrorist attacks with little guidance as to when or where such attacks might occur.
This Administration, now in power for a little over two years, must be judged on its record. I believe that that record is dismal.
In that scant two years, this Administration has squandered a large projected surplus of some $5.6 trillion over the next decade and taken us to projected deficits as far as the eye can see.
In foreign policy, this Administration has failed to find Osama bin Laden.
We have not found bin Laden.
13 September 2006
- When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
- Never pass up the opportunity to go for a ride.
- When it is in your best interest, practice obedience.
- Let others know when they have invaded your territory.
- Take naps and stretch before rising.
- Run, romp and play daily.
- Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
- On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
- On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree.
- When you are happy, dance and wiggle all over.
- No matter how often you are scolded, don't sulk. Run right back and make friends.
- Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
- Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.
- Be loyal.
- Do your work with cheerful dedication.
- Never pretend to be something you are not.
- If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
- When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
When I still attended church regularly, one of my favorite hymns was "This is My Father's World" not because of its religious content, but because it expressed the miracles that I have always seen in nature.
To this day, the loss of habitat, species or intential cruelty toward animals distresses me more than man's actions against man. The animals cannot fight back against the predation of population increases and destruction of their homes.
We now know that when they can live in healthy peace, it improves everything for us all. When we injure or manipulate them, we injure ourselves.
This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father’s world.
I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze
God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world,
a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.
For as long as I can remember, I have been looking up. There is a picture of me before the age of two pointing up at a plane. The family used to drive out to the fence beside the old Los Angeles International (yes there was an older version) just to watch the big triple tail continentals come in from somewhere wonderful.
In youth it was jet planes. My father was stationed at Williams Air force base which made me one of the first small persons to see the inside of a fighter jet. Most distinct memory: The Saudis who came in for flight training. They were wonderful and had this great habit of buying me anything that struck my fancy at the PX. In High School it was the Mercury astronauts. In early adult hood it was the Apollo crews, the moon landing, and now the miracle of the shuttle, the hubble, and space walks.
So take a break from all the sturm and drang of the political world and go have an out of this world experience. NASA
12 September 2006
That does it!!! I am in love with Keith Olbermann. It's my first crush in over 40 years, but I'm hauling out my goofy grin and autograph book. For years I have avoided saying the word "Impeach" because as much as I dislike this President, I am also a fan of the electoral process. KO delivered a KO last night by finally uttering the words impeachable offense.
There comes a time when you have to stand up and be counted. President Bush is destroying this country. That is just a wee bit more serious that getting serviced on the White House rug and then fibbing about it.
As a result of his actions the nation is divided, thousands have been murdered or maimed, the national treasure is depleted and there is a debt hanging over our heads that will be a burden to our children and grandchildren. The safety net is shredded, our ports and borders remain insecure, and world opinion condemns the nation they used to praise.
There is an election coming up. Now is the time to vote Democrat even if you have never done so before and may never do so again. This White House cannot be given even a single minute's more power. There has to be a Congress that will fight back and restrain Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld actions even if it does not take the ultimate step of throwing this man out of the office that he has so dishonored.
11 September 2006
Whatever our political differences, this day reminds us of one very important thing. There are heros among us. Daily they risk their lives to keep us all safe. On 9/11 the firemen, policemen, and first responders were there to bring out the living and the dead in the face of horrific events.
Many died. Many will be ill for the rest of their lives, which may be shortened by the asbestos and cement they were forced to breathe.
08 September 2006
This is the beginning of my favorite time of the year. From now until the end of November, Autumn will be falling while my mood escalates. It is always slightly melancholy but at the same life affirming as if in the ends there are new beginnings.
Fall, even the name says down.
Crushed into earth
leaves of autumn become no more
What has been to future Spring
Foot falls, damp, the lamps
of twilight wash sidewalks
already wet with fog
Old songs filter through
air thick with might have been
Low moaning horns and whining
clarinets speak of places at the end
of a bar, old movies,
mysterious women in black.
A time when gravity finally wins.
When October Goes
Music by Barry Manilow Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
And when October goes
The snow begins to fly
Above the smokey roofs
I watch the planes go by
The children running home
Beneath a twilight sky
Oh, for the fun of them
When I was one of them
And when October goes
The same old dream appears
And you are in my arms
To share the happy years
I turn my head away
To hide the helpless tears
Oh how I hate to see October go
I should be over it now I know
It doesn't matter much
How old I grow I hate to see October go