Monday, October 29, 2012

Pharmacological and such ad-speak

"Severe liver problems, some fatal have been reported."
English translation: This stuff has killed people.

"Do not stop taking XXX without consulting your doctor first. If suicidal thoughts occur, stop taking XXX."
English translation: Do not start taking XXX.

"Tell your doctor if you have high blood pressure."
English translation: Do not take advice from a doctor who did not take your blood pressure the minute you arrived in the office.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hard disk, hard times

Last night my laptop, which had been getting slower and slower and s-l-o-w-er lately, decided to die on me. We went to Staples this morning, which had a bunch on sale because of Windows 8, and bought a new one. They are trying to recover and transfer data from the old one, but it will be middle of next week before I learn anything. Fortunately I back up a lot of things, including the autobiographical stuff I am writing. At worst, I think I will lose what I wrote yesterday.

There are other things I may lose, but I don't think anything of great importance that cannot be reproduced from hard copies. We will see.

Meanwhile, I am using Tom's laptop to fill in.

And just to give you something else to ponder, did you know that if you drive 10 miles to buy a lottery ticket, statistically speaking you're more likely to be killed in a car accident than win the jackpot?

Get yourself a piggy bank, tuck those dollars in there every week instead of buying lottery tickets, and at the end of the year, treat yourself or someone you love to something nice.

Your call, of course.

I read that a statistician had run the odds and it turns out your chances of winning big in the lottery are almost exactly the same, whether you buy a ticket or not.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Blatantly stolen/adapted from Frasier

This morning there was a line in an old episode of Frasier that I thought might be appropriate for the United States, all of us, especially our politicians, to hear at this time.


"America, Copernicus called. You're not the center of the universe."

Monday, October 22, 2012

The times, they are a changin'

Sign of the times:

I don't mean because this Christian dating site exists. I know people who met their spouse on a Christian dating site.

I mean because this Christian dating site is one of the sponsors of Will & Grace on the Lifetime channel.

Tom and I, incidentally, met the old-fashioned Christian way -- through a mutual friend at church.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Meeting Report

I had an enjoyable meeting this morning with Pat Morrison, the Editorial Director for ICS Publications. Although we discussed three large-ish projects, none of those are ready to be handed on to me. She did give me a small project to start with, one that involves research. And I love research! So this makes me happy and gives me something to do. I saw a couple of the friars and met their new dog, Jack, which was nice, too. Jack looks like Buddy except that he is much smaller.

The drive down was drizzly -- Tom did the driving -- but the countryside around the Hill is beautiful any time of the year. There were still patches of color, but you can tell that fall is falling fast.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

No H8! An admonition for all times

Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.
Buddha (c. 400 BCE)

Where there is no love, put love, and you will draw love out.
John of the Cross (1591)

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.
Jesus (Matthew 5:44) (A.D. 30)

There is a saying: If you hang around a barber shop long enough, you're going to get a haircut.

If I spend my time listening to messages of hate, I will begin to hate.
What do I listen to all day?

I cannot control what others say. I can control what I listen to.

It is not enough to "not hate." I must "put love."

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Paul of Tarsus (A.D. 54)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cautious cats

The cats are still adjusting to the new arrangement in my room. Whenever one comes in, she stops with one paw in the air and looks around. Then she slinks over and sniffs all the furniture, looks up to see what's on the bed, crawls behind the bookcase or crawls under the bed, examines the Leopold bench Tom made. Last night, Cassidy got up on the bed and slept at the "wrong" end, not the one she usually likes. Today when I took my nap, both cats got on the bed and slept right up against me. When I started to get up, they looked panicked at the idea that they were going to have to get up.

Of course, that could just be because they are cats and had not had their regulation 32 hours of sleep yet today.

Happy Feast of St. Teresa of Avila

Although a great mystical writer, St. Teresa is perhaps most popularly known for something she may hot have composed herself. After her death, a few lines were found in her handwriting on a scrap of paper she was using as a bookmark. It is a good reflection to begin and end one's day.

Let nothing disturb you; 
Let nothing frighten you. 
All things are passing. 
God never changes. 
Patience obtains all things. 
Nothing is wanting to one who possesses God. 
God alone suffices.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Seasonal adjustments

This past week we picked up Tom's paintings, which had been on display at the library since July. The monochrome portraits are back on the wall in the great room entrance, and it feels more like home. In the interim Tom had hung a couple of other paintings and had a whole row just propped up along the wall.

One of the paintings had been over my bed, and when we were trying to get it back in place, we pulled nails out of the wall, leaving a patch that needed to be retouched. I had been thinking of rearranging the furniture in my room -- this means moving the bed to the wall where the bookcase was and moving the bookcase to the wall where the bed was. That is about all you can do. One wall is all big windows and the other has a built-in desk and bookcase that Tom had designed and built.

The main reason I wanted the change is that when the cats open my door to come in (as they always do at night after I am in bed), the television screen light shines in my face. Now I will be facing the other way. Of course, this violates the Shedlonian principle that one's head should always be facing towards the door so that one can see if anyone is coming in to attack. Tom suggested I place a mirror appropriately, and I have done so. I am not sure Sheldon would totally approve, but we do what we must.

While we were at it, Tom touched up a couple of other spots on the walls. I vacuumed the carpet, did the linens and pondered which paintings to use in the new set up. It is a hoot to live with an active artiest: there are at least a dozen paintings to consider. We decided to hang the one that had been over the bed back over the bed in its new location. Over the bookcase, we hung the diptych I have been calling "The Florentine Masque". That makes it visible to anyone glancing through the door to my room, and it is too nice a piece to hide.

I did not take before photos,  but here are some after shots.

The new bed wall:

The new bookcase wall (with The Florentine Masque)

Here is a (somewhat) better shot of the painting, to give you an idea.

 My work space (which did not change) with all Tom-made furniture except for the desk stool:


The view as you come into my room, with the window blinds up so you can see a bit of our fall backyard. Notice that this photo was taken before the bookcase shelves were stocked. 


The cats, of course, are still adjusting grumpily to the changes.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Generation WHAT?

While researching something about what it takes to make a marriage succeed (Tom and I went to a bridal party last night), I ran across a comment from a woman who described herself as follows: "I am older, middle-aged, part of Generation X."

Wait a minute? I thought Generation Xers would think of themselves as young. I know I am a Baby Boomer, and that there are cohorts called Generation Y (also the Millennials) and Generation Z (also iGeneration, Net Generation, Internet Generation), but ...

So like the good librarian I used to be, I looked it up -- to discover that Generation X refers to those born from 1960 to 1980. So there are Generation Xers, like the woman I mentioned, who consider themselves middle-aged  ("older"). If you were born in 1960, you would be (barely) a Generation Xer and be in your early 50s.

The dates for Gen Y are amorphous -- later '70s to early years of this millennium. Gen Z are those born from sometime in the 1990's to ?

If you read about this, always bearing in mind that descriptions of a large group of people may apply to the whole but not necessarily to specific individuals within the group, you will note that not only are there clear and important differences between even adjacent cohorts, the time period describing each cohort seems to begetting shorter. Gen Z and Gen Y overlap. Even the people who routinely use these categories have not agreed on a dividing line/year.

A so-called biblical generation was 40 years. Yes, that is what all those stories about 40 years mean in the Bible. It was not that the earth had circled the sun forty times but that a generation had lived and died. What about forty days [and forty nights]? Basically it meant a long time. When I grew up down south, you often heard "a month of Sundays", as in , "I haven't seen you in a month of Sundays." Literally that would mean 30/31 weeks. Actually it just means a relatively long time. It is no more specific than "It's been a while."

As the pace of technological and social change speeds up, we have the anomaly of a generation (Baby Boomers) living longer, up to twice as long as the biblical standard of forty years.And we live into not only the next generation but into the following and maybe even a bit into yet another.

Remember when you wrote letters, stamped and mailed them? Except for the glut of junk and political mail (just a category of junk, IMHO), how many times a year do you get that kind of mail now? When did you realize that your grandchildren don't bother to check their mailboxes regularly? I often email my sister-in-law to text her daughter to check the mail for something I have sent for my great-niece. Four generations: I mail, my helpful sister-in-law (younger than I am) texts her daughter. Who knows how my niece and her daughter will communicate ten years from now.
Remember when you first sent something by Fax? When was the last time you did that? When I worked at the library, people came in to use our fax machine. We were one of two places in town with a fax machine for public use. And we could only send, not receive. Why weren't these people scanning documents and emailing?
Remember when you got your first email? To keep up with your grandkids? To see pictures of same?
Remember when you discovered your grandkids no longer bother with email and you had to get on Facebook or Twitter?
When did you start asking your son or daughter to take the pictures off of Facebook and email them to you?
When did you give up on ever seeing all those photos that lived only on cellphones?
When did you realize your grandkids think that Facebook is for old folks?
When did you make the decision to text or not to text?
Do you still have a land line (telephone) even though you care never more than one foot away from your cell phone?
Do you surf the web on your smartphone? I have had people ask me to show them how to do things on their computer, things they already do all the time on their smartphone. Why are they even bothering with the computer? I usually find out, after I have given them computer lessons, that they just went back to the phone anyway.

Me? I'm just at old coot enjoying early retirement.
Who made the decision not to txt.

How long will I be able to hold out?

PS -- I have been blogging since 2004 or so. Blogging has come and gone, too, it seems. Most of my friends who blogged (including quite a few that I met through our blogs) seldom post anything anymore. Judging from the stats that Blogger keeps, there are eight or nine people out there who occasionally read this blog.   Hey, how ya doin'? It's been a month of Sundays since you were here last.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Peter posted something about regrets on Facebook, and it got my Sheldonian brain searching the web ...

I ran across this interesting article about what an Australian nurse says about her experiences in palliative care.(Think hospice.) She lists the top five regrets people expressed to her in their last days:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. 
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to themselves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
 Had I died ten years ago, I would have had many of these regrets. I am happy to say that in the past ten years, as I have changed, many of these things have changed, too. Thanks to all you who helped that happen.

I imagine there will be things that I regret when my time comes. How could there not be? The world is full of so many possibilities and I cannot see everything or hear everything or meet everyone.

But I have seen so much beauty, heard so much wonder, met -- and loved -- so many amazing folks. My life has already been full and for that I am grateful. ("Full" includes sadness, disappointment and loss, of course. But those things do not spoil or diminish the other.)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Six degrees of Sheldon Cooper

 Six degrees of separation is the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy and popularized by a play written by John Guare. (The movie starred Will Smith.)

My brother, Ted B, knows Howard Joel Wolowitz from the days when he worked for a computer firm. Howard Joel Wolowitz was once the partner of Bill Prady, one of the creators of my favorite television show, The Big Bang Theory. Prady thought that name -- Howard Joel Wolowitz -- was the perfect name for the Jewish nerd character they wrote into the show, and the real HJW gave permission for them to use his name.

The real HJW recently sent my brother (among others) an email about a visit he and his wife had made to the Bat Mitzvah of Prady's daughter. While in California, they also attended a taping of the show and met members of the cast.

So I figure the steps between me and Sheldon Cooper (actor Jim Parsons) are:
1.Me to Ted
2. Ted to the real HJW
3. The real HJW to Sheldon Cooper/Jim Parsons.

That's the short version. The full six steps could be
1. Me to Ted.
2. Ted to the real HJW
3. The real HJW to Bill Prady
4. Bill Prady to Chuck Lorre (the other creator of TBBT)
5. Chuck Lorre to the fake HJW (actor Simon  Helberg)
6. The fake HJW/Simon Helberg to Sheldon Cooper/Jim Parsons.

I only did it the long way because of the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. And if you don't know about that, you can look it up.

And a shout out to my brother for making it all possible!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Election 2012

This afternoon I got a call from the Town of Delton inviting me to work at the polls November 6. Not sure how they decided to ask me, but I am pleased to have the opportunity. The Town is fairly small, and I doubt we will be overwhelmed. The hardest thing is that I have to be there at 6:30 in the morning; the polls are open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. (and if there are people still in line at 8:00, until they have voted). We don't even get to leave for meals, so I pack a lunch or someone will go pick up hamburgers, for which we have the privilege of paying ourselves. I will stay until all the votes are tabulated and reports done. So it will be a long day.

But it is worth doing. I vote in every election, including all the small local ones, and I am usually one of the first two or three to vote the morning of elections. (I have a flag-pattern tie that I wear. I am wearing it in that photo in the sidebar, but you can't tell much about it.) This time I will vote early so that I can be at my post from the beginning.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Texas, our Texas ...

 Clarendon, Texas is about 70 miles south and east of Borger, where my brother, sister-in-law, one of my nieces and her daughter live. The Church of Christ is the church in which I was raised and to which many members of my family belong. Please note the quotation marks around the word "source" in the ad mentioned in the article.

 Texas Gay Couple Told to Leave or Die

Clarendon isn't so safe any more.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

October 04 2012 2:13 PM ET

A gay couple in Clarendon, Texas, awoke Monday morning to find a death threat spray-painted on their front porch, an act of vandalism that has left them both fearful for their lives. Joshua Harrison and Jeremy Jeffers reported the hate-filled vandalism to the local police, according to Pronews 7. The message read, "Leave or die fags," and it appeared not long after an area minister's antigay advertisement was published in the local newspaper. Clarendon Church of Christ pastor Chris Moore's ad listed the "platform" of the "Homosexual Movement," which included this line: "Folks, don't be fooled, the 'gay' agenda isn't about 'equal' rights for gay couples. Their agenda would force everyone to compromise their values, make our children legal prey for pedofiles."
Pronews 7 reported that the "source" of information cited in the ad, the National Coalition of Gay Organizations, was a convention that was held in 1972.
Donley County sheriff Charles "Butch" Blackburn told Travis Ruiz that he does "consider it a hate crime."
The two men, however, are planning to do just want the vandal ordered: leave Clarendon.
"It's sad," Jeffers told Pronews 7. "For the first time in my life, I have never felt this scared."

Fall and fail

This time of year can be beautiful up here. Cool, crisp days, blue skies and gloriously colored trees. This shot of Berry Road in front of our house (we are on your right as you look at the picture) gives you an idea, although the colors are better than my little camera will capture.

The trees below form part of the treeline running in front of the house.  The gold one is at the corner of the yard by the drive.


This flaming bush is on the side of the house, near Tom's room and the guestroom. He and Helen put in a whole row of these alongside the house, but they won't show this color until next year. The red is very intense.

Most of the flowers are gone, but these asters (I think) are giving a bit of color by the sidewalk.

Tom says the white oaks are usually brown, but this year, perhaps due to the drought, they are almost vermillion. This one is out back. It looks brown in the photo, but there is enough red in the real thing to make it beautiful. We had some great reds in a couple of maples, but the color faded into brown before I got a picture.

But all is not beauty this year. The drought has had a serious impact, as these pictures of some of the young pines show. If you look at that pine in the background, it looks green but you can pick out some dead straw on it, too. Many of the trees look like that. I understand that we are ten inches below normal for rainfall.


So we have some fall and some fail. We won't know until next year how many of the trees will bounce back.