Friday, January 31, 2014

For my Native American friends and for my father's grandmother

Click on the arrow and have your sound on.


Someone I know is in the process of dying and it is a struggle. I worked for a while as a spiritual counselor for the local hospice, and I saw dying people and their families deal with it in many ways. My own father died just a couple of years ago, and I know it is not always an easy process to undergo or to witness.

When I was in school we read "Thanatopsis" by William Cullen Bryant. He wrote part of the poem when he was 17 and, as I recall, in poor health. He later expanded it. We read it, I suppose, my junior year, because that was the year we did American literature. I would have been sixteen or seventeen, which may be one reason it struck me so much. I memorized its most famous lines and and they pop to mind at the oddest moments.

This afternoon was one of those times. The lines I recall are these:

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

I know this is not the attitude recommended by Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

And to each her or his own in dealing with this mystery. I have never been much at raging, and I hope I go lying down to pleasant dreams.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged by his dungeon; but, sustain'd and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged by his dungeon; but, sustain'd and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

So live that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan that moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him and lies down to pleasant dreams.

World's oldest flamingo dies

A flamingo believed to be the oldest of its kind in the world has died at the age of 83 in Australia.

Greater the flamingo was put to sleep on Friday due to complications brought about by arthritis and old age, officials at Adelaide Zoo said.

The flamingo, named after its species, arrived at the zoo in 1933 and was a popular attraction.

Flamingos are wading birds with a very specialised diet. They have far shorter life spans in the wild.
Greater flamingos - scientific name Phoenicopterus roseus - are usually larger than lesser flamingos and are characterised by pale plumage and pink bills.

Greater the flamingo, who survived a bad beating by a group of teenagers in 2008, was a zoo favourite, officials said. [Emphasis added.]

"Greater is best known for being the world's oldest flamingo and the last greater flamingo to have resided in Australia," Elaine Bensted, Zoos South Australia chief executive, told Agence-France Presse news agency.

"Although this is an extremely sad loss for us all, it was the right thing to do," she said, adding that there was no treatment that could have improved the flamingo's quality of life.

The flamingo is survived by companion Chilly the Chilean flamingo, 65, said to be the last flamingo in Australia.

Zoo officials said they would keep a close watch on Chilly to see if there was any reaction to Greater's death.

They were also considering a memorial for Greater, they said.
I take note of this because Tom and I have made flamingos a bit of a joke-theme since we moved here in 2006. But also because Greater died at age 83, and (long story, no reason to bother with the details) I have had it in my head for a long time that I will die when I am 83. My father died at 89 and my mother is alive and kicking at 85. But for some reason, 83 sticks in my head.

And WHO, by the way, would beat an old flamingo?

Plugging along

Well, technically it is no longer a first draft ...

I told a friend who has read the first draft that I would not send him any more until I had finished, polished and buffed a decent text. He messaged back that he was willing to read anything I wanted to send, no matter what shape it is in.

One of the hard things about editing and revising is that you have to keep reading the same thing over and over and it gets really really really really old really really really really fast. (The first editorial advice I got when I submitted an article to a magazine was that one need never use the word really as a modifier. Really.)

I appreciate the fact that he read the first draft, but if I start sending him every little variation that I am writing at the moment, he will pull his hair out or maybe move to another state and not give me his forwarding address. So I think I will spare him that.

I am making progress, however. This morning when I started re-reading the middle section, I found I did not hate it quite as much as I did yesterday. The patchwork quilt is starting to come together. More to do, more to do. But I am keeping calm.

Year of the Horse

 And you already know not to call it Chinese New Year, right? Because the Chinese are not the only ones who celebrate the Lunar New Year. Other Asian cultures -- Korea, Vietnam, Japan -- for example. And the Chinese are likely to call it the Spring Festival. If that strikes you as odd, you might want to know that Europeans used to begin the New Year on March 25, which is around the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. This was true until 1582 in Catholic Europe and until 1752 in England and until 1600 in Scotland.

Those Born in the Year of the Horse

1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014  Chinese astrological signs repeat every 12 years.

Horses are popular, quick-witted, charming, cheerful, and talented.  People born in the Year of the Horse are popular. They are cheerful, skilful with money, and perceptive, although they sometimes talk too much. They are wise, talented, good with their hands, and sometimes have a weakness for members of the opposite sex.They are impatient and hot-blooded about everything except their daily work. They like entertainment and large crowds. They are very independent and rarely listen to advice. They are most compatible with Tigers, Dogs, and Sheep.

Astrologically, the horse is placed directly opposite the rat. The rat is the creator and the horse is the "consumer." Therefore a horse year may be marked by an increase in business and commercial activity, particularly those involved with non-essentials like luxury cars, high fashion, alcoholic beverages, athletics, and anything "male" oriented. Unfortunately, it is often a year of waste. A household should be careful to make sure they don't overspend their budgets during a horse year.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Happy day

Wednesday mornings I have my tutoring sessions, and this morning was a great one.

When I got there, my student was reading the newspaper -- the local newspaper, in English.

"Are you reading the paper?" I asked.

"I'm trying," she admitted.

And she was succeeding. She is also watching a soap opera (which she still has trouble saying) in English and picking up a lot from that. Now she is asking me things like "What does it mean, losing my mind?" Or "What is gimme a break?"

I feel like she has passed a threshold in the last couple of weeks. She was very talkative this morning, using a wide vocabulary. She is doing well with her homework, uses the computer to look up things she doesn't understand and so on. People in offices and stores are starting to tell her how well she is doing.


We're in great shape, folks!

No, not because of the State of the Union address or the rebuttals or the rebuttals of the rebuttals.
Because apparently the big issue facing America can be easily solved: What to do about a washed-up, out-of-control teenage singer from Canada.

Yes! Washington may be buzzing about Tuesday’s State of the Union, but many Americans are concerned about another issue facing the nation: the immigration status of Justin Bieber.

A petition to deport Bieber and revoke his green card on the White House’s citizen portal reached 100,000 signatures Wednesday morning, the threshold needed for the White House to be required to respond.

See? Not much to worry about when 100,000 people can take the time to get involved in this burning issue.

And we can just ship him home and all will be well.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Random acts of culture ...

Yesterday a friend sent me this video of an operatic outburst in a  London market. Click on the arrow and make sure your sound is on. [You may have to wait a few seconds to get past an advertisement. Sorry!]

I forwarded it to a friend who responded by sending this one. They are similar though quite different in tone and ambiance. But I love these sorts of things. I have posted some before. Hope you enjoy.

One thing that I find interesting about the Hallelujah Chorus one is that it looks like spectators joined in. How cool is that?

To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season ...

Pete Seeger, the banjo-picking troubadour who sang for migrant workers, college students and star-struck presidents in a career that introduced generations of Americans to their folk music heritage, died Monday at the age of 94.

Seeger — with his a lanky frame, banjo and full white beard — was an iconic figure in folk music. He performed with the great minstrel Woody Guthrie in his younger days and marched with Occupy Wall Street protesters in his 90s, leaning on two canes. He wrote or co-wrote "If I Had a Hammer," "Turn, Turn, Turn," "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine." He lent his voice against Hitler and nuclear power. A cheerful warrior, he typically delivered his broadsides with an affable air and his banjo strapped on.

"Be wary of great leaders," he told The Associated Press two days after a 2011 Manhattan Occupy march. "Hope that there are many, many small leaders."

He was kept off commercial television for more than a decade after tangling with the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955. Repeatedly pressed by the committee to reveal whether he had sung for Communists, Seeger responded sharply: "I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American."

He was charged with contempt of Congress, but the sentence was overturned on appeal.

A little early for spring shopping but ...

Self-taught British design king Tom Dixon brings his inimitable take on industrial design to his Capsule collection for Adidas. Utilitarian fashion meets modern construction, and the result is a uniform for the urban explorer. These casual shorts have a contrasting interior for a 21st century spin, plus bonded welt pockets at each hip and one at the back. Thanks to an interchangeable button and two-way zip fly, these contemporary classics can be reversed, too.

All that for a mere $285.00!

Well, at least they are reversible, so it is really on $142.50 a side.

I realize I was still in the monastery at the time, but I think I paid less than $142.50 for my last suit. I'm not proud of that, but just sayin'.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Never forget

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27 January, is an international memorial day for the victims of the Holocaust, the genocide that resulted in the annihilation of 6 million Jews, 2 million Gypsies (Roma and Sinti), 15,000 homosexual people and millions of others by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005 during the 42nd plenary session. On 27 January 1945, the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by Soviet troops.

Among the many who died at Auschwitz was Edith Stein. Tom is related to her through his mother, and his family was contacted by the Vatican when they were doing the investigation for the process for her canonization as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, the name she had taken when she entered the Discalced Carmelite nuns. I was present at that (somewhat controversial) canonization in 1998 and the monastery where I lived in Chicago was named in her honor.Members of my religious community, including some who had been born Jewish and others who sought to protect Jews from the Nazi terror, died in the camps. Tom lost blood relatives. I lost people from my chosen family.

When people want to talk about being persecuted today, I always hear that against the background of the events like the Holocaust.  To talk as though someone expressing an opinion contrary to mine is some form of persecution demeans the reality of the cruel and deadly suffering millions of people endured over the centuries. Let's not do that.

Marlboro Man dies

The iconic Marlboro Man from 1907's cigarette ads, 72-year-old Eric Lawson, died recently of respiratory failure. He had smoked since the age of 14. After his stint as the pitchman for Marlboros, he appeared in an anti-smoking campaign and gave interviews about the ill effects of smoking.

I only smoked for a few years, back in the early 70s and I smoked Marlboros. I am happy that I was able to quit. I dreamed about cigarettes for months after I quit, an indication of how hooked I had been.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Breaking news!

A friend just emailed me about this, and I thought I had better Post it right away (why the capital P? Read on and see if it makes sense.)

Taken from the Time newsfeed:
We hate to be the ones to tell you this, but: you’ve been eating a bowl of lies for breakfast … and you probably liked it.
Turns out that the delicious, multicolored O’s that make up Froot Loops don’t actually represent different fruit flavors. Reddit’s Today I Learned series recently unearthed a 1999 article from the Straight Dope, which confirms that “according to Kellogg’s, all of those delectable loops are flavored the same.”
If you fainted into your cereal bowl after reading that, you’re not alone. We’ve all been misled by those tempting lime green, orange, purple, yellow and red loops into thinking they are lime, orange, grape, lemon and cherry and/or strawberry flavored, when, in fact, they all the same flavor. That flavor? “Froot,” which according to Wikipedia, stems from “a blend of fruit flavors.”
The good folks at Food Beast did some scientific blind testing and found that the rumors are true: Froot Loops all taste the same. In their words: “Each loop does in fact taste like mildly sweetened cardboard, with negligible or no differences between them.” In more shocking breakfast news, they found that blind taste testing of Trix and Fruity Pebbles yielded similar results.
Is nothing sacred? Next thing you know they’ll be telling us that Cap’n Crunch isn’t really a captain.
Michael here again. Or maybe those marshmallow bits in Lucky Charms are not magically delicious?

Just another snowy Sunday

We woke up to another four to five inches of snow this morning. It is supposed to snow lightly for much of the day, but maybe not much more in the way of accumulation. The temperature was 20 but has been steadily dropping all morning.Right now it is 7 and headed for a low today of 10 below. Tomorrow we expect a high of 7 below and a low tomorrow night of 23 below... Tom went out to clear snow this morning rather than wait until it got colder. This afternoon he will help Rich and get to the railroad sometime in the next few bitterly cold days.

Looking out the window from the kitchen, I saw three doves perched on a branch near the bird feeder. They were all puffed out and hunched over.  Here is a photo I took from the deck door in the library. The first one is the basic scene and the second is a bigger shot of the birds. Sorry, but this is the best my little digital camera can do. If Sunny were here, she could get a perfect "Winter Woe" shot!


Several months ago, I was approached by an editorial director for a publisher that I have worked for from time to time. She had a major translation project that she thought I would be perfect to undertake. It was a daunting prospect, the original volume being almost a thousand pages. I got excited about it, because this was the sort of thing that would become a major reference work in an admittedly small field. It would be one of those this-is-what-I-did-with-my-life projects. We negotiated a preliminary proposal and she was very optimistic.

The board of directors met in early November and when I didn't hear anything at all for weeks, I could read the handwriting on the wall. Last night I finally got the news that I will not be involved in the project, which is on hold until they find another suitable translator. The editorial director had taken a long time partly because of her own anger and frustration with what happened.

I do hope they are able to find someone to do the work because I believe it is worth doing. It is a disappointment on many levels, and I must confess the loss of a nice (VERY nice) stipend is part of that. But life goes on.

“If I am to meet with a disappointment, the sooner I know it, the more of life I shall have to wear it off.”
  ~ Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mystery names

For the past few months, when someone writes a comment on this blog and I write a follow-up, Blogger sends me an e-mail reporting that John Michael has commented on my blog. Blogger obviously recognizes that the comment is mine because it does not require me to approve it before it is posted, something that it does require for all other comments. And when I go and read the comment on the blog itself, it is attributed to me.

I have a friend named John Michael, a Carmelite priest from the Oklahoma Province. He has on occasion posted a comment here, though rarely. Somehow Blogger got our names mixed up. At first this confused me because I kept looking for John Michael's comment, but all I could find was what I had written. I only hope he does not get emails that seem to be from me ...

Mysterium est.

Picture Yourself @ the Library

Today we had our annual Open House at the library. The theme was Picture Yourself @ the Library. We had a lot of good activities, everything from euchre to free photos, sandwiches and cookies, eReader tips (my post), a scavenger hunt and such things. Those who came enjoyed themselves, but we are always disappointed that we don't get a better turnout. The local paper gives us lots of advance publicity and we do all we can to make people aware of it, passing out flyers, putting up posters.

One woman told me today how impressed she was to discover how many things are available through the library. "It's a shame people don't know more about it," she said.

"That's why we have the Open House," I told her.

"Yeah, people don't know about that, either," she said.

The director said maybe out problem is that our advertising assumes people read, at least that they read a newspaper or read flyers. 

Could be true!

Friday, January 24, 2014

And, yes, I did work on the novel ...

I am up to 87,964 words as of noon today. The expansion of the plot and timeline is coming along. I have two of the four principal new scenarios drafted and inserted. Two more to go and then clean up the overlaps, fill in the remaining gaps, polish, shine, buff and see what I have.

Cookie dough?

Two new limited-edition OREO cookie flavors are set to hit shelves February 3: Marshmallow Crispy (think Rice Krispies Treats) and Cookie Dough. The cookies will only be available for six to eight weeks, beginning in early February. OREO will launch a special commercial for the cookies this coming Sunday. 

 So ... a cookie with a filling that tastes like ... cookie dough. Wouldn't that just be a cookie that wasn't quite done baking?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday food report

Tom decided a few weeks ago that he wanted to make sauerbraten. He found this recipe online and we had the results for dinner tonight. It was wonderful. We were unable to find the juniper berries, but a search for substitutions online suggested using peppercorns or a bit of gin or just omitting them. Since they were listed as optional, we opted for nothing. This takes time because the roast has to soak for a couple of days, and then it cooks all day in the slow cooker. But Tom says it is pretty easy. And it was great! Quite nice for a cold Wisconsin night.

Kate's Easy German Sauerbraten

Original recipe makes 8 servings
2 cups water
1 cup red wine
1 cup cider vinegar
1 lemon, sliced
1/2 large onion, diced 
1 glove garlic, diced
10 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed (optional)
1 teaspoon whole pepper corns 
4 pound boneless beef chuck roast 
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped carrots 
1 cup diced celery
8 gingersnap cookies crushed
  1. Heat water, red wine, cider vinegar, lemon, 1/2 onion, garlic, cloves, bay leaves, white sugar, salt, juniper berries, and peppercorns in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Allow marinade to cool and pour into a resealable plastic bag. Add beef roast, coat with marinade, squeeze out excess air, and seal bag. Marinate in the refrigerator 2 to 3 days, turning the roast twice a day.
  2. Place onions, carrots, and celery in a slow cooker. Remove roast from marinade and place atop vegetables. Strain marinade and pour 2 1/2 cups over roast; reserve remaining marinade.
  3. Cover and cook roast on Low for 8 hours. Turn slow cooker off. Transfer roast to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil. Strain cooking liquid into a large bowl and return vegetables to slow cooker to rest.
  4. Heat about 3 cups cooking liquid and gingersnaps in a saucepan over medium-high heat, adding reserved marinade as needed, until gravy is thickened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Slice roast and serve with vegetables and gravy
That is the recipe if you follow the link above.Tom insists that raisins go with sauerbraten, so he added about 3/4 cup of raisins and cooked them in the gravy until they were tender.

This says it makes 8 servings, which is pobably true if you have bread or salad or something to go along with it. We each had a big serving of meat and veggies and about half was left over for another day. Tastes to me like this may be even better tomorrow.

This is one reason (of many) why the library ladies think Tom spoils me.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Just sayin'

When we find ourselves coping with sub-zero nights and days ...

As a reminder, for those of us in the United States who tend to judge everything only in terms of what's happening in our backyard, the phenomenon is called global warming, not North American warming. Science agencies have these thermometers in place around the globe. (I have two weather apps on my computer, and they obviously rely on different thermometers located in different parts of the Dells. The temps are always reasonably close, but they often vary a few degrees.) I noticed that just when some people were saying that there was no global warming because we are having such a bitter winter, news reports also said that Australia was suffering through it's hottest summer on record. For some reason, newscasts did not appear to tie those things together and wonder what those two facts might have to tell us.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA have issued their statistics for 2013, which do not agree: that it was the 4th (NOAA) or 7th (NASA) warmest year on record for planet Earth. The U.S.’s year was only its 37th hottest, but Australia hit the jackpot (warmest in 104 years of record-keeping). Most problematic: Earth’s 14 hottest years on record have all occurred in the last 17 years.And whether last year was the 4th hottest or the 7th, it is still not a good sign.

Luke 11:35

According to a new report, the 85 richest people in the world own about 0.7% of the world's wealth,which is the same as the bottom half of the population.

The 85 richest people are a small part of the wealthiest 1%, which owns 46% of the world's wealth.When I try to figure out what percentage those 85 would actually be,my calculator just gives me an error message. It cannot put in enough decimal places to get the number of the screen. The numbers are so out of proportion that they are essentially meaningless.

A friend asked me why I had not commented on this story. I suppose the reason is that there is nothing I can add that would make this story more depressing, and certainly nothing I can add to make it sound better.



For those who understand, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not, no explanation will suffice.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Velveeta update!!!!

Following up on an earlier Velveeta post ...

Kraft Velveeta Cheesy Skillets recalled over soy

A food maker is recalling some Kraft Velveeta pasta and ground beef products because some labels left off soy, an allergen, as an ingredient.

About 1.77 million pounds of Kraft Velveeta Cheesy Skillets Singles Ultimate Cheeseburger Mac are being recalled. They contain hydrolyzed soy protein and dried soy sauce. Those ingredients were not listed on some labels.

The products, made by Truitt Brothers Inc. in East Bernstadt, Ky., have expiration dates of March 2 to Oct. 23 on them. They were sent to Kraft Foods distribution centers and retailers worldwide between May 2013 and January.

No other Velveeta or Kraft products are affected. No illness has been reported. Consumers with questions can call the Kraft Foods consumer relations center at 1-800-396-5512.

[Emphasis added: Michael] 

I assume no illness as a result of the error in labeling. No reports on how many people got sick just by eating Velveeta itself.

Overheard in passing

What's the difference between ego and self-esteem?

~ Self-esteem doesn't require an audience.

Take the first step

 Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the greatest lessons to be learned from Martin Luther King's life, is you don't have to be a saint to make the world better.

Anne Frank
 "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world."
Anne Frank

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Feeling fractured?


 There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.
~ Leonard Cohen

... and out.
~ Michael

Yoda, huh?

I would say it's not true, but I wouldn't want to lie. (You notice there is nothing in that description about humiliy.)

Well, I am short and my hair is thinning in the right places and flourishing in the wrong ones. And some trouble with word order I am having.

Want to try it yourself? Go to this link.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday sluggard

Not that I was a total sluggard. I did get up this morning and put pork roast and vegetables in the slow cooker so we would have something for dinner. And I did my readings and meditation. And I scraped snow off the sidewalk and garage apron when I went out to get the mail. And I put in my time on the stationary bike. And I made some progress in a couple of books I am reading -- research, I swear, it's research! -- for the sake of my novel.

But except for a very few lines, I did not write anything on the novel today. Lots of other things, but nothing there.

Must ... buckle ... down!

To paraphrase novelist Joe Ryan, "There's nothing to match curling up with a good book when you should be writing one yourself."

Friday, January 17, 2014

Just like a good neighbor ...

Tom threw his back out a couple of days ago (tying his shoe, of course) and has been limping around or resting trying to recuperate. Naturally we have had snow. Not all that much, but enough that this morning something had to be done. I was going to do the sidewalk and the apron in front of the garage, and Tom was going to call and see if our neighbor, Rich, would run over with his little plow and do the drive. Rich showed up just as I was getting ready to take the mail out and do the walk and apron. I did the walk and then came back in the house so that I would not be in the way while Rich plowed. A few minutes later I looked out the window and saw that  he had gone into the garage and taken the snow blower out and was clearing the apron, too.

Such a good neighbor! Rich and Peggy both! Thanks!!!!

I am so hacked!

When I was growing up, I often heard someone say they were hacked or hacked off. Meaning, of course, that they were irritated. It implied a rather specific feeling, a combination of frustration, surprise, annoyance, disappointment, slight embarrassment, injury. Whatever. I notice that hack also refers to kicking, so maybe that was behind the expression: I felt like someone kicked me in the shin.

 Now, of course, hacked has a whole other meaning in the digital world. Today I got yet another email warning me that someone was trying (unsuccessfully) to get into my Yahoo account. I went to the original account itself -- never, never, never follow a link in such email if you get one, because these are often part of the hacking scam itself -- and promptly changed the password. I feel like I have to do this every few months now.

I suppose it will never end.

"A computer makes it possible to do, in half an hour, tasks which were completely unnecessary to do before."
~ Dave Barry

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oh, my!

This morning I took the Bookmobile to a local memory care residence. The woman who normally goes with me had called in sick, and I was alone. When I went in with the books and computer. one of the residents made an obscene gesture as I walked by her. I noticed, but just went to my table, sat my things down and started getting set up.

A staff member started chastising the woman -- who after all, does suffer from some form of dementia or Alzheimer's or she wouldn't be there -- and kept apologizing to me. I told her, "I've seen worse, I've heard worse. It's okay."

One of the other nurses chimed in, "Well, you're not the only one she does it to, so don't start feeling special!"

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Anent the quarter of a million words post

Assuming I am only responsible for half those words, that still puts me at 5,000 words per month. Which may sound like a lot, but I wrote a over 2,000 words this morning for the novel. And on good days, I have written 5,000 words in a day.

Well, I think of that as a good day. People who read it might have other opinions.

Nearly a quarter of a million words

A friend from my university days found me a couple of years ago because of this blog. We have been emailing ever since. Today I received a CD he sent me containing copies of our email correspondence from 2013. Last year he sent me a CD with the stuff from 2012. He estimates that we have probably written -- between the two of us -- around 240,000 words in the last 24 months. At 10,000 words per month, we would need 100 months to have a million words, or eight years and four months. Since we started in 2012, that would put us at a million words around Easter in 2020.

See why we don't Tweet? What can you possible say in 140 words MUCH LESS 140 characters?

And yes, for those who are wondering, it would make a great book! But before we can publish it, we may have to kill a few people...

Writing along, singing a song, day by day ...

Okay, not singing so much. But the writing is getting better. The last couple of days I have written three scenes that I think work fairly well. Two of them move the story-as-is along and the third is part of a subplot that is in development.

I am still reading/researching background for this novel, although I am probably overdoing that aspect of things. I just love finding stuff out! The librarian in me. When I took my homiletics class (that's sermon-writing), there was was cliche: "You should spend one hour preparing for every minute you preach." Like anyone ever had that kind of time! Although they may have meant if you only have one hour to prepare, just preach for one minute. Lots of preachers could use that advice! But I think when I start writing I fall into "For every page you write, read a book." I do get lots of ideas, and you know -- To steal from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
Snow again today, although only a few inches. We had about three inches early and then it stopped for a while. That gave Tom time to get the drive and sidewalks cleared before the next band comes through later this afternoon.

Sundance just came down to my office to remind me she is ready for a snack. Gotta run!

Monday, January 13, 2014

More gift ideas

Self-taught British design king Tom Dixon brings his inimitable take on industrial design to his Capsule collection for Adidas. Utilitarian fashion meets modern construction, and the result is a uniform for the urban explorer. The Reversible Pocket Tee takes a basic and makes it more. This cotton-modal blend with a crewneck collar features a concealed change pocket inside—or, if you reverse it, outside—plus raw edges with reinforced hems and tonal stitching.

All for $165!

PS -- It has to be dry-cleaned. Well, der!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ikeda Manabu Ikeda at Chazen Museum of Art

We did go into Madison and visited the Chazen Museum of Art on the University of Wisconsin campus. We like the Chazen and didn't go with any particular purpose in mind.

I was very excited, though, by the exhibit of works by Ikeda Manabu. The Huffington Post describes his work this way: "Manabu Ikeda uses a small acrylic pen and what we imagine is a significant amount of ink to create his massive, intricate drawings. The impressive artworks capture chaotic scenes of tsunamis, painstakingly detailed renderings of trees and impossible landscapes that seem like they belong in a Escher-inspired Fairy Tale. And they can take up to a year to complete." Click on the link for the whole article and to see some of his works. My favorite one of a seascape (?) is one I have not been able to find online. And no small reproduction on a computer could begin to do it justice.

The artist was born in 1973 and lives in Tokyo. He is artist-in-residence at the Chazen for a few months while he completes work on a pen-and-ink drawing that will measure ten by thirteen feet. Visitors to the museum can watch him work during scheduled hours each week.

Here is an example of his work, a lighthouse falling into the sea. As I said, you cannot begin to appreciate it on this small scale.


Yesterday I did lots of writing, but I had to admit that by dinnertime, I had done nothing on the novel itself. So I pulled it out and began working on a scene where one of the characters is hurt while hauling a yule log to the Lutheran chapel.
(Interested yet? You will have to wait for the book. Or the made-for-TV movie. I'm thinking John Cusack can play the Damien character. If it turns out the Disney studio picks up the option for the animated feature, I am holding out for Chip. Or maybe Darkwing Duck!)

So I put in about an hour of writing and finally gave it up after about 1200 words. They were just the wrong words. It was so boring I didn't want to re-read it, and I can't imagine anyone plowing through it the first time. The idea is basically sound, but my writing was flat and talky and not at all engaging. So I will have to go back and re-do that whole thing.

On a brighter note, today it will get up to 37 degrees ABOVE zero. We will probably go to Madison just to get out of the house for a few hours.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Feel free to ask any of my friends ... or the cats.

January 10, 1947

On January 10, 1947, my parents, James Byron Dodd and Roxie Fayne Mitchum were married. I was born three years later, in May.

When my father died in August of 2011, he and my mother had been married more than 64 and a half years. Today would have been their 67th anniversary.

With love and gratitude,

Sundance watches CaTV

Sundance has always fascinated me because she seems to actually watch television. Unlike Cassidy, who will sit on the couch with me with her back to the set, Sundance pays attention to the screen. This morning while I was trying to get some work done in my office, she was being a pest. So I turned on the television across the room, went to YouTube and searched "videos for cats to watch." The first one was a ten-minute loop of cardinals feeding. That got her attention and she looked all around, trying to figure out how to get to the birds.

 She climbed up on the shelf,


went behind the set from one direction, found out that didn't work  and so tried it from the other direction.

 It was cute, but after that one a video came on of a mother cat with some kittens. For that one, Sundance promptly got up in her chair and watched and listened raptly while I got to do some stuff.

Eventually the mama cat talking to the kittens relaxed her so much that she curled up in her chair and dozed off.

So if you have a rambunctious cat, you may want to try this. Of course, cats being cats, when I try this trick again tomorrow she will ignore it completely. Or else, she will become so used to it that she will start whining until I turn on "her show."

Here is the cat video, if you want to see what was so fascinating. It is not a funny cat video, so don't expect much in the way of tricks. Just the cuteness of kittens with their mother and (I assume) father who shows up from time to time. Click on the arrow to watch a few minutes. Unless like Sundance, you have the leisure to devote 20 minutes to the whole thing. [Spoiler alert: The butler did it.]

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Still looking for a resolution?

Today I stumbled across a blog and saw this resolution:

This year let's all agree to judge less and care more.
 Mikey likey!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Run out and get some now!

Kraft Foods says some customers may not be able to find Velveeta cheese over the next few weeks. A representative for the company, Jody Moore, didn't give any reasons for the apparent shortage, saying only that they happen from time to time given the "nature of manufacturing."
She noted that the lack of availability is more noticeable because of the seasonal demand during the NFL playoffs. The company has been airing TV commercials featuring a recipe for a chili con queso dip made with Velveeta.

I wouldn't want to be cynical, but the news says that Kraft does not claim to have actually heard of any such shortage and has not said that shortages have occurred in the past.

Sound less like a news release and more like a marketing ploy, maybe?

Dogmas and Druids

As I continue to revise my latest attempt at a novel, I am doing more reading about modern groups of Pagans, such as Wiccans and Druids, as well as other  groups whose beliefs are outside the general mainstream. One thing I enjoy is seeing how many of these groups and their leaders talk about themselves with a genuine sense of humor. So few religious leaders seem to be able to laugh at themselves, which seems a shame.

There is a linguistic link between words like human, humor, humility and humus. St. Teresa famously said that humility is truth, and she was well-known for her own sense of humor. I realize that humor does not simply equate with humility which does not simply equate with truth. But still ...

One example of this is an American version of Druidism that goes by the Irish name of Ár nDraíocht Féin, shorthanded and simplified as ADF: A Druid Fellowship. The Irish name means "our own magic."

According to their founder/first Archdruid, they have only three dogmas. [As I am sure you know, dogma in general means  a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.]
The first is the Doctrine of Archdruidic Fallibility. (That is to say, all members are required to believe that the leadership messes up from time to time).

The Second Druidic Dogma is that there are to be no more dogmas.

The Third Druidic Dogma is "No, we really meant it, there are to be no more dogmas!"

Looking for that perfect housewarming gift?